I know it’s been a long time since I wrote in you, this winter has been such a whirlwind of activity. Here it is Valentine’s day. A day reserved for those you love, except I feel so empty. No Roy hasn’t forsaken me but this morning he had to leave. He didn’t want to leave on Valentine’s day, but train schedules don’t care about such things.
I got up early to ride with him and Papa to Aladdin to catch the train. Bundled up under the warm buffalo robes in the sleigh there was so much we wanted to say but couldn’t as Papa was along. I for one don’t think I could have said much anyway as most of the time I was choking back tears.
The train was already in the station when we arrived, so our good-byes were hurried. As the conductor called all aboard Roy gave us each a warm hug and I a peck on the cheek as Papa was watching. From deep in his jacket pocket Roy took out took out a box wrapped in scarlet ribbons and handed it to me.
“Open this when you get home and think of me,” he said.
Then he turned and climbed the steps from the platform to the train. I watched him find a seat by the window and we blew a little kiss to each other as the train chugged away.
I don’t know how I will survive his being gone so deep is my agony. I saved the box to open until we got back home, so I could be alone. Inside was the loveliest pendent watch you ever did see. The cover has flowers etched in gold with more of the same on the back and the initials M.E.P. for my name, Mae Edith Phillips.
Oh, my goodness I’d think I was the luckiest girl ever if only he wasn’t gone.
We had such fun while he was here. Lots of visiting with family and friends. Lots of snuggling on sleigh rides even if Hazel and Daniel or Sadie and Bert were always along. So many long walks on crunching white snow and warm laughter around the stove as it kept us warm on the coldest of days. And I know Papa and Daniel appreciated all the help he gave them with the outdoor chores.
He has given up on the idea of ranching in Montana as there is no good land to be had there or here. So back to Washington he has gone to find another logging job as soon as the camps open. But first he is taking a side trip to Deadwood to look up some kin folks for his dad.
We have agreed on a secret code we can put in our letters so prying eyes can’t read. We are calling it our China letters. No, it’s not Chinese, for then neither of us could read it. Ha, ha. Just a secret code only we two shall know.
And so here I still sit. I think Papa was getting ready to say I could go back to Washington to live with relatives after I turn 18 this coming May. But Mama got wind of it, planted her feet firm, crossed her arms and said, “she’ll not be doing that.” And at least when it is regarding her children, what Mama wants, she usually gets.
Sadie confided in me that Roy told Bert that he gave Papa his word that he won’t ask for my hand in marriage before I turn 21. And if there is one thing I know for certain it is Roy is a man of his word. But what about what I think, 21 is still such a long way off. I will be 18 in just a few months but 21 seems like an eternity.
I must tell you a little secret though while I am mentioning Sadie. She told me she’s in a family way. She doesn’t want everyone to know just yet but come September there will be a new little Marchant. I guess that’s one little thing for me to look forward to, a new little cousin, only I feel more like I should be the aunt and not Mama.
In the meantime, my heart feels fractured. I love Roy so, but I also love my family. I would hate to break Mama and Papa’s heart by disobeying them, but I am not sure I can wait until I am 21 to leave. I guess there is no point in fretting about this right now. It’s not like Roy has asked for my hand in marriage anyway. I have decided to make good use of the time and study by mail to get my teaching credentials. If I can earn my own way I could be more independent. Maybe even take a position in a logging town, ha, ha.
I just worry that in the meantime some Washington girl is going to catch his eye.
Authors note: The name Frank Rishor is often mentioned in the letters between Roy and Mae. I am not sure who he is but it’s probable he was the brother of Cynthia Rishor who married Mae’s uncle Herbert Philips.
Because Roy mentions him in 1913, before he was ever visited Wyoming, it suggests that they had probably met earlier in Washington. Perhaps when Frank’s family were out visiting other Phillip’s family. IF this is the correct Frank Rishor, he as born in 1877 and thus older than both Roy and Mae.
December 1, 1913
Dear Diary, I can hardly wait for Roy to get here. I just have to keep busy as I can’t hardly sit still with the anticipation. We still aren’t sure what day we’ll make our final move to Donald. Papa has been moving our winter provisions each time he makes a mail trip. I know it is best for him to be in Donald but if I can’t be in Puyallup then Mona is the place I want to be. Mama and I will do the best we can to make our Donald place seem homey but the things I really love will stay here.
Vera just arrived so I shall end. She and I are going to meet with the other young people to work on our parts for the winter program.
(This saved letter from Roy it seems incomplete, date unknown but it is from Dec, 1913)
Little friend will make a good one though, I will bet. You will have to give another production of it xmas, so I can see it. Lida came in just now said she had been over to see Lillian and that she and Justin were coming over here to spend the evening so I guess I won’t need to go over there. I spoke to Lida bout answering your letter and she said had answered it but I guess she was pretty slow about it. I suppose you have it before now though. I was down to Tacoma last evening. They have the stores all trimedup for xmas already and they were look nice. Wish you could see them.
