Trip To School, Riverboat Explosion:A Carbons Creek on line story

 Ben Campbell steamship at landing, restored version of a daguerreotype
Ben Campbell steamship at landing, restored version of a daguerreotype | Source

Sarah and Sandy

Since my uncle Jake died I’ve been publishing the Carbons Creek Sentinel. I came here from Chicago to settle the estate and stayed to solve his murder. It had been determined that his death was accidental. The fire was considered an accident and he got trapped in the print shop when it burned. I was convinced he was murdered and I determined to stay and continue his crusade to expose all the corruption in the area.  John, my uncle’s typesetter, stayed on and Sandy, the deaf boy who I hired part time help to keep me going.

“Sandy,” I said.” How would you like to take a trip to Wisconsin?”

“What for, Miss Sarah.”

“There’s a special school there for young people who have hearing problems.” I talked in sign language.  “You won’t have to go to the school if you don’t want to, but I thought you should see what they got.”

The problem, as I see it, is Sandy’s about fifteen years old now and I don’t think he has had much schooling. He is smart and picked up a lot along the way. I mean, he can read fairly well, he writes a good hand, knows sign language and can work with horses.

I heard about the school that teaches the deaf up in Wisconsin and wrote a letter to them. I got a reply telling me that his case sounds very interesting. They are not sure if he would fit into their program but would like to interview him. If we could find a way to make the trip, that is. The railroads were trying to establish service in the area but progress was uncertain. The trip would be over two hundred miles. I figured we could go horseback to the river and go by steamboat to where a new railroad was being built.

Sandy had doubts about the school but he was always ready for adventure and we set out. We packed enough supplies for a couple of nights camping, along with my rifle. Since we might have to hunt some food, I borrowed another rifle for Sandy.

Steamboat

We camped out for two nights and it was early next evening when we found someone with a skiff to take us on the river to meet the steamboat. Sandy had been on the steamboats before on a trip with the rancher and horse trader he worked for, so he knew what they were like. For a while the weather was sunny and pleasant. Soon, though, it began to change and a storm erupted. Lightning flashed. It seemed to be attracted to the high smokestacks on our boat. Thunder boomed, then more lightening. Sandy’s dog is usually very calm, was becoming very agitated. A crewmember advised us to get to a lower deck where it was more sheltered. We could still see the lightening flashes lighting up the sky and a strong wind started blowing. I tried to stay calm so as not to alarm Sandy but I was getting nervous. Then it seemed like we were headed into a wall of water, which would swallow, up our steamboat.

Sandy signaled to me that we should go below and get our horses. I hesitated but Sandy always had good instincts and so did his dog. When we got to the area where the horses were kept and they were in panic. They calmed down some when they saw Spot. That dog and his kin have a calming effect on horses. Sandy wanted to take the horses and abandon the steamboat. As I said, he has good instincts but the thought of jumping into the river currents during a storm didn’t seem very promising.

A lightening bolt hit one of the smokestacks and toppled it. “Let’s do it,” I said. We grabbed what we could of our belongings, saddled the horses and found a low guardrail and jumped them over. Fortunately, we were on the side opposite the wheel were running fairly close to shore. If we’d been in the middle of the river we probably would have drowned. Spot led the horses and we made it to shore. The water ruined our food supplies. We had the rifles and by luck I had secured the ammunition in a watertight container. We’d have to hunt for food.

I was about to see if there was any dry wood anywhere when I heard the explosion. The steamboat’s boiler had exploded. We watched in horror as we saw the boat burst into flames and we readied ourselves to help any survivors, but didn’t see any come our way. I said a prayer and Sandy bowed his head. Now we had to find some shelter. My instinct was to get away from the river and hope to get away from the storm as well. We were all soaking wet.

We led the horses past many broken and uprooted trees. We could see many lightening strikes. After an hour or so we came to a little farm and approached the house.

New Friends

“My goodness, whar did you folks come from?” a thin, middle-aged woman opened the door to greet us. We were more than glad to take her invitation to come in and sit by her fireplace. She called in a boy about Sandy’s age who she introduced as her son Joseph. “Help these folk with their horses,” she told him. Joseph took a look at us and said maybe we should warm ourselves and he would feed and wipe down the horses. Sandy went out with him anyhow.

