The Stinson Letters is the third book in the trilogy of Stinson books. It covers the period from 1877-1954 as the family grows. In addition to the journals that both Laura and Granger kept, the family (meaning Laura, I am sure) also kept either originals or duplicates of all letters, telegrams, newspaper articles, school papers, and any other written record of their lives.
Spanning four generations, three major wars, transportation from horse and buggy to jet airplanes, it is a glimpse of history and how it affected one family.
The Stinson Letters
Roses are Red
(October 15, 1879)
ROSES ARE RED
VILITS ARE BLU
I BEEN MARED A MONTH
AN IM GLAD ITS TO YOU GRANGER
November 24, 1879
I must first apologize for taking so long to write to you about what has transpired in my life. Instead of building up to a stirring conclusion, let me start here and then fill you in on the details: I am now Laura Stinson.
I shall spare you the details of how Granger and I finally got together after we chased each other’s tails back and forth across Idaho and Montana, as that is another story in itself. We did find each other, we admitted to each other what you and so many others saw as obvious (that our feelings for each other were indeed a genuine and eternal love), and we did get married.
I had all of about two minutes to think it over as it happened. He handed me a note that said MARE ME, and I of course said yes. He then walked me into a Justice of the Peace office, and a few minutes later we were married. And now for further news. I am also with child. I found out two days ago what I had suspected for a month. You should have seen Granger’s eyes when I told him. They said everything I would ever need to know. If it is a boy, it will of course be called Granger. If it is a girl, which I am quite sure it is, it will be called Winnie. I do hope that Winnie and Abigail can some day be quite the friends I feel we have become.
Granger has started a business shoeing horses. Don’t ask me how or when he learned that trade, but it seems he both has a knack for it and loves doing it. It took about a week for him to have all the work he can handle. He could actually work earlier and later than he does, but he thinks that twelve or thirteen hours a day should be enough, and he still looks forward to seeing me and spending time with me. I hope that never changes.
The store is doing great also. We purchased a building next to ours, and turned it into a woman’s store, more or less. We moved our dress making business over there, along with most of the other items in the store for women. We are kept busy with the dress orders here in Idaho City alone, but already have orders from as far away as Helena and Salt Lake.
I so look forward to a day when we can see each other again. You are such an inspiration to me, and the example I use in my own decision making in my marriage and life. “What would Winnie say?” is a question I ask myself many times a day. Hopefully, the answers I come up with are indeed what your counsel would be.
I miss you.
December 25, 1879
Granger, I want to record for you my feelings on this, our first Christmas together. I need only to look at you or think of you to be reminded in a most real way that God has blessed my life beyond anything I ever could have imagined or deserved. I struggle each day with how to best show you or tell you how much I love you and how much I love being loved by you. Words are fine, and I can tell you a hundred times a day that I love you, but they do not seem to carry with them the entirety of my feelings. I also endeavor each minute of each day to show you with every act and word and deed my love for you. I want you to know it shall never subside, not for a second. Wherever you are, wherever we are, whatever we are doing, I want you to know that it is for you that I have been put upon this earth.
Thank you for being my best friend,
(December 28, 1879)
ROSES AR RED
MY THUM IS BLU
I HIT IT WITH A HAMR
WIN I WAS THINGKNG OF YOU
January 1, 1880 (Laura noted in her journal for this date that they had decided upon January 1 of each year to celebrate Granger’s birthday, since neither his birthday nor his age were known for certain.)
HAPPY TWENTY FIRST BIRTHDAY!!
Here are some candles, and here is a cake,
It happens to be a cake I did bake
For you on your birthday, your twenty first.
Although you are old, it could have been worse:
You could have been thirty, or dirty,
Or have a wife who’s not purty.
I love you,
(January 1, 1880)
Happy birthday, Moot. Sorry I treated you like a idiot for so long, even though you were one sort of. But you aren’t one now.
