Tag Archives: Mae Phillips

Chapter 18 – The Life And Times Of William Roy Caple – Roy Marries -1917-1918

Roy and Mae picked a day for their wedding in mid August. Roy found a small house to rent. It contained a sitting room, kitchen, one bedroom and all the furniture  needed to start married life.

When Mae’s parents had brought her to Lead to take a look at it. She had thrown her arms around him. “Oh, Roy I love it. It’s a storybook house.”

 Her mother had nodded in agreement. “It’s a perfect starter home.”

Roy had hoped his parents and sister would come to witness the occasion. His mother had written back that she didn’t think his dad was up to the long train trip and Lida had upped and eloped at the end of May just before her eighteenth birthday. Neither the newlyweds nor his brothers could spare the cash to make the trip.

He and Mae decided to keep the ceremony small. Just some members of Mae’s family, able to attend a Wednesday wedding.

When the day of the wedding arrived Roy laid down his new dark suit, white shirt, and dark blue silk tie he’d purchased for the occasion on his bed and went downstairs for breakfast and to bid his fellow boarding companions goodbye. Afterwards donned in his suit he bade goodbye to Mrs. Olsen.

 “We’re going to miss your face at the dinner table tonight,” she said. “I wish you and that bride of yours all the best. And don’t forget to bring her around so I can meet her.”

“ Will do,”  said Roy as he bounded down the steps of his boarding house in a rush to catch the train to Belle Fourche and his bride. He couldn’t be late today of all days.

At a quarter of three he stood inside the vestibule of the Belle Fourche church with his best man and the minister. Butterflies danced in his stomach. Somewhere else in the church he knew his bride waited. Is she as nervous as I am?

 Out in the main church area he spotted his soon-to-be brother-in-law, thirteen-year-old Daniel, seating the guests.

At last, the moment came, an organ began to play music. The minister beckoned Roy and his best man to join him in front of the alter.

Mae’s sister walked down the aisle, and then came Mae looking more beautiful than ever before. She wore a long white dress which danced at the top of white ankle boots. The elbow length sleeves of her dress met long white gloves. Her slender waist was accented by a wide band above which revealed a  bodice trimmed with a white caplet. The heart necklace he’d given her on her birthday graced her throat and in her hands she carried a bouquet of white flowers.

At the altar they locked eyes on one and other.

“You look beautiful,” Roy whispered. And at last they began to exchange the words he’d waited so long for.

“Roy,” said the Minister, “Will you take Mae to be your wife to love and cherish until death to you part.”

 “I do.”

Mae handed her glove to her sister and he slipped an engraved gold band on her finger.

 She the repeated words and slipped a gold band on his finger.

“ I now pronounce you man and wife,” said the minister.

Arm and arm they made their way down the aisle where they were soon encircled by the family wishing them congratulations and well wishes.

The minister directed him over to the parish office to sign the register. Roy dipped the pen in the ink well and signed his legal name William Roy Caple upon the certificate. He handed the pen to Mae. Her her face radianting like the warm summer sun. She dipped the pen into the ink and signed Mae Edith Phillips, then passed the pen to her sister and the best man to sign as witnesses. Then the two of them returned to the church to have their formal wedding photo taken.

Outside they joined the group waiting and strolled the few blocks to the Phillips house where a celebratory dinner had been made. Afterwards they checked into the Belle Fourche Hotel to spend their first night as a married couple.

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Six months later, a blast of frigid air hit Roy’s face as he emerged from the homestead mine. What, he wondered, had happened to the warm start of the day? Why the thermometer on the front porch had registered sixty when he’d headed off to work. Now it felt cold enough to be zero.

He huddled his chin into his light jacket and hustled home.

Mae opened the front door as he reached for the handle. She threw her arms around him in a warm embrace. “Goodness, you must be half frozen to death. This morning felt like spring and now it’s winter again.”

He nuzzled himself inside her warm arms, “I didn’t take the time to notice the temperature before I came in. Did you look?”

“I did, it’s twenty. That’s South Dakota for you spring one minute and winter the next.”

He shivered, “I believe that’s the biggest temperature change I have witnessed, in all my life, in such a brief time. And here I thought I thought I’d relish a warm stroll in sun on the way home.”

Mae took one of his icy hands in her warm one and led him into the kitchen where a pot of soup bubbled on the stove.

 She put a blanket around his shoulders and poured him a cup of hot coffee. “This should warm you up.”

Roy greedily sipped the warm coffee as the warmth of it and the cook stove gradually unthawed him. He observed his wife as she stirred the pot of soup. She looked as beautiful today as the day they’d wed. Had it really been 6 months since that day? He glanced at the room; Mae had added touches to make it feel like home. A picture of her old homestead hung on the wall along side a photo of his parent’s house in Puyallup. Red gingham curtains framed the windows reminding him of the ones his mother had hung in their Oklahoma Soddy as did the big, braided rag rug under table. The only difference was here a crocheted lace cloth graced their table where they’d had a piece of old oil cloth instead.

He sniffed the air. “Something smells delicious.”

“I thought you’d need something to warm your innards tonight so I made potato and bacon soup and crusty wheat rolls.”

She ladled the soup into two bowls and placed them on the table along with a basket of hot rolls. Then she joined him.

Blowing on a spoonful she set it down. “It needs to cool to cool a bit. Just think, next March we’ll be in Puyallup. I doubt we’ll find it so cold there.”

Roy reached for a roll and slathered it with butter. “Warmer, but wet. Are you positive you’re okay with leaving your family.”

As much as he longed to return to Puyallup and leave the wretched gold mine behind, his wife needed to be content too. They’d talked of moving ever since they got engaged last May.

She got up to pour him some more coffee. “I’m positive. I can’t wait for you to build our dream home.”

