Grannie Annie, Vol. 6, and Grannie Annie, Vol. 6 Expanded
Stories Dated 1665 – 1939

The Great Bull Ride

Smithtown, Long Island, New York, USA; c. 1665

Richard Smyth (Smith), my ancestor, was the founder of Smithtown, Long Island, New York. He was a cavalry soldier for Cromwell’s army.* Richard met some natives when he went to Long Island. He made an agreement with some of these Indians in 1665. They had heard he was a good horseman, so they challenged him to ride a bull. He would get the land that he rode around from sunrise to sunset while riding a bull.

This might seem strange, but Richard actually trained bulls for riding instead of horses. Richard chose his best bull and set out early in the morning. First he rode to the west. He turned south near a pond. At the pond he and his bull stopped for an enormous drink and some bread to eat. The valley that Richard stopped in is named Bread and Cheese Hollow, because that is where he ate his lunch. Richard continued east after lunch. Richard and his bull made their way back to the start by sunset. The Indians couldn’t believe their eyes. They gave him the land that he had ridden around. Richard claimed the land and named it Smithtown.

Many people think this story is a legend. People figured the distance he rode, and some say it would be impossible to ride thirty-five miles in one day. Others think maybe he rode on the summer solstice to gain more hours of sunlight. Many people have different thoughts on how he could have accomplished his goal or whether it is a legend. My great-great-aunt told me this story, and I am telling you. Another interesting fact is there is a bronze statue of a bull in Smithtown, Long Island, New York, that supposedly represents the bull Richard Smyth rode on his journey.

* Cromwell’s army overthrew King Charles I and the monarchy in the English Civil War.

Timothy Marshall; Ohio, USA


Chief Blue Jacket

Ohio Territory, USA; c. 1770s–1795

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an Indian? Well, my great-great-great-great-grandfather Marmaduke van Swearingen got that chance. Marmaduke would never regret his choice.

It was a bright sunny day in Ohio Country.* Marmaduke and his younger brother Charles were hunting rabbits for their family’s dinner when they saw a big fat rabbit. They slowly crept toward it and were about to shoot it when out of nowhere a couple of Shawnee Indians stepped out of the trees, scaring the rabbit away. The Indians indicated that the boys were now their captives. Marmaduke knew a little Indian language and asked them to leave his little brother alone, and in turn he would live with them forever. The Indians agreed quickly amongst themselves and slowly led Marmaduke deep into the untamed wilderness of Ohio Country.

Marmaduke quickly learned the ways of the Indians. The Indians gave him a new name — Little Rabbit — relating to the time they had found him with his brother. He slowly earned their trust and became one of them. If a white man saw him, he would think Little Rabbit was an Indian.

The Shawnee did not like the white men and wanted to fight, but their war chief wanted peace. The Shawnee did not like this, and they decided that Little Rabbit should lead them into war. (By this time, Little Rabbit had become their chief.) With this new position he got a new name and title: War Chief Blue Jacket.

Chief Blue Jacket won many battles for the Shawnee and became legendary with the whites and all Indian tribes. In 1795 he lost the Battle of Fallen Timbers against General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. Because he lost this battle, he had to sign the Treaty of Greeneville, and he later signed the Treaty of Fort Industry. Chief Blue Jacket died several years later in 1808 at the age of about sixty-eight.

* Ohio Country (also called the Ohio Territory) was an area west of the Appalachian Mountains and north of the Ohio River.

Katelyn Putzier; Idaho, USA


Return to Sender

Jefferson County, Indiana, USA; c. 1883–1884

What would you do if your wedding day was nearing and you saw your bride for the first time in decades? What would you do if you remembered her as beautiful with long black hair, but the person standing on the train platform was a shriveled, disheveled old woman who was a little off in the head? Would you honor your commitment to marry her, or recoil in disgust and beg to send her back? My great-great-great-grandfather John Eble was faced with this situation, and you may be surprised at his solution.

It all started in 1883, when his first wife, Grace Hayes Eble, died. John was lonely and depressed, and sought another love. A woman named Elizabeth came to mind. They had first met in Germany when they were in school many years before. John remembered Elizabeth fondly — and as being beautiful and well kept. He had learned that she, too, had been widowed.

