Elinore P. Stewart’s “Letters of a Woman Homesteader” continued:
October 14, 1911
Dear Mrs. Coney,—
I think you must be expecting an answer to your letter by now, so I will try to answer as many of your questions as I remember. Your letter has been mislaid. We have been very much rushed all this week. We had the thresher crew two days. I was busy cooking for them two days before they came, and have been busy ever since cleaning up after them. Clyde has taken the thresher on up the valley to thresh for the neighbors, and all the men have gone along, so the children and I are alone. No, I shall not lose my land, although it will be over two years before I can get a deed to it. The five years in which I am required to “prove up” will have passed by then. I couldn’t have held my homestead if Clyde had also been proving up, but he had accomplished that years ago and has his deed, so I am allowed my homestead. Also I have not yet used my desert right, so I am still entitled to one hundred and sixty acres more. I shall file on that much some day when I have sufficient money of my own earning. The law requires a cash payment of twenty-five cents per acre at the filing, and one dollar more per acre when final proof is made. I should not have married if Clyde had not promised I should meet all my land difficulties unaided. I wanted the fun and the experience. For that reason I want to earn every cent that goes into my own land and improvements myself. Sometimes I almost have a brain-storm wondering how I am going to do it, but I know I shall succeed; other women have succeeded. I know of several who are now where they can laugh at past trials. Do you know?—I am a firm believer in laughter. I am real superstitious about it. I think if Bad Luck came along, he would take to his heels if some one laughed right loudly.
I think Jerrine must be born for the law. She always threshes out questions that arise, to her own satisfaction, if to no one else’s. She prayed for a long time for her brother; also she prayed for some puppies. The puppies came, but we didn’t let her know they were here until they were able to walk. One morning she saw them following their mother, so she danced for joy. When her little brother came she was plainly disappointed. “Mamma,” she said, “did God really make the baby?” “Yes, dear.” “Then He hasn’t treated us fairly, and I should like to know why. The puppies could walk when He finished them; the calves can, too. The pigs can, and the colt, and even the chickens. What is the use of giving us a half-finished baby? He has no hair, and no teeth; he can’t walk or talk, nor do anything else but squall and sleep.”
After many days she got the question settled. She began right where she left off. “I know, Mamma, why God gave us such a half-finished baby; so he could learn our ways, and no one else’s, since he must live with us, and so we could learn to love him. Every time I stand beside his buggy he laughs and then I love him, but I don’t love Stella nor Marvin because they laugh. So that is why.” Perhaps that is the reason.
Zebbie’s kinsfolk have come and taken him back to Yell County. I should not be surprised if he never returned. The Lanes and the Pattersons leave shortly for Idaho, where “our Bobbie” has made some large investments.
I hope to hear from you soon and that you are enjoying every minute. With much love,
14. THE NEW HOUSE