LETTERS FROM Mona – Part 38 – December, 1914

December 1, 1914

Dear Diary,

I haven’t written in you for over a week. We went to Donald for the Thanksgiving dance and then on to Aladdin to visit Sadie and Bert.

Iretha has gotten even cuter than the last time I saw her. I didn’t think that was possible. I could just snuggle and hold her forever. I can’t wait for the day I have my own child to wrap my arms around.

Papa used the time to go to Belle Fourche to see if he could find a situation for us this winter. He found one possible prospect but nothing is for sure. It makes me feel so nervous not knowing where we are going to be, it nearly drives me wild.    

Meanwhile it is hog butchering time around here. We have 3 pigs that we have been fattening up. Papa’s brothers are coming tomorrow to help him out as it is quite a job. Soon our smokehouse will be a smoking. The meat will surely be welcomed if we end up staying here this winter.

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December 3, 1914

Dear diary,

Mama and I walked over to Grandma and Grandpa’s Smiths today as we heard the Derrickson’s were coming over. I took my knitting along to work on while we visited. I have 2 pairs of socks finished for Roy, and one for Daniel but I am still working on the pair for Papa.

I plan to make a pair of mittens for Roy also. It would be terrible if he got frostbite while visiting me. We are getting some cold weather now but thankfully no real snow yet.

It was fun visiting with the Derrickson’s. They are some of the old timers who came in the 1880’s when our family came. They have a fine place now. Mrs. Derrickson said they added a picket fence around the yard this fall to showcase her flower garden next spring. My, won’t that be a pretty sight. She promised she’d give me some of her seeds to make a flower garden of my own. I doubt mine will be as pretty as hers but I’d love to try.

Mr. Derrickson said the Pannells are building a new ranch house. It’s going to be a good deal larger and modern compared to the one they have now. Won’t that be dandy. I’d like a modern house, too.

Grandma fed us a delicious hardy black bean soup, yeast rolls and apple pie for dessert. I hope someday I’m as good a cook as she is.

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Dec. 7, 1914

Dear Diary,

We got word today that the situation Papa was hoping for fell through. We will stay here in Mona all winter after all. Papa is out chopping wood. It will take a lot to keep us warm this winter.

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December 12, 1914

Dear Diary,

Goodness is it ever cold, outside the wind is howling, snow is falling. Except for the necessary trips out to the barn to care for the animals we are staying cozy next to the wood stove reading and playing cards. I bet we get several inches of snow.

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December 13, 1914

Dear Diary,

We awoke this morning to a bright sunny day. The snow outside the window glistened as though a bottle of sparkling glitter had been spilled upon it. Beautiful yes, but oh so cold, it made me shiver just looking at it.

We decided it was too frigid to venture off to church. Instead we took turns reading bible passages aloud while Papa made us his special flap jack recipe. He uses a combination of freshly ground wheat, oats and corn and we topped them with buffalo berry jam. Yum! It was so good.

This afternoon Daniel and Hazel persuaded me to go sledding with them. It took us some time to find our old sleds and goodness did they ever have cobwebs growing on them.  

The snow was the perfect depth and the sun gave it the perfect icy crust for sledding.  Such fun zooming down the hills and into the yard. I felt like a kid again without a care in the world. Now though, I am surely glad to be sitting by the comfort of the woodstove like an old lady. Ha, Ha.

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December 14, 1914

Dear diary,

The weather has warmed, the snow is beginning to melt. It’s also washing day. Mama and I will be busy with all the boiling and wringing soon. I have not heard from Roy in a week. I worry something has happened to him or he has decided not to come. Oh, how I miss him, he simply must come, I can’t bear the thought of going through a winter without him.

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December 15, 1914

Dear diary,

It is evening and I am writing to you by lamplight. This morning the snow was mostly melted. Mama said she could handle the ironing on her own and sent me out with Papa to gather more logs. Usually one of my uncles help but they were busy and we must have enough fuel to keep us warm this winter.

Papa hitched up the team of horses to the farm wagon and we drove about a mile to Firewood Canyon. We call it that because it has plenty of birch, quaking pine, and aspen trees, our favorites for firewood.

Goodness, if only Roy could have seen me operating one end of a two-man crosscut saw. I know these trees are puny compared to what he falls but just the same I felt like a logger. Papa limbed the trees and then we loaded them into the wagon to haul home.  Papa and Daniel will be busy the rest of the week chopping them into pieces small enough to fit our stove. For some reason it is satisfying to know I am contributing to keeping us warm this winter.

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December 18, 1914

Dear Diary,

 We have been too busy to get up to the Mona post office this week. I was anxious to see if I had a letter from Roy so this afternoon I walked up there to fetch the mail myself.  Now I am dancing a jig, I had not one but two letters from Roy. I took the time to read them in private before I came home. I am so relieved. He should be on his way here any day now and in time for Christmas.

