Tag Archives: Alexander Phillips

LETTERS FROM MONA -Part 6- March 28 – April 12, 1913

March 28,1913

Dear Diary,

It is so nice and warm this morning that I am sitting outside facing our home. It isn’t much to look at especially by city standards. If Roy hadn’t told so many stories of growing up in a sod house, I would worry what he’d think of it. At least our house isn’t sod, it’s made of logs with mud plastered between. Papa and his brothers built it from trees they logged from the hills around here. They came here to homestead with my Grandma Jessie in 1888, eight years before I was born.

Inside we have a big room with a cook stove that also keeps us warm during cold weather.  Mama and Papa sleep downstairs but we kids all sleep up in the loft.  Let me tell you it gets mighty freezing up there when it is cold.

When we need supplies, we either get it from the general store in Aladdin, 8 miles away or go to Belle Fourche, 23 miles away and an overnight trip.  Sometimes we order stuff from the Sears catalog and pick it up from the train in Aladdin. You can buy almost anything that way, course you also must pay for it, so we don’t order much.

Papa is busy now getting the land ready to grow his oats, wheat, corn and rye along with the hay for our animals.  Soon Mama and I will be working in our gardens.

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April 2, 1913

Dear diary,

I have just finished churning the butter and cleaning the separator. I don’t mind doing the churning but I cleaning that separator is a real chore. I have a few minutes to write before it’s time to start the baking.

I am a bit fretful today. Roy wrote to me and mentioned that his parents are planning to move to Missouri to be near his Mother’s family. I don’t have to tell you I don’t like the sound of this. What if Roy decides to go there, too?  I know he could still write to me but I’d lose my Puyallup connections to him. It’s just troublesome.

I guess I need to stop writing. Mama says it’s time to start the baking. Besides the usual bread and biscuits, she wants me, to make a cake.

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April 15, 1913

Dear Diary,

I am at Grandma and Grandpa Smith’s. Sadie and I are having a fine visit.

Can you believe it? Bert asked her to marry him. Of course she said, yes. Grandma and Grandpa seem pleased. Grandpa said Bert was a fine man and he’d be proud to call him son-in-law.

I have been helping Sadie put the finishing touches on the new dress she will wear for the ceremony in Belle Fourche. It won’t be much of a wedding just Sadie and Bert and Grandpa and Grandma and Mrs. Marchant. Papa says there is too much farming to be done to spare the two days it would take for us to go. Maybe Mama, Hazel and I can hitch a ride along with Grandma and Grandpa. I hope so, anyway.

LETTERS FROM MONA – Part 3, Dec. 22, 1912 -Jan. 30, 1913

Dec. 22, 1912

Dear Diary,

Well we arrived back in Mona last Friday. Cousin Clifford took very good care of our animals and place. You could barely tell we ever left. We loaded up on supplies before we left Belle Fourche. Grandma and Grandpa Smith and Sadie were there to meet our train on our arrival in Aladdin. It was good to see them again, especially Aunt Sadie. I have learned my 2 best chums, who lived nearby, have moved away. So, Sadie will be my only chum. She may be my Aunt but since she is only 5 years older, she is more like a big sister. At least I will have her to talk to. And surprise she has taken a homestead claim of her own just north of Aladdin. Isn’t she the plucky one?

I told her all about Roy and she said she understood how I felt, for she has fallen madly in love with Bert Marchant. She’s hoping he will ask her to marry soon. I never thought of them as a couple, so it came as a big surprise. And it made me miss Roy even more. Tomorrow after church I am going to write everyone in Puyallup a letter. The weather is turning cold probably won’t be long before we get our first snowfall.

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December 29th, 1912

Dear Diary,

Christmas has come and gone. I didn’t have much time to write because Mama and I were busy making lots of cookies and cakes. We went to the program the school put on, if we had been back earlier Hazel and I would probably have would have been part of the production. They had a good crowd and it was nice seeing everyone again. It snowed for two days before Christmas so we had a white one. Christmas day dawned clear and bright. We hitched up the team and took a sleigh ride over to Grandma and Grandpa Smith’s. Uncle Will and Aunt Minnie were there also. My how my little cousins had grown in a year.

We sang Christmas carols, enjoyed oyster stew and ate plenty of the cookies and cake that both Mama and Grandma made. On the way home the moonlight glistened on the snow like glitter. Oh how I wished Roy had been there to share it with me.

There will be a dance down at the Phillip’s barn New Year’s eve. Guess we will go if the weather holds.