An idea hatched in John’s head. He decided to write a letter to Elizabeth. In that letter he stated that he wished for her to come to America and marry him. She agreed. John sent her money to come to America. She came by boat and train; therefore, it took a long time for her to arrive. After the long wait, the special day finally came.

That day, John felt as light-hearted and happy as a schoolboy, even though he was sixty-seven years old. When the train finally pulled into the station, what had been excitement and anticipation soon changed to shock and anger. The beautiful girl that he remembered from his school years was gone, and what was left was a somewhat senile and wrinkled little old lady. Feeling cheated, he hesitated to speak. He was angry and disappointed, but he took her to his home.

After Elizabeth was at his house for a few days, John discovered that she was a disaster in the house. She couldn’t cook, speak English, clean a house, or learn about personal hygiene! At this point, John thought it was too much and wanted to send her back to Germany. His children said that he had made a commitment to marry her and he had to honor it.

Not wanting to cause anger among his children, John came up with an interesting solution. He solved the problem by building a separate room onto his house just for Elizabeth. There she would live comfortably by herself, and he would live on the other side of the house and not have to interact too much with her. She was happy with the set-up of the room.

Thanks to his innovative idea and willingness to compromise, they lived happily for six years until John’s death. His daughter Louise then moved into the house and took care of Elizabeth until she died twenty years later. This goes without saying: When things seem bad, try to compromise and work for a solution where everyone is happy.

Andrew Tuller; Idaho, USA


Josie and the Wild Cow Chase

Glen Flora, Wisconsin, USA; 1889

In the year 1889, my great-great-grandmother Josephine Eming and her family ran a small trading post in the town of Glen Flora, Wisconsin. Though a small business, it did well, and many people liked it. Every day, Josie would help sweep the front porch.

One fine spring day, Josie was tidying up the front display when a young man of the Sioux tribe rode up. Before she could call out a greeting, the man untied one of the cows tethered off to the side and rode away! Without thinking, Josie grabbed a sharp stick and hopped on her horse. She had to rescue that cow, for it was one of only seven.

The dust danced in Josie’s eyes, and she almost lost the criminal in the haze several times, the black-spotted cowhide fading in and out. The man started shouting curses at her.

“Neep-po! Neep-po!” he cried. Josie knew the area’s culture well, and knew that this meant I’ll kill you! in the Dakota language. She dug in her heels and galloped closer to the crazed rider. Their hooves left resonating thuds on the open Wisconsin hills, Josie slowly but surely gaining on him. Fortunately, the cow was incapable of moving fast for very long, so it wasn’t long before they were only an arm’s length apart. The thief was wise enough to release the cow so he could escape. Josie dismounted and soothed the disgruntled cow. They began to slowly retrace their path to the trading post. Little did she know, she would have a lot more to show for that day than a memorable story.

The next morning a hearty knock came at the door. Josie arrived, flustered and breathing heavily, and flung it open. To her surprise, the chief of the tribe stood on their humble wooden porch cradling a beautiful belt. There were pristine pink, gorgeous green, wonderful white, and glittering gold beads scattered on its surface like wayward stars. He apologized for the behavior of his people and presented the belt to the astonished teenager.

“One side represents peace, and the other, war,” he explained, gesturing to the intricate patterns on either side. “We are at peace. You are a very brave girl.” And with that, he left the aforementioned girl clutching the beaded belt.

The belt stayed in the family for many years. Despite the fact that several of the beads are missing, nowadays the belt never leaves the town in which it was acquired, and it now resides in a museum there. Although it is pretty and valuable, it is not very well known. Of the few people who do see it, many do not know its story or meaning. For our family, it is a precious heirloom representing the courage of our ancestors and of all the pioneers who settled the Western frontier.

Abby Urnes; Missouri, USA


Terror on the High Seas

North Atlantic Ocean; 1912

How scared would you be if you were on a ship in the middle of the ocean and you found out it was sinking? That is exactly what happened to my great-great-grandpa.

In 1901, when he was twenty-six years old, Guillaume (William) Joseph Demessemaker from Wilsele, Belgium, and his brothers Emmanuel and Jacques decided to move to the United States. They bought land in Montana, cleared it out to be able to farm there, and built a log cabin to live in.

