It seemed very quite and almost lonesome now that so many of our summer family was gone. It gave me time to think. One thing I had to think about was the question of school. How was I ever going to send my children to a school four miles distant. When I thought of the long miles through the woods, facing wind, snow and rain, the wild animals they might meet, to say nothing of snakes in the summer, I turned sick with dread. But something had to be done. They could not be allowed to grow up in ignorance. For awhile I tried to teach them at home but didn't meet with much success with James Jr. He was somewhat of a problem pupil, and when he did go to school I felt a great sympathy for his teachers. Finally he and Kathryn went to Railroad to school.
Ever since her first school year Kathryn wanted to become a teacher, and I encouraged her in every way I could. But the obstacle that had hindered me from climbing higher in my girlhood days was still hindering me from giving my daughter the thing we both valued and longed for more than anything else, - an education.
In our school at that time we had an excellent teacher, a man who had inspired many of his pupils to go onto something higher and had helped them all in their preparation. He coached Kathryn in all the subjects for her teachers’ examination and advised her to take the test in Sonora in May, this was 1907. She did not want to go until I told her I would go with her and take the test too. When I gave her that promise she was delighted.
It had been twenty eight years since my last day in school and my life had been spent in cooking, sewing, gardening, mining, surveying, cattle and sheep raising, and a thousand other things so necessary to make a home run smoothly.
The next question was what to do about clothes, but I managed that. I had a skirt belonging to a suit that cost four dollars, fifty cents in 1898, and a pair of shoes of the same vintage. I bought enough cotton cashmere for blouses and made them up according to a Delineator illustration. Kathryn was already supplied with shoes and for hats I sent to Sears Roebuck and Company and bought two at fifty cents each which were really quite nice. The weather was warm so coats didn't mean much, fortunately. It was sort of tempering the wind to the shorn lamb, and we got along nicely.
Since the birth of my first child I had never felt very well and the coming of two more babies into the family did not make me feel better. I was in no condition to engage in any kind of work, but our financial circumstances were such that I felt ready to grasp at anything.
The hotel was the best offer and we took it. At that time there were six permanent boarders in the house besides my family and quite a few transient customers. The morning after our arrival we took over the management. My sister Nettie, who made her home with me now that my father was gone, helped me prepare breakfast for a dozen people. Our sleeping quarters were on the upper floor, and there was no way of warming the rooms to make them comfortable for the children, but we dressed the two older ones and rolled the baby in a blanket and brought them all down stairs. I made a bed in an old fashioned rocking chair for my baby and put it close to the stove and went to work.
That was forty seven years ago and more was eaten for breakfast in those days. At the hotel a three course breakfast was always served from six to eight o'clock. My sister and I did all the work, cooking, dish washing, waiting on table, and chamber work. I did the cooking myself which included the baking of bread, pies, cakes, in fact, everything that comes out of an oven. I often wonder how I did it. A women scarcely able to walk, nursing one and caring for three children the hours filled the with work from morning until late at night, it seems almost incredible, but - I did it.
During the summer and fall months times were fairly good but by October, everything was at a standstill. It would not pay to keep the hotel open so we moved to private life, and Jim took a job at forty dollars a month for the winter. In the Spring he went into a mine with some of the other men, one of those specimen rock mines that were never known to pay, and came out in June with the usual outcome, - nothing.
It is said that hope springs eternal in the female breast and maybe it does, but about that time hope was lying quite dormant in my heart. With Jim it was different, bless him. He and my brother Dan were going to try a place on the Stanislaus River that had never been touched. Above and below this place fabulous sums had been taken out but this part of the stream was just as nature and formed it. This story had been told to my brother by a very aged Mexican who had been in the neighborhood since the earliest of days, perhaps prior to 1849. A fortune waited for those who would go there, blast out the rocks, as large as a house, some of them, get down to bed rock in the river bed, and take out gold. What wonderful golden dreams people have. Before going, Jim made arrangements with a store in town to supply his family with whatever was necessary, and in June 1894, he and Dan left to find a fortune in the Stanislaus. (to be continued) Love, Grammy T.