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Wyoming Cowboy's Letter in 1907

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    Posted 4 years ago

    (813 items)

    Gillette, Wyoming.
    Old Mitten Ranch Oct. 15, 1907
    Dear Friend:-,
    You will no doubt be surprised to receive a letter from this part of the world, and at first will no doubt wonder you is writing it. I hope however that you have not entirely forgotten me, your unruly old Sundayschool scholar. I often think of you Miss Kerkof. When I left home I promised you I'd write you sometime and although I've waited a long time to do so, at last I have determined to fulfil my promise.
    How's everything going in old G.H.? Is there anything in-teresting going on? Is the same lovable old gent superintendent of the Sunday school?My sister told me in her last letter that the church was destroyed by fire. Ill luck was it not. But then it can be rebuilt.
    I'm seventy miles from the nearest town, and one hundred and seventy five from the nearest church. How do you think you'd like that? I'm right in my element now. I'm my own boss. I' see the range foreman once or twice a month. hat just suits me. All I have to do is sit on my horse and ride a-round. I've got a good horse and saddle of my own.
    The weather on a whole is excellent here. We have a feirce storm now and then. In storms we have our hardest work. We must be out night and day till the storm is over, looking out for the stock. But in good weather we have nothing to do but lay around and ride a few miles now and then.
    I can go hunting every day if I wish. I'm about three miles from the timber. There's lot of deer and antelope here. I killed a fine buck antelope the other day. I'm right on the Wyoming and Montana line, a little north of the north fork of Little Missouri River. It's a fine country I think.
    I'm as healthy as can be and weigh nigh on two hundred lbs. You'd laugh to see me, my beard is about an inch long.
    Are you quite well and your mother is she healthy? I'd like to see you now, and all my friends. But I'll be back again sometime.
    I hope you'l excuse my writing with pencil. You must remember I'm not sitting at a Mahogany desk. I'm sitting far away on the broad prairies as I write.
    How is the weather over home? The worst weather in this country is in the months of Jan. Feb. and Mar. Last spring we had snow storms as late as June. But from July to the later part of Dec. we have our nicest weather. It's as warm here to day as a July day.
    Did you have a good time at the Sunday school picnic or did you go? I'd like to have been there.
    Do you ever think of me Miss Kerkof. I think of you often. It alway makes me think un-happy to think how unruly I used to be, when you were trying so hard to learn me some good. But it's past and cannot now be undone. All I can do now is ask your forgiveness. If I could do it over I assure you I'd not be so unruly. You were very patient with me, and I shall ever remember you for it. I guess however it's to late now to begin over.
    I'm the same old independent fellow I used to be. I sometimes think of trying to be good but then I always think it's no more use, I've been bad too long. Don't you think so?I'll never as long as I live however forget you and the way you tryed to be good for me. I sometimes wish I could get a chance now to listen to your advice. But it's too late now.
    I hope you haven't forgotten me, and it'll give me the greatest pleasure to get from you an answer to this letter. Please answer it will you?
    I haven't heard from my folks for about four months. I wrote to them yesterday. I wrote to John also.I wish he was here. But he will be before very long. He'll soon be nineteen now. And then won't be long more. He and I are a pretty good team, don't you think so?
    Now please answer me and I'll not wait so long next time to write. So now I close remaining as ever
    Your old scholar and true Friend
    Arnie Van Herwynen
    Address Gillette, Wyoming
    Care of the Old Mitten Ranch

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    1. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      It appears that it was addressed incorrectly, and ended up in Pontiac, Mi., instead of Grand Haven, Mi., nearly a month after it was written (Oct. 15 - Nov. 11).
      Clearly he feels regret and loneliness about being "unruly" and away from everyone he knew.
    2. PoliticalPinbacks PoliticalPinbacks, 4 years ago
      What a cool old letter, Wonder why they scratched out Grand Haven and what all the Yo Yos are LOL, (I'm glad you transcribed it TY 4 that)
    3. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      I think Yo is actually %. But that still begs the question, why? What does it mean? He wrote it, as it's in the same pencil as his letter.
      The letter was sent to the wrong address, but the Post Office figured it out and sent it to the correct city (we hope). LOL.
      Technically, the letter is postmarked 5 times. There is also one on the back.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.
      I sent this link to the Wyoming historical society. It's likely it will go un-noticed, but in case they want to read and share it, it's open to them.
    4. PoliticalPinbacks PoliticalPinbacks, 4 years ago
      Post office is getting better last button I received had 3 post marks, The address was perfect however they sent it way out of the way before someone figured it out.
      I would think the W.H.S. may well want the letter for display.
    5. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      Usually, the issue I run into with the USPS is damaged packages.
      The letter will reside here, as it would almost certainly be filed away there like most relics are in museums. I was just thinking that maybe they'd like to share the transcription on one of their sites.
    6. PoliticalPinbacks PoliticalPinbacks, 4 years ago
      Seeing some of the hidden video of the handling room I can't even guess how things get damage LOL but I've been lucky I recon not one item damaged coming or going, It would be kinda cool to see one of your letters on there site.. Immortal hehe
    7. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      I'm sure they're gentler people in there than in some rooms.
      I bought this in a small lot today. Also have a few more letters, including a short one from 1859.
    8. PoliticalPinbacks PoliticalPinbacks, 4 years ago
      The year Lincoln was running for President cool that could have some interesting reading have you looked it over yet?
    9. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      It's very short and is written to a child. Nothing too exciting on it. LOL.
    10. clmason456 clmason456, 4 years ago
      Oh, to the beautiful art of letter writing. This took me back to letters my Grandmother used to write me, as a child. We have lost so much of that. Thanks for sharing. I now plan to revive that with my own grandchild.
    11. Gillian, 4 years ago
      This guy has very good handwriting although it seems not too much 'schooling'. This Sunday school teacher meant a lot to him.

