In 1906, Anton Boisen, who, as a grandson of Theophilus A. Wylie, had grown up in Wylie House, was working for the U.S. Forestry Service. He was sent that summer, with four others plus a cook, to the mountains of Idaho, to do some forestry surveys near Mt. Sawtell in the Henry’s Lake Forest Reserve, which was near Yellowstone Park. They camped in a remote area several miles from the nearest habitation and stayed until the weather made it necessary to return to civilization. Despite the remote location, Anton wrote a weekly letter to his mother in Bloomington and explained, “It often takes four days for a letter to reach St. A [Anthony] after we get it down to Rieker’s. It goes, you see, from Rieker’s to Trude’s, from Trude’s to Rae P.O., from Rae to Spencer, and thence by stage to St. Anthony.” In early November, he wrote a very interesting letter describing a dance their crew had attended at a nearby ranch:
Sunday morning, Nov. 4, 1906
My dearest Mother,
Another week is gone now and we are reminded very strongly that our stay here is nearing the end. Galaneau left yesterday for Laramie, Wyoming to work on the Medicine Bow Reserve and Pond will join him there. Peters and I are therefore left alone to finish things up as best we can. We shall stay in the camp several days longer and then go to the lumber camps near Spencer for two or three weeks, and after that we go to Washington….
In honor of Galaneau’s departure we took a day off Thursday and went down to a dance at the Trudes’, one of the western dances where everybody comes for miles around and stays all night. We had to go seventeen miles ourselves driving down with John Rieker and his wife and children. The Trudes have a regular dance hall or at least a building devoted exclusively to those functions and that was where we went. Everybody was invited and people were there from twenty miles away, all sorts and conditions too, Mormons and all. We were attired in our field clothes with the exception that I had borrowed a coat from Peters, not having one of my own, but we did not feel out of place for there were plenty of men there with their sweaters on. The one bright and shining exception however was young Mr. Jack Ripley who wore a full dress suit, with a white four-in-hand necktie, a diamond scarf pin and white socks and white shoes. He acted as master of ceremonies and called out all the dances.
About one o’clock in the morning the feast was served, after that they went at the dancing again and kept it up till after four when we all adjourned to the main house and sat around and talked or snoozed until breakfast time. Some of the men however went over to the bunk house and had a nice little game of poker.
The journey home was accomplished in broad daylight. It might be interesting to say that as we approached the Ripley ranch, we noticed someone up on top of the thatched roof of the stable getting down hay for the cattle. We thought it was a woman at first but on closer investigation we discovered that it was Jack Ripley in all the glory of his evening suit and white shoes and diamond scarf pin–and a black bearskin coat. As we drew nearer, he went into the stable to finish up the rest of his chores.
These dances are held once every month or so, sometimes every two weeks when the weather is not too cold and they are always all night affairs. It could not well be arranged otherwise for the guests have to come such long distances and the nights here are always so cold.
We have been having some delightful weather lately, but the end of it has probably come now for it is half snowing, half raining today, and there is several inches of snow on the ground. Sam [the cook] predicts that there will be a foot or so of snow before this storm ends….
Please give my love to all there at home, and keeps lots of it for yourself