UNCLE ARTHUR

          UNCLE  ARTHUR     Some great stories that need to be told         

    Uncle Arthur was my mother's uncle, and after Aunt Clara died,

my mom and dad had a little apartment built on the rear of their lot so

they could take care of him in his old age. My sister and I found these

stories written on an old, typewriter, (barely readable) that Uncle Arthur

had written after Ant Clara passed away. I was so impressed with these

stories that I typed them out and added them here.  Little did I realize

what an amazing life he had lived.

 

                  

   Uncle Arthur and Aunt Clara...1884...just married 

     

              RECOLLECTIONS OF AN OCTOGENARIAN 

                                                    Authur E. Diefendorf, May 1944

      When a crestfallen and apologetic stork delivered me to my parents in

the early hours of January 23rd, 1864,    Little did they realize what a lemon

had been handed them.   After my mother's death, four months later, I was

turned over to a married sister living in Pennsylvania.   When I was a year old,

she had a baby of her own, and probably impelled by a fear that I would lead

her own off-spring into devious and hectic paths,  she bundled me off home

again, where my father, shortly remarried, was able to provide me a home.

        In passing, I would like to remark that this step-mother of mine was a highly

educated and very intelligent woman and a painfully conscientious martyr in

bringing up the two small brats foisted on her.  She had been a teacher of

mathematics in the academy of which my father was the head.  She outlived

him to a very ripe old age.   Her memory commands my deepest respect.

      The first fifteen years of my life was principally spent in shuttling back

and forth with my family from my birthplace, Haysville, Ohio, to Nebraska City,

Nebraska, to Tipton, Missouri, to Bridgeton, New Jersey, to New York City, and

back to Haysville.  At all these stopping places, my father was the head of an

academy except in New York, where he was professor of languages in

Dr. Clark's swank preparatory school on Washington Square, a school catering

to the sons of New York's "Upper Crust".   Plebeians like myself were ordinarily

banned from this select circle, but owing to my father's position I was tolerated.

I remember this bunch of young aristocrats, as being a very snooty lot, who

looked at my none too fashionable clothes with cold disdain.

      In 1876, the trustees of the old Vermillion Institute in Haysville, persuaded

my father to return there. I spent the following four years in this little town, of

which my fondest wish was to be able sometime to buy it, lock, stock and barrel,

burn it down and sprinkle the site with salt.

       (the town is still intact)    In the meantime I enjoyed the reputation of being

the town's "bad boy", being held up as a horrible warning to all other village

youngsters, that if they followed my example they would surely come to a bad end.

      During this period I experienced my first really violent attack of puppy love.

The object of my adoration was a pretty little thing with symmetrical legs, named

Nettie Lacey.  In her presence I became absolutely tongue tied.  Being unable to

make a favorable impression in the ordinary way, I went into executive session

with myself.  The logical thing to do was to waylay, grab, and kiss her, then flee.

No sooner decided on than put into execution. I seized her as she came out of

mother's classroom, kissed her violently, then started the fleeing part of the

program, but alas..... too late, for my charmer burst into loud wails which

brought mother into the hall on the run. I was promptly reported and even

more promptly whaled by my outraged father.  The following day, I waited

till Nettie came out of school and ensconced behind a tree at a safe distance,

I sang her this ditty.

 

If a body meet a body                                                           

Coming through the hall

If a body kiss a body

Need a body bawl

 

      I learned later through a mutual girl friend that the song made quite a hit.

This, however, ended the romance, as her grandmother with whom she lived,

sternly forbade her to have anything to do with me.

      In the early spring of 1880, I was wished off on my brother. Tom,  who was

running a lumber yard in Montrose. South Dakota. Poor Tom!.... But still more

to be pitied, was his patient and long suffering wife, Tillie...... Equipped with a

through ticket to Montrose and ten dollars in cash, I embarked on what was to

prove to be a turning point in my life. In Chicago, between trains, I invested six of

my ten dollars in a second hand watch, which had evidently became tired of life,

for it folded up permanently the next day.

     The spring of 1880 will long be remembered by the North-West for it's

destructive floods.  When we arrived in Emmetsburg, Iowa, we found that

everything beyond had been washed out.   We were told that it would be ten

weeks before the bridges and roadbed would be restored for travel.  No rooms

were available and it cost a dollar to sleep on a billiard table with one's own

overcoat for bedding.  Meals without bread, for there was no flour in town,

cost the same.

