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)
Friendship is a golden knot
Tied by a loving angel’s hand.