Thursday, September 23, 2010

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

Part 7 of a Series
Letters to Myscie, A Western Love Story is a “saga”, actually mostly written by Joseph Edward Smith. The letters are sometimes 16 pages long. Last week we left J.E. Smith very ill, and unable to write. This is a continuation of that letter.
Suzanne E. Smith

Sunday afternoon March 25th- Five days later
Dear Myscie,
It may seem strange, the sudden break here in my letter but the afternoon I was writing this I was feeling very bad and when I got this far, my neck pained me so that I was obliged to stop, I could not stand it. It has been growing worse ever since until now. I think it has reached its culmination point. The Dr. says I'll have to suffer several days with it yet and that will be about two days more before I will be about and be at ease again.
Sometimes it did seem as if I should just go crazy. Friday night I took Morphine pills and managed from their effects to get a little sleep. Saturday I was just wild, went to see the Dr. again and he said that I must just take morphine all the time. That it would never do for me to suffer such pain. That it was very different being too near my brain and that it would be very bad for me if I went on in this way. He says just take so much and if that does not ease the pain take some more and so on until you have stopped that strain on your nerves. Just soak yourself with it if you can't ease yourself. He says it will only be for a few days and you must do this or else; he didn't say what. He gave me a prescription besides. I have done as he bid me in regard to the morphine and Oh it has eased me so. Such a change from yesterday, and yet I feel the pain considerably now, although I guess I am pretty near "saturated" as he said with morphine. At least I should judge so by my feelings and the way my writing looks. I can scarcely hold the pin Myscie, if the truth was known. I could not keep still long enough. I wanted to be on the move all the time, and sometimes feel like giving them a regular Indian War dance, paint, whoop and all!
The girls have been very very kind to me and so have Ed and George. They have all done all they could to make me easy, bandaging, making poultices, basting my neck and it is such a sickening sight too. No doubt but my health will be in excellent condition after this and I hope it will. I didn't know that I was out of health before, but the Dr. says I was and then the sudden change of climate and drinking the alkali water here was probably the cause of this.
I guess I will change the subject for a little while. Minnie (Nina’s nickname) and Ray are both sitting here at the table side of me writing. They both send their love to you Myscie and wish that you might be here to enjoy this beautiful day with us. Just think, I can't realize it, the 20th of March and no fire; doors & windows open; orchards in blossom; no overcoats, no winter flannels and such beautiful evenings. And yet you can stand out on our back porch and look up on the mountains only a short distance off and see all the snow and ice you want, or go to our front plaza and you will get a similar view.
I have been having lots of fun this week. Friday night we had a grand concert here given by the home talent. It was quite an affair and success, quite a number of those who took part, having made music quite a study. Everything passed off smoothly, and all did well they say. Saturday I had an invitation to a dance to be given that evening at San Antonio. Ed went down and got back this Sunday morning about 2.30 o'ck.
I had a grand good long letter from Jim the other day. Ten pages long. I wish I could send you his letter Myscie. It is very laugherable[sic] all the way through. I began to laugh on the first page and did not stop only to laugh the harder all the way through. When I write him I will ask him if I can send it to you but I almost know what he will say.
That "Garden Party" which I wrote you in one of my former letters, I was to attend, came off a week ago last Saturday night. It was a grand success. There were about 40 of us there. We broke up about 2.30. The leading young men, and old too, of Socorro made up our crowd. We have another meeting next Saturday night and have formulated into a club. There are about fifty or sixty members I believe now; no ladies allowed there..
Did I tell you that we had an organ here at the house? You see we are almost as civilized as you people down East there, if you only knew. All three of the girls sing and play. Bell sang "Far Away " to me last night. I felt like crying for a minute. I just love that piece dear. I sent you some more pictures yesterday Myscie. Myscie you may get those drawings of mine that are up to the gallery if you will. They are worth nothing particularly but I would really like to save them if you can find some place where you can stick them away out of the way. How does Will get on alone? I have not written to him yet, but shall soon. Tea is ready now so I must stop for a little while.
Socorro, N.M.March 27, '83

Tuesday afternoon, Wed 28
My dear dear Myscie
Your "No. 5" came this morning and I was so glad to hear from you. Thus far I got started to answer you when Sallie (Ray’s common name) called to me to come out on the porch a minute and now it is a whole day later. It is now Wednesday evening 10 o'ck. I have been up to the store part of the evening because Ed has gone away for the evening. I came home about 8 o'ck, found Minnie & Sallie out in the hammock, so I went out and sat with them a little while. I brought them down some candies from the store, we swung there and talked (about you Myscie) until our candy was gone and then came in.
The girls have been very very kind to me since I have been unwell here. I have told Sallie lots about you and she likes you ever so much; she is to write to Mr. Brey tomorrow evening and I am to save this letter to finish there so as to write to you the same time, but I thought I would begin it to-night anyway. Every one is in bed but Ed and myself, and Ed has not got home yet. I guess he will be here soon. Mr. Brey is coming back in about two weeks. He is a splendid fellow I guess. Ed and George like him ever so much so I know I shall. He went away just a month before I came. Have I told you who this Mr. B is? He is Sallie's gentleman; he was bookkeeper for the largest firm here in Socorro and is home now in Ill. visiting.
I received your last letter No 6 this morning. Myscie I was so happily surprised to get two such long ones so near together. It almost makes me want to hear from you again tomorrow morning. Am I greedy? The small pox has been raging here ever since I came, but it is not so bad now I believe. There has been reports that there were over one hundred cases here in the city at one time, but they were most entirely amoung the Mexicans. I guess I will retire now. So good night with a kiss Your loving Joe