Bill decided to visit his family in Belgium while his brothers took care of the farm. He met and married his wife, Anna, in early 1912. They boarded the Titanic as third-class passengers at Southampton, England, to return to the United States.

Moments after the collision, just before midnight on April 14, 1912, they managed to get to the deck of the boat. When Anna was told to get in a lifeboat, she would not leave her husband’s side. Bill picked her up and handed her to an officer in Lifeboat 13.

Thinking he would never see her again, Bill prepared to meet his fate. Just then, the boat ran out of crew members to row the lifeboats. Thankful for a chance to save the lives of himself and many others, he jumped into the lifeboat and helped row for the rest of the night.

He and Anna were reunited on the Carpathia, the ship that rescued the Titanic survivors. After their rescue, they headed west to the farm in Montana. Anna never recovered from the trauma of thinking she had lost her husband. She entered a mental hospital and died there in 1918.

Bill lived on the farm for a couple years after her death. He went back to Belgium in 1920, got married to my great-great-grandma Marie, and came back to Montana to farm. He died on June 5, 1955, and is buried next to his wives in Glasgow, Montana. There is a cool exhibit at the Pioneer Museum in Glasgow that talks about his history and more about the Titanic.

Bill was lucky to survive the sinking of the Titanic. Out of the 2,207 people on the Titanic, there were only 712 survivors, and only 181 of those survivors were third-class passengers. Bill was also very brave to go back to Belgium after what had happened to him!

Ethan Northup; Idaho, USA


From Covered Wagon to Airplane

McCook, Nebraska, USA; 1919

Wade Stevens jumped out of the cockpit onto the ground. He did not know it, but he had just made the first flight in the world for professional purposes.

This story is about my great-great-uncle Wade Stevens. Wade Stevens was born in Nebraska in 1896, only thirty-one years after the Civil War ended. When his family went on vacations, they traveled by covered wagon.

But Wade’s story really started when America entered World War I in 1917. Wade decided to join the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps,* and he was sent to San Antonio, Texas, for flight training. After he finished training, Wade was given a thirty-day leave to visit his family before going overseas. While Wade was home, the Stevens’ doctor, Frank Brewster, told him that he wanted to use an airplane to travel to patients, and he asked Wade to fly it for him when Wade returned to America. Wade agreed, unaware that this would lead to his becoming the first commercial pilot in the world.

Wade was sent to France and flew there until the peace treaty was signed. When he received his discharge from the U.S. Army, he went straight to Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation and was told that an airplane kit for Dr. Brewster would cost $8,000. Wade ordered the plane on April 2, 1919, and received it two weeks later. Wade did not know how to build a plane, but a local mechanic said he would help, even though he had never seen a plane in his life. Wade and the mechanic carefully built the plane, and on May 19, 1919, the first test flight was successful.

But that is not the ending of this story. On May 23, 1919, Wade Stevens made the first professional flight. He took Dr. Brewster to Kansas to attend to a man who had fractured his skull while working on an oil rig. Wade landed the plane on a nearby hill, and Dr. Brewster treated the patient.

When news of Wade Stevens and Dr. Brewster passed through towns, more people asked for their help, and Wade continued to transport the doctor. The Nebraska towns were very far apart and usually did not have doctors, so the idea of a doctor who would fly to the towns was exciting. Soon Wade became very well known throughout the Midwest, not only in Nebraska. The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation even sent Dr. Brewster a telegram saying that the airplane had been the first in the world purchased and used for professional purposes.

That flight was only sixteen years after the Wright brothers’ first flight and eight years before Charles Lindbergh’s trans-Atlantic flight.

This is my favorite story in my family history, and although I never met Wade Stevens, this story helps me know about him very well. This story has been passed down through our family for years, and I hope it will continue to be.

* The Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps, U.S. Army, became the U.S. Air Force in 1947.

Aaron Schnoor; North Carolina, USA


Don’t Mess with Granny!