I didn’t have much of a time Thanksgiving. Couldn’t tell it from any other day except that we had just a bit better dinner than usual. I Couldn’t help but think of last year and it made me feel pretty lonesome. Well I think this is enough for now so will say good night and stop. Give my best wishes to all the folks. Tell Mr. Phillips I wish he was here to help me with the berries again he is better at it than I am. pleasant dreams As ever W.R.C.
December 5, 1913
I am making progress on the scarf for Roy. The mittens and hat are done thanks to Sadie and Grandma ‘s help. I need to get it done before he arrives. My stomach is rumbling. Earlier mama put on a pot of fragrant stew to simmer on the stove. Papa has been doing the butchering so we will have meat for the winter.
I sure hope Roy makes it before for the Christmas program for it will be on the 19th. I guess he is still logging. I thought they would have snow by now in those tall mountains. Papa says we’ll move to Donald the day after the program.
Roy mentioned in his last letter how he went to Tacoma and the stores were all decked out for the holidays. I so remember seeing them before we moved here and the good time we had together that day. There are no sign of decorations here, I can tell you, what with the getting things ready to move to Donald.
December 11, 1913
Dear Diary, I am getting anxious. I so wanted Roy to be here by now but I still haven’t heard from him about when he’ll be leaving. Unless he is leaving in the next day or two there is no way he’ll be here in time for the program. I will sure be some disappointed if he doesn’t make it in time for Christmas.
I am happy to report though that I have finished his scarf now. I have to say after laying them in the tissue Mama gave me to wrap them in they look rather nice. I was going to tuck them into my hope chest for safe keeping but then Hazel reminded me we were going to Donald soon. So instead I have entrusted them to Papa to leave at our place at Donald.
Nagram Wn. Dec 12,1913
Dear Mazie, Well how goes it in Wyo. Today? Fine tho I hope. I got your letter yesterday and was glad of course. It came to Puyallup but my aunt got it up here to me. Am glad you are feeling well and hope you will always feel that way. I am feeling fine as usual with the exception of a bad cold. The first I have had for a long time. We are having nice weather here now. Clear and bright but pretty cold. Hope it stays that way while we have to work for I have worked through enough bad weather for one year. The camp is going to close down the 16th so we haven’t very much longer to work. I Am going to leave for Wyoming next Friday evening. So will get to Belle fourche Monday evening I suppose. I would like very much to get there in time to go with you to the xmas exercises you spoke of but don’t know whether I can.
I don’t know if your Aunt Ann is still of the notion of going with me or not. I sent her a card yesterday telling her when I was going to start. Hope she don’t decide not to go for it would be so much nicer to have company on the trip than to be alone.
I Am glad Frank Risher is going to be home for Christmas for I want to settle with him for not writing to me. Tell him that if he values his life he had better hide out before I get there. Am sorry your folks didn’t move to Bell Fouche as they had planned. It would have made it so much handier for me. It takes almost as long to go from there out to Mona as it does from here to B.F. Well think this is about all for now. Will tell you the rest and then some when I see you.
Don’t suppose I can get to Aladdin in time to get the Mona stage when the train comes in Tuesday. Is there anyone you could get to meet me in Aladdin when the train comes in on Tuesday. That would save me staying all night there. I don’t want anyone to put themselves very much out to do it tho as I can come out on the Donald stage Wed.
December 19, 1913
Papa just came in with a letter from Roy. I was nervous I could barely make my shaking hands open it so sure I was that would say he wouldn’t be coming after all. Instead it was welcome news. He should have left for here this morning. At least I hope nothing stopped him. Just think another 4 or 5 days and he should be here. And just in time for Xmas. To see his handsome face again shall be the best present ever. The Christmas program is tonight. I am disappointed Roy won’t be here to see my performance but my heart is filled with joy just the same. I just hope I don’t forget my lines with all my excited anticipation.
December 22, 1913
I am so nervous today. I know Roy should be arriving in Belle Fouche today and tomorrow he will be in Aladdin. I am still hoping someone will be able to pick him up and bring him here to Donald. I don’t think I can stand waiting another day.
The Christmas program was lovely. Our young people’s group set up trees and spent the day stringing popcorn and cranberries to decorate them along with red and green paper chains and candles. The evening festivities started with the singing of carols and then came our program. I am happy to say I didn’t forget a word. All the ladies brought refreshments for afterwards and of course Santa arrived with goodies for all the little ones.
We moved here to Donald the next day and Mama and I have been busy ever since. Hazel, Daniel and I have our feather beds all settled with blankets, quilts and pillows. Now I am just going crazy with waiting.
December 26, 1913
I am just going to take a few minutes to write quick in here for Roy has arrived. Just when I had given up seeing him on the 23rd Sadie and Bert’s wagon rounded the corner and along with them was Roy and boxes of Xmas goodies. They acted like they just decided at the spur of the moment to come spend the night in Donald but I know it was planned. No wonder everyone said they were too busy to pick him up. The men unloaded the wagon and then we all sat down round the crowded table to eat supper and catch on the news from Puyallup. Before I knew it Bert and Roy were headed out to the barn to bed down for the night. Sadie stayed indoors with us.