December 18, 1879 (January 16, 1880)
What great news! When I shared the news with James, we both cried like little babies. We have prayed for all of you every day, beseeching God that His will and purpose be done in your lives, and that you would find that peace that comes only from Him. I have known since the first time I saw you look at Granger that he is the man for you to love and be with.
We also are dearly pleased with your success in running the store. You certainly must have a gift for it, as it always sounds as if you easily make decisions which turn out for the best. Although we have been at it longer, we seem to still be in the trial and error mode. As many of our decisions are costly as are profitable. Not to complain, though. We have a roof over our heads, a lovely daughter, and a way to feed and clothe ourselves.
Abigail has been sick for over two weeks. She has had a cough and a runny nose, and has not been keeping food down. She has lost weight to the point that she is weak and no longer able to play for periods longer than a few minutes. The doctor here is stumped as to what is causing this illness, so we find ourselves again depending upon God’s mercy.
Let us do make plans to see each other again some time. I am sure that if we do not deliberately plan for that to take place, it will not. There will always be other things to do and other places to go, but I should not wish to do them over seeing you again. Perhaps I could talk James into letting me come out there around when you are due, so I could be of some help. We’ll see.
As always, all of my love,
January 18, 1880
I received your letter two days past. Although I was of course elated to hear from you, I also was concerned by the news of Abigail’s illness. I read the letter to Granger, and he indicated that since you pray for us, we should also pray for you. Sadly, I must admit that this is not something at which we are very good or experienced. All we knew to do was to ask God if He would help her be better. I always fear in my prayers that they do not sound religious enough or holy enough, and it is very difficult for me to understand how God could want to pay attention to me anyway. However, I am sure that He cares about and for the Longleys, and that this illness will pass. I will not accept the possibility that our children should not know each other as we have.
Being with child is such a paradox, isn’t it? On one hand, I am incredibly overwhelmed and joyed at having a child growing inside me. I sometimes wish I were a doctor or scientist so I could know all of the intricacies of this miracle, but I shall have to settle for my own guesses of how she is growing and what she is thinking. On the other side, I find myself quite often to be moody or emotional. Sometimes, heaven forbid, I find myself moody and emotional at the same time. Granger usually smiles, kisses me on the forehead, and goes to work at something outside.
Jimmy seems to be doing better. He has up until a couple of months ago resisted any and all temptations he might have had to mature or take any responsibility for his own decisions. That seems to be changing. There have been a few times lately where he actually did not know it all about everything. He seems to be soft on a young lady named Lacy. I would like to call it puppy love, but then I think back so short a time when I was his age, and in my heart knew I wanted to be with Granger. Time will tell.
All of our love,
STOP CALNG YURSELF NAMS YOU AR NOT THOS THINGKS YOU ARE GETTING BUTFULR EVRY DAY GROING OUR CHILD IN YOU WIN YU GROWCH I NO YOU DON’T MEN IT GRANGER
March 1, 1880 (April 6)
I know what you are experiencing in your current state. James used to put his hands up shaped like claws and make a hissing cat sound to let me know I was a little out of reason. I think as long as the men maintain some sense of humor about our fits, we can think that things in the big picture are all right. My advice is to always be sure to apologize to him after a fit, and be sure to give him the same love and attention you always have. As testy as things can get with a best friend for a spouse, imagine what it is like for people who are married and aren’t best friends. That would be terrible.
Abby is fine now. We never did figure out what caused her so much distress, but were relieved when she started getting better in the middle of January. Her recovery was miraculously quick. She was in bed one day, feverish and very poor, out of bed the next day, and back to normal the next. James said it surely was because of your fervent prayers.
Another note in which you might be interested. Our newspaper had an article in it last month that Donovan Jacobs—yes, that one—had been killed in an “accident” at his ranch. It gave a glowing report of his life, and how much good he had done for the state and the mining business in general. James said they left out the last sentence about him burning in h _ _ _. I hushed him for using such language, but secretly was agreeing with him.