Friday, April 29, 2011

George Tolson Dye’s Letter to us

George Dye and Acquilla Odell, wedding pictures, 1875, Sacramento

George Tolson Dye’s Letter to his daughter Ona written in October, 1928 includes a message to his children and grandchildren. It gives us great insight into his spirit and concern for his family and the gospel. Also life at the turn of the 20th century becomes more real to us.

My great grandfather George Dye crossed crossed the plains with his parents and family in 1863 at the age of 10. He grew up in the Sacramento valley of California and there married his bride Aquilla Odell in 1875. They decided to move to the Bitterroot valley of Montana in 1883 and bought a ranch in Corvallis where they raised their children and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a faithful member of the Church and visited Salt Lake City to go to the temple and later came to meet the bride of his grandson William Durell Blodgett when he wed Florence Gygi in the Salt Lake Temple on June 12, 1934. He died only 10 days later after returning to Montana.

My Grandma Blodgett, Ona Eva (Dye) Blodgett worked in the Salt Lake Temple for many years prior to her death in 1973 at the age of 83. During this time she did genealogy for all of her ancestors and any relatives that she could find. She wrote hundreds of letters requesting information and did temple work for as many as she could find. The following is a wonderful letter received from her Dad, George Tolson Dye, 1853-1934, in response to one of her letters…

Corvallis, Montana, Oct., 1928

Wm. & Ona, dear children & grandchildren,

I just received your kind sharp letter, but I cannot answer all the questions you want. First, Alfreda's address is I suppose Boise, Idaho. That is all I know about her. Now Ona my father's name is David Stinchcomb Dye. You see we done the work for him & Mother & Troy. My brother James, my oldest brother, was alive then. We also done the work for John Dye & Gran paw Odell. Gran maw was alive then. I cannot give you any dates of them. James was buried in Tehama Co., Cal. but I can't give their birth places & age & my only sister that was alive when we lived on Camas. She was older than me. She left with the family & went to Cal. & then James went to live with them & I suppose she is dead before now, so you see I don't know but little about my people.

You say, "Where was they born?" I do not know. I was born in Grundy Co., Missouri, so you see the rest was born before we got there in Indiana or Ohio or maybe some in Missou¬ri. The 2 little girls younger than I died in Kansas, they were young, & a young brother born on the highest summit on our way to Cal. in 1863. They called him Charley Summit Dye, he lived a few years, not healthy.

Now you will have to blame me for not keeping a record of all this family of Dyes & Odells, poor me. How will all those in the grave have the work done for them, not in this common life of ours, they tell me in the thousand years when the Saviour comes on this earth & all things will be made clear to us. Now Ona don't think for one minute I am mad at any of you. I said, "Ona will give me & Isa a hard name for not getting these names right, births & deaths."

I hardly cared if I lived or died, I felt so bad, before Hanna came back & Isa was not here & Joe Staffenson was here helping them with the work irrigating the garden & I was so bad. He would help me to dress and get out in the shade. Oh, I prayed one day if I only could die & be laid away in a common casket to get away from this awful pain all through my body. Oh, how I did suffer & take so much medicine. Isa can tell you how she rubbed my neck & back. Finally the good Lord did hear my prayers & little by little I began to improve & then I had to cut hay & rake it & say I did sure suffer with my back & neck, but I don't think any of the folks thought I was so bad.
Now I have helped to get the spuds dug. At least I plowed them out & we all did pick them up & haul them in the cellar, & now I have cut all the corn fodder & picked 20 boxes of greenings & put them away. Hanna got 20 boxes of maeks give to her from Mrs. Hender¬son, lives next to Sis. Mark. You see we had a hail & lots of the apples was scarred & not saleable, so now we have plenty.

Sold 4 hogs & kept one, got the electric light & we have to go slow. Not much milk, only 8 cows, rented the lower field to get it broke up, got a little wheat for chicken feed on our part. So it goes. Big apple crop but the hail hurt so much, now the beet crop is in full blast & they say turning out 12 & 15 ton per acre.

