Tag Archives: Wyoming

LETTERS FROM MONA – Part 39 – January 1915

January 2, 1915

Dear diary,

Happy New Year! And it looks like a fine year indeed, if only the war in Europe would end. Folks said it would be over by now but it rages on. More and more there is talk of our boys joining the fight.  I cannot bear the thought, so I am not going there. 

We went to the dance in Donald, New Year’s Eve. My, what a big crowd, it was the biggest group we’ve had in a long, long time. And was the second floor of that barn ever hopping. I was hopping too with Roy as my dance partner. How I love being in his arms, gazing into those blue eyes, sometimes just looking at him takes my breath away. And yes, we did find a few private moments underneath the mistletoe to wish in the new year.


January 5, 1915

Dear diary,

Roy and I rode home with Sadie and Bert after the dance to spend a few days here in Aladdin with them. I am so glad Bert and Roy have hit it off so well for I surely like spending time with Sadie.

It took a little while for little Iretha to warm up to Roy but now that she has she just lights up every time she sees him and he does the same. I’d be a bit jealous if she weren’t so tiny. Besides, I know he’s smitten on me. He’s going to make a wonderful father someday.

Lots of folks are down with the La Grippe around here. We had enough of it last year to last a lifetime so it had better stay away from us. 


January 10, 1915

Dear diary,

We are back in Mona. Last night Lizzie Sullivan invited Roy and I to a card party in honor of her husband James’ birthday. We had such fun playing a newer game called Touring. The idea is to run a race of 50 miles in an automobile.  We played the progressive version which means there were 4 tables of 4 all playing a game simultaneously. So much groaning and laughter filled the air as we played bad cards against our opponents. I kept running out of gas while Roy kept on having punctured tires and collisions. Of course, we threw the same cards back on our foes.

After the games we finished the evening off by singing Happy Birthday and enjoyed a chocolate layer cake over coffee.


January 20, 1914

Dear diary,

This morning Uncle Tom stopped by to pick up Roy. He and Aunt Helen Cady are going to Spearfish on some business and Roy is hitching a ride with them. He is hoping to be able to hire on with a logging outfit near there. My toes and fingers are all crossed hoping he returns with the welcome news he has found work. I will surely miss seeing him for the next couple of days.


January 27, 1914

Dear diary,

Goodness is it ever cold this morning. Hazel and I nearly froze to death last night despite all the hot stones and water bottles we went to bed with. I even put on my old drawers made from a blanket. Now I’m glad to be huddled next to the warmth of the stove and here is where we are all likely to remain the rest of the day. Roy and Papa just came in from the barn and said the thermometer showed minus 32.

Roy didn’t find any logging work while he was in Spearfish but they might have something in February. I sure hope so.


January 28th, 1914

Brrrr! It is still cold and snowy. The icy snow makes for good sleigh travel, though, so today Roy and I took it out for a ride. I stayed quite comfy and warm all snuggled up close to Roy. I tell you it felt like there was magic in the air.  Perhaps it was the music of the sleigh bells mixed with the sound of the runners gliding over the glistening snow, or maybe it was just love.  Either way it’s a ride I shall never forget.

Time to put this writing down. Roy and I are going to play a game of Progressive High 5’s with the folks before all pull in for the night.

LETTERS FROM MONA – Part 9 -JUNE 5 -25th, 1913

June 5, 1913

Dear Diary,

Today is my second day at the Plummer’s and I’ve barely had a moment to even breathe. It isn’t that there is so much work to do but all the visitors. It seems the whole neighborhood has stopped by to say hello and see how I am doing or to bring me a lunch or dinner. I haven’t had to cook at all.

It is dark outside now. I shouldn’t be wasting the lamp oil, but I just wanted to add a few lines to you today.


June 10th, 1913

Dear Diary,

I am still at Plummer’s. I surely shouldn’t have worried about being lonely here, someone is always stopping by and Mama calls everyday. She was feeling poorly with one of her headaches but today she said it was gone. I hated being away when she is like that for I know she really could use my help. She did say Hazel had pitched in and taken good care of her.


