A Homesteading Family In Colorado
by Raymond Cook
©2019 (All Rights Reserved)
Page Length: 265
Word Count: 86,000
About This eBook
A Homesteading Family In Colorado © 2019 by Raymond Cook is a story about Ronald Franklin, his wife, Saffron and their 9-year-old son, John in 1893. When the family arrived at Marble, Colorado coming from Independence, Missouri, Saffron offered the people attending church something they hadn’t had in a long time, someone who could play the organ. The sound of hymns being played inside the church each Sunday morning was a welcome sound.
After Ronald bought ten acres of land at $1.25 per acre, with a cabin, outhouse, horse shelter and several apple trees, he had to make some improvements to prepare for the coming winter. The cabin needed a new roof, a wood shed had to be built and enough firewood was needed to see the family through the six-month long winter. The horse shelter wasn’t walled in and that was a must to protect his horse and the bales of hay stored there.
With it being late August, no garden would be planted. So ample food had to be bought in town. This included jars of canned food and fresh vegetables. The couple would have to rely on each other to overcome each danger they faced. This is a story of love, strength, faith in the Lord, each other and a love for their son. But hardships can test a couple’s love for each other. When Ronald loses his leg to the knee chopping firewood, it will take every bit of strength Saffron has and that of her now ten-year-old son to get Ronald into town before he bleeds to death.
Life suddenly changes for the family as Saffron and her son take over tasks Ronald took for granted. Will the loss of his leg make Saffron over time give up on him and leave with her son? Or will love endure every hardship one of them could face and together, overcome the worst of tragedies?
One morning he was in the wood chop splitting chunks of wood into smaller pieces. Some pieces had knots in them. A man had to be careful trying to split that type of wood because the blade of the ax could ricochet off the wood and hit a leg. That’s just what happened as Ronald set the sixth piece of wood on the chopping block. He raised the ax over his head and swung down hard. The ax struck a knot in the firewood, flew left and hit Ronald’s left leg just below the knee.
Instantly he dropped the ax, fell down and cried out in pain. Both of his hands grabbed his leg as blood flowed down his leg and into his boot. “Saffron, I’m bleeding,” he yelled out as he groaned in pain. The second she heard her husband’s voice; she dropped the cast-iron skillet she’d just wiped clean and ran to the door. Her son was right behind her.
When she saw the wood shed opening with the tarp pulled back and tied off, she saw her husband lying on the ground near the chopping block. The ax he’d been using had blood along the edge of it. He was holding both sides of his left leg and blood was on his hands, a lot of blood. When he heard her cry out his name and run to his side, she knelt down beside him. “Oh, my Lord, Ronald, what happened?”
She heard pain in his voice as he said, “The ax bounced off a knot and I cut my leg bad sweetheart, real bad. I’m trying to stop the bleeding. You and our son are going to have to harness our horse to the buckboard and get me to town. I’ll either get there in time or die on the way, hurry Saffron, hurry.” At that moment, seeing her husband’s bloody hands, her heart was racing as tears fell from her eyes.
“John, come with me, there’s no time to waste, run to the corral with me. We’ve got to save yer pa,” Saffron cried out. By the time the buckboard was harnessed and was near the wood shed, Saffron didn’t know if she’d find her husband alive or dead. When she and their son got there and stopped, Saffron jumped down so fast, she fell to her knees but was on her feet instantly.
She fumbled with the latches on the rear gate to drop them. “Go inside and grab all three pillows and pull the blankets off our beds, John, hurry,” Saffron told her son. John was sobbing as he hurried back inside the cabin. When she saw him, she told him to toss them in the back of the buckboard. When he stood beside his ma, the impossible was about to be attempted.
She had to help get her husband to his feet. With him holding his leg to stop from bleeding to death, she had to get him over to the edge of the buckboard. Then she had to get up into it. Bending over, with all of her strength, with her arms under her husband’s arms she had to pull him up into it. No ordinary woman could do that. But when you’re scared to death, sometimes people can do miracles.
