The winter holidays passed before Roy’s dad and Uncle Will saddled up their horses and rode to Guthrie, Oklahoma. There his dad filed an intent to homestead on 160 acres in township nineteen. [i]
After they left, his brother Sammy said, “We have to live on that land for the next five years before we can call it ours. And we have to have a house built by May.”
Tired of sharing his relatives cramped quarters, May, seemed like a long time to wait.
He asked his father upon his return, “How long before we can move there?”
His father fingered the ends of his long mustache, “Well, it’s going to be a bit. It has to warm up enough for us to cut the sod. I reckon it will be March before we get it built. There’s plenty of work for us to do in the meantime. I’ll start on the corral tomorrow.”
When the weather warmed enough to cut the sod, it surprised Roy how fast his dad with some help from his uncle and cousins got it built.
Roy’s Dad had brought the boys over to see it the day he and Milo hauled in the cast-iron stove. They installed it at one end of the 18’ x 24’ room. “There,” said his dad, something to keep us warm and cook on.”
He handed him and Joe paintbrushes, “Your mother wants all the walls whitewashed before we move in. I reckon it’s a job you two can handle.”
The next day his mother enlisted him and Joe to help her tack the white muslin sheets to the ceiling. After she pounded in the last tack she said, “there, that should help keep the dust and bugs out.” She nodded to the trunk his dad had set in the room that morning. “Roy, go open that up.”
She reached in and pulled out red checkered curtains. “I made these for our house in Puyallup. They will work here just as good. While I hang these, you two get the rugs out.”
He and Joe dragged out braided rugs and laid them on the dirt floor. Then his mother pulled out a gilt covered frame. It contained the likeness of both his mother and Father on some kind of certificate. “What is that?” asked Roy.
“It’s our marriage certificate.” Her fingers traced the outline of the photos. “My, how young we both looked, I can’t believe that was almost 17 years ago.” She hung it on the wall with the pictures of Ida and Bertle. Looking at Ida made Roy miss his sister all over again.
The boys helped their mother make shelves out of wooden fruit boxes to hold their dishes and cookware. She designated one shelf just for her China teapot and teacups. “There,” she said, “now we are ready to bring in the furniture.”
The two boys brought in the table they’d dragged along the trail and two chairs. The rest of them would make do sitting on wooden boxes until they could get proper seats.
In the corner along one wall they set the bedframe for their parent’s feather bed and the trundle his father had constructed for him, Richard, and Joe to sleep on. Sammy and Milo would sleep on palettes on the floor until they could build a bunkhouse.
On March 20th, 1894, the family moved into the soddy. His father took out a new ledger, dipped his pen in an inkwell and wrote the date down. “We’ll need to this to prove our claim in five years.”
While his mother was busy making the inside cozy and homey, he and Joe set to digging her a garden patch, while his dad, Sammy and Milo worked from dawn to dusk getting the fields plowed and planted with crops of corn and wheat.
Since wood was scarce. Roy and Richard often searched for dried cow chips, which they burned along with corn cobs for fuel.
Roy learned to put up with bugs, mice and snakes that burrowed through their walls and ceiling. Once while eating at his cousins Jennie’s house, she pointed to the ceiling. “Always look up before you eat. One time we had a snake fall on our dinner.”
After that, Roy checked the ceiling before he sat at the table. He also learned to never stick his feet onto the floor in the morning without checking to make sure the area was snake free. Some of those snakes were poisonous.
At first they had to haul their water from his uncle’s place. No matter how careful, the barrels always seemed close to dry. His father had to make several trips a week after it. Roy liked to ride along to help. His aunt was a superb cook, she always had something tasty he could eat, and he enjoyed talking to Jennie. For a girl, she was full of interesting stories.
Bit by bit the family added on to the homestead, first a bunkhouse, then a hen house for his mother to raise laying hens. They obtained more cattle and horses. After 5 years they’d planted an orchard of 150 trees and two thousand shade trees, fenced 140 acres and cultivated sixty-five acres.  His brother Milo took up a claim adjoining his father’s and Sammy had plans of adding to the family’s’ holdings as soon as he turned twenty-one.