      I had a couple dollars left so with two other young fellows with whom I had

fallen in with, out of Chicago, and who were very little better off than myself,

we decided the only thing we could do was to strike out on foot and trust the

kind providence, whom we had been assured, always looked out after children

and nitwits.

      After several days of pretty strenuous traveling, in the course of which we

waded long stretches of inundated low lands,  holding our clothes and grips over

our heads.  My companions dropped off at their destinations and I finally arrived

at the east bank of the Sioux river,  across from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  In a

friendly lumber yard I slanted some boards against a pile of lumber and crawled

in for the night. The Sioux River makes a great horse shoe bend around the

town so there was nothing to be gained by crossing over to the town itself,

So the next morning, with only ten cents left in my pocket,  I started out on the

27 mile walk around the bend to strike the railroad on the other side. This took

all day.  I spent the night at a friendly farmers home.   In the morning, his freckle

faced daughter, who struck me as being very charming, rowed me across a

small creek and I was on my way to reach Hartford that night. Just 14 miles

short of my destination.

      Arriving in Hartford that evening, tired and hungry, I went to the village

hotel and asked the proprietor if he knew Tom Diefendorf of Montrose. His eyes

lit up and he assured me that everyone knew Tom. I explained that I was his

brother and I would like to stay there that night, but I only had ten cents.

My host took me in quite enthusiastically. The next morning, before I had got

out of bed, he sent word to Tom by a couple of men who were hoofing it to

Montrose.  I knew nothing of this advanced notice so when I met a squatty

sawed off man with an amiable face a half mile from Montrose, we looked at

each other and passed without a word. Something told me that this man was

built along the Diefendorf lines and I looked back to see him parked in the

center of the track and looking at me. I guess foxy Tom wanted to size me up

before claiming relationship.  We walked together into Montrose.  So ended the

one-hundred and sixty mile hike from Emmetsburg.

      Tom and Tillie, jewels of the first water, both of them, treated me far beyond

my deserts during the nearly four years I was with them.  As a matter of fact,

there were few outstanding events in my life during that period.  Their daughter,

Mary, was two years old at the time of my arrival and even at that early age,

gave promise of the sweetness of disposition which has been her life long

characteristic.

      It was during this period that my father died and I think Tom and I were

the only ones not at his bedside.  I have neglected to say that my father,

besides his educational work, was an ordained minister of the Presbyterian

Church and held the degree of "Doctor of Divinity", conferred on him by the

university of Wooster, Ohio.   A few months before my father's death, I went

home for a three months visit. This seemed a silly thing to do considering my

finances at the time, but I have always thought it was ordered by divine providence,

for it was during this home visit that I met Clara Witmer, who was a student at

Vermillion Institute.  She roomed and boarded with us. Before leaving for Dakota,

I became engaged to her.   An engagement which lasted three years before

consummation.

      I wish I could write more of Tom and Tillie. I would like to write of some

great outstanding act of sacrifice, but the fact is that the accumulation of the

day by day kindness and sacrifices are a far greater monument to their memory

than any number of single acts. To the end of my life, I will feel a profound

gratitude to that wonderful and gracious couple.

      It was at Montrose that I learned telegraphy in the local railway station.

this was a move which was to open up a new phase of my life, for after leaving

Montrose in 1884, I drifted down to Southwest Missouri and in a short time

got a position with the St. Louis and Santa Fe Railway as helper in the station

at Seneca, Missouri. I held this for fifteen months, in the course of which I went

back to Ohio and married.

      This marriage was brought about in my usual impulsive manor. Marriage

to me was still a shadowy something to be realized at some future date, but I

got a touch of wanderlust and decided to go to St. Louis for a few days vacation.

