Dated with a month and day but no year, I have vacillated back and forth on whether this letter from Ray to Bettie Noyes would have been written during Bettie’s 1902 June visit with the family of Allan Noyes (a brother of Ray) in Oklahoma. Bettie’s first letter to Ray (at least the first of her two surviving letters) was written May 30th, and then another was from June 23rd, and I was given the impression she wrote frequently. However, Ray’s letter, written in response to one from Bettie which hasn’t survived, mentions that her letter had been dated the 12th but not postmarked until the 14th, which would be May 12th and May 14th. So, is this from another year? Or is it possible that the dates only appeared to be the 12th and 14th, and were so transcribed, when instead they were the 2nd and 4th. It seems more likely to me that the dates were June 2nd and June 4th. Mail traveled and was delivered quickly. Bettie could write a letter to Ray and seemingly be certain he had received it the following day. Also, I’ve a difficult time imagining that Ray, who prompts Bettie in this letter to get her mail out more quickly, would have waited more than half a month to respond to her. Not only this but Ray appears to mention his brother, Paul, taking the cattle to “the nation” at the same time Bettie left, which would be the Osage Nation. It’s difficult for me to imagine Paul would have been gone for that long a period of time to take the cattle to the Osage Nation. He had his own farm to which to attend.
Yet, Ray states also that he had “set a hen” the week Bettie left and he imagines she will hatch some time that week. If it takes about 21 days for chicks to hatch then if the chicks were expected to hatch some time around the 8th (the 6th was a Friday), he would have set the hen around the 18th of May.
The letter is primarily concerned with answering inquiries Betty had written concerning their farm–which seem to be the only inquiries she’s made as lists his answers numerically and there are no answers concerning anything else. The letter, however, seems playful. Ray does a nice job describing his meal for the evening and teasing Bettie with how good it was.
Liberal MO June 6
Dear Girl, Your long welcome letter arrived today seems like yer were rather long getting it mailed the letter was dated the 12 and the (illegible) postmark was the 14, I would think when he is harrowing (?) wheat yer could get a letter mailed any day. Well I will answer questions first No. 1 The garden looks real nice the sweet corn is in tassel
No. 2 the blackberries are very fine the largest early harvest that I ever saw but there
wont be many of them
picked 22 qt. today and took them to town and sold them got $7.75 easy I think they will all be gone in 10 days more picked 3 qt of red raspberries and caned them and they made three pt. after they were caned. No. 3 Your chickens are doing real well considering their master but the old hen down at the cattle shed has had some bad luck and her brood has thinned out a good deal they all live on shelled corn now I set a hen the week after you left so you would have something to do when you got back she will hatch some time this week so I guess I will (illegible)
a job. You have just four little ducks left.
No. 4 The timothy (?) looks real nice but not a great big crop but a good average will likely comence setting about the first of next month.
No. 5 how I get along batching well just Burn (?) but to tell you what that means I will tell you what I had for supper tonight and then you can guess To commence writing I had light bread with cream, Honey, Syrup and jelley to eat on it next I had Grape (illegible) and fingersnaps and some awful good minced ham, drank milk so you see I made no fire
now was that not good wages for any body would you not of liked to of ate with me. No. 6. No have not sold (illegible) more haven’t tried to (illegible) (person’s name illegible, Paul?) took his stock out of the pasture and went to the nation about the time you left he never said (illegible) about the pasture bill either
No. 7 a fellow by the name of Ray has (rest of page illegible)
P.S. I f this aint long enough will lose more