Roy spent more time working on the ranch than going to school. He doubted he’d ever get enough school to graduate from the eighth grade. But that didn’t stop him from learning. Whenever they had a spare dime to spend, his parents bought him books to read and study on his own. He’d also learned to lasso a steer, dig postholes, mend fence, plant, and harvest crops, ride a horse and anyone, and build most anything one needed. Still, he cherished the moments he could read and study the most.
The info for their homestead claim comes from the actual claim when it was proved.
At time homesteaders in this area were instructed to plant trees which is why they planted 2000 trees. The scientific thought of the time was if trees were planted the rains would come.
My grandfather William Roy Caple was born on August 8th, 1885, somewhere near Dodge city, Kansas at his family’s homestead. His parents were Samuel Hugh Caple Senior and Margaret Melinda Ragsdale Caple. He joined five older siblings, including two half siblings, Minnie born in 1867, and Milo born in 1874. And full siblings, Samuel Jr. born in 1878, Ida born in 1880, and Joseph born in 1883.
Margaret was Samuel’s second wife. His first wife, Polly Sumpter died in 1876 in Monroe Iowa. Leaving Samuel with two young children to raise.
How he came to know and marry Margaret is unknown. The couple married on September 16, 1877, at her family home in Brookline, Missouri. They are living in Osborn County, Kansas in the 1880 census. Soon after newspaper snippets place them on a homestead four miles North of Dodge city, Kansas. His father appears to have been running a freighting business in addition to having homestead land.
Around 1887 the family headed west by covered wagon. My grandfather said his dad always thought the grass was greener elsewhere. From family records we know they lived a brief time in Weston, Oregon, and Cheney, and Spokane WA.
Around 1891 they moved to Puyallup, WA. When a world depression hit and blight severely damaged the local hop crops the family moved again in 1892 to Multnomah, Oregon where is father found work building a stone house.
A bit later they moved once again. Wintering in either Eastern Oregon or over the border in Idaho. My grandfather recalled how destitute the family was at that time and how they would not have survived that winter had they not been able to live on a farm they found. The owner had a jail sentence to serve and needed someone to take care of his property for the winter. They lived off the food found on his farm.
After staying there, they continued on their journey to Oklahoma where Samuels’ older brother William was homesteading.
I have chosen to begin my story as my grandfather’s family enters the state of Oklahoma.
You will find that I use the name Roy in my writing instead of my grandfather’s first name. Apparently when he was quite young his father and uncle had some kind of disagreement. From then on, he went by the name Roy, except on legal documents. For this reason he never wanted anyone named after him. He said every child deserved a name all their own.
This story was born out of my fascination for tales my by Grandpa William Roy Caple told of his pioneer childhood.
He knew little of his ancestry. He said the family once lived in the South and moved north over the issue of slavery. However he had no idea what state that might have been or where they’d com from before living in the U.S. All he knew was the name of his grandfather. My desire to know more spurred me to research the family.
As I began to put together the timeline of my grandfather’s life I began to realize he’d lived through incredible times, seeing the world go from horse and buggy days to jet travel.
The stories I will share are based on what I recall him telling me, the facts I uncovered in my research as well as the memories his two children shared with me.
I have chosen to write in the genre of creative non-fiction. I have woven fact with recollections and social history. Where I have quoted conversations or delved into thinking it is my interpretation of those facts and stories.
I found one last letter written by Mae’s cousin Lulu McDonald. She wrote it to her Uncle John Phillips who lived in Rosedale, WA but in care of Mae who had by then moved to Puyallup, WA. some time after April of 1918 but by August 10, 1918
Dear Uncle John:-
It has been kind of a long time since I have heard from you, and I am very sure you owe me a letter, but I’m going to write you again anyway. I don’t know your address so will just address it to Puyallup in care of Mae and I know you will get it.
How are you these hot summer days? Ma isn’t the best in the world but we are so thankful she is as well as she is. She had been so anxious to hear from you, and I intended to write to you long ago, but it seems there is so much to be done and so many letters to have to answered. Every one is so short of help we have to do some work we never been in the habit of doing before.
How are the days there? We certainly have had some awfully hot days here, but lately have been having so much rain. How is Justin and his wife and last but not least, how is little John R? Wish I could see him I know he is so cute now.
