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Syndic Literary Journal

Syndic No.45 ~ Catherine Sevenau

A Letter from my Grandfather’s Brother 1898

Narrated by Catherine Sevenau

California

Nov 22, 1898: Letter from Elmer Chatfield to Mary (Mollie) Chatfield, (Della’s mother, his aunt): Buffalo, Wyoming, Nov 22, 1898 My Dear Mother– Dell started this letter so I will finish it. Aunt Mollie, you do not know how near I came to killing Dell and the Babies day before yesterday, while coming down that infernal hill to Buffalo. I had my sheep wagon & Dell & the Babies were back on the brd (buckboard). In the first place I rough locked the wagon and then chained a big pine tree to the hind end and started, when about ½ the way down my wagon started to push my horses and I could see they could not hold it. So away we went as I come to the turn my wagon slued off and we run about 25 yds on the edge of the road & then over we went down the mountain. When I came to I was laying under the wagon box with the corner of the box resting on my head. I knew where I was in a minute & the first thing I thought of was Dell & the Babies. I hollered to Dell but not a sound did I get except from Toady Bull a little girl Dell had with her to help take care of the children who said, “for God sakes Mr. Chatfield get me out.”

Well now mind you I was pinned underneath the wagon box but there was a little space in front by the dashboard so I undertook to crawl out but my over coat & clothes was to bulky to let me out so I had to work my coat off & I can safely say for once I crawled through an auger hole. When I got out and took in the surroundings my horses was about 30 feet away and entirely loose from the wagon & wagon bottom side up & the wheels & running gear on top the box. I hollered again to Dell but not a sound. If there is a man in the world suffered as I did that minute God pity him. When I undertook to turn that wagon over it was impossible. My only salvation was to cut them out so at it I went. The first slash I came very near cutting Toady’s head. I got her out all O.K. & then kept cutting & digging at last I struck Dell all covered up in the bedding & hay. I asked her if she was hurt & where the children was. She says I am not hurt & Helen is right here by me & the Baby is under me. I got the Baby out first & then Helen. Dell says “My God what will we do I am afraid poor little Marion is dead”. Well I pulled Dell out & started for Marion. As last I found her entirely wrapped up in one on the Feather Beds and not a scratch. I don’t think I ever was quite as happy as when they were all loaded safe & sound. A Mr. Kinney happened along at the time & rendered me a great deal of assistance & so ends the first chapter. All send love. Dell is taking care of the Baby and can’t write. Your Nephew, Elmer P.S. Tell old Art to come up and we will have good hunt in the Bad Lands.

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November 2021
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