Dear Readers: I’m putting this blog aside now. Got a job in Boise, Idaho and am leaving shortly for a new adventure.

Thanks for hanging in there with me for so long, for your interest and insights and humor. This was my first shot at blogging and you’ve made it special. Please see my earlier posts today for all the remaining photos that were salvaged from the dumpster; they are beautiful, funny, charming, and a little haunting. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

These wonderful diaries, and scans of the photos, now reside in the University of Montana Maureen and Mike Mansfield Archives—forever safe, I hope, from the ignominy of french fry grease and beer bottles in some back-alley dumpster. Please go visit them there, along with a transcript of the first diary. The other three remain untranscribed. 

I would like to thank an anonymous salvager, John at Circle Square Antiques, and Donna at the University of Montana for seeing the value of these diaries and photos.

If anyone recognizes a family member I hope you will contact the University of Montana Archives. If diaries like this were written by my ancestress I know I would certainly wish to read them. 

I confess I am a little teary-eyed as I type this farewell. The mystery and drama of another person’s life and loves, the world she lived in that was so different from ours and yet so alike, really brought me deep into the heart of western Montana. It’s hard to leave. Can you write a love letter to a state? Maybe not. But a love letter to a state of mind; yes I can write that. That was this blog. 

With Love.






Two young gentlemen with their trusty mounts (and an old rattle-trap flivver in the background). I’d take my chances with the horses! The house in the background, with the pasture leading the eye into the low hills and then snow-capped mountains in the distance, are pretty much the soul of western Montana. 



A young lady wagon-driver — in a bonnet. I can’t tell for the life of me what she’s hauling in that wagon, can you? The horses have their nose-bags on, and look pretty contented.



So, I’m guessing that’s Dad and Jay on the left. What could they be hauling in that barrel: molasses? Sorghum? That’s a neat sledge they’re using. Anyhow I think the young lady on the horse is the same who is holding Dorma Ruth on her lap in other photos.



Can this young lady be a cousin to Dorma Ruth?  Or a big sister, a step-sister?  Their comfy pose together suggest family.



–like they used to say in the Jazz Age!  In this photo a somewhat older Dorma Ruth revelling in a pleasant afternoon on the steps getting ‘into’ something delicious. What do you think it is: chocolate cake batter? Maybe some ripe berries?


Dorma Ruth chillin’ out in her high chair in a sunny corner of a quiet room. 



Two young boys are getting some practice holding a very young Dorma Ruth out in the sunshine.  She’s putting up with it well!Image

The first in a series of photos found in the dumpster with our mystery diaries–this one is a real charmer of a baby (let’s just call her Dorma Ruth) sitting peacefully in her special basket.


Ah, spring!  The season when thoughts turn to love…the hired man “Geo. W” shows up at the ranch home of our mystery diarist on May 1st and Dad puts him right to work disking and ‘floating’ as we saw last week.  Well, one minute he’s slaving away in the fields and the next, our diarist’s sister Ruth has him in her sights…


“Tue. May 16.

Dorma was fussy all day long. I felt pretty gad all day so didn’t do much of anything. Jay drilled peas in a.m. & oats in p.m. Ruth worked on a chicken feeder all afternoon & washed our gray waists & a couple of her skirts in gasoline. Dorma 2 mo old & weighs about 10 lbs. Geo. plowed at Drims. Dad & Wilbur Vaughn went to Potomac after grain. I mean to Greenors (Greenough?) Wilbur stayed here all nite. First hens hatching. Dorma 2 mo. old weight 10 lbs.


Wed. May 17.

Baby just fine all morning, so I could help with the housework some & did some ironing. W Vaughn went to Greenoe after our grain and got back for dinner. Mama worked on making over an old dress for Ruth all p.m. Jay plowed up at Drims & Geo. floated & harrowed.

Thurs. May 18.

Ironed in a.m. I washed windows in the front part of the house. Jay drilled up at Drim Place in p.m. & fanned wheat in a.m. Geo. floated & plowed. Hard shower in evening. Ruth pressed Geo. W. clothes and made a cake.


Fri. May 19.

Scrubbed both rooms & Ruth cleaned up stairs. Ruth & Geo. W went to Potomac to a party at Dunbars & did not get home until 3 a.m. the next morning. Rained in the nite. Mr. and Mrs. Parsley came over after the mail in p.m. & made a little visit. Jay & Dad worked up at Drims. Dad got thru about four & plowed the garden.”



Isn’t it nice to picture hardworking single gal Ruth and hired hand Geo. whooping it up till 3 in the morning?  I’ll bet there were some illicit beverages served.  And maybe they danced the Grizzly Bear, a ragtime dance most suitable for Montana!  You can see how it’s done at



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