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December 19, 1914

Dear Diary,

Today was another meeting of the Book and Thimble club. This time it was at the Barrett’s.  And my, did she ever entertain us in Christmas style such a feeling of warmth and cheer filled the house.

She had decorated with holly and berries. Over the dining table hung a large Christmas bell and the centerpiece was a bouquet of ferns and pink carnations. Napkins, adorned with wreaths of holly, marked each of our place settings.

All the ladies brought goodies to share, we surely had a feast of sweets. Afterward Mrs. Massie played the piano and led us in singing Christmas carols.

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December 23, 1914

Dear diary,

I am getting nervous Roy should be here any time now.  Every time I hear a sound I run to the window hoping to see Roy arriving but it is always Papa or Daniel making some noise out in the yard.

He never did say exactly what day he was leaving so I am not sure when to expect him, I just hope it is by Christmas but that is only 2 days away. I will not be able to bear it if he hasn’t arrived by then.

It has been snowing ever since the twentieth so papa hitched up the sleigh for us to go the Christmas party up at Mona last night. Daniel played a shepherd in the Christmas pageant and Hazel sang Silent Night as a solo. She did a fine job and while I do love that song I am glad she’s finished practicing it. That girl does love to sing. And of course, it ended with Santa coming and the sharing of goodies.

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December 24, 1914

Still no Roy and it is Christmas Eve. I feel so blue as soon it will be dark. We have been industrious all day making the house look festive and baking. Boughs of pine adorn the windows and the tree is ready to decorate this evening. Scents of vanilla, cinnamon and spice fill the house and an oyster stew simmers on the stove. It would be perfect if only Roy was here.

We are going to go to the Christmas dance at Donald tomorrow night and I will be so miserable, thinking of the wonderful time I had there with Roy the past two years. I would feel better if I knew just where he was. He never did say exactly what day he was leaving and I worry something might have happened to him along the way. I am going to be so nervous until he gets here or at least I hear he is on his way and all is well.

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December 26, 1914

Dear Diary,

Today I could walk on air I feel so gladsome. Yes, you guessed it, Roy arrived. Yesterday I awoke feeling so blue, I could barely muster up a smile and a thank you for the gifts my family gave me. I only picked at the breakfast Mama had worked so hard to make.

I knew I had no choice but to go to the evening Christmas supper and dance but all I wanted to do was to crawl under the covers of my bed and cry. And plenty of silent tears I did shed once I was buried deep in the straw of our wagon box with the buffalo robe pulled up over my head. Meanwhile the rest of the family merrily sang Jingle Bells and other songs as we glided over the snow making me feel even more glum.

When Papa shouted whoa to bring our sleigh to a stop at the dance barn I shuddered. How was I going to face all the merriment and well-wishing? How would I ever be able to sing and dance when I felt so cheerless?

But as I peeped out from under the buffalo robe what to my wondering eyes did appear but Roy, all bundled in tweed, dashing to my side. I fairly leaped into his waiting arms when he got there.

Everyone told me he had been pacing out in front for quite some time afraid we’d decided not to come. His train got held up in the mountains for two days on account of snow and did not arrive in Belle Fourche until late yesterday.

Fortunately, he found someone going to Aladdin this morning to hitch a ride with and from there it was easy to find folks coming to the dance. He sure was a sight for sore eyes and the best Christmas present ever. He hopes to find some work here so he won’t need to go back to Washington in February. That makes me feel so happy but nervous at the same time. I’ll be so disappointed if he can’t find work but I know jobs are so scarce here.        

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3 thoughts on “LETTERS FROM Mona – Part 38 – December, 1914

  1. Jean

    Exciting that Roy made it for Christmas. We’ve become so accustomed to instant communication. And, rely on it heavily. Perhaps too much. I’ve received and sent a few cards and handwritten notes since Covid. It felt good to put a pen to paper rather than pick up the phone.
    Thank you Margaret.

    Reply
  2. kwriter13 Post author

    The more I look up information about the people she writes of the more I realize how she was related in some way to nearly everyone out there. Sometimes it is a direct connection and other times it is a connection made when member of the family married someone in the other family. There was more than one Baxter family out there too. I am sure they were all related in some way. The other thing that strikes me is how much this bunch followed each other from place to place, starting in Canada, then Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming.

    Reply
  3. Kathy Carter Stoltz

    It’s good to see surnames of my ancestors who lived in the Crook County area. It seemed that the people worked very hard but had some fun, too.

    My grandmother, Helen Baxter, was born in 1897, so she would have been 17 in 1914 when the diary was written. Her father had pneumonia, which ruined his lungs (maybe something like the COVID-19 virus caused it). I don’t know what year that happened, but the Baxters sold the ranch sometime after that.

    Reply

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