Well there aren’t many of the folks left around here, but what there are are all quite well. Uncle Will looks so awfully old and bad, he hasn’t seemed well for a long time, but cripples around all the time at his work. He has a good crop this year as we all do.
Aunt Deau was very well the I last saw here and still seems to be the Peacemaker of the family, and there is some of it to be done there now as you know, Earl is married and they all live together.
Allies folks are about the same as usual. Allie and Mattie came out to their ranch to make Hay (Authors Note; Allie and Mattie are Mae’s parents and had moved to Belle Fourche, SD in 1917) Mattie isn’t very strong and the trip did her good.
I expect it is lonely there without Kittie. (Kittie was one of the other Phillips siblings). How do they like it in Canada? Uncle Ben is busy helping make hay and reap and stack grain.
Ma said to tell you that she was quite disappointed that you didn’t stay out with the boys longer as she wanted to come and make you all a visit while you were together.
How do you like the country where the boys are?
Isn’t this war something awful? O, so many of our dear boys are right in the front now. One Belle Fourche boy is reported killed the 21st July. He was a first Lientinant, and only 19 years old. Several of our home boys are wounded and dead. It almost breaks my heart to think of the broken hearts the desolate house, the ruined lives, America holds tonight. This is a terrible struggle, and when it is over there will be Universal Peace.
Well we must be patient and wait on the Lord, and we will know in time. If it wasn’t for Science I don’t know what I would do. Poor Nellie and Bate are having a time. Bate has seemed to be growing worse for a time, just bloated up all over so awful, and they took him to the Dr. and he said it was Bright’s disease, but if he did say so , it doesn’t make it so, for material man cannot make a law over Gods child, for God is all power.
Aunt Sarah’s girls and families are well. You knew that Margaret had a little baby boy didn’t you?
Say wasn’t that a shock to hear Beatrice Purkerson was married? She seems like a baby yet to me. Well I must close as it is now 10:30 and I am sleepy.
Write me when you can. Mac, Mama, Frankie and Lela all join with me in sending love,
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.
Well how are you making it by now? I am just fine and hope you can say the same. It has been quite some time since I got your letter and ought to have answered it before but was to lazy I guess. That is my only excuse I have to offer anyway. I was going to write to you last Sunday but had to work that day so had to put it off for awhile.
Well how goes it in Wyoming by now? Suppose you are working pretty hard these days harvesting the crop. Suppose it is pretty warm there now also. We are having fine weather now just warm enough to be pleasant. I don’t think it will get very hot anymore this summer.
You ought to be here to go fishing with me next Sunday. It happens to be my birthday and I am going to celebrate it by going fishing. Don’t you think that is a pretty good way to celebrate? It is lucky it comes on Sunday, if it was any other day I should have to celebrate with the big saw. Well I don’t know any new to tell you as there is not much doing here and I haven’t been any place since the Fourth and I haven’t heard much from any of the folks since then either so am short of news. Well guess I will read the paper for a while and then pull in.
Maybe next time I can think of more to write.
Your pal, Roy
August 5, 1915
Big news, Papa says we are now moving to Belle Fourche as soon as September is here. I hardly think we will make it that soon with all the threshing still to do but it does look like we will move for at least the fall and winter if not permanently. I won’t mind living in town but I do wish it were Puyallup. And I don’t have to tell you why.
The Grain is ripening slowly this year no one is harvesting yet. This had been a cool, wet summer for a change. That’s why I hardly think we will be moving as soon as September. Time will tell I guess.
I wonder if there are any Book and Thimble type clubs in Belle Fourche. I am starting to really enjoy our meetings. We had a big crowd at the one last Saturday. The weather was so pleasant we held it outside under the shade trees.
August 8, 1915
I am feeling blue. Today is Roy’s birthday and I miss being with him on his special day. As it is a Sunday I bet he isn’t working either. I do hope he is doing something fun. I doubt he went to Puyallup. I know his mother would make him a cake if he did. If he were here I certainly would. This year I think I’d make him a lemon sponge cake and serve a berry compote on the side. For dinner we’d have fried chicken, potato salad and fresh greens from my garden. Making it would be a labor of love, not work at all.
Instead I had to settle on sending him a card and some nice poems. Maybe next year will be different.
