Mabel Life & Times

      I've been putting off sharing these stories-even with the blessing of my grandfather Howard Royal- as I wanted to make sure I could do justice to her life. It's all written in her hand; she enjoyed writing stories, poems, bits of history that could be left for her family.
      I'm more worried I suppose of adding too much in the way of annotations, notes, sources and dates that give it a timeline. So if you the reader could share your thoughts with me in that regard; e-mail me here.
      Mabel calls her mother in the story Clara. Olive Clara Torrey; as has been documented by prime source material, has been called many names by various descendants-Olive Clara, Olive Clarissa, Clara, Clarissa, Mary, Clarissa Olivia, Doll. She is holding baby Mabel in the picture below, it's a haunting image of a mother who passes away much too early at age 43 and changes the course of history for her younger children. But that's the enigma of history- in all likelyhood, I would not be here now if not for her early death.
I have been inclined to call her Mary these days, as evidence and research indicates that her husband Alex called her Mary in all affection.
      Mabel Life & Times is the working title for what I'm sharing here with the readers at the Stump Ranch. Originally Mabel wrote up several volumes depicting the different times of her life. The first volume of her life is simply titled "Mabel." Starting with her birth here in Birdsview November of 1891 to her marriage to Tom Royal in 1907. She followed that up with "As the Years Went By" then "Ten Years on a Stumpranch or Mabels Brood."
      Mabel also wrote a volume called "The Royals" which repeats some of the last two volumes mentioned, but is more from Tom Royals perspective. If you follow her stories, you've probably already seen "The History of the Boyd Family" and "The History of the Torrey Family."
      Her grandson Phil Royal originally helped with the typing of the stories. A very grateful thank you to Larry Spurling for transcribing the old typed manuscripts for me so I have it on my computer. I'm taking the liberty to add chapter titles.
Dan Royal

Book One MABEL

Chapter One
"Up The Stump"

      It was in the fall of 1891 on a stormy gloomy night November 13th, when another addition was added to the Boyd family, whose house was already overflowing with its population of children, a new addition arriving every year. This was the twelfth child and proved to be another girl, which they named Mabel.
      She was born on this cold night when the rain and sleet bounced against the windows hitting the roof with a vengeance, with the wind behind it which moaned down the chimney of the fireplace after swirling through the bare branches of the huge cottonwood trees that grew along the banks of the Skagit river and whistling as it drove the rain and hail before it.
      Inside, the log house it was cozy and warm, and Clara the mother restlessly walked the floor as most women did during the last hours of pregnancy believing that this would limber up the muscles and make the ordeal easier. However, it only eased the nervous tension no doubt.
      The older children were sent over to some neighbors to spend the night but no doubt had their suspicions about what was about to happen, they were too old to believe that the stork brought babies or that a star dropped them, as was usually told to children.
      Children did not dare to ask questions those days, for girls should be seen but not heard. They were kept innocent and ignorant, and could believe any imaginations that came into their head. The younger ones were sleeping soundly in their beds at home and unsuspecting until they would hear the wail of a baby the next morning, then one of them would say, "What's that?" And then they'd tumble out of bed and the first thing that Alex would say was, "Go look at your new baby sister", or brother or which ever it might be. All of this was customary during the olden days.
      Neighboring women always came to help another through this ordeal, to do all they could for them. Also to tell of the experiences that they themselves had been through. Doctors were few and far between and the doctors didn't know much more than a midwife at that time. Often a husband brought the babies into the world, which ended with childbirth fever, which was nothing more than an infection. This was very dangerous, now and then a woman would die with it. The credit for today's sanitation can be given to Lister, who invented the Listerine.
      Almost anyone could bring a baby that is born naturally, but some aren't. The babies were born in their own homes and women of that day would never have went to the hospital, if they could have. They never had the attention all during the pregnancy as they have now, so Clara thought nothing of having the twelfth one. It was just an occurrence and no trouble at all.
      Big families were the pride of the man of the house those days, the women hated to be "Up The Stump" all of the time- but there was nothing to be done about it- so had to take it as it come. Men were the lord and master of their house and the women abided by their wishes.
      However, each mother was happy with their new baby and loved it while her husband did a lot around the house and looked after the younger ones and sang as he worked- while his wife was confined- knowing that she would soon be up and about. Women stayed in bed nine days at that time. He knew that she would soon be able to start the procedure all over again soon.
      Mabel was a big plump roly-poly baby with rosy cheeks, who clapped her hands and kicked in glee as any healthy baby would. It made no difference to her that her parents had to struggle to feed eleven other children, for her mother nursed her and she thrived on natures own source of milk and plenty of it, grew along with the rest of the children, healthy and happy.
      Her first recollection was when they lived at what was then known as the "Old Camp". This was an old logging camp, her mother and older sisters cooked for some men who had started the camp up again after the "Panic"-they also did their washing for them. Times had been so hard for so long, that every thing that they could earn helped. Wages were very low, and a man got very little for a ten hour a day pay. Alex the father worked but it was hard to get enough to feed a family of that size.
      Two more babies crowded their way into the already overflowing family by this time, bringing the total to fourteen. Some of the older girls were married by this time, [Annie and Jane both married in 1890] a couple of the older boys worked away from home. [Archie and Jim] This tapered down the family circle some. Mabel at this time was about four years old and her earliest remembrances were from here on.
      The "Old Camp" was located on the Clear Lake Road between Big Rock and North 99 from Mt. Vernon. Thick dense timber grew all through that part of the country and only muddy wagon roads to haul over.

