MYRTLE LAROOKA ROBINSON AUTOBIOGRAPHY
OPPORTUNITY, WA Mar. 11, 1959Dear Tom,
You asked me sometime ago to write you a sketch of my life -- before you knew me. I seem to have lots of extra time these days so I may as well start.
I, Myrtle Larooka Robinson, was born in Dixon, Illinois in 1877 (Mar. 28). My mother was Larooka Sophia McWethy, my father was Martin Van Buren Robinson. They were both born in W. New York.
Papa was born in Pike, N.Y. and mother was born in Warsaw, N.Y 1847. Amy was born in Elmira, N.Y., but the rest of us were born in Dixon
We lived in a pretty place, lots of trees and flowers just kitty-corner from the school building. I had three sisters then, Lillie, Amy and May. Alice was born '84 and the next spring the family moved to Wessington, S.D.
Those were happy days but we saw hard times, too. I never realized how hard it was for my mother to live there on those tree-less prairies after she had lived so many years in lovely New York and Illinois. But she never complained. We children were happier roaming the prairies, looking for agates, arrows, buffalo horns and flowers. Our father was a good gardener and he always kept a cow. He was a shoe-maker and his income was very frugal compared to what people have now days.
During the cold winter evenings our parents would read books to us. Of course, we played games, too and we did our school work.
Beth was born the fall of '86 the year before the "big blizzard". Uncle Frank, our father's brother, who came west with us, always called her the "Blizzard Baby".
We had a good two-roomed school house near by. We just had to run up to the top of a hill. When I finished the eighth grade I stood the highest in the county and got a scholarship to Redfield College. We had no H. S. work in our school.
It was a big adventure for me to go away from home and even work for my board. I really don't see how I did it!
The following year Lillie persuaded papa and mama to move back to Dixon as papa was not very well. I went to the H. S. that year.
In the spring I took the examinations for a teacher's certificate, on my birthday when I was just seventeen. I taught our Uncle Henry's school the spring term and taught there the following three years.
Our father died in September just before I started my fall term and for the next few years we had a hard time getting along. My wages were only $30 per month. Mama would often get a job of nursing in a private home and then I had two little sisters to care for. I rode back and forth to school every day with another teacher who taught out beyond my school. It certainly took lots longer to go those 2 1/2 miles with an old horse and buggy than it does now days to go a long distance in a car.
After our father was gone Lillie was not satisfied to have mama and us girls so far a way from her, tho our Uncle Henry's family lived there and Uncle Frank's and old friends. So mama decided to move to Glenwood, Iowa, where Lillie was the girls' superintendent in the Feeble Minded Institution Sometime later Lillie married the Supt., Dr. George Mogridge. He was like a father to us girls and we surely loved him.
Alice and Beth both graduated from the Glenwood H. S. I taught in the country for about two years and then I was fortunate enuf to get the first primary in town. The school house was only a block from our home. I taught there for four years and then a missionary teacher persuaded me to take her place in the South as she was resigning. I went under the American Missionary Association. I was in Memphis, Tennessee first and then in Talladega, Alabama. While in Alabama, some of us visited Booker T. Washington's school in Tuskegee. My experience down South was very educational and I loved my work,
And then came a great change. Alice Carpenter Robinson, an old-time friend of Lillie's back in Dixon had moved to a ranch way out in Montana. There was no school within 100 miles. She wanted me to come out to teach her two children during the summer. I thot it would be a "lark', to be a hundred miles away from the R.R. and I'd have horses to ride. So I went from Alabama to Montana all alone, a 3-day trip. I didn't even stop at home. I thot, of course, that I was going home after the summer was over.
But they built a little log cabin for a school house and they wanted me to stay and teach. So I did for the following year.
The next spring I didn't go home. I married J. O. Rogers and lived on a Missouri river ranch. We made a trip back to Iowa in the fall.
In 1910 "Teddy John" was born and Alice came out to stay with me that winter. We had moved to Columbia Falls but went back to the ranch in the spring. Mother came out for a while and then she and Alice went on to Orchards, Wash. to visit Aunt Annie.
Fred came out to see us, too, and he had a wonderful time hunting deer and antelope and fishing.
In 1913, before "Tommy" was born Nov. 28th we went back to Glenwood. We stayed all winter until February and then we took the long 90 mile drive from Malta down to our ranch. The baby was well taken care of.
When Teddy was seven we decided to move to Columbia Falls, and that has been our permanent home. The boys went to grade school in C-Falls but graduated from the Kalispell H.S.
Ted decided to be a farmer but Tom went to U. at Missoula where he graduated. Then he went to Pullman where he also graduated. I was with him one winter before we came home we drove clear up to Cape Flattery and then clear back to Tama, to Dixon and to Bloomington, Indiana.
Tom took me over to Mountain View, Missouri where I stayed with Amy for a while and then went up to Tama and on to home.
Papa died Feb. 23, 1946, just after Tom had gone to Lambert to teach. He didn't come back to the funeral. Papa Uncle Alf and Aunt Sue and Katherine are buried in the C-Falls cemetery. Lillie, Dr. Mogridge are buried in Glenwood and Papa is buried in Dixon where there are other relatives.
I sent all of our family records back to Alice, if you ever want to see them. There are some in my writing desk draw, too.