He swallowed a spoonful of soup. “I’d feel better if this blasted war would end. There’s talking of upping the draft to include my age bracket. ”

Mae reached for another roll, “Surely it won’t come to that. And if it does, your parents would be next door to help if needed. I’d be fine, it’s you I’d worry about.”

Roy reached for another roll. “Are you sure you are okay with moving?”

“Roy, I will miss my family but I don’t like you working in that gold mine any more than you do. There is no future for us here. Besides, I have family in Puyallup. Maybe not Mama and Papa, but they’re family just the same. And your brother said he could you a job at the shipyards in Tacoma. You’re better suited for that work and it’s safer too.”

Roy looked into her determined eyes. “That settles it. What do you say we leave in May just after your birthday?”

She smiled, “That’s a splendid idea. We can throw a birthday-going party at the same time. She got up and went to the stove. “Let me refill your bowl. Stop worrying about taking me away from mama and papa. I’m not a kid anymore, I know moving to Puyallup is the right choice for us.”

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Author’s notes:

My grandfather often mentioned the sudden temperature drop he experience while working in the gold mine in Lead. He worked deep in the mine and was surprised when he emerged at the end of the day to find it well below freezing when it had been a warm spring morning when he had left for work. I chose to include it in here in this story.

I am not sure when they moved to Puyallup but a local South Dakota newspaper mentioned they had gone to visit Mae’s aunt Sadie in late april of 1918 most likely to say good-bye. By September when Roy had to register for the draft he is working in a Tacoma Shipyard. So it had to have been sometime in the late spring or summer of 1918.

Chapter 17, The Life and Times of William Roy Caple-Life in Lead

In February of 1916 Roy moved into a boarding house in Lead. That evening he joined the fellow boarders in the dining room for the evening meal. Unlike the logging camps where meals were always silent, lively talk accompanied the food. Of the twelve men seated around the table most spoke English in halting voices or not at all. In fact, the table was a melting pot of sorts. Two he learned came from Finland,  2 from Italy, three were from Croatia, two from Germany  and another two were from Slovakia.

Guess I’m the only one born and raised in the United States,” he said. “Glad to meet you all.”

Mrs. Bryant, who ran the boarding house, was a good cook.  He soon settled into a routine, up early every morning, a quick breakfast of Porridge and occasionally bacon and eggs, grab one of her prepared lunches and out the door for the mine.

He was not fond of the work. After years of working outdoors he found working deep in a mine claustrophobic and dangerous. But it did provide a better income than logging. In April a falling rock injured his arm and forced him to spend time off. He spent the next few days in his room reading as he continued to find solace in reading about others’ lives and how they survived. When he grew weary of reading he’d walk the town.

Lead, for a mining town was surprisingly cosmopolitan. He’d been surprised to learn it had been electrified since 1888 just 3 years after his birth. None of the places he’d lived when young had electricity. The town also had a large opera house where he occasionally enjoyed a show, a well-stocked library, and several newspapers though most were in foreign languages.

Whatever the language the newspaper headlines were filled with the news of the war in Europe. Increasingly the talk was of the of the United States entering. He worried he or his younger brother might be drafted along with other folks he knew

Recalling his father’s stories of serving in the Civil War, he knew war was a nasty business and he wanted none of it, at least this war. He prayed this one would end before the United States got dragged into it. He sighed in dismay when he saw the headlines on April 6, 1917, that his country too had entered the war.

But a month later on Sunday, May 6, 1917 war held little of Roy’s attention as he stepped out of his boarding house. The sun shone and the air crisp as he walked to the train station carrying a box and a card for his sweetheart. Today he and her family were  celebrating her 21st birthday. And today Roy intended to propose.

He’d hoped to pop the question when he first got there before the party started but problems on the train track delayed his arrival. The house was already filled with people when he arrived.

Mae greeted him with a smile and a kiss on the cheek when he finally arrived. “Now my party’s complete. I worried the trouble with the train would keep you from coming entirely.”

She motioned for him to place his gift and card on a table filled with other ones. When he turned back she was thick in a conversation with some of her aunts.

 One of Mae’s uncles grabbed him by the arm and spoke. “Roy tell us what is the news from Lead.”  

Every time he attempted to break free someone else came up to talk or he found Mae knee deep in conversation with others.

It wasn’t until the end of the day when he needed to head back to the train that he was able to get a moment alone with her.

He took her hand. “I need to be going  if I aim to catch the last train back to Lead tonight. Won’t you walk with me to the station.”

“I’d love to,” she said, gazing into his eyes. “Lett me grab my coat.;

Though they’d talked of marriage many times, he’d never formally proposed. While he was almost positive she’d say yes, butterflies and been flopping in his stomach all day.

After Mae got her wrap they walked into the cool evening air and headed for the train station. Roy reached for her and she readily grasped his.

 Roy cleared his throat. “It’s time. Time for me to ask for your hand in marriage if you’ll still have me.”

 Mae threw her arms  around him. “Oh Roy of course I’ll still have you. I have been dreaming of this day ever since we met.” 

“So it’s affirmative you’ll be my wife?”

“ I can hardly wait,” said Mae.

“Next week when I come we can go shopping for a ring,”

“Roy I don’t want you to spend money on a fancy diamond, I don’t need one. I want the money to go to our future home. All I need is a plain gold band on the day we marry. When do you think we should have the wedding?”

“Well why don’t you talk about it with your family and we can finalize the plans when I come next weekend.”

“I don’t know how I will survive the week until then,” said Mae.

As the train clanged into the station, Roy embraced her in his arms and kissed her deeply on the lips. “That will have to suffice he said until next week.”

Then he stepped onto the train and waved until his fiancé was out of sight.