———————————————————————————————————————————————January 30th, 1913

Dear Diary,

It’s been a while since I wrote in you. I must get back in the habit, I think for I have so few to talk to around here about my deepest thought.

My the weather has been cold. Makes me really wish we were still in Puyallup where it never gets this cold. We did go to the dance on New Year’s eve. Most all of the Phillips relatives were there which made it fun, I hadn’t seen many of them for so long. But I didn’t care so much for dancing.

It would have been different if Roy had been there. I got a letter from him, but he didn’t say much and it was ever so proper. I keep telling myself it’s because he knew Mama and Papa would read it but then again, maybe all he means to be from here on out, is a friend who once lived next door. It makes feel so blue. I don’t dare say that around Mama and Papa, I’m sure they wish I’d forget all about him. I never shall never forget him, no matter what the future may hold, of this I am sure.

It’s time to help Mama get dinner on the table, more later.

Letters From Mona – The Beginning -Part 1-Dec. 1912

 

Over the next few months I will be sharing my grandparents courtship letters along with an accompanying diary. The letters are real. The diary is historical fiction based on what I have gleaned from their writing, talking to their children and my research into life in rural Wyoming between 1913 -1916. I hope you will enjoy reading them.

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Prologue:

She crept into the musty attic, in a corner sat an old brown trunk. She remembered her Mama telling her how her Daddy had sled it through the snow to a train waiting to take them to their new life in Puyallup, WA.

Judging from the amount of dust on top she guessed it hadn’t been opened in years.  Ignoring it, she undid the worn leather straps and tugged the latch open. There wasn’t much in the trunk, some photos, a pretty dress her Mama wore to dances and a little blue sailor suit. She remembered watching her Mama stitch it for her little brother.

At the bottom of the trunk was a covered box. She lifted it out and carefully removed the lid.  Inside lay the quirt her Daddy had given her Mama for Valentine’s day. What had her Mama called her horse? She didn’t remember anymore. Under the quirt sat a few photo’s of her Mother’s youth and two packets of letters tied in blue satin ribbons – one pile addressed to Roy Caple, Nagram,Wash., the other to Mae Phillips, Mona, Wyoming and a faded leather journal. Her fingers shook as she opened it.

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Puyallup, Wash.

Dec. 1, 1912

Dear Diary,

The Henry’s gave you to me as a birthday gift. Up until today all I wanted to do was admire your pristine white pages and touch your soft leather cover but now I must have a place to spill my heart, for it is breaking.

Just a bit ago, Mama and Papa informed me we are going home before Christmas. Why now, I asked. We’ve been here almost a year and I thought they were happy.

Papa said it’s because cousin Clifford, who has been renting our place in Mona, had decided to move elsewhere. And Mama said she couldn’t bear to be away from her family any longer. But I think the real reason is to get me away from a certain somebody. Just thinking of him makes me want to swoon. I fell for him the minute I first set eye on him and recently he told me he felt the same way.

Let me tell you with his blue, blue eyes, dark, almost black, brown hair and gentle smile he has to be the handsomest man alive. And that’s the problem, he is a man and according to my parent’s, I’m just a girl. Never mind that I am 16 and finished with school. Why Grandma Jessie was married a year by the time she was my age.

I said I’d stay with the Henry’s and get a job at the box factory. But Mama said absolutely not, you’re too young to live away from us. You only want to stay because your smitten with that young man next door. You’ll forget all about him once some fine Wyoming lad sets his sights on courting you.

But I know I won’t.

We came here because our last winter in Wyoming was very cold and hard. Papa’s family kept writing about the wonders of Washington state, so when my cousin said he was looking for a place to rent, my folks decided to give Washington a try. Right after Christmas we boarded a train bound for Puyallup.

The Henry’s found us a place to live not far from them. I can never remember just how but Mrs. Henry is some sort of distant relation of Papa’s.

The house was furnished and a family by the name of Caple owned the house and little farm next door. In no time we made friends with Mr. and Mrs. Caple. Their daughter Lida was an age between Hazel and I and soon the three of us were the best of friends.

Lida kept talking about her three handsome brothers who were away working in a logging camp and how they would soon be back home. But nothing prepared me for meeting the middle one. I tell you it was like a bolt of lightning hit me the first time I laid eyes on him.

Just thinking about him sets my heart to racing. For a long time he didn’t say anything about feeling the same. He was just as nice as could be towards me. But then he is with everyone. He was so patient with Hazel’s silliness and Daniel’s little boy ways. But one day while I was helping him pick berries in his berry patch he confessed he’d be smitten with me of I wasn’t so young. But more and more lately I think he feels the same way as I do – that we are meant to be together – forever.