The morning of the 24th Mama and I made flapjacks and ham for everyone for breakfast. I didn’t even get a chance to see Roy until then. He had insisted on helping Papa and Daniel with the morning chores. After breakfast Bert and Sadie set off to spend Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa Smith. The rest of the day was a blur of making pies, bread and cakes for tomorrow evenings supper dance. Midafternoon Mama put on a kettle of oyster stew and Papa and Roy came in with a small pine tree for us to decorate. We spent the rest of the day stringing popcorn and cranberries to wrap around it and singing carols. Hazel and Daniel were so busy talking I barely got a chance to talk to Roy. The Donald’s came by after supper to meet and welcome Roy to Wyoming and by the time they left it was time to hang the stockings and go to bed and I still hadn’t had the slightest moment to be alone with Roy.
Christmas morning arrived with wet white flakes falling. Our first snowfall in some time. Mama and I made flapjacks again along with ham, eggs and cinnamon rolls. And then we all got into our stockings. There was candy, nuts and oranges for all. Daniel got a toy automobile; Hazel hair ribbons and I got a pin cushion. Then we tore into the gifts under the tree. Roy’s blue eyes shone with joy when he opened his gift from me. He immediately wound the scarf around his neck and said he’d keep it on all day. He gave Hazel and Daniel each a book and a box of writing paper but oh how can I begin to describe the stole, hat and muff I opened. Even though we weren’t alone our eyes met and said what I know we were both thinking. How much in love we are. Then we had to hurry and get the rest of the day’s chores done and dress, for in the afternoon we bundled ourselves up and left for the Donald’s barn. One good thing about living here is we don’t have far to go. And just like Thanksgiving the makeshift tables groaned with all sorts of good things to ear.
Everyone admired my new stole and muff, while I introduced Roy around. He was particularly glad to see his old friend Frank Rishor there. But once the music started playing he was all mine. Well mostly mine, I did have to share him a time or two. I must go now. Daniel and Hazel want to go for a walk in the new fallen snow and want Roy and I to tag along.
I hitched a ride with Uncle Waddington the day after I last wrote and spent a few days in Aladdin with Sadie. She says she is all excited for me and can hardly wait to meet this Roy she has heard so much about.
She let me have some of her cache of lovely wool yarn Bert got in partial pay for his sheep shearing. She had 3 colors, red, blue and brown. I chose the blue because it is the color of Roy’s eyes. I am going to make him a scarf, hat and gloves for his Christmas present if I can get my knitting needles to work. Sadie and Mama are so much better at it.
Sadie suggested I add some brown and make them striped and more manly that way. I guess she’s right so brown and blue they shall be.
November 15, 1913
This morning I had to button up my jacket all the way and wrap a scarf firmly around my neck before walking down to the barn to milk the cow. The air is cold now. The frost covering the grass snapped at my feet and the wildflowers have all died. I must remind Roy how cold it gets here in the winter. It’s not like Puyallup where it rarely dips below freezing.
November 17, 1913
Sadie was over today. She came while I was working on my horrible knitting. I can’t do a single row without making a mistake. She took over for me for a bit and got me started the right way again. I don’t know what I was thinking when I thought I could make Roy mittens, a hat and scarf. I should go back to making the simplest of things like wash cloths.
November 22, 1913
The air is filled with scents of apple, pumpkin, cinnamon and spices. Its pie making day for Thursday is Thanksgiving. Mama is the best pie maker in the world, everyone thinks so. I’ve watched her measure, mix and roll out her piecrust since I was knee high to a grasshopper but no matter how I try I just can’t duplicate her crust.
How I wish we were having Thanksgiving at the Caple’s again like last year. Oh, it was so nice, all of us crowded around the big dining table set with fine china and glasses fit for a queen and all of us dressed in our finest clothes and no one looking finer than Roy.
I’m so glad I didn’t realize then where I’d be spending Thanksgiving this year. We aren’t doing anything special during the day. In the afternoon we will set off for Donald as there is going to be a supper and dance. I’d so much rather be in Puyallup.
November 26th, 1913
Thanksgiving has come and gone. My I wish Roy could have seen the fine spread of roasted turkey, fried chicken, breads and out of this world biscuits, not to mention roasted corn, beans, peas, beets and so many fine pies, cakes and cookies. It was a good thing there was plenty of dancing afterwards to work some of it off. Yes, I danced but it was mainly with Daniel or one of my many cousins.
We spent the night, or I should say morning as we danced until 4 at our place in Donald. Papa used the trip to bring some of our canning goods to start storing for the winter. I hate the thought of moving, Mona seems more like home.
November 28, 1913
The young people around here have arranged to put on a special production for Christmas and I have a part in it. I hope Roy can make it soon enough to see me in it.
A neighbor has just arrived I will finish later.
The neighbors call was not a good one. Such terrible news, a young woman who use to live here to help Mama with the work lost her husband earlier today in a wagon accident.