Steven Giles was around this week to show off his shiny new car. Seems more and more folks are getting one. If we actually decide to live in town maybe we will end up with one too, though Papa says never. Getting around here has gotten easier since all the neighbors decided to work together to fix the roads. The county sure wasn’t doing it.
August 10, 1915
Well here I am once again ready for a short chat. Intended to write to you last evening but took a sudden notion to go fishing, so didn’t have the time. Well how are you feeling this lovely evening. Fine I hope. I am still feeling good only a wee bit tired just now. It was pretty warm today and we have an awful rough place to work, have to climb of a pretty high hill to get to it and that makes it pretty bad when it is warm.
Your last letter came last night and I was certainly glad to get it as it had been more than two weeks since I had a letter and I couldn’t help being worried a little bit. Was some what surprised to hear that you are going to move to town and so soon. I won’t get to write you more than one more letter to Mona. I hope you will like it down there and have a good time. I would surely like to be there to go with you to the fair but is so useless to make a wish like that for it is all but impossible. I may go down to the Puyallup fair this year if all goes well until that time. It is a long time yet and lots might happen before then so can’t figure much on it yet.
Is Mr. Phillips going to rent that lodging house that he talked of renting last winter?
Last Sunday was my birthday. I celebrated by going fishing so of course you know that I had a good time. Mr. Cook my partner and myself packed up Saturday evening and walked about five miles up the creek (not the same creek that we went to last time) and slept out under the stars. We got up bright and early and started angling for the shifty trout. It took us only a short time to catch enough for breakfast, we certainly had a fine feed. Mr. Cook acted as chief cook and I cleaned the fish. We fished until about noon and then had another big feed before starting back to camp. We were just about all in when we got back, at least I was and I guess the others were in the same fix.
Mr. Cook undertook to give me a birth-day whipping but didn’t have much success with it. I had a letter from Mother last night and three birthday cards, one from Richard, one from my sister in law and the other from Mother. Richard’s leg is well now. He started away yesterday for east of the mountains to thresh. Said he expected to be gone about two months. Mother is pretty well for her. She said that Lida had been away visiting for a couple of weeks. She stayed a week with Blanche in Tacoma and a week in Buckley with a girl friend she has there.
Mother didn’t say any thing about any of your folks except your Aunt Ann and all she said about her was that she had just been over for a short visit. I suppose the rest must be all right or she would have said something about them. I haven’t heard anything of Justin since he was here. Have you heard from him lately?
You ought to have been here and went to church last Friday evening. There was a meeting in the dance hall. Gus and I went over but the rest of the rough necks wouldn’t go so there wasn’t much of a crowd. Nearly all women and kids. Well I am almost to the end of my paper so will have to cut it short for now.
Dear Mae: Well here goes a short talk with my Little girl. I wonder how she is this fine evening. Well and happy tho I hope. I am still felling just so good as ever and getting along pretty well.
Am back in Nagrom again as you will notice by the address, got back Monday evening and have worked ever since. Got your last letter yesterday, it came to Puyallup after I left there so Mother sent it up to me. Of course you know I was glad to get it. Glad to hear that you were all feeling pretty good and trust you are feeling even better now. Glad you are having nice weather in Wyo. now. We have had nice weather during the past two weeks. I think it is going to be nice for a while now.
Well the Great and Glorious Fourth is now a thing of the past, and I am not very sorry of it either altho I had a good rest and quite a nice time, much better than I expected to have. I think I told you what I did up until Saturday evening. I will take up the story where I left off and tell you all about how I celebrated the fourth.
My chum and I went down town that evening and stayed until pretty late, didn’t go to the show tho, just bummed around the streets. Sunday I didn’t do very much until after noon. Mr. Cook and I went down and got a gallon of ice-cream and we had an ice-cream dinner. We also had fried chicken, new potatoes and green peas and all the berries and cherries we could stand. I tell you it was quite a treat for us after living on camp grub for so long. wish you could have been there and enjoyed it with us. There was no one there beside the home folks except Blanche Stockton and a couple of girls that are picking berries for me. They came from Winlock, Wash. and they were pretty nice girls to, at least I thought so. Sunday evening we all went down to the picture shows and had a real nice time of it. There wasn’t a very good show that evening but had a good time anyway., Monday we all picked berries most of the day. Mr. Cook and I helped the girls pick and we sure had a great time.
