The Hiles view the grandeur of the landscape but also experience the vagaries of life.
Oscar, Ella and the kids ate breakfast on the train as they left Denver the morning of May 1.
About two thirty that afternoon, the train passed through Canon City. Ella noted that Oscar took the snapshot of the depot and that she was very sad as they passed through because her father was buried in Canon City.
Jesse Doran Smith was born January 19, 1836 in Pleasant Dale, Hampshire County, Virginia (now West Virginia since 1861), the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Doran Smith. Both sides of the family included Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, and Jesse was one of twelve children. Jesse married Josephine McBride in 1865 and together they had four sons and a daughter, Ella being the youngest.
Jesse died on July 30, 1904, when Ella was twenty-four, in a rural portion of Fremont County near Canon City. As the story goes, Jesse had gone to Colorado in search of work. His body was found by the sheriff without identification and he was buried at county expense. It was only after inquiries from the Smith family as to the whereabouts of Jesse that the officials were able to identify the remains., and so passing through Canon City must have been traumatic for Ella.
Being on a moving train with a scheduled destination does not leave much time for lingering, however, and soon the scenery began to look “very rugged, indeed.”
As they continued through southern Colorado, the collision between what Ella was seeing and what she had been feeling continued.
If anyone embodied the Finnish notion of sisu it had to be my grandmother. As stoic and resilient as they come Grandma Penrose was almost deaf, had a heart condition, a double mastectomy, and a very soft voice, but it was always clear just who was in charge.
I’m not exactly sure what the “most thrilling wonderful places” the Hiles would have missed that night were that could top their Royal Gorge experience. But I wasn’t quite prepared for what happened next.
She’s as bad-ass as they come. In fact, she was born bad-ass, following a long line of bad-ass women, like her mother, her grandmothers, and the generations of strong, smart, powerful women before them. Of course, she’s only two, so there’s bound to be a certain amount of figuring out of stuff along the way, but with a face like this, who can doubt she’s going to rule the world some day.
Whether it is incredulous politicians or innocent and well-meaning genealogists and family historians, as we navigate the sometimes difficult pathway between truth and assumption, we must always consider the source.
It’s not entirely clear why they left on the trip, but looking back over the decades and forward to our present situation, we certainly have some clues. The spring of 1919 arrived — much like the spring of 2022 — following some harrowing and frightening times.