June 19th, 1913

Dear Diary,

It’s not even daylight but I must write about last night before I forget all the details. When I went out to check on the animals last evening the air felt oppressively hot. I got all the animals bedded down and all seemed fine except the horse seemed a bit skittish. When I emerged from barn through the haze of humid air, I could see dark gray clouds rolling in and could hear thunder rumbling in the distance. If there is one thing I fear, it is lightning. I dashed for the house as large splats of rain started to fall. I was barely inside when I heard a loud hiss followed by a brilliant flash of light out in the barnyard. The force was so powerful it nearly knocked me off of my feet. Another intense flash came from across the road followed by a deafening crash of thunder. Within seconds I was clinging to Bismark, the Plummer’s dog. The storm didn’t seem to faze him though. The lightening was followed by heavy sheets of rain and gusty winds but thank goodness the lightening moved into  the distance.

The sun is up so I am going to interrupt my writing and check outside.

I am back. Everything seems fine except I found a clump of trees near the barn singed. Uncle Waddington came by to check on me and said a calf at the place across the road was hit and killed by a bolt of lightning.

As long as I live I hope to never see a lightning storm that close again. I tremble to think what might have happened if I hadn’t run for the house when I did.


June 23, 1913

Dear Diary,

This morning I took advantage of some solitude and lowered myself into a tub of warm water with thick bar of soap. I scrubbed myself until my flesh was pink, and my nails cleaner than they’ve ever been all week. Never before have I had a tub all to myself without having to take turns with the rest of the family.

A moment ago I stood on the hilltop behind the Plummer’s place with may arms spread, my hair blowing in the gentle breeze. I felt so free. Now I am sitting up here letting the sun dry my hair. Down below I can see the roofs of the farm buildings glinting in the sun and beyond the sparkling water of Deep creek as it ambles along. And the horse and cattle dot the fields like miniature figures.

Soon though I must return to the house and pin up my dark brown hair. All ladies keep their hair pinned up. And a lady I must be.


June 25, 1913

Mona Wyoming

Dear Friend,

Well Roy I suppose you think I have forgotten you but not that.  I’ll tell you I answered your letter as soon as I got it and have been waiting so long for a letter and last night I thot sure I would get a letter but here come my letter back I guess you must be in Puyallup for it said you were not there. I’ll tell you I was sure disappointed. We have quite a time with our letters don’t we, my other letter is so long in reaching you.

Well how are you anyway. I am pretty well. I have been staying with a neighbor while they went to town, I have been gone nearly two weeks. Just got back home.

Is Justin in Puyallup? I suppose he is for you couldn’t keep him away for at present anyway (ha ha)

I’ll wait until I hear from him and then I’ll write to him so tell him to write to me. I think my Wash. friends are few for I don’t get near so many letters as I did.

Every thing looks fine here I hardly knew my garden it looked so nice, everything is so large.

Things are getting pretty dry tho.  We have some rain but not near enough. Last week while I was at Plummer’s, we had several bad storms and oh…I am afraid of them. I  worry every time from the time I see a cloud coming until it is gone. Last Wednesday we had a very bad one. The lightning killed a calf in a corral a little ways from the house. I’ll tell you that is as near as I care to have the lightening to come to me. I was almost crazy for a little while.

Where are Uncle Sol and the rest of the people we never hear from any of them. How are your berries, wish I was there to help you eat some and pick a few.  My it makes me homesick for Wash.

You had better come out in time for the fair at Spearfish. We will have a fine time. Tell Aunt Ann to write for I haven’t forgotten her if she has me. I feel pretty blue today and have a headache so must close. Hoping you will for give me and write as soon as received.