I wish I could hug her like she used to me when I felt bad. But I know this isn’t the kind of bad a hug will fix. I feel so bad because there is nothing I can do. How awful to be a widow at just 22.
Nov. 29, 1913
Well Roy I will write you a few lines this evening. I was so glad to get your letter and it came several days sooner than usual so was kindy surprised but it was a happy surprise and wish you would surprise me every time. But it just happened that way as it was mailed the same day as usual, but I guess it knew I wanted it to, away it came faster than usual.
Well I started this yesterday but went to get supper and did not get to finish so will do so tonight. Hazel and Daniel and Vera and I went to my cousins today, had a pretty good time. But I have such a headach I can’t hardly write.
What kind of time did you have Thanksgiving? I was home in the day time and went to a dance at night but was feeling blue as I was thinking of last year. What a good time I had. Wish the same crowd could have been there this time.
I suppose you are home or will be when this letter reaches you. I am going to send it to Puyallup any way. There is going to be a box social the 1st of Dec. I wish you were going to be here. I am in a little play what do you think of that?
I feel kindy sad as the girl that use to live with us, she was just like a sister to me her husband died yesterday and they took him down to Spearfish today. I surely feel sorry for her. She is so nice. There never was a nicer girl and she is only a girl too.
I hear you are having better weather now. We have had the lovelist weather we have ever had in the fall. I never saw it so nice, haven’t had no snow to speak of. I hope it is nice all winter. We are going to move down to the other place about the 20 of Dec. I don’t want to but we almost have to as it is to far for Papa to come when it is cold weather.
I wanted to be so we were living here when you came but I guess we can’t. Maybe we will just be moving from here. About when are you going to start? I am looking for you before Christmas anyway so you will have to hurry.
I have a lot to tell you but will wait until I see you, for that our neighbors children are staying here while the folks are gone. and they are asking me all the kind of questions and every thing, they want to know who I am writing too. So you must excuse all the mistakes as I know there are a lot of them. I wrote to Lida again but never heard from her. Well my head hurts so I must close.
(Author notes: Donald was another postal community on Mona Road in Wyoming. Its name came from the McDonald family who had a ranch there. Mae was related to this family. Many of the dances she mentions were held in their barn. Church services, weddings, baptisms and other community activities were also held there. From Mae’s letters it is apparent her family must have had a place there. Besides wintering there she often mentions her father off farming the property in Donald.)
October 1, 1913
October has come, every day I see more wild geese flying south. Papa had hoped to find a job and a place for us to live in Belle Fourche, but he had no luck, so we are staying put for the winter. I’d prefer to be in Belle Fourche or even Aladdin. We wouldn’t have to work so hard to stay warm or enjoy the company of others.
So far though we have been blessed with pleasant weather. After that freak snow two weeks ago I thought we were going straight to winter and skipping fall. I intend to enjoy this nice Indian summer while it lasts.
October 20th, 1913
I am afraid I’ve been very lax in writing in you. Mama and I have been busy with the last of the canning, shelling of beans and turning a bumper crop of cabbage into kraut. We are going to move to Donald at the end of November or maybe even wait until December. My it will be a chore to haul all our food stuffs there. But Papa got the mail delivery route and must go into Aladdin each morning to pick it up. It’s just too cold for him to travel from here. Being in Donald cuts off at least 5 miles for him.
November 1, 1913
I haven’t been writing very regularly with all the chores to be done. Besides helping Mama with all the preserving to do for winter I have been helping Grandma Lavina too. So much to do to get ready for winter. But helping Grandma is kind of fun because while we are working she tells me stories from her youth in Iowa and let me tell you she is quite the storyteller.
All her stories start the same though. I was born in Boone county, Indiana in 1856. My mama was Mariah Hull and my Daddy Jonathan Harden. My Mama’s family came to Indiana from Tennessee, but they were really Pennsylvania Dutch which means they came from Germany long ago. Only after she tells that part does she launch into the real story. Yesterday’s was about a white mountain lion that roamed around Tama county, Iowa one year when they lived there. I guess Grandpa’s grandmother, Phebe Fowler came face to face with him one day. Thank goodness she lived to tell the tale. She also told another one about a couple who had just gotten married and got caught in a blizzard and froze to death so close to their cabin. She never forgot how the searchers brought their frozen bodies to her family’s cabin when they found them. How awful, made me about cry. No wonder she worries so, about us getting caught in a winter storm.
Her telling me about Grandpa’s Mother, last time I was here, got me to wondering about hers. Many a time I had heard about how her father Jonathan had come here to the Black Hills in search of gold in the late 1870’s. Like Grandpa’s family in California he didn’t have much luck, so he took up a homestead here instead and that’s why we eventually came here too.
She had never mentioned her mother, so I asked about her. I was sort of sorry I had because she told me she was only 9 when she died and didn’t remember her to well. I guess it was great aunt Sarah who took care of her and her brother a lot after that. And she was real glad when she came homestead here a few years ago. I like her a lot so I’m glad she came, too.