On the train enroute to St. Louis, it popped into my mind to continue on to

Ashland, Ohio and see how my fiancée was getting along. Being a creature of

impulse (as I still am), I put my idea into execution, and in due time stepped

in unannounced at Clara's home, but still with no idea of immediate marriage

in my mind In the course of the first day, a brilliant light dawned on me and

I said, "What the heck, it's a long way back here, why not get Married while the

getting is good". I did not have enough money to take Clara back with me, but

I felt that the good lord would arrange that. So on the following morning, which

was Sunday, February 21,1886, we were married in the parlor of their home by

a minister, who fortunately was a family cousin and refused a fee. Much to my

secret delight, for I was so nearly broke that the getting back to Missouri alone

presented quite a problem.

      Three months later I sent for my wife and the railway company eased the

financial situation not only with a pass, but by promoting me to a station agent

at Ritchie, Missouri. An uneventful year followed and then an entirely new

experience. One which was to usher in nearly eight years of the most dramatic

portion of my life. The company asked me to take a station at Red Fork, Indian

Territory, at the end of a branch line which in later years was extended toward

the West coast as a part of the Santa Fe System.

      It will be necessary for me to digress a little here. In an effort to give a

picture of the Indian Territory as it existed at that time. Though surrounded

by the supposedly civilized states of Missouri, Kansas, Texas, and Arkansas,

it was the last remaining stronghold of the wild and woolly West. It was neither

a state or even a territory in the ordinary sense. The only courts were local

tribal ones of the five Indian tribes who held the territory under treaty with

the U.S. government. To handle cases coming under government jurisdiction,

there was a force of Deputy U.S. Marshals, (many of them ex-criminals) whose

headquarters were in Fort Smith, Arkansas. There were also a few U.S.

Commissioners scattered around in various towns. Practically the sole duty of

these officers was to suppress liquor bootlegging. No alcoholic liquor of any

kind was allowed in the Territory.

      The country itself, at least in the section I was to know was given over to

vast cattle ranches, mostly owned by whites living in distant States. One such

ranch from which my station drew shipments was fourty miles square with 160

miles of barb wire fence enclosing it. Aside from these ranches, there were no

fences and of course, no farming. The only whites in the Territory were the

cowboys on the ranches and the licensed traders in the towns, and a rather

copious sprinkling of fleeing or escaped criminals from the various states who

sought refuge by marrying into an Indian Tribe. It was the universal custom

among all except those of us living in the towns, to go heavily armed. A

cowpuncher or an Indian buck without a 45 in his belt would have been a rare

sight indeed. There was an unwritten law, universally respected, that no white

man ever be asked from what section of the country he came from. It was

not considered anybody else's business, and such a question was apt to result

in unpleasant consequences.

      The country abounded in game. Deer, wild turkey, ducks, prairie chickens

and quail. As for grey ground squirrels, there were millions of them in the creek

bottoms. I have counted as many as thirty of them at one time in a single tree.

No self-respecting Indian would waste good ammunition on anything smaller

than a deer or an occasional turkey. Hunting was my obsession, and I did a lot

of it. Incidentally, I have shot prairie chickens on ground which must now be

covered by skyscrapers in Tulsa, for that town with a population at that time

of less than 200 people was only four miles from Red Fork, but on the opposite

side of the Arkansas River. Game laws and restrictions were unheard of and

unthinkable.

      This then, is a rough outline of the country which I was to offer as a home

to my bride. But how she did take to it! We arriver in Red Fork at eight o'clock

in the evening of July,27,1867, in the midst of a heavy thunderstorm, a storm

which our good friends in Ritchie would have dolefully predicted as an omen o

f what would happen to us for disregarding their advise and coming to this

"Godforsaken Country". We were met by the retiring agent who took us for

supped in a tent where meals were being served and while we were eating

went out to locate a room for us for the night, but all available rooms were

taken by cowboys. In desperation, he went to the home of a Mr. Dorman,

the manager of one of the stores and stated our case. Mr. Dorman had gone to

bed but was a good sport, and without hesitation, got out of bed and made it

up for us and rustled himself to a cot. So we slept that night in style, secretly

thanking our lucky stars that Mrs. Dorman and their two young daughters had

gone away for a visit. The following day, there were three trainloads of cattle

e in the stock yards for shipment to Kansas City and the town (with a population

of about 100) was filled with hilarious cowboys who vented their spirits by

whooping and yelling and emptying their six shooters in the air.

      My depot was a shed 8 x 30 feet with one end partitioned off for an office.