Sandy and Joseph came back after taking care of the horses. Joseph asked his mother for some food for Sandy’s dog and she gave him some leftovers from her cupboard. Somehow the two boys were able to talk to each other.

I told the woman, he name was Martha, about our escape from the steamboat before it blew up. She told us about her husband having died three years ago. She and her and two sons were keeping the little farm going. It was touch and go, but they were getting by. Her other son had gone to get supplies and would be back soon. She found some clothes of her husband’s that would fit Sandy. I got by with a combination of some of her clothes and his. Now I had her underwear and her husband’s shirt. She also had an extra skirt I could wear. I took a slouch hat that belonged to her husband. That should set a new style back in Carbons Creek. At least they were dry.

She cooked up some eggs and meat. It seemed like a feast. Sandy signed his thanks. I explained to her about Sandy being deaf and how we were on our way to the school for the deaf.

“Sarah,” she said, “you two are in luck.”

“How's that?”

“They's a new railroad line jest opened up 'bout ten mile from here. You'll have ta flag 'em down, but they’s goin’ where you folks wanta go.”

Luckily, we had a chance to get good nights sleep and a really good breakfast. I knew she would not accept any money from us. Out here hospitality is sacred. It can't be contaminated with money. I told her that I was the publisher of the Carbon's Creek paper and that if she liked I would be glad to put her on our subscription list, so she would know about what's going on in our town. She thought that would be great.

The boys guided us to the railroad and stayed with us until we got aboard. Thankfully, we got to the school without any more trouble. They were gracious and the school looked first class. The students appeared happy. After interviewing Sandy, Professor Smith, the headmaster, said he was impressed with Sandy but was not sure that he would fit into the curriculum.  He did suggest that if Sandy wanted to he could stay at the school for a few weeks.  

Sandy stayed on for a while and we agreed he would come back home in a few weeks.I hope Sandy’s other boss doesn’t mind.

© 2011 Don A. Hoglund

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Comments 49 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

You keep taking us back to the early days of U.S. settlement with these marvelous stories. Those were certainly hardy folks back then!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Peggy

Thanks for the first comment.I do think there is a certain principle of survival of the fittest.Those who were not hardy probably died young. Old movies used to portray women as weak and dependent. My guess is that they were a lot tougher than that.


Becky 5 years ago

You are definitely right about the women being tougher. Read the story of "The Donner Party". A wagon train left late and ended up spending the winter on top of Donner Pass. True story and will make you off your food for weeks. My great-grandmother came over on a covered wagon from Ohio to Ca. Her parents story is something else and I have her diary. They would not have made it without her.

Now for my comment on your story. Great story. Glad to see Sarah back and that Sandy gets some schoolin'. I always enjoy the Carbon Creek westerns. Have a great 4th of July.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

Yes...Happy 4th of July!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Becky,

I'm no expert on the Donner party but am somewhat familiar with it.I'm glad you enjoyed the story. You might find my series of hubs titled "The Story of Marie..." They are a combination of fact and fiction based on letter my grandfather's sister left.She came over from Sweden on her own.She seemed to be not bothered by traveling by herself by train.I hope you are enjoying the 4th.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Peggy W

I hope you enjoyed the 4th as well.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

dahoglund, you never disappoint. Your stories are riviting. I love the history and the authentic feel. Up and awesome.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

You comment is much appreciated, especially the part about authentic feel.Makes me feel that I have achieved something.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

I love anything to do with days gone by and this one was a treat.

Here's to many more hubs to share.

Take care

Eiddwen.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I am glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading it and commenting.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Great story, dahoglund!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Enjoyed your story and will have to do some catching up on my reading as I am sure you have many more that I have not had the chance to read as of yet. Up and awesome.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks, WillStarr.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Just Ask Susan

I know how it is.If I take time to do home maintenance or anything I get overwhelmed. I don't know what I'd do if I had weren't retired.Thanks for reading and commenting on this hub..