Chapter 16- The Life and Times of William Roy Caple -Roy Moves to Wyoming

For the next 2 years Roy continued to write to his Wyoming girl. At the end of the 1914 logging season, he once again went to spend the winter break in Wyoming. He had been saddened when his parents had decided to move to Missouri to be close to his mother’s family. He considered moving with them but he liked Puyallup. Maybe he could buy his parent’s home, he thought. He was thankful when they decided to make the trip a visit rather than a permanent move.

His parents were getting older and particularly his father was showing his age. He preferred they lived close so he and his brothers could look after them. His brother Joe married at the end of 1914. Sometimes both his brothers joined him for a time in the logging camp. Their presence kept him from feeling lonely for family, especially when Richard was there as he would often serenade, he and Gus in   the evenings with his violin playing. He continued to care for his raspberry field. But at the end of the season in 1915 decided to let the field go. His dad could use the income selling the property would yield. Roy purchased the lot next to his parents house from his dad in hopes he could some day build his forever home on it.

By the fall of 1915 logging wages were low. Rumbles of discontent filled the air. Men in all sorts of work talked of striking and forming unions. Roy preferred to  avoid conflict if I could be avoided.

Thoughts of Mae continued to occupy his days. Her parents were having a tough time making a living off their homestead property. They both hoped her parents would decide to sell the property and join their family in the Puyallup area. Instead, they moved from their ranch to Belle Fourche to run a boarding house.

In November a logging operation in Spearfish, South Dakota, where he’d inquired about work the previous winter, wrote, and said they were looking for loggers, if he was interested.

As much as he hated to leave his family and friends in Puyallup, he needed to be closer to Mae. He made the difficult decision move to South Dakota. He’d hang on to the lot of land he had purchased from his father. He still hoped to one day return, build his Wyoming girl her dream home, where together they’d raise a family and grow old. In the meantime, he’d cast his lot in South Dakota.

On a chilly day in early December, he stood with his parents waiting beside the tracks to board a train headed to the Black Hills.

His mother wiped tears from her eyes, “Please give the Phillips our regards, especially Mae. And bundle up, it get’s so cold there.”

He gave his mother a gentle hug. “Don’t worry I remember the cold we got in Oklahoma. And don’t forget I have already spent the better part of two winters there.”

His father reached out his hand to shake and then thought better and gave him a hug. “Son, please tell me you will bring that girl of yours back for at least a visit if not to live. This isn’t good-bye it’s just adios until we see each other again. Soon, I hope.”

Logging in Spearfish allowed him to see Mae on weekends. In December of 1916 he left his Spearfish logging camp and arrived in Belle Fourche and took a room in the hotel. After he deposited his bag and gave himself a shave. He descended the stairs out to the street whistling Jingle Bells in anticipation of seeing Mae in a few minutes.

On arrival Mae flung open the door. He read the look of alarm on her face. His gut felt sucker punched..

He reached for her hand. “What is it?

She handed him a telegram.

“This arrived this morning from your mother.”

His heart started to palpitate as he took it from her hands. Something happened to my father, or it’s one of my brothers. His hands trembled as he opened it.

 Mr. Cook killed yesterday in accident. Planning for his burial in Sumner. Details will follow in a letter. Mother and Dad.

Mae took one look at his blanched face. “Its sad news isn’t it. Is it your father?”

“No,” he said, “It’s Gus, he’s dead.”

“Oh no,” said Mae. “He’s so young. Here sit down, this is such a shock. Does it say what happened?”

Roy shook his head. “No just it was an accident that occurred yesterday. I am in shock.”

“Let me get you some tea”

“No, I don’t need want any. I’m sorry I don’t think I want to go out for dinner , I need to be alone for a bit and get some air.”

“It’s alright,” she said softly. “I understand. But please come back in a bit and let me know you’re okay.”

“I will.”

He got up to leave. He walked down the steps of their boarding house not sure where he was headed. He walked aimlessly for the next hour. Gus who’d been so full of life. His falling partner, an orphaned kid from Sweden who’d come to make his fortune in America. His life snuffed out too soon. He wondered if a tree he’d been falling had taken him. He’d seen other men lose their life that way. It wasn’t an image he wanted of Gus. No, he’d remember him the way he’d been when he’d left the logging camp in November. Full of life and plans for a future on a piece of land he’d recently purchased. He shook his head wondering if he’d be dead too if he’d been working with him yesterday. Or could he have done something to save him? Just like the day he lost his big brother, in an instant life is gone. He took a gulp of fresh air. There was only one place he wanted to be right now. That was in the arms of his sweetheart. He looked around, he wandered around a bit and was now over by the town stockyards. He turned left and headed back for the Phillips boarding house. He knew Mae would be there anxiously waiting for his return.

A few days later Roy received a letter from his mother with the details of Gus’ death.

October 10, 1916,

Dear Roy,

Your father and I have just returned from laying Gus to rest. We buried him in the Sumner cemetery. I know you must wonder what happened. From what we were told by the loggers who accompanied his body to town, a large limb fell unexpectedly from a tree, breaking his neck and crushing his skull instantly. You can take comfort in knowing his death was instantaneous.

I am told his will leaves you as sole heir. I have enclosed the address for the attorney, taking care of his matters. He asks that you write immediately so the probate can be closed. Your presence in town will not be necessary, he can take care of the matter by mail.

Roy folded the letter in half. And took a deep breath of air. So it was a “widow maker,” the name his fellow loggers gave to the giant limbs that storms left lodged in the tree canopy until one day something set them flying from the tree. One could run from a falling tree, but if you didn’t see one of those coming, they were impossible to escape.

It didn’t surprise him Gus had left him the heir of his will, but it was sad he had so few to mourn his loss.