Elizabethton, Tennessee, USA; c. 1928

My great-grandmother Ora Campbell (in this story, “Granny”) married Andrew Bird Hardin on April 4, 1922. They had my great-aunt Vernilla Hardin on February 18, 1923. They had my great-uncle Warren Hardin on August 4, 1924. My great-aunt Arvella (V) was born on June 14, 1926. Last but not least, my grandfather was born on July 14, 1928.

Granny and Bird bought a house in Elizabethton, Tennessee. It had no electricity or running water. I know you’re picturing a little house with pretty bad conditions. Wrong! It was a log cabin surrounded by acres and acres of lush, green farmland.

They were poor folks though. Granny had no job and no car. Now you may be thinking that there weren’t cheap cars back then, but you must remember that the Model T was out, so there was an affordable car on the market. They had to walk everywhere: church, school, and even to visit friends!

’Most everything they ate, they either grew or killed. There were some exceptions though. For example, they went to the market to get flour for some delicious biscuits. You may be thinking, “How do you know?” Well, I know because my mom still uses the very same recipe today when she cooks, and, believe me, they are delicious!

My grandfather had to work when he was out of school. You might picture your summer as going to the pool, playing outside, and going on vacations, but for my grandfather, it was working in the fields.

Now, you know that in the 1920s there weren’t many opportunities for women. But Granny was smart. She had Bird put the land in both of their names, so if something happened to Bird, Granny would have it all, or vice versa. Why am I telling you that? Well, it’s a crucial point in this story, and you’ll see why.

Bird died on Christmas Eve in 1928, which left Granny with four children, all under the age of eight. Bird’s brothers thought that they should be able to claim the property. Well, one day they came to do just that. When Granny saw them coming, she got her shotgun and got on her front porch. Then she shot — not anywhere in particular, but she still shot! She said that the property was hers and not to bother her anymore. They never came to that log cabin again.

Don’t mess with Granny!

Brian Byerly; Tennessee, USA


Hard Times

Walnut, Kansas, USA; c. 1930s

Imagine growing up in a time when a lot of people lost their jobs and the economy was bad. Many families struggled and didn’t have enough money or food. It was kind of like today’s economy but much worse for a lot of people, and it lasted for a long time. My grandpa Melvin grew up during a time like this. It was called “the Great Depression.”

My grandpa lived on a farm during the 1930s. For a period of that time it was extremely dry, and all of the crops dried up. Grandpa told me about seeing a big black cloud sometimes. It was made up of dirt. It would cover everything with dirt when the wind would blow. When it rained, it would rain mud and dirt.

Sometimes my grandpa’s mom didn’t know what she was going to make for the family’s next meal. One day my grandpa’s mom was upset because she had no more food for them to eat. My grandpa’s older brother went next door and did some work for a neighbor and earned a little bit of money so my grandpa’s family could eat.

Grandpa would take corn on the cob down to the mill and have it ground into corn meal. During the summer they would hook a team of horses up to a grinding mill and grind cane into molasses. So for lunch my grandpa’s mom would make cornbread with molasses. My grandpa says this was a very soggy lunch, because the molasses would soak through the bread and make it soggy.

During the school year, my grandpa would take a bucket with his cornbread and molasses to school with him. He attended a Lutheran school in which they had two rooms where they put kindergarten through the eighth grade. In the morning the preacher would preach and teach religion and read German. In the afternoon the teacher would teach reading, writing, and arithmetic.

One warm day on the way to school my grandpa caught a rabbit. His family needed the rabbit for food, so my grandpa carried the rabbit to school. At the school there was a wood stove in the middle of the room that heated the classroom. Since it was warm outside and the stove wasn’t on, my grandpa’s teacher thought they could put the rabbit in the wood stove to keep it till after school. But the rabbit tried to escape, and it ran up the exhaust pipe and got stuck. My grandpa and his teacher had to bang on the pipe until the rabbit came down. The rabbit was okay, and my grandpa’s family got to have it for dinner.

Even though my grandpa had to live through the Great Depression, at least he has lots of interesting stories to tell. I liked listening to all of his stories, but some of them made me sad and make me thankful that I did not have to live through the Great Depression.

