"In 1889, my granddad was in the Oklahoma Land Rush for his farm near Covington, Okla. ..."

In 1889, my granddad was in the Oklahoma Land Rush for his farm near Covington, Okla., in Garfield County, Okla. First, he built a dugout in the ground they shared with their horses. They obtained their water from a shallow spring near the dugout. This was their home and water source for several years. Eventually, they built their home, large barn, chicken houses, shop building, granary, storm cellar and dug well.

I can remember my Granddad Braithwaite telling me many stories about his farm living. I think my favorite was digging the dug well. The well was about 7 feet in diameter and 25-feet or 30-feet deep. The lower 20 feet of the well was dug in a semi-hard red sandstone.

When they could no longer hand the soil out of the well with a rope and bucket, they installed a tripod with a pulley over the well, and used a rope, a small barrel and a mule to pull the barrel to the top. Then my uncle would dump the bucket.

When they reached the sand rock, my granddad would use a long bar and jab it in the same spot, while applying small amounts of water. This was a basic form of cable-tool drilling. Once the hole was deep enough, he would place some dynamite and fuse in the hole and pack the top of the drilled hole with rocks. Granddad would light the fuse and climb in the barrel, then holler for my uncle to pull him to the top with the mule. Once the dynamite exploded, using the mule, my uncle would lower granddad back into the well to continue cleaning out the broken rocks, and then repeat it all again until they reached sufficient water.

Once when granddad lit the dynamite fuse and hollered for my uncle to pull him up, the mule balked. As timing was of the utmost urgency, my uncle hit the mule on the rear with a 2-by-4. The mule took off, pulling granddad and the barrel out of the well and off across the field just before the dynamite went off. Needless to say, that 2-by-4 was kept handy from then on until the well was completed.

Another time, my mom was playing with a basketball, and it fell in the well just as granddad was swinging the pickax into the rock. The pickax punctured the ball, and it exploded. Granddad just about had a heart attack because he thought he had hit some unexploded dynamite.

The last time I was at the old home place, the old dug well still was there.

Well drilling can be dangerous, but it can be funny – even way back then.