Carolyn Moe profile image

Carolyn Moe 5 years ago

Thanks for more entertainment!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting.


Becky 5 years ago

I grew up in Reno, right at the foot of Donner mtn. I have been at their last camp site before they started over and if they had stayed there , they would have been fine. They did not realize how much snow piles up on that mountain. I have also been at the site of their cabins. The original ones were dismantled but they have built replicas as reminders. Nevada history is fascinating in many ways.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Yes.I think there is interesting history in all the states.I'm sure you are right about they should have waited until after Winter.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States

Hi Dahoglund! Great story. I love Carbons Creek and the feel of being there! Fascinating!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks Dexter.We'll have to get to know more of the resident to Carbons Creek.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 5 years ago from UK

Good story dahoglund... Carbon Creek has got that period feel and I loved that steamboat escapade. Very visual. Well done.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for the comment Docmo. I appreciate your pointing out what you liked about the story.


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Yes, you certainly made a good job of portraying the hardships back in those days. The spirit of helping other people out is not dead, but seems to be diluted these days. I felt an immediate affinity for the characters you created and would have been happy to know more about their adventures.

My wife managed a ten bed blind man's hostel when we first arrived here in Melbourne. Some of the residents had a positive attitude, whilst others were negative and tried to bury their problems in an alcoholic daze. The blind people who had been born blind seemed to cope better than the ones who had gone blind later in life.

My wife also worked with deaf children for a short period and learnt some sign language, but i had no involvement with that pursuit. Oh well must dash. Cheers


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I can understand some the problems of the blind as I had lost much of my vision due to cataracts at one time. It took awhile to discover and correct the problem. I do not think I handled it as well as some others might.

As far as people helping each other out seems to be something of a custom in our "western states" probably due somewhat because of the vast distances.

Thank you for your comment.


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Yes, it would be different in your environment compared to a big city like Melbourne. We have a lot of friends, but people don't just drop in like the small town that i grew up in in England. I'm sure it would have been extremely difficult for you losing a lot of your eyesight. I'm glad to hear that modern methods have helped you to overcome this problem. Cheers


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks. I don't think I ever lived in a town where folks just dropped in.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

This is an interesting story; however, early schools for the deaf were really more like prisons than schools. The children were severely punished for signing. The goal was to turn them into faux-hearing people who lip-read and talked in voice and did not sign. It has only been within the last 50 years that deaf culture and American sign language have been recognized as genuine. My HUB:

Deafness In Films

http://hubpages.com/education/Deafness-In-Films

explores this phenomenon to some extent.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I am not an expert but the research I did for a hub on sign language leads me to believe that some schools taught sign language. If you are right than Sandy might have to run away from the school.

http://hubpages.com/health/Sign-Language-for-Deaf-...


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

For more information see my article and also this article:

http://www.netplaces.com/sign-language/the-origins...


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I don't see anything that contradicts my own research.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

You are saying that the teacher would have responded as follows:

"After interviewing Sandy, Professor Smith, the headmaster, said he was impressed with Sandy but was not sure that he would fit into the curriculum. He was already fluent in sign language and other skills. "

This is not how it would have happened. The teacher would have said the boy needed to stop signing and learn to talk and lip-read.

Additionally, a boy in the circumstances you have described in this story and another would not be fluent in American Sign Language. The sign language of the Native Americans and American Sign Language are completely different.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Unless he knew both. But this is a work of fiction.In my hub on sign language I find that people such a Gallaudet and Clerc started schools for the blind using sign language. As you say some got away from the methods of sign language, but it seems unlikely to me that in a frontier society of the time of the Civil War or thereabouts that all schools would be the same.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

Blind people, unless they are deaf/blind like Helen Keller, don't use sign language. Think about it!

Societal attitudes were fairly universal regarding deaf people and sign throughout the late 1800s and well into the late 20th century. Sign was strongly discouraged and deaf people were oppressed and discriminated against.

