Mary Melinda Hall Alger (Wife of John Z. Alger, Jr.)
(Letter written to her children May 1960)
Original wording and spelling left as written)
My Dear Belovid Family;
I'm so happy tonight, my little girl is with me. I've been lonesome for her all winter. She talked as long as she could keep her eyes open after riding all night had to go to bed. It's only 9:30. If I'd do what I'd like to do tonight I'd start in back on Dec. 26, 1900 you all know that date. We spent a happy month in a little one room house on the lot where Bill Truman now lives. Then my Sweetheart went with Uncle Will Alger down on the Colorado river to work, for then as now, money was a vital thing. I lived with my mother while he was gone, in a month he came back and we spent the rest of the winter in the little house and what a winter it was. It snowed for a week, we walked over fences and there was not much getting around for a while. When the storm cleared your Dad and his Father went up to Calf Springs to see about the stock they had left there for the winter and found all but one in a wash under a bank of snow. As soon as spring opened we moved up on this ranch that belonged to Aunt Addie Price. We spent a wonderful summer there, such a beautiful little meadow, we raised a good garden and some grain and potatoes and some of the best apples that ever grew. Job lived with us most of the time, Ed was there some and I took my little sister Sarah up when I'd get so homesick for mother. I loved my sister very much and still do, she was always like my own. When summer was over we came to town and lived in a little brick house where Alwin Jone's home now stands. It was there our first little blue eyed girl came to us on Feb. 22, 1902. We thought we were in Heaven, so happy we were, altho no running water, no inside toilet or sink, no washer but a tub and bowrd, but we just thought that that was the way it should be. Dad always had a comfortable little correll and stable for a cow and team. We were even sillie enough to think we had everything there was to have a wood cook stove and a fire place and plenty of wood.
That spring, we with Grandpa and Grandma Alger, Frank and Sadie Hunt and Aunt Minnie moved to Hatch Town, where most of Grandma's people, the Barnhursts lived. A nice little town and grand people especially Uncle Jim and Aunt Haldie Barnhurst, Uncle Will R. Riggs and Aunt Percilla. I cried on their shoulders more than once. I was a little homesick girl a thousand miles from home. In those days, a three day trip in a wagon if you was lucky. We spent two wonderful summers out there, learned to love those people, and would love to go back and visit all that are left of their descendants.
That fall we decided Enterprise was a little better place for us to settle so we came back and on September 25, 1904 our second little bundle of love came to us. Her birth place was the old Henry D. Holt Home that Jay Holt now owns. That next spring we went to Stateline, an old ghoast town with only a few people left and Dad carried the mail from there to Pioache. In to Pioache one day and back the next and me one of the biggest cowards that was ever born, alone every other night. I'd lock the doors of a little log cabin we lived in and almost plug the keyholes then I'd hear tramps and all kinds of noises around the house all night. Then to top it all off, Dad got a cow, and I'd had so many brothers I'd never learned to milk and she was a cow with big white rings around her eyes and long hornes, awful scary looking. For a correll he put her in a big livery stable with stalls in it. I knew I had to try to milk her so I would coax her into one of these stalls with some hay, then I'd get into the next stall and try to reach thru to her and milk. She thought I was crazzy and I knew she was going to gore me, we had a terriable time getting acquainted. Dad could go in and milk her and she'd never budge, but as soon as I began sneaking and slipping around to reach her she knew I was going to do something awful to her and she'd nearly tear the stall down. Well that was when I got acquainted with Mrs. Drake. She came to my rescue and thought she could put a roap on the cow and hold her while I milked well she couldn't. But I persivered until I mastered her and right there and then I vowed, no matter how many boys I had, these two little girls of mine were going to learn to milk while I could stand by and give them moral support, and they did. All of them but Thella she never had an ocasion to milk a cow anyway. There wasn't another woman, man or boy in that town that could milk a cow. We enjoyed the summer in spite of me learning to milk. On Sundays we'd scavage around old abandoned houses, the ore mills and we got acquainted with the few people there and found them all nice and helpful in time of need.
