This is a summary of what I have read so far, which is 1913-1916, plus parts of 1917 and bits of 1918-1919

General summary – Verne Garrison (I) and Dorothy Logan Garrison Letters 1913-1919


Verne Alfred Garrison was born on Dec. 24, 1893 in Dallas. Dorothy Adele Logan was born on Jan. 11,1895 in Dallas. Verne had 3 older brothers, 2 who died young that he never knew and an older brother Ray who died in 1906 at 16-17 yrs of age. He also had a younger brother Carl (3 yrs younger) and younger sister Gwendolyn (9 yr younger). His mother Neal Beall Braswell (called Bell) was a schoolteacher and taught algebra. Not sure about his father’s (William Oscar) work in Dallas. Verne went to William B. Travis primary school and probably would have graduated from H.S. in 1910, but my father told me that V. didn’t graduate because he told his senior English teacher that some of what they had read in Chaucer was indecent (don’t know the exact word he used) and she failed him, so he could not graduate.

Dorothy was born Jan. 9, 1895 and was a year behind Verne in H.S. at the same school. Her father (William Lee Logan) was a well to do dry goods merchant who was for a time part of a large dry goods wholesale company, Higganbotham Bailey, and Logan Co. in Dallas. He spent a good deal of time in New York. The family moved from Fort Worth to Dallas about 1907. Her mother was Julia Byers Logan. D. had five siblings. They were Bertha, Marguerite, Louise, William Loughborough (W.L.), Gordon and Howard. Louise died at age 8.

Dorothy’s family was Presbyterian. Verne’s was Methodist. (The Presbyterian minister in “A River Runs Through It” (set c. 1920) says that a Methodist is a Baptist who can read. This captures the social pecking order of the time pretty well.)

After Verne and Dorothy married, they attended the Logan family’s church East Dallas Presbyterian Church. When I watched “A River Runs Through It” with my father Bill, V. and D.’s second oldest, he told me “I know that Presbyt. minister. I grew up listening to him every Sunday.”

Dorothy was very social. Verne was both social and interested in all things technical – a well rounded early 20th century geek. Both were serious Christians – not uncommonly, she was more concerned about getting to church on Sundays than he was, and he seems to have given up penny ante poker to please her.

Sometime when he was a teenager, V. lost his left arm in a streetcar or train accident. This was obviously very traumatic, and he had phantom limb pain – I don’t know when it began. After he and D. were married the children were not allowed to ask about or discuss his condition – this from my father and Howard.

From letters:

V. and D. knew each other in high school and went out some. In one of her letters she recalled a tennis date on or near San Jacinto day (Apr. 21) and he recalls a Junior-Senior dance on that date. There are indications in the letters that D. didn’t dance, or at least had Presbyterian qualms about it.

In July of 1913 they had their first post-high-school date. In later letters V. does not count these high school dates and marks their first real date in July, 1913. In Sept. 1913, he wrote his first letter to her when she was in Mineral Wells. That was the only letter until June, 1914.

He refers in a letter in summer ’14 to a previous fiance, but doesn’t mention her name. Later letters suggest that her name was Alleene. He says that it will be three summers that he has spent writing letters, so he probably had previous romances and separations for the summer.


Dorothy and Verne were both in Dallas in the fall of ’13 and the spring of ’14. They had a regular date to go to church on Sunday nights. By summer of ’14 he is in love with Dorothy and not happy that she will be out of town most of the summer. He writes to her essentially every day she is gone, first for two weeks to Sweetwater and then for a month and a half to Michigan with her mother and some friends. She writes to him too. Hard to tell at what point she is won over without her letters. He burned her letters at her insistence. She did not write as much to him as he did to her, but she had more entertainment available than he did, as he was working.

He is obviously worried that she will meet someone else and forget about him, and I think, she likewise. He refers in letters to both of her parents as wanting to cool the relationship to some degree. Verne is doing odd jobs and working for the gas co reading meters, which probably explains their point of view.

