Back to the Heartland: A Soprano’s Aria Chapter 18

Oct 25 1916 Wed Up bright and early getting ready to start on our trip to Neb. Uncle accompanied us down to the [Salt Lake Railway] Depot. [It operated from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City Utah] I bought a magazine and was glad to get started. I so got my first sight of the orange groves they stand out plainly on account of their dark glossy green leaves and orange fruit. They are most beautiful in their lovely valley with the snow capped mountains beyond which is most picturesque at Riverside and San Bernardino, a very pretty town at the foot of the Sierras. Later we have just finished our first lunch on the cars. The lovely orchards and palms have vanished in the rear. And cactus and sage brush have taken their place in our range of vision.

San Bernardino Mountains and Orange Orchards

At summit I washed up the canned milk which had leaked out. From her we traveled through miles of level country covered with a sort of grotesque palm of which I not-not.

Turning northward we come to a hilly rocky lonesome region boasting a little townlet called Victorville where they manufacture Portland cement. The scene is enhanced with cotton wood and other trees ad a pleasant stream of water flows through the town.

Train through Narrows Victorville, California

Leaving the rocky ridge we pass on through sage brush and bunch grass sparingly, mostly weeds and bare sand.

Barstow a pretty station ouse built in mission style with this inscription over the portal Casa Del Dieserto.

Casa Del Desierto, Barstow California

From here on for several hours, we saw no life of any sort nor human habitation just the sage covered valley with the hills against the distant sky. About sunset we came to Kelso which is a row of small cottages with its cottonwoods typical of al other little towns of this region. South eastern Calif. to South Western Nevada. it is now getting dark and cooler which is very grateful.

Oct 26 Thurs Somewhere in Nevada. The scene which greeted us upon arising this morning was much the same as the one upon which we last gazed before retiring last night. The monotonous yet restful landscape with out a sign of human or animal life, yet even as I write a tiny bird flew past the window winging its way whitherward. A couple of hours we past Lintie a tiny mining town with its small evergreen trees. We are within a couple of hours of Salt Lake City.

An hour later we are passing through a beautiful valley with rows of cultivated trees. We are near Salt Lake now. The mountains are nearer and the highest peaks are covered with snow. I see a little white school house in a little grove. Off to the east larger groves appear . Salt Lake has been out of sight for several hours. The white mounds along the shore I suppose is salt from the Lake which will reach our tables eventually.

Now I notice a peculiar thing about this lake which I notice 8 years ago when we crossed the north end on the U.P.R.R. [Union Pacific Rail Road] going west. It was the vivid color. Just now appears green then it was red with other colors.

We have crossed another R.R. and a town in the distance shuddering over and on. It is a pretty picture enough to satisfy the most exacting. The meadow hay of Oct day the shadowy snow crowned mountains in the near background. The cozy comfy houses among the stately poplars willows and cottonwoods. The sere and yellow is over all like a beautiful mantle. Salt Lake with its long wide streets and metropolitan air. The first city since leaving Los Angeles. I got off the train and walked up and down the Depot platform.

Salt Lake City Union Station

I couldent see much but should have liked to stay awhile and visit brother Charles and his 3 little boys graves. [Charles Paden is Lulu’s younger brother. He and his sons: Dallas Ivan, James Irvin, and Charles Rendell all died in 1907 They are buried at Mt Olivet Cemetery in Salt Lake City]

Great Salt Lake Cutoff

Ogden, wait 120 min. Wrote to Lolita and Milo. 4 oclock just passed devils slide which is a peculiar double wall of gray rock extending up and down the side of a steep mountain peak. a little station is named for it.

Devils Slide Weber Canyon, Utah

A little further on at Hefner [Henefer] the soil is a bright red. At last we come to the land of grass and cattle. It is very pretty in the valleys and grand in the mountains west of Cheyenne. Newsy just held Mother up for a picture book and some jewelry. 5:30 the sun is setting behind the hills. For hours we have been running along a tiny valley in the center of which the tiniest stream of water flowed. Here the U.P. Rail Road is building a new track which has an easier grade . As the train turned to leave the little beauty spot I looked back upon a lovely scene, far down the valley and among the hills. The construction gang of the R.R. was camped along a tiny running brook and behind were the hills piled upon hills to the sky line blue gray in the distance.