When she got him on his back, she yelled anxiously to her son, “Get them pillows under your pa’s leg and cover him up with them blankets.” Quickly, John climbed into the buckboard and as his pa cried out, he lifted his injured leg so his son could stack the pillows on top of each other. Then he lowered his leg on them. Saffron lifted up the rear gate and latched both sides.
“Hold onto your pa, son, because I’m heading for town as fast as this horse can run,” cried out John’s mother. As he held onto his pa and tears rolled down his cheeks, he nodded. Saffron had never pushed a horse so hard before in her life. As the buckboard hit pot holes and shook everyone back and forth, John told his pa tearfully, “You can’t die pa, you can’t. We want you to live.”
Ronald was holding onto his shattered bloody leg as tight as he could above the wound. He knew if he passed out before they got to the doctor, he’d die. When Saffron came to the edge of town she didn’t slow her horse down one bit. As men, women and children tried to keep from being run over, Saffron yelled over and over, “Help us, we need help real bad!”
One of the men seeing the buckboard and hearing her screams was Sheriff Snow. He had a good idea of where the woman was headed, not seeing her husband beside her on the seat. He figured he was lying in the back and he was right. He ran as fast as his tall frame would let him toward Doc Miller’s office.
As Saffron got to the doctor’s office, she screamed at the top of her lungs at bystanders, “My husband’s bleeding real bad in the back. Please get him side, I don’t want him to die!” As Sheriff Snow reached the buckboard, he saw her husband in the back beside his son. Ronald pulled back the blankets and everyone saw his bloody hands on his left leg.
The sheriff quickly unlatched both sides of the rear gate as Saffron jumped to the ground. She fell face down in the street and a man helped her to her feet. “Someone get that door open for us. I need someone to get hold of the other side of Ronald and help me get him inside,” the sheriff yelled anxiously. A man as tall as Calvin rushed up and they helped get Ronald to the edge of the buckboard.
There was no way to avoid the pain Ronald was about to feel as the men got hold of Ronald and carried him into the doctor’s office. Doc Miller ran over to a cabinet where bandages and bottles of chloroform were. He grabbed a handful of the bandages, a washcloth, pair of scissors and the bottle. They were already sitting down on a small table beside his operating table.
When Steven saw the men bringing in Ronald followed by his wife and son, he patted the cushioned table with a white bedsheet covering it. “Lay him down here men. As soon as he’s on his back, Calvin, you unfold all them bandages. I have to cut off the man’s pant leg to see how bad his leg is. As soon as you can see the wound. Lay them over the wound. Don’t listen to what Ronald yells out at you when you do that, just press down on them bandages. You’ve got to stop the bleeding or he’ll die,” Doc Miller yelled anxiously.
As soon as her husband’s pant leg was cut away, Saffron put her hand over her mouth. It was a vicious gash. Her son was beside her and as tears flowed down their cheeks, her son hugged her waist. Steven quickly took the cap off of the bottle of chloroform and poured some on the washcloth. There wasn’t any time for conversation. As he laid it over Ronald’s mouth and nose, he said, “Breathe deep.”
Ronald nodded and closed his eyes. With the man asleep, Steven looked down at the blood-soaked leg and bloodstained bandages. He lifted up the edge of the bandage just long enough to look at the wound. The moment he did that he shook his head. He knew he’d have to take off the man’s leg. As he heard Saffron sobbing, he looked over at her and her son.
Three other men were in the room. “Saffron, I’m sorry but I’m going to have to take off your husband’s leg or he’ll die. I ain’t got a choice. You and your son are going to have to leave because I can’t be distracted by you or your son. Wait across the street at Emma’s Café and after I’m done operating and your husband is lying over there on that bed, I’ll come get ya, now go,” Steven said urgently.