At this early point, V. is already expert in photography. He and his friend Hartwell Albright develop and print photos for family and friends. I can’t find it now, but at one point he indicates that he was grinding his own lenses to make an enlarging camera. He also drives and repairs cars, listens to opera records and goes to see Fatty Arbuckle films.

V. is hoping to take a course in chemistry at Baylor – I assume that this was a program in Dallas. He may have actually done this. Not entirely clear.

D. is considering going to UT Austin in fall ’14, apparently with strong encouragement from her parents. V. tells her that although he doesn’t want to be away from her, that it may be a good idea for her to go, at least for a year, so she will have it look back on.

During the summer of ’14 V.’s mother Beall was trying to convince the rest of the family to go to Arkansas where the govt. was homesteading land in fruit country. Evidently V. and his father were more cautious about this. Verne felt that if they went, he would need to go with them. By the end of the summer, Beall had cooled on the idea.

D. returned to Dallas for a while in early Sept. and then went to school at UT Austin. She went to UT in ’14-’15 and ’15-’16. (She was a middling student – B’s and C’s, a D in Geology – we have her transcripts.) They apparently agreed to only write once a month during the school year during ’14-’15, which must have been very hard for him at least. Not sure if her parents had a hand in this decision.

Verne is in Dallas during the fall. He works for the gas co. reading meters and learns dairy farming by working with friends who have a farm outside Dallas and makes an offer on some land. The letters are once a month after early Sept.

Sometime late in ’14 the Garrisons decided to homestead in Arizona. Verne sees D. around Christmas and a picture is taken of him which we have.


In early Jan., V. and his father (and possibly his brother Carl) went to San Simon, AZ. On the way they stopped in El Paso, and V. visited a Mexican casino in Juarez and noted that most of the roulette wheel gambling seemed to be done by American women. V. and his father each got land to farm and began working on houses and wells. V. had 800 acres, his father had a section.

In the letters he talks about these projects and about riding and breaking horses. He also bought cattle. Pancho Villa was raiding across the border and killing Americans, and he discusses the danger from this, which he saw as minimal.

Prohibition was in the air and V. and D. were both strongly in favor of it. Arizona began Prohibition on Jan. 1 1915, probably largely because they also had women’s suffrage. N.M. was wet, so the towns over the border like Lordsburg and Rodeo were full of saloons. V. talks about this later in the letters.

In Mar. 1915, V. returned to Dallas for 3 weeks. He hoped to go to Austin and see D. before returning, but this doesn’t seem to have happened. When he returned around the beginning of April, his mother Beall and siblings Carl and Gwen were with him.

While in El Paso on the way back he ran into a man whom he had known in Dallas. The man needed money and V. loaned him $150 and kept the man’s “Cadillac racer” as collateral. The man defaulted on the loan and V. ended up with what he believed to be the fastest car in the region, although he kept it in his shanty and didn’t drive it. He estimated it was worth $800 when he acquired it. He was later made an offer to race the car in Lordsburg, N.M., but he demanded a purse of $350 and the race apparently never happened. Sometime later Carl traded the car for some lifestock without asking Verne, but Verne had lost interest in the car and didn’t care.

Verne lived in San Simon and worked on his land and his father’s land and helped their neighbors drill an artesian well to learn how to do it and find out what was likely to work.

Here’s a couple of letter summaries to give a feel for this time:

Verne had gotten his hand caught in his neighbor’s pump while working on it a couple of weeks before. It’s amazing the risks he took with his one hand.
Wed. June 23, 1915

He says that by now she knows why his last letter was so late. “No darling, I have neither forgotten you nor forgotten to write to you.” His hand is getting better, but he has had another finger nail removed and so can’t put a glove on yet. Still he got some stumps removed anyway. [Remember, this guy only has one arm!]

