Thursday, August 26, 2010

Letters To Myscie: A Western Love Story By Suzanne E. Smith

Part 4 of a Series

My heartfelt thanks to all of you who have expressed their appreciation of the publishing of this story. Last week we left Joe and Jim comfortably settled in Socorro.
Suzanne E. Smith

Socorro, New Mexico
Saturday afternoon

My Dear dear Myscie
I have just had quite an accident I have been sitting here by this open window writing to your for about an hour and a half, had your letter all laid out here on the table in front of me= and now what do you think I have done? Mr. Bass just came in for a moment so I thought I would just get up for a little while and rest and take a smoke. As I was rising from my chair I hit the table and over went my ink all over your letter. Just completely covering every sheet. I was=mad= I guess but I didn't say much for Mr. Bass laughed at me so= though I know he felt real sorry for me all the while. He says "never mind Joe= just tell her they are tear drops and send it to her".
I don't know where to begin just now Myscie! I have lost the mood some how, I was just in the mood this afternoon and had written you a good long letter= but it is so covered with ink I can't read it to copy and I can't write another like it any more.
Thus you can't sing that dear old song "Far Away" as you sang it to me one evening. (Which I never can forget.) when you do not feel in that same mood= How I love that song Myscie! And yet it isn't the song= it isn't the words that I love so either= it is the connections= the happy thoughts it brings up every time I see the piece or think of it. Oh Myscie how I wanted to come and put my arms around your neck and kiss you the night when you were singing that piece. How I wish I had you in my arms this very minute. You dear dear girl. Do you know how much I love you, how dearly, truely I love you. It seems some times Myscie when I get to thinking of you as if I could not stay away from you a whole year as if I must se you and have you with me= but I must not be so weak for I can not gain the ends I am struggling for when I give way, as I feel like doing just this minute. It makes me feel like packing up and coming right back to you Myscie but I must not feel this way. I am here for work and I will work= Myscie I could give my life for you, for you are mine, my own dear Myscie, and sometime we will be so happy.
But I must not go on in this chain. You want to know something about the country, the people. Their ways, peculiarities, the beautiful country and a thousand and one things also. I'm the first to write to you about. First= I want you to begin by making the acquaintance of our little family. Such a cosy happy family you never saw and it seems so strange to find things so home like and comfortable away down here out of the world all most. There are six of us i.e. Mr. Bass, Mr. Hoyt; Miss Bell Nash (Mr. Bass' cousin) & Miss Nina Hoyt (Mr. Hoyt's sister); Miss Ray Hoyt (Mr. Hoyt's younger sister) and myself, and such a nice family as we make! (Mr. B & Mr. H) rent a cottage here one of the prettiest in town, and the girls keep house for them. There are three of them you see (Bell, Ray & Nina) so it doesnot make the work hard for them= but just fun.
They take turns about the work and then the boys do all the hard work= that is they help them a great deal where stronger hands are needed= But to go back a little= Mr. Bass is running a Photograph Studio which occupies most of his time there= There he and Mr. Hoyt are in company running a news stand in connection with fancy articles, candies, nuts, ectc.
There they are in company in a silver mine up in the Magdalena Mts. and Mr. B. has a sheep ranch up in Kansas which he goes up to once or twice a year. Now for Mr. Hoyt= Mr. H is a druggist and is prop. of a drug store in this place also a branch store in Los Animas. Mr. H. is a young man about Mr. B's age 25 or 26 and is just one clever boy. I like him very much= Bell Nash is Mr. B's cousin and is an old school mate of mine down in Mass= she has been out here most a year, visiting with Mr. B though from appearances I should say Mr. H was reaping the pleasure of her stay and would in time, if not at present have full as much claim upon her as her cousin Ed.
Then there is Ray and Nina, Mr. H's sisters. Nina is the oldest one of the girls and has the charge of the household= She is a lively girl a perfect lady and such a beautiful disposition= we all think lots of Nina she is so kind and tries to make everything so home like for us all. I think she is older than her brother but I am not sure, I never have asked= she seems so at least; perhaps it is because she has been so unwell in the past= She came here to visit with her brother for her health and is now much better. She and her sister have been here over a year. Nina is a little grey= it seems so funny to see a young lady with her hair sprinkled with grey= probably it was from her previous ill health. She and Mr. Bass sit at the head of the table and I call them Pa & Ma. Ray is the youngest of us all and is a very pretty girl in deed. She is about 19 I think, and is quite an accomplished young lady. Ray and I sit together at the table and last evening I finished up a letter for her to her gentleman who is now east somewhere but who will return here some time during the spring. When she asked me to write in the letter she made me think it was to some young lady and then after I had written she told me it was to a young gentleman and then didn't they all have the laugh on me good= And this is our jolly six= Ed= Geo= Bell= Nina= Ray & Joe. Don't you think we have a nice little family Myscie? Oh how I wish you were one of us and that "we were seven" instead of six.
And now you know them all and they know you too. You ask me how Myscie? They saw your picture and I could not tell a lie and besides Ed gave it all away before I could say anything anyway that is he explained perhaps better than I could myself. Here is our table[drawing]and the way we sit at our meals. The girls are splendid cooks and we live high I tell you for this country. Ed has just called me and wants me to go off with him somewhere= right away. I will not send this to-night but will wait untill to-morrow (Sunday) and then write some more.
Your loving Joe
Socorro, N.M.