This depot gave way in a few weeks to new quarters. The company moved in a

section house from an unused portion of the road, which served as our living

quarters and with an added office and freight room it served us very nicely.

      I had been on my new job only a short time when I received a shipment of

drugs for Sam Brown, a half breed Indian, who kept a store 30 miles down the

river. This shipment consisted of 30 or 40 boxes of varying sizes and I had

stacked them of my waiting room. Two deputy marshals came in and after looking

suspiciously over the pile told me they thought there was liquor there and they

were going to open the boxes and see. I new the federal law, which was to the

effect, that an officer could seize a suspected shipment from a transportation co.

if it was on the platform outside the building, but it required a search warrant to

take it from inside. So I asked them if they had a search warrant. The tallest of

the two pulled out his gun and stuck it in my ribs and said "This is my search

warrant". I replied, "All right, with that gun sticking in my ribs, you can have

anything I have, but I want it understood that you are taking those boxes by

force and under protest". He blustered quite vigorously, but in the end he stuck

his gun back in its holster and they left. The following morning the other deputy

came in and told me I had been in the right, and they had hoped to bluff me.

This episode did not hurt me with my public. The most delicate situation with

which I had to deal with in my Red Fork experience was that involving on one

hand my relations with the U.S. authorities as represented by the deputy marshals,

and in the other, with the people among whom i lived. It must be understood that

conditions were far different than what they would have been in a more civilized

community with upright law enforcement officers on one hand, and a criminal

element on the other, where one's duty could be plain and easily performed. These

deputies were a tough lot, many of them with criminal records of their own, and

their liquor seizures very seldom found their way to headquarters. My own personal

safety required that I adopt a neutral attitude for had I tipped off to the deputies

to suspicious shipments or disclosed the names of consignees, my life would have

been in the gravest danger.

      One episode comes to my mind: A teacher at the Indian mission several

miles west of Red Fork, wrote me that he was to be married and he had ordered

a half dozen bottles of very choice liquor with which to celebrate the event.

He gave me the date of the expected arrival and as a special favor asked that

I would try to protect it for him. In due time, the package arrived. As I was

taking it from the express messenger a deputy stepped forward and grabbed it.

I knew that if he got possession of it before I could get it into the express room

there was nothing I could do about it. So with one hand grasping the cord

around the package, I pulled one way and he the other. Quick as a flash,

he pulled a knife and severed the cord allowing the package to fall to the

platform where of course it became his lawful seizure. A couple of hours later,

I saw this same deputy dead drunk with two bottles of confiscated liquor

sticking out of each side of his overcoat pocket. Such happenings which were

by no means unusual, did not induce an express agent to risk his own security

by working with these legal bandits.

      Along in the early 90s, the country became infested with outlaw gangs.

These desperadoes, all crack shots and killers, became very bold. The most

widely known of these was the Dalton gang. Their ringleaders were three

brothers, Grat, Bob, and Emmet Dalton. These three Dalton boys had been

deputy U.S. marshals when I first knew them and I came to know them well,

for Red Fork was their jumping off place while they were still on the force.

Emmet was the younger of the three and while still a deputy had been acting

as a courier on an underground which ran stolen horses from Kansas down to

Texas where their confederates disposed of them. I do not know how long this

had been going on, but one day Emmet brought a stolen horse into Red Fork

and put it in a vacant barn near the depot to keep it overnight. Something

happened to make him suspicious, so he set fire to the barn that night,

destroying both the barn and the incriminating evidence. Within two weeks

after that incident, all three of the boys went on the road and a few months

later ended their career in Coffeyville, Kansas where in a bank robbery, Grat

and Bob were killed and Emmet filled with buckshot from which he only

recovered to get a ninety-nine year sentence from which he was paroled several

years later. He located here in Los Angeles, where he died a couple of years ago.

I understand that he became a good citizen after his release.

      Now I am going to set down four or five incidents, none of them important

in themselves, but they give a further insight into Indian Territory life as I saw

it in the late 80s and early 90s.

      I sat with an acquaintance in the rear of Parkinson's store when a third man,

a stranger to me, walked down the aisle and stopped about four feet in front of

us and with scarcely more than half a dozen words pulled his gun and threw it

down on my companion who made a quick leap at him. The gun fired and a 45

caliber bullet passed between my left arm and my body and lodged in the trunk

of a tree where I afterwards dug it out.