Darius Kinsey photo of Logging Ox Team on a Skid Row circa 1892. Near Birdsview according to Chuck Dwelley.

      Lumber companies did their logging with teams of oxen. Mabel could see the long row of oxen standing in the barn while they munched their hay. She was told that if she ever ventured into the barn they would goad her with their long sharp horns. Most of them had a very wide spread of horns and brass knobs were put on the ends of the horns to keep them from goading each other. However, she loved to peek in the door and watch them pull hay from the mangers and eat. They seemed to fascinate yet frighten her too. Her father had a team of oxen also, but they were the tame kind.
      Alex was a well-educated man, and worked at any job available. But as for keeping things done around the place, he fell way short.
      One day when Mabel and her younger brother John was home alone with their mother-this was before Nellie was born [1896]- John was asleep and Mabel was on the floor playing with her Rag Doll, Clara her mother asked, "Mabel, do you think that you could put some wood in the kitchen stove without burning yourself?" She was heavy with pregnancy and hated to get up. "I think the fire may be going out," her mother continued. "I think I can, I'll try" Mabel said in her lisping childish voice and stopped playing and started for the kitchen dragging her doll after her by the arm.
      The cook stove was an old fashioned iron one with a hearth in front where the draft was, the door to feed the wood in was at the end of the firebox. This door opened on hinges when a little knob was lifted up. Mabel went to the wood box and took out a stick of wood, then patiently struggled with opening the end door with it. At last she succeeded and put the wood in the stove. She looked at it a while, then turned to get another stick which she also put in on top of the first. However, this stick didn't lay flat as the first did, but seemed to cross the first one. She didn't know what to do about it, so she shut the door, hoping it would burn that way. Picking up her doll that she had dropped, she went back to where her mother was and resumed her playing feeling big because she had helped.
      Later she went into the kitchen for a drink of water, and hearing an unusual sound, she stopped and said, "Ma, there is a funny noise in here" but her mother paid no attention. Still Mabel kept on hearing it, so she looked up to where the sound seemed to come from and around the cracks on the stovepipe, she could see lights flickering. In alarm she yell, "Ma, Ma, you better come quick, for I see a light up there, it's a fire Ma."
      Clara laid her sewing aside saying, "I think you are fooling, aren't you?" Then to her mother's dismay when Mabel pointed up at the ceiling saying, "See Ma" the roof of the house was sure enough on fire, she could plainly see.
      Clara grabbed a water pail, and Mabel at her heels grabbed up a ten-pound lard pail, and they both ran out the kitchen door. Mabel at her heels to the end of the woodshed where a rain barrel full of rainwater stood. Clara dipped up her pail of water from the barrel and set it on top of the lower shed, then, in her heavy condition she struggled up beside the and grabbing it she made for the roof of the and threw it on the blaze. In the meantime Mabel dipped her little pail in the barrel and had it ready to hand up to her. As the water in the barrel lowered it was quite a struggle for her little arms to reach down and pull the water up and lift it to the roof but at last they got the fire out anyway.
      After it was all over, and Clara was back on the ground again, she said to Mabel as she put her arms around her "If it hadn't been for you Mabel this house would have been burned to the ground. I never could have climbed down after the water and back on the shed again". This of course made Mabel feel important and glad that she was needed.
      Later as she went back to her play, she got to wonder why the house caught fire in the first place. There must have been a reason she thought, and then it came to her mind that perhaps it was because she didn't get the wood put in the stove right, so she went to her mother and said " Ma, Ma" but Clara paid no attention, having her mind on the fire and all, but Mabel kept right on pulling on her dress saying, "Ma", until Clara finally said, "What is it Mabel?" so Mabel asked "what made the house catch on fire?" "Was it because I put the wood in the stove crooked?" Her mother laughed and said, "Of course not, you little goose you." This satisfied her somewhat, but still she was feeling a little dubious about it as she went back to play.
      The family always raised a hog or two, for their own use and one that they had at this time, was a mean one and did considerable damage whenever he broke through the pen which was quite was quite often for Alex was no hand to keep things in repair.
      One morning as Mabel and her mother was looking at an old hen and her baby chick that had just hatched out, and admiring the little yellow downy things scratch beside their mother, this pig broke out and gobbled down every one of the little chicks one after another until he had eaten every one of them right before Mabel and her mothers eyes. They took clubs and tried to beat him off but it did no good, and beside they were afraid he would turn on them.
      Mabel started crying then told father Alex about it when he got home from work. It took all of the family to get the pig back in the pen and the pen fixed. Mabel never forgot the awfulness of seeing the chicks eaten alive one by one as long as she lived.
      Sometime after that, Mabel was playing out near the pig pen wearing a pretty little new pink dress that her mother had just finished, when this same mean pig broke through the fence and took after her knocking her down and was biting and tearing the cloths off her. Alex heard her screaming and luckily he was near enough this time to grab a pitchfork and came running to her defense. He jabbed the hog several times with the sharp tines before it ran. Mabel had teeth marks on her and her little pink dress was all mud and torn. Looking at it, she yelled the harder. It took a lot of consoling before her tears and sobs were soothed, and for her to get over the shock of it. The older girls took her out to the barn to swing and hunt hen's nests and play in the hay.
      The next day Alex butchered the hog. So that was the end of him.
Continue to Chapter II

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