Maggie Cartwright sat on the porch waiting for her son and nephew to come home. This was her favorite part
of the day, not light, not dark, calm and restive. Soon the boys would be home, they would have supper then
spend an evening together talking or playing chess.
For her, it had been love at first sight with her late husband Adam, and when he had shown her the Ponderosa
the first time she had fallen in love with it too. Adam had been ambitious, wanting to build his own empire
like his Father had done and this had led to his death. He had checked the books and found his partner was
stealing, and when he confronted him a fight broke out and Adam was stabbed to death leaving her a widow and
alone to raise their son Benjamin Eric Cartwright. They had lived in New Orleans but she knew Adam would want
to be buried on the Ponderosa, and when she brought his body home her Father-in-law Ben had pleaded with her
to stay with him and let him help raise her son, and she had gratefully accepted.
She had fit in well with the Cartwright family from day one. She called her Father-in-law "Father Cartwright"
and her Brother-in-law Eric, or as he was known "Hoss" was like a brother. She had been maid of honor for Mandy
Jenkins when she married Hoss and she and Mandy were Best Friends Friends For Life, and she had felt like she
lost a sister when Mandy died in childbirth leaving Hoss a widower and alone to raise their son Joseph Adam
Cartwright. To his credit Hoss wasn't bitter, and continued to live life as he had always done, never taking
himself too serious and making his son his number one priority, then, 3 years later the horrible tragedy that
took Hoss's life. There were no witnesses but the Sheriff concluded he had drowned while fording Crazy Woman
Creek. Indications were his horse had stepped in quick sand. Because his vest and gun belt were on the side of
the creek all believed he had managed to swim to shore, but the big hearted giant had taken them off and gone
back in to try to save his horse Chubs, and both were lost.
Ben got custody of Little Adam and he came to live with them at the Ponderosa. He and his Cousin Ben were more
like brothers and she had become his surrogate Mother and all recovered eventually.
Joseph Cartwright, like Adam had wanted to create his own empire, but despite all he tried he wasn't very
successful in business. He had served 2 terms as Mayor of Virginia City and this had wetted his appetite for
politics and had mounted an unsuccessful campaign for Governor. When President McKinley asked Congress to
declare war on Spain "Little Joe," despite the objections of his Wife Linda and Father had applied for and
received a Commission and joined Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. Joe told his both his Father and Wife
this was the key to restoring his political career. When he came back he would run for Governor again and
after that, maybe even President! Then came that awful day.
Father Cartwright and the boys were at a horse auction. Mei Ling, the house keeper/cook who had taken Hop
Sing's place when he passed away and she were the only home. Maggie was upstairs and heard a knock on the
door. She started down the steps and stopped short when she saw a soldier in the door and heard Mei Ling
say "Mr. Cartwright no here." She gathered herself and said;
"Sergeant, I'm Maggie Cartwright, Can I help you?"
The Sergeant came to attention gave her a snappy salute, and said: "Mrs. Cartwright my name is Sergeant Williams.
It is my sad duty to extend to you the sympathies of the President of the United States and to inform you that
Lieutenant Joseph Cartwright has been killed in action at the battle of San Juan Hill."
Mei Ling had screamed and started crying. Of all the Cartwrights, Joe had been her favorite. When she first came
to the Ponderosa they had flirted with each other and after Joe had married remained fast friends and played
practical jokes on each other, her heart was broken.
By now Maggie had reached the door and the Sergeant handed her an Official looking envelope, saluted again and
left. She put the envelope in the desk drawer and firmly ordered Mei Ling to go to her room and remain there to
nurse her broken heart and NOT to say anything to anyone she would inform Ben and the boys, which truth be known
was a big relief to Mei Ling as she didn't want to tell Ben.
Maggie practiced different ways of saying it, hoping to break it to Ben gently but nothing she said seemed to
fit. About 2 hours later her son ran in the house and excitedly yelled:
"MA! MA! COME LOOK AT THE STRING OF HORSES PAPAW BOUGHT! THEY'RE BEAUTIFUL! BEST OF ALL, HE SAID JOE AND ME CAN EACH PICK OUT ONE FOR OUR OWN!"
She forced a smile and said "That's nice son. I'll be out in a minute, I have to talk to your Grandfather.
Why don't you and Joe take care of the horses and ask your Grandfather to come in."
"OK!" And he ran out, and shortly Ben, in a good mood came in.
"Now Maggie, before you say anything yes I did give them both a horse. I know I spoil them but . . . "
"Father Cartwright, its not that. I . . . I . . . Little Joe . . . a
Soldier was here . . . " All of her practicing had not paid off, she couldn't tell him, but she didn't have too, Ben knew.
He looked at her and said: "A soldier . . . Maggie is my son dead?"
She turned away, unable to face him and said "Yes. there's a letter in your desk telling you about it."
Ben went to his desk, retrieved the envelope and read its contents silently. In it was a letter signed by the
President extending his sympathies on behalf of a grateful Nation, a death certificate and information about
when the body was being returned home. He read it, then laid it down on the desk and picked up a picture of
Joe and his family, looked at it and repeated "Joseph, Joseph Joseph" then dropped it, put his face in his
hands and wept. Maggie went to him and together both wept, but then Ben, being the true Patriarch of the family
that he was gained control of himself and comforted Maggie. They looked at each other neither saying it but both
knew part of the worst part was coming, he would have to tell the boys and then the worst part of all, he would
have to tell Joe's wife Linda and 2 daughters Marie (Named for Joe's Mother) and Amber.
The boys came in and saw Ben and Maggie standing holding each other and from the look on their faces knew
something was wrong and froze in their tracks. Ben gently pushed Maggie away and went to them placing a hand
on each boy's shoulder and said "Boys, I've always called you my men, and now I will really need you to be so,
not only for Maggie's and my sake but also for the sake of your Cousins Marie and Amber." He then broke the
news and both boys lost it. Uncle Joe had been like a Father and also a good friend to them and now he was
gone. After a few moments of weeping Ben took charge.
"Let's be glad the soldier's came to me first instead of Linda. You boys go hook up the buck board and saddle
yourselves a couple of horses. We'll go tell Linda and the girls and bring them back here with us. MEI LING!" he
screamed and she came running, "I want you to make a light dinner for all of us and make lots of coffee its going to be a long night."
The boys rode their horses and Maggie drove the buckboard with Ben sitting next to her, neither wanting
conversation instead each dwelling on their own thoughts.
When they got to the gate of the ranch Ben looked around and said: "Maggie, it's no secret I'm one of the richest
men in Nevada, maybe even the Country, but I'd give it all up to have Joseph sitting here with me right now."
Maggie later wrote, Father Cartwright had always been a healthy man. Other than a cold I never saw him sick or take
a day off from his work because of illness but I'll always believe the loss of his third son was too much and that
day was the day he started going downhill. Three years to the day later he passed away surrounded by his family,
peacefully in his bed.
His will revealed he was indeed one of the wealthiest men in the Country, with his 10,000 acre Ponderosa Ranch,
lumber business and other enterprises, his estate was $15,000,000.00 dollars, equivalent to about 200 million today.
He made Benjamin and Joseph equal partners in the Ponderosa, his lumber and mining business, and granted a monthly
allowance of $1,000.00 to Marie and Amber, an allowance to Linda and I of $500.00 a month and gave each of us "A
home on the Ponderosa for as long as they shall live."
As the boys rode up Maggie snapped out of her day dream saying to herself, with all its ups and downs life had truly been for her a