Papa says he’s a fine young man but too old for a girl of 16. Honestly, I can’t see what difference that makes. Papa is ten years older than Mama and no couple could be more devoted to each other, so I don’t understand why the 11 years between Roy and I matters.

Mama is calling so I must stash you and see what she wants.

Mae

More Voices From The PAst

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More Voices From The PAst
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Martha Smith Phillips

This piece was written by my Aunt Iva Bailey about her Grandmother Martha Smith Phillips in 1979. Although she said her grandmother moved to Wyoming as a baby she was older. The family moved to Wyoming around 1887 or 88, born in 1877, she would have been 10 or 11 when they moved. The family did live in Nebraska in 1885 and probably lived there about 2 years before moving to Wyoming. Her future husband’s family were their neighbors in Iowa and the families may have followed each other to Wyoming. Martha and Alex married Aug. 1, 1895 making them 18 and 28 not 17 and 27.

Grandma’s Are Nice
Grandma Martha Maria Phillips was not only my grandma, she was my friend, my playmate and after we lost my mother she was like a mother to me. It was to her I took a lot of my teen-age troubles as well as the happy things that happened during the teen-age years. Things that dads just don’t understand the importance of even if they are the best dad a girl could ever have.
Grandma Phillips was born in Iowa but moved with her parents to Iowa when she was a small baby. I guess she knew my grandfather all her life. Grandfather Alexander Phillips like to tell the story of how he fell in love with her as he pushed her baby carriage when she was a baby. Grandpa was 10 years older than grandma.  They were married when she was seventeen and he twenty- seven. She was always his Mattie and he her Allie.

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Mattie and her brother William I. Smith taken in Nebraska.

To grandma was born three children, two girls and a boy.  They were born at a time when parents were called mama and papa. Even we grandchildren called grandpa, Papa. Grandma told many times how lonesome it was for them after my mother married my dad and came to Washington to live.  She told me how happy they were when they knew they were to be grandparents. How they waited for the news of my birth, when they knew it was time.
I guess having my mother so far away and then a grandchild was too much for them so they packed up and came to Washington to live.
It seems to me the very first thing I can really remember was grandma telling me I had a baby brother. I was three years old then and I guess it was the most important thing to happen to me in my young life so it stayed in my memory.
Grandma was small, I don’t think she ever weighed much over a hundred pounds but she was full of energy. She taught me to jump rope and she jumped right along with me, even red-hot peppers.
Grandma had dark brown hair and brown eyes. In the early days her hair was long. Later on when short hair came into style she had it cut and then she would curl her hair with a curling iron she heated by putting it in the kerosene lamp.  This was before the electric curling irons we have today. She was very proud of her appearance and hated the wrinkles all grandmas are bound to get sooner or later. I remember coming home from school one day, to find mother, grandma and my aunt at our house. They all three had egg smeared all over their face and neck. It was partially dry and they looked terrible. Grandma explained to me it was a secret and I wasn’t to tell anyone. I thought it strange at the time but I suppose it worked as well as the stuff they sell for the same purpose today.

Grandma and Papa lived on a farm a few miles from our home but when my mother died, they moved in closer to us. It was nice to have them close by and not quite so lonesome.

No one could make apple pie like grandma. I can see Papa yet, sitting in a chair peeling and cutting up the apples while grandma made the crust, crust that would melt in your mouth. They had a wood stove and grandma knew just how much wood to put in to keep a fire that would bake a golden crust. I use to watch grandma make the crust and I would do everything she did but my pie crust never turned out like hers.

When I was married and moved to Bremerton, we went back to Puyallup as often as we could. Grandma and Papa loved seeing the great-grandchildren.

One day Papa was out mowing the lawn. He came in, sat down in the chair to rest, went to sleep and never woke up. It was a shock to all of us because he had always seemed so well.  He was 87 years old.  Grandma and Papa had always been so close. He had always taken care of her in sickness and in health. We were so afraid Grandma couldn’t live without him but she was stronger than we thought. Some of the sparkle went out of her brown eyes but she seemed to enjoy life and her family.

As she grew older she seemed to live more and more in the past but she loved having her great-grandchildren and by now her great great- grandchildren around her.

She never forgot I was her first grandchild. Every time I would go to see her she would say “here comes my first.” She lived to be 97. She went to be with my mother and papa just a few days before Mother’s day in 1973. She had lived a full and for most part a happy life.