Friday, June 20, 2008

Sheep in Brief

I was raised in a sleepy little corner of the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington state. Recently my parents were given a collection of letters and canceled checks that were the property of Bill Dill, a former resident of this area at the turn of the last century. These papers chronicle a portion of his life in the valley. I was very pleased when my father told me that Mr. Dill had raised sheep on his land. In fact, he had quite a large herd. Some of the papers indicate that he once sold over 100 sheep to another farmer in the area. Through these letters and checks we also learned that one of the other homesteads in the area was the home of the sheep shearer. The shearer was paid much less than $1 per sheep, which is amazing considering that this work was done without the benefit of electricity!

Another gem from this collection of antique letters is the legibility of the postmarks. Though today the notion of having a post office in this remote section of the valley is silly (except to my father, who would be the most obvious postmaster, mail carrier, and top customer), the very lengthy travel times in the early 1900's necessitated a post office and general store in this area.

Brief Postmark

Maybe my days spent playing in these woods and fields where Mr. Dill's sheep once grazed somehow imparted upon me a love of all things wool. At least that is how I will think of it.