I remember the Christmas my Gandpa Roy Caple gave us a framed copy of this photo of his Dad. He said whenever he thought of his Dad this was the image that came up. I guess his Dad wore these buckskins a lot during my Grandpa’s growing up years. My Grandpa said his Dad knew they needed to be cleaned but was worried about them being ruined. Finally he agreed to let and Native woman who said she knew how to clean the leather have a go at it. I guess she was unsuccessful because my grandfather said when he finally got them back they were shrunken and unwearable. I am not sure when this photo was taken. Probably sometime between 1888 and 1899.
Whenever my Grandfather spoke of his Dad he always referred to him as Samuel Hugh not Samuel or Sam. I asked him why? He said he didn’t know why, but his Dad always insisted he was Samuel Hugh Caple not just Samuel. It was only when I began to research the family that I came to realize why? The name Samuel runs deep our family tree. He was one of many Samuel’s. Both his great grandfather and GG grandfather bore the name as well as an uncle who was only a few years older and cousins to numerous to count. Hugh belonged to just him except he did give the name Samuel Hugh Jr. to a son.
So ends the Letters to Mona. The last letter written was by my Grandfather in September of 1915. There is one additional letter written by Roy to this Mother in Puyallup from Belle Fourche.
Both my Dad and Aunt said that after sending letters back and forth for 3 years Grandpa Roy decided he would move to the Black Hills. From these last letters written it appears Mae’s family moved to Belle Fourche sometime in September of 1915.
I know little of what they did in the next 2 years. It is reasonable to assume Roy went there after the logging season closed down in WA at the end of 1915. His last letters mention several logging operations had shut down in the area and the pay was less than it had been, all factors that may have influenced his decision to relocate to the Black Hills. The letter written below tells us he was logging out of Spearfish, SD when it was written.
If the year is correct he would have started logging soon after his arrival. But I question the year. He writes of the shack on his old logging partner Gus’ property, now in his possession and suggests his brother can live there. My Aunt Iva said Gus was killed by a “widow maker” and left his estate to my Grandfather. The problem is the letter is dated January 28th, 1916 and Gus did not die until some 10 months later. His death certificate gave his death date as Oct. 7, 1916. The cause of death a crushed skull and broken neck which fits with my Aunt’s story. Furthermore the informant on the death certificate is Roy’s mother, not Roy. The death certificate states no birthdate known, birthplace as Sweden, and no known family. For this reason I think the true date of the letter was January of 1917. It would be easy to put the wrong year on something written in January.
He also wrote of his sister’s photo in a way that suggests it had been more than a month or two since he had last seen her. The letter is below:
Belle Fourche S.D. Jan. 28th, 1916 (Author note: or is this 1917?)
Dear Mother and Sister.
Well here I am once again. Wondering how you are both getting along to day just fine tho I hope. I am well as usual and haven’t froze to death yet in fact have never suffered from the cold at all tho last Monday was nearly forty below. We didn’t know it was so cold to afterwards tho, so it didn’t bother us any. It has warmed up since then tho and is quite nice now. Has been thawing quite a bit the last two days. I would rather work in the timber here when it is cold than when it is thawing as it is drier underfoot and don’t feel the cold when you are working.
I am in Belle Fourche today as you will notice from the address. I came down yesterday to try to get the man we are working for to give us better pay.
The timber here is so poor that we couldn’t make so very good wages at the price he was paying. I don’t know whether he will give us anymore or not we may keep on cutting anyway for there is no other work here at present except in the mines. I am going to get him to pay us a little more tho if it is possible. We are able to cut only about five thousand per day and that is hardly enough. We could do better than that if it weren’t for so much rotten timber and is so small also. It is much smaller than any I ever worked in before and it counts up slow.
I got your last letter last Mond. and was glad that you were both feeling so much better and hope you will continue to improve in the future. The Philips folks are all about as usual Mae has gotten over her grippey spell so feel better than she did.
I got your pictures Sis and think it is real good. I can’t see as you have changed very much in the last year, except perhaps you are a wee bit fleshier. Guess You don’t weigh much if anymore than when I was last there.
So Joe and Dad had a bust it. Well I have been looking for that for some time now so was not surprised to hear it. I think it will be much better if Joe or Rich either would never try to work for him anymore for it never ends satisfactorily and they ought to know it by now. They ought to work for some one else and one would do better by them and Dad will do better by any one else than them. In my opinion he did the most foolish thing he ever did when he bought that truck, if he had been a young man it would have been different but for a man of his age to buy himself into a lot of trouble like that is very foolish. If he had managed right he could have lived in ease and comfort the rest of his life but the way he has managed he is liable to lose all he has got. I guess tho that it will make very little difference tho as he would never use what he had in the right way anyway.