She said her father married again and so she had 4 half siblings. I gather she wasn’t too fond of her stepmother though. I think maybe her and Great Grandpa weren’t too fond of each either because she never did follow him to Wyoming.
Papa and Grandpa have been very busy mending fences and winterizing the outbuildings. Papa has set Daniel and Hazel to chinking in all the holes they might find in all our buildings.
November 3, 1913
I have spent the past two days in between my normal chores of milking the cow, washing up the breakfast dishes and that infernal cream separator and helping Mama get all our seeds for next year’s garden categorized and safely stored. I never realized as a child just how much work went into assuring we had what was needed to survive the winter and assuring crops for the next year.
My writing was just interrupted by the best of news, a letter from Roy. And better yet he says he expects to arrive for his visit here sometime in December after logging closes. I don’t know how I am going to last waiting so long.
( Authors note: the logging camp Nagram was named for the Morgan lumber company and was the Morgan name spelled backwards. It’s location is now within the Green River Watershed for Tacoma, WA)
Nagram Wash. Aug. 28, 1913
Hello Mae: How are you this fine evening? I am feeling pretty good except that I am so lonesome I got your letter last evening and kneedless to say I was glad to get it. It came just when I was feeling a little more lonesome than usual and I tell you it made the world look brighter.
I am so sorry you are having such a time with your teeth and hope you are better now. I know the toothach isn’t much fun, though I have never had any of it so far.
Well I am back in the woods again. Have been here a week ago last Sunday. Am working at the same old job and like the place fine except that I am all alone here among strangers not a man in camp that I ever saw before. It sure is a nice place here at this time of the year. It is so high up in the mountains that it never gets very warm.
Since been here the weather has been lovely neither to warm nor to cool just like it is other places later in the fall. Quite different from the weather you are having in Wyoming isn’t it? My I wish you could be here to get a fine breath of this pure mountain air and a few drinks of ice-cold mountain water. I know you would enjoy it so much and there is so much of both going to waste.
The scenery here is fine too. The camp is located in the upper end of the Green River Canyon shut in on all sides by high ridges and higher peaks. Last Sunday I hadn’t much to do so I put in the time climbing to the top of one of the highest peaks around this part. It took two hours of hard climbing to reach the top but the view from there was worth it’s cost. I haven’t the language to describe to you the beauty of the view that spread out before me. I could see for miles in all directions but could see nothing but high mountains and deep canyons. Three snow peaks were in sight. Mount Rainer and Adams and Mt. Baker to the north. On the highest point of the peak I was on I found a little bunch of blue flowers. They were growing right out of the bare rocks and in a place where it was dangerous to go. But I wanted to get them to send to you so I took the chance and it came near being the last thing I ever did on this earth for I stepped on a loose rock and came darn near going over a high cliff but I got the flowers and here they are.
On the return trip I found a patch of huckleberries and stopped and ate all I could hold of them. My but they were good, wish you could have had some of them. If the weather is fine next Sunday I am going to climb to the top of another peak farther up the canyon, which is quite a lot higher than one I climbed last Sunday. It is the one that shows in the picture card I sent you. Next time I write I will tell you about my trip up there. Roy
September 5, 1913
I am taking a few minutes to write as I don’t want to get out of the habit. I am in Aladdin helping Bert take care of Mrs. Marchant and Sadie. Oh My, they have both been so sick. It’s the La Grippe I guess. Both were helpless for a couple of days. I am happy to say they are both on the mend now. Sadie is bouncing back faster than Mrs. Marchant but I guess that is to be expected when you are her age. I surely hope she doesn’t over do it now that she is some better. I got a letter from Roy this week. The mail arrives in Aladdin first, so I got it a day early. He is in a logging camp up in the mountains. He sent me the sweetest little blue flowers. I am going to keep them right here on this page along with the letter. But I hope he doesn’t go climbing anymore mountain peaks. Logging is dangerous enough; I don’t need to fret about him falling over a cliff along with a tree falling on him.
Sept 6, 1913
I’ve just a few minutes to. Last night I got word that Daniel is sick now and Mama could use my help. Sadie seems well enough to manage now so Bert is going to take me back home as soon as the morning chores are done. I made sure to to leave a hearty breakfast for everyone and I got all the fixings together for Sadie to make a pot of stew later and did a quick clean-up.
Oh, my has Daniel ever been sick. He had a high fever for three days straight. His lungs were so congested he could barely breathe. Mama and I took turns sponging him down trying to get his fever down. Along about the third night I thought we might lose him but come morning he rallied and the fever broke. Poor little chap is still weak but feeling much better. Mama and I have been spooning him sips of rich broth to get his resistance back up. I’ll sure be happy when I can see him out riding his pony again.
September 17th, 1913
Goodness the last time I wrote I thought I was just about done with my nurse maid duties but no sooner did I think that than Mama and Hazel took sick with the same thing Daniel had. Only they weren’t quite so sick. Still they took to bed for several days which meant I was doing all the cooking, cleaning and tending to things. I sure hope Papa and I escape it.
