Phoenix & Yuma: 1898-1906. Six letters, totaling pp., plus three additional letters dated 1914 from Franc's husband, pp. Quarto on folded folio sheets. Old fold lines, minor wear. Very good. Item #1950
A small group of letters written over the course of several years from a niece to her aunt and cousin, with both writer and recipients located in Arizona. The family seems to have been fairly well off, with talk of trips to the California coast and time spent at curative hot springs, as well as household staff. The younger woman, named Margarette, writes chatty, well-spoken letters full of interesting details. Her first, dated at Phoenix in 1898, counsels Aunt May on the benefits and downsides of renting out her house -- possibly a second home, as it would require furnishing -- for part of the year. She encourages Aunt May to simply stay with them when visiting and sell the other house. She writes, "We will be very likely to be home in March, or April at latest, and are going to have an Indian girl at once; so there isn't any reason why you can't stay with us."
In 1902, Aunt May's husband died, and two of the letters here are single-page condolence notes. Margarette writes, "Be very careful and [do] not get sick yourselves," indicating he died of something contagious. In 1904, Margarette was tasked with closing up Aunt May's house, apparently while she and Franc went on an extended trip. She writes from Phoenix:
"Do not trouble yourself about the things you left for me to do.... I think I sent you all the things you mention as well as some you did not. The shoes which were new; and the stockings also, I put in the express package; as I thought you would surely want them. I packed the broken and whole negatives carefully, and am sure they will go all right; also the Indian pictures. I saw Franc's postal card albums in the library at your house when I was up there; shall they be taken to the block."
She continues, discussing specific items which might need to be taken care of. At one point she says, "Do not try to do anything at all over there, until you are rested," and writes with concern about the state of their nerves and physical health. Indeed, the family seems prey to all manner of illness, with Margarette's mother's rheumatism and neuralgia, her aunt's frayed nerves, her cousin's poor heart and kidneys, and finally her husband, who suffers from a serious but unidentified illness. She writes of him in 1904, "I think Jed will go on a trip to Tonto Basin via Globe taking Kitt with him; and be gone three or four weeks, and while they are gone Mama and I will sew like smoke." In her next letter, dated at Yuma in 1906, however, she is writing about packing up her own house with the goods to be held in a warehouse awaiting a destination for delivery. She writes of her husband, "Jed is getting better slowly but is quite weak; has to have only liquid food, and care all the time. But he has a good nurse and every attention." In November, she writes of a tortured summer: "...we had all been almost without sleep, since Jed was taken sick. So while he was gone up the coast we tried to make up and couldn't sleep, especially me. Then when Jed came back, and we all went to Long Beach, we were up so many times in the night rubbing him and waiting on him; and he seemed so hopelessly sick and getting worse all the time; and was so sure himself that he was going to die.... Then I had retroversion and sciatica and headache; and had to go to the osteopath myself. I can't afford to get sick with Jed so miserable and Mama so lame."
She mentions small details of daily life throughout her letters, but the two written from Yuma in 1906 are the most interesting. In her letter from January she writes, "We have a fair cook, and I make the desserts. The kitchen would turn your hair white, but you mustn't go there. The burglar makes beds and sweeps etc. I have no housework to do. It isn't done as I want it but I let it go. You see it is this way: either I have the prison help or none; and I have graduated from housework in Arizona. Then they are all so nice to me, that I shut my eyes to their shortcomings in the housekeeping." Her letter from opens by asking Aunt May, "What are you'uns up to? 'Fess right up.' I hear that you have 'the making of an Indian training school at your house'; How are you getting on with your Pimas." She subsequently writes, "They say there will be a boom in real estate in Salt River pretty soon, but the only thing that I can hear booming yet, is the Colorado River and Vinia's cough. ... Jed was anxious to make a flying trip to Phoenix this week coming. But the Gila bridge is gone; and there has been no Phoenix mail for two days; so he must needs delay the journey. I am glad he can't go yet, though I'm sorry of course that they've lost the bridge."
Altogether, the group is an interesting look at one woman's frontier life in Arizona Territory at the turn of the 20th century, as told to a close relative who has also moved to the region.