Friday, September 24, 2010

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

Part 8 of a Series
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

Monday evening
My dear Myscie
Everybody has gone, all are away and I am here alone.  Mrs. Phelps gives a party this evening- a musical party and each one of her guests who sing or play are expected to furnish one piece, which they may or may not be called upon to give.  Ed, Bell and Minnie all three have pieces to sing.  I wish you were here to go with them Myscie.  No! I don't either- I wish you were here, but wouldn't have you go off with them tonight if I knew myself...Let me see where did I leave off last night.  After my supper I layed down on the lounge and took a little nap.  When I awoke Minnie was sitting beside me and asked me if I didn't want her to read to me a little while.  I told her yes.  I should be delighted to have her do so. The name is "Barington's Fate"  It is one of the No Name Series; perhaps you have read it.
     It is pretty good; we have not finished it by a long way yet, though Min read until after ten o'clock already.  I had a fair nights rest and think on the whole I am feeling quite a little better; but it is quite a little too.
     For this time I thought I would try and see if I could get along just as well with out taking anymore morphine.  It wasn't more than an hour or so before I was suffering very bad, so I went and got some more morphine from Geo.  It 's nice to have a druggist in the family.  About 5 o'ck Sallie and I started up across the Plaza to go up Death Alley and steal some pear and peach blossoms to wear this evening.  We had lots of fun and succeeded in the securing of a lot of very nice blooms.  As we came back across the Plaza we saw them arresting a man for pulling his revolver and shooting a man's dog.  Ray wanted me to hurry for fear they would arrest us for stealing some blossoms.
The orchards were just lovely this afternoon.  I will send you some of the blossoms. The pear blossoms Myscie come off from the oldest and largest pear tree in New Mexico.  The tree belongs to Mrs. Robinson I believe.  This is a fact.  Dear Myscie, can't you write to me oftener[sic] than you have been writing to me?  Here I have been this long long week past; watching and expecting every morning to find a letter from you.
The first letter I received from you was dated Feb. the 27th.  The second Mar 1st.  The third Mar 10th.  The fourth Mar 13th and now dear Myscie it is the 26th and almost the 27th.
It would seem that he doesn’t know what day it is, as he has already dated a previous entry, several days ago as the 29th.  One can only suppose that the days on morphine had slipped by him somehow.
Why? Dear Myscie.  Why don't I hear from you?  I have been thinking about you a lot the past week.  I have been thinking over the last two letters you wrote me.  I have them right here and I have just read them over again.  Oh dear I don't believe I will write more tonight Myscie.  My head feels very bad, so I guess I will go to my room and go to bed and leave this so Geo can take it up to the office with him when he comes in with Bell.  Give my love to all who may inquire after me.  I hope by the time you receive this letter I may be very much better and will be able to write a better hand than  I have here, but my hand is so weak Myscie somehow I can't do any better.
Good night my dear dear girl
be true to me and you should never never be sorry  Myscie.
Your ever true and loving Joe

From the center of Socorro, the Rio Grande is about two miles east.  Called the “ribbon of life” because it is one of the major sources of water in the state, and runs through the center.  After the turn of the century, dams would be built which would allow storage, but until that time, the river was uncontrolled, making it undependable, and sometimes inconsiderate.  The river ran “unchecked” much of the time, but was incredibly dry different times of the year.  In a local printing of  News Notes the Prospector,  humorously reported that “The most industrious man known of in New Mexico is the man who ran the ferry at Socorro last summer.  He was continually at work digging out the bed of the river to make it deep enough to run his boat.”  Those who had crossed the rivers in the East probably scoffed at the big river called Rio Grande.