Every few weeks I'd go with Dad as far as Eagle Valley and play for a dance. He'd play the guitar and I'd stand behind him and hold a hormonica in his mouth so he could play and that was their dance orchistery. When he'd get tired we'd sing a few songs and have a real good entertainment. That fall Grandpa Hall and Grandma came and took the mail contract. They moved to Eagle valley so their boys and Sarah could go to school. We went back home and lived in a tent and one lumber room across the road north of George Truman's home now. This is where Roca came to us on May 5, 1906 Three little girls to love and work for, keep clothed, fed and warmed. Dad farmed in summer and herded sheep in the winter. My Pa as we called him had built a dobie house on his homestead about half way between George Trumans house and correll. That was our home (his family) for years and that was where we were married. When I married he gave me 10 acres up where the old Hall farm now is. Then he traded me the 10 where the dobie house stood for my ten above. They moved the little lumber house we lived in up on the 10 I traded him, and we moved into the old dobie one joy of joy I had two rooms and very soon needed them for there on March 17, 1908 we were blessed with our first son, Orlas. But he also brought another girl, Orpha with him. Now our joy was running over, so was our house, our beds, our baby buggy and my arms. I had to be alone a lot again for Dad had to go freighting, herding sheep and doing everything he could to make us all comfortable. He got Mary Ann Jones to come stay with me and help when he was gone and first thing I knew she had stole my brother, Jim. Two more devoted Sister-in-laws never met. We raised our families together, shared our joys and sorrows and still do. We have eternal love.
The old dobie house got so the rains run streams of mud thru the dirt roof so we built a little 3 room house where the George Truman home stands and it was here that our little black eyed Jane was born on May 25, 1910. She was a joy to us it seemed our babies were never a burden to us, we loved them all so much. With this addition we thought we would have to expand our farm and accumulate some live stock to increase our income, so we traided our little ten acres for the old Aaron Hutsman farm 3 miles west towards Hebron. There was our heaven, our pride and our joy of all the homes we ever had. We were so happy our children soon grew up to be a help and a comfort to us and have continued to be so up to this day. While we lived on this farm three other dear little girls were born to us, Madge Dec. 22, 1911, Doras Jan. 16, 1914, this angel was only loaned to us for a month. She died Feb. 18, 1914 of pneumonia. Thella, a delicate little blond came next with her love and winning ways, so cute and baldheaded, her arival was Feb. 4, 1915, then another little son on June 17, 1917 but was taken from us the same day. Our Father made up to us for this the next year by sending our third son Ray with a little sister Fay. How we loved and enjoyed these two babies. Our older girls were old enough to be so much help with the babies and the house work and Dad had built up his cattle heard and bought some sheep and honey bees, so he did not have to be away from home so much and Orlas was a big help to him and he adopted Gwen as a boy and from then till now she would rather work outside.
This year of 1918 was a sad year for ever so many people even tho it was a joyous one to some for that is when the 1rst world war ended but brought with it the old Flu, the real Flu. Our darling Ray was taken from us and we almost lost our husband and father. It was weeks before he could get out of the house and was so sure he could never work again. With broken hearts we sold our belovid farm home where we had spent so many happy days and bought a home in town, Larence Price home across the street South of the high school building. There our precious Audrey was born 10 Oct. 1920. We lived in two years then traded it to Uncle Walter Bowler for his lot where we now live with madge and Clair, for a two room and upstairs house and sold him our grazing homestead we still owned up the canyon, for lumber and building material to build on the two rooms and make us an 8 room house. Then there has been two rooms added since, with alterations, which makes nine rooms and two bathrooms.
On Jan. 27, 1923 another little spirit came to us but not to stay, was taken back the same day May we called her. Mae After building on to the original home here we moved into our new home on Thanksgiving day of 1923, a real Thanksgiving. Dad had gained his strength by this time till he was able to herd sheep again and take other jobs that came up including running the flour mill, a job he really enjoyed.
On February 25, 1924 we were blessed with another wonderful son, Paul. He had so much black hair he almost looked like a pappoose which did not make us love him any the less. There was so many of us to love him he got rather spoiled, someone had to hold his bottle and feed him every time. He never did learn to hold it himself. I think he liked that attention he got and still does and I hope he will continue to. Three other babies came to us, Marian, Joe and John William. Birth dates 7 Sept. 1926, 5 Sept. 1927, 22 June 1929, but were all still born. Through our Temple marriage I pray I have and will live worthy to meet my husband in that better world and have the privalage of receiving these precious ones and rearing them in that better home where sickness and sorrow will not be there, or a Satan to tempt and hinder our progress.
I should stop here I guess, but back to our old farm life that we enjoyed so much, a few happy thoughts like in the spring when we and the children would head for the hills to find the first snowdrops, wild pansies and violets and always come home with a bundle of watercress for our bread and milk supper. As the days grew warmer and Dad was at his work in the fields, I'd take my basket of mending and go down in the old wash under the willows where the girls would make all kinds of play houses and Orlas would find his favorite bank of dudle bugs. He found and enjoyed more kinds of bugs than I will ever know. When Saturday came we would head for the little reservoir where we ponded our water for the farm and there is where most of our children learned to swim. I was always there on guard but don't know what I could have done if one of them had gone down for I never could stand to be in the water over my knees. The Lord blessed us and there was never any miss haps. We nursed our children through all the diseases of childhood, measels, scarlet feaver, whooping cough and mumps. Dad also had mumps along with them and had them real hard. Then there was all kinds of winter colds, tonsalitis and a few cases of pneumonia but all this only made us love and cherish them more.
