Bill Haywood's Book: The Autobiography of William D. Haywood

By William D. Haywood | Go to book overview

BILL HAYWOOD'S BOOK

CHAPTER I
BOYHOOD AMONG THE MORMONS

My father was of an old American family, so American that if traced back it would probably run to the Puritan bigots or the cavalier pirates. Neither case would give me reason for pride. He was born near Columbus, Ohio, and with his parents migrated to Iowa, where they lived at Fairfield. His brother and cousins were soldiers in the Civil War; all of them were killed or wounded. My father, when a boy, made his way across the prairies to the West. He was a pony express rider. There was no railroad across the country then and letters were carried by the Pony Express, which ran in relays, the riders going at full speed from camp to camp across the prairies, desert and mountains from St. Jo, Missouri, to San Francisco on the Pacific coast.

My mother, of Scotch-Irish parentage, was born in South Africa. She embarked with her family at Cape of Good Hope for the shores of America. They had disposed of everything, pulled up by the roots, and left her birthplace to make their way to California. The gold excitement had reached the furthest corners of the earth. People without the slightest knowledge of what they would have to contend with were leaving for the West. There were no palatial steamships in those days; it meant months of dreary, dangerous voyage in a sailing vessel. The danger was not past when they landed in port; there was still the train ride of eighteen hundred miles, and then the long trip across the plains and mountains in covered wagons drawn by oxen. There was the constant dread of accident, of sickness, and of the hostile Indians, red men who had been forced in self-protection to resent the encroachment of the whites.

On the way across the prairies, my uncle, then a small boy, was

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