Logging in South Dakota provided even lower wages than Roy had been earning in Washington. No matter how careful he was with his money, he’d never be able to support a family on it. Working in Lead at the Home Stake mine seemed to be the only alternative. Faced between choosing to work in the mine or leaving Mae behind, he chose the mine. It would  be another year before Mae turned twenty-one. Though they’d talked of marrying anyway, Roy was a man of his word.

“Mae I promised you Father I’d wait until your twenty-one before asking for you hand in marriage. Some cowboy might still come along and sweep you off your feet.”

She laughed, “Fat chance of that. I only have eyes for you.”      


Author’s notes:

[i] Gus Cook was a real person and my grandfather’s falling partner. His death certificate confirms the date of death and that he was killed by a falling limb giving him a crushed skull and broken neck. Roy’s mother Margaret Caple was listed on his death certificate as person giving his date of birth, place, etc. It stated he had no known family. He is buried in the Sumner cemetery, Pierce County, Washington. Roy inherited the piece of land he had recently purchased just outside of Puyallup city limits.

Chapter 15-The Life And Times OF William Roy Caple-Mae Moves to Wyoming

The next few days were the best and worst days of Roy’s life. They were best because he’d had so many memorable moments with Mae, the worse because the day after Thanksgiving Mae’s family announced they were returning to Wyoming in December.

They’d promised to write, but he supposed it was only a matter of time before some Wyoming cowboy swept her off her feet and he’d be forgotten. He debated for several weeks whether to write at all. What was the point of writing when she was so far away for more than friendship?

True, she had sent both him and Lida letters. He’d been careful when he answered to keep it polite and distant. He’d been right in the beginning; it was plain foolish to think of making any life plans with her especially now that she lived in Wyoming.

Still, he couldn’t stop the frequency in which the memory of her brown doe like eyes, dark hair, and dimples revealed when she smiled popped into his mind.

He’d walked into town today, with the intention of getting some new work clothes. He hoped the logging camps would soon be back in operation. If he got back to work he could stop thinking of the pretty girl named Mae.

He’d left the clothing store with his purchases and passed the stationary store window done up in red, pink, and white hearts. “Remember those you love this February 14.”  The display window said.

I bet Mother and Lida would like a card he thought as he opened the door of the store.

Hearing the bell above the door ring a clerk in a long white apron covering a dark dress approached him. “Could I be of assistance?” she asked.

“Yes, I’d like to get a card for my mother and sister.”

She directed him to two sections marked Mother and Sister.

 “Thank you for your help,” said Roy, handing her his selections. “I’ll take these two.” 

“Are you sure there isn’t someone else you’d like to send a card to?” she asked.

He glanced at the cards again. “I guess it could get a couple for my friends in Wyoming. Nothing flowery though.”

The clerk directed him to some generic valentine cards. He found a one that featured two children sitting on the grass surrounded in moonlight. “By the great moons pale beam, life just seems like a grand sweet dream.” I’ll get this one for Hazel. For Daniel he found a card featuring George Washington as a lad that simply said, “Valentine Greetings

He was about to choose another such generic card for Mae when he spotted a card with a big red heart and a face that looked a lot like Mae in the corner. The heart itself was encircled with a gold chain and lock in the shape of a heart. Printed on the heart were the words “A heart’s secret.” Below the heart were the words

You are safely locked into a heart that pines, and beats for you alone, so this fair Valentine Day, I’ll claim you as my own.”

He knew if he sent this one there would be no denying what his intent was still. He threw all caution to the wind and handed the card to the clerk. “I’ll take this one too.”

“A very fine selection,“ said the clerk. Whoever is getting this one must be very special indeed.”

“She is,” Roy murmured.

The clerk wrapped his cards up in brown paper and handed them to him, “I am sure your loved ones will appreciate these.”

With the packet clutched to his chest he stepped back onto the street and glanced into the window of the leather shop next door. His eyes landed on a braided quirt. He recalled the conversation he’d had with Mae about her horse, Drummer.

 I bet she could use one of those when she is out riding.

He turned the knob of the leather shop door and said to the clerk looking up from the counter.” I’d like to purchase the quirt you have displayed in the window.”

“Ah said the clerk, “That’s one of our best. Is it a gift, for someone special?”

“Yes, said Roy, “for someone very special.”

Back at the house he readied the valentine cards for mailing. He placed the quirt in a box along with the fancy red valentine and wrote. “Mae Phillips, Mona, Wyoming.”

The next morning he walked to the Post Office. He gulped as he handed the box to the to the postmaster. His heart quivered as though he had actually sent it, instead of a paper one. Would Mae accept his gift with the same love he’d sent it. Perhaps he’d get a letter back saying she was sorry but they could only be friends or worse never answer. Whichever happened he guessed he’d burnt his bridges.

Mae took her time answering his card but when she did, she there was no doubt in his mind she shared his feelings.

Logging began again in March. He was content to go back to work. Arduous work helped keep his mind off Mae at least during the workday. But each night when he arrived back at the bunkhouse, he hoped a letter from her had arrived.

“I swear,” said Gus as Roy hurried out the door for mail call, “you’re more lovesick than I thought possible.”

Roy wanted to deny it but he couldn’t, he was lovesick.

On the first of May he spotted a big box of chocolates for sale in the company store. Perfect timing he thought. I’ll send it for Mae’s birthday. To accompany the box he chose a beautiful card trimmed in bright spring flowers. How he wished he could be with her to celebrate her 17th birthday.

By the first of June he lived for her letters which usually arrived twice weekly. A letter sent his heart soaring, when an expected one failed to come, it sank. He reminded himself that the mail was not dependable, all sorts of things could hold it up. It didn’t mean a Wyoming cowboy had grabbed her attention.

The first of July found him back home to tend to his raspberry crop. He recalled the day he and Mae had picked together and cemented their friendship. He wished he could send her some of the berries but knew they’d never survive the journey so instead he sent her two apple boxes of cherries from his father’s orchard.