I still haven’t heard if Roy is going to accept our invitation to visit this winter. The waiting is driving me crazy.
September 20th, 1913
It’s the first day of fall but it looks more like the first day of winter. I am sitting near the window watching big fluffy snowflakes fall. Can you believe that? Summer has barely ended, and we have two or three inches of snow already.
Unlike the last time I wrote I am sitting out in the yard feeling the warmth of the sun on my shoulders. It feels so warm and wonderful. I’m happy to report all the snow melted fast and we are back to normal fall weather.
Mama and I decided it was a sign we needed to get busy and finish with harvesting the rest of the tomatoes. We have spent the last 2 days picking what is left in the garden and getting it stored in the cellar or canned for this winter. I have to say our pantry shelves look so nice lined with all those colorful canned goods. We should have plenty to eat this winter.
I got a letter from Roy yesterday. I was so glad to hear from again especially since he accepted my invitation to visit. He said he wasn’t just sure when the logging would end for the season, it all depends on the weather, but he expects to be here by Christmas. And he also sent me a likeness of himself. He said he had it taken the last time he was in Puyallup but just got them in the mail from his Mother. It was so nice to see his face again. I’ve tucked it safely under my pillow so it can be the first thing and last thing I see each day. I’ll write more later. Vera has just galloped up here on her horse. I’ve got so much to share with her now.
Sept. 27, 1913 Mona Wyo Dear Friend, Well Roy just got your letter yesterday, but it has been here for a few days. I was down to Aunt Sadies for over a week and just got home yesterday. Aunt Sadie was sick and so of course I have go. I can’t stand unless I do so went down and then after I was there a few days Daniel got sick and I nearly worried my self to death over him and then Hazel got sick so I just came. Aunt Sadie is lots better tho. Hazel is better to now. I sure hope I don’t get down but am afraid I will.
I got your picture and can’t tell how pleased I was and think it is pretty good of you only I don’t think you are so fleshy as you were when I last saw you are you? You must be working to hard. You must be careful. I am glad you like that place it must be nice there. It is always so nice and green while it is so dry and brown here. You must have had a nice on that trip to the mountain.
We sure had a cold spell. I almost froze it snowed to quite a bit sure looked like winter. Mama is shelling beans today and Daniel want me to help too. Vera was here yesterday when I got home was sure glad to see her. I can’t stand it long with out seeing her. I sure think lots of her.
I think it would be better for you to move than to try to move the states for we would have quite a time. I am glad you like your partner. And hope you always get along good. But I would like to see you but don’t hurt your arm find some other way. I never forget the time we picked berries or never will I don’t think. I would like to hear from Lida and Blanche. We got a letter from Aunt Kit the other day she is pretty good to write. I wrote to Aunt Ann if she don’t write I never shall write again if it a hundred years yet so see how I am.
Sunday 28 Well Roy I will finish today. I suppose you will look for this a few days before it gets there as I wasn’t home a have done the best I knew how. Well I cannot stop hoping to hear from you soon.
I never had a chance to write more yesterday. It was quite a storm we had I barely got the clothes off the line and the cow locked in the barn before the sky let loose with a down pour. I had been hoping for a gentle rain to cool the air off instead I got sheets and sheets of rain, it just kept on going. Poor Deep Creek almost turned into a river. Fortunately, Daniel and Papa were working on high ground yesterday, both came back drenched to the bone. Mama and I spent the rest of the day indoors baking for a dance tomorrow night at the Phillips barn. I’m getting to be a pretty good cook, but I can’t seem to get the knack Mama has with piecrust.
August 5, 1913
The Raleigh’s man dropped by yesterday with his wagon. Mama had him come in and offered him some coffee and biscuits left over from breakfast. It’s always nice to hear of the news he carries. He talked Mama into buying a new elixir guaranteed to help with her headaches. I hope it does because the other remedies sure don’t work.
August 10, 1913
Last night after we finished helping Mama do the dishes, Hazel and I set off to climb the hill behind us in search of choke cherries. The berries weren’t quite ripe, but we went ahead and climbed to the top of one of the higher hills anyway. And oh my, the sight nearly took my breath away. The sun was just setting over the Devils Tower and against the deep blue of the darkening sky it looked afire. How I wish I could’ve shared the moment with Roy for Hazel was not in the least bit impressed.
Someday I am going to go see it up close. I hear some folks even like to climb it. Oh, wouldn’t that make Mama and Papa sputter if I said I wanted to give that a try.
We saw several antelope and deer out munching on the prairie grass as we scampered back down the hill arriving home just as darkness was setting in.
August 12, 1913
The choke cherries are dangling nice and plump, a dark red, almost black from the trees now. Hazel and I have been picking like crazy. It’s been so hot lately that they are ripe a bit earlier than usual.
The tooth that has been bothering me some off and on for a while now seems to be getting worse. Don’t know when I will be able to see a dentist, so I hope the ache goes away for it is annoying.
August 14, 1913
Right now, I am sitting out in the yard hoping to catch a breath of fresh air. It’s so hot.
