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Recorded by Helen M. Smith, Field Reporter

I was born in New Jersey, but most of my childhood was spent in New York. I felt that I was really a long way from home when  I came to Arizona to join my brother and father in 1895. I came to Tombstone, where Father was to meet me, in the old stage coach. There was only one passenger beside myself, a man. The driver told me I could sit outside on top, or inside, as I pleased. I looked the whole thing over carefully, and I must say I saw very little choice in the matter. I was of two minds whether to trust myself to the stage at all. However, the ride was uneventful enough when I made up my mind to risk it.

Our arrival at Tombstone was quite embarrassing to me, since the whole town turned out to meet the stage. My folks met me there and we drove out to Rucker. It was a desolate looking country, being the year of the big drought. Cattle were lying everywhere, dead and dying. We used to carry water in our Stetsons to cattle which were down, but it was no use. They seemed to have no heart to try to live, and wouldn’t drink or eat when it was offered.

Living conditions were good enough for that time. Everyone had good stoves, although some of the men cooks still liked to cook in their Dutch ovens. I remember the deep apple pies, made from dried apples, and the biscuits one of our cooks used to make in the Dutch oven. I have never tasted so good since. There were only three permanent wells anywhere around us and water was a real problem. We used to have to haul water, and when the men started out away from the place to work, they were invariably told, “If you want anything to eat when you get back, better haul up some water.”

We got our mail and our provisions about every six months in Tombstone. Later we got to going to Willcox, which was a center for cattlemen. Still later Pearce opened up and we felt almost cosmopolitan.

We saw Indians occasionally, but they were pretty well subdued before I came out. The closest I came to any real adventure with them was at Hunsaker’s farther up the canyon. I had gone up there to spend the night with the family. They had a large, two-story adobe house, with their barn and out buildings across a fairly deep gully. The rest of the household slept downstairs, but the guest room was upstairs in the corner of the house facing the barn. During the night the dogs made a great deal of fuss about the barn, and although the family tried to quiet them several times, they kept it up. There were no animals about the barn except the horse I had ridden, which was in the corral. Things were apparently all right the next morning, but before noon some men rode in who were looking for horses stolen by Indians. They had trailed the Indians to the Hunsaker place. Then everyone noticed moccasin tracks all around the corral. Why they didn’t take my horse I don’t know. I made a great ‘to-do’ about the whole thing to my folks, saying I knew that if the Indians had known I was upstairs in that corner they would have shot me sure. It gave the family a great deal of amusement.

The only amusement we had was dancing. We used to ride to Willcox in a big wagon with a high, backless seat. It was forty seven miles and took all day. Our faces would be pretty well baked after a whole day in the hot sun. We would go to some hospitable home and steam our faces in hot water, apply witch hazel, don our best attire, and dance all night. The music was a fiddle; the one tune was a waltz to which we danced over and over. There were no wallflowers among the girls and women, there being too few for the men anyhow. We all danced every set. At daylight the dance would break up, we would go to some house for coffee and breakfast, and then home. On the way back we would tie the reins to the seat, lie down in the bottom of the wagon, and let the horses bring us home. One of these dances was a great event in our lives and we all enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Later dancing was more often at Pearce and not so far to go for it. Once, shortly after my marriage, there was a dance at Smith’s home in Turkey Creek. That was fairly close to home, and an unusual treat to us.

I had a friend, a Miss Delaney, who took up a homestead a few miles up from our place. She was quite a self-reliant woman, who cut her own posts, dug her post holes, and built her fence. She used to wear a pair of very full bloomers in which to work. This was rather unusual for that time. Women usually dressed quite modestly, even to the full riding habits. We even rode side saddles. Once when I was staying a few days with Miss Delaney as a witness for her to prove up, the government man came out. He was horseback, and it was still quite early in the morning. At the sound of hoofs, Miss Delaney went outside to see who was coming. The government man was riding up at an easy lope, but when he saw her standing in the door in those enormous bloomers he took one startled look and then turned and fled. It struck me so funny that I laughed for half an hour afterward. I told her he would probably come back and that she should put on a dress. She said she had no dresses there and he would just have to talk to her as she was. After a while he did return, riding cautiously this time, and looking the shack over carefully as he came. I went outside and stood by the door. He said nothing about the costume, but he eyed it askance several times while he was talking to her. Everything was all right in spite of it, and the business was soon finished.

I had the first post-office near here. The mail was hauled from Pearce three times a week. It arrived about noon, and so did the neighbors for their mail. Every mail day I had about twenty-five people for dinner; this for about seven years. I kept trying to find someone else who would handle the mail, but with no success. Finally I simply sent the key to Washington and quit handling it.

I have spent forty-one years of my life as a cattleman’s wife, most of which have been uneventful. I enjoy my nice home and car, but I still think those earlier days were the best.

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