My dear dear Myscie
This has been the first real disagreeable day since I came here.  A day peculiar and a characteristic day of this part of the country; at least at this time of the year. We may have several such between now and the 1st of June.  It has been a stormy day, and yet the sun has been shining all day, so of course it was not a rain storm.  No- it has been a sand stom and wind storm.  The wind has blown just a gale all day long which has swept the sand from the valley of the Rio Grande in clouds over our city.  There is very little doing on the streets for one can scarcely stand up against the force of the winds; to say nothing of the blinding sand.  I have been up town and back twice today and I am just blown full of sand.  You can not see, when going against the wind.  I would open my eyes just the least bit, and take my bearings.  Then shut them and walk a little way and then do the same again.  I can realize now about how the sand storms, we read about all in the "great deserts", though of course this must be a very mild side of them.  The sand sifts into the house in spite of all, so that you can taste it even in the air some times, and the shelves, window sills etc are all covered.  And now, after this most disagreeable day to have every thing quiet down so, and finish up with such a lovely evening as we are having out side now; is just wonderful.  I hope we shall not have another such a day for a long time, but we musn't complain at our day and find fault, when it is the only one in 30, not to our liking.
    Myscie dear, your last letter made me glad and sad and glad again.  Could we but be together one day.  Oh My dear dear girl.  If you were only here with me just now and I could hold you in my lap and have you put your arms around my neck.  Oh so tight.  Could I but have a nice long talk with you, how happy, how much good even this would do me.  But no.  All I can do is to write, tell you how much I love you all the time, how much I miss you, how much I long to have you with me.  Myscie, do you know how bad I was feeling the morning I left your house, that Saturday morning.  Shall I ever forget it?
     Such a mixture of sadness, determination, joy & love.  I never felt so sad in all my life, so much like breaking down and still so determined not to show my feelings.
     How I longed as we stood there by the door to put my arms around you and tell you once more, before I went how dearly I loved you, how true I would be to you and that I would soon return to claim you for my own forever.  But too simply I kissed you good by without a word and came away.  I had scarcely left the door when such a feeling came over me. I never shall forget.  I could stand it no longer and for about one minute I cried as I never cried before.  I was all alone.  Jim had not yet left the door.  I could not have helped it even if there had been hundreds to have seen me. Every thing seemed to give way all at once. It was only for a moment and it did me so much good and made me feel so much better and by the time Jim had caught up with me, I was myself again.  It seemed to me I loved you so much I could not love you more, Myscie, and I determined there and then to be all that would make you happy and contented with your choice.  Those feelings of love and determination with which I left your home that morning Myscie, have never changed and never can change. Though I thought  then I could not love more, yet today you are dearer to me Myscie than ever before.  There is a feeling of contentment or something I can't explain.  I seem to see you in everything I do or undertake and it makes me so brave and willing, when I think what all I am or can do for myself.  I am doing for you also Myscie.  You shall always be happy if my love and efforts can make you so and I know they can. It seems hard that we must be so far apart so long, but we must bear it the best we can, it is for the best no doubt, and though at times it does seem as if it must not be so any longer.  
We are to lose the girls soon and our happy family will be broken up.  Minnie & Ray have had passes sent here by their cousin which must be used before May 1st, so they have decided to start the 15th of this month-that is about ten days.  Bell will go with them too, so it will leave us boys all alone.  Earl Brey comes back in a few days (Ray's gentleman) then there will be four of us. Ed and I have rented a room up town, are ready and next week are to finish it and fix it up real nice. Earl & George will probably room together and then we shall have a good quartet.
    Have I told you yet about the mexican ladies, how they smoke? It is not an uncommon thing at all .  They smoke cigarettes.  You will see them after the dances, between the dances, daintily puffing the smoke of a cigarette.  They seem to enjoy it so much too, it looks so odd.
I am beginning to learn Mexican a little- it is very much like Spanish, infact  it is Spanish corupted[sic].  It is very much harsher spoken than the Spanish.  I don't think it will be very hard to learn.  In my next letter, I will write you about the ovens and the way the Mexicans have of baking bread here. 
Did I tell you I was making a hammock?  I finished it to-night, it is a big one too-fiftten feet long and six and a half wide.  We have two now, one on each side of the house. 
Bell has just handed me a very pretty piece of poetry.  I will send it to you.  She sends her love as also do Minnie & Ray. They have all been siting here all evening.  Ed too. Minnie painting as usual, Bell reading, Ray, Ed & I are all three writing.  They are all getting ready to go to bed now and I must stop too, so good night. I will write some more to-morrow evening.       With a kiss Joe
In 1911, Ralph Emerson Twitchell, Esq., Vice-president of the New Mexico Historical Society wrote a book  entitled The Leading Facts of New Mexican History.  He reported that Socorro Peak, had at times in the past been an area of considerable mining activity, with the first prospecting about 1867.  He surmised that the  older tunnels and work  were left by the Spaniards as they moved through the country, seeking gold.  Older accounts of mining east of Socorro in the Oscura District, were estimated to be some 200 years old.  It is believed that  crude attempts to mine and smelt copper had been  undertaken to make the bells for all the churches in the middle Rio Grande valley.  Twitchell’s research  on the Torrence and Merritt mines west of Socorro revealed that their production was estimated at $760,000.00.
In the spring of “83, the New Mexican reported, “The stamp mill after a successful run of seven days has closed down for a cleaning up.  It commences on the first of April to work on Torrence ore.”  Shorlty after, the Albuquerque Journal reported “the Merritt mine is proving to be a wonderfully rich property.   Enough has been taken out by the development work alone to keep the Torrence stamp mill running constantly..”   It also reported  a “Grand Scheme” to build a narrow guage railroad from Socorro Peak to the Magdalenas considering that the landscape across that plain was a “smooth plateau”, which would allow inexpensive construction of such a project.
Socorro Peak and the foothills of the mountain were  destined to boom with activity.  The New Orleans and La Joya Smelting Company, later the Graphic Smelter had been erected in 1881.  Gustave Billings, intent on building his smelter in the same area, was fighting the “politicos” in the town, but by June of 1883 would begin working on his third fortune.
The boom in mining activity was timely for J.E. Smith’s arrival to Socorro, and although he did not complete his studies in engineering, he apparently had a good background for the technology of the mining industry.   He was  “book smart” and motivated, but  was handicapped by  his small frame, and soft upbringing.  As the account to follow will show, he was  ambitious but  had to learn the hard way that the physical work could break those who just didn’t have the right constitution.

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

All photos ©J.E. Smith
From top:
Rio Grande flood, 1884
Smoking ladies
Park House
Billings Smelter

1 comment:

  1. I got my first electronic cigarette kit from VistaVapors, and I recommend getting it from them.