Apr 14, 2015 - Sale 2380

Sale 2380 - Lot 254

Price Realized: $ 5,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,000 - $ 1,500
(UTAH.) Crosby, Florence S. Long letter by an early Protestant teacher in a Mormon frontier town. Autograph Letter Signed to Mrs. Hoxie, 26 pages on 7 4to sheets; minor wear and soiling. (MRS) Heber, UT, 18 January 1886

Additional Details

A classic western frontier letter. Florence Sophia Crosby (1862-1957) was a young woman from Williamsburg, MA who went to Utah as a teacher for the New West Education Commission. This letter describes her long train ride west, including a final rugged stretch by freight train up to Park City, UT. Her first night was spent in a saloon boarding house, where she dined "amid the stares of 35 mountaineers ranged in all postures around the bar-room" and could not sleep due to "the singing, banging and carousing generally going on below me." She describes the silver mine at Park City, and a harrowing stagecoach ride into the valley to Heber, accompanied by "a Jew fur trader": "We had to cling to the railing in front, not daring to relax our grip for a moment. Several times I should have gone out over the wheel had not the Jew caught me."
Her life as a teacher in isolated Heber was difficult. Her classroom had 70 students ranging up to 20 years old, plus "one Swede who is 26 years and reads in the primer": "Not one of our large boys knew the multiplication tables when they came, or could tell us who was President of the U.S." She describes a Mormon service at length, not in flattering terms, and though eager to spread her faith she did not view herself as a missionary: "We never never do so foolish a thing as to allow ourselves to be drawn into argument. One needs so much caution to live here. I feel as if a seal were upon my life continually." Crosby later married a fellow Utah gentile named Clark Parsons and settled in Los Angeles; she was the author of "Every Woman's Home Cook Book" in 1915. Provenance: Hamilton sale, 24 May 1967, lot 413, to the consignor.