Tag Archives: Lavina Harden Smith and William R. SmithandAv

LETTERS FROM MONA -October 1 – November 3, 1913

(Author notes: Donald was another postal community on Mona Road in Wyoming. Its name came from the McDonald family who had a ranch there. Mae was related to this family. Many of the dances she mentions were held in their barn. Church services, weddings, baptisms and other community activities were also held there. From Mae’s letters it is apparent her family must have had a place there. Besides wintering there she often mentions her father off farming the property in Donald.)

October 1, 1913

Dear Diary,

October has come, every day I see more wild geese flying south. Papa had hoped to find a job and a place for us to live in Belle Fourche, but he had no luck, so we are staying put for the winter. I’d prefer to be in Belle Fourche or even Aladdin.  We wouldn’t have to work so hard to stay warm or enjoy the company of others.

So far though we have been blessed with pleasant weather. After that freak snow two weeks ago I thought we were going straight to winter and skipping fall. I intend to enjoy this nice Indian summer while it lasts.

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October 20th, 1913

Dear Diary,

I am afraid I’ve been very lax in writing in you.  Mama and I have been busy with the last of the canning, shelling of beans and turning a bumper crop of cabbage into kraut. We are going to move to Donald at the end of November or maybe even wait until December. My it will be a chore to haul all our food stuffs there.  But Papa got the mail delivery route and must go into Aladdin each morning to pick it up. It’s just too cold for him to travel from here.  Being in Donald cuts off at least 5 miles for him.

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November 1, 1913

Dear Diary,

I haven’t been writing very regularly with all the chores to be done. Besides helping Mama with all the preserving to do for winter I have been helping Grandma Lavina too. So much to do to get ready for winter.  But helping Grandma is kind of fun because while we are working she tells me stories from her youth in Iowa and let me tell you she is quite the storyteller.

All her stories start the same though. I was born in Boone county, Indiana in 1856.  My mama was Mariah Hull and my Daddy Jonathan Harden. My Mama’s family came to Indiana from Tennessee, but they were really Pennsylvania Dutch which means they came from Germany long ago. Only after she tells that part does she launch into the real story. Yesterday’s was about a white mountain lion that roamed around Tama county, Iowa one year when they lived there. I guess Grandpa’s grandmother, Phebe Fowler came face to face with him one day. Thank goodness she lived to tell the tale. She also told another one about a couple who had just gotten married and got caught in a blizzard and froze to death so close to their cabin. She never forgot how the searchers brought their frozen bodies to her family’s cabin when they found them. How awful, made me about cry. No wonder she worries so, about us getting caught in a winter storm.

Her telling me about Grandpa’s Mother, last time I was here, got me to wondering about hers.
Many a time I had heard about how her father Jonathan had come here to the Black Hills in search of gold in the late 1870’s. Like Grandpa’s family in California he didn’t have much luck, so he took up a homestead here instead and that’s why we eventually came here too.

She had never mentioned her mother, so I asked about her. I was sort of sorry I had because she told me she was only 9 when she died and didn’t remember her to well. I guess it was great aunt Sarah who took care of her and her brother a lot after that. And she was real glad when she came homestead here a few years ago. I like her a lot so I’m glad she came, too.

She said her father married again and so she had 4 half siblings. I gather she wasn’t too fond of her stepmother though. I think maybe her and Great Grandpa weren’t too fond of each either because she never did follow him to Wyoming.

Papa and Grandpa have been very busy mending fences and winterizing the outbuildings. Papa has set Daniel and Hazel to chinking in all the holes they might find in all our buildings.

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November 3, 1913

Dear Diary,

I have spent the past two days in between my normal chores of milking the cow, washing up the breakfast dishes and that infernal cream separator and helping Mama get all our seeds for next year’s garden categorized and safely stored. I never realized as a child just how much work went into assuring we had what was needed to survive the winter and assuring crops for the next year.

My writing was just interrupted by the best of news, a letter from Roy. And better yet he says he expects to arrive for his visit here sometime in December after logging closes.  I don’t know how I am going to last waiting so long.

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.