But it was clear neither of them wanted to leave. He looked over at two of the men and yelled, “I have to save this man’s life. Get them over to Emma’s and don’t let them leave.” Right away, one man grabbed Saffron’s left arm and as she struggled to stay, her son kicked the man’s leg. “Let my ma and me stay,” he cried out. But the other man grabbed the boy’s left arm and both of them were pulled to the door.
After getting them outside, they both were kicking and screaming, wanting to get back in the doctor’s office. But that wasn’t gonna happen. When they neared the front door of Emma’s Café, one of the men yelled out to another man, “Open that damn door for us.” All of Emma’s customers seeing the woman and child being dragged into the café startled everyone including Emma.
One of the men told everyone, “The woman’s husband is having his leg taken off at the doctor’s office. Steven says they have to stay here. We’re not letting them out this door.” At that moment Emma ran to Saffron and hugged her tight as she felt her trembling and heard her sobbing. John was hugging his ma as he cried. As the room quieted down, Emma whispered into Saffron’s ear, “It’s for the best Saffron, Steven’s trying to save your husband’s life.”
Though she understood, she knew if she wasn’t by her husband’s side and he died, she and her son couldn’t say goodbye to him. For over two hours she and her son sat at a table sobbing. Meanwhile, Steven has used a belt as a tourniquet to stop Ronald from bleeding to death. As he brought back a large pan and a saw in one hand, in his other hand was a large, thick towel.
He looked up with sad eyes at the sheriff. “This man may still die, but it won’t be from my lack of trying to save his life. Do you have the stomach to watch me take this man’s leg off and help me save his life?” asked the doctor. Sheriff Snow had seen a lot of people bleeding in his three years as the town’s sheriff. But he’d never witnessed a man’s leg being taken off.
“Just tell me what to do doc,” Calvin said in a sad voice. Steven nodded. He came back to the table with a spool of black thread and three needles. He put the thread through each needle after using a good length of thread for each one. He set them down next to each other on the man’s chest.
5-Star Readers’ Favorite Book Review by K. C. Finn.
A Homesteading Family in Colorado is a work of pioneer fiction set on the western frontier and was penned by author Raymond Cook in his ongoing collection of heartfelt Western tales. In this mid-length novel of personal highs and lows, we are introduced to Ronald Franklin and his small family during the very end of the nineteenth century. Moving from Illinois to Colorado provides a huge contrast in their lives, but Saffron is the first to find her place as a church organist. Ronald struggles to do his best to provide proper shelter and good food for his family come wintertime, but when an injury while using his ax causes him to lose his left leg, his wife has to step up and do what few women of the time were ever faced with.
It was a delight to return to the Western world of Raymond Cook, where the real toil of real people takes center stage over gunslinging and overexaggerated danger. I loved Saffron and Ronald’s tale of hardship and the bitter realities of what life in the 1890s meant for those whom accident and tragedy befell. The prose is detailed and historical, but also light and flowing to ease the reading experience, and Cook always leaves room for his characters to breathe and express themselves freely as their story unfolds. This is an emancipatory tale of the strength of women at a time when they were seen but not heard, and as such, I think it’s my favorite of all that I have read of Cook’s work. I would highly recommend A Homesteading Family in Colorado to frontier fiction fans everywhere.
-Amazon Readers’ Comment Section-
There’s nothing more satisfying than reading a well-written western romance story with a happy ending. This eBook was uploaded on Amazon on July 3, 2019. If you enjoyed reading this eBook, would you consider writing an Amazon review? Reviews are important to readers who are considering reading an author’s newest book.
August 8, 2019 by Catherine Wong. I loved this story of a small family venturing out from Missouri on the Oregon Trail in 1893 to Colorado. I enjoyed the character development of Ronald Franklin and his wife Saffron and son John. You felt you knew them personally. The explanations on how a family in 1893 would choose a farmstead, and what tools, foods, furniture they would need to survive their first winter there in Colorado was fascinating. Then the emotional trauma to the family when Ronald loses his leg was so clearly conveyed by the author that one felt they were present with the family through this trial. Great job Mr. Cook.
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