The deaf people with whom I lived and worked in the 1980s (including my ex-husband) had horror tales to tell about the discrimination and oppression they faced in being denied their culture and their language. These were people who were instrumental in creating the ADA and having it passed. In fact, I sat on a panel that helped write parts of the ADA.

The discrimination and oppression deaf people faced for over a century is a civil rights issue, and you need to be aware that the sentiment of the deaf culture toward people who write about them or use elements of their culture for entertainment value without understanding the culture is very similar to the sentiment of the Native American community toward people who "honor" their culture by having their works of art mass-produced in China.

Tread very carefully with this. You run the risk of offending the very group you believe you are representing positively.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Pardon me, I made an error in saying blind, maybe a Freudian slip. I am not writing about blind people. I also am not writing about the late 1800's but closer to the Civil War.I suppose it is impossible to mention anybody in a story without the danger of someone being offended.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

So, what you seem to be saying is, you are admittedly not an expert. You reject input from someone who is something of an expert. You simply want to write about a group of people you don't know much of anything about for fun regardless of the fact that doing so is likely to offend that group. Dahoglund, understand that I would not have said anything if it were not obvious to me that you don't know about the type of person you are writing about and if I had not been present when more than one deaf person expressed the sentiment that to do this is wrong and disrespectful to deaf people and deaf culture.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Justmesuzanne

I do not claim expertise in any subject.However, I have often been told that if I wait to know everything about a subject I'll never write anything.I am however, somewhat known as a pretty good researcher.

I have deleted the dialogue you found fault with.I have also read your hub which does not seem to contradict my knowledge. I don't think you have read my hub on sign language for which I put a link to in a previous comment.

I am not writing about a group of people, I am writing about one individual who is deaf. From reader feedback he is a well liked character.What is disrespectful about that? I admit I have not known a lot of deaf people, but they seem like ordinary people to me.

If I slipped and used the word blind when I meant deaf it may be because I have had more personal impact and fear of blindness. However, I admit I do not proof my comments like I do hubs.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

I had read your article on sign language. It is one of the things that convinced me that you are not familiar enough with this subject to write about it. As far as what is offensive about the stories - it is not so much specific passages as the presumption that you know enough about deaf people to write about them or about deaf education or about American Sign Language. You don't. You are taking advantage of their culture and their language.

Just because people like a character doesn't mean that the character is properly or accurately rendered. Writing about a character (which is representative of a group of people) in inaccurate generalizations and stereotypes is disrespectful to the culture that character represents. It just advances misinformation.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

On the upside...

I think that you have probably gotten interested in this because of the deaf employees at work that you describe in your comment on my article about deafness in films. What is lacking from your story and your articles about deafness and sign language is personal experience, and that it what deaf people tend to want hearing people who write about deaf people, deafness, ASL, and so on to have.

You have a good start here. It's a good story, and it's clear you have done some academic research. Now it's time to get involved with deaf people and get some first hand knowledge.

Ideally, you should take a few sign classes yourself, but at least get a certified ASL interpreter to help you talk with the deaf people at work about this. Seek out older deaf people and people who are culturally deaf (deaf children of deaf parents) who would be likely to have some family stories about this time and other stories that reach far back into deaf history and deaf culture.

Watch the movies I recommend in my HUB, and there are many, many more. Personal knowledge will enrich your writing and make it authentic.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for your concern and suggestions.


Becky 5 years ago

dahoglund, I hope you don't quit writing these stories because 1 person, who has no business taking you to task, decides to be rude and offensive. She obviously is on a mission to make people write her way whether they are wrong or not. In 'Little House on the Prairie', she wrote about her blind sister going to a school for the deaf which was trying other ways to help the blind. Your story reminded me of this. I guess she didn't know what she was talking about. She just lived it while it happened. Good story.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Interesting that you mention Little House on the Prairie. That show had a couple of grand research goofs. They seemed to move the Mesabi Iron Range from Northern Minnesota to the SW of Minnesota. The also had someone mugged on the Elevated train station while visiting Minneapolis. Only the elevated train is in Chicago.

I've been a bit distracted recently by plumbing problems and I've been on the list for jury duty this month.