As ever,



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

March 28,1913

Dear Diary,

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

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

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

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


April 2, 1913

Dear diary,

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

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

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


April 15, 1913

Dear Diary,

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

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

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

Letters from Mona -Part 5 – March 19 – March 25, 1913

One of the Phillips brother’s ranch probably near Aladdin, Wyoming

March 19, 1913

Dear Diary,

I am exhausted this afternoon. We had a surprise party for Mama’s birthday last night. Oh my, so many people came, so much storytelling and laughing. Papa teased Mama about he used to wheel her around in her baby carriage and vowed he’d marry her one day. Mama swatted him and said he was lucky she ever agreed to be his wife. And of course, there were the many stories everyone in these parts have about the hardships they faced when they first got here to Crook county. It was the wee hours of the morning before folks left.

I think Mama wishes I would be more social; I have gotten rather quiet since our return from Washington. I know the other young people are going to dances and parties, but I just can’t bring myself to join them right now.

The days pass so slowly. And I worry about Roy. His last letter said he’d soon be returning to the logging camps and I know how dangerous those places can be.

March 22, 1913

Dear Diary,

At last spring has arrived. How wonderful it is to be able to roam again in the warm sunshine. At dawn I went out to fetch a pail of water. The sun was rising and what a glory of nature was before me.  Meadowlarks were flying from dewdrops to dewdrops while jack rabbits loped beside the path. Everywhere there are hints of green popping out and before long everything will be in bloom.

I intend to plant a garden this spring. Not only will it give me something of my own to do but I am hoping I will have enough to sell to the miners in Aladdin and show Mama and Papa how mature I have become.

March 23, 1913

Dear Diary.

I had a letter from Amber Henry this week. She says all is well in Puyallup and asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding this summer. Seems she and Ode are planning on tying the knot. Oh, how I’d love to go. I read the letter aloud to Mama and Papa and suggested I see if one of the aunts might accompany me out. We’d have plenty of places to stay there.

Hazel said please, please let us both go. But Mama and Papa said it was out of the question as Mama would be needing our help with the canning and garden then.

I guess Roy would be up logging in the mountains anyway but maybe he would make it home for the wedding if he knew I was going to be there.

March 24, 1913

Dear friend,

There is a dance at McDonalds. I suppose we will go but I don’t care a great deal about it. I wish you would go too.

No I haven’t heard from Justin or Lillian for a long time. I don’t see why they don’t write. I hear they are not going to Canada. It would be nice if they moved up there to Nagram for you.

I am sorry your Mother and father are going away.  My it will be hard for you. Maybe they won’t stay so long as they think for I don’t think I would like it there as well as Wash. But maybe they will. I hear Amber and Ode will be married in Aug. sometime I don’t know just when. Hazel got your card and seems pleased to get it. I wish you were here to go to church tomorrow I have kept my lessons up in the Bible and I think quite a bit a head. Well I must close and get busy again now. Write if I don’t.

Best regards, as ever,


March 25, 1913

Dear Diary,

I just finished by morning chores and there is nothing that needs doing until the bread dough rises. I am so tired as we didn’t get home from the dance at MacDonald’s barn until 5:00 A.M.

Mama is napping, perhaps I’ll find time for one this afternoon. It was a fun crowd except I’d really rather not have gone. Not that I had a choice wherever the family goes, I go.

It was nice to catch up with all the family and friends though. We haven’t seen much of some of them since we returned from Washington. I was relieved to hear my Uncle say cousin Justin isn’t going to Canada after all. I don’t have to tell you why; I want to keep all my Puyallup connections.

I am a little worried though, I didn’t get a letter from Roy this week but Hazel got a card. I try to tell myself it’s just that he is trying to show he is interested in friendship with our whole family so gradually they may come to accept our relationship but still I worry that maybe he is losing interest in me. Hopefully I’ll get a letter next week.



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

Dec. 22, 1912

Dear Diary,

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

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


December 29th, 1912

Dear Diary,

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

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

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

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

Dear Diary,

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

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

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

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

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.


    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.