Archives for posts with tag: mystery
Dear Readers, I know I signed off earlier this month. But would like to share this new information with you, courtesy of the University of Montana Archivist Donna McCrea, who has been doing some research since I turned over the diaries:
“From the 1930 Census. Ruby Scofield Doyle was the wife of Thomas J. Doyle. According to the 1919 Missoula City Directory T. J. Doyle was ranching at Clearwater at that time. Dorma Doyle was born March 16, 1922. She married Harold A. Hardy on June 18, 1947 in Kalispell. Hardy died in 2001. They had no children (at least none that the funeral home knew about.) There was only a death notice, not an obit for Harold.
Dorma was listed in the city directory a few years ago (!) but then the trail goes cold. She is not listed in the Social Security Death Index. The funeral home states they have two nieces and a nephew.”
Can little Dorma Ruth still be alive?  She would be 92 years old now!  Does anyone reading this blog have any information?  If yes, we hope she is in Missoula.  Donna would very much like to share these diaries with Dorma or any family members who are interested.  Please contact the U. of Montana Maureen and Mike Mansfield Archives if you have any helpful information.
Your friend and blogger,


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.



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

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


After a long hiatus, here is a special treat: a whole slew of diary entries from our Mystery Writer!


Mon. May 8. 

Got up more tired than we went to bed baby was so fussy all nite.  Snowed all morning so Jay did no go to the field but seeded in p.m.  Geo floated all day.  Dad went up to the head gate & shut down some of the surplus water.  Bert and Wilbur Vaughn were here for hay and dinner.  I did babys washing in afternoon.  Mama fixed window shades in a.m. 

(Blogger’s NOTE: What the heck is “floating?”  Our diarist mentions it a lot in her spring entries.  I found this entry from Herbert A. Shearer, “Farm Mechanics: Machinery and its Use to Save Hand Labor on the Farm.” 1918, Pp 155-6.  “Clod Crusher.  The farm land drag, float, or clod crusher is useful under certain conditions on low spots that do not drain properly.  Such land must be plowed when the main portion of the field is in proper condition, and the result is often that the low spots are so wet that the ground packs into lumps that an ordinary harrow will not break into pieces.  Such lumps roll out between the harrow teeth and remain on top of the ground to interfere with culivation.  The clod crusher then rides over the lumps and grinds them into powder.  Unfortunately, clod crushers often are depended on to remedy faulty work on ordinary land that should receive better treatment.  Many times the clod crusher is a poor remedy for poor tillage on naturally good land that lacks humus”.  Geez, sounds like the land on this ranch might have been worked pretty hard…now back to the entries). 

Tue.  May 9. 22.

 Jay sowed grain & Geo started floating and disking.  Dad looked for a lost sheep and found her.  A young guy stopped for a .25 cent breakfast going up to prospect for fur.  Keagle sent a man over for hay.   Expected to paper but Mama had the headache to(o) bad.  Churned and baked bread.


Wed. May 10.

 We papered the ceiling in a.m. in the front part of house & some of front room in p.m.  Jay and Dad cleaned grain in a.m. & in p.m.  Dad hauled manure & Jay started seeding across the creek & Geo. floated & harrowed.  (crossed out: a fellow was here from)  Baby was good all day.  Keagle came this far and brot the mail.  Dorma got a little bonnet from Clyde and Mary.  Keagle was here for dinner.  Keen wind.

Thur. May 11.

Washed and got thru early.  Man was here from Swan Lake after oats.  Geo. finished acrossed the creek & started to work on the piece acrossed the road.  Jay drilled acrossed the creek.  Dorma 8 weeks old the last day she wore bands.

(Blogger’s note: Wow, this shows a real old fashioned approach to baby management: swaddling bands!)  Here is what they look like:



Fri. May 12.

 Mama & Ruth ironed in a.m. & I cleaned the cupboards.  Cleaned up stairs in p.m.  I washed all the upstairs windows.  Mr. Sparry and Chas. K. were here for dinner.  Wilbur Vaughn was here but did not eat.  Ruth cleaned the milk house.  Dorma cross in p.m.  Mama, Ruth & I took our baths in the evening.

Sat. May 13.

Finished cleaning upstairs.  Scrubbed the kitchen.  Ruth made an angle (sic) food cake and mama made a molasses cake and pie.  Miss Myrtle Swanson came down on the stage to spend Sat & Sun with Ruth.  We all had a good time.  Dorma knew Mama & was so sweet.

Sun. May 14.

 I had a chill in the nite and got up with a headache & feeling pretty bum so went back to bed.  Ruth made ice cream & Jay took his bath.  Dad & Geo. W. went bear hunting & were at Binco’s for dinner.  We had dinner about 2 p.m.  I moped around all day.  Ruth & Geo. took Myrtle home in the evening after supper.

(Blogger’s Note: Bears were an important source of furs, grease, and meat to historic and prehistoric hunters in Montana.  Below is a roast bear recipe courtesy of



How to Roast a Bear


Eating omnivores, like bear,  can give you all kinds of parasites.  It’s best to cook it well done; I used the same temperature guidelines recommended for cooking pork. I cooked a rump roast, but this recipe should work well for any smaller cut of bear.

1 bear roast; 1-4 lbs
Salt and Pepper
1-2 cups mushrooms (or squash, parsnips, etc.  Something earthy and nice)
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Rinse bear meat and part dry.  Cover generously with salt and pepper.
2.  Clarify the butter: heat it in a microwave until it melts, then gently skim off the fatty solids that have separated to the top.  Pour butter into a cast iron skillet, being careful not to disturb any sediment that may have sunk to the bottom.
3.  Heat skillet over high heat.  Place bear in skillet and sear on all sides until browned.  Add mushrooms to the skillet–it’s ok if the bear is buried in shrooms.  They’ll cook down.
4. Move bear directly from stovetop into oven; roast 10 minutes per pound, until a meat thermometer in the center reads 145 degrees.  Remove from oven and allow to rest before carving.
5. In the meantime, make the sauce.  Pour bear drippings from the skillet into a saucepan and add flour.  Cook over medium heat until the flour is browned, then add water while whisking constantly.  Let the sauce cook until it thickens to your desired consistency–anything from a thin sauce to a thick gravy is fine.
6.  Carve meat into one-inch thick slices.  Serve, topped with mushrooms and sauce.


Our first glimpse of Dorma Ruth--and her Mama?

This photo was found in the dumpster along with just a few others. Since the diary entries have been talking about Dorma’s tribulations with colic, I thought it would be nice to see her in a more tranquil pose. Do you think this is her Mama? Or maybe her grandma? I would love to see your comments on this photo, maybe you can help me create a caption for it!