      In the same store, I witnessed what to me was a very amusing scene. Old

man Parkinson was a good old sole, but very gruff and independent. He was

sitting in an arm chair on the porch of his store when a "sooner" drove up with

his family in a covered wagon enroute to the Cherokee Strip, which was about

to be opened for settlement. The man got out and remarked that he would like

to buy a shirt. Old man Parkinson got up with a sigh, walked into the store and

pulled one single shirt off a shelf and slapped it down on the counter. The

customer looked at it and asked Parkinson if he had one of a different color.

The old man grabbed the shirt, threw it back on the shelf and remarked,

"I guess by God, you don't want a shirt very bad", and stalked back out to

his armchair.

      Then there was the case of the lone Indian. I was sitting at the end of my

station platform one sunny day, when a lone Indian rode by on his pony. He

did not look at me as he passed, but when about 50 yards beyond, he calmly

turned in his saddle, threw up his Winchester, and fired three shots into the end

of the depot. Then he just as calmly resumed his position and rode slowly off

without giving me so much as a glance. Of course he was not shooting at me,

for at that distance, he could have knocked the buttons off my shirt. I think

he probably just wanted to show his contempt for the white man and all that

belonged to him.

      Another touch of comedy had to do with five little wild turkeys that a hen

hatched out for me from eggs that I had stolen from a nest while hunting. Every

morning, about sunrise, those little turkeys would start on a run across the

prairie with the hen following them. No hen or turkeys would be visible until

dusk was falling when here would come the five little turkeys, as fresh and

cocky as ever. In 10 or 15 minutes, the poor hen would appear with both wings

dragging on the ground. The most woebegone hen I ever saw. It may not sound

funny, but it was a killing sight to witness.

      One other trivial but interesting experience had to do with a singing mouse.

This was a story I ceased to tell after after most of my friends showed by their

expression that they thought I was a modern Baron Munchausen, but later I

learned that while very unusual, this had occurred before.

      Clara's canaries were great singers and one day she reported hearing

canaries singing in the walls, but on a much lower and softer scale than that

of the birds in the cage. Afterwards we repeatedly heard this ghostly singing

in the most out of the way places. We were at a loss to account for this spooky

music until one day Clara discovered a mouse on a shelf on our back porch.

The little rascal was on his haunches like a squirrel and it's throat was throbbing

in and out as it poured out it's canary song. We scattered feed around it and it

became quite tame, and it became a daily event to see and hear it. In the

course of time, the feed attracted so many other mice, (none of them singers),

that in self protection, we had to put out poison and unfortunately, our pet

folded up. I have since been told that this phenomenon occurs only in a house

where there are singing canaries, and then very rarely

      It us difficult for me to write about the most dramatic experience we had

in our Red Fork life because there are so many sidelights which had a bearing

on it, and that would be impossible to include without running these memories

into a boresome length both to myself and to anyone kind enough to read them.

I have mentioned that in the early 90s there was an epidemic of outlawry in the

Indian Territory. Among these outfits was one known as the "Cook Gang" of

seven members. There was only one outstanding killer in the gang, "Cherokee Bill".

Most of the others were merely holdup men and thieves. Bill Cook was the nominal

head, but Cherokee was the dynamic force of the bunch. Cherokee was part Indian,

part Mexican, and part White, and the rest of him was pure devil.

      Late one night, after eleven o'clock, Clara and I were in the living room of

the depot when there came a knock on the office door. At the door was Cherokee

Bill who asked me if there was a C.O.D. shipment of Winchester rifles there for

him. There was, and he came in, paid the

C.O.D. and express charges, and after a short conversation took the guns and left.

As I let him out the door, I noticed in the bright moonlight tow or three men

stationed at intervals between the depot and Parkinson's store. It looked a little

peculiar to me, but as the Cook Gang was not yet in existence, I had no way of

knowing that this gun shipment was to arm them. I gave the matter little thought

and went to bed.