On 28 Oct. our first bird left our brood. Cecel and Tom Drake were married. Tom lived with us from the time he was about 15 and did his turn in World War 1, and came home and helped nurse us through that old flu and did a good job of saving Dad's life. He really put in the hours.
After Dad's health improved we longed for farm life again and we bought four other places. The first one from Ivor Clove, a place that joined our old farm. We lived there two summers, then we got one from John Laub up by the big reservoir which the younger children enjoyed a lot and I think we killed all the snakes and the pioneers hadn't got, 35 or 40 and a good lot of them close to the house. Our wash room was down in the wash where wood and water was handy and it was nice and shady to stand and scrub on the old board. One day the girls had gone down to start the fire and get the water ready to start washing when they heard Paul laughing and having fun. They looked around and he had a long willow hitting at one of those old snakes and watching it strike at the willow. I think that scared Thella so much is why she never did get very large, she was always our tiny one. Dad put up a swing over a big pine tree that grew in the white rock ledges East of the house around a quarter of a mile, and that is where we spent our leisure time with our children, and I don't know who enjoyed it most. Dad and I took horses one day and road to the top of old Flat Top. It was a wonderful day, so beautiful up there in the Quaking Aspens and Sarvis bereies, we realy had a treat on them. Another day we took lunch and loaded the children in the old wagon and went up in the hills to the foot of lost peak, had our lunch and left the youngsters to play and we got on the horses and went to the top of Lost Peak, a point from which we could see as far as the eye could see in every direction. A lot of happy days were spent there. At this time all the older children were married or off working down to Madge. The next place we got was the Coleman farm across the highway south of Walt Bowlers ranch, back in the hills. Another two enjoyable summers were spent there with some of our married children spending some time with us. Jane and her little girl were there for a while, then Roca and her two boys came from Calif. She and I spent what time we were not roaming the hills cutting quilt blocks. Our living quarters were meger in most of our farm life. There we had one room, a big tent and a willow shed for our dining room. I think Paul can remember quite a bit about this place if for nothing else the thoughts of the gates he had to open and shut whenever we went places. It was this summer we took our first trip to Calif. and he said "how many gates will we have to open?" Then our last farm was the Don Emett ranch we pass on the way to the reservoir. I know Audrey and Paul especially remember this place for we had to carry water from the creek quite a ways from the house, so Dad decided to build up in the field farther and near the spring that we watered the garden with, so he dug a cellar in the solid sand rock then built us a little house out of the old one and we lived in the old one till the new one was built. If you don't believe this ask uncle Walt Bowler. Dad and I, Audrey and Paul carried a good lot of the material that went into the building of that house from the old one to the new one. I think that is where Paul developed his big feet and sturdy body I still say work does not hurt kids. Another two summers we spent there then Dad got the job of Janator or as they say now, "Custoden" of the school, which job he kept for ten years untill his health again failed him and he had to stop such strenious work. From then he took up the hobby of prospecting and we began to spend our summers out at Deer Lodge with my only sister Sarah and happy days we spent there, Dad hunting and pounding rocks and my hobby was cuting and sewing quilts which I'm still doing.
When Thella's little girl Penny, or Colleen realy, was born they were here with us and Thella's health was so bad when they went back to Calif. which was Lou's countrey and where his kind of work was, they left Penny with us thinking she would soon feel better and could take her but she is 15 years old now and I still have her and what a joy and salvation she has been to me since my own family have all married and gone, and especially these last two years since Dad left me but here I want to say from all his prospecting he finely made a little sale of five hundred dollars the year he died, 10 of Nov. 1959, he died a happy man from the fruits of his labor. I have missed him but I know it was better for him to go than live and be cripple from the effects of his stroke. I do love all my children and grandchildren so much and want to thank all of you for being so thoughtful and sweet and kind and helpful to me and will say may our Father who is merciful bless each of you (or us) with strength to live for an eternal life of love, joy and happiness in our Home with him the same as we have had here and may he continue his blessing here to all in every righteous endever for your own good and give me continued health to keep a home for Penny as long as she needs me and then when all this is acomplished that I won't have to be a burden on you and that I can be cheerful and happy with wisdom to aid you in your problems in life if you need anything I can do.
Gwen is about ready to go to Dixie and Aud and I are going to see Cecel so will have to stop. Thanks again my brood for your loving care and this happy Mother's Day tomorrow.
Always your Anxious Mom
Stated by Mary at the funeral of her husband, John: "The only thing that worries me about my own death is that I won't be there to enjoy the visiting after my funeral."