Tag Archives: genealogy

My Grandma

This story is about Margaret Ragsdale Caple. Although my aunt says she was born in Kentucky all of her records indicate Missouri as her birth place. The family came to live in Puyallup sometime between 1900 and 1904.  The Puyallup house, in this story, burnt down in the late 1930’s. The G.A.R. home mentioned was the Meeker mansion. Today it has been restored back to to the way it was when it was Ezra Meeker’s home and is a museum.

Margaret Ragsdale Caple with grandchildren in 1923

Margaret Ragsdale Caple with her 5 grandchildren in 1923. Standing in back are Robert Caple and Blanche McKay. The girl standing in front is Iva Caple Bailey and the older baby is her brother, Roger Verle Caple. Margaret McKay is on the right.

My Grandma

by Iva Bailey

I was only twelve when my grandma Caple died, but I have many good memories of her.

For the first eight years of my life, grandma lived right next door to us in Puyallup. We all lived on 16th street, south-east, in what was then called Meeker Junction.

The house grandma lived in was a large, two-story, white house with a big bay window in the living room that grandma called the parlor. There was a porch that went almost all the way around the house. This was the home my dad grew up in and the house that was for a short time, my second home.

My grandfather Caple had died in 1920 when I was only two years old. I really couldn’t remember him but his memory seemed to live on in the house too.

Grandma had snappy brown eyes and long beautiful hair when it was combed out she could sit on it. She would let me brush and comb her hair, then she put it up on her head with big, bone pins and pretty combs. To me she was beautiful.

Even though grandma was born in Kentucky, she was of English parentage and she was an avid tea drinker. She and I had many tea parties, complete with Johnny cakes, as she called the little cakes she made. I remember, in particular, the sassafras tea she would make for us.  It tasted so good to me then.

Years later, when I was grown up, I bought some sassafras bark and made some tea, but it didn’t taste the same as grandma’s.

The feather bed she had brought with her from Missouri, in the covered wagon. How I loved to spend the night with grandma and sleep in the big feather bed. In the morning there would be sunken spot where we had slept. She would let me help her fluff and make up the bed again.

When I was about eight, grandma traded the big white house in Puyallup for a house in Orting, which was about ten miles away from Meeker Junction. She was a Civil War veteran’s widow and as such was entitled to commodities. To get the commodities she had to live in Orting where there was a colony of soldier’s widows. There was then, and still is, a soldiers home there.

Once a month the army officials would deliver grandma, coffee, tea, sugar and other staples. To grandma on her small widow’s pension, this was a big help.

I can remember how really upset I was by this move. Grandma traded houses with a lady by the name of Mrs. Zettiker. I didn’t like this lady. She had taken my grandma’s house away from us, or so I thought in my childish mind. I can remember my dad trying to explain to me that it was to grandmas best interest that she make this move.

Mr. Zettiker came and she changed grandma’s house. She put a bathroom in the room that had been my play house. She tore off the big porch that my cousins and I had played on when it rained. All this didn’t make me like her any better. I was glad she never lived in the house. She rented it out and I had several “best” friends there during my growing up years.

I would visit grandma every chance I had, which was pretty often. Dad worked in the logging camp which was above Orting, so he would take me along often, when he went to work, and I would spend the day or week-end with grandma. We had some good times together, grandma and I.

It was the summer before I was twelve that will always live in my memory. Grandma had gotten up early one August morning to water her garden. She left me sleeping in the big feather bed that she and I loved so much. In a short time she was back. She was talking to me but I couldn’t understand her. She lay down on the bed beside me and I knew something was wrong. I don’t even remember getting dressed, but I guess I did. I ran to the neighbors and hysterically told her that something was wrong with my  grandma.

The neighbor helped me call my dad in Puyallup. We had no telephone at home, so I had to call a neighbor who got Daddy to the phone. I was so hysterical by the time Daddy got to the telephone he could hardly understand all that I was trying to tell him. He knew something was wrong with grandma.

 By the time my mother and dad got to us, grandma was in a coma. She had a stroke and never regained consciousness.

