Letters to Myscie is a true story. It reveals to us a “Yankee’s” view of the area and the times, and the impact it had on new comers.
Suzanne E. Smith
Part 15 of the series
Middle Camp, Magdalena N.M.
Friday 18th, 1883
My dear dear Myscie
I have just a few minutes before we start this morning which I will use in writing while the boys are harnessing up the horses. Mr. Cowles and myself came in last night. On Wednesday afternoon we started from the ranch; day before yesterday. Mr. Hoyt was with us. We were caught in a fearful rain & wind storm when about half (way) in here and were out in the whole of it. It lasted for about five hours. It was the worst stormI ever experienced. I was on horse back and was drenched through and through in five minutes after it began. Then came up a sleet and snowed as we came up into the mountains and I was nearly frozen to death. We should not have started at all until Friday or today only Mr. Hoyt; George was with us and he was anxious to get in here and take the coach for Socorro, and unless he came in that night he would not catch it for several days again. We came about ten miles from here and it was already dark so we decided to stop over night (Mr. C & I) with some miners who were camped about a mile & a half away & Geo took my pony and came on alone.
Love untill then Your true and loving Joe
Friday May 25th '83 3.30 PM Magdalena Camp N.M.
My dear dear Myscie
Here I am back again to the Magdalenas. I started this morning about 8 o'ck from the ranch on horse back and arrived here later about 2 o'ck this afternoon. The mail will not be in much before 5.30 so I will write a letter while I am waiting. I intended to have written before coming in and have actually started two evenings in succession but have been interrupted both times, so had to give it up. Yesterday I went out to Antelope Springs (Cowle's Ranch) to get some "grub". Most all our things are stored there. It is about 12 miles from where we were camped. I rode out but had to walk back for I had the horse's back packed so full there was no chance to ride. I got in about sun down and I tell you I was tired. After feeding the horse I went in and lay down a while. Jim got supper. After walking, then resting before supper and just as soon as I was through, I started to write and whenI had hardly finished a page, Jim was washing up the dishes, when I heard horses hoofs down the canon. It was dark but soon a man on horse back rode up out from amoung the trees into the light of our camp fire and inquired for Mr. Cowles. He said he was just out in Middle Camp, and had a special message for him. I told him he was not there; but had gone to Socorro to be gone several days. He had started that morning early, and that I would take the letter. He handed it to me. This broke up the writing for last night for we had to set about and get another supper for this man and after that to get packed and write to Mr. Cowles. By the time I was through it was time for me to turn in, for I had to rest for my journey today. We were up early this morning but I had a long hunt for my pony up in the mountains so, did not get a very early start after all. The man who brought the letter to Mr. Cowles stayed the night with us and drove in with me today.
We had a fine time this fore noon chasing a hurd of antelope out on the plain. I put chase to them for several miles for I thought I had wounded one. I fired at them twice but they were too far away, about six hundred yards when I tried it again.
Did you get those pictures I sent you? One was of a mexican oven I told you I was going to send along. I will tell you about it and I will try to make time to do so, if I can find it. The other was a picture of Mr. Cowles camp last winter when he was out in the mines. Why I sent it was because "Dick" my pony is in it. You can see him on the right, he moved his head so it is not very plain. Mr. Cowles is the one sitting nearest in front with a rifle in his hand.
Have you seen Mrs. Hamilton yet? I can not write this time to her & have not yet written to Mother, poor woman. You must write for me Myscie. I must stop now. Please excuse this hand and I apologize for the letter Myscie dear, but I could truly not write at this time. Write me often please because I depend very much on them.
Your true and loving Joe.
The following post script was spiraled around the page, and it is quite possible that he did this because he was out of paper. Paper was not something that was easy to find way out on the ranch, (it probably had a greater purpose), and most cowboys weren’t writers.
I did not get any letter in there for Jim or myself. Oh I am so disappointed Myscie, it can't be you did not write they must have forgetten to have forwarded them from Socorro. Oh dear I could cry truly I feel so disapointed after coming so far purposely after, and I don't know when I can come in again.
The construction of the railroad to Magdalena was begun in 1883 and completed in 1885. Until that time the mail was transported by stage, which only ran a few days a week. The train ran from Socorro to Kelly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and returned on alternate days. From the ranch, it was a full day on horseback to Magdalena or Kelly. Neighbors would help each other by picking up mail, getting supplies and running errands, but it might take days to get mail even after it had arrived at the station.
Letters to Myscie, a Western Love Story written by Suzanne E. Smith, All rights reserved.
All Photos©J.E. Smith Collection