Sturkie Family History
Johnnie Runs Away
~~by Paul D. Sturkie, Phd.

My father’s store was about one quarter of a mile from the railroad station where he received all of his supplies for the store. He outfitted Johnnie (the family mule) with harness and wagon so that Ira and I could haul the freight from the station to the store.

Johnnie usually would pull the wagon without incident, but on occasion he was cantankerous and refused to move, or he moved slowly and stopped frequently and rarely would he trot. One time my father told me to take Johnnie and the wagon and pick up several cases of mason fruit jars, packed usually one dozen to the case. The wagon had a flat bed with sideboards about eight to ten inches high.

I stacked the cases in six layers or tiers about five feet high. I stood up in front of the stacks to drive Johnnie, and since I had nothing to hold on to except the drivers lines, my position was not secure.
Johnnie began pulling the load slowly at first and then at a fast walk down the fairly steep grade. Suddenly he stopped, but I and the load did not. I fell off the wagon and part of the load slid forward on to Johnnie’s rump. He then bolted with the driverless wagon, running over my leg and strewing fruit jars all along the way. Several jars were broken and I was painfully but not seriously injured.

My mother was disturbed over this and other bruises, scratches, and kicks inflicted by Johnnie, and she was determined that “the mule” as she called him, had to go. Later when Ira and I were away, my father gave away Johnnie, the saddle, wagon and harness to an itinerant peddlar with the admonition to never return.