In the evening Blanche and Lida and Mr. Cook and myself all went down to the Stadium in Tacoma. There was a play there called Colonial day and it was just fine. They showed the Landing of the Pilgrims in the Mayflower, the signing of the Declaration of Independence and a number of other historical events. They had the most and best fire-works I have ever saw before. It sure was a grand display and I wish you might have seen it. There was also a tight wire performance and other stunts in that line.
We stayed in Tacoma until midnight then we took a train out and put the girls off at Puyallup and we came up to Nagrom. It was after three oclock in the morning when we landed here, so there wasn’t much sleeping done that night. Justin met us at the train in Puyallup and came up here with us, but didn’t stay because he couldn’t get the kind of work he wanted. It was pretty much disappointed that he didn’t stay for it would have kept me from getting so lonesome and I think it would have been much better for him also for he could have got what he wanted later on. I don’t know what he intends to do now. Don’t think he has any plans for the future.
I had a letter from Mother today. She said that Richard had come home from the hospital said that he couldn’t walk yet but didn’t want to stay in the hospital any longer and was going to stay home until he could work again. I don’t think he is going to come here anymore, he says he is going down in Oregon to thresh if he gets well in time. The rest of the folks at home are all pretty well. Mother says she feels better now than she has at anytime since they went east last fall. Lida is working pretty hard in the berries. She is getting along pretty well at it. Father seems to be as well as he was before, he sure looks much better than he did. Joe is over east of the Mts. working in the wheat harvest. I don’t know just where.His wife it is staying with some of her folks. I think she is at Wenatchee, WN.
I didn’t get to see any of your relatives while I was down, was at Henry’s several times, so saw quite a lot of them. I helped Lillian pick berries for quite a while and had quite a talk with her. We talked about you to, did it make your ears burn? I saw your uncle John several times. He looks just as he did when you saw him last I can’t see as he looks much older. I didn’t see any of the rest except Hugh. He was over to our place for a little while. I did see Saul on the street to, but didn’t get to talk to him. Mrs. Henry said they are planning another trip back east this fall, wish I was going part way with them.
Well guess I have told you about all there is to tell about myself so will talk about something else. I wonder what kind of time you had the fourth. My how I wish I might have been with you but that don’t do any good I guess, I sure thought of you many times and wondered what you were doing. Hope you had a good time where ever you were. Hope you got to make that trip up to your Uncle Willies that you were planning.
Well I can’t think of any more to say so will stop and pull in as it is getting pretty late.
July 16, 1915
Well here I am once again. How are you this fine evening? This is only Thursday evening but I am so lonesome I don’t know what else to do with myself so thot I would talk to you for a little while and see if it won’t cheer me up a little bit. There is nothing special to make me feel lonely but can’t help feeling that way sometimes. I am still as well as ever and getting along pretty well with the work We have had a very sudden change in the weather this week. It stopped raining last Sat. and turned warm all at once. Monday was the warmest day of the season and believe me we felt it some to. It has been hot every day this week but not nearly so hot as Monday was. I don’t think it will last for any great length of time up here in the mountains. If it stays nice until Sunday I am going on a fishing trip. I think I have made plans to go about a dozen time this season but something always happened to prevent. I am going this time for sure tho If we don’t have to work.
I had a letter from Mother the other day. She said they were all pretty well at the present. I guess they are just about through with the berries now I think they were going to pick them for the last time today and I suppose they are glad to get through with them. Blanche Stockton is going to stay at our place through black-berry picking. I think that her and Lida are going to pick for Mr. Perensen.
Well here I am once more I had to stop writing the other before I finished and didn’t get to write anymore until now, and don’t suppose I can finish it now either as Mr. Cook and I are going fishing this evening. I am waiting for him to get ready and thot I would talk to you while I am waiting. We are going up May creeks about five miles and stay all night so we can get an early start in the morning. Well I guess Gus is about ready to start so I will have to stop and finish tomorrow night. I can then tell you about our trip good-bye for now.
