Shopping Saturday: A Trip to Town in 1906 by the Roberts Family of Jasper County, Iowa- Part 3

Schoolhouse, Marshall Co., Iowa, via Library of Cogress; Farm Security Administration. This is NOT the schoolhouse near the Roberts homestead, but is very similar. Note “the necessary” out back.

Roberts Family (Click for Family Tree)

Edith ROBERTS continues her story of growing up on the farm in Jasper County, Iowa, and tells us about the actual trip from the farm to town. Together with her father, George A. ROBERTS, her mother, Ella V. (DANIEL) ROBERTS, and her big brother Georgie A. ROBERTS and her older sister Ethel G. ROBERTS, the family made the (weather-permitting) weekly visit to Newton, Iowa into a lovingly remembered event.

“Brother would have driven the skittish team [of horses] to the kitchen door and was having a time holding them in check. We were all ready. Dad had carried out the hot bricks that had been heating in the oven. He wrapped them in many sheets of newspaper, and scattered them in the straw [of the wagon].

Now I had to submit to the indignity of lying on the sitting room floor and be wrapped up in a soft brown shawl. Mother would toss the top of the shawl over my head, and brother … [or] Dad would pick me up like a sack of flour and carry me to the waiting bobsled, If it was Brother, he would jump me unceremoniously into the soft straw. I was so bundled up I could hardly sit upright. I was still squealing; “I can’t see, I can’t see.” so as my mother settled herself into the wagon she took the cover off my face. Sister who was sitting opposite us was already shivering, as she had not put on the sweater mother had told her to. Dad had thrown a lap robe over us. It was from Sears, Roebuck. A plush-like material with a fancy design on one side. How good the warm bricks feel.”

As Edith told her stories, it was obvious that they took her back in time to where she could feel the warm bricks even 60 or 70 years later.

“Brother and dad would be standing up in front. Perhaps on this trip dad would hand the lines, or reins, to brother, and he would proudly turn us around and head straight northeast towards Newton. [They would pass a schoolhouse similar to the one pictured above.]

“If it had snowed enough so that the fences were covered and Skunk River had frozen over, by going directly across the river and fences, we would make better time, and of course the distance was much shorter. The sleigh bells were jangling merrily, as the horses, still feeling their mettle, were really making time. Brother would have to lean back, pulling on the reins to check their speed. Both dad and brother would be wearing fur coats, made from the hides of the beeves [beef cows] we had butchered. Their caps were fur-lined and their long high-cuffed mittens were warm, and make holding on to the reins easier.”

Again, in her writing, Edith seems transported back to that time, making it no longer just the past, but a part of her. She did miss her family, as she outlived her parents and siblings, and the ways of life on the farm were rapidly disappearing.

Edith finished her story:

“The sun was glistening on the hard crusted snow, making millions maybe zillions of flashing diamond like particles on the snow. By this time I was sleepy, and the last I would remember was the cheery sound of the sleigh bells. Mother was so warm and comforting beside me as I went to sleep, and I didn’t know anything until we drove up in front of the grocery store. Mother and sister and I got out while dad and brother took the team of horses to the livery stable to be fed and stabled until time to go home.

“A busy interesting day was ahead of us.”

And so Ellie (DANIEL) ROBERTS would barter her delicious butter, eggs, and other homemade delights at the Newton grocery, and “Shopping Saturday” would begin in earnest for the Roberts family in 1906.


Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. “A Trip to Town, 1906–Wintertime” by Edith (Roberts) [McMurray] Luck. Written in the 1960s-1970s for her grandchildren.


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Series Navigation<< Workday Wednesday: A Trip to Town in 1906 by the Roberts Family of Jasper County, Iowa, Part 2

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