New Perspectives on THE WEST
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The People
Empire Upon The Trails
Speck of the Future
Death Runs Riot
The Grandest Enterprise Under God
Fight No More Forever
The Geography of Hope
One Sky Above Us
One Sky Above Us



The Outcome of Our Ernest Endeavors


Like Grass Before the Sickle

P.S I Like You Very Much


Take It

Lachryma Montis

This Isn't History

To Speak for My People

I Will Never Leave You

The Gift

One Sky Above Us

P.S. I Like You Very Much

Red Bluff RanchI know a land where the gray hills lie
Eternally still, under the sky,
Where all the might of suns and moons
That pass in the quiet of nights and noons
Leave never a sign of the flight of time
On the long sublime horizon line --
Ethel Waxham

On October 20th, 1905 the Rawlins-to-Lander stagecoach rattled north toward the Sweetwater River in central Wyoming. On board was an unusual passenger, a 23-year-old named Ethel Waxham.

Ethel WaxhamShe was a city girl from Denver, a graduate of Wellesley College who had spent a summer doing volunteer work in the slums of New York. Schooled in four languages, she dabbled in poetry, enjoyed staging amateur theatricals, and was voraciously curious about the world. Just a few weeks earlier, she had been offered her first full-time job -- as a teacher in a remote one room school in the center of Wyoming.

David Love"My mother, who was always great for adventure, decided she would take the job. Of course, the adventure started when the Mills family, with whom she would live and whose three children she would teach, wrote her and told her what things to bring and what kind of clothing and what to expect. But there was no mention of how beautiful the ranch was, and what the scenery was like, and what the people were like. So, all those things were a surprise and a revelation to her."
David Love

She moved into the Red Bluff ranch and started recording her observations of the remarkable new life she'd begun to lead. And she began teaching -- seven students in all, ages 8 to 16.

The first fifteen minutes or half hour are given to reading "Uncle Tom's Cabin" or "Kidnapped," while we all sit about the stove to keep warm. Usually in the middle of the reading the sound of a horse galloping down the frozen road distracts the attention of the boys.

The country schoolroomA few moments later, six foot George Schlichting opens the door, a sack of oats in one hand, his lunch tied up in a dishrag in the other. Cold from his five mile ride, he sits down on the floor by the stove, unbuckles his spurs, pulls off his leather chaps... unwinds three red handkerchiefs from about his neck and ears, takes off one or two coats, according to the temperature, and straightening his leather cuffs, is ready for business.
Ethel Waxham

Visitors to the ranch where Ethel lived were few -- sometimes no one for days. But among those who came by with increasing regularity, despite a difficult eleven hour ride, was a rugged sheep rancher named John Galloway Love.

John G. LoveMr. Love is a Scotchman about thirty-five years old... His face was kindly, with shrewd blue twinkling eyes... But his voice was most peculiar and characteristic. Close analysis fails to find the charm of it. A little Scotch dialect, a little slow drawl, a little nasal quality... and a tone as if he were speaking out of doors... He is full of quaint turns of speech, and unusual expressions. For he is not a common sheepherder, it is said, but a sheep baron, or "mutton-aire."
Ethel Waxham

David Love"My father was unmarried and he was beginning to make a little money and he wanted a wife. And here was this beautiful school marm and so, of course, he fell in love with her. But she did not fall in love with him. No bells and whistles rang. But she was intrigued."
David Love

John Love was born in Wisconsin, to Scottish parents. He was bright and resourceful, but high spirited and got himself expelled from the University of Nebraska in 1891. Then he had invested what little money he had in two horses and a buggy, and headed for Wyoming. When his horses died after drinking poisoned water, Love abandoned his belongings and went the last hundred miles on foot.

Since then, he had spent seven years on the range, herding other people's sheep, caring for their cattle, saving up enough money to start a sheep ranch of his own in Fremont County on a treeless stretch of land along Muskrat Creek.

David Love"I have asked him many times why that Godforsaken country would be his home. He knew about the Red Bluff Ranch and other places along the Wind River Front. But he chose that because, as he said simply, he needed a lot of room. He wanted his outfit to grow."
David Love

Ethel Waxham enjoyed Love's wit and his stories about ranching, but when he proposed marriage, she turned him down and went on with her work.