Well here I am once more, how was you this evening? I am fine and dandy and hope you can say the same. I intended to finish this letter last night but Gus and I were invited out to supper and we didn’t get home until about nine oclock so didn’t have time to write any. We had quite a time on our fishing trip, didn’t catch many fish but had a good time just the same. We stayed all night Sat. night out in the woods under a big tree on the bank of a swift mountain stream and the water made music for us to sleep by. We got up at four o clock and started out to catch trout enough for breakfast. It was a beautiful morning and the scenery was just grand, wish you could have been there and seen it for yourself. We fished until seven and then we stopped and cooked breakfast. I cleaned the trout while Gus prepared the rest of the meal and then we both fried fish. We certainly had a great feed and it sure tasted fine for we were hungry.
After breakfast we went on up the creek fishing as we went until noon then we stopped and had another fish fry. On the return trip I went to climb along the cliff to get by a water fall and my foot slipped and I went into the water co-plunk and oh was it cold. The sun was shining tho so It didn’t take long to dry. We got back to camp quite early in the evening and we were some tired I tell you. We gave our fish to a family man that lives here and he invited us to come and help eat them so we went and we certainly had a good supper. After supper we had some music and singing go put in the evening quite pleasantly.
I got your letter today and of course was very glad. I looked for it Saturday, but it didn’t come so I wasn’t looking for it until Wednesday so was some what surprised to get it today. It was a very pleasant surprise tho. Am so glad to hear that you are feeling so well and hope you will stay that way. I had a letter from Mother today also. She and Lida are both pretty well and getting along pretty well. Richard is able to walk without crutches now and the Doctor told him he would be as good as ever by their first of Aug. Guess he will start away threshing just as soon as he can. I bet he is some glad to be able to walk around again. He certainly has had quite a time of it.
Father is getting along pretty well and is feeling quite will. My old uncle isn’t any better and I guess never will be. He had never recovered his health and his mind is failing him. I don’t think he can last so very long but of course it is hard to tell.
Well it is time for me to pull in so I will have to hang up and go to bed and get some sleep so I will be ready for another long hard day. Gus has been sitting here reading to me while I have been writing so if you find any mistakes you will know the reason and excuse them.
July 17, 1915
We went to the picnic and dance at Donald on the 15th. My did we ever have fun and eat so much good food. It was good to visit with all the folks I don’t see much. The boys and men spent most of the afternoon playing baseball while we women cheered and visited. They also held running races like the gunny sack and three-legged races for the younger kids. As you know I am not so crazy about dances unless a certain someone is there with me too. But I have to admit they had some mighty fine fiddlers. My toes were sure a tapping even if I did sit the dances out.
So many of the folks at the dance kept asked why I didn’t I just up and take myself to Washington. Believe me I’m temptedbut I would hate to hurt my family that way and beside Roy made Papa that darn promise so I am sure he’d still wait until I was 21 before he asked for my hand in marriage.
We have had so much rain this month it is interfering with the haymaking. Before it gets quite dried out it ups and rains again. After so many seasons of insufficient rain this year we have too much.
It’s been a very busy end to July, so busy with harvesting crops and canning. The men have been trying to get as much haymaking done as they can between rainstorms. Most of our alfalfa crops is laying spoiled in the fields due to the overly plentiful rain.
Papa has once again said he’s had enough of trying to farm out here. The Washington relatives keep writing to him saying he should come out there. I have my fingers crossed I think he is considering it. I don’t have to tell you how much I’d prefer that to Belle Fourche.
I am sitting in my garden. My flowers have flourished, they don’t mind all the rain at all. I’m being cooled by a pleasant breeze and the sweet scent of fresh mowed hay drifts through the air. In the distance I hear the yowling of the coyotes. This year these parts are being overrun with them.
China – coded letter written by Mae sometime in July or August it was included in the envelope for Roy’s letter dated July 17, 1915
Yes Roy I would like very much to be in Washington but you know I can’t as long as the folks are here. But everybody is asking me why I don’t go. But we must live in hope of being together I hope.
Vera and Hazel discovered the writing in the envelope, but it will be all right
I surely get lonesome sometimes if only I could see you once in a while I would feel so much better. But I hope and trust in God we will soon be together. It helps to look on the bright side of things you are just beautiful and I love you only
If you send any secret letters envelopes, don’t as they are looking