Posts Tagged ‘Melrose history’

My DNA doesn’t show that much Scots, but as they were recent immigrants to America, I have a very strong connection to my Scots heritage. Dad used to joke that we were more Irish than Scots, but Mom would point out that the correct hyphenation of our particular heritage was “Scots-Irish”. He would turn around and remind her that the Irish taught the Scots how to walk – by giving them wheel barrows.

I get to a point where I think I am close to finished, then I find more items that need to be scrapbooked or saved in acid-free archival sleeves. I ran all over town today trying to find the right sized scrapbook sleeves that are also archival and acid-free. (The ones I wanted were on sale at Michael’s, my last stop.)


Above is the scrap book I am creating out of my mother’s scraps. I found more to go into it and I ran out of archival inserts – again. Ill have to run down to Michael’s tomorrow to get a second scrapbook and one more packet of the archival sleeves. Mom just became two scrapbooks (Well, three – I also possess the scrapbook she made for herself in the 1950’s). I tried to keep everything she saved although I did have to parse out a few newspaper clippings that made no sense at all in the timeline of Mom’s life.

When scrapbooking for the dead, honor their scraps. I don’t need her to come back and haunt me because I left something important out. She saved all that stuff for a reason. Right?


Letters. Old letters, land deeds, Naturalization papers, wills… I need a second binder and more acid-free sleeves. These cover from the 1860’s when my Scottish ancestors immigrated and through 1992. I guess I have to include the letters I wrote Mom in 1991-1992 because she saved them.

There are letters from Newton Brown, Gertrude McDermid, George Andrews, and myself, not to mention Great Grandmother’s entire collection of Letters From Dale (I blogged about them – actually transcribed them – in 2015 if you care to search my archives). I can’t touch the letters from Dale without feeling Great Grandmother’s deep sorrow (it’s an Empath thing) as Dale died in the big Influenza pandemic of 1917. He had Scarlet Fever).

George Andrews and my mother had a correspondence going as George (a cousin) was doing extensive genealogical research in Scotland. Much of the information I have today is because of George Andrews.IMG_7127

The above scrap book is full of all the miscellania from Great Grandmother Melrose and Grandma Melrose. There’s nothing else to put into it, and while it is bulging, I feel to need to get a second albom – there are three empty pages in the back. It’s complete.

The box it is sitting on is full of the paper dolls (I blogged about them in 2013). They are the reason I bought an archival type scrap book in the first place: to preserve my mother’s childhood. I’ll need yet another scrap book and a ton of acid-free archival sleeves for those. With the nicer weather coming on, I can’t promise I’ll get that task done soon. It’s a rather huge task.

I’ll probably tidy up the family tree on the Scots side before I move on to the more complex side of the family tree: the Irish/English/Everything Else side. One thing I have learned from doing this bit of scrapbooking is this: I cannot do straight line genealogy. The family is too complex and cousins are too important to ignore. If I did straight-line genealogy, I would lose Great Uncle Dale (who died at the age of 22 and never had any children, but whose impact on the family overshadowed my grandfather (the younger son who survived and fathered three beautiful girls).

Great great Uncle Newt Brown alludes to a relationship with John Brown of Harper’s Ferry fame. Great great Aunt Gert was a half-sister to Newt and Great Grandmother Mary Brown Melrose, but her letters are influential.

It’s crazy (maybe) but I feel so rooted in who I am when I go through all of this miscellania. I only hope my children want to keep this history alive.


Read Full Post »

Dale is in a fine mood when he write this letter. He has a soap box, and he’s going to stand on it. He’s maturing and standing up for what he believes in. (I have a hard time thinking of him as “Great Uncle Dale” given that he was barely 21 when he wrote this letter. A kid.)

One other note: Dale uses an ethnic slur here. Such idioms were common in the early 1900’s and reflected on the populace as a whole (we were horridly segregated!). If you are like me, you will cringe when you read the first paragraph. I can’t help it. It’s an awful thing to say and I wish I could erase it from the letter, but – alas! – my job here is to act as a transcriber and preserve the history as it was written.

Dale’s letter reminds me that public education was not always like it has been throughout my life, starting with Kindergarten at age 5 and ending with graduation from a four-year high school around the age of 17 or 18. All that was mandatory in 1916 was an 8th grade certificate, which one earned by the age of 15 or 16. My grandfather – John – was just 16 years old in 1916.

Newberg, Ore. July 29, ’16

Dear Folks,

     Your letter came yesterday and I was glad to hear that you were getting along so well. It is to bad that the weather is so hot. I cant write like a white person this afternoon it seems.

