My Log Cabin Home in Missoula

Hazel holding her parents hand at Butte, Montana Mine 1909

After leaving Connecticut and living in Defiance, Ohio, we left in 1909 for Missoula, Montana. We traveled by train (my children think I am old enough to have been with a wagon train!) And many times our car was practically empty so that I had the run of the railroad cars. We had stop-overs in cities where state capitols were located and I remember that Dad took me to visit all of them. We also stopped in Butte, Montana, long enough to go down into the mine described as "the biggest hole on earth". The picture I have shows the group dressed in miners' outfits, trousers for the women. That was the first time Mother had ever worn them. How times have changed!

Once we got to Missoula we moved into a log cabin belonging to my Mother's Aunt Eliza Thomas, one of the first women doctors in the country. (I am still trying to find out about her.) The cabin was up what we called "the Rattlesnake" because of the Rattlesnake River, which flows through Missoula. Several events stand out in my memory about that first year.

Back then blizzards were so bad that fathers and older brothers had to carry small children home from school. The one I remember blew snow through the cracks in the logs of the cabin and onto our beds. Dad took me into his and mother's bed. He made a sort of tent by fastening a blanket from the head of the bed to the bottom, and let the snow fall. What fun that was for me! But not for my mother who had grown up in the east, who was still fearful of everything out West, especially Indians. Packs of coyotes running and howling through the forest near us were a common occurrence. I was scared and always ran to my parent's bed.

I like mystery stories and way back then when I was four years old and living in a log cabin in Missoula, Montana, I had an unsolved mystery experience. One day the older girls took me to play in the forest near our homes. What we played I do not remember but I do remember a group of several men passing us, all wearing face masks, not the Halloween style, just something covering their faces - like black stockings. The girls called to them thinking they were their older brothers. Not a man said a word. When we got home we found out the masked men were not their brothers. There was much speculation but it is still a mystery as to who the men were.

A happier memory - at least at first - was being invited to the first birthday party I can remember. What a thrill it was to get a new, white dress and patent leather slippers for the occasion! (Back then a girl wasn't dressed up unless she had a white dress, usually of organdy, and black patent leather slippers. Each year at Easter I had this outfit.) But when I found out what I was to give as a present, I was grief stricken. My father had made me a small table with four chairs of beautiful, polished, mahogany wood. How I loved it and could hardly wait until it was finished. That was what I gave as a gift! No amount of being reassured that he would make me a better one of solid oak could comfort me, and eating our desert at the table didn't help one bit. My father did make me an oak table and four chairs, but to me, they weren't as beautiful as the mahogany one and I never liked them. His choice of wood was always oak and later I appreciated the oak desk and oak music cabinet that he made that I am still using.

The log cabin is gone now, burned to the ground. I have been up the Rattlesnake only a few times since, once to play the piano at a community meeting, and another time with Dad when we picked huge mackintosh apples at a test orchard. I have never seen such large ones.

And I have never heard what happened to Aunt Eliza Thomas. Perhaps the West was too much for her, for she never came back to live in the log cabin. {1}

{1} More information on Aunt Eliza Thomas discovered by Nancy Allan in 2005.








08/20/2000 JA Typed. Original typed by Grandma as My Log Cabin Home in Missoula and More Log Cabin Memories. LogCabin.txt Page 2 of 2 01/18/01 11:33 PM