Mama and I have been making jelly out of all the chokeberries Hazel and I picked and oh my what a hot job it is. First, we must rinse them in cold water. Then the cherries need to be boiled in our big kettle, stirring over the hot stove all the while to be sure they don’t scorch. Then it must all be strained through cheese cloth and then put the juices back into the kettle and boiled again with sugar added and stirring again all the while. Only when you can lift a spoon a foot over the kettle and 2 big drops slide together to form a sheet that hangs from the edge of a spoon can you take it off the heat. Then you must quickly skim the foam and pour the jelly immediately into hot jars and pack them almost to the top and seal with lids. Then the jars need to be boiled again for 6 minutes. All that boiling and steaming sure makes one extra hot, but it will be worth it this winter for sure.
My tooth still aches some.
August 15, 1913
Mama took one of our fresh made jars of jelly and set it out with our breakfast this morning. Oh my, it sure tasted good on our griddle cakes. Today I need to work on my garden and chop the weeds out. I don’t see why they are so determined to grow when nothing else wants to in this hot dry weather. If we don’t get rain soon, I am going to have to haul water for my thirsty plants. It hasn’t rained since the 1st and that was too much, too fast, it all ran away.
August 16, 1913
Our new neighbors the Durretts came over to introduce themselves. They live about 1/2 mile from us. And my I was so happy to meet them for they have a daughter close to my age. Her name is Vera and I do believe we will be good friends. I aim to go over to their place as soon as Mama and I aren’t so busy with the canning. Seems like this time of year there is always more to do than hours in the day.
My, our grains of oats, hay and rye looks so nice blowing in the wind. Mama and I are even busier for threshing has begun. There is lots of cooking, baking and preparing to do for our turn with the crew. Wish my tooth didn’t still ache so.
Aug 17, 1913
Well Roy I received your letter last mail day and was very glad to hear from you. I am pretty well except the toothach I have most of the time. I have it so bad I can hardly write and I don’t sopose you can read this at all, but if you can’t bring it back and I’ll tell you all and then some, ha, ha.
Well every thing is pretty dry here. We have don’t have much rain any more and it is so awful warm too. All the way from 96 to 107. My garden looks pretty dry but I have had quite a lot of tomatoes and corn, cabbage and nice potatoes. I carry quite a lot of water or it would not mounted to very much. That is quite a job too.
Papa has cut his wheat but his oats are not quite ripe enough yet. I don’t know if we will thrash any or not. Not much anyway.
I got a letter from Lillian and Justin too. the first time since in May sometime. If it wasn’t for you I don’t think I would hear very much from there. I can’t see why they are so mean about writing but I can always depend on your letters. So I always know when I will get a letter and you don’t disappoint me either.
Hazel and Daniel have gone to our nearest neighbors and papa is milking and mama has an awful headache. Do you see your folks very often.
I am sorry your berries were not as good as you thot, but that was pretty good.
Aunt Sadie is staying home for a few days. I saw her Friday. I have a very nice chum tho now her name is Vera Durett. She is a nice girl, only lives a half mile from here. If it wasn’t for her I don’t think I could stand it at all. I expect tho she will so like all the rest of my chums done get married the first thing I know.
We have quite a few pretty flowers here in this front yard. There are quite a few rattlesnakes this year.
Where in Montana are you going?
It would be fine, but it is a long time until Christmas don’t you think? I do.
Well Roy I will close as it is so dark and I am writing on the porch so hoping to hear from you very soon.
I am as ever,
August 23, 1913
My sunflowers are blooming now and my if they don’t look cheerful out in my garden. I wonder what Roy would say if he could see me out there with my sunbonnet atop my head. Would he think me beautiful as he did out in his berry patch?
We had to get rid of several rattlesnakes hanging out in our yard this week. Even I chopped the head of one hanging out in my garden patch. I am getting to be the brave one, aren’t I. I must remember to wear my boots though when I am outdoors for now.
August 30, 1913
Roy mentioned moving to Montana again in his last letter, maybe taking up a homestead there. So, I finally got up the nerve to ask Mama and Papa if it would be all right to invite him to come for a visit over the holidays. Then he could check on the land in Montana on his way home.
I am delighted to say they said yes. I thought maybe they were getting use to the idea of us being a couple. Later though I heard Papa say maybe if he was around a bit more, I’d get over my infatuation and start letting the young men around here court me. I can assure you it won’t work, there is no one around here I am the least bit interested in. I am going to write a letter right now inviting him. I am sure he will say yes. I am so excited, if only December wasn’t such a long way off.
I am sitting outside watching Papa’s grain blow in the wind. It sure looks nice. I think we are going to have a good crop this year. Roy wrote that his berries were just about ripe. I sure wish I could be there to help him pick again this year. He and I had such fun picking last year. But thinking of that is making me feel even more blue and I was already feeling blue enough. Roy told me Cousin Justin and Lillian are going to marry soon. Oh, my is that ever a surprise for they had just met for the first time in November right before we moved back here to Mona. Mama and Papa thought the news was great even though Justin is 10 years older than Lillian. Roy is only one more year older than Justin so why do they have such a problem with him being older?