     Today is a hot day for us, and this morning I got hit on the head with a rock while I was shoveling and Hanson was picking.* This afternoon we were short of men and I worked too hard in the heat and got a headache. I quit for the day and perhaps for good. I don’t like this rock shoveling anyway. When Hanson is in the pit, it is too dangerous. Work is plentiful now, and I will hit something else, I guess.

    Andy has poison oak all over himself, but he is out working this afternoon just the same. Andy is a lot easier to get along with than Brown was, and he has lots of grit too.

    I don’t think we will go to Eastern Ore. mow. It is too late in the season.

    I would like to see John in High School for a year or so, at least. He is not old enough to know what he wants to study yet. It is a fact that High School couldn’t hurt him any. I wouldn’t take $3,000** for the three years I spent in High school. Not only for what I learned in the books, but what I learned about people and their ways, that little time I spent there has been of immense value to me. Even if a fellow has to work at common labor after he gets out, he has lost no time that could have been better invested. Practically all one learns in the grades, is how to “read, write, and cipher”*** a little. In High School one learns to reason and depend upon his own head rather than some one else’s. Incidentally he learns something about mathematics, and the language that he uses, a multitude of other things from the books make him see that he is living in no two-by-four world and that he has some responsibility.

    And in college — I don’t know all about that yet, but I think I can say that if one takes the value of one school course and multiplies it by 10 he will have the value of the High School course, and the High School course multiplied 10×10 is the value of college. I mean this, of course, if the student works in school and doesn’t go just for the fun of it.

    A letter came to me today from a lawyer in Spokane saying that he was about to begin suit against D me for the Standard Laundry Co. of Walla Walla. the amount for which he is suing is $.75. **** I paid that Laundry all I owed them before I left there over a year ago, and I told that Collection Agency that when they wrote to me last June. The Laundry says I haven’t paid, and I say, I have. They may get a judgement against me, but not six bits.

    You say, Dad, that you want me to come back there two years from now. I thought you saw that I couldn’t do that a year ago. Chances may be better back there for some people who can take deep breaths but not for me. My chances back there are all for the next world. I want you folks to come out here as soon as you can. There are other things in this world beside money. When I get out of school I am not going to make money the main driving power. “Greed for Gain” is against my religion.

    This is a poor letter and poorly written, but take into account my aching head, and make allowance for that.

Your son


*picking – Hanson was using a pick axe to break up the rock in the rock pit. A chunk came off and hit Dale in the head. No hard hats in 1916.

**$3,000. Doesn’t sound like a lot to us in 2015, but it was equivalent to $1,000,000 in Dale’s analogy. Think: “I wouldn’t take a million dollars for…”

***cipherverb. Archaic form – to do arithmetic.

**** Seriously!!?? Collections for six bits???? But if you figure a man might make $2.50 to $3.00 per day… Dale should have kept the receipt.


Read Full Post »

Dale’s summer jobs seem to dry up quickly in the summer of 1916, an unfortunate situation as he’s trying to earn enough to stay in school!

Newberg, Ore. July 16, ’16

Dear Folks,

      Well, we have moved and are nearly ready to run the rack through, but a rain came up yesterday and stopped us. That kind of business eats up the profit but it cannot be helped, I guess.

     I haven’t had a letter from you for a long time, but there must be one in Eugene for me. I hope you are all well in this hot weather that I read about back there.

     I am thinking of going to eastern Oregon, because I have only about fifteen dollars to my credit since school is out and I have only a month and a half more to make my pill pile.

    Oswald Best is going east in a week or so to a job which will pay $2.50 and $3.00 and board for common labor. He wants Andy and I to go with him but I am afraid that we cannot get any money from Hanson before the first of next month. Of course, it is not what one makes, but what one saves that counts. However when we are laid off a day now and then for breakage, or moving, and still have to eat, it eats up the savings.

     If Andy and I were not college studes (sic), we would go up where he was last fall in Canada when he got $3.50 and board for three or four months. I heard through Andy that Buster is going up there this fall. He is still sore at me, by the way.

     The rain seems to be over, so I guess we will work to-morrow. There is not much of interest to write so I will close hoping that you folks are as well as the hot weather will allow.

  Your son


I am curious as to what he meant by “ready to run the rack through”.  He is apparently working for Hanson, he of the missed pay-checks and much griping about in 1915. Hanson was a contractor for the State or County, and was dependent on being paid by them first (or so he said). In 1915, paving employed something called a sack bundling rack (I don’t know if the link will work or not; it’s an item in an online 1915 Engineering book I found by googling: “1915 rack road construction”) That’s definitely something for an engineering type to research!