They moved her to the G.A.R. home in Puyallup. There she died a few days later on August 5th, 1930. She was seventy-two.

She was laid to rest with my grandfather in the Orting Soldiers cemetery on August 8th, which happens to be my dad’s birthday. It seemed to me then, that part of the light had gone out of my world.Headstone-Caple, Margaret Malinda (Ragsdale)

Movies Of Days Gone By

cinematographic camera with cinema icon vector illustration design

This short piece on movies of long ago was in the envelope along with the previous posted story “Grandmas Do Wear Pants.”

Movies Of Days Gone By

by Iva Bailey

Yesterday, the second day of 1988, I sat watching some old silent movies on the television with my two granddaughters, April and Johni. The girls thought they were really funny. I suppose to young people who have never known anything but wide-screen talking movies they do seem a little odd.

My earliest memories of going to the movies were at the old Dream Theater in Puyallup. The theater wasn’t very big and was only open on Saturday and Sundays. It was heated by a big old wood heater. If you got there early you would freeze until the fire got going good and before the movie was over you would be roasting. We would start out by setting down in front by the heater and gradually move back as the heat got to us. There was a pipe organ that was played all during the movies. As the excitement on the screen built up, the music would get louder and louder. I remember how I would set close to my dad, so he could read the conversation flashed on the screen. It was much easier for all concerned when I was old enough to go to school and learned to read for myself. I especially like the dog stories and Rin-Tin-Tin was my favorite.

When I was older and could attend the movies by myself or with a friend, there were serials that were continued from week to week and would always end at the most exciting spot, that kept us saving our nickles so we could go week after week. Sometimes we could talk the doorman into letting us in for free. Then we could buy a bag of popcorn or a candy bar. Nickles were hard to come by in those days.

Later on when the talking movies came in, another theater opened up. It was called the Liberty. This theater was larger and more elaborate. The Liberty is still there but the old Dream Theater has been gone a long time.  The town wasn’t large enough for two theaters after television came in.

Once in a while now when some movie is supposed to be special, Jack and I go, but they just aren’t the same. They leave nothing to the imagination, they tell it all.  The old movies, April and Johni and I saw on television may have been funny to them, but to me they brought back memories.

Grandma’s Wash Tubs

 

Laundry drying on the rope outside

The Grandmother in this story is Martha Smith Phillips. She was born in 1877 in Tama County, Iowa. Her family moved to the Black Hills in the 1880’s and she worked in a laundry for a short time in Riverdale, Wyoming before marrying Alexander Phillips. She passed away in 1973.

Grandma’s Wash Tubs 

By Iva Bailey

When I go to do my wash in these days of automatic washer and dryers, I think of my Grandma Phillip’s wash tubs. They were two big galvanized tubs, one for washing the other for rinsing. They sat side by side on a bench in the kitchen close to the wood range, where the water was heated in a wash boiler.

In my earliest memories the tubs had to be filled from the water heated on the stove. Later coils were put in the stove and a tall range boiler or tank,as we called it, stood in the corner and was connected  to the coils in the stove. Grandma thought then, that she was special to have such a luxury.

Grandma always washed on Monday. The clothes were scrubbed on a wash board. If they were really dirty they were then boiled on the stove in the boiler after which they were put in a tub of bluing water to rinse.

Grandma liked windy days to wash clothes.The wind would blow them dry faster and they would smell fresh.They were hung on the line with round-top peg clothespins.They didn’t have the spring kind until later. They were better because they wouldn’t fall off the line. The whites were always as white as snow waving in the breeze.

Tuesday was ironing day. She never put off ironing like I do when I wash clothes in my automatic washing machine. It is so easy to put it off, I hate to iron. Grandma liked to iron. She had two flat irons she heated up on the stove. She always tested it with a wet finger. If it sizzled it was just right for ironing. She ironed with one a while then, the other heated one. She especially liked doing up, as she called it, the white men’s shirts. She had worked in a laundry in South Dakota in her earlier days and was never happier than when she was ironing.