I guess we are going to go to Aladdin for the 4th of July. I am looking forward to the festivities and seeing Sadie and our other kin there.
July 8th, 1913
I’ve been feeling poorly since the 4th of July. I didn’t enjoy the 4th much either. I woke up with the tiniest bit of a sore throat and it got steadier worse as the day went on. I was sure glad when Papa said we wouldn’t be staying for the fireworks. I had a terrible night and barely slept, by sunrise I could barely swallow. It was all Mama could do to coax some water down my throat. It’s some better today though. I ate some tinned fruit this morning. The first food I’ve had since the 4th.
July 10th, 1913
My throat is almost back to normal especially since Papa came home with the biggest surprise for me. Two big boxes of Washington cherries. And you know who they were from. My, did they ever taste good. They made me feel so much better. There is way more than we can eat before they go bad, so Mama and I parceled some of them up to share with the folks around here.
The wild strawberries and raspberries are starting to get ripe and the plum trees are loaded. It won’t be long before Mama and I are busy canning them all up to eat this winter.
Mona, Wyo July 11, 1913
Well Roy I wrote to you Wednesday but never got to send it so will write today and Hazel will take it to Mona tomorrow. I got your letter and those cherries. My! But they were fine. I was so glad to get them and must thank you very much. I have been sick ever since the forth of July and so the cherries helped me out I feel lots better now.
How are you any way? I hope you are well for that is the main thing I think. I was sure glad to get your letter. I just knew I would get one for I counted the days and you sure did not disappoint me. You are the only one I can depend on to write some of the folks have only written to us once. Haven’t heard from Uncle Sol’s since April and Uncle Hugh since March. So see we are always glad to hear from there.
Yes I sure, never thot when we left that Lillian would be Mrs. Phillips in side of five months. I never thot of them even going together. But wish I could have been there at the time. I haven’t heard from them since they were married but expect a letter every mail day.
Where were you the forth? Hazel and I were down to my cousins. Had a pretty good time butwish you had been there. Aunt Sadie and Bert are living down to Mrs. Merchants about sixteen miles from here. I sure get lonesome but can talk her anytime. They are coming up on Saturday. I’ll sure be glad. My garden looks fine. My corn is about the best in the country and I have nice vines also. Oh I think I am quite the gardener (nix). Every thing looks pretty good our grain is so nice and looks nice in the wind waves so pretty. The wind blows most of them time. We sure had some pretty warm weather, but is sure cool today quite a change. I am glad your berries are doing so well. And sure wish I was there to enjoy a few of them. The strawberries are almost gone. We just had a few wild ones is all. The raspberries just begining to get ripe but haven’t had any yet. I guess there will be quite a few plums and cherries. But not a good as yours were. My! No!
I was invited to a party last night. My garden looks fine. My corn is about the best in the country and I have nice vines also. Oh I think I am quite the gardener (nix). Every thing looks pretty good our grain is so nice and looks nice in the wind waves so pretty.
How is Lida? Why don’t she write? Hazel and Daniel got your cards but haven’t answered them yet. Daniel is busy most of the time with his pony. Do you go to very many shows. I wish I was there to go to one more like the last one or the one when we tried to catch the car. Hazel speaks of it quite often.
How is your mother tell her I sent my best regards to her. Where are Richard and Joe? Well I guess I’ll stop my foolishness for that all I can do is write anymore. Hoping to hear from you soon.
I am as ever,
I just got weighed, weigh 110 have only lost 13 lbs
July 11, 1913
Dear friend Roy,
How are you gitting along I am fine and hope your are the same how is Lida and Mrs. Caple tell them hello for me how is your Berries if I will come bake will you give me a Job to Bee Boss? Are you coming to the fair I wish would come Mae is writing to you so there was a storm yesterday and after a while it got still and the sun come and all at once some thunder lighten come and struck something. It sure was hard the poney just tore up the grond offel, now when I get him and slap my hand he just jumps offel I could hartly get the girdle on him.
July 25, 1913
Last night just after we bedded down for the night, we thought we heard a woman screaming and a baby crying. Papa thought it must be coming from one of the neighbors up the road, so he threw his clothes back on and lit a lantern to go investigate. Just as he got to the door the scream changed to that of an animal and we knew it wasn’t coming from humans. This morning when Papa came in from his chores, he said he could make out tracks of a mountain lion close to our cabin. Mama and I were scared but Papa says it’s long gone by now. Just the same I’m going to be sure to be watching over my shoulders until I’m sure it’s not roaming in these parts anymore.
July 31, 1913
Today was washing day. All that work standing over steaming water with the stirring, and wringing in this hot, humid weather has me pooped out. Right now, I am sitting on the porch trying to catch a cool breeze. Dark clouds are starting to rumble in. I expect any minute Mama will be hollering for me to rescue the laundry off the line before it starts to storm. It must be done so I guess I should put you down and get to it.