      Two or three days later at 4:15p.m. I was starting across our yard with a

milk pail, intending to milk my jersey cow, before the arrival of the one daily

regular train which was due at 5:15.  As I crossed the yard, two men came out

of the back door of the waiting room. One was a full blood Indian named Munson

and the other, a sallow faced white man named Skeeter. they asked me when

the train would be in and I told them it was on time. Munson said, "Well this is

a holdup, but if you do not make any bad breaks you will not get hurt". They

were both heavily armed with Winchesters and two 45s each. They marched me

into the depot where they went through the cash drawer where fortunately

there was only about sixteen dollars, then through the express room where the

took a package of cigars and one containing a gallon of whiskey. I was warned

against going near the telegraph instruments. Then we marched out on the front

platform where they sat with their backs to the wall, with me between them.

One of them tore open the package of cigars and filled my pocket and his own.

They were quite friendly and told me they did not want any of my personal

money, but they were just after that damned Express Company.

      I was told that when the train arrived they were going to take the engineer

and fireman off the engine and that I was to run ahead of Munson, who would

get the fireman while Skeeter took the other side of the train and would get the

engineer. Up to this time, I had no sign of anyone except my captors, but as

the train drew up to the platform, the other five members of the gang,

including Bill Cook and Cherokee Bill, ran out from behind some box cars

standing on a siding.

      I trotted up to the engine with Munson's Winchester in uncomfortable

proximity to my back. To the last day of my life,I shall not forget the terror

stricken face of that fireman as a Winchester was shoved through the cab door

and he was ordered to come out. Meanwhile, three other members of the gang

covered the train crew, and the other two, one of them with Cherokee, jumped

in the open door of the express compartment and ordered the messenger to

open his safe which was empty as this was the end of the line and the only

money was in his express book, waiting for my signature. By this time. my

captors and I were on the platform, as the train was very short. Only two

cars between the combination coach and the engine.

      For some reason, the robbers did not think of taking the messengers book

and failed to find any money. Cherokee smashed the messenger over the head

with his 45 putting a gash clear across his scalp, but not knocking him out.

The messenger tossed his book containing a package of $1200.00 in currency

out onto the platform and I gave it a kick behind a trunk where it stayed

unnoticed. After firing a volley in the air from their Winchesters, the

disappointed gang left.

      My own escape from danger did not become known to me for several days

when I learned that instead of making a quick get-a-way, as would have been

expected, the gang stopped at the home of a friend on the edge of town to get

supper. Cherokee still thought I had that money and he said that he was going

back to get it and if I did not deliver it he would kill me. He got as far as the door

on this mission when Bill Cook, who was a big husky guy grabbed him and would

not let him leave. Had he come, I would not be writing this, for with no thought

that the gang was still in the neighborhood, I was at the telegraph desk writing

a report of the holdup to my superintendent and I would not have had the money

anyway, as after the gang left, I told the messenger to keep it till the next morning.

Cherokee's reputation as a ruthless killer was evidence of the close call I had.

      It seems that the gang had information of this $1200.00 package being due

on that train. The action of Bill Cook in what I firmly believe saved my life, was

due to a certain regard he had for me because before he graduated into the

outlaw class, he had been a bootlegger and he appreciated my not tipping the

deputies off to him.

      Late that night, a carload of deputy marshals and their horses arrived from

headquarters and the next day ran into the gang only a little over ten miles

from Red Fork. In the ensuing battle, three of the gang were killed and Bill Cook

and Skeeter captured. Unfortunately, the real devil, Cherokee, escaped with

another of the bunch and soon formed another gang of which he became the

leader. Bill Cook and Skeeter each got 40 years, having no killings to their record.

Cherokee did kill several more men before he was finally captured and hanged

at Fort Smith.

      Cherokee's capture was quite dramatic. He had boasted that he would never

be taken alive and he never slept without his Winchester at his side. One cold

night he stopped at a negro hideout. He stepped up to the fireplace to warm his

hands leaning his gun against the end of the fireplace. The negro, who had been

offered a reward if he would capture him, stepped behind him and struck him

over the head with an iron bar. He and his wife tied him up and sent word to the

marshals. It was quite a relief to me when he was finally hanged for he had

made a boast that he was coming back to get me, as he held me responsible for

their failure at Red Fork.