      Thank you for sharing it.

    12. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      clamason456, I'm glad it positively impacted you.

      Gillian, I'd think he completed most if not all the normal schooling for his day. It was kind of sad to read, though, as he feels a lot of regret.
    13. katherinescollections katherinescollections, 4 years ago
      Thanks so much for sharing this letter, it was wonderful reading, made me very thoughtful in so many directions. BTW, for you and PP, that symbol is "in care of," or as my keyboard would have it, c/o. :)
    14. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      Thank you very much, KatherinesCollections.
    15. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      He set the scene in an alright manner. When I write letters to personal people, I like to add more detail, though. But there is no set way to write a letter. It is just to let someone read from you.
      As for cursive, they stopped teaching us in elementary in the early 2000s. I figured out how to read it, but I can't write it (like Spanish, I can read it, but I can barely speak it. LOL)
    16. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      The Wyoming Historical Society had some decent interest in seeing the piece. They offered to research it more.
      They did a little digging before extending the offer, and found him to be Adrian Van Herwynen, who received homestead rights in 1915 and 1921. Looks like he settled down.
    17. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      Quick search pulled him up quickly. He died quite suddenly:;

      Birth: 1857, Netherlands
      Death: Oct. 29, 1923
      Shawnee County
      Kansas, USA

      Topeka State Journal, Oct. 30, 1923, page 2:
      Topekan Drops Dead
      Adrian Van Herwynen Dies on Way Home From Visit to Son
      Adrian Van Herwynen, 68, of 321 Jackson steet, dropped dead near Twelfth and High streets Monday night while on his way to the Lowman car line after visiting his son, Adrian Van Herwynen, jr., 1234 Randolph street. Heart disease was responsible for his death, according to physicians. His daughter-in-law, who was accompanying him, had crossed a muddy alley and turned a flashlight back to light his way across. By its rays she observed him lying dead on the ground, where he had fallen.

      Mr. Van Herwynen came to Topeka a year ago from Gillette, Wyo., and had been helping his son, who is a local contractor. He is survived by two sons, Adrian, jr., and John Van Herwynen, the latter of Recluse, Wyo.; two daughters, Miss Nellie Van Herwynen and Mrs. Jennie Grandstass, Osage, Wyo., and one sister, Miss Lena Van Herwynen, Kalamazoo, Mich.
      Cemetery records at the Kansas State Historical Society:
      age at death: 67-9-12
      cause of death: chronic valvular heart
      funeral director: Bomgardner
      interment authorized by Adrian Van Hereynen, Jr.
    18. PoliticalPinbacks PoliticalPinbacks, 4 years ago
      Great news there had a feeling they may love it.
    19. PoliticalPinbacks PoliticalPinbacks, 4 years ago
      Died with his boots on
    20. katherinescollections katherinescollections, 4 years ago
      Interesting, nothing about a wife in there.
    21. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      Kind of sad. Daughter turns around and sees papa dead on the ground!
    22. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      She died painfully almost a decade prior.
    23. PoliticalPinbacks PoliticalPinbacks, 4 years ago
      He went quick anyhow, Heart disease has been the #1 cause of death for a long time, I had a 98% blockage no wonder I was gray just thought I needed more sun LOL
      What did they say caused her death?
    24. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      Now, now, you're not a rain cloud. You shouldn't be gray! (If you needed more sun, you'd be as Casper the Ghost.)
      Strangulated Hernia is what Find a Grave said for his wife's death 9 years earlier.
    25. PoliticalPinbacks PoliticalPinbacks, 4 years ago
      Told them a Heart Cath was a waste of time but it wasn't they fixed me up and the color was back right away.
      Strangulated Hernia surely would be a painful way to go.
    26. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      Almost everyone I know has some form of heart or arterial disease. But I do mostly 'hang' with people 3 - 4 times my age. LOL.
    27. PoliticalPinbacks PoliticalPinbacks, 4 years ago
      Figured you were an "Old Soul" no worries it's not contagious unless they smoke hehe
    28. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      Some do, sadly. Can't ride in the same vehicle with them.
    29. PoliticalPinbacks PoliticalPinbacks, 4 years ago
      Used to ride to school with a neighbor who smoked non stop I felt sick by the time we got there so I started walking to and from school. (up hill BOTH ways LOL)
    30. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      I used to also walk. More because I HATED the bus. LOL.
    31. PoliticalPinbacks PoliticalPinbacks, 4 years ago
      katherinescollections, c/o sure fits better then yo, Thanks
      SB Wait they stopped teaching cursive? no wonder it's a dying art, It won't be long us old folk can use it as unreadable code LOL
    32. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      Political Pinbacks, they began to teach us here, then stopped, as they decided it has no practical use anymore.

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