Reflection of Butte


"Remembrance and reflection how allied!
What thin partitions sense from thought divide!"
.Alexander Pope 1688-1744

Family, Roots and Hornet Street

Part I

.....the memoirs of William T. Paull

ears ago when I started this project, I intended to just write about my wartime experiences but I began to regress from Pearl Harbor Day... back in time. .. to my childhood... to my ancestry. I've experienced many flash-backs. I am getting some of these fleeting memories recorded in a new file I call "Hornet Street", but there is still so much that I remember that doesn't fit into any neat category:

Such as learning to walk during a fishing trip at Fishtrap on the Big Hole River. Of course, I don't remember that but it's part of the stories always told at family gatherings. Part of my problem is trying to decide whether to stick to what I actually remember or include all the tribal folklore.

first stepsat ease

I recently read a book, A Boyhood in Cornwall which was rather dull but I got pleasure seeing those marvelous place names in print... the ones I grew up hearing about: St. Ives, Truro, Cambourne, Mevagissey, Penzance, Redruth, Hayle, Zennor, Four Lanes,... I can remember my great- grandmother, Emma Anne Bolitho, singing me to sleep. Her lyrics didn't make much sense to me but the song has stayed in my memory:

..going up Cambourne hill; going down.
The cart gets stuck while the wheels go 'round."

When we had some special treat .. like a beef roast, she'd say, "This is better than a visit to Mevagissey."

Fore Street in Mevagissey

Emma Anne Gray, married Thomas John Bolitho in Cornwall at Four Lanes, near Redruth. When the tin mines closed down, T.J. Bolitho, my great grandfather, left to seek his fortune in America and soon after he left, Emma Anne discovered that she was pregnant.

After working in Michigan and Colorado, T.J. continued his search for fortune in Butte, Montana. He prospered, and was able to send Emma Anne enough money for her to feel like "gentry". She could occasionally hire a coach and drive to Truro or St. Ives. She once told me that her neighbors considered her "well-off".

I was eighteen years old when she died. I have wonderful memories of this remarkable woman. She was short, barely five feet, and very thin. She wore her hair pulled up and pinned into a tight roll on top of her head. Her hair never turned gray, although it did develop some white streaks. She was just as adept at tatting fine lace with her ivory shuttle as she was at darning socks and her fingers were always busy. She wore long, ankle-length dark dresses which were brightened by pure white aprons. Her shoes were high-tops. I can remember the bright black side buttons and her ivory-handled button hook. I don't know how the family managed to obtain this kind of footwear for her in the 1930's. There were still shoemakers around then, so I suppose they just attached new soles to the uppers. She was known in the neighborhood as "Gramma Bysho", as this was the closest I could come to pronouncing "bolitho" when I was learning to talk. She had a broad "Cousin Jenny" accent. Since I grew up with her and her expressions, I never had any problem understanding her, but non-Cornish friends were often mystified and would ask me to translate for them. I still find myself using some of her phrases: "Close 'ome the door; Go up along; This milk is a wee bit fousy; I'll be there dreckly."

Gramma Bysho

I could never get Gramma Bysho to tell me why she waited twelve years before she would leave Cornwall to come to America and join her husband. They certainly could have afforded the trip. After she "came over" she never looked back... never wanted to return to Cornwall even for a visit.

My grandmother, Mary Emma, was twelve years old before she met her father. She never recalled many details of her departure from Cornwall, the voyage to New York, or the train ride to Montana, but she retained a vivid memory of her first meeting with her father.

Incredibly, after successfully negotiating the trip to Liverpool, passage across the Atlantic, Ellis Island and New York, and a transcontinental train journey, Emma Ann mistakenly got off the train in Silver Bow... a railroad division point about five miles from Butte. She expected to be met by her husband. He wasn't there. Nothing was there. She dug into her dwindling purse and hired a hack to drive her to the Butte station. By this time T.J. had realized that his family was not on the train so he went back to his boarding house.

In Mary Emma's words, "When we got to Butte, the station was empty so Ma went across the street and found a room in a hotel. In the morning she hired a hack and drove up the hill toward Centerville. It was early and the street was full of men on their way to work. Ma suddenly said, "Get out! Get out! There's your pa!".

T.J. had just left the boarding house to go back to the depot to look for his family on the next train. It must have been a very emotional encounter but neither my grandmother nor my great- grandmother ever related any more details.

I am proud to be a descendant of Emma Ann Gray and to have such loving memories of her. She died in the same brass bed in which I was born eighteen years earlier.

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As soon as she settled in at Centerville, Emma Anne began taking in boarders. There were many "Cousin Jack" bachelor miners in Butte in those days. One of her first lodgers was an eighteen year old boy who had left Cornwall at the age of sixteen, William Christopher Trewhella. In 1890, depressed metal prices forced many of the Butte mines to close down. William Christopher lost his job and went to Colorado, looking for work. Three years later, he came back to Butte, found a job, and resumed his residence in Emma Anne's boarding house.

Romance blossomed between Mar'em Bolitho and Billy Trewhella.

gallus My mother, Ethel Trewhella, was the eldest of the five children of Mary Emma Bolitho and William Christopher Trewhella. She was born June 21, 1896, in a little house on Minah Street in the Centerville area of Butte. When she was three or four years old, the family moved down the hill a couple of blocks to Clear Grit Terrace in to a little house nested in the shadows of a huge gallus frame: the big derrick-like hoists that raised and lowered the cages up and down the mine shafts. Her parents though both born in Cornwall, England, within a few miles of each other, had not met until those many years later in Montana.

Pearl, Auntie Patch, Mary Emma's second child, was born October 4, 1897, also in the Minah Street house at Centerville. William Christopher and Mary Emma Trewhella built and moved into the little house on Hornet Street shortly before William John, Uncle Will, was born on October 24, 1903. Uncle Will was born in that that same "front bedroom," as Uncle Bert, January 7, 1906; Uncle Howard on July 30, 1908; and me, William Trewhella Paull, July 2, 1918.


In the beginning there was only one small shack on the corner of what is now the corner of Hornet and Excelsior under the old volcanic cone now called "Big Butte". After Billy and Marem Trewhella started building their house Marem's parents, Thomas John and Emma Anne Bolitho bought a lot just east of them and built a house too. 930 & 928 Hornet Street were almost a single unit. There was barely 3 feet between the two houses.

Pearl Trewhella was married to John Francis Gilbert in this house on May 10th, 1919, just before John was shipped overseas to England in WWI. I was baptized by the Methodist minister during the ceremony.

Pearl & John

My birth came one month after my grandfather, William Christopher, died at the age of forty-seven during a flu epidemic. I, of course was named after him. When I was growing up, I used to resent that strange middle name, Trewhella. Why couldn't I have been christened David, or George, or John?

Here's a little doggerel my dad used to recite to me:
"Tre-, Pau-, Pol-, Pen-,
--by these letters, you know Cornishmen."

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