The Wedding of Mattie Thorpe and Bill McCarter

by Irma McCarter Petrick

Originally published in The Snowshoe, Fairfield, Idaho, January 20, 1977, p. 2.

I would like to tell you a story about a wedding that took place 65 years ago this month. It is not an unusual story, but a good one.

The fall and early winter of 1911 and ’12 had been an open one, much like the one we are experiencing now, and the young couple about whom I’m writing had taken full advantage of the mild weather. The young man had built his bride-to-be a little house located on the east side of the road going up to Corral Creek just about opposite the private road leading into the Hot Springs and McCarter ranches.

The house had a kitchen and living room with two bedrooms upstairs and a porch on the south. It was quite austere by today’s standard, but very adequate then. He had moved the old log school house, no longer in use, from its original location on the west side of the road to his property to serve as a barn for his horses and milk cow.

Daughters Marjorie and Agnes on the porch of the little house circa 1915

The young woman had been busy too, making curtains for the new house as well as linens and quilts and all the things necessary to run a household. She was a talented seamstress, but because this was such a special occasion, had ordered a navy blue skirt and shirt waist as well as a matching felt hat from the Bellas Hess mail order company to wear for her wedding. The young man had a new brown, tight-legged suit for the special day too. I remember it well because he did not have another for many years.

Finally the house was completed except for the interior painting which they planned to do together after they were married and plans made for the wedding. It was a simple, practical plan or course. He would bring her to his mother’s house to stay the night before they were to leave for Hailey so they could get an early start the following morning. They would take a big team of horses and sled instead of his fast cayuse team and cutter so they could bring back the furniture and household furnishings they would buy in Hailey. They planned to stay for three or four days shopping and seeing the sights. And so it was with a great deal of anticipation that they started for Hailey early on the 9th.

Bill McCarter courting Mattie Thorpe circa 1911

The sky was as blue as only Camas Prairie skies can be, there were five or six inches of snow, and the roads were good as there was much travel to Hailey in those days. (The road in those days went through the canyon and was considerably shorter than the one we use now).

By noon they were at Camp Creek where they stopped and built a fire and made coffee to go with the good lunch his mother had prepared for them. The fire felt good, but they didn’t linger long as they wanted to reach Hailey as early as possible.

By mid-afternoon they were driving down Hailey’s main street and soon located Mrs. Carey’s rooming house where they rented rooms. The girl was tired from the long trip and, after unpacking her clothes, rested and visited with the landlady. The young man went out to find a minister and to buy a wedding ring.

And so it was on Wednesday, the 10th day of January 1912, that the tall, slim girl of 19 and the handsome young man of 24 were married by the Reverend Kenneth L. Houlder in Mrs. Carey’s rooming house.

Who were these people? They were Bill and Mattie McCarter. And did they live happily ever after? Pretty much so, I believe. Anyway I know they loved each other very much and have lived in great harmony for 65 years. Of course there have been many hard times as well as good times. Now, as you know, he is confined to a wheelchair unable to walk or talk, and she is his constant attendant.

Mattie also told her granddaughter this anecdote about the return trip from Hailey. They had stopped at the Corral Store for a few more supplies when a man said to Bill, "That woman on the sled looks chilled. You should give her another blanket." And Mattie thought, "What woman? I'm a girl!" Then it dawned on her that she was, indeed, a married woman.

Bill McCarter died a month after their 65th anniversary. Mattie lived until December 5, 1991 just one day shy of her 99th birthday.

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