[Primarily Arizona, Colorado, and Montana: 1893-1932]. 101 letters, totaling 379pp., plus several other miscellaneous related documents. Mostly folio and octavo sheets, most letters with original envelopes. Old folds, some light wear and soiling. Very good. Item #1273
A large archive of over 100 letters, primarily written by brothers Nelson and Claude Logue to their parents, together with letters written by Claude's wife Margaret. The Logues were a Colorado family, and both of the brothers were involved in some way with the mining industry in the West. They write from locations such as Anaconda, Montana; Denver and Alma, Colorado; and Hayden, Arizona, back home to their parents, Reuben and Ida, in Aspen.
Nelson W. Logue (1874-1944) attended the Colorado School of Mines, graduating in 1897, and embarked on a career as a mining engineer. The archive contains several letters written home from school, but most of Nelson's letters date from 1914 to 1932 when he was working at Hayden, Arizona for the American Smelting & Refining Company as their chief engineer. There are forty-two letters from Nelson (168pp.) in the archive. His brother, Claude L. Logue (1876-1959), worked as an assayer and mining engineer, working in Montana, Nevada, and Colorado (28 letters, 67pp.). His wife, Margaret M. Hamilton Logue (1878-1946), was born to Scottish parents who emigrated to Colorado in 1880 (31 letters, 144pp.).
The first seven letters, and the earliest in the archive, are written by Nelson, dated 1893 to 1897, during his time as a student at the Colorado School of Mines. He writes to his parents relating the events at school and how he is progressing. He also asks about events at home. Many of his letters throughout are filled with descriptions of the countryside and events. By May of 1897 Nelson is finishing up his education and begins to look for work. Around 1914, Nelson took a job with the American Smelting & refining Company in Hayden, Arizona. In a letter dated May 6th of that year, he describes his work and elaborates on a day trip he took through the desert countryside, describing it in poetic detail:
"I am going to write you a little letter tonight even if I do not have any news to write. I have been so busy lately that when night comes I am all tired out. The hot weather is here now and it seems to take all of my steam. I guess that they are going to build a power house here and I have been working on that for quite a while. Also, a lot of new houses had to be designed and many other things all seemed to come at once. I wish the rush of work had come during the cool weather as then it would have been a lot easier. ... I have not had many trips late as it has been so dry. About 2 weeks ago I decided to take a trip over to a range of hills about 3 miles south of the Gila. It was a fine day and I took a lunch and 2 bottles of water and started out. I went down past the pump station and watched them digging the new well which is nothing but a long deep trench about 35 feet deep and 600 feet long. It is dug by a crane that moves along a track at the side. They used a dipper bucket that would grab up a ton of rocks and dirt and then swing around and dump it on the side of the cut.
After I watched this a while I came to the mouth of the San Pedro and took off my shoes and waded awhile. The water was low and clear and I could see lots of little fish but no big ones. On the other side of the San Pedro is a big ranch and I sat down under a big Cottonwood at the edge of an alfalfa field and rested my eyes on the green expanse. On the other side of the tree was a ditch that made a pleasant sound and the birds helped to make the scene all the more pleasant. My eyes just seemed to relax with relief when I looked out on the field. On the other side of the ditch was the primeval desert untouched by man… After I rested there quite a while I struck out for the mountains. I found a low smooth rolling ridge that led in that direction and I followed it all the way. It was smooth gravel and easy walking. The day was bright but not too hot and all the desert seemed to be at its best. All kinds of birds were calling to each other. Overhead wheeled in stately circles many buzzards. Myriad of lizards scuttled away and every little way I would start up a rabbit. The cottontails would scurry away panic stricken but the big lean Jacks would seem to run like gray ghosts slow yet swift and silent. And every little way I would find a bird nest cunningly hidden in a thorny cholla."
He writes a similarly descriptive letter in March of 1916, having gone for a drive with some friends to a ranch. "Last Sunday I went up to Copper Creek with some friends here who have a lease on a little prospect. They had a Ford come down from Mammoth to take us up. ... When we got up to a place called Fildman we stopped to fill the canteens and there was the finest ranch I had seen yet. Great fields of green bordered with tall cottonwoods in leaf. A little further on we passed a little ranch with some fruit trees in full bloom and mass of pink. At the Aravaipa we passed a big corral filled with cattle to be branded and there were about a dozen real cowboys with their chaps and all the rest of the outfit. It was a real western picture and I surely enjoyed it. After a few miles we came in sight of Mammoth and could see the sleepy little old town in the big trees."
