Tag Archives: Puyallup WA

LETTERS FROM MONA – Part 47 – June 1 to June 12, 1915

June 1, 1915

Dear Diary,

I still haven’t heard from Roy and it worries me some. I know it’s just he’s very busy or the mail has been held up for some reason. All the same I can’t help fretting that he might be sick, injured, or worse. No, I must not let my thoughts go there. He’s just working hard, that’s all.

I do wish it would rain. I know we have had lots this spring but not in the past few days. We need some soon if our seedlings are to take off.  Some of our neighbors are now talking of moving to Sheridan the unpredictable weather here in the Bear Lodge mountains just makes it hard to farm.

Sadie and Bert surprised us with a short visit yesterday as they were on their way to spend the evening with their good friends, the Bates. I loved getting a few extra minutes to cuddle and play with Tootie. She’s getting to be quite the crawler; I am afraid there is no more sitting her on a blanket and expecting her to stay put.

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Nagrom, WN
June 1st, 1915


Dear Mae:

Well here I am once again. Am a little late with my letter this week but better late than not at all so they say. I went home last Sat. evening so didn’t have time to write. I didn’t think I would go down before about the first of July, but I had a letter from Mother and she was feeling kind of blue so thought, I would go down and see if I could cheer her up a bit. She isn’t so well as she was a while back has been just about down with the grip for a week or more. I was home all-day Sunday and it seemed quite nice to be home again. It sure looks nice around Puyallup now, everything is so fresh and green and there are so many flowers in blossom. The strawberries and cherries are ripe to so you may know that I had a feast. Wish you could have been there and helped me eat some.

I saw all the folks except Justin and Lillian they were all well except Lode, she was feeling bum she said, but I guess it wasn’t anything serious. Saul and Hugh are not living where they did they have moved into the little house right south of Mr. Purkensen’s berry patch. (Author’s note: The Purkensens were another one of Mae’s aunts and uncles). I went over and had a nice visit with Henry’s folks. They seem to be getting along fine. I showed Mrs. Henry your picture and I thot she was going to have a fit over it. I showed it to all the rest of the folks to and they all said it was just dandy. Mother and Lida seemed awful glad to get it and said it was good.


Sunday evening I was over to Mr. Purkensens and had a nice visit. It was the first time I had seen since I came back from WYO so they had lots of questions to ask me. Justin and his wife are at home tho. Justin has a team and is working on the county-road. You ought to see Justin’s little boy. He is just awful cute. He and Iretha are just about the same size and I guess they’d have a great time playing together. Henry’s said they expected Justin and Lillian to show up in Puyallup at any time now. I expected to get to see them as I thought they were already in Puyallup but was disappointed. Will get to see them before so very long tho I suppose.


My Father is pretty well now, he looks ever so much better than he did when I last saw him. He is able to go out with the team now and do quite a little work.


I got yours and Sadie’s letter Saturday and of course was very glad. Sorry that you Mother wasn’t very well and hope she will be better soon. I expect you were some glad to see Tootie again. I would be glad myself If I could see her now. Many thanks for the picture. I don’t think it looks much like her tho, for I know she is much prettier than that. I sure would like to see her with her new shawl, bet she is some cute.


Sorry you have been having such disagreeable weather in Wyoming. Hope it will be nice pretty soon. It is still pretty well here. we have some rain almost everyday. Rained pretty hard this afternoon. I sure hope June isn’t going to be as wet as May was.

Good evening,

Well I think I have told you about all I know so will stop and pull in as I am getting awfully sleepy. Give my regards to all.

Roy

Here is the first little wild roses I have seen this season. I found them in the woods where we were at work the other day.

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June 5,1915

Dear diary,

We had a meeting of the Book and Thimble club today at the Massies but it was so wet and foggy not very many folks came. Those of us who were there had a good chat. We agreed to postpone our book talk and try and meet again next week. Unfortunately, the meeting ended on a sad note when the phone rang to inform us that Grandma Rishor had died earlier in the day from a stroke.

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Nagrom, WN

June 5, 1915

Dear Mae,

 Well how is my Little Girl this fine evening, just fine tho I trust. I am still feeling fine and dandy and hope these fiew lines will find you in the same fix. I received your last letter Wednesday and you know I was glad. I wasn’t looking for another letter so soon so was somewhat surprised. It was a very pleasant surprise and I wish you would surprise me again in the same fix. Was so glad to hear you were feeling better and your Mother is better to.