Deborah Renée Kroenke; Missouri, USA


Great-Grandpa Joe and the Jolly Hearts Club

Brooklyn, New York, USA; c. 1930s

This is the story of my great-grandpa Joe. Although I never met him, I know him very well from the stories my grandmother tells me, and from old pictures. My grandmother is Great-Grandpa Joe’s daughter.

Great-Grandpa Joe was born in Greenwich Village, New York. His life as a child was very difficult. His mother ran off, and Great-Grandpa Joe and his two brothers spent several years in an orphanage because their father, my great-great-grandfather, couldn’t take care of them. Eventually, my great-great-grandfather married a nice lady, and Great-Grandpa Joe and his brothers had a home again.

Great-Grandpa Joe was a small man. But he was rough, tough, and hard-working, and he protected everyone he loved. At one time, he was even in the United States Cavalry and rode a horse named Babe. My great-grandfather also loved nature and painting pictures. But, more than anything else, he was a leader who took care of others. I think that living in an orphanage as a child made my great-grandpa Joe the caring person he was. He didn’t want people to feel bad like he once had. So he did everything he could do to make them feel better!

The Great Depression happened in the early 1930s, and it was a terrible time in America. People were without jobs, some without homes, and some even without food! Because my great-grandfather was a caring person, he started the Jolly Hearts Club, a gentleman’s club composed of Italian-American men like himself. The club allowed members to relax, laugh, discuss world politics, listen to each other, and, at times, play cards. In the 1930s they did not have the Internet as a form of communication like we have today. Back then, they only had each other. Their name, the Jolly Hearts Club, represented what was important to them, to be jolly during a very horrible time in American history.

Occasionally, the Jolly Hearts Club had “family” days. As a toddler, my grandmother would accompany Great-Grandpa Joe to these meetings. She was very special to my great-grandpa. He called her “Babe,” just like the horse that had safely accompanied him throughout his service in the cavalry. My grandmother was my great-grandfather’s lucky charm.

The Jolly Hearts Club continued until the United States entered World War II in 1941. Like other American men during that time, members of the Jolly Hearts Club had to go to war to protect their country. And so the Jolly Hearts Club dissolved. Each member was given a possession in memory of the good times they had shared. As the founder of the Jolly Hearts Club, my great-grandpa Joe was given the very table that they had played cards on! This antique is a significant piece of American history as well as of my family history. It has a very special place of honor in my grandmother’s home.

Today, as America faces another Great Depression, let us learn from the Jolly Hearts Club to never give up and to be there for each other!

Brendan J. De Luca–Rodenberg; Florida, USA


The Tornado

near Wolbach, Nebraska, USA; c. 1930

My great-grandma Mary McIntyre witnessed a tornado west of Wolbach, Nebraska, around 1930. She was a student at a country school at the time. She saw the tornado form and watched it from the school.

A country school was a school for the students who lived in that rural neighborhood. There were country schools around ten miles apart everywhere in the countryside. They are not used anymore, but you may still see some abandoned ones in the country.

The students would walk or ride a horse to the country school, no matter what the weather. If they got a lot of snow, they still arrived the same way. The school did not have a food program, so the students would have to take lunch from home. There were usually grades one through eight at the country school, and usually only one teacher.

Mary and her schoolmates were just having a normal school day, when they looked out the window. There was a big, gigantic black cloud in the sky.

“Ahh! There’s a tornado outside, and it looks pretty bad!” yelled one of the students.

“That does look like a tornado!” answered the teacher.

Then the wind started to blow really hard, and dust flew everywhere. They watched the storm clouds gather as the sky got darker and darker by the minute. They watched it out of the country school’s dirty windows.

The students and the teacher did not have anywhere to go. The country school did not have a shelter or a storm cellar. They just watched the tornado start coming. It hit the ground, and the wind blew terribly. All the kids were scared and did not know what to do, but they stayed calm and did not try to go home.

“Flip your desks over and get by the side of them. Get into position and make sure you cover your eyes! Everything is going to be okay,” the teacher instructed.

Instead of panicking, they got into the position. They had been taught to duck down and put their hands on top of their heads. They flipped their desks over and went under their desks for protection.

No one was seriously hurt at the country school-house, but the tornado took two houses that were right near the schoolhouse.