We are now leaving behind the Rocky hills and continuing to low rolling ones which afford grazing for cattle.

It is dark now we are whizzing away to the eastward clatterly bangs. Ot evening meal is over. Our lunch holds out amazingly. Mother seems to be standing the trip away. The last town we saw was Evanston Wyo. The porter will soon make our beds and then good night.

Oct 27 Friday Up and dressed just peeped out and I believe thats Cheyenne . I slid up the other blinds and sure enough it is. We stopped at Cheyenne 10 or 15 min. then roll along again. Patches of snow is seen along the way. The porter is making up the berths.

Union Pacific Train Station Cheyenne Wyoming

Hillsdale We had a long wait here at 9:45 oclock we passes the wreck. Wreck piled up on both sides of the track where two trains ran into each other and a brakeman was killed. Passed through Julesburg. There’s a freight and a passenger ahead of us we are 3 hours late on account of the wreck.

We have come into the land of wild hay and some corn and fenced pastures. Passed North Platte while back changed, crossed the Platte river. First time I leave had the good fortune to go through western Neb in the day time.

7 oclock Had our last lunch on the cars of hot cocoa and at 9 oclock arrived at Schulyer, was met by Jessie and Mell who took us on a delightful trip motor ride int heir new Maxwell, 12 mi out to the old home.

Schulyer Nebraska Train Station

[Oct] 28 At Jessie Kendricks [her sister] on the old Paden farm [where Lulu grew up beginning about 1874 when she was 6], busy as bees. Had a most beautiful delightful day Clair brought his new wife over to see us. They have a fine baby girl Mildred.

Paden Homestead Rogers, NE c. 1900


The Paden Homestead was standing in 1975 but was subsequently torn down.

PADEN Homestead in blue where Lulu grew up, where her son Milo was born. In red is where her parents James Lewis PADEN and Mille Almena COATS lived. Note the school

Mrs Irene Scott Hamilton wrote in 1934 Busbes Blackcaps, Barbs & Berries; ” The sale of the Old Paden farm by Alex Legge to George A Oberg of Schulyer brings to mind pictures of the good times Purple Cane folks have enjoyed in that rambling old house. The house itself is a contemporary of the Legge and Funk houses in the same neighborhood, it having been built by “Singing’ School” Louis Paden in the same era, and after the same grandiose style of architecture. Folks had many children in those days and hired help was inexpensive and easy to get, and hence a house that spread all over one forty acre was quite a thing.

The outstanding feature of the old Paden house was its cupola or lookout tower on the roof, from which both the Maple Creek valley to the north and west, and the Platte valley to the south and east, could be seen (a panoramic view). To get up to the cupola one climbed the narrow stairs and from there mounted a ladder to a trap door in the roof. The windows were full length in the cupola and one could stand erect as he “viewed the landscape o’er”. Characteristic of the “golden era” was that cupola.

When Mr Legge purchased the place from the Paden heirs, after three generations of Padens had lived in its many rooms, slid down its long staircase railing (of rosewood), and played beneath the shade of its cedar trees, the old cupola was deemed unsafe and was removed. It did modernize the house considerably, that piece of work; but it cost the old house much of its charm. Fortunately Adele Kendrick Black possesses a large picture of the house of her forebears, cupola et al.

To the present generation –the third since old Louis —the old Paden place is especially remembered for the days when Jessie Paden lived there. Jessie was a hospitable soul, if ever there was one, so that it was a spiritual impossibility for her to refuse the use of her many roomed domicile for any person or organization needing a local for activity. Ladies Aid bazaars, choir practices, Halloween parties, weddings, they all came in for their share of Jessie’s hospitality.

Oct 29 Bright Bracing Sunday. Went to Church morning and evening. Old church looks and is very dilapidated.

Purple Cane Church c. 1975

Oct 30 Cleaned house for the bazar.

Oct 31 Miss Dunn and Miss Edmondson came over to decorate. Later in the evening minister Smith came with his little red houses made of tissue paper with a lamp inside and black cats and bats. They lighted the house with pumpkins made into Jack o lanterns and fancy paper one hung by black and yellow ropes made of tissue paper. With apologies to Shakespeare the girls gave us the witches retreat. The lights were dimmed and alcohol fire lighted under an iron pot suspended by a tripod in the center of the room the witches bent and old and draped in black did a kettle chanting their incantations and tossing their evil potions into the brew. It was unique.

