Evidence – ‘We Have to be Very Careful’



During 1870-71, Luna E Warner kept a day-by-day diary of what happened to her.

The diary describes how the family travelled to Kansas, staked a claim, built a house and farmed the land … all through the eyes of a 16-year-old girl. 

This just happened to be the period when her family moved out west – the time when the ‘Wild West’ was at its wildest...

Historian Venola Bivans of the Kansas Historical Society says: 'This diary is an interesting social document because its author was an intelligent and literate teenager with unusual powers of observation and a sense of humor. Her views of life on the Western frontier are … a new and historically refreshing commentary'.


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The following websites will help you research further:


• Luna Warner's Diary - the whole diary



1:  Luna Warner's Diary

Excerpts from the Diary:

March 17  We arrived at Cawker City about noon.  It consists of 4 or 5 finished houses, one store and 2 or 3 unfinished houses.
March 27  We started for a log house just opposite our claims to live till we get houses built.
I walked.  We crossed Oak Creek.  It is a very bad crossing.  The log house is one little room….  When we went to bed we had to pack as tight as we could.  Some slept out.
March 28  Mamma and I went over to our land and set out some gooseberry bushes.
March 29  Our family went out onto our land and commenced to dig a cellar.  We girls got lots of funny stones along the river.  We all played drop the handkerchief in the evening.
April 1  Gena and I put on old dresses and went bathing in the river.  
April 2  Very windy.  We looked out this fore noon and saw bows and ribbons of all colors flying over the prairie.  Arabella's trunk had blown open. 
April 6  Temperature 98.  We planted peas, turnips, and squash on the claim.
April 9  It rained and hailed this evening.  The fireplace smoked so we could not stand it.  
April 10  The snow sifted into our faces all night…  The cabin is full of mice. 
April 14  Rainy.  I dug fish worms and went fishing.  Waded in mud up to my ankles.  Every speck of mud sticks to your feet.  There have been Indians seen in a good many places.  We have to be very careful. 
April 18  The wind blew very hard.  Everything out of doors blew away, even to two pails of water.
April 24  I went out by the river bare foot and came very near stepping on a small rattlesnake 
May 5  There was a white frost this morning. The water froze in the water pail. Mamma and I planted 81 hills of melons.  
May 6  Uncle Howard and Henry worked on our house.  They raised the frame.  Louie and I went down to the raising.  Then went home with them and played drop the handkerchief.
May 10  We planted potatoes.  
May 17  I am 16 years old today.  The mice or birds or something are disturbing the things in our garden.  The mosquitos trouble us very badly when the wind does not blow. 
May 20  I have been bringing water from the river.  It is hard to get it.  It is so slippery.  I milked some this morning.  We get 4 or 5 quarts of milk at a time. 
May 26  They raised the roof today.  We went to a dance in Cawker.  Arabella curled my hair and I wore my white dress and slippers.  We all went in the wagon and sang all the way.
The dance was in a little house with 3 rooms.  Two sets could dance at once.  They had fiddles.  The music wasn't very good but we had a good time and danced till 2 o'clock then had refreshments and came home over the trails in the dark.  Got home at 4:30. 
June 2  It rained very hard in the night.  The lightning was splendid. 
June 5  Hotter'n blazes!  We plant garden at night because it is so hot. 
June 8  Papa and I planted corn. 




2:  Luna Warner's Homestead

The Warner homestead sometime after it was built:




3: Cawker City in the 1880s

Cawker was established in 1870. The first land claims were registered in early 1871, and the town soon had mills, banks, schools, churches and an opera house; the population reached 2,000 by 1880. One historian suggests that the first building was not erected until 1872 (although Luna’s diary says that there were 4 or 5 houses finished by March 1871).