Wow! Look at that house!” exclaimed one of the schoolchildren, pointing as they came out of the schoolhouse.

The tornado had done a great deal of damage to those houses. One of the houses that it took was owned by the man who owned the grocery store in town but lived at his country house.

Still to this day, Mary hates tornadoes terribly. Because of all the damage that tornado did that day and what they still do in today’s life, people need to protect themselves and their property.

Cade Grossart; Nebraska, USA


The Abandoned House

Cushing, Nebraska, USA; 1937

It was the summer of 1937. My grandma — Grandma Mc — was a very curious six-year-old. She lived in the small town of Cushing, Nebraska, with thirteen brothers and sisters. Growing up during the Great Depression was really hard, but that didn’t stop Grandma!

Like most young girls, Grandma loved to bake and play house. But because she was curious, she really loved to explore. She explored every chance she had.

One very hot day during that summer, she and her sisters Ann, Helen, and June were very bored. So Grandma decided they should go exploring. They found lots of interesting things on their way, but not anything worth taking home. It was starting to get dark, so they headed back. They did their usual routine and went to bed.

The next hot summer day was the hottest of that summer. Grandma and her three sisters went swimming. After they got pruned and wrinkly from the water, they got out and went exploring. They did find several new cool things. On their way, they found a hill. My grandma was the leader. The walk was hot and horrible, but, like I said, my grandma was a determined person. So were her sisters. They didn’t, and wouldn’t, stop until they reached the top. They were about halfway up, and it was getting dark. But they could see something at the top of the hill, so they kept going.

Soon it was completely dark. Grandma couldn’t see five feet in front of her, but she was not scared of anything. Finally they reached the top of the hill. About two feet in front of my grandma was an old house. Grandma and her three sisters walked slowly into the house. They discovered it was a pretty nice house. It had everything they had ever wanted. It had a kitchen with all the kitchen tools a young girl would want to play with! Well, they decided that it was getting late, so they headed home. They were excited for tomorrow to come so they could go play in the house.

That night Grandma told her mother about the house. Her mother told her that the house had been abandoned by criminals who were wanted by the police for making homemade whiskey. “No one knows where they are,” her mother said. “They could easily hide in the house, because that house is huge!” Grandma and her sisters were forbidden to go near the house.

The next day only one daughter disobeyed her mother. Grandma went alone to explore the house some more. She went upstairs to explore. All of a sudden, someone grabbed her and tore her shirt! She ran as fast as she could, not stopping until she was home.

The next day she got her older brother to go there with her so he could show her that nothing dangerous was there. They discovered it was only a nail that had torn her shirt. But curious Grandma never entered that house again!

Kayla Rother; Nebraska, USA


Granny Sweetpea and the Swamp Cabbage Catfish

Dowling Park, Florida, USA; 1937

I felt like I wanted to run away ’cause I was afraid to jump. The grapevine might break, the rocky cliff was high, and there was alligator-infested dark water below — I wished I hadn’t gone up there!

“Jump already!” the other kids yelled.

“Okay, I’m just gonna get this over with.” I closed my eyes, held on tight, and jumped.

SPLASH! I can’t believe I did it! The water splashed all over the kids at the top of the cliff. I swam to the shore and climbed up there again, ’cause it was fun!

I smelled somethin’ cookin’, so I ran down to the sandbar. I saw Momma by the kettle cookin’ catfish that they had caught early that mornin’. I looked up at the sky, and it was dusk — the sun was goin’ down behind the mossy oak trees. The river water looked like Coca-Cola. The sandbar looked like a white beach and felt smooth like I was gonna sink. It was gettin’ cool.

Momma said, “Eula, shouldn’t you be gettin’ the swamp cabbage for the stew?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said. I went and got it from the wagon that my mule Kate was pullin’. “Kate! Get back here!” I had to run and run until I caught Kate.

I held onto the strap, tied Kate to a tree, and then I got the cabbage out. I gave it to Momma. I walked over and lay on my homemade quilt to look at the stars. The sky was dark blue with millions of stars spread out all over it.