Carbons Creek Stories will continue. Whether any changes are made remains to be seen.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

I don't want you to stop writing the stories. I think they're good stories, and I think it's a good character, AND I know enough about deafness and deaf culture to know that if you continue to explore this without some first hand knowledge you're going to end up having some run-ins with the very group of people you are apparently trying to understand. Personal experience will take care of this problem.

I also know, from having read your articles for a long time, Dahoglund, that you like to do high quality work, and you will follow through and get the knowledge and experience you need to do a stellar job of writing about deaf people that deaf people will be happy with. In the process, you will learn about them and surely overcome the discomfort you mention on a post on one of my articles.

Becky, I will give your anonymous post all the consideration it is due.


fashion 5 years ago

I like the history and the authentic feel.It is an interesting story; however, early schools for the deaf were really more like prisons than schools.keep writing.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

To anyone concerned about my portrayal of a deaf character in these stories:

1. As I wrote in a hub article I attended a Catholic Mass said in Sign Language and it impressed me.I have had some contact with deaf people when I was employed but they had little influence. I retired ten years ago and relocated. The organization I worked for has also been relocated. So I no longer have even that much contact. There is no community of the deaf anywhere near where I currently live,as far as I know.

2.I have no intention of not writing. It is what I have done most of my life.

3.I consider input from readers. In the end however, I make my own decisions about what and how I write.

4.To me characters are not members of groups but as 9individuals. To portray them as group members would be stereotyping and suitable for propaganda.

5.I do have some knowledge of social sciences as I would probably qualify for a bachelors degree in Social Work. They did not have one in my day.

^.Westerns stories are not history. They are mythology in my opinion. Historical accuracy is desirable but not required.I will do more research on deaf schools when I have the time to pursue it.So far I have not really run across anything that contradicts my previous research. The first schools for the deaf in the U.S. were started in 1817 by Thomas Gallaudet who taught sign language. I don't know if he ran his school like a prison but it seems unlikely from what I have read so far.It appears that sometime after the Civil War advocates for lip reading started to change that. My stories take place shortly after the Civil War and it seems unlikely to me that they would have entirely taken over the school. Schools were not run by the Federal government as far as I know. So far in my reading I have not found anything on the conditions.

6.I can identify with the girl an "little house on the Prairie that Becky mentions.I wrote about my own experience in losing eyesight. I eventual got it back, but it was difficult in the meantime.

i have tried to anticipate what everyone wants to know,


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

Gallaudet has always been good and the standard to which all deaf schools have been held;however, they never had a deaf dean until the late 20th Century. Deaf students protested to get deaf administration. Of course that is at an entirely different time than your story.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have been involved in discussions with deaf people in which the deaf complained bitterly about hearing people creating deaf characters (either written or performed) that were not realistic. My ex-husband (who was deaf) and I attended a presentation by Marlee Matlin at UC Berkeley in the 1980s in which she discussed this in depth.

There is a lot of information on this, both written and in excellent videos that are signed and voiced to be accessible to both hearing and deaf. As I see you delving further and further into this topic, I again, urge you to get some first hand experience and to take great care in your portrayal of a deaf character because the potential for offending the deaf community is tremendous.

Writers and actors who do take the time to really understand and to portray characters accurately are greatly appreciated. Those who don't are bitterly resented, so it is well worth it to take the time to get as much first hand experience with the deaf as possible if you intend to embark on writing about and portraying them at all.

If you have no opportunities to meet with deaf people, at least watch some videos (again, the ones I mention in Deafness in Films are quite good) and get a deeper understanding of the feeling behind the history. This will give you a better chance of portraying your character accurately and reduce your chances of offending the group this character does, inevitably, represent in your story.


Becky 5 years ago

I wasn't talking about the series. I was talking about the books. I know Hollywood takes liberties.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Sorry.I never read the books.


handymanbill profile image

handymanbill 2 years ago from western pennsylvania

Great story again. I really enjoy your writing. Keep up the great work.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Handymanbill, thanks for reading and commenting. This is a story in a series I wrote. Glad you enjoyed it.

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