Grandma also used her tubs for baths before bath tubs. She also used them for canning fruits and vegetables. The jars were washed and sterilized, filled and cooked in the jars. I remember green beans always took a long time. It was a hot job in the heat of the sun and the heat of the stove.

Grandma Phillips lived to be ninety-six and before her life ended, she had some of the conviences of modern-day, but I think the happiest days were the days she would hang her sparkling white clothes on the line to dry.

An Unforgettable Experience

Here is another logging camp story written by my Aunt about her family’s move to Kinzou, Oregon. Today it is considered a ghost town. It existed as a company town from 1927 until 1978.

An Unforgettable Experience

by Iva Bailey

One day in the summer of 1928 our family, my dad, my mother, my brother and my-self set out on a trip to Oregon. Our destination was a new logging camp opening up in the Blue Mountains near Condon, at least this was the largest town I can remember near the camp.

My mother had asthma and the doctor had told daddy that a high dry climate might help her, and Kinzou was that.

My dad had been preparing for this trip all winter. He had built a cupboard that fit on the running board of our model T Ford. In this cupboard, my mother put all the staples we would need in our long camp-out on the way to Oregon.

To us this was a long trip, as most of our trips up until then had been to logging camps surrounding the Puyallup Valley.

My mother had made us blouses and skirts out of some kind of khaki colored material that would not show the dirt, because it would be hard to wash clothes on the road. I can remember those clothes so well. They weren’t very glamorous but they were serviceable. We had a new tent and daddy had made us beds out of canvas that he set up on blocks of wood we would pick up after we got there. They rolled up so they wouldn’t take up much room. I can’t remember too much about how they were made and I can’t remember being uncomfortable.

We started out from Puyallup one morning right after school was out so it must have been in early June. We went as far as Winlock, Washington which is probably about 60 miles from Puyallup. We had friends who lived there so we stayed over-night with them.

The next night I remember we stayed in Vancouver, Washington. We weren’t traveling very fast but with our model T and the load we had that was fast. I can remember going through Portland. This was the first time I had been out of the state of Washington and going across the Columbia river into Portland, Oregon was something to see. The Columbia river was quite a bit larger than the Puyallup river where we lived.

We must have camped at several places before we finally got to Condon. I can remember Condon though because the trees and everything were so different from the ones we had around Puyallup. It was very hot and dusty.

In Condon daddy bought us a little stove. He hadn’t wanted to carry one all the way from Puyallup and take up our precious space in the car. We bought the food supplies we would need before we went up into the hills to the camp.

The road up to the camp was narrow and rough. If we didn’t stay in the tire tracks we would get stuck in the sand. I can remember one place on the road in particular because it scared me to death every time we went on it.

The model T was really quite top-heavy with our cupboard on the side of the car filled with staples and all our other gear. This place in the road slanted into a canyon. We would have to all get on the other side of the car to keep the car from going down into the canyon.

We finally got to the camp and looked around for a place to set up for the summer.

Daddy had told me there would be rattle snakes there so I was looking for them, I sure didn’t want him setting our tent up on a snake. I can’t really remember seeing one but I imagined a lot.

This was a new camp and they were still building. My dad got a job unloading bricks from a rail road box car. It was a hard job but my dad being a logger was use to hard work.

I can’t remember to many things that happened in particular while we were there but there were a few unforgettable experiences.

There was a mill-pond where they dumped the logs they brought out of the woods. It was hot there and the people, especially the kids, would swim in the pond. Verle, my brother and I couldn’t swim but were allowed to wade close to the shore. On this day Verle went too far out and was climbing on a log when it rolled. He went under the log and I started screaming. There was a man close by and he pulled him out. I was sure scared and watched him a lot closer after that.

I can remember another day when dad decided we would go into town for some supplies. There was a company store in the camp but the prices were higher than they were in town, and you didn’t have much choice. I never really looked forward to those trips into town because of that road.

It was a very hot day this time. We hadn’t gone very far when we had a flat tire. We had a spare one but the tube had patches on it. It was so hot the patches would melt off and we would be flat again. Dad patched the tube all the way into town.

