The Pollock Family, 5 of 14: No Other Way

A pre-adolescent Indian child stepped into the firelight, hands over head. Thomas followed, his rifle pointed at the youngster’s back. Jessie hung behind, her eyes wide.

Sarah came forward. “You threatened her with the gun, Thomas?”

“There was no other way.” He leaned the rifle against the wagon and gestured at the child. “It looks like he’s been living on raw duck eggs and berries.”

“Poor thing.” She looked at the child, then at Thomas. “He?” she asked.

“He’s wearing breeches,” Thomas pointed out. “The long hair fooled you.”

Sarah crouched in front of the boy and reached up to gently pull down his left hand. “Hungry?” she asked.

He looked at her stoically. Jessie came forward with a piece of bread smeared with butter and jam. The boy lowered his right hand and took it cautiously. Sarah smiled and nodded, and he began to eat.

Copyright © 2015 Loretta Miles Tollefson

The Pollock Family, 4 of 14: “He Stole My Bacon!”

They stopped for the night at a spot where the canyon widened slightly. The Cimarron River was slower here, beaver dams backing it into a series of pools. Thomas fashioned poles so he and Jessie could fish.

“You’re too little to come. You’ll scare the fish,” Jessie told Charlie loftily as they left the campsite.

The two-year-old pouted for a minute, then settled to playing with some glittery rocks. Meanwhile, Sarah built a fire, sliced bacon into a cast iron skillet to render fat for the trout, then went to the back of the wagon to nurse the baby. She was buttoning her chemise when she heard a clatter. Charlie cried out.

As Sarah darted around the wagon, an Indian child’s black head disappeared into the willow bushes. The skillet lay upside down in the dirt. Charlie stood with a rock in his hand, wailing, “She stole my bacon!”

Copyright © 2015 Loretta Miles Tollefson

The Pollock Family, 3 of 14: Cimarron Canyon

Finally, they were heading into mountains again. “This road needs some improvement,” Sarah observed as the covered wagon jolted up Cimarron Canyon. Her arms tightened around baby Josephine.

“It does that,” Thomas agreed.

Among the goods in the wagon bed, Charlie began to cry. “I bumped my head!” he howled.

“You better be quiet, or the Indians’ll get us!” his older sister said sharply.

Sarah and Thomas looked at each other.

“Well, there are Indians,” Sarah pointed out. They’d seen them at Maxwell’s Ranch, standing in silent groups outside the grist mill, waiting for their dole of grain.

“And soldiers,” Thomas reminded her.

Sarah looked up at the sandstone cliffs on either side of the rocky track. She shivered. “I’ll be glad when we get to Elizabethtown,” she said.

“I don’t know how much of a town it’ll be,” Thomas warned.

“Anything will be better than this wilderness,” she answered.

Copyright © 2015 Loretta Miles Tollefson

Moreno Valley Sketches — Historical One Minute Stories

We’re excited to announce Loretta’s latest book, Moreno Valley Sketches. This is a collection of historical fiction using the One Minute Story format. These are all new stories (not published at and they’re all historical fiction set in northern New Mexico. Settlers, rustlers, gold miners and cattle ranchers–they’re all here! If you like what you’ve been reading at, you’ll like this book!

The Pollock Family, 2 of 14: Clucking at Mules

New Mexico Territory is drier than Colorado, but not much different otherwise, Thomas reflected as his covered wagon rattled south out of Raton Pass. He clucked at the mules, who twitched their ears and kept steadily on. The three children were asleep in the back of the wagon, and Sarah had slipped down to gather wildflowers. The wagon rolled steadily across the plains. Thomas yawned. He’d spent his boyhood in Ohio farmland, and that was enough grassland for him. He’d be glad to get to Elizabethtown and back in the mountains. And working again, instead of clucking at mules all day long.

There was a light thump behind him. Thomas turned his head. Six-year-old Jessie smiled sleepily at him. “How much farther, Papa?” she asked.

“As far as we can get,” he answered with a grin. He clucked at the mules again. They twitched their ears and kept steadily on.

Copyright © 2015 Loretta Miles Tollefson

The Pollock Family, 1 of 14: Outvoted

Sarah had only been sixteen when she married Thomas Pollock and she hadn’t been sorry, but there were times when she wondered if they were both crazy. He sat across from her now at the rough-hewn wooden table in their Colorado miner’s cabin and jiggled two-year-old Charlie on his knee. “What do you think?” he asked the child. “Shall we find our fortune in New Mexico Territory?”

Sarah shook her head and lifted baby Josephine to her shoulder to burp. Six-year-old Jessie appeared at her elbow, slate in hand. Sarah glanced at it. “‘Territory’ is spelled wrong,” she said. Jessie flashed her a smile and retreated. Sarah grinned. “I think I’ve just been outvoted,” she told Thomas. “When do you want to leave?”

Thomas stood up and tossed Charlie into the air. The little boy squealed in delight.

“Gonna be rich!” Thomas exulted.

“Going to be together, anyway,” Sarah said.

Copyright © 2015 Loretta Miles Tollefson


As they watched, a wild turkey hen stepped onto the frozen riverbed. She walked carefully up the ice-covered stream, stopping occasionally to peck at a fallen leaf or twig.

Finally, she disappeared into the coyote willow at the river’s edge. Carla let out a long breath and sat back against the Model T’s battered seat. She put her bare hands to her neck to warm them, and looked at her mother. “We’re really lucky,” she said.

“Why do you say that?” Eileen poured thin tea from the thermos into their single mug. She held it for a moment, warming her hands, then handed it to Carla.

“We see wild turkeys on a frozen river in January.” Carla sipped the tea carefully. “Not many people have that.”

Eileen looked out the cracked windshield, up at the bare cottonwoods etched against clear turquoise sky. “Not many do,” she agreed. “Not many do.”

Copyright © 2015 Loretta Miles Tollefson