Read Full Post »

017018The letter of October 19, 1915 was the last missive for that year. I then have three empty envelopes with 2¢ postage. Three are postmarked Eugene, Oregon. Feb 15-16, Feb 29-16 (someone doodled on it), Mar 13-16 (with a side note When Dale was in Grantsburg with Parke & Harry– Except that was during the summer of 1915). The last one is postmarked Vida, Oregon, June 19, 1916. Vida is just west of Eugene. I place the following letter inside this envelope despite the odd date in the upper right corner. I know Dale didn’t write it in 1919 – he didn’t live that long.

Vida, Ore. June 18, ’19

Dear Folks,

     I must write this in a hurry and get this away at on o’clock with Brown when he goes to the store.

    I saw Grace. She’s changed a lot since I saw her last. Next morning I came out here. Got a ride on the running board of a car as far as the fish-hatchery so I had to walk only about seven miles. I was here in time to eat breakfast about noon.

    We have been working hard the past week. It takes about an hour to climb to the slashing and about an hour to come back. We work ten hours slashing between times. The work will be finished about the last of this week.

    Dad you know lots about measuring land. How would you measure a slashing that is not in rectangular form? Brown says that we should measure the distance around it in rods, divide that number by 4 times the number of rods in an acre, and square the quotient. I say that we should take the number of rods around it and treat the piece as a circle, find the diameter, and the area in sq. rods. then divide that number by the number of sq. rodds rds. in an acre. We want some scheme so that we can figure 16 acres out of a piece 1100 yds in circumference.

    One of Brown’s neighbors wants us to cut seven acres of clover for him. We could get about $1.50 per day and board. We may do it, but it would not be a very long job just to run the scythe over seven acres, would it? How many acres should one man cut in a day?

    We went fishing last Sunday afternoon an hour or so and caught a few small ones. There are three men from Portland on the creek to day but they cant catch anything. It is funny to see them try.

    I am standing the work fine, better than I expected. The wages are $1.50 per diem but I will not collect over $1.25 if I have anything to say about it.

    Did you hear that the cannery at Newberg had been burned and that the company is working on the new building both day and night to get ready for fruit.

    We have nothing in sight after the hay job. We may go down to Portland and look around. There is nothing here but section work and the board is high.

    I must stop now. Your letter hasn’t been here yet for this week. I will send my grades as soon as I get to Eugene.


Comments: who wants to take on the math question posed?

Slashing – Clearing up the left over debris after logging (commonly referred to as “slash”)

You may note Dale said they would go “down” to Portland when Portland is clearly to the north of Vida. He is correct: the Willamette River flows north and Portland is downriver from Eugene.


Read Full Post »

A little history here: Grandfather John “Jack” Melrose had an older brother, Dale. Dale moved west for some reason, leaving behind his father, Philip G. Melrose, and his mother, Mary Brown Melrose. Mary saved as many of Dale’s letters as she could, and I own them as part of an inheritance from my mother.

I have decided to scan them here and tell his story through his own words as much as possible. I’ve read the letters and the story is a sad one, of love lost and a young life cut short. Dale was the favorite son, and my great grandmother never quite recovered from the loss.

The letters span 1911 through 1918, with a couple from 1944 (I’ll get to that later), and a final one in 1948.

Here, then, is the first letter from Dale to his family in Wisconsin. There’s no envelope (I promise to scan the envelopes, too, as they are relevant).

001 002Newberg, Ore. Sept. 30, 1911

Dear Folks,

I have just finished my work for to-day so I will write to you now. I like the high school pretty well. I am taking English, Latin, Algebra, and History. If I go to high school next year I will take Book keeping instead of History. I like my work here at the hotel “tolerably” well, but not any too well. I get up in the morning at four o’clock, go down stairs, sweep, and mop out the office, clean the spitoons, make the calls, clean the stairway, clean up the washroom, and sweep off the sidewalks in front, then my work is done for the morning, at night all I have to do is to carry in wood for the cook stove which takes me about twenty minutes.

I haven’t had to do much studying at home yet, but soon will have to work some at night. On Saturdays I have in addition to my other work, about half an acre of plate glass in front of the office to wash, then I split up wood enough to last me a week, and half scrub the kitchen, but then I get even with them for all that when mealtime comes. I got the bones all right, but you might as well beef them, for all I will have to spend anything for this winter is a new suit of clothes as I am getting to be a swell dresser since I have came out here.

When you come out here next spring come to this hotel for a while, you can get board here for $5.50 a week and it is the high toned kind too. Well, to-morrow night I will have to be leader in Christian Endeavor and I have been worrying about it All week, they are always picking on me to do every thine. Well write again as soon as you can.

Dale Melrose


Read Full Post »