Nov 1 Jessie, Audrey and I went to Fremont in the car and did some shopping bought some music. “The end of a perfect day.” O that we two were saying and Dust and the Shadows falling. Also a beautiful silk dress for Audrey.

Nov 2 Went to the Ladies Aid at Hamilton.

Nov 3 Friday. Cut Audreys dress

Sat 4 Housework of all kinds. First letter from S. F. since I came.

Nov 5 Brother Ed and family came up in their Overland had a fine visit with all of them.

Nov 6 Went to Fremont to hear a great Debate between the Wets and drys. [Prohibition for and against]

Nov 7 Sewing on Audrys dress

Nov 8 Went to visit Claire’s

Nov 9 Audrey Chester & I went to Schulyer in the car/ The town is absolutely dead could find nothing we wanted dress trimming line.

1880 Map showing Colfax & Dodge County Nebraska

Nov 10 Worked on Audreys dress. Got a letter from the boys and Uncle Rufe posted up my diary from our start at S.F. from notes taken on the way.

Nov 11 Mailed letter to Boys and card to Jessie for Ladies Aid. Finished Audreys dress.

Nov 12 Cold snowy blowy Sunday. my first taste of real writer. Passed most of the day playing and singing out of Royces song Book entitled the Abridged Academy Song Book, Livermore 75¢ for use in schools and colleges. This book contains most of the songs the children have been working on for years in the graded schools.

Nov 13. Bitter cold Monday. Spent the day crocheting by the fire as sister Jessie have made a doily pincushion top and crocheted wrist bag since I came.

Nov 14 No letter from home this morning. It is very cold so admitted by the native Nebraskan. Everything’s frozen in the Etude that the “la Dolce Campana” [The sweet bell] by Sarah is the finest air known.

Nov 15 Last day of my 48th year am feeling fine and fit for which I thank the Lord. We visited brother John Paden and his family today and had a good time. Got a letter from Jessie and answered it. Will go out and mail it now.

Nov 16. 49 years old. Very dull quiet day. Auto ride to Rogers in afternoon. Passed the old Thrush Place where a Mr. O Hare has built a fine modern house.

Nov 17. Got a big fat letter for Allie announcing his marriage to Miss Agness Williams on Nov 9.

Nov 19 Sunday. Another week has passed into the realm of the irrevocable. Today is the most beautiful sunny pleasant and enjoyable. We went to church this morning and driving in the auto in the after dinner or rather lunch time and returned in time to get dinner and go to the evening service. We got stuck in the mud and backed out with a crippled car but got safely home as stated. Rather think the car won’t take us to church tonight.

Nov 20 Colder with a lonesome wind. Borrowed sugar of Mrs Gless. Finishing blue silk dress begun in San Francisco.

Nov 21 Cloudy and the glinting storm. Stayed at Jessies and crocheted nearly all day. Jessie, Audrey & I went to Rogers and got some eats and material for some cushions which I did not make a note of then.

Nov 22 Wed. Snowed last night and awhile today but it thawing tonight. Spent the day crocheting some buttons for mother and some wisteria colored roses for a cushion top. This evening we had some music and it always brings on the old sadness that I could not have had my voice trained. Instead at 49 I have not a penny in the world figuratively speaking. Is it Gods will?

BACKGROUND: from Elsie Paden McMenany’s “Personal Glimpses” her grandfather was James Lewis “Louie” Paden who was Mary “Lulu” Paden’s father. “Grandpa was noted in his family for obedience and perfection in many activities, although a church man I am sure he was not cruel. As proof if his addiction to duty and perfection, he organized and directed a “Singing School. His children sang in it, those who could carry a tune. His oldest child “Lulu” was his lead soprano. Mama said Lulu’s voice was so beautiful they she could listen to her sing all day, although Mama disliked her sister in law. Grandpa had perfect pitch as did Lulu…Grandpa played the violin by ear…Grandpa could detect the slightest deviation from perfect pitch and if Lulu deviated, he scolded her to a fare- the-well in front of the entire “school,” reducing her to tears… Grandpa’s insistence for perfection paid off, for after Aunt Lulu, her husband and family moved to Minneapolis years later, she became the lead soprano in the Minneapolis Civic Opera Chorus.“]

James Lewis PADEN’s violin courtesy Maila Hammerstrom

Nov 23. Flossie Kendrick’s birthday. We were all over to their place to a birthday party. Had a pleasant time eating chicken dinner and exchanging crochet patterns. Are home again and the long lonesome evening before me. I am just crazy to see some of my own children.