After the berries were harvested, he headed back to the logging camp to join Gus once again in falling trees.

On his first night back, Gus shared some pamphlets he’d picked up on free homestead land in Montana. “These have gotten me thinking, maybe I should try and get some of this free land. What do you think Roy?”

“I’d be careful,” said Roy. “My Dad homesteaded in Kansas, got swindled out of one over in Spokane and had another one Oklahoma and none of them proved to amount to much. I’d be sure to look the area in question over carefully first.”

Still, he browsed the pamphlets. Despite his reservations he began to think he should try a homestead in Montana. He knew he preferred to be in WA and near his family but the lure of free of free land was strong and Montana was a lot closer to Wyoming, Maybe Mae would prefer a ranch life.

He wrote to her, “I’ve got half a notion to go look at some of the homestead land in Montana when the logging camp closes for winter.”

He was surprised when he got a letter from Mae extending an invitation for him to spend some of his winter break with her family in Wyoming.

“You could look the land in Montana over on your way back to Washington,” she wrote.

He mulled the idea over and decided to accept the Phillips family invitation.

So, in mid-December 1913 he found himself in downtown Tacoma gazing at the decked-out Christmas windows. He’d come to town to get Mae a Christmas gift and when he spotted a fur muff and stole in one of the department stores windows, he knew he’d found the perfect gift.

He arrived in Wyoming on Dec. 23rd, 1913. Mae’s Aunt Sadie and Uncle Bert had picked him up. He enjoyed meeting all of her extended family, especially Sadie and Bert, who were closer in age to he and Mae than most aunts and uncles.

He had done his best to help the Phillips with all their chores and to not interfere with their daily life. He had very few chances to be alone with Mae, but the ones they had cemented their love. They discussed the possibility of her moving to Washington after she turned eighteen in the coming new year. She said she would consider, but he knew if she did her parents would be heartbroken, something she didn’t want to do. Instead, she hoped they’d want to move back to Puyallup.

He’d also had a serious talk with Alex Phillips Mae’s father.

Mae’s quite smitten with you,” he’d said.

“And I her,” said Roy.

“She is only 17,” stated Alex.

“I know,” said Roy, “it’s just she seems mature beyond her years.”

“I take it then; your intentions are toward a future of marriage.”

“I believe so,” said Roy.

“You are a fine young man, of that I have no doubt, but your age difference concerns me. I’d like you to promise me something.”

“What’s that?” asked Roy.

“Wait until she is twenty-one before you ask for her hand in marriage. If you honor this request, I will not stand in the way of you courting her.”

Roy sighed, twenty-one was more than 3 years away. Not that he was in a position to offer his hand in marriage, anyway. He figured Mae would be willing to live in whatever logging camps he found work in, but he wanted more than that for his future family. He wanted his wife and children to have the stability of one home and a community that could be theirs forever. He wanted none of the moving around his family had been subject to growing up. During the next 3 years, he’d work hard to make this possible.

 “Alright, sir, I agree.”

The two men shook hands.

Mae was less than pleased when Roy told of his promise. “I am capable of making up my own mind.”

He did stop in Montana and look over some homestead land. But it looked arid and dry, much like the places his dad had failed being a successful homesteader. Besides, he didn’t really think ranching was in his blood. He didn’t have what it took to be a cowboy.


Author’s notes:

i] The details about the valentines, quirt. Christmas gift, chocolates and cherries come from letters Mae wrote to Roy. The original letters are in my possession. They are also in here in my blog.

A quirt is a short, braided leather piece used by the rider to give a horse signals. I have in my possession the quirt he gave her.

Gus was my grandfather’s falling partner and we know from the letters that they shared a bunkhouse together with, sometimes the addition of his brother Richard.

From the letters I also learned do he looked at homestead land in Montana on his return trip to Puyallup after his winter visit in Wyoming.

My grandfather always told us he promised to not ask for Mae’s hand in marriage until she turned 21.

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Chapter 14-The Life and Times of William Roy Caple- Thanksgiving 1912

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Four days before Thanksgiving, Roy headed home. An early cold snap had closed the logging camp down for the winter. He’d miss making a little more money for the year, but he welcomed the chance to relax in his parents’ cozy house.

On his first morning home as he stood on his parent’s porch and spotted Mae out walking. He sprang down the steps and scurried over to her side. “Would you mind a little company as you walk?”

She tilted her head demurely. “Not at all.”

At the next block they headed west on Pioneer. As Spinning school came into sight Mae stopped in front of the handsome, two-story, brick building.

 “It’s quite a school compared the one room one I attended. Did you go there?”

“I did though not continuously. I went for first grade and finished with the seventh and eighth grade. In between, we were mostly in Oklahoma. School there only went for three months a year, mostly in the winter, consequently it took me forever to finish.”  

Mae nodded. I can understand that in Wyoming winters were often too cold, so we often didn’t finish our school term into well into summer.”

Where in Wyoming?” Roy asked as they began to walk again.

“A little place called Mona,” said Mae.” It’s in the Black Hills in an area called the Bear Mountains. I guess Aladdin would be the nearest place you’d be likely to find on a map.”

I am a bit familiar with the Black Hills, said Roy, your place must be near the South Dakota borderline.”

Yes, in fact we got most of our supplies there.”

“Did your dad ranch?”

“Yes, he came there as a homesteader with my grandparents and his many aunts and uncles. He still owns the place but he’s renting it now to my cousin.”

“Ahh,” said Roy, “that’s something we have in common as my dad homesteaded too, in Kansas where I was born, and then in Oklahoma.”

At Main Street they headed north toward the fairgrounds. They strolled past the big, white, wooden roller coaster.