We finally got there and bought a new tube before the return trip. I had taken us so long to get there, dad was afraid it would get dark before we could get back to camp. He had heard they were building a new road that would be a short-cut back. He figured it might be finished enough for us to get back so he decided to try it. It went a long ways but not far enough. We came to the end. It was very narrow road with a canyon on both sides and absolutely no way to turn around.

Dad made us all get out and he backed all the way out while we walked. Needless to say it was dark when we got back to camp. I never was so scared in my life. There were no street lights out there in those woods and I knew what was just off that road. It was a deep canyon. To this day I have a fear of narrow roads and I think it all began that day.

We stayed in the camp about two months. Dad worked in the mill and filed saws for the loggers. My mother didn’t seem to be getting any better in fact she was having all kinds of problems. Dad decided we had better leave and get back to civilization where there were doctors.

The day we left was so hot and my mother was so sick, I will never forget it. We went to Toppenish, Washington. Toppenish is close to Yakima. She had relations there.

We stayed there the rest of summer and daddy worked in a prune orchard. My mother was better there and she was happier with relations. We went back home in time for school it was a summer I will never forget.

The New And The

The trains still run by her old house in Puyallup, WA. In this story, my Aunt Iva Bailey, tells of growing up near near Meeker Junction in the 1920’s and 30’s.

The New and the Old

 Every time we take the short trip to Puyallup, the place where I was born and grew up in, there are new sights and sometimes new sounds. The railroad that runs through the middle of town is still there but the old steam locomotives that pulled the trains of cars are gone. In their place are diesels.

As we sat in our car at the crossing waiting for the train to pass before we could cross the tracks and be on our way. I thought of the days gone by and the part the railroad played in my memories.

We lived just a mile from the depot, in what was called Meeker Junction. Our house was less than a block from the tracks. When the train would come into the junction, they would start blowing their whistle for the several crossings between our house and town. They would keep blowing all the way into the depot.

The engines were fired with coal and the black smoke would pour out of their smoke stacks.

Sometimes if the wind conditions were just right, and this was quite often,  the smoke would all blow our way. The black soot would settle all over us. Many times my mother hearing the train coming would rush out and try to get her wash off of the clothes line before the train got there.  She didn’t always make it and would have to do the wash over again.

The  big red wooden water tank, where the engines took on their water was close by at the junction. It was always interesting for us kids to watch the man climb up the ladder and pull down the big spout that let the water run from the tank into the engine.

It was sad the first time we went back home after they tore down the big tank. It had become old and was no longer a need for the new diesels.

During the depression years in the 1930’s, people would walk up and down the railroad tracks with buckets picking up coal that had fallen from the many coal cars that was hauled by the big trains. That coal probably kept some little children warm that would have otherwise been cold.

 I remember the long trains of logs that would pass by every day. The train would be so long we couldn’t see the end from where we were. At first they were great big logs, sometimes only one log on a flat car, but as the years went by the logs got smaller and the trains got shorter.

It seems to me there were always men working on the railroad then. Many times the section gang, as the men were called, would be quartered near our house on the rails in bunks similar to those in a logging camp. They would have their dining car and after work at night we would hear the dinner bell calling the men to supper.

We were always sad when they would finish their work and move on to another location but it usually wasn’t long until some more men would come again.

It was fun watching the long train of passenger cars go by. We wondered where they had come from and where they were going. We would wave and the people would wave back. I can remember the first time I rode on the train. It was just a short trip. My Uncle Dick took my cousin Blanche and me from Orting to Puyallup which is about 10 miles. We had been visiting grandma and he was taking us back home. If we had been going to New York it wouldn’t have been the thrill that short trip was. It was fun watching for the places we knew.  When we came to our house my mother was watching for us and she waved. My dad met us at the station and took us home just as though we had come from a long distance.

During the 1930’s depression, men would ride the box cars hunting for work, or maybe because there was nothing else to do. Lots of them came to Puyallup. They would get off of the train before it went into town, so Meeker Junction was the place they established a hobo camp, as we called them.

This camp was just across the track from our house. Every day we would have men coming to the house wanting to work for something to eat. We didn’t have work for them to do but my mother would give them food anyway.