What is Joe going to do now? If he has no other place to live he might go out and live in the shack Gus built on his place. I don’t know what kind of a house he built but suppose it is good enough for a makeshift and as it is near the car line Joe could work in town. I would much rather he would live there than have it unoccupied, as some one is liable to burn it up. If he was living there he could look after it and this summer he could clean up a little of land and raise some garden. I believe that Gus said there was an acre or so that didn’t need much work to put in cultivation. I don’t know about it myself as I have never seen it tho I have been over the ground in that section of the country so I have some Idea as to what it is like.
Well I guess this all for now. You better write me next time at Belle Fourche as I might not be at Spearfish then. Write soon and often bye-by.
When my Grandfather visited when I was a kid he sometimes reminisced about the days when he worked in the Homestead Gold Mine in Lead South Dakota. The Lead newspaper shows him on the “Disbursements Aid Fund” lists during the months of February and April of 1916. He received 5$ for sickness both times. And then again in May for an injury. These lists were long with over 100 names listed each month. While most names indicated either illness or injuries there were also a few deaths and suicides on each list. Mining work was dangerous and my Grandfather sounded as though he did not like the work.
There is also a brief mention in the Wyoming newspaper for January of 1916 for Mae’s father. The paper states that he moved into his cellar after his house burnt down in Donald, Wyoming and then shortly afterwards while he was away overnight his cellar burnt down too, so if he was going to stay on the ranch he’d have to camp out. The 1920 census has him living in Belle Fourche with his wife and younger children Daniel and Hazel. He is working as a teamster and she is the keeper of a boarding house. They have 3 boarders and they are renters not the homeowner. Daniel is listed as still going to school and Hazel as not working. Perhaps that is the boarding house Roy inquires if they are moving to in one of his last letters written in 1915.
On August 1, of 1917 Roy and Mae finally married. Their marriage certificate states he was a resident of Lead and she of Belle Fourche. The two towns are about 35 miles apart. They were married in Belle Fourche by a Congregational minister. Her sister Hazel and a Louis Mason were witnesses. She wore a dress of white or a pale color, long elbow white gloves and carried a bouquet of roses. I’d like to think they were surrounded by family and friends on that day with a celebration dinner held later at the boarding house. I wonder did they own a car by then or did they set off for their new home in Lead by horse and buggy?
Roy’s name shows up on the Disbursement list aid fund again in June, July, and August of 1917 in Lead for injury with payment of 4$ and 5$ for each of the months. I am assuming they made their first home in Lead as another newspaper clip of April 1918 states Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Caple of Lead were visiting the Marchant’s. It also noted that Mrs. Marchant was the aunt of Mrs. Caple. Perhaps they had visited to say good-bye as by September of the same year they lived with Roy’s parent in Puyallup, WA. At the time he worked as a wheelwright for a shipyard in Tacoma.
From his father they purchased the lot next door to their house and Roy began to build his bride her dream home. Though not finished it was livable by the time they welcomed their first child, Iva Mae into the world on Dec. 17, 1918.
While this is the end of THE LETTERS TO Mona, stay tuned, this isn’t the last you will hear of them. Next I am taking on the task of writing my grandfather’s life, the courtship years were only a fraction of his long life.
A poem that was enclosed in one of Mae’s last letters
When in my grave I lonely sleep.
And the weeping willows over me leaps,
It is then dear friend and not before
That I shall think of us no more.
Your true Friend 25.19.7 (Which translates to Mae)
The threshing team is due to arrive her any day now. That will surely keep us busy for a few days cooking. And then it’s on to Belle Fourche. It seems strange to say that. We have lived there before during the winter but the last time was the year Hazel was born and I don’t recall much. Papa has found a job working as a teamster and Mama is going to be the keeper of the boarding house we are renting. We will have 3 of the rooms one for Hazel and me, a small one for Daniel and another room will be Papa’s and Mama’s. There will be rooms for 3 additional boarders. The dining and drawing room will be shared. The kitchen will be Mama’s domain and so I suppose mine and Hazel’s, too. We will have to provide meals for the boarders as well as ourselves. Mama was the keeper of an Aladdin boarding house one winter when I was small. Belle Fourche is a little town like Puyallup except it caters to the cattle and sheep industry. Unlike Puyallup it’s a cowboy town.
As soon as logging shuts down Roy says he is going to come and try to find work here. He is tired of us being so far apart. I can’t begin to tell you how happy that makes me. Still I am trying not to get my hopes up to high. Job prospects around here aren’t good.