To bad the frost injured the wild fruit down there. I hope it didn’t kill all of it tho. It would sure be a shame if it did. This has been a bad season for frost here also. There is going to be very fiew cherries or apples and I think the raspberries are hurt some to. Just how much I can’t tell yet. It is to bad but I guess it cannot be helped, so it is no use to cry about it.


I hope I can get enough cherries from my trees so I can send you a fiew. I have only two trees that will keep long enough and they are the ones that got frosted the worse. I went over and looked at them when I was down and there was only a fiew left. They will be ripe about the first of July I think. No, I didn’t rent my berries to anyone this season. Am hiring them tended and am going to let Lida tend to the picking. It doesn’t pay for me to do it myself. Wish you could be here and help in the picking. I suppose the camp will be shut down for about a week the Fourth of July so I will get to pick some myself and of course eat quite a fiew also.


I got a letter from Justin the other day, the same day that I got yours. He was still at Oysterville, digging clams. He said he would have to quit that pretty soon tho, as it is against the law to dig any after the first of June. He is talking some of renting some land down there. Said if he didn’t do it he would be up to Puyallup soon, and would come up here after the Fourth of July.


There is a dance here tonight, Richard is going to play. Don’t know if I will go over or not. I worked pretty hard to-day and it was pretty warm, so I am somewhat tired. Am going to have to work tomorrow to, so I guess I hadn’t better go to any dance.
I bet Hazel was some disappointed that she didn’t get to go to the dance at MC Donald’s. If she was here she could get enough dancing I think. I am going to bring my clothes with me after the Fourth and see if I can’t learn to dance. They sure have them often enough and have some good dancers here so I will never have a better opportunity to learn. Richard is practicing on some new music.


I am sorry I forgot the date of Daniel’s birthday for I intended to send him some little remembrance. I suppose he will feel a little jealous now because I sent Hazel a present after forgetting him.


Tell Hazel that I made a mistake when I put the ribbon in her shawl and got it on the wrong side and didn’t find it until it was to late to change it. She can change it herself if she wants to.

I found the flowers in your letter and think they are nice, many thanks for them. There are lots of wildflowers here but not so very many tame ones. Am glad to hear that there is prospects for good crops in Wyoming this year and hope the weather continues favorable.


I suppose you and Sadie and Tootie had a great time together last week. You will surely miss them when they go home again. Will they go before the Fourth of July?


Well it is getting so late so guess I had better pull in, as Daniel says and get some sleep so I can stand another long weary day.
Tell everyone hello for me.

 Good-night, Roy

Dear Diary

June 6, 1915

I feel so bad, this morning we woke to a blanket of frost on the ground. Unlike the one at the end of May this one I fear is a killing frost.  I am afraid we will need to do lots of replanting. Farming in these parts is just too hard. Seems like we either have too much rain, or not enough or it’s too cold or hot.

Just heard a car go by. Since the roads have finally dried out there has been a lot of joy riding going on around here. 

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Dear diary,

Today’s going to be a scorcher, freezing one day, pouring the next followed by a hot, that’s a Wyoming summer for you.

Yesterday we all met over at the Bates for a combined birthday party for my Uncle Bill Smith and Daniel. Of course we acknowledged Daniel’s real birthday, too. Hard to believe he is already 12.

 Mama wasn’t feeling well so she stayed home but the rest of us went. Jim and Phoebe Bates cooked us a delicious meal out in the yard using their camp stove and we ate under the of the trees. Sadie and I brought cakes, a chocolate on for Daniel, and a lemon one for Uncle Willie.

There was quite a crowd of us with the Smiths, Marchants, and Bates combined. Tootie and Zeta are close in age and were so fun to watch playing on the blanket while the rest of us visited, played cards, and sang around a campfire. Uncle Willie said it was the best birthday he’d had in a long time.

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June 12, 1915

Dear Diary,


Maybe it’s the unpredictable weather we are having but I have not felt will since Uncle Willie’s party on Tuesday. I have spent most of the of the week in bed with the La Grippe, I guess.

If I had to pick a week to be sick I suppose this is better than most since it has done nothing but pour since the party. The Belle Fourche river is running so high none of us from Mona will be able to make today’s book and thimble club meeting.

Papa says the roads are pitted mud baths again. We are so in need of road repair. I bet that tax collector riding around here is getting an earful.

I still haven’t heard from Roy; I am nearly losing my mind with worry.