Sometimes they would want some particular item such as potatoes, carrots or some other vegetable. I guess they would make a soup or stew and several of them would get together on it. We had them ask for our used coffee grounds but we always gave them fresh coffee. I think they must have had some kind of a mark on our house showing that we some kind of easy mark because they kept coming all through the depression.

The Salvation Army would come to the camp every Sunday. They would have prayer and play their instruments and sing. The men would wash their clothes and hang them to dry on the fence along the tracks. It always seemed funny to us to watch the men hanging up their underwear while the band played Onward Christian Soldiers or some other hymn.

As the years went by and I was old enough to date, the train played another role in my life. My dad would tell me what time I was to come home but sometimes I  would be a little late getting there. I soon learned that if I would wait until the train came by before opening the door, the train made so much noise, dad wouldn’t hear me come in.

Yes, I remember the old steam coal powered train like an old friend. Somehow the diesels just aren’t the same.

The Way It Was

In this piece my Aunt, Iva Bailey writes about the summer of 1926 or 27 when she and her family went to live in a logging camp. The photo is of her father William Roy Caple (on the right) and his felling partner Gus, taken around 1913-1916.

2017-02-02-17-53-16-1

 The Way It Was

Today the hills overlooking the Puyallup valley are covered with highways and housing. 

I can remember when they were covered with century old douglas fir, hemlock, spruce and cedar. This is where I was born and lived my childhood. It was here in my growing-up-years, my dad worked as a logger.

I can remember one time when dad took us, my brother, my mother and myself up into the forest to live for the summer. We lived in a large tent and a lean-to that dad built out of shakes he split from a big cedar tree.

The bunk house and the rest of the logging camp were in the valley but my dad was the fire watchman that summer, so had to be up where the logging was going on. Sometimes a spark from some of the logging equipment would start a fire and it would have to be put out before it reached the log trees.

There were no logging roads in those day as that was before the days of the logging trucks.  Everything was brought in and out on a logging train. The only way the men could get to the woods was on a train or by walking.

The men in the camp built steps into the side of the hill. As I think of it now it must have taken a long time to build all of those steps. 

On weekends, when the camp was closed, we would go home which was only about 6 or seven miles away. My mother would do the washing and stock up on food for the next week.

Dad would always try to get us back before dark but sometimes we didn’t make it and we would be climbing the steps in the dark. Dad would go ahead with a lantern and we would follow behind. 

I can’t remember being afraid but there must have been all kinds of animals watching us as we made our way up the stairs of the hill. There were lots of squirrels and chipmunks up there and we would have trouble keeping them out of our food.

It was exciting watching the men cut down the big trees with their big cross-cut saws. They always seemed to know which way the tree was going to fall.

One of my Dad’s jobs was to fire up the boiler on the donkey that would pick up the logs and load them on to the flat cars of the logging train.

    A donkey engine with unknown crew.

2017-01-22-19-33-39

Another of my dad’s jobs that summer was to prepare and serve the food that would come up on the train for the men’s lunch at noon. There was always lots of left overs for us. Loggers are big eaters and there would always be lots of cake, donuts and pie.

At the end of the day when the logs were all loaded on the train, the men would jump on the train and ride it back to camp.

There was always lots of sawdust around. I can remember playing with the saw dust like most kids play in the sand. There was lots of wild berries up there and often after dad finished work we would pick berries and my mother would can or make jam out of them.

Some times dad would take us on the logging train. That was really a thrill. When we passed through the camp on the way to the mill, we would know to jump off when it slowed for a curve.

Sometimes the logs would roll off the train. It was really quite dangerous because they were big logs. My mother would take us to get away from the tracks when the train went by.

When the summer was over and all danger of fire passed, we would go back home just in time for school.

It seemed to me then that there would always be lots of big trees but now they are all gone and in their place are highways and buildings. The only thing that hasn’t changed is Mount Rainer. It still looks down on Puyallup valley like a king on a throne.  