      I must not fail to mention that while this robbery was in progress, Clara sat

at an upstairs window calmly sewing through the whole event. I asked her if she

had not been scared. She said she was scared at first when she heard them say

they were going to hold up the station and train, but when she heard them say

I would not get hurt if I made no bad breaks, she lost her fear as she felt

confident that I would be sensible. There was the making of a pioneer in that

woman!  I have seen evidence of that same spirit in her many times.

======================================================

       This brings Uncle Arthur's story to the year 1894 and it continues

on and on, but the print from the old typewriter was getting to be

unreadable, so I'll just say that he continued working as a rail road

station agent at various bigger and less remote stations until 1903.

For the next 26 years, he was a traveling salesman for a grocery chain

in the states of Washington and Oregon. In 1934, he retired and 

moved to California where he lived close to us.

 

     Aunt Clara died in 1947, and Uncle Arthur in 1949. We found

this following story which he wrote as a tribute to his Dear Clara.

He must have written it a year before he died.

     How comforting his deep religious faith was to him. It certainly

demonstrates the value of religion.

 

           A MEMORY AND A HOPE

       From that memorable, cold, snowy day of Feb. 21st, 1886 when my wife

and I married in the parlor of her home in Ashland County, Ohio, to that fateful

day of April 1st,1947 when she sweetly and painlessly passed away in Pomona,

Calif. hospital, there was an intervening period of sixty-one years, one month

and eleven days, a length of married life rarely bestowed on a couple embarking

together on life's journey.

      With one or two exceptions no highly dramatic events marked those years,

but there were soul-searching experiences which none but ourselves could fully

grasp. The one outstanding bond was the mutual love which united us, especially

in the later years of our lives.

      There is an old adage, not always true, that marriages are made in heaven.

I am under the most solemn conviction that this was true as to our own. While

she might have chosen another for a husband far superior to me in every way,

the fact remains that we were eminently well fitted for each other. Our opinions

on all the important things of life coincided, and if in some cases this were not

wholly true, we could always meet on common ground without either one

sacrificing our established convictions, for we each respected the standpoint

of the other. As a rule however, we shared each other's opinions on our

outlook of life and our responsibilities to our fellow man and to each other.

      In approaching an analysis of her beautiful character, I find that words

fail to express intelligently my thoughts. There was a depth there of love for

her god, of unselfish sacrifice and tender affection for me which none but her

maker and me could fathom, and to me, this revelation came long after years

of companionship.

      In face and form, she was not an outstanding beauty, but the loveliness of

that pure soul illuminated her face till it shone with a reflected glory of her mind

and heart. The ruling passion of her life was love for her savior and for me and

my happiness. For her, no sacrifice was too great when it came to ministering

to my welfare. She was so quiet and unassuming that her real virtues were not

appreciated except by the few who had been brought into close contact with

her for many years, and some of these failed to grasp the inner qualities of

that heart of gold.

      Her death was like that of a child who after a strenuous day falls asleep

in its mother's arms. For nearly two years now, the attractions of this world

have lost all their meaning to me. As the time lengthens, my grief and

loneliness for this gracious, lovely companion increases, but as my own end

draws nearer, I am sustained and comforted by the joyful assurance that our

reunion cannot be long delayed. Then will come true, the hearts desire of both

of us. That there by the river, and under the tree of life which flourishes before

the throne, and in the presence of our glorious redeemer, we shall spend

together the ages to come.

      In speaking of my present solitary longing, I would be thankless indeed not

to mention the god given dear and faithful friends who have stood up for me to

lesson the sorrow, which fills my heart. I have always appreciated true friends,

but never as I do now. These dear and deeply prized ones do everything humanly

possible to add to my comfort, and in their kindness are truly a revelation to me.

Daily, I thank god for them and invoke for them his reward for their thoughtfulness

and care, so that when their time comes to morn the loss of a dear one, they may

receive the same comfort and sustaining help they have shown me.

      And so my thoughts are divided. On the one hand is the selfish sense of

present loss, and on the other, an ever growing joy that my beloved one has

escaped from her frail tired body, and has found eternal rest where the god

who loved her in this life will add through the millenniums of time to come,

new joys and crowns of righteousness and rejoicing.

      In the meantime, sustained by faith, I try to be resigned to his will and

wait with patience his call to shed this earthly body of corruption that I may

 clothed with the incorruptible garment of his righteousness.

