Jerome, Arizona Territory- April 8th, 1880


Dear Etta & Family,

Well, I got here all right and must agree with Dr. Franks that the climate in Arizona is indeed wonderful. That’s about all I can say for it. Jerome boasts but one hotel, and that seems to be perpetually full up with drummers, speculators and engineers of one sort or another. Your dear father is reduced to what is politely called a billet but is in fact indistinguishable from a common tent, save for a floor of pine boards over which scorpions and centipedes crawl. I was advised to empty my boots each morning as a precaution.


Friday Fictioneers

29 thoughts on “Jerome, Arizona Territory- April 8th, 1880

  1. Excellent atmosphere. I’d love to read more, it fits so well with the look of the building, one of those old ghost town structures.

    Nice work, J.H.

  2. I love Jerome (now). A hundred years ago, probably not so much. Arizona can be brutal, even with the comforts of air conditioning. Well written piece.

  3. Good story, J. Hardy. A vivid description and voice in this.. Thanks for the great picture I’m sure will be responsible for many good stories. Well written. :) — Suzanne

  4. Lovely sense of place and character in this letter. I must say I wasn’t sure at first whether it was written by ‘dear father’ or by mother about them both, but I think I settled on the former.
    Thanks for the photo too, apparently it spoke to just what I needed today!

  5. The letter form is terrific for this story. Pulls the reader right into the scene and character. The understated tone makes the horrors of Jerome even more awful. Well portrayed. And thanks for this week’s great photo.

  6. Thank you for the excellent story! Love the approach you took to write it as a letter. Been “billeted” many time in many a place along life’s path. :). Also, thank you for sharing the photo with us. This picture can remind us of so many places and people.

  7. What an evocative and grim story! I love the last line. Very well-written letter/tale!
    P.S. I was confused by the “billet” bit. Does that mean he was a soldier, and those were his lodgings? If so, the structure of the sentence could use a little more clarity, at least for me.

    1. He had been a military man, so it’s a joking phrase he uses with the family. This is based on letters my great-great-grandfather wrote from Bisbee to his family in Manhattan back in the 1880s.

  8. Great letter. We have some that my Grandfather sent back from California around 1904. His mother was a widow and he went went to find work, mailing money home each month.

Don't just stand there.