“Well, Darling, I am afraid that your mother may not like our writing too often, so I will close.”
Sun. June 27 (pm 29th) 1915

V. had not thought he could get started on the well for a week, but he in fact was able to start already. However, they had not gotten far before the driller decided he needed to replace some pipe. V. was also more than annoyed to find out that the driller expected him to supply the drilling water. V. does not have the teams to haul the 20,000 gallons a day that it takes, so he set about getting a surface well drilled to supply the water. This involved some additional frustrations, but he got it started and thinks that they will finish quickly and be able to move on to the deep well.

He hadn’t had a great time at the dance, but somewhat interesting. The girl he took was visiting from Tuscon and couldn’t understand why anyone would live in such a remote place. She had spent a while talking about how dull San Simon was, to which V. replied that he rather liked it.

“Oh, but you have never lived in a city like Tuscon where you can have a good time.”

“I had to admit that I had never lived in one like Tuscon. Now Tuscon is a town of about 2 or 3 thousand people…something like Arlington. After some time she asked me if I had lived here only a few months… and then she asked me where I came from and I told her Dallas. She then took an interest in me and allowed me to ascend to her level by asking me if I could drive a car. By this time I was rather peeved and told her that I had never ridden in one but in Dallas they had over ten thousand. Sat. I met her in town and some way she found out that I had a car and asked me to bring it out. I now see that automobiles can make friends for a person even if they are good for nothing else.

“I never thought of it any more until tonight I found that Carl had been out to see her 2 nights in succession. This morning he told me liked her fine. Now you see that although she is too good for me I may get her for a sister in law. Quien sabe.”

[I would love to know if this was Nina, who Carl married a couple of years later. Probably not.]

During his time in Arizona, Verne did most of his traveling on horseback. There were train lines in the places he went (San Simon, Apache, Douglas, AZ, Rodeo, N.M., Lordsburg, N.M.) but he needed a horse for local transportation when he arrived, and he owned a number of horses, so he usually rode. He raised horses, cattle, chickens and hogs, and won prizes at the local fair for his livestock.


Verne lived in San Simon working on his well and land and that of his father and neighbors until Sept. of 1916 when he went south to Apache to live. He had planted crops before leaving, but he apparently didn’t return to harvest them. He may have left them for the rest of the family. He doesn’t say before or after moving exactly why he moved. During the fall of 1916 V. remains coy in the letters about why he moved to Apache. He tells her some of what he is doing there, but indicates that he is not revealing his main occupation there. He was in fact teaching elementary school, which he did through May 1917.

In a letter in early Aug. 1916, D. tells V. that she had seen an obit. for a Mrs. Garrison that she thought was his grandmother. It was his step-grandmother (Sarah Moore Garrison, 3rd wife of Lovick Pierce Garrison) who died July 24, 1916. Verne says in the letter that despite being a step-grandmother (who had no children of her own with LPG) she had taken an interest in his grandchildren.

Apache is no longer a town. To find Apache on Google maps, look for Geronimo Surrender Monument. If you put in Apache, AZ, Google will send you to the wrong place. Geronimo surrendered near the site of Apache 30 yr before V. moved there.

In Nov. ’16 V. describes riding in one day from Bowie (24 mi west of San Simon) to San Simon and then 45 mi. to Apache, the last 25 mi into a sandstorm, and arriving at 2 a.m.

V. spent Christmas of ’16 in Dallas, and presumably told D. then what he was doing in Apache.

All during his time in AZ, Verne was writing tender love letters to his “little Queen, his Sweetheart” (once he used “Dulce Corazon” and once “Regina Chiquita”) telling her how much he missed her and was anxiously awaiting the time when she could join him and get married. He put her on a high pedestal of feminine perfection. He reports every date with another girl or attendance at a dance, which he attended frequently. He never wavers from concluding that all the other girls fall far short of Dorothy. At least a couple of girls (Julia Paul and a Miss Reese, both in San Simon) nursed hopes of winning him away from D. – Miss Reese went so far as to send him a ring in Apache. (Miss Reese was seriously confused – she was an atheist and had about as much chance of winning Verne as one his pigs.) Verne maintains that he told all his dates from the beginning that he belonged to Dorothy, and I believe him.