Mar 14='83
Wednesday Evening

My dear dear Myscie:
Why don't I hear from you? If you could only know how disappointed I have been morning after morning for it is a week ago, day before yesterday since I had even a word from you and those were such good letters Myscie and I want to thank you as much for them and for the good they have done me. Oh! Myscie they were so like you, so open and honest-and so full of love. I just love to read them over and I don't tire of them either.
We have our mail from the East each day it comes in during the night so when we get up in the morning it is all distributed and the very first thing I do before I eat my breakfast is to push off to the office and see if there is anything for me. Immagine me Myscie running over to the office with my heart in my mouth almost and then after all only to wait for another day.
It does seem as if it was a month instead of a week Myscie. But then= I haven't a word of faults Myscie for I know there is some good reason or I would have heard. All this and I only hope and expect when I do hear, you will make up for lost time.
Myscie did you receive those pictures I sent you? How do you like yours? I wish they were better and looked more like you=but=somehow they don't print and finish up as well as I had hoped they might. Then there was one of mine= made before I left C.= over a year ago= the negatives have been destroyed so this is the reason I did not have one myself. I saw this in May's (Miss Bang's) album and I asked her if she would give it to me to send to you= I will write you Myscie all about the evening I spent with May some other time, when I have more time and text to write about.
The picture of the Catholic Church which I sent you is where Jim and I went that morning to the marriage services which I wrote you about attending. The one where there are two men dangling from a tree, will show you how they punish rascals out here= I have been under that same tree more than a doz. times= it is up in what is called "death alley". Mr. Bass I believe was one of the committee that hung them and then the next morning went down and took their picture= I hope I may not share the same= One of those boys you see hanging there though is a Massachucetts boy; just the "scenery", I have that to encourage me.

There has been some speculation as to whether J.E. was involved in the Socorro Vigilantes. They were a group of “businessmen” who became intolerant with the patroĊ„ system of politics in Socorro. They believed that it wasn’t what you know, but who you know that dictated the outcome of crime and punishment. They took the law into their own hands with organization of lynch mobs and hangings as the usual procedure.. Although we will never know, various authors have reported that J.E. was involved. His association with Mr. Bass would lead one to believe that it is quite possible. If so, he never mentioned it in his letters.
Even if he had been involved, it would have been difficult for him to tell Myscie. For one thing, he had dreams of her coming west to join him. He needed her to feel secure that it was a safe place, and that he would always take care of her.
It is interesting to see the changes that evolved in J.E. Smith as revealed by his letters. He was coming to believe in the “survival of the fittest”, the strongest, the most brave.
One of the toughest groups of new comers to New Mexico was the mining fraternity. The wealth of mineral resources in the new country was probably its most attractive feature.
The mining districts of Socorro, Water Canyon, Magda-lena, Cat Mountain, Rosedale, Black Range, Cooney, Mogollon, Kelly, and the more remote sites of Oscura, San Andres, Pueblo, Gallina, and Santa Rita were all located in Socorro County.
In Magdalena, the Kelly and Graphic mines produced over $6,000,000 worth of silver and lead ore before it was found that the zinc they carried, once considered a nuisance, was a treasure of it’s own. In March of 1883, the Kelly Mine south of Magdalena, and the Torrence and Merrit Mines in Socorro were making big news.
The Black Range News out of Chloride, New Mexico had reported that the “Kelley mine has developed such richness that visitors are not allowed to go down in the mine”, and reported that there was so much interest in the Merrit Mine, expected to surpass the production at the Torrence mine, that A.D. Coon had refused an offer to sell the mine for $125,000 Mining towns were known for their lawlessness, and generally sprung up overnight, with tent structures later made permanent. Bawdy houses and saloons brought entertainment and comfort, and there was very little importance placed on religion or culture.

Pictures: (top) Socorro mining community, (middle) Kelly 1883, (bottom) hanging in Socorro's Death Alley.
All Photos ©J.E. Smith Collection
All rights reserved


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