Wilma Hughes: Starting life near our hunting lodge

Excerpted from Wilma’s personal journals which she wrote in September 2002 and May 2019, with additional notes that I gleaned from other family sources [in brackets].

“My earliest childhood memory was when I must have been two or three years of age. It was when my family lived in Colorado.”

“I was pushing my great-grandmother in a swing. She was very tall, wore glasses, and had on a long black dress. It may have been my great grandmother Carpenter, or possibly my great aunt Maude Carpenter Darlington. My mom said my hair went straight when we moved, which she attributed to the dry atmosphere.”

[What my mother did not mention, or perhaps did not know, was that her parents met in Colorado. Her mother, Mildred Carpenter, was the granddaughter of J.J. Carpenter, who acquired land in Cebolla, CO under the Homestead Act in 1908, and developed it it onto the Carpenter’s Fishing Resort and Sportsman’s Lodge. The story behind this property and the dynastic family who operated it has fascinated me for most of my life.]

The Sportsmen Hotel in Cebolla, CO. This photo is inscribed on the back “Mr. Harry Carpenter from Dad, Jan. 21, 1917. Photo from my personal collection.

[My mother’s parents, Mildred Carpenter and Earl Jesse Hughes, married on June 10, 1928 in Gunnison, CO, nine years after they had met during a hay harvest. I haven’t yet pieced together what possessed a pregnant woman to travel by train – against doctor’s orders – from Gunnison, CO to Kelso, WA, but Mildred did that very thing in October of the following year. Some of the Carpenter family had already relocated to the Kelso area, again for reasons that are not yet clear to me. Mildred gave birth to my mom in April 1930. I don’t know if Mildred’s husband, Earl, joined them in Kelso, or if she and Baby Wilma returned to Cebolla to join him there.]

Published by augustphoenixhats

I'm a self taught hat & mask maker, working in rescued textiles and found objects. My hat designs are inspired by my travels and historical studies, my masks from the textiles they are born from.

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