                   Arthur E. Diefendorf Pomona, Calif. Dec.4th 1948

 

            

    Uncle Arthur and Aunt Clara...1884...just married 

 

 

 

=====================================================

 

      In a stack of old fragile letters that Uncle Arthur had written to his cousin

Thelma, I found this letter written on his old beat-up typewriter.....barely readable.

It gives a great example of what goes through an old man's mind after his life's

companion has left him......I went to the trouble to type this out because he

mentions our family.
_______________________________________________________________

Dear Thelma Pomona Calif. August 14th,1951
       It has been on my mind for several days to write you, and when Cora,

this morning, handed me a letter from your mother, my thoughts crystallized

on the one I had promised myself to write. Now do not get into that lovely

noodle of yours that this is to be a real letter, for there is no news and no

unusual occasion for this limited outburst. It is just an uncontrollable desire

to talk to you via U.S. mail and to reassure you of my unchanging regard

for your welfare.
       All goes well with me but I get lonesome at times and my thoughts turn

to those who, aside from the Streits, are dear to me. Who comes nearer to

filling that bill than the Whitmer family? And what would the Whitmer family

do without a Thelma? What would be left is a truly desirable combination, but

it would lack the "Worcestershire Sauce" necessary to bring out the full flavor.
       I wrote Alice yesterday and told her that in my heart I put her and you in

a special bracket to be taken out and looked at when I felt depressed and

needed a tonic.
       George Jr. and Helen spent several days at the beach and left their baby

with Cora, and I fell desperately in love with that lovely little lady. Not a

whimper out of her during the several days of her stay. And such a cherubic

smile on her face when talked to!
       Our next door neighbors, the Blanchards, are away for the summer and

today someone with the aid of a ladder smashed out a window and ransacked

the house. Loss unknown.
       The death of W.R. Hearst reminds me that at one time my brother, Will,

was on his editorial staff at $15,000 a year.
       It has been hot out here but otherwise all is well, but we do long for some

long forgotten breezes. I notice no problems in my own health. I hope you can

say the same.
       My ideas, which at the start of this letter were at the, least very nebulous,

have now disappeared entirely, so I will be off in disgust, both as it applies to

myself and to you. I am positive you will recognize the symptoms of a rapidly

vanishing mentality.

 

                            Love to all............Cousin Arthur

 

======================================================

 

 

           UNCLE  ARTHUR'S  PINCOTTA  RECIPE
                     As handed down to GeorgieBoy

 

4 1/2 cups apricots (I used canned apricots haves)
1 1/4 cups chopped pineapple
2 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
9 packs gelatin
9 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups pineapple juice

 

      Soak gelatin  in pineapple juice.
      Drain as much juice as possible from the apricots and pineapple,
then mix with sugar and bring to a slow boil.
      Let boil for about 40 minutes while stirring as necessary ......
Mixture will become thick and turn slightly brown and apricot halves
will become mushy.
      Remove from stove and let cool a little.  Then stir in the chopped
walnuts and soaked galetin.
      Pour into flat pans (about i/2 inch thick) and let set untill it gets
hard enough to cut into cquares so it can be rolled in powered sugar.
      Depending on the moisture in the apricots and the boiling time,
I've had to let it set as long as 2 weeks, but with this ammount of
gelatin and boiling time, it should set up overnight.

 

Good luck, and don't eat too much (like me) or you'll get a belly ache.

 

======================================================

        I found one more little thing that Uncle Arthur wrote in a letter that

he sent to a popular radio religious commentator. 

         

 

Pomona Calif, Dec.28,1948
Mr. Fred Shields A. M.
Care K. H. J. Los Angeles

       
Dear Fish:
In my infancy I was taught the following,
touching hymn:

             
"I wish I were a Cassowary
in the wilds of Timbucktoo
Wouldn't I eat a missionary
Skin and bones and hymnbook too"

         

 

Modern version:
"I wish I were a microphone
standing before Shields A. M. the Fred
I'd cram into that wooden Dome
His A.B.C's till he was dead"

        

 

Chorus
(soft and low, with organ on tremolo stop)
Dead, dead, as a salted Mack-er-ell"

        

Yours wistfully,
The Poet of Pomona
A.E.D.

 

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