Roy gazed at the structure. “Did you get s chance to go to the fair in September?”

Mae nodded, “Lillian and I went, but we chickened out of riding this roller coaster.”

“That’s a shame,” said Roy. “I’ve ridden it. It’s quite a thrill.”

“If I’d a handsome hunk like you to protect me, I might have gone. We did ride the merry- go- round. If you’d been along, we could have ridden double. I miss my horse.”

“The merry-go-round horse,” he teased.

Mae’s eyes crinkled in laughter. “No, my real l horse. The one I left in Wyoming. I hope my cousin is taking good care of Drummer.”

 Roy  nodded. “I had a horse when we lived in Oklahoma. Nowadays I am quite content to walk or catch a train.”

They turned around to walk back toward home. A car beeped its’ horn at them as they crossed the street.

 “You never see automobiles where we live in the Black Hills.” said Mae.

“Didn’t see them here either until a few years ago when Doc Kushner bought one. He nodded to the showroom window they passed, full of new cars. “Times are a changing, that’s for sure.”

When they walked back down their block for home, Roy asked. How would you like to join me for a movie in town tomorrow? I’ll ask Lida along so we’ll be chaperoned.”

“I’d love to,” she said.

“Great, I’ll find out what time it’s playing let you know later today,”

He watched her as she climbed the scant steps to her porch. When she reached the door, she turned and waved, sending his heart into flip flops. Justin is right, maturity matters more than age.

They had the best time going to the movie. Lida and Hazel bounced ahead of them as they walked to town, leaving him and Mae to carry on a conversation without them. Afterwards, he’d treated them to chicken dinner at the diner.

Thanksgiving morning, the sun peeking through the windows awakened him. Reluctant to get out of his warm bed, he yawned and stretched. Logging camp never allowed him the luxury of sleeping in. Below him he heard his mother and sister bustling in the kitchen. His stomach growled thinking of the feast awaiting him later. He could hardly wait, well, that and the fact that Mae would be there.

 He forced himself to crawl out of his cozy, warm bed. Throwing on his overcoat he made a bee line to the necessary house out back and back up the stairs where he splashed the chilly water from the pitcher on his face and pulled from the closet his best suit of clothes. Once dressed he headed back down the stairs. The scent of turkey roasting mingled with spices and the yeasty smell of bread rising accosted his nose on entering the kitchen.

His mother looked up from the pot she stirred. “I’m glad you slept in; you work too hard in the woods.” She nodded toward the dining nook in the corner. “I left a light breakfast on the table for you, everyone else has eaten. Help yourself to coffee.”

Roy took a cup from the cupboard and filled it from the coffee pot simmering on the stove. Careful not to spill, he carried it over to the nook and settled himself on the bench beside the table. He reached for the bread, jam, and fruit his mother had left for him. “Who all will be here for dinner?”

His mother wiped her hands on her apron. “Well, there’s your dad and I, you boys and Lida, Aunt Ida, and the Phillips family. So, the answer is twelve.”

Roy finished eating and took his plate and cup to the to the sink.

“Do you need me to help?”

She pointed to the cupboards. Your father and brothers have gone to fetch Aunt Ida so I could use someone to get my good china down.”

Roy carried the china to the dining room table covered in a freshly ironed white, embroidered tablecloth.

“Anything else you’d like me to do?”

“No, that’s it for now. Why don’t you work up an appetite by going for a walk?”

Roy rubbed his stomach. “Not needed; the smell of that turkey roasting is driving me wild. But I can tell when I am not wanted and walk does sound nice.”   

Grabbing his hat and over coat from the hook in the front foyer he headed down the front steps. He felt disappointed when he saw no one out on the street. He’d prefer to have someone to walk with especially if it we’re Mae. He headed over to the Henry’s and found Justin and Lillian in her yard. He joined them in conversation.

After a while he looked at his pocket watch. “Goodness look at the time. I’d better be off for home. Mother will throttle me if I am late for her dinner. “   

As he approached the house, he spotted Lida in the parlor window. She opened the front door. “It’s about time you got home. Our guests have arrived and you’ve been sauntering around town.”

 “Sorry,” he said, “I lost track of time.”

Hanging up his overcoat and hat on the coat tree, he stepped into the parlor where his dad, brothers, and Mr. Phillips sat conversing.

 “Spotted you talking to Justin and Lillian.” said his father, “I imagine they caught you up on all the latest news.”

Roy nodded, finding a place to sit. “Sorry, I’m the last one here.”

 “Your Father was just telling us about his time in Andersonville prison,” said Mr. Phillips. “It’s a wonder he survived.

“Well, I for one am glad he did,” said Roy.

His brother Richard laughed. “We wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t.”

Mr. Phillips smiled, “I guess not. Your brothers were telling me they had a good year harvesting the wheat and apple crops east of the mountains. Still finding plenty of trees to cut down, are you?”

Roy shifted in his chair, “Don’t suppose they’ll ever run out of enormous trees.”

Mr. Phillips nodded. “They’re sure bigger than the timber we have in the Black Hills. I hear they feed you well out in those woods.”

“True,” said Roy. “But our cook quit in September. Another logger agreed to take the job but only until someone complained.”

“Goodness how did that work out?” asked Mae walking into the room.

“He’d been a cook before, so he did okay.”

“Did anyone complain?” asked Mae.

“No, but one day, but he got tired of cooking so added a box full of salt to the soup. One of the men took a taste and said, “My, this soup is salty.”

Then he remembered the complaining rule and added, “Just the way I like it.”

Laughter filled the room.

“Oh my, she said that is funny. Did he quit?” asked Mae

“No, but they soon found us a new cook.”

 Mae clapped her hands. “I almost forgot I’m supposed to say dinner is ready.”