More Voices From The PAst

nd the

More Voices From The PAst
2017-02-02-17-43-10-1

Martha Smith Phillips

This piece was written by my Aunt Iva Bailey about her Grandmother Martha Smith Phillips in 1979. Although she said her grandmother moved to Wyoming as a baby she was older. The family moved to Wyoming around 1887 or 88, born in 1877, she would have been 10 or 11 when they moved. The family did live in Nebraska in 1885 and probably lived there about 2 years before moving to Wyoming. Her future husband’s family were their neighbors in Iowa and the families may have followed each other to Wyoming. Martha and Alex married Aug. 1, 1895 making them 18 and 28 not 17 and 27.

Grandma’s Are Nice
Grandma Martha Maria Phillips was not only my grandma, she was my friend, my playmate and after we lost my mother she was like a mother to me. It was to her I took a lot of my teen-age troubles as well as the happy things that happened during the teen-age years. Things that dads just don’t understand the importance of even if they are the best dad a girl could ever have.
Grandma Phillips was born in Iowa but moved with her parents to Iowa when she was a small baby. I guess she knew my grandfather all her life. Grandfather Alexander Phillips like to tell the story of how he fell in love with her as he pushed her baby carriage when she was a baby. Grandpa was 10 years older than grandma.  They were married when she was seventeen and he twenty- seven. She was always his Mattie and he her Allie.

2017-01-23-18-16-31

Mattie and her brother William I. Smith taken in Nebraska.

To grandma was born three children, two girls and a boy.  They were born at a time when parents were called mama and papa. Even we grandchildren called grandpa, Papa. Grandma told many times how lonesome it was for them after my mother married my dad and came to Washington to live.  She told me how happy they were when they knew they were to be grandparents. How they waited for the news of my birth, when they knew it was time.
I guess having my mother so far away and then a grandchild was too much for them so they packed up and came to Washington to live.
It seems to me the very first thing I can really remember was grandma telling me I had a baby brother. I was three years old then and I guess it was the most important thing to happen to me in my young life so it stayed in my memory.
Grandma was small, I don’t think she ever weighed much over a hundred pounds but she was full of energy. She taught me to jump rope and she jumped right along with me, even red-hot peppers.
Grandma had dark brown hair and brown eyes. In the early days her hair was long. Later on when short hair came into style she had it cut and then she would curl her hair with a curling iron she heated by putting it in the kerosene lamp.  This was before the electric curling irons we have today. She was very proud of her appearance and hated the wrinkles all grandmas are bound to get sooner or later. I remember coming home from school one day, to find mother, grandma and my aunt at our house. They all three had egg smeared all over their face and neck. It was partially dry and they looked terrible. Grandma explained to me it was a secret and I wasn’t to tell anyone. I thought it strange at the time but I suppose it worked as well as the stuff they sell for the same purpose today.

Grandma and Papa lived on a farm a few miles from our home but when my mother died, they moved in closer to us. It was nice to have them close by and not quite so lonesome.

No one could make apple pie like grandma. I can see Papa yet, sitting in a chair peeling and cutting up the apples while grandma made the crust, crust that would melt in your mouth. They had a wood stove and grandma knew just how much wood to put in to keep a fire that would bake a golden crust. I use to watch grandma make the crust and I would do everything she did but my pie crust never turned out like hers.

When I was married and moved to Bremerton, we went back to Puyallup as often as we could. Grandma and Papa loved seeing the great-grandchildren.

One day Papa was out mowing the lawn. He came in, sat down in the chair to rest, went to sleep and never woke up. It was a shock to all of us because he had always seemed so well.  He was 87 years old.  Grandma and Papa had always been so close. He had always taken care of her in sickness and in health. We were so afraid Grandma couldn’t live without him but she was stronger than we thought. Some of the sparkle went out of her brown eyes but she seemed to enjoy life and her family.

As she grew older she seemed to live more and more in the past but she loved having her great-grandchildren and by now her great great- grandchildren around her.

She never forgot I was her first grandchild. Every time I would go to see her she would say “here comes my first.” She lived to be 97. She went to be with my mother and papa just a few days before Mother’s day in 1973. She had lived a full and for most part a happy life.