I was born on the 240-acre farm my great-grandfather homesteaded in 1834, in Carroll County, Indiana. The farm was located between the Tippicanoe and Wabash Rivers, approximately 20 miles northeast of what was then known as Prophetstown, the site of the Battle Tippicanoe, in which the followers of Shawnee Chief Tecumseh were routed by the forces of William Henry Harrison in 1811. The land had been occupied by many Indian tribes who left behind artifacts including arrowheads, stone axes, and grinding stones, which we found in the fields after Papa had plowed.
Papa was the first educated veterinarian for miles around. He bred and trained racehorses and Percheron workhorses. We had had dairy cattle, hogs, sheep, chickens, etc. This was a self-sustaining farm. Mamma had a huge garden and kept her cellar filled with canned meats, fruits, and vegetables.
Pittsburg was the nearest town. I remember Papa taking me to its general store when I was small. I can still see the potbellied stove with its chrome footrests on all sides, circled with old oak chairs where the old-timers sat exchanging stories and jokes. Well-used brass spittoons were strategically placed nearby. This was the gathering place for the farmers and old-timers in the area.
Papa knew, when he went into the store, that he would be giving free veterinary advice to anyone who asked. He didn't mind until they tried to treat an animal themselves and waited until it was near death before calling him, expecting a miracle.
No children lived near us, so our sisters and brothers were our playmates and friends. My brother Raymond had bright red hair and freckles. He was 5 1/2 years older than me and I learned very young not to do anything he told me, not to eat anything he offered me, and not to repeat anything he said.