” 24. Friday Jessie & I went to Fremont and she bought herself a beautiful silk dress pattern and trimmings (this looks like surplus of Erna’s).

25 Sat. Crocheted on wisteria lace in the forenoon. Walked out to Royce’s cornfield in afternoon and tried my hand at husking corn. Jessie was along and we helped him thru 4 rows. Royce selected a fine ear of corn for me for a souvenir.

” 26 Sunday Kendricks Mother P. & I motored down to Ames to see Ed Paden and family. We has a pleasant afternoon/ Georgie had a fine dinner consisting of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, lemon Pie , apple salad , beet pickles ect. After dinner we had some music on the phonograph and piano and looked thru several albums of snapshots. Came home around 5:45. Dinner at six. Church at the usual hour. Good night Hope the morning brings a letter from some of the folks.

Nov 27. Not very well. Crocheted most of the day and helped with housework.

Nov 28. Worked on Jessie’s dress. My head aches some and do not feel very lively. Got a good letter from my daughter Jessie and ans’d it. Will mail it in the morning. It is nearly bedtime.

Nov 29. Spent the day sewing.

Thur ” 30 Thanksgiving day. Working hard. Everything to do. Jessie K’s dress to finish , mine to finish also. Salad and cake to make also candy for the bazzar at Ferguesons. Hurry is the order of the day.

Dec 1. First day of the last mo. Beautiful weather. Feel fine after the bazar. the Ladies aid took in about $115 The doilie I contributed brought $1.00. I bought a collar for Lolita that Mrs Hamilton crocheted for .50 and a clothespin sack for .30 also some delicious candy for 10¢ .

Dec 2. Just 7 years today since I came home to visit –my mother who was recovering from a paraletic stroke. She is apparently as well or better now than then. She is never well and our fount of sympathy has to be inexhaustible. I have to forget or ignore my own aches and pains and listen to a tale of hers 49 years of it. Contemplate it.

Dec 3. Sunday again. I did not state in yesterdays note or rather entry that I went to Schulyer with Jessie and saw her take an osteopathic treatment she seems to think it does her good. I mailed letters to Leo, frank, Mrs Schnee and a card to Jessie. This sunday morning it is cloudy and a little cooler. The cornhuskers finished yesterday and will leave today which will make two less to cook for. (Sun Eve.) We all went to church this morning and after a lunch at home we started to Dodge in the car at 3 oclock. Arriving there after a pleasant spin through the prosperous country scenery. We called upon Frank and Fannie Black and invited them down to dinner next Sunday. On our way home we stopped at Elsie Black Harris place and chatted a few moments before resuming our way homeward. where we arrived safely at 6 oclock. Again a hurried lunch and off to church , which I enjoyed very much.

Dec 4 Monday a wash day.

Dec 5. Tuesday & Ironing , baking, dressing pork and going to Schulyer. I bought for 5 ¢ a crochet Book. Met Mrs Roberts of Calif.

Dec 6 Wed. Tried out new Irish lace pattern. Jessie finished caring for the pork made sausage & lard & mince meat.

Dec 7. Stayed at home and sewed all day.

Dec 8 Same. Also got a letter from Leo telling of his early marriage. I ans’d it also wrote a card to Agness.

Dec 9. Cleaned house. Went to Schulyer with Jessie & Audrey. Met Mrs Washburn and had a nice talk with her on the street.

10 Sunday stayed home from church looking for Frank Blacks folks to come but they failed to do so.

11 Rather a flat dull day spent several days crocheting some edging for a Christmas present.

12 Tuesday looking for the letter that didnt come got several letters from Al, Leo and the bunch at home ans’d them.

13 Same as the others.

14 Thurs. The day my little Lolita big date was to graduate and I suppose she did.

15 Fri. Claire and Family moved. We had them to dinner and supper. We all went over and helped them unpack and set things up.

16. Sat. Jessie, Audrey, Adele and myself went to Schulyer to do some shopping for Christmas. We called on old Mrs Washburn who was out.