I have puzzled over why he stayed away so long and didn’t return to marry D. I think the answer is that he was supporting his parents who had depleted their savings trying to get their homestead going (he had done the same) and he never thought that D. could be happy with the rough life and sparsity of people in SE Arizona. He felt the obligation to support her in a relatively comfortable lifestyle, and, while he thought that he could do that pretty easily if it was just the two of them, the additional burden of his parents and Gwen made it more than he was confident he could manage.


After returning to AZ in Jan. he mentions buying burros (at elevated prices because of the fear of war with Mexico), hauling wood with several teams of horses, and alludes to teaching school. In a letter in late Jan. ’17 he indicates that the reason he left San Simon and came to Apache was that he was out of money and had to get a job to replenish his coffers. I think he also may have been supporting his parents.

V.’s letter of Jan. 10 was forwarded to D. in New York at the McAlpin Hotel where her father often stayed. She visited Boston and was in N.Y. until late in Jan. The next letters are to Lexington, KY where she was visiting her cousin Jane Logan until late Feb. when she returned to Dallas. Jane was anticipating marrying “Johnson.”

During this period, V. had two admirers in AZ. One was Julia Paul, a schoolteacher in San Simon, whom he had a lot of respect for. He spent enough time with her that his mother and other people thought maybe he would marry her instead of D., but Verne’s letters never show any sign that he wavered.

The other was “Miss Reese,” an atheist who was a schoolteacher at an elementary school north of Apache somewhere. She must have concealed her atheism to get a job teaching school, and she had to be seriously confused to think she had any chance of snaring Verne. She actually sent him a ring, which he returned and then she sent it back to him again.

Early in April V. had smoked part of a cigar that someone handed him. He hadn’t smoked in over a year and he got sick. He mentioned this in a letter to Julia Paul, and she got peeved and told him he shouldn’t. He agrees with D. that Julia has no right to tell him what to do, but D. also objects to him smoking, so he says he won’t do it again.

One of his school trustees was caught bootlegging and will probably be sent to the penitentiary. V. is sorry for his kids [somewhere around 10 of them] who are good kids. He doesn’t think the father does anything to support them but bootlegging. His oldest daughter, who goes to the “normal” is a religious fanatic who is practically a preacher. [Does this sound like a great movie or what?!]

He writes in April about preparing his young students for an “Easter Entertainment,” which caused him a great deal of worry before it was over, and having an Easter egg hunt in conjunction with Miss Reese, the atheist young lady who taught at a nearby school and had a thing for him.

Late in April he describes joining the local sheriffs to chase down bootleggers late into the night – they gave chase but didn’t catch them. He also talks about going around and looking at the saloons in New Mexico. He says there are 3000 people in Lordsburg, countless saloons and no churches.

Fri. June 1, 1917 was the last day of school teaching for the year for V. He indicates in a letter he wrote that day that he had been teaching all year in Apache and expects to teach another year. [He didn't.] He was living with Carl in a boarding house and doing some farm work for a man. He registers for the draft (which began that month) and says he would like to go in the army if he could get some chemistry experience.

In late June V. and Carl helped 200 men fight a large fire in the Chiracauhua Mountains (northwest of Apache) for several days. They returned in a few days to continue fighting the fire for another week, but, as V. predicted, it was only the arrival of rain that put it out. He describes walking 15 mi to reach an elevation of 10,000 ft. and working 20 hr days for a week. He camped on the top of Mt. Chiracauhua, the highest peak in the region and could see towns 100 mi away. He got caught in a hailstorm in freezing weather. He thought the scenery was the most beautiful he had ever seen early in the fire before the damage was done. When done he walked 35 mi to get home, stopping to sleep in a field from 11 pm to 4 am until it was too cold to sleep and rising to finish walking home.

In July he discusses several possibilities for the coming year including teaching again, getting work as a telegrapher, working for the forest service and getting a herd of goats. He was working hauling wood with Carl.

