An incredible thing happened today. Phil and Joan went to get water from our spring and when they came back they were bursting with the news that we weren’t allowed to have that water.

Apparently, two boys had stopped them from taking any water. They claimed it was their spring. Well, I’m fairly certain that they are wrong, but it might be hard to prove. However, the bigger problem is that the two boys said it was their claim that we were on. Now, I don’t believe them because Uncle Jim wouldn’t have done that to us.

Dick got mad of course. He has started to act a bit more like a man these days, which is encouraging, but right now, he is all set on going out there and sorting this out. I tried to talk him out of it of course, saying that there was a mistake and it would come to nothing, but he left anyway, and now he’s out there trying to find this shack that those boys live in.




We had some visitors yesterday. The Wubber children came round to borrow something. I couldn’t understand what they wanted at first, they speak strangely, but it turned out they needed yeast cake, whatever that is.

Anyway, Becky gave them some yeast cake and made us leave the kitchen. I took the Wubbers down to the creek and we hunted for suckers. Joan and I told the Wubbers that you can catch them with your bare hands, but they didn’t believe us. We were about to show them, but Dick made us stop because he said we had to work. We hadn’t even had breakfast yet!

Luckily, Uncle Jim had left instructions on how to plant the vegetables. I say lucky, but in some ways it wasn’t because then Dick really wanted to get working. Oh well, I suppose I’ll enjoy eating the vegetables when we grow them. Apparently, we’ll have string beans, potatoes, and rhubarb. I love rhubarb, and potatoes are good, but I’m not sure beans made of string sound all that appetizing to me. We’ll see, I guess.



We went to look at the land this evening. We have a creek. It seems to go on for miles. I’m so excited though, because Dick says he’ll dam it and make a swimming hole for us. I hope he does this soon though, because Uncle Jim said it gets hot in the summer.

Our barn (Becky doesn’t like me calling it that) is beginning to look a bit more like home. We have a picture of Uncle Jim up on the wall. I miss Uncle Jim.

After we looked at the creek we went to see the prairie-dog town. They are funny things. They sit on their haunches and make a ton of noise. But, if you try and get near them, they run away into their holes really quickly. I like them. But, the really cool bit was the rattle snake. Joan almost got bitten by him. I have to write home and tell Clem all about this. He won’t believe me of course, but I saw it and it was huge. He was a bit scary though. Dick told us we have to be really careful of rattle snakes. I think I’ll hunt them down one day.



I’m seething this morning. I can’t believe people would break all our stuff. The windows have been smashed, and the water pump has been put out of action as well. Whoever did it, didn’t even know us. I suppose they might have had a grudge against Uncle Jim, but I doubt that. Uncle Jim was such a nice person, after all.

Luckily for us, Mr. Cleaver has said he’ll help fix the water pump at the very least. Makes me feel much better knowing that there are good people as well as mean people out here in South Dakota.

It turns out that Mr. Wubber thinks it might have been a family by the name of Welps that has it in for us. He did seem a bit vague about it all though, and boy, did he eat a lot of our food. Still, this whole thing has really got into my head. If it was the Welps, why would they do such a thing? I guess, we’ll have to see if we can find them and have a chat. If they are our neighbors, it would be good to be on good terms with them.


I couldn’t wait to see our new home. Mr. Cleaver drove us out to the claim. I was first to the door. I like the house, but it is dark inside. Some mean person had broken all the windows. I think they are mean. Luckily Dicky is going to fix them tomorrow, but what a shame. Then Mr. Cleaver found that the water pump isn’t working either. What bad luck. Mr. Cleaver said we can get it fixed though. Even with the broken windows and the water pump, I still think this is a great place. I can’t wait to explore it all. There seems so much to explore though. I hope Phil will come with me when we explore and that he won’t be mean to me.



Well, it took us long enough. At least it seems that way, but maybe its only been a few days. Seems as though the days all blend into one at the moment. Anyway, today was the day we finally laid eyes on Uncle Jim’s claim. I’m not sure that it really impressed me at first sight. I think maybe there is just too much to take in at the moment.

Mr. Cleaver drove us out to our land in his car, which was nice of him, and a special treat as well. He knew Uncle Jim and it was good to have a friendly face helping us straight away.

Joan commented that the grass never ended, and she was right. There is hardly a tree out there. We’re lucky though, because we have a creek running through the claim, and there is a barn and our little house all ready for us. We’re going to have our work cut out, but I think we can make it, especially if we have help from good people like Mr. Cleaver.


We met a really nice man today. Mr. Cleaver is his name. He owns the lumber yard in Dallas. Oh, my name’s Joan, by the way. Anyway, Mr. Cleaver said we were late, but I’m not sure what we were late for, because it was really early in the morning when we went to the lumber yard. Still, he seems nice enough to me, although he used words I’ve never of before, like “tittery eye.”



Well, you haven’t heard from me yet, so I suppose I better put down some thoughts while their still fresh in my mind. I won’t bore you with more about the train ride, though.

I think, the thing that really struck me was when we arrived at the Jumping-Off Place in Dallas. So many things to get from the stores. Uncle Jim really left me a detailed list, and I had to go from place to place trying to find everything. I can’t believe how much we spent, and even though Becky thought my shotgun shells were a little expensive, I think she’ll be glad I got them when I bring in my first rabbit or whatever else I can scare up for dinner.

That first day seemed to go on forever, but we made it here, well almost, we still haven’t seen the claim of course. Still, tomorrow, we’ll get out there and see what Uncle Jim has left us.

—Dick Linville


Hi, I’m Phil.

I just read what Becky wrote. It is interesting, but I think she left some things out. I mean, this was a looooong journey.

First, there was the bit when the man made Jonie pay for the things she thought he had given to her for free, then there was all the different places we visited, including Omaha, which even though we only really saw the inside of the station, still seemed to be a big place. Let’s see, what else? Wind, lots of wind, and no trees, and green grass as far as I could see. I think Uncle Jim called it a “sea of grass” and I think he might have been right.

I guess I must have slept more than I thought though, because that’s about all I remember.

Phil Linville


Hi, we’re the Linvilles. I’m Becky (17 years old), and I have two brothers, Dick (15) and Phil (10), and one younger sister, Joan (7). Our story is told in The Jumping-Off Place, written by Marian Hurd McNeely way back in 1929.

There’s so much to tell you about our adventures, but I’ll start from the beginning because that makes the most sense.

Poor old Uncle Jim. He traveled out to South Dakota and staked a claim on a piece of land that he wanted to prove up with us. Unfortunately, he got sick and passed away a month or so before we had to move out here. He knew he was dying so he wrote down everything that we would need to know about the land, the farm, and how to make it all work.

We left Platteville, Wisconsin on a Saturday. Seemed like most of the town came out to wish us well. I guess everyone liked Uncle Jim. The train went to Galena, Illinois, then through Iowa to Omaha in Nebraska. From there we made our way north into South Dakota towards Dallas, in Tripp County.

I don’t remember all that much about the journey. It seemed uneventful, but long, I suppose. I was just glad that Phil and Joan were so well-behaved.

Well we’re here now, wherever here is, and we have got to make the best of it we can.

Becky Linville