Roy jumped from his chair to be the first to follow Mae into the dining room. A large roasted turkey sat at the head of the table while steam rose off dishes of yams, mashed potatoes, beans, and cornbread stuffing.

Roy pulled out a chair for Mae “Allow me.”

“Thank you,” she said as she sat.

She patted the chair next to her. “And please take this one next to me.”

Roy wasted no time in doing so.

After everyone took their seats his mother bowed her head, “let us give thanks.”

Everyone bowed their heads in thanksgiving.

Raising her head back up, his mother handed his dad the carving knife. “Let the feasting begin.”

His dad began to carve the turkey as the other savory dishes were passed around. Soon heaps of turkey dressing, mashed potatoes, beans, rolls, and salad sat on everyone’s plate.

Roy swallowed a bit of mashed potatoes and turned to Mae. “Would you like to accompany me to the new movie starting Saturday? Hazel could go too.”

“I can’t speak for her,” said Mae, “but I’d love to go.”

______________________________________________________________________________________

Author’s notes: 

Both of my grandparents made references to this special Thanksgiving dinner in 1912 in their letters to each other. Also they referenced going out to movies and for meals together.

According to my grandfather his dad often referred to his experiences in Andersonville prison during the civil war.

The story of the salt in the soup was a favorite my grandfather told of his logging experiences.

The first car in Puyallup was owned by Doc Kushner according to Puyallup history.

Chapter 12-The Life And Times of William Roy Caple-Meeting Mae

At the start of 1912, Roy was 26 years old. He’d yet to meet a girl he cared enough about to marry. Not that there was much chance of meeting a girl in a logging camp.

From time to time, he’d attended the dances the camp held. A dancer he was not. The legs, which kept him out of harm’s way in the woods, turned to mush when he tried to dance.

He’d learned to read the sounds of the woods. Every ping, chug or whistle he heard meant something different. He’d grown accustomed to the steady sawing sound the buckers made cutting limbs from the giant trees into logs that would fit on trains. Daily he experienced the shattering sounds of mighty trees as they fell to the ground.

Besides the logging, he ran a raspberry field on some of his father’s acreage. It was a small operation; one he could manage himself with the help of a few hired pickers at harvest.

He’d toyed with the idea of buying enough land to raise berries full time. But that meant taking out a mortgage and giving up the nest egg he’d saved. He’d spent his childhood being poor, he loathed the thought of borrowing money. He wanted to be debt free. So, he stuck to logging.

Now it was a Friday in late February, it was time to get his raspberry field in order for the coming growing season.

 “Timber,” yelled Roy as he leaped from his springboard.

Together he and his falling partner, Gus, watched as a tree let out one last groan, creak, and snap before it fell in a thunderous roar. It had taken them all day to topple the immense tree, but together they had gotten it done.

Gus tugged on his end of their twelve-foot crosscut saw, “bet the lumber from that one is enough to build an entire house.”

“You’re probably right,” nodded Roy. “What do you say we take this saw over to the dentist shack and head for camp.”

On the way Roy, chuckled to himself as he remembered his first day logging. He’d thought the dentist shack meant a real dentist, not someone who sharpened the blades on their saws. It hadn’t taken him long to learn that loggers had a language all their own. Now he now spoke it as well as any of them.

At the shack, he and Gus heaved the saw onto the counter. Come Monday morning its teeth would once again be razor sharp, like a hungry piranha ready to munch way its way through any tree it encountered.

“You still fixing to go home tonight?” asked Gus, as they headed for the crummy, a train car, which took the men to and from the bunkhouses to the woods.

“Can’t put if off any longer,” said Roy. “Sure you don’t want to come along and help me prune?”

Gus adjusted his spectacles. “I reckon I’ll stay put and rest. Give my regards to folks. Tell them again how much I appreciated spending the holidays with them. Sure made this orphan feel less lonesome.”

“Guess, I’d rest too, if I could,” said Roy, as the crummy jerked to a stop near the bunkhouses. “I’d better hurry if I’m going to catch the last train into town tonight.”

At the bunkhouse he washed and changed into clean clothes. Finished, he glanced at his pocket watch.

“Time for me to go,” he said to Gus. “See you Sunday night.”

The next morning Roy awakened to sun streaming through the bedroom window of his parent’s house. One eye cocked open, he squinted at the clock. “6:30 already,” he mumbled, “I’d better get a move on, I meant to be up earlier.”

He donned a clean pair of overhauls and a plaid shirt and ventured downstairs to the kitchen where his mother poured him a cup of coffee and set it on the table. “It’s nice to have you home. I miss the days when all my boys lived here. Your father is already off making deliveries. He said to tell you he left the pruning shears you need on the back porch.”

“Thanks,” said Roy, sitting down to drink the coffee. “I should’ve been off earlier, too. I really hadn’t meant to sleep so long.”

His mother buttered a piece of bread. “Did I tell you new folks have moved into the rental next door.”

“No, Tell me more.”

His mother swallowed, “They’re the nicest family, I hope they stay. They’re some relation to your friend Justin Phillips and the Henry’s. The last folks barely moved in and they left.”

“You, don’t say.” Roy gulped his coffee and scooted his chair back. “Sorry I can’t dawdle over a breakfast. I’ve got a lot of work to do before I head back to Nagrom tomorrow.”

He grabbed his jacket and hat and opened the back door. “See you at supper.”

He hunkered his chin down inside his jacket to ward off the morning chill, as he headed toward his berry field. The morning sun had risen above the foothills surrounding the valley, bathing them in a pale pink. High above rose the majestic peak of Mt. Rainer.

Roy stood at the head of his field and gazed at the view. Today Mt. Rainer looked as though it was holding court over the entire valley. I’ll never tire of this view, he thought. Sure beats flat, dusty Oklahoma. I can’t believe it’s been 11 years since we left there. Mother and Father are right, time flies. I best stop my gawking and get to work though, or I’ll never get done. 