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

My Grandma

This story is about Margaret Ragsdale Caple. Although my aunt says she was born in Kentucky all of her records indicate Missouri as her birth place. The family came to live in Puyallup sometime between 1900 and 1904.  The Puyallup house, in this story, burnt down in the late 1930’s. The G.A.R. home mentioned was the Meeker mansion. Today it has been restored back to to the way it was when it was Ezra Meeker’s home and is a museum.

Margaret Ragsdale Caple with grandchildren in 1923

Margaret Ragsdale Caple with her 5 grandchildren in 1923. Standing in back are Robert Caple and Blanche McKay. The girl standing in front is Iva Caple Bailey and the older baby is her brother, Roger Verle Caple. Margaret McKay is on the right.

My Grandma

by Iva Bailey

I was only twelve when my grandma Caple died, but I have many good memories of her.

For the first eight years of my life, grandma lived right next door to us in Puyallup. We all lived on 16th street, south-east, in what was then called Meeker Junction.

The house grandma lived in was a large, two-story, white house with a big bay window in the living room that grandma called the parlor. There was a porch that went almost all the way around the house. This was the home my dad grew up in and the house that was for a short time, my second home.

My grandfather Caple had died in 1920 when I was only two years old. I really couldn’t remember him but his memory seemed to live on in the house too.

Grandma had snappy brown eyes and long beautiful hair when it was combed out she could sit on it. She would let me brush and comb her hair, then she put it up on her head with big, bone pins and pretty combs. To me she was beautiful.

Even though grandma was born in Kentucky, she was of English parentage and she was an avid tea drinker. She and I had many tea parties, complete with Johnny cakes, as she called the little cakes she made. I remember, in particular, the sassafras tea she would make for us.  It tasted so good to me then.

Years later, when I was grown up, I bought some sassafras bark and made some tea, but it didn’t taste the same as grandma’s.

The feather bed she had brought with her from Missouri, in the covered wagon. How I loved to spend the night with grandma and sleep in the big feather bed. In the morning there would be sunken spot where we had slept. She would let me help her fluff and make up the bed again.

When I was about eight, grandma traded the big white house in Puyallup for a house in Orting, which was about ten miles away from Meeker Junction. She was a Civil War veteran’s widow and as such was entitled to commodities. To get the commodities she had to live in Orting where there was a colony of soldier’s widows. There was then, and still is, a soldiers home there.

Once a month the army officials would deliver grandma, coffee, tea, sugar and other staples. To grandma on her small widow’s pension, this was a big help.

I can remember how really upset I was by this move. Grandma traded houses with a lady by the name of Mrs. Zettiker. I didn’t like this lady. She had taken my grandma’s house away from us, or so I thought in my childish mind. I can remember my dad trying to explain to me that it was to grandmas best interest that she make this move.

Mr. Zettiker came and she changed grandma’s house. She put a bathroom in the room that had been my play house. She tore off the big porch that my cousins and I had played on when it rained. All this didn’t make me like her any better. I was glad she never lived in the house. She rented it out and I had several “best” friends there during my growing up years.

I would visit grandma every chance I had, which was pretty often. Dad worked in the logging camp which was above Orting, so he would take me along often, when he went to work, and I would spend the day or week-end with grandma. We had some good times together, grandma and I.

It was the summer before I was twelve that will always live in my memory. Grandma had gotten up early one August morning to water her garden. She left me sleeping in the big feather bed that she and I loved so much. In a short time she was back. She was talking to me but I couldn’t understand her. She lay down on the bed beside me and I knew something was wrong. I don’t even remember getting dressed, but I guess I did. I ran to the neighbors and hysterically told her that something was wrong with my  grandma.

The neighbor helped me call my dad in Puyallup. We had no telephone at home, so I had to call a neighbor who got Daddy to the phone. I was so hysterical by the time Daddy got to the telephone he could hardly understand all that I was trying to tell him. He knew something was wrong with grandma.

 By the time my mother and dad got to us, grandma was in a coma. She had a stroke and never regained consciousness.

They moved her to the G.A.R. home in Puyallup. There she died a few days later on August 5th, 1930. She was seventy-two.

