July 17, 1914
Nagrom, Wash. –
Well here I am for a little chat this evening as I have nothing else to do and wouldn’t do it if I had. Wish I might be with you for while this evening but guess I can’t so will have to write instead. I would much rather talk to you than to write but as that is impossible at present guess I will have to be content with writing.
I got your last letter today and of course you know I was glad to get such a nice long letter from my Little Wyoming girl. You write so much better letters than I can that it makes me feel ashamed of my own poor letters. Glad that you had a nice visit with your Uncle Will’s folks. Wish I had been there to and got aquainted with them, to bad I didn’t get to see them last winter when I was there. Would like to be there to go with you to that picnic at McDonalds, but don’t suppose I would dare go down there either as I hear that they are mad at me, Have they ever said anything to you and Hazel since I went away? You have never said anything about them so I suppose you have never made up with them. Am glad that you have such good prospects for crops in Wyom. this year. I sure would like to see your garden and also help you eat some of the things you have in it. I like almost anything that grows in the garden and we get so little fresh garden stuff here in the camp that I get pretty hungry for it. I got pretty well filled up when I was home tho and guess that will have to do me this rest of the year.
So Frank Risher is home again. I sure would like to see him. Tell him that I would like to hear from him if he isn’t to busy to write he owes me a letter if I remember correctly. Tell him that I said hello anyway.
I went to the place where I bought your furs when I was in town and told them about the cape getting damaged and they said that they could repair it alright, so you had better send it to me and I will have them fix it. Better send it to Lida tho and I will have her take it down to them. Tell Daniel that I will answer his letter next time I write. We have sure been having some great weather this week. I have been wet to the skin every day. I never saw such weather in the summer time before and it is quite cold to. We have a fire every evening and it feels pretty good to. Doesn’t look like we are going to have much summer.
I am sending you a couple of pictures that we had taken when I was down home. Guess you know some of the people. One of the men is my partner and the other is Lida’s beaux and the girls are a couple of berry pickers, all the rest I guess you will know. Well my paper is giving out so guess I will stop.
July 19, 1914
It’s been a few days since I could write in you on account of having a bum hand but it’s better now. It hurt so bad when I did it I was sure it was broken. Hazel called Mrs. Davidson and Vera; both came over to take a look at it. Mrs. Davidson examined it real good and declared it sprained, bruised and very rope burned. She had Daniel get some ice from the spring house and wrapped it with a dish rag around my hand. After a bit it did feel better and before she left she gave me some salve to rub on it and told me not to use it if I could help it. That wasn’t easy as Mama and Papa aren’t here. Hazel and Daniel have been good about pitching in, so most everything got done. It feels much better now and the rope burn and bruises are fading away.
Now if it would only rain. It’s been so hot since the 4th and with no rain everything is shriveling up. I don’t know how we can hold up here another winter especially since Papa didn’t get the mail route.
He must work so hard farming two places. And what with the added worry of making enough for us to live on it’s taking a toll. He’s still tall and lanky, but his hair has thinned and gotten gray. I can see lines etching his face now that were never there before. He’s a work horse but ranch work is hard, especially when you can’t find any hired help. He’s put his heart in soul in making this old homestead work, I know he isn’t going to give it up easy but the weather just keeps working against us.
How I wish he’d decide to go back to Puyallup but work there was patchy, too.
July 19, 1914
Well here I am at last, I will try to write so you can read it but my hand is awful stiff.
How are you any way? I am pretty well, except I had a pretty bad hand for a while but it is better now. I went to stake the calf over to another place while the folks were at town and just got the rope around the tree and ready to tie the rope when the she jumped and of course caught my hand and burnt it and hurt it in every way possible. Oh my I thot I never could stand it but Vera and Mrs. Davidsons came up and finally got it a little easier but it was awful sore. I could not write before so I had Hazel send you a card. I never got a letter from you last night either. I don’t know why. The last letter I got was a week ago yesterday.
We have had awful hot weather for a long time and this is the dryest year we have had yet. The crops are hardly any good. Papa will have some but not so much as expected. Everybody has the blues pretty bad and lots of talk to going to Washington too. We have surely had terrible storms this summer and are still having them. The lightening struck a tree right close to our wood shed and it has killed lots of stock here, were five killed five horses in two days for our neighbors so you see it has been pretty bad this summer.
Vera is coming up this afternoon, so she will soon be coming. We have a good time as usual.
I received those rose petals Wednesday was awful glad to get them. My there are fine, they are so black all ready. I will start to make them Monday, thank you very much for them. Do you ever hear from Frank Risher. I have only heard once. I guess he is busy and doesn’t write very much to anybody.
I also got your picture. My that was a large tree. I was very glad to get it. I did not go home with my uncle for it was so warm and it is so far up there he coaxed me for a long time but says he’ll send a team after me soon. I may go for a little while I don’t know.