Vera and Clarence will be leaving next week. I am sure going to miss her, it’s been so nice having her around to visit with. Hopefully I will make new friends once we settle into Belle Fourche.
Sept. 5, 1915
Well here I am once more for a little chat this morning. How are you feeling this fine morning? Just fine tho, I hope. I am not feeling quite well today as usual. I ate something for supper that made me so sea-sick: and I felt pretty miserable all night, think I vomited up every thing I have eaten for a week. I feel pretty good this morning tho only a bit weak. Guess I will be just as good as ever in a short time.
Your last letter arrived Iast Saturday and of course I was glad, and especially glad you were feeling so well. I looked for another letter yesterday but was disappointed, may get it today tho, am hoping s anyway.
I bet you was some glad to see Vera. And I can just imagine how you and she acted when you first met. Wish I might have been there to for I would like to see Vera to. Is she still there tell her I send her my best wished and tell her hello for me. I wish I could see Tootie also. I bet she is sure some cute. She was that when I saw here but I know she must be lots more so now.
I am glad the Wyoming crops have turned out so well that sure aught to help some. The grain crop of Wash. Is good this year to. And I guess that wheat is a good price to. It seems as if the times aught to be pretty good this fall but it doesn’t seem as if they are. At least there is not much doing in the lumber business in this country. Lots of camps and mills are not running those that are in operation are all time talking about closing down. We hear talk of this camp shutting down ever once in a while. Hope it don’t for a while yet anyway.
My brother Richard is here with me again. He came Friday evening. He didn’t stay long over east of the mountains. He said he had to quit threshing on account of his eyes. There was to much dust, and he has weak eyes anyway. I was sure glad to have him back and am going to try to get him to stay this time. Joe and Grover West were working on the same machine that he was on. They will probably stay until the job is done. Joe’s wife is at Cashimere Wash. That is a small place up on the great northern rail-road. Guess that she and Joe are going to live there this winter. Joe said that he has a job cutting wood for this winter.
Well I guess that Justin and Lillian are picking hops now. Richard said they left Puyallup about a week ago. Said that he thought that Hue’s wife went with them and that Hue was going later.
I Don’t know where to send this letter to but I am going to send it to Belle Fourche as I suppose you will be there by the time this arrives. If you are not it can be forwards to Mona.
I haven’t told you of our trip after huckleberries last Sunday. We stayed all night on top of the mountain and picked berries until noon. The berries were plentiful and the finest I ever saw. WE got about eight gallons of them and sent them home. You better come around this winter and help eat huckleberry pie.
As ever Roy
Well it is about train time so will stop so as to send this off on it. Best regards to all
Sept 8th, 1915
Here I am writing upon your last page. I have been writing in you for almost 3 years and my feelings for Roy haven’t changed one bit. Well, I guess that isn’t entirely true as I love him more with each passing day and am surer than ever we are meant to be forever.
Today is our last day here in Mona. We have been busy getting everything packed. Not that we are taking much along. Mostly just our clothes, linens, and other personal items. The boarding house kitchen is well stocked with cookware and dishes. And it’s not like we will never be back. Papa isn’t sure he wants to sell the claim he has worked so hard for. And even if we don’t come back to live we will still be out here often to visit. Grandpa and Grandma aren’t moving to town and neither are the rest of our many kin here, we’ll surely be out often for visits. Chances are next spring we will be living here again. But then if I find a job in Belle Fourche I might choose to stay there. Especially if it means I can see more of Roy so leaving here is sort of bittersweet. So many ifs. As I am about to run out of paper to write on, I guess it’s time to draw you to a close. Thank you for being here to hold all my hopes and dreams. Tomorrow will be the start of my life in a new place and with it the beginnings of a new book.
My Aunt Lib died on Wednesday. They had a big funeral for her over at the Waddington house. All the folks from around here turned out so that tells you what folks thought of her. I know it was for the best she had suffered long enough but I can’t help but feel bad. I loved her so, she was such a dear and so good to me over the years. Papa took it hard; she was just 6 years older. Makes me realize how old my poor Papa is getting, I hate to think of him being gone in another 6 years. Course he has 7 other siblings who are older yet and still living. My Uncle John is 18 years older and doing just fine out in Rosedale, Washington.
Yesterday the Book and Thimble club met at the Massies’. This time we read “Anne of the Island” by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It’s the third in the Anne of Green Gables series. I loved the first two. This one was good but I like the other two more. Still, I kindy identified with Ann. Though you will never find me turning my Roy down if and when he asks for my hand in marriage. But then I guess my Roy is really her Gilbert. I cheered when I read they finally got engaged.