She was laid to rest with my grandfather in the Orting Soldiers cemetery on August 8th, which happens to be my dad’s birthday. It seemed to me then, that part of the light had gone out of my world.Headstone-Caple, Margaret Malinda (Ragsdale)

Voices FromThe Past

By default I have become the historian and keeper of the family photos and papers. Among this collection are the courtship letters my Caple grandparent’s wrote 100 years ago. In the process of getting ready to write about and share these letters, I began rereading the stories my Aunt Iva, their daughter, wrote of her family memories.Written mostly in the 1980’s these stories also deserve to be shared. Below is the one she titled “My Mother.”

The photo is of my Grandparents William Roy Caple and Mae Edith Phillips on their wedding day August, 1, 1917.

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    My Mother

by Iva Bailey

When I think of my mother, I think mostly of a girl of sixteen whom my father met when her family moved next door to his family in Puyallup.

The Phillips family came to Puyallup one day, when my mother was barely fifteen. They came from Wyoming. I’m not sure if they came with the idea of making their home here or if they came to visit some of my grandfather’s family who had come earlier.

It must have been love at first sight for my mom and dad because there was never any one else for either of them.

The family remained in Puyallup for a little over a year before my grandmother became so homesick for her family they decided to go back to Wyoming.

It was to be four long years before mom and dad married.

Dad worked in logging camps in and around the Puyallup Valley. Some of the winters  would be so snowy and cold they would shut the camp down until the snow melted in the spring. When this happened my dad would go to Wyoming to visit my mother and her folks, some times he would stay until it was time for the camps to open up again. In between those times the courtship was carried on by letters.

After my dad passed away in 1972 at the age of 86, I found a lot of the letters mom and dad had written through the years before they were married. From the letters I got to know the girl who was to be my mother. The girl my Dad addressed in the letters  as “Pet”, “my little Mazie” and “my little Wyoming girl.”  From the letters I learned of their loneliness when they were apart and their happiness when they were together. I could see and feel my mother grow from a young girl to a young woman. I learned the things that made her happy and the things that made her sad.

The letters told of things that happened on both sides of my family during those years. I got to know some of the relatives I had only heard mentioned once in a while when I was growing up, relatives that had died before I was born. In those letters I found dried flowers my Dad had picked in the woods while he worked and sent to his little Wyoming girl. In turn my mother had sent wild prairies flowers to him.

 They had worked out a code that they carried on a little private correspondence with. They called it their China letter. It consisted of numbers. We have tried every way to figure out this code but so far we have failed. Just about every one of the letters contain a small sheet of the numbers. It was their way of saying to each other what they didn’t want he rest of the family to hear.

Dad finally went to South Dakota to work in the Homestead gold mine in Lead which was close to Mona, Wyoming where the Phillips family lived.

After a time, on August 1, 1917, they were married. They lived in Lead until later that year in a blinding snowstorm, they left South Dakota to make their home in Washington.

At first they lived in an apartment in the Scott Hotel which was located a block away from the home, my dad soon built for his little Mazie from Wyoming, and I grew up in. He built the house himself. The front porch was built of cobblestone he carried from the Carbon River stone by stone in a pail. It must have taken a long time because there were a lot of stones in that porch. The house had all the conveniences that other houses built at that time had. Dad often express his regrets in later years, that my mother never knew the conveniences added through the years, but I am sure she was happy in that house.

My mother had beautiful black hair and pretty brown snappy eyes. She was about 5 ft 6 and never weighed more than 120 lbs. When I was young my desire was to grow up to look like she did.

I was born while they were still building the house. Dad was working in the Todd ship yard in Tacoma while he was working on the house so it went slow. This was the time of the first world war.

My brother Verle was born when I was nearly 4. My Mother had the measles shortly after that and from that time on she was to suffer from Asthma.  The attacks she had were so terrible she had to fight to breathe. Now they have oxygen and drugs that would have relieved her but then the remedies would help for a while but soon have no affect at all. I remember the powder she would burn in a little container. I think it was Beladona leaves made into a powder. It smelled terrible. The smell would wake me up at night and I would know my mother was having an attack. It was a helpless feeling knowing I couldn’t help her. Dad tried everything possible to get help for her.  We moved to another climate for a time but she only got worse so we came back home again.

There were times when she would feel real good and we would have such good times. She liked to sew and could make anything she put her mind to. I remember the pretty dresses she made for me. She never used a pattern. She could look at a dress in a catalog and make one just like it.

As I look back it seems like such a short time. I was fourteen in 1933 when her heart could no longer stand the strain of the asthma attacks. She passed away Nov. 10th of that year. She was just 37.