Zona fought to keep her
balance as the wagon tipped and swayed, leveled and then veered off to
another angle while they were fording the freezing stream of water called
Hogshooter’s Creek in the year 1890. She was only twenty-one and this was
a new experience. The young woman was never one to be faint hearted with
an adventure. The two oxen pulling the wagon seemed to be sure-footed and
able to take her across this place that was in the shallows. Zona held
the reins bravely and was alert to her husband, John’s, instructions as
he called out to her. They had been married for only two weeks but a trust
between them was already established.
“Steady! Steady! Hold
‘em.” John kept his voice level and in a comforting way spoke to both the
animals and his new wife. Suddenly the oxen were stumbling about as though
they had lost their direction. Determined beasts though they were there
was something causing them to flounder in the water. The wagon was
jerking back and forth more violently now and all Zona could do, was to
hold to both sides of it with hands and knuckles made white by the cold
and strong grip she had to use to stay upright. The danger of slipping off
this shelf which was less deep into the depths of down, the stream was now
“What’s wrong? What is
wrong?” Zona was incredibly frightened and she searched her husband’s face
for answers when he rode his horse up beside her. His thoroughbred was
stepping carefully through the rock bottomed stream while the horse’s
muscles were taunt to show its stress. John’s handling his steed with
grace and strength because of the rider he was.
“Hold on! Just hold
on!” Her husband called to her as he slid off the side of his horse.
“Just hold steady.”
Zona had no choice but
to do just that. Without a moment’s hesitation he was into the frigid
churning water. John dived and dived again into the very depths of the
freezing, boiling, seemingly bottomless stream until he came up out of the
water holding in his hand the heavy metal pin from the oxen’s yoke. The
wiry young man wrestled to catch the thick wooden yoke that had been
across their necks and was able to replace it. He did have to fight the
cold and the animals until he was finally able to put the pin back in
place to get control and bring his wife to safety.
“Say Gal! You’re
sweeter than Elderberry wine and just as strong.” He threw back his head
an laughed out loud after he was able to get out of the freezing water.
John was truly proud of Zona, who was his new wife, and he told her so.