When the school year ended, Ethel left Wyoming and entered the University of Colorado, and began to work towards a master's degree in literature. Then letters began to arrive.

Envelope postmarked Muskrat

Muskrat, Wyoming
September 12th, 1906
Dear Miss Waxham,
Of course it will cause many a sharp twinge and heartache to have to take "no" for an answer, but I will never blame you for it in the least, and I will never be sorry that I met you. I will be better for having known you. I know the folly of hoping that your "no" is not final, but in spite of that knowledge... I know that I will hope until the day that you are married. Only then I will know that the sentence is irrevocable. Yours Sincerely,
John G. Love

Two envelopes

November 12th, 1906
Dear Miss Waxham,
I know that you have not been brought up to cook and labor. I have never been on the lookout for a slave and would not utter a word of censure if you never learned, or if you got ambitious and made a "batch" of biscuits that proved fatal to my favorite dog... I will do my level best to win you and... If I fail, I will still want your friendship just the same. Yours Sincerely,
John G. Love

Pen on half-finished letter

February 15th, 1907
Dear Mr. Love,
I am fortunate in having two letters from you to answer in one... The days have been comparatively dull... I am too busy for dances here, if I care to go, which I do not... The seven months I spent at the ranch I would not exchange for any other seven months in my life. They seem shorter than seven weeks, even seven days, here. Sincerely yours,
Ethel Waxham

Wyoming scene

Dear Miss Waxham,
I for one am glad that your curiosity led you to drift up here to Wyoming, and now my supreme desire in life is to persuade you to come back. With love and kisses,
Ever yours,
John G. Love

Writing table

Dear Mr. Love,
Since you began to sign your name as you do... you must have known that I would not like it and would not continue, since we are only friends. I wrote you not to expect any more letters from me unless you stopped it.
Ethel P. Waxham

Writing close-up

Dear Miss Waxham,
I will always sign all letters properly in the future. Please forgive my errors of the past. I suppose that I ought to be satisfied with your friendship, but I won't be. Yours sincerely,
John G. Love


In 1907, Ethel Waxham received her master's degree, took a job teaching in Wisconsin for a year, then came back and spent another year in Colorado. Everywhere she went, John Love's letters pursued her.

Letters leaning on books

April 3, 1909
Dear Mr. Love,
There are reasons galore why I should not write so often. I'm a beast to write at all. It makes you -- (maybe?) -- think that "no" is not "no," but "perhaps," or "yes," or anything else... Good wishes for your busy season
from E.W.
P.S. I like you very much.


For years, John Love slept outdoors, fighting against the terrain and climate to keep his herds alive, struggling to build his ranch. He scoured the countryside for abandoned buildings and hauled them over rough roads to Muskrat Creek. A saloon and an old hotel became bunkhouses, sheds, and a blacksmith shop. He hauled the logs for the main house from the Wind River Mountains a hundred miles away. Each trip took him two weeks.

House at sunset

October 25th, 1909
Dear Miss Waxham,
There is no use in my fixing up the house anymore, papering, etc., until I know how it should be done, and I won't know that until you see it and say how it ought to be fixed. If you never see it, I don't want it fixed, for I won't live here. We could live very comfortably in the wagon while our house was being fixed up to suit you, if you only would say yes.
John Love

Close-up of handwriting

Dear Mr. Love,
Suppose that you lost everything that you have and a little more; and suppose that for the best reason in the world I wanted you to ask me to say "yes." What would you do?

Dear Miss Waxham,
If I were with you, I would throw my arms around you and kiss you and wait eagerly for the kiss that I have waited over four years for. Yours Sincerely,
John G. Love

Finally, in the spring of 1910, Ethel Waxham agreed to be John Love's wife.

David Love"When my father was sure that my mother was going to marry him, he had a sheep wagon built especially to his order. And that was to be the honeymoon sheep wagon. They were married on June 20th, in 1910, and it was pretty hot, so they started out for the mountains, and from then on there is a blank in our knowledge. Mother rarely discussed it, except in times of crisis. And my father never discussed it. But apparently it rained a great deal. The horses got away and they were marooned, and they never got to the mountains.
David Love

It was the first test John and Ethel Love would face together, but it would not be the last.

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