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A child’s Christmas in Rossland, 1898

Updated: Mar 9, 2018

Three lots sold on eBay today featuring letterheads, letters, and envelopes from the Old Gold Quartz and Placer Mining Co. and Standard Gold Mines Ltd. of Rossland. They’re all interesting, but for my money (which in fact it was), the neatest document was a letter from Grace Florence Cunningham to her father Joe, dated Dec. 29, 1898 and transcribed here with the charming spelling mistakes intact:

Dear Papa
I will tell you what I got from Santy. I got to dolls and a book, a silk hankerchief and a box of candy. we are all but but andy [?] and hope you are saim. O yes how is Gramma. I ment to right to her but my hand went to sleep so I cood not right this time so I must close for this time
Your loving Grace

Grace and her brother Willie were in Rossland staying with the Westfall family while their father was in Fairhaven, Wash. Grace was born in 1888 in Colorado or Minnesota — sources conflict. In addition to Willie, she had two older siblings, Luther Joseph and Nellie. Their mother was Edith McKee, who died in 1890.


Grace and Willie moved with the Westfall family to Trout Lake City, and the Revelstoke Herald of Jan. 13, 1900 reported on their participation in a Christmas concert at Ferguson in aid of a widows and orphans fund. Grace recited the Longfellow poem The Children’s Hour, while Willie appeared in a farce called Sausage Machine. Willie is pictured in the 1903 and 1904 Trout Lake school photos, reproduced in the book Circle of Silver. His sister is probably in those photos too, but she isn’t identified.


Grace married Van E. Atkinson on June 27, 1906, although I am not sure where. She was 17 or 18. They had six sons: Ivan (1907-59), Joseph (died as an infant in 1908) twins Horace (1909-55) and Forest (1909-61), Jack (1913-?) and William (1914-58).


In 1910, they lived at Bundy, Wash, in 1920 in Prescott, Wash., and in 1930 in Klamath Falls, Oregon. She died on June 5, 1956 in Prosser, Wash at age 67. Here is her obituary from the Walla Walla Union Bulletin of the following day:

As for the company whose letterhead Grace used, the principals were George N. Taylor (president and treasurer), William V. Davies (vice president) and W.H. Jackson, (secretary), plus Robert Darrell of Brandon and J.M. Miller of Vancouver (directors).


The company had claims on Bulldog Mountain, near Brooklyn. According to John Spencer Church’s thesis Mining Companies in the West Kootenay and Boundary Regions of British Columbia, 1890-1900, it was originally incorporated as the Little Maud Gold Mining Co. in 1897, but changed its name the following year. It seems to have gone dormant around 1902 and was stricken from the corporate registry in 1911.


George Taylor and J.M. Miller were the common links with the Old Gold Quartz and Placer Mining Co., for which they were vice-president and president, respectively. It was incorporated in 1897 and stricken from the registry in 1913.


I have transcribed the other letters in the cache here: https://gregnesteroff.wixsite.com/kutnereader/blog/now-let-me-scold-you-a-little-the-westfall-letters


Updated on March 9, 2018 after I figured out who Grace was.

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