Several hours later, engrossed in his work, a voice startled him.

“Hello, you must be one of the Caple’s sons.”

 Roy looked up from where he knelt on the ground. A tall, bald-headed man extended his hand to shake. “Name’s Alex, Phillips. And which son might you be?”

“I’m Roy, the middle son. Mother mentioned you’d move next door. She said you’re related you to my friend Justin.”

“He’s my nephew. My brother John, his dad, lives across the Narrows in Tacoma. I have a brother Herbert and Hue here in town, though.”

Roy set his pruner down. “I’m acquainted with both of them. Mother mentioned you’re also related to the Henry’s.”

Alex nodded, “We’re shirt-tail relatives. And I have two daughters and a son. Hazel, my middle one goes to school with your sister, Lida. And I mustn’t forget my wife, Mattie. Speaking of her, I’d better scoot on home or she’ll have me in the doghouse. Hope to see you again soon.”

“Might be awhile,” said Roy, “nowadays I spend more time in logging camps than home.”

He seems nice enough thought Roy as he got back to work. When the sun dropped low in the western sky, he stopped and surveyed what his work. Content with what he’d accomplished, he picked up his tools and headed for home. As he approached the house, he noticed his sister Lida stood in front with a knot of people.

He took his hat off as he passed them and bade them a “good-day.”

Lida ran over and tugged on his arm, “Wait, I want to introduce you to our new neighbors.”

She held onto his hand and led him back to the group. “This is my brother Roy.”

She pointed to a dark-haired girl with an enormous bow pinned in back. “This is Hazel, she goes to school with me.”

A freckle faced red-headed boy peeked out from behind her.

“That’s Daniel,” Lida said, “he’s kind of shy and eight.”

 She pointed to a tall, young woman on her right. “And this is their big sister.”

Roy found he couldn’t take his eyes off of her. Something about her dark hair and eyes the color of melted chocolate captivated him.

 She put her hand out to shake. “How do you do, I’m Mae.”

He reached out to take her hand, then noticed how filthy his was. Swiftly he dropped it to his side. “I’m sorry I’m really not dressed for socializing. I’ve spent the day working in my raspberry field.”

She smiled at him, revealing enchanting dimples. “It’s okay, it’s nice to meet you just the same.”

 He waved his hand goodbye, “Nice to meet you, too.”

Great, he thought. Some impression I must have made in these mucky clothes. He opened the back door and stepped into the kitchen.

His Mother looked up from something she stirred on the stove. “Roy, take those muddy boots off before you take another step.”

“Sorry, Mother, I forgot I wasn’t at camp.”

He balanced on one leg and the other and shook off his boots. He headed to the sink to wash. The delicious smell of cooking vegetables and beef filled the air. “Mmm, something smells wonderful,” he said as he grabbed a bar of handmade soap and lathered his hands. “What’s for dinner?”

“Beef stew,” she said, “and because I know how much you love them – biscuits. You’ve just enough time to change into clean clothes before it’s done.”

Roy chuckled. “They aren’t that bad, are they? But I’ll change.”

“Please do,” she said, swatting the air behind him. “And don’t you get smart with me.”

Upstairs, he slid his feet into a clean pair of trousers and thought about the girl he’d just met. I sure wish I weren’t headed back to Nagrom tomorrow; I think I’d like to get to know her.

Monday afternoon found Roy and Gus standing on springboards falling another tree. Hitting a patch of sap, they stopped to clean their saw.

Gus grabbed the bottle of oil they always kept handy. While he cleaned his side of the saw, he said, “You aren’t very talkative today. I’ve barely heard a word out of you since you got back last night. You’ve got a dreamy, faraway look in your eye. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you’d met a girl.”

“I have,” said Roy, reaching for the oil to clean his side of the saw.

“What!” said Gus, “Are you serious?”

“I am, and I’ll be darned if I can’t get her out of my mind.”

“Tell me about her, is she a looker?”

Roy let out a whistle, “I’d say so, tallish, slender, dark hair and the most enchanting brown eyes. Trouble is, I met her while I had my muddy work clothes on, I don’t thing I made much of an impression.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” said Gus. “Surely she’s seen men in work clothes before. Did you talk to her much, how old is she?”

“Well, really we didn’t talk, just a glad to meet you. As far as age goes, I’d say twenty.”

“Will you see her again?”

“I spect so her family moved into the vacant house next door.”

Gus gave his side of the saw a pull, “Sounds to me like you and I need to plan an outing to Puyallup soon.”

Roy gave his side of the saw a push. “Mother’s birthday is next month maybe I will go then.”


LETTERS TO MONA – Part 54 – The end- 1916 – 1917

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.

Roy

—————————————————————————————————————————-

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.

LETTERS FROM MONA – Part 53 – September, 1915

Sept. 1, 1915

Dear Diary,

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.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

Nagrom, Wash

Sept. 5, 1915

Dear Mae:

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

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Sept 8th, 1915

Dear diary,

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.

Mona Road, Wyoming 2019

LETTERS FROM Mona -Part 52 – August 15 -August 30, 1915

August 15, 1915

Dear Diary,

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.

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Nagrom, Wash
August 17, 1915

Dear Mazie,

 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

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Nagrom, WN

August 27, 1915

Dear Mae,

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

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August 30,1915

Dear Diary,

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.

LETTERS FROM MONA -Part 51- August 5 – August 10,1915

Nagrom, WN

August 5, 1915

Dear Friend Daniel:

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

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August 5, 1915

Dear diary,

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. 

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August 8, 1915

Dear Diary,

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. 

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August 10, 1915

Dear Mae:

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.

Best regards to all

 Bye bye, Roy