A little while later, the stew was ready. I washed my hands off in the river. All of a sudden, Kate came runnin’ out of the woods, right for the stew pot! She knocked it over, and the stew spilled out all over the quilts. Kate licked and licked the ground until the stew was all gone. My daddy grabbed a tree limb to spank Kate, but she ran off into the woods. Daddy chased after her, yellin’ all the way. Momma commanded, “Get your quilts and wash ’em off.”

As I was washin’ my quilt, I saw somethin’ move in the water. Some lips poked out, and right then I knew it was a catfish! I tried to grab it, but I slipped and fell into the water. Everyone came runnin’ to see what the matter was. I stood up, soaked from head to toe. I felt somethin’ wigglin’ inside my shirt. I pulled it out — it was a catfish! Everybody was so happy ’cause now we had dinner. I was proud of myself, even though I had caught it accidentally. I was the hero of the whole day! I felt like the luckiest girl in the world!

Breanna Fernald, great-granddaughter of Eula; Florida, USA


The Thief Who Received a Gift

Evansville, Indiana, USA; c. 1939

My great-grandparents Albert and Alma Boeke owned a forty-acre farm. Besides five daughters and one son, they also raised cows, sheep, and chickens. A man of great wisdom, Albert always knew how to handle problems.

During the Depression men desperately needed jobs. Occasionally a needy person or family would go to the farm pleading for food or a job. Great-Grandpa would always be willing to give, although he had a minute portion of money himself.

Under a bridge a fourth-mile away from the farm, lived a couple who was looking for work. While Albert was working in the field on a sultry day, Joe, the husband of the couple, ambled up to him and stated his situation, asking for a job. Because Albert was a thoughtful man, he offered to pay a dollar a day for Joe’s work around the farm. Joe was thankful for the offer and accepted it.

One morning before the rooster crowed, Great-Grandpa was wakened by a squawking noise made by a chicken. Hopping out of his bed, he hurried to the bedroom window and peered out to see if there was a fox. By the time he cleared his eyes, the noise had stopped. Days later, at dawn, he was once again wakened by the chickens. Albert dashed to the window and this time spotted an outline of a man holding a burlap sack. Unable to view his face, Great-Grandpa could still notice the form of his body. It was Joe.

Rather than let Joe know that he had seen him, Albert thought of a better way of dealing with the situation. As though he had seen nothing, Great-Grandpa continued with his day. On payday, in addition to his weekly pay Albert presented Joe with a chicken in a burlap sack saying, “Here’s something extra for dinner tonight.”

Although Joe stayed for the needed money, he never stole another chicken. That day Joe was taught an excellent lesson of grace.

Caleb Yates; Indiana, USA



Read additional stories from the Vol. 6 books:

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Front cover of Grannie Annie, Vol. 6
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Grannie Annie student illustration for Return to Sender
Can you match the Vol. 6
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Individual authors
retain the copyrights to
their works, which are
published here with

The setting of each story is
noted below its title. In
cases where the exact year
is not known, “c.” (circa)
indicates that the year given
is approximate.


Stories on this page:

1. The Great Bull Ride
(c. 1665)
Timothy Marshall
Ohio, USA

2. Chief Blue Jacket
(c. 1770s–1795)
Katelyn Putzier
Idaho, USA

3. Return to Sender
(c. 1883–1884)
Andrew Tuller
Idaho, USA

4. Josie and the Wild
Cow Chase (1889)
Abby Urnes
Missouri, USA

5. Terror on the High
Seas (1912)
Ethan Northup
Idaho, USA

6. From Covered
Wagon to Airplane
Aaron Schnoor
North Carolina, USA

7. Don’t Mess with
Granny! (c. 1928)
Brian Byerly
Tennessee, USA

8. Hard Times
(c. 1930s)
Deborah Renée
Missouri, USA

9. Great-Grandpa Joe
and the Jolly Hearts
(c. 1930s)
Brendan J.
De Luca–Rodenberg
Florida, USA

10. The Tornado
(c. 1930)
Cade Grossart
Nebraska, USA

11. The Abandoned
House (1937)
Kayla Rother
Nebraska, USA

12. Granny Sweetpea
and the Swamp
Cabbage Catfish
Breanna Fernald
Florida, USA

13. The Thief Who
Received a Gift
(c. 1939)
Caleb Yates
Indiana, USA


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