From Florence Simmons Lyon to her sister-in-law Nellie Pringle Simmons
Comments: The baby here was named Curtis Lyon; he was born 15 February 1893, the son of Florence Simmons Lyon (Frank's little sister) and her husband, Horace Lyon. I imagine that Blanche Lyon was Horace's sister, although I'm not sure. Curtis's birth is briefly mentioned in this letter.
Florence mentions that the doctor charged $30 and remarks that the cost of his follow-up visits and medicines was "in perfect harmony with that item." Thirty dollars in 1893 money is approximately $700 today.
In the fourth-to-last paragraph, Florence mentions the baby who was presumably her namesake, Florence Ellen Simmons, Frank and Nell's daughter. She was born in 1891 and died in December 1892.
Here is a scan of this letter.
* * *
Phoenix, Ariz. Apr. 16 - 1893.
My dear Nell: -
I was just thinking I would make it a point to answer your first letter right away, when the second one came. I was down town yesterday and had to wait a while for Horace and so the baby and I read your letter while we were waiting.
I go to town quite often now and take the baby's carriage along on the car, so when we get to the city we are independent. Sometimes I only go to the store and sometimes we make three or four visits in an afternoon. I have returned ever so many calls in the last three weeks, and have a good many more to make. Have fixed up my clothes and have a lovely new hat, and Horace presented me with new shoes and gloves the first time I went to town so that I feel very nice and fresh indeed.
The baby is so good. I had no idea of how little care a healthy baby is. He never thinks of crying at night or any other time unless he is hungry - he only nurses every 2 1/2 or 3 hours now. If he has ever had the colic I didn't know it. The morning that he was 8 weeks old he looked so big while I was washing him that we couldn't resist weighing him and found his weight to be an even 15 pounds. Don't you think he will come close to 20 pounds by the time is 3 mo? He changes so in appearance from week to week and I change my opinion of him so often that I have never described him twice alike to any one. Just now I have made up my mind that he is not a very pretty baby, but has a charm about him from being so strong & healthy and good natured. He is all boy I assure you. He lies in his cradle talking and kicking most of the time. We find it a great deal of fun to talk to him, he talks back so interestedly - He looks so sweet and bright in the little cloak you sent that I can't resist the temptation to put it on him every time I take him out. He is so strong I can hardly get him to lie quietly on my lap any more. He raises himself alone almost to a sitting position but I try to keep him down all I can.
Horace says to tell you to "come down and get warm." We have had three days of 98 degrees and I think the mercury reaches 90 degrees nearly every day for a few hours. Worst of all - the snakes have returned to spend the summer with us again. Horace and I were coming from the well to the house last night at dusk and met one wending his way after a drink I supposed - but Horace despatched him.
Horace's milk trade has increased so, and he does not have enough milk to supply regular customers, and wished to enlarge the business, so has bought the stock and dairy fixtures of the cheese factory, renting the land (160 A) on which these buildings are. There are 96 milk cows there, and cheese house with engine & all machinery for making butter & cheese on a large scale. It is a big thing but I guess we shall manage. He will continue to run the milk route and sell all the milk possible - can probably sell twice the butter or cheese. The place is 2 1/2 miles from here, about 4 miles from town, and positively the worst looking place you can imagine. The family residence is a low board shanty of 3 small rooms all lighted by one small window. The house appears not to merely rest on the ground, but to be thrust down into the dirt. It sits in the middle of a large yard of bare dirt, in which no blade of grass or living green thing is seen. No shade any where near the house - house unpapered, bare unplaned boards inside. They move our cows and cans etc., out in the morning, and Horace and his 5 men take immediate possession. As our time is not out on this place for two mo & some one must stay here, Blanche & I have taken that part of it. So they will "batch" for a while out there - and it is likely that Horace will make some arrangement for the men to cook for themselves anyway - Every working man here has cooking for one of his accomplishments, and it is quite the custom on the large ranches for the men to take care of themselves all thru the summer, there will be from 2 to 4 or 5 extra men, cleaning ditches, haying at various times, etc.
I forgot to say that the air fairly swarms with flies for a mile in every direction from that place. The man owning the place lives in California and will not spend a cent on improvements. Of course we can plant vines & shrubs at no expense except the work and it is likely we will paper the house & paint the wood work (as we have done at our own expense in this house) and so make it a trifle more habitable.
Apr. 18. Nell, the men are moved, with all the cows and things. Blanche, I and the baby kept house here last night. Horace has been dashing back and forth to town. He goes past here and sometimes stops for a drink. The men are going it alone out there, cooking for themselves and eating among the flies. They sleep out of doors (as they continue to do from now on). The other family of 9, are still occupying part of the house. They will probably get away this week & as soon as they are gone Blanche and I are going out and clean up & poison a few flies. Horace threatens to screen in 40 A. We can at least afford mosquito netting at doors & windows.
I tried a little experiment the other day with Curtis and a photographer, but the result is not particularly pleasing. I send you the proof. The features are splendid - it shows his big nose to perfection, shape of his head, mouth, chin, etc., but looks a little stupid, because he was waked out of a 2 hours sleep for it, & was still more than half asleep. I like it very well, and it looks sweet to me, but Horace and Blanche want him to be laughing, so I guess I will wait a little while & have him sit again; he's too young anyway, for such an operation just yet. Tell Francis & Georgie that Curtis and the St. Bernard dog both send their love to them. Blanche has 72 little chickens.
In settling up with Dr. McIntire, he charged $30 for the day he spent here, and the rest of his bill, for other visits and medicine, was in perfect harmony with that item. However Curtis has paid for himself 1000 times in sweetness.
I thought of little Florence on her birthday, and thought too of the first time I saw her - lying on your arms.
Am glad you are going to have Stella this year. I think she has so many admirable qualities - I got to thinking a great deal of her, and even of poor little Freddie - He was such a good little chap, and real sweet too.
Horace & I went to church on Easter, B. staying at home with the baby. It was our first attendance since Xmas. I didn't know Carrie had a little girl - In fact I didn't realize that she had been married that long.
Horace so often says he wishes Frank could see this country. He is so sure he would like it. It is surely a fine place to make money, and money invested in almost any way brings in large returns.
* * *