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A covered wagon pulled by a three-mule team traveled through Ringgold County on May 16, 2023 as part of a 600 mile journey from Lamoni, IA to Shevlin, MN.
Traveling between 4-8 miles-per-hour, Tom Nass and his friend Carlos Ford, are re-enacting the covered wagon ride Tom’s grandparents, Jim and Eunice Zigler, took 90 years ago.
In 1933, Jim and Eunice left by covered wagon with two mules and three children. Tom’s mother Ann was only three years old, his uncle Art was two years old, and his aunt Leona was just three weeks old at the time. Ann is now the last living child from that generation. She enjoys recalling stories her parents used to share with her, like being wrapped in cheesecloth to protect them from mosquitoes.
The Zigler family started their trip with 27 cans of pork from a wet sow they butchered before they left, and only $66 in their pockets. During a storm, the Zigler family tried to seek shelter in a grove of trees on a nearby farmstead. However, the owners of the property did not allow the Ziglers to take shelter there because that was where the chickens were kept. A tornado ripped through the property, and after the storm passed, the farmstead dwellers discovered most of the chickens had died. They ended up giving the chickens to the Zigler family to butcher. By the end of their six-week ride to Bagley, MN, the Zigler family had $33 remaining to start their new life.
Jim and Eunice Zigler built a tar paper shack and stuffed straw between the inner and outer tar paper for insulation. Inside they had a table, a bed, and a wood stove to cook and stay warm. Jim cut tamarack wood and pulled it with his mules to make money the first winter. He also offered animal services like a veterinarian would today.
Tom and Carlos started their journey a little more comfortable heading North along P68 through Kellerton in a hand-made wagon built by Carlos. Prior to retiring 7-8 years ago, Carlos was a mechanic, worked in the oil drilling industry, and was a self-proclaimed roughneck. After his wife passed 5 years ago, he took up raising mules in Arkansas.
Recently retired, Tom farmed in Bagley, MN until 1998 and then moved to Missouri where he drove log trucks, raised cattle, and operated a dog kennel until the end of last year.
Tom and Carlos decided to take their trip and started preparing three young mules just after January 1, 2023. Tom and Carlos planned to make their first stop of the trip just north of Kellerton along P68. They continued 5 more miles after stopping to rest, feed and hydrate their mule team at Cal Daughton residence. Tom and Carlos settled in for their first overnight stay just south of Ellston behind a barn owned by Ronnie Shields.
When we caught up with Tom, he shared they plan to travel roughly 20 miles a day for 3 days and rest the mules on the 4th day. They are carrying enough food for the mules to last 4 days, and representatives from Purina are meeting them every 4 days to re-load food for the 4 legged-crew.
Tom and Carlos plan to meet up with their third companion, James Campbell, this week. James is bringing the whole kitchen and plans to set up the “chuck wagon” and evening campsite by driving ahead of Tom and Carlos. The first seven days, Tom and Carlos munched on sandwich fixings and prepared ham, bacon, eggs and hash browns for breakfast prior to starting their day.
At the completion of this memorial ride, Tom and his family will be celebrating Ann’s 93rd birthday at their family reunion.
You can track James, Tom, Carlos and the mules as they travel to Shevlin, MN. Follow the 1933-2023 Heritage Ride here: https://share.garmin.com/NJ3QS