By late summer, Verne was intensely lonely and missing Dorothy badly. He wanted desperately to marry her and bring her to Arizona, but he didn’t have any immediate prospect of a living that would allow him to take care of her and his parents. He didn’t have the money that he needed to invest in his homestead in San Simon to make it productive. What he really wanted do was chemistry, and he had educated himself in the basics of inorganic chemistry. He also loved farming, but didn’t have the capital to get it going.

In Sept. he was waiting impatiently for a telegraphy machine he had ordered to practice on. He was helping a forest ranger organize his paperwork before an annual inspection, and backed a car out of a narrow canyon when the ranger thought it would have to be abandoned. The ranger was so impressed he wanted to bet two other rangers $100 they couldn’t do it, so long as Verne would be available to get it out after they failed. These rangers had expressed the opinion that Verne wouldn’t be able to do everything necessary for a field ranger.

Carl married Nina Robinson in Sept. They remained in Cochise Co. AZ at least until the 1920 census. They were married 50 yr, until Nina’s death in 1966. Curiously, Verne does not mention this in any letter in Sept. Maybe Carl got married secretly? Don’t know.

In late Sept. Verne went to Douglas, AZ, on the border, to visit a mining company and look for Mexicans to help him cut and haul wood. While there he toured a large mine operation which had a big assay lab. They were very nice to him, but he didn’t think that with one hand he could keep up with pace that he observed in the lab, so he withdrew the application that he had put in before taking the tour.

He applied for a position at a small company, Douglas Assay Co. as an assistant chemist. He was accepted and got a letter when he got back to Apache asking him to report as soon as possible. He left the next morning for Douglas and worked there for several weeks. He wrote Dorothy that he enjoyed the work more than anything he had ever done. However, the company wasn’t doing well, and he realized quickly that there was no future with them. He quit and the co. soon folded. He needed to return to San Simon and live on his land to keep his homestead, so, he returned to San Simon for the rest of the year. He never returned to Apache. He was sick of it and had to have a change.

He spent Christmas of ’17 with his parents in San Simon, AZ. He celebrated his birthday on the 24th with friends and family – a total of 3 cakes, 2 cooked by Gwen, said he ate way too much.

When V. left for Los Angeles, his parents and Carl and Gwen stayed in Arizona. In 1920 they were still living in San Simon. Eventually Carl went to work for Southern Pacific Railway, and worked for them for the rest of his life, except during WWII, when he was in the Army Transportation Corp in Burma or somewhere around there.

Verne’s parents stayed in the area. In 1935 Verne and Dorothy and the kids visited them in Carrazozo, N.M., shortly before W.O. died. Carl was living in Carrazozo at the time, but later moved to California. After W.O. died, Bealle moved back to Texas.


In early Jan. 1918 V. moved to Los Angeles. There are several letters during early Jan. but the letters from then until the beginning of June are missing. When they pick up again in June, he is living at 845 S. Olive St. in L.A. (now a parking lot in downtown L.A.) I haven’t yet read these letters beyond the first few.


From early Jan. 1919, V. is living at the YMCA in L.A. and seems to be working at the U.S. Railroad Administration doing telegraphy and other things. From late March his return address is 687 S. Westlake in L.A. (now a tony shopping center on S. Westlake Blvd. in Thousand Oaks).

The letters end in late May ’19. Verne and Dorothy were married in Dec. 1919. Verne was 26 and Dorothy was almost 25.


If you look at San Simon, AZ on Google satellite view, you see that there is still some irrigation farming around there. It used to be possible to do a Google street view and see the main highway and some old buildings, but this is no longer available on Google. San Simon is still a functioning town with a school district. Verne kept his land in San Simon for many years – there are property tax receipts in his estate folder. I think that the land was given back to the govt. after he died, but I have to check on this.

Preston G.

Retired biochemist. One of 16 grandchildren of Verne Garrison and Dorothy Logan Garrison.

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