17 Sun. Went to Purple Cane Church in morning and to Mrs. Belle Hughes in afternoon to dinner enjoyed it very much. Went to church again in the evening.

18 Mon Sewed last night. Went up to John Paden’s to take Bro Horace up. he & I went out in the woods to hunt squirrels but dident get any. Dot cooked us a fine dinner of fried rabbit etc.

Jessie, Audrey & I played on Bertha Parker Paden Blacks old organ and sang many songs out of a song book called Heart songs given by the Fremont Tribune for a premium. Beautiful trip home.

Heart Songs published in 1909

19. Tues. Cold and snowy spent day sewing on Christmas aprons and crocheting.

20 Cold as ever can be. Crotched lace for pillow slip. Did out some washing which froze stiff as soon as hung up. Heard of poor Old Mrs Washburns death.

Fixed up Goldies Christmas Box. Got a letter from Lolita also one from Frank sending me 5 dollars.

Dec 21. Went Schulyer today and looked upon the dead face of an old friend Mrs Washburn 77 years old. In the same house she entertained me and my little brood of youngsters, when Milo was a baby 17 years ago. I was waiting for a train to take me to Colorado and my father James L. Paden carried Dewey who was the next oldest. Father took us to the train later in the evening and held Dewey until the train started. He named Dewey after the Manilla hero [Admiral George Dewy is best known for his victory at the Battle of Manilla Bay during the Spanish American War].

This morning I got a friendly letter from Allie urging me to come on.I have finished doing up some Christmas parcels and intend starting for Minneapolis tomorrow If I can get off.

Fri Dec 22 Well I got off. Mell gave me $15 and brought down my trunk to see me off. Jessie and Audrey came also. They put me up a very fine lunch. Now I, off. I watch for Ames and Bro Eds house and dont see any body. Good bye my old home tears blind my eyes what rarely shed them. Mother hated to see me go. I am afraid I’ll never see her alive again.

Speeding onward through prosperous eastern Neb. so peaceful and beautiful but not for me. What freak of fortune made me a wanderer on the face of the earth– I, who so loveth a permanent abiding place?

Got to Omaha 3 hrs late. Paid porter 25¢ to carry baggage to depot. He hunted me up with difficulty and put them on the train. We leas another long wait and when we finally get started we crawled along slowly. When we got to Sioux City we were told to take another train. which we did. And after a tiresome hot crowed ride arrived in Mankato Saturday.

Dec 23 Without mishap. The rest of the journey to Mpl’s was more enjoyable altho very crowded. I arrived at the North W’m Depot. Checked my hamper left check for trunk and took Como- Harriet [street] car for the Stratford Hotel 84 So 12 St. The Lady told me how to find Allies room. I went up and rapped—no answer, rattled knob. No ans. Walked in, No one home and a now waiting for them to show up. The room is in the 3rd floor front on the corner. It is large and well furnished and neat as a pin. I see the post card I sent Agness on the wall and Allies photo on the chiffoneer [dresser or side board] but still they do not come. Christmas shopping I suppose.

Dec 24. Spent the day in Albert and Agness room visiting & getting acquainted. Did not go to church because I didnt have my baggage. later in the day he got the trunk and hamper.

Christmas Dec 25 very dull but not unhappy day. In the evening went to a party at Mr & Mrs Lillgrens, they are certainly a hospitable family. We sang and listened to the player piano and the boys played athletic games. A nice banquet was served.

26 Went to see Mrs Schnee where she put me up for a few nights.

27 ” “

28 went to see my newest daughter Mrs Carrie Tschudy Mosier and enjoyed the visit very much. I like her immensely.

29 Back to the Schnees. Got a lot of mail and a silver thimble from my sister Goldie Mathews.

30 Ans. some letters, went to see Carrie off. I felt bad to see her go but Leo will be happy. In the evening of the same day Al, Ag and I went to her mother’s and had a nice visit and dinner. I have already met them at Lilligrens. Came home and slept at Mrs Schnees.

31 Sunday Morning I came up to Allies room got ready and went to spend the day with my old friend Mrs. Whitney. I had a lovely time. In the afternoon we went over to see Leona and Geo Heller at their honey moon flat. They welcomed us warmly and we had a nice supper. They are happy as is possible to be and have a beautiful home. Stayed all night at Whitneys.

Kelly Wheaton Copyright 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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