Thursday afternoon
Dear Myscie, I have a little time and I guess I will finish our this page so as to begin a new sheet this evening. Minnie is painting a set of lambrequins for a lady here in town. She has three to paint on red sattine; three on old gold; three on black and one on blue. She is at work on the red ones now. She finished one this forenoon, a bunch of tea roses and buds. They are just beautiful.
The one she is painting now is a bunch of pansies- dark blue and white mixed with some very fine bell shaped flowers, pink and white. She sits just opposite to me here at the table and every once in a while I have to stop and give my opinion about the progress & Minnie has quite a class of scholars here in the city that she gives lessons to. She did not try to get scholars but they came to her. It makes it profitable as well as pleasant for her if she keeps it up. I have a picture here enc. (enclosed) mounted; it is of one section of the city up in old Socorro where the Mexicans live mostly. It will give you a firm idea of the kind of houses here. They are made of mud and called adobe houses.

March 29-83
Thursday evening Just after supper. Here we are all around the table in the dining room. Bell at my left mending stockings. Sallie on my right writing to Earl (Mr. Brey) and Minnie just up to the drug store and Ed is up at his store, that is all of us. Minnie and I went out and sat in the hammock after supper while Sallie and Bell cleaned away the supper and washed the dishes. We had a nice little talk; now are all settled down for work for the evening.
I had just begun to tell you about "adobe" houses this afternoon when I finished my page. You must look in your dictionary and see what the def to "adobe" is, and there perhaps you will understand the make of our houses. Most all the building we have down in this section of the country are made of adobe.
I never have seen them make any great amount of adobe yet but they say it is quite an interesting sight. I am in hopes to see them at work this spring building. I was up to a Mexican house the other day and they were fixing their floor (the floor was made of adobe). It had got worn and it split up quite badly and the Mexican men, two of them, were down on their hands and knees mixing up this adobe with their hands and smoothing it out on the floor. It looked like little children playing in the mud, but the floor where they had finished did look nice and smooth. It soon hardens and makes a nice floor.
The girls have just got a caller; it is the Dr. that has tended my neck. Dr. Cates, He is a widower. The girls are singing to him. Minnie has just sung "One Day" and Bell is now singing "Only" The Dr. is splendid company and they will have a nice caller I know. He has traveled every where and his conversation is very interesting.
Those cactus I sent you, I hardly expected would live for they were quite dry before I sent them. Tell you aunt Hannah that the first time I have a chance, I will gather some nice specimens of cactus and send her and let her try her luck. Givemy love to your Aunt Hannah and the rest of her family; tell her I haven't' had any "pop corn" since I left. Do wish I could drop in upon her for a few minutes and get some.
You say Sam isn't ready and won't be even by September to be married. How did he like it when you told him you could not stand up with him? You musn't be cross to him Myscie, but help him on as best you can. You are his sister you know and the only one he has to go to or to depend upon to a certain extent. Tell Sam he must come down through this country for a wedding trip and bring you with him Myscie.
I am so sorry the way your father is doing; it is too bad. Oh how I wish I could do something or say something that would stop him. How many times I have looked at your father and thought what a wicked thing it is that such a smart and nice looking man as your father is should do as he does. When he might make his family so happy and so proud of him. It hurts me Myscie because it plagues you so. You don't know how much I have thought about it ever since the night I came home with you and we came by one of the saloons and heard your father in there singing. Do you remember Myscie? How suddenly it came up in us and how bad it made you feel and of my leading you to that trunk there by your Uncle Driver's to let you sit down? Oh and that was so long ago, when I first knew you. How I wanted to put my arms around you that night Myscie, ask you not to cry and I would take care of you. How much I loved you even then Myscie. I can see as I look back and think of my feelings toward you at different times, how truely I could put my arms around you now, my dear Myscie, and say with all my heart I will protect and take care of you always. I must go to my room now for its quite late. Good night with a kiss from Your loving Joe

The pictures of Josephus Driver do not suggest the “monster” who made Myscie cry. He apparently made a good living for his family as a tailor and mortician, and felt entitled to enjoy his liquor. Those who drank with him probably thought he was a lot of fun. The photos of the two were taken at the Smith Home in 1888. Both were immigrants originally from Leeds, England who were settled in Darlington by 1850. We know they were there at that time from the History of Darlington. The survey of the original streets and blocks of the community took place in June of 1850 by Josiah Richardson and H. H. Gray, assisted by an Indian named January. The streets of the town were named after the wives of the planners and prominent men of the town, such as Minerva, Mary, Harriet, Lucy, Louisa, and Cornelia. “Minerva was the wife of James G. Knight, the first president of the village, and Mary was the wife of Josepheus Driver, one of the first businessmen of Darlington. Harriet was the wife of Hamilton Gray, and Lucy was the wife of William K. Jackman. Louisa was the wife of Isaah Stockwell, and Cornelia was the wife of James M. Keep, one of the original founders of the community”.

Letters to Myscie, a Western Love Story written by Suzanne E. Smith, All rights reserved.

Photos ©J.E. Smith
From top:
Grand Central Station for Musicians
Josephus and Mary Driver
Native American Dwellings


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