Well I must tell you we got word that Sister Waylett was dead & would be buried at Victor last Tuesday at 2 o'clock, so Bro. Mark phoned it to us & said we could ride down with them. So we went & Bro. Peterson came up & had Margaret & others & Harry Waylett & family & Bert Waylett & family & had the large hearse & then there was enough at Victor to fill the house, the same Church where we had Lili's funeral.

Oh it was good & say the casket sure was so nice & flowers so many & she looked nice in white. Some sisters at Missoula did see after things as to dress. I think she had on the old time garments for I believe she was married in the old Endowment House. The old timers can tell you because they said on the paper she was married by Pres. Young.

You see there was an Elder Johnson with them from Missoula that was here a year ago on his mission, & then Bro. Peterson & also Bro. Mark, so that made it nice & Margaret at the piano & there was a young woman at the last sang alone, "O My Father", & Mar¬garet at the piano, & say it sure was so nice & clear & soft. I thought, "What do they thing of the old Mormons?", but they most all know her & they did sympathize with us.

I shook hands with all & had a talk with Bert W. at the grave so they all went home & we came home, but the paper they read about her travels across the plains & all was good. Well you mite let Mina read this letter if you wish. I expect to rite to her next.
I rote to Isa she hardly says if Joseph is real better or not. He sure did gain a lot up here. I know I was so cranky she did not have a good visit. She did rub my neck & back with Japanese oil & it helped me to sleep. Does Mina say anything about poor G.W.? I wish he had of stayed here with the cows & so much work here all summer, but the boys would not help milk.

Well I always pray for all of my children & also grandchildren, so don't forget to pray. Poor Bro. Hill, tell Bill he mite get G.W. a good job there. Lots of foreign people here in the beets field, trains of logs from south of Darby. Seems strange to see all the trains go east of us, station this side of Corvallis. Rite when you have time, tell Mina she did not eat a meal at the old home but rite soon all,

Your parents with love, G.T. & H.P. Dye

transcribed by Steven Blodgett August, 1986

George and Aquilla, 1895

Dye Family Home, Corvallis, Montana


  1. enjoyed the letter! what a treasure.

  2. I was most excited to see a letter written by my great grandfather. I have the wedding pic and the one of the family home hanging on my wall. I once asked my grandfather, Bert Dye, why the man was seated and the woman standing. He had an entire little song about it, wish I could remember it or better yet had recorded him singing it.

    1. Was you grandfather Bert Sheriff of Jackson County Iowa? If so, the Sheriffs Office there is looking for a picture of him to put on their history of Sheriff's wall. Contact me at

  3. Hello my name is Brandon German and my 2nd great grandmother is Mary Elizabeth Dye, your grandfathers older sister. In 1867 in Sacramento,Ca My grandfather Robert German married Mary Elizabeth.They had four children George Lee(my great grandfather) which I believe is named after your grandfather,Christie Adeline,Hester and Lizzie.Unfortunately after 10 short years of marriage Robert had passed away from a long going lung condition . I have never realized my family's rich history in Northern California,Montana,Missouri,Iowa and so on. Being my self a local resident of Chico,Ca, I have ran into a brick wall on tracking my family history right up to Robert German. If anybody from the Dye family might have any more information on Robert,such as pioneer diary's or pre-wagon train information would be greatly appreciated. All I really know about him is,that he was born in Missouri in 1846 and passed away in Sacramento,Ca in 1877(buried in the Franklin Cemetery). But When I had seen the picture of your grandfather it was a feeling of familiarities when I look in the mirror at my self and look at my father that whom has a large resemblance to Mary Elizabeth it makes me very grateful to be able to see these pictures. Thank you for posting this great letter and wonderful pictures, I am very proud to be a member of the Dye family tree.

  4. I am related to George's brother, Sperry. I am looking for photos of Troy and Sperry and David S. Dye and his wife, Christian (spelling uncertain). I enjoyed this letter as well! Thanks for sharing!