LETTERS FROM THE RANCH

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— Dear Bertha,

During that year that Cousin Eileen taught school in Scotland, she had her mother (my Aunt Jennie) with her. They had a lot of fun visiting the area where Aunt Jenny was raised the Peace and Plenty Cottages on the Cunningham Estate in particular. These cottages were expressly for the use of Cunningham Estate employees and their families. Since Grandfather Bowie was the Estate's blacksmith, his family had the privilege of occupying on of the cottages until grandfather died in 1886.

Eileen says she thinks the Bowies lived in that cottage from the time our grandparents married in 1847. Also, the Bowie girls enjoyed the privilege of attending the Cunninghams' private school.

The Cunninghams were particularly generous with the Bowies, allowing them to stay in the cottage "until Davie recovers from T.B. enough to return to work." Davie never recovered.

Eileen gave us quite a detailed description of the Peace and Plenty cottages: The cottages are of as sound construction as the day they were built; they were surely built to last forever. The walls are a foot or more in thickness and are of stone, brick and mortar, heavily plastered inside and heavily stuccoed outside. Of course indoor plumbing and electricity were marvels of the unforeseen future; but, when these dreams became reality, they became a part of Peace and Plenty cottages through a network of exposed pipes and wiring.

The cottages are designed on the same plan as our modern motels end-to-end units, with common sidewalks and common roof. Each unit has both a backyard (vegetable garden) and a front yard (flower garden). Neighbors vied with each other to have the prettiest flower garden. Roses grew well there; Mother remembered an especially beautiful "tea rose" named Glory T. Dudgeon. She thought it was a tea rose because her mother emptied the tea leaves on the roots.

Each unit (cottage) had a fireplace built into an inside wall. This fireplace, originally, served to do all the cottage's cooking and heating wants, as well as most of the lightning (though candles were also used).

And when electricity became available, electric lights were a real luxury.

And (in a cottage we were invited to inspect) I noticed an electric hot plate.

It was just at dusk when we visited the cottages. We inquired as to whether there might be longtime residents who would remember the Bowies.

Our presents quickly spread from door, and little groups began to gather along the walk (beside the flower gardens) that extended the length of the cottages between the flower gardens and the stonewall which separates the Cunningham property from the public thoroughfare.

We heard from more than one of these groups, the excited exclamation: "They belong to here! They belong to here!"

Low and behold, who should come forward but an aged John Ross (who turned out to be the cousin of our Tom Ross husband of our Aunt Nell).

This John Ross had at one time come to America, and had even lived for a time with the Bowies, but he had returned to Scotland and had failed to keep in touch with his American relatives.

More later, with love,

Anna

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