Thursday, October 7, 2010

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

Part 10 of the series

Socorro, N.M. April 11,1883
Wed Evening
My dear MyscieYour letter written the 4 & 5th was received this morning.  I am very very tired Myscie or would finish and mail a letter to you tonight .  I have been at work very hard all the week and have felt like turning in very early every evening.  I will finish and mail to-morrow evening (Thurs) Good night
Your loving Joe

Thursday Evening April 12 '83   In our room
My dear true Myscie,
It is a perfect shame that I have neglected you by not writing to you for so long and I am ready and willing to take a good scolding for it because I know I deserve it.  Please forgive me Myscie and I know you will when I tell you all about it.  This letter which I send or which I just am finishing  was begun as you will see by the date over two most three weeks ago or will be when you will have received it so you must read it and "figure back".  I retained it, thinking every day I would have a chance to finish it but such things have hindered.  Now to go back a little while.  The last time I wrote on this letter was one week ago Sunday two days ago. We had just returned from our ride. Well, that night Mr. Brey came and in the morning we boys all went over to his room and pulled him out of bed.  He is a nice fellow and I like him ever so much.  This was  Monday; in the evening I was to finish your letter. I went up town after tea and there saw Mr. Waller. He told me the mill was to start up in the morning and that there was a vacancy.  That I might fill it if I wished, but that it was very hard work and he did not believe that I would be able to stand it.  I told him I wanted to try and believed I could carry it through.  He said all right and to be on hand at 7o'ck in the morning.
I had made no preparations so had to go right off that evening and buy a pair of working gloves a heavy pair of shoes "stokics" I call them and some corse[sic] stockings. By the time I finished up my shoping and got home I found it time to go to bed. I thought about your letter but said to myself I will finish it to-morrow night; it will only be one day later.  Tuesday came, I went to work came home tired.  Ed said he wanted to put the carpet down in the room that evening so of course I had to help him.  He had the room all cleaned and papered; very pretty paper with rich heavy border.  When I had finished and got the carpet down to last up, I was tired enough to kill.  I laid right out on my back on the floor and Ed went off and left me.  I found if I did not look out, I would be fast asleep in no time, so I got up, put on my jacket and hat and went to the house and got into bed, about as soon as I coul,  inspite of my desire to finish up your letter and send it off that night.  Wed came and the evening I got out your letter, pen and ink, sat down to the table to write.  Earl and Ray sat out on one hammock, Ed and Minnie on the other and Bell up to the store with George and I sat there alone in the dining room with my head on my arm thinking about you.  My dear girl how I wanted you there; picture after picture; castle after castle I say untill Sallie tapped on the window and asked me what I was thinking about This awoke me from my dream land of paradise and I found I had been a sleep there on my arm on the table for an hour or more.  I tried dear Myscie to get up courage to start to write, but I was too tired; more tired than I ever was in my life before.  Thursday came, evening, I could not; Friday evening came and I had to help move the things up to the room.
Tired, tired, no name for it.  I had never in my life worked so hard or been so tired.  I thought I was strong and tough, but I knew I had found my equal this time, yet I hated to give up and cry baby and I was bound not to if I could possible stand it.  I would come home at night, eat my supper and go directly to bed as soon as I could; get up the next morning and get my own breakfast before anyone was up; pack my dinner pail and start off a mile to the mill.  This lasted untill Monday morning about 9.30 o'ck when I strained my back and I was obliged to call for help.  The foreman was very kind to me which was something strange for he has the name of being a hard man to work under and if they don't come up to the "letter" he "bounces" them at the slightest provocation and gets someone else for there are always plenty ready for the jobs at the mill.  He not only gave me an easier bench, but put me where it required experience to fill.  He gave me position as fireman; quite a responsible place and a hard place to fill for one, of no experience.  The greatest amount of "firing" I ever have done I guess has been at your house, looking after the stoves after Jim had retired but NOW I had a more difficult job and I hesitated for a moment for fear I could not fill the requirements.  I knew something about the engine boiler etc for I had learned and drafted plans of them at school, but as for the practical knowledge, it was all (as fore).  Still I thought to myself I can't more than blow the old thing up and bust the engine so relying on my knowledge of the philosophy of the thing I said I would like to try and believed I could "fill the bill" 
I worked one shift (a shift consists of 12 hours work) with one fireman and then went on alone.  I did splendidly they said and I was quite surprised at myself, even for catching on so quickly.  I began work as fireman Monday night at 12 o'ck midnight; my "shift" being from 12 o'ck midnight untill 12 o'ck the next noon.  Then I went home, had supper and went to bed, sleped untill 11 o'ck (about 3 1/2 hours) and then went to work.  This was Mond-night my first shift.  Tuesday afternoon I wanted to write to you after I got home from work, but I was so tired.  I had to go directly to bed.
Mr. Bass had gone out to the Mountains to look after his mine and would not return before Thursday or Friday, so I was all alone.  George gave me your letter and I took it to bed with me and read it.  Oh Myscie, you are so good to write to me even though I have been so negligent and I love you for it.  Myscie, you have written me one or two letters that have made me feel very bad, but I knew something or somebody was the cause, and I have tried to forget them for I know you truly love me and your letters written from your own true self make me so happy Myscie.
Well I must finish telling you about my work.  Tuesday night at 12 I went to my work.  You would have laughed to have seen me trudging off down the valley at midnight with a dinner pail in each hand-one for my midnight breakfast and one for my morning breakfast. Wednesday (next day) received your last letter but was so completely "played out"  I went directly to bed after I got home at noo, thinking perhaps I would wake up about 10 o'ck in the evening and write to you before I went to work but then I did not wake up untill my clock alarmed at 11 so there was no letter written to Myscie.  I felt as bad I know Myscie to think I could not write you as you did, not to hear from me, for I so want you to know that I was not silent because I wished it, but because I was obliged to be and I had fears what might be your thoughts.  Yet I knew you must trust me by this time if ever even though I might be silent for a month.
Well Wed-night I went to my work as usual but before my "shift" was over the next day (Thurs); my back gave way again and now I am "laying off" for a few days for "repairs".  I knew I should have rested the first of the week and let my back get well before starting in again, which if I had, I should probably have been all OK now, but I did not want to throw up my place for I was to get $100.00 a month and that was no small money so I kept on hoping I would feel better the next day, every time I came home.  Mr. Waller the Supt sent me word this PM that when I got well and rested to come back and they would find me some easier place where I would not have to work so hard, so I guess they must like me by that.  I must close now; will write you again tomorrow. Good-night dear;  forgive me won't you for I truly wanted you so to know all the while.  Yet I was truely not able to write.
Your love and true,

