Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Rode with Kit Carson

Lafe Powell, my great-grandfather, my mother's mother's father, knew Kit Carson according to family lore. I wouldn't know; he was a senile old man who lived in a back room in my grandmother's house in Ottawa, Kansas when I knew him. I might have been 5 or 6, then. I remember my grandmother washing his feet in a small enameled basin with chips on the rim, because he had gangrene caused by frostbite in the Rocky Mountains from the days when "he rode with Kit Carson."

Lafe's middle name was Scoojewah; that may be a transliteration several idioms removed from the Cherokee Sequoyah, but the family story (one he told on himself with a twinkle in his eye) was that he had an Indian midwife and he was named after Sacajewea, of Lewis & Clark fame.

That's all I know, except my mother always loved Taos, New Mexico and my uncle Harry was a doctor (and Baptist preacher) on the Navajo Indian reservation. Maybe there's a bit of Carson karma there after all.

I never knew Sophie Powell, my great-grandmother, at all. My Aunt Bonnie told me she always carried a few candies in her apron pockets for her grandchildren. No photo, sadly.



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