Just when I really got to know and enjoyed Miss Guys company she upped and moved away. Now I am without a girlfriend nearby again. Oh well if we really move we won’t be here much longer anyway.
Nagrom, Wash August 17, 1915
Well here I am once again for a little one sided talk with you. I wonder how you are this evening. Hope you are feeling just fine tho. I had a letter from you last Sun. and another one today. Was sure surprised to get the one today as I wasn’t looking for it at all.
I was certainly sorry to hear of the death of Mrs. Waddington and I sympothize deeply with the ones left behind to mourn her. I know just how it is to part with a dear one for ever for I have had the experience myself. I know pretty near how sad you all feel and wish that I could say something that would cheer you up a little but I know that mere words haven’t much power to cheer at such a time. It is hard to think that is for the best when we have to part with a dear one, but it must be for there is a power that rules over us that is greater than we can know.
I little thought when I said good-bye to Mrs. Waddington in Belle Fourche last winter that it was the last time I would see her on this earth. It is a good thing I guess that we can’t know such things before hand. If we could it would be terrible. I feel so sorry for Mr. Waddington and the girls. Suppose they won’t know how to get along without Mother.
I sure wish I might have been at your place on my birthday. I had a pretty good time on that day but know that I would had a much better time if I could have been with you. I would like awful well to see Tootie and Sadie also. Expect that Tootie has grown to be such a big girl that I would hardly know her. I have forgotten when her birthday is but she must be about a year old now.
We are having delightful weather now. Yesterday we had quite a thunder storm and it cooled things off in great shape. It sure some hot over where Amber is I would hate to be there. I don’t think it has ever been above 85 degrees here and that is enough suit me. I bet Joe and Richard are doing lots of sweating as they are both over east of the mountain somewhere.
Do you ever hear anything form Vera anymore? You hasn’t mentioned her for a long time. I would love to hear how she and Clarence are making it by now.
So you friend Miss Guy has left you. You don’t seem to have very good luck with your girl friends. They are all time getting married or else going away.
There is going to be a wedding here in the camp tomorrow or rather I should say it is not to be in the camp either but they both live here. They went to Tacoma today and are going to be married there and are coming back here about the last of the week. The man is one of the fellows that I had for a partner last fall, so I know him pretty well. I am not much acquainted with the girl. She is only seventeen, pretty young for a wife don’t you think. He has been building a new house the last week and Mr. Cook and I have been helping him evenings.
Well I guess I don’t know anymore worth saying so will stop and read awhile give my regards to all,
as ever Roy
August 27, 1915
Well how is the girl today? Just fine tho I hope. I am writing this out int the woods during the noon hour while I rest. Haven’t a very good place to write so you will have to excuse me if my writing is poor. I was just ready to start a letter to you the other evening when the call came to turn out to fight fire so I had to postpone it.
Fire had caught in the brush along the railroad from the locomotive when it brought the crew in from work. We were out all night and all the next day before we could stop it. I sent that card when we came in for breakfast and had only a minute to spare or so couldn’t write much. The fire burned over quite a lot of logged ground but we managed to keep it out of the green timber so there was not much damage done except that it burned a couple of railroad bridges, which will take lots of work to rebuild.
All the fire is about out now so I don’t think there is any more danger from it. I sure hope so anyway for fighting fire in the woods is a pretty bad job and very dangerous to. The smoke was so thick the first day that I could hardly stand it. It made me pretty sick for a while to.
I had a letter from Lida this week and she said they were all pretty well now that she was busy picking blackberries for Mr. Perkensen. She also said that Justin and Lillian and Hue and Lodie were going over to Yakima to pick hops. They will probably go where Ode and Amber are for there are lots of hops near there. She didn’t say when they were going to start but I suppose it will be soon tho as picking will begin soon, about the tenth of Sept. I think.
My friend Mr. Cook and I are going huckle-berry picking this evening. We are going right after supper and stay until tomorrow afternoon, that is why I am writing this at noon. I expect to get a letter this evening and if I don’t somebody will be awfully disappointed. Well it is time to go to work again so I must say good-by and go to work again.
As ever Roy
Vera was here this past week. I don’t have to tell you how nice that was. She looked and sounded so happy; marriage certainly seems to agree with those two. Yesterday she came with me to the Book and Thimble meeting. Everyone was some glad to see her again. I’m so horse. I did so much talk the past couple of days my voice has all but left me.
The threshers should be out here in another week or two and then as hard as it is for me to believe we are moving to Belle Fourche.
It will certainly be different living in a lodging house. I guess we will have 2 or 3 rooms and share meals with the other boarders. Papa has found some temporary work in the stockyards. I am hoping I will be able to find some work also.