We are going over to Uncle Ben’s tomorrow I wish you were going too. I have not heard from Lillian or Justin for quite a while. Well I guess I will close for this time, excuse the poor handwriting for my hand is so stiff well good bye.
July 22, 1914
Hazel and I are still batching it. We both miss having Mama and Papa but Vera rides up here often and keeps us company. We are managing to keep up with all the chores and keep the livestock fed and watered on our own. Without the rest of the family our chickens are laying way too many eggs for us to keep up with. Maybe I will try and make an angel food cake. They use lots of eggs. Yesterday Vera brought her guitar along and we sang and sang and laughed so much as we made rose beads out of that last batch of rose petals Roy sent. So, you see it’s not all work around here.
Last Monday we paid a visit to Uncle Ben and Aunt Martha. I guess they thought we might be lonely so invited Hazel and I over for a visit and dinner. We had a real nice time and since their son is married to Vera’s older sister she tagged along with us.
My we have some good talks, Uncle Ben is Papa’s older brother but his wife, aunt Martha is also my Grandma Smith’s big sister. I know it’s confusing, she’s my aunt by marriage and great aunt by blood. And my can they tell good stories about the two families. Not only do they live close here in Wyoming but the whole great big bunch of them also were neighbors back in Iowa. Guess it was my Great Grandpa Jonathan Harden who is responsible for us all being here.
According to Aunt Martha he was none too happy with his second wife so after hearing tales of fortunes to be made prospecting for gold in the Black Hills he decided to give it a try. She said it was sometime in the later 1870’s. When he failed to make a fortune digging for gold he decided to stake a homestead claim instead here in the Bear Lodge Mountains. Soon our great big Phillips clan along with Grandpa and Grandma Smith followed in their covered wagons. And so here is where most of us still live and none of us rich. And if we don’t get some rain soon, we are all going to be even poorer.
July 23, 1914
It is so hot I can hardly catch my breath; the sweat is trickling down my back like a river. I must sit for a few minutes here in the shade and try to cool off before I finish my chores. I sure wish my wisdom tooth would hurry up and come in. Sometimes it makes my whole jaw ache and today it is bad.
We have had several lightning storms thank goodness none so close like the one that struck that tree next to our shed. Goodness Hazel and I just clung to each other that night. Our neighbor lost 5 beautiful horses due to lightning this month. Fortunately, our livestock has been spared.
My poor garden is withering away, I can’t carry water to it all day. I don’t know how we can continue to stay here if this draught continues year after year.
July 25th, 1914
July 25th, 2014
Well how is my little Friend this fine evening? Well and happy though I hope.
I am feeling first class at present and hope this will find you and the rest in the same fix.
I failed to get a letter from you last week and was beginning to fell anxious for I feared you might be sick. Yesterday I got a card from Hazel and was sure glad to know you were not sick but awful sorry you hurt your hand and sure hope it will be well again soon or at least well again soon or at least well enough so you can write for I miss your letters so much. Hazel didn’t tell me how you hurt it or was very serious but I suppose it is of no use for me to ask any questions for I know you will tell me all about it when I hear from you again. And I hope that won’t be very long for I shall be worried about it until I hear from you.
I haven’t anything much in the way of news to tell you this time, except we are having perfectly lovely weather. It has been just about right all this week, nice and bright everyday and not to warm. I am having a good easy time to. We do just about as we please and of course we don’t please to work very hard.
I had a long letter from Mother, as well as usual, but still pretty busy with the berry harvest. They will be through pretty soon now I think.
She also said they were sure going to move to Missouri this fall if nothing happens to prevent it. I will be very sorry to see him go and I fear I won’t get to go very often. I will have to stay steadier in the camps than I have done in the past for there will be no place to go when I am not working. Some of the men stay year round, guess that is what I will have to do.
I haven’t heard any thing from Justin and Lillian since the Fourth. Suppose they are still at Buckley though. Do you hear from them very often? I have been looking for Justin to come up here. He said he was going to but he must have changed his mind. I am going to write him about tomorrow and find out what he is doing.
Suppose Saul and Ann will soon be going back to Wyo, or have they changed their minds again? I didn’t get to see either Saul or Hue when I was down to Puyallup. They were both there but I didn’t know it or I would have tried to see them. I am going down again before the folks start east perhaps I shall see them then if they don’t leave before then.
I wonder if Ode and Amber are married yet? Have you heard any thing about it? They were to have been married a month ago today since then I haven’t heard a word about it. I wonder if there is anything wrong.
Well it is getting pretty late so guess I will have to stop. The rest of the boys have been in bed for an hour or more and they are telling me if I don’t put the light out soon there will be trouble. As I don’t want any of that perhaps I best mind them. Expect you are tired of my nonsense anyway aren’t you?
If nothing happens I am going fishing tomorrow, wish Daniel was here to go with me. I bet he would enjoy it.
Give my best wishes to all the folks and be sure and keep some for yourself. Good-night
5 11 26 14, 2 1 3 7 (decodes to: “with love”)