Socorro, NM April 15, 1883
Sunday evening
My dear dear Myscie
Your good and loving letters written last Sat & Sun the 7th & 8th came Friday morning the 13th.  I was so glad to get it.  I came home to dinner that day and Ed gave it to me at the table.  I could not resist opening it Myscie dear.  You will pardon me if I don't finish that letter to-night which I began over one week ago won't you.  I am so very very tired, I have been at work today all day.  I have handled 70 tons or 140,000 lbs of ores do-day equal to $2500. in money; silver.  This is what I have to handle most every day.   It is very hard work and I am afraid I can not stand it.  I have to work from 7 to 6 every day, Sundays and all.  It is good pay but I am afraid I shall have to give it up.  My "grit" is good by my back gives out.  I can't stand up straight sometimes and I am so tired when I get home nights.  I can harldy move and want to get right to bed.  I surely will finish your letter tomorrow night  (Monday 16th) and send.  I don not want to send it untill I have a chance to answer your letter written the 4th & 5th, which I will do to-morrow night sure, tired or no tired.  Our home is broken up.  Ray, Minnie and Bell start for the East to-night at 1.30 midnight.  I am too tired to sit up and see them off so I will bid them good-by after I write this, and then go to bed.  The boys Ed, Geo & Earl are to see them off all OK, will write you more about it when I write tomorrow night.  My hands are so lame I can scarcely hold this pen so pardon writing.
Good night dear.
Your true and loving Joe

The Magdalena mining district is located  west of the Socorro Mountain range  and south of the town of Magdalena.  The town  is named for the face of Mary Magdalen which is visible on  the mountain  west of town.

Mining activity southeast of  Magdalena in Kelly had been  in progress for some time since significant ore deposits were discovered in 1866.   Kelly was wild and rugged like most other mining towns.  Jim Leighton, Myscie’s cousin had taken up residence there.We’ve often wished we could have read some of his tales, which Joe Smith  described as being “laugherble” and interesting. While J.E. had been living the sopohisticated life  with his town friends, Jim had fallen right into the  midst of  the booming mining industry.  By the turn of the century, the mining district of Magdalena  boasted  production of nearly $10,000,000.00 in metal ore.  

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

Pictures: (top) Kelly mine works; (middle) stamp mill; (bottom) smelting the ore
All Photos ©J.E. Smith Collection

Editors note: For the past ten weeks, Mountain Mail has had the distinct honor of bringing you the first ten chapters in “Letters To Myscie”, a true love story for the pages of history.  We will be returning to this story starting again in December.  We thank Suzanne E. Smith for sharing this wonderful opportunity to showcase her novel in our paper.  We thank our readers for joining us in the first part of this amazing journey.


  1. I certainly hope Ms. Smith is ultimately planning to publish a compilation of these letters as a book. This is wonderful stuff, and I know there are a lot of people out there who are interested in the history of the old west as well as the romantic aspects of these letters. A published book would broaden the availability of this story throughout the country.

    I look forward to the December installment.

    Paul Underwood, Tecumseh, OK (

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this! I love to see the letters that my great-great-grandfather wrote to my great-great+grandmothe, my namesake!