Homesick for mountains and trees and greenery, Nelson begins to look for work elsewhere in 1926, though the remainder of the letters present here (through 1932) are datelined at Hayden. In April he writes about a visit to Globe and the sad state of copper mining: "…We went to Globe on Tuesday & came back next day. Ida is trying to sell her place there and it looks as if she could do so soon. Globe is surely dull and quiet now – no business and no new work. Copper is going down & will stay down for a long time I believe. The road was bad most of the way but the hills were green and flowers everywhere & lots of birds. Last Saturday I went to Sasco & Silverbell to pick out some stuff from the old plants. Went up to the mine at Silverbell and it is almost a deserted camp. Lots of machinery rusting away and building falling down but that is what will happen to all of these places someday. The S.P. is building a spur from the lime quarry up to the slag dump and will take most of the dump for ballast. It makes a little life for awhile but things are surely slow around here."
Most of Claude's letters are shorter and to the point. The first two are dated at Anaconda in 1903, though the remainder are from locations in Colorado during the 1920s. On September 12, 1920, he writes from the mines at Alma of his success:
"I sure have a splendid showing in our mine after three days work in the bottom of the shaft. Have opened up 3 ft. of carbon, 6 ore averages $20.00 with some galena ore that I have sent to Denver that I expect to run close to $75.00 per ton. My chances never looked better than do at the present moment. But I sure have worked hard and lost many a night sleep this summer. I took a chance and went down this old shaft that has not been worked since ’84. I knew that Wheeler will stay with me and if he does I will make a mine out of it. Now have the old shaft timbered with hoist up and everything complete with a good vein of ore to follow. So, do not worry about me I am going to put up the fight of my life and there ‘ain’t no such animal’ as lose out."
In March 1927 he relays news received from his brother, echoing concerns over the copper industry: "Received a nice letter from Nelson. See where they are laying off men by the hundreds in the copper camps. I think we are going through a panic right now myself." The next month he relates news of a tragedy on the job and the death of a couple of the miners: "There were two men killed in the South London the other day. Were riding up on a small bucket with a long piece of pipe 20 ft long in the bucket and it caught on the side of the shaft and broke the wheel above and all dropped 100 ft. They also had a box of powder in the bucket but it did not go off. One of the men had a family living in Alma with 5 little children. They were killed instantly and they say every bone in their body was broken."
His wife's letters are more descriptive, filling in the details of everyday life. Writing from Anaconda in November 1902, describing what her arrival in Montana and impressions of the town, Margaret writes:
“I arrived in Anaconda on Wed. evening about 6 o’clock. The little station of Silver Bow was such a dreary little place, and I stayed there just long enough to worry myself sick for fear Claude might not be on hand to meet me. … Silver Bow is 7 miles from Butte but you can see the smoke of Butte plainly from there. There seems to be no snow in Montana yet. As I came into Anaconda I saw the smelter where Claude works, all lit up - it was a grand sight. … The moment I stepped upon the platform I saw Claude’s face all grin and mustache, we went uptown and had supper, then to the street car and rode out to the house. The house is certainly lovely - everything is strictly first-class, and clean as a pin. Two things I must get used to, no three things, soft coal heaters, lamps and no hot water.”
In 1904 the family moves to Butte, and Margaret describes the process of finding a house to rent and relocating the family and their possessions. Beyond the first early letters from Montana, most of the letters are dated after 1917 when the family had moved back to Colorado. Much of Claude's time seems to have been spent away at the mines or out of town, and Margaret writes in 1917 of the hardship of looking after the family on her own. Writing on January 19, 1917, she says:
"As for myself it is more like a nightmare & I am glad it has passed, for until you folks came and papa relieved me of all the outdoor work, it was one continual round of the most strenuous labor for me. If I went into the woods it was on a frantic search for the cow or calf, the pump & fences were only in place a few months before you came. Then there was the crows in the corn and all the weeding of that garden. ... all the care of the milk, cream, churn & butter, shelling corn & feeding the animals, shovelling manure, carrying wood (the wheelbarrow had only been there a short time), water from the spring until May before you came - all of this besides the cooking, washing & anything else which I may have done (& mostly didn't) indoors, and always always reams of letters to write for Claude at night - oh horrors!"
She likewise conveys news of family and friends, as well as other tidbits. She is often blunt and outspoken, and comes across as rather modern, lamenting at one point about how she's getting too fat for her clothes. Taken altogether, the archive provides a broad yet detailed perspective of life for a western mining family in the early 20th century, complete with the domestic side of life from a woman's perspective. Worthy of further research.