Saturday, January 20, 2018

Grandma's First Husband - "I am well and my hopes are rising."

The start of 1918 saw my grandmother, Anna Bell Barnhart Calhoun, and her first husband James Calhoun, several states apart – she at home in Bovina and he in North Carolina. He wrote her a long letter on New Year’s Day:

Jan 1, 1918

My dear Anna;
This is the first day of the new year.  It is a holiday all day with us at Camp Greene and I am trying to make it such in the true sense of the word as nearly as I possibly can.  I came into Charlotte early this morning on the trolley with one of the others from squad 13 who is an accomplished organist.  We went directly to the YMCA and took a good refreshing wash up which was free as we furnished our own soap and towel.  I then went out and found a haircut and went from there out about town a little and am now back at the YMCA at 11 o’clock AM writing in a nice cosy room God bless the YMCA.  They are the haven of rest for the soldier boys.  The friend who I am with picks up a good bit of money playing the pipe organs at different churches here Sabbath days and evenings.  He often is able to get $2 a day for playing outside of drill hours.  I felt I must not eat lunch in town today as it would be to[o] expensive but that I should go back to camp and eat Uncle Sam’s fare but my friend is going to stay in all day and urges me to stay and lunch at his expense and I have consented to do so explaining the circumstances of course.  I have plenty of money here.  Have nearly $10.00 left from the $20.00 I left home with and will get $6.00 more probably when pay day comes in about 10 days.  I hope not only to be able to save enough out of my monthly pay here but to lay a little aside. 
I looked at the thermometer as I came from breakfast this morning and it registered 6 degrees above zero.  I am told this is the coldest weather this place has experienced in 28 years.  My cold is much better today but some of the others in my squad have hard colds this morning.  My bed fellow from Shinhopple, NY has a severe cold and I am afraid by the sound of his cough that it is affecting his lungs.  I got some lemons last evening and made some real sour hot lemonade just before going to bed.  It seemed to do wonders in loosening up the phlegm and taking the soreness from my throat.  The sun is shining brightly today and as there is but little wind.  I think the weather shall begin to warm again today.  I know from reports that a cold wave has extended throughout the U.S.  It has been quite cold throughout the southern states even down on the gulf coast. 
The chances for real cold of great length is not great here and as we will probably stay here until nearly spring we will probably escape much of the real cold weather this year.  If we should go to France or abroad it will be in summer which will make it much more pleasant.  It isn’t nearly so hard to drill hard when we are comfortable and not frozen to death. 
My friend has finished his letters and wishes to go so I will not keep him waiting.  This will let you know I am well and my hopes are rising.  I am willing to be more patient in waiting for a better day if I feel it is really coming.  As ever your most loving husband
James

January saw no major events in James’ life, but he saw a couple of changes of duty. There are no letters that survive from Anna to James in this period, but James commented on several things going on in Bovina, including some deaths and the start of a family squabble in Anna’s family. 

On January 2, he wrote that “I enjoy your letters so much because you write all about what takes place with you and that is where my heart’s interests are.  I am so glad to hear all about what takes place up there.  You said by your last letter that you thought you had better close as you had written enough trash.  Now dear Anna it is not trash to me but every word of it is precious to me.  Write me whenever you can and anything you think would be of interest to me.  I think your letters are the best ever and I wish I could write such interesting letters as you do.”

In a letter written January 4, he explains why we have so few of Anna’s letters available to us today: “I do not know how many letters you have written me as I destroy them after I have read them thoroughly because it is unwise to carry them about because someone would find them and read them but I have gotten a nice big bunch of them.  Yes they are our love letters which we did not need to write when we were courting.  No lover ever enjoyed his sweetheart’s letter more than I have enjoyed yours to me.”

James was rather self-effacing about himself, as evidenced by this passage: “It does not seem possible that so many Bovina boys have gone to the army but their names tell the story.  I knew you would prove patriotic, but I am not worthy of the star for you know Rev. Graham said I was a slacker and you better have my name taken from the honor roll.”

James and Elizabeth Boggs

On January 5, James comments on Anna’s sister Edith helping at the home of James and Elizabeth Boggs. “I am glad Edith likes her place and I always liked Boggs people very much.  James was always especially jolly and good natured.  So, they are expecting something to happen next summer are they?”  The assumption here is that Elizabeth was pregnant. Sadly, it appears that complications set in. On January 12, he comments that “I am sorry for Boggs’ people if Mrs. Boggs has the fever and the trouble of which you spoke. She has almost too much for her physical ability and scarlet fever will make it hard for the entire family.” The scarlet fever led not just to the Boggs family being quarantined but Edith had to join them. A few days later, Anna reported that it wasn’t scarlet fever, which let Edith out of quarantine. But worries about Mrs. Boggs continued. On January 14, he wrote “I am so glad that Mrs. Boggs doesn’t have scarlet fever.  It means so much to you all.  I am extremely sorry for Boggs people and may God grant the sparing of Mrs. Boggs.  Should she be taken away it would almost kill James.  They have had hard luck with their family indeed.” 
Mrs. Boggs’ illness worsened, turning into blood poisoning. Elizabeth died on January 17. James learned of her death on January 21: “I cannot tell you how sorry I feel for James Boggs and all of his and her friends.  It is very hard indeed and all have my sincere sympathy who have to pass through such an experience.  You know it is only those who have suffered who can full sympathy with suffering.  This will prove a terrible blow to all of their people.” James continued to mourn for his friend. On January 24, he wrote “I cannot help but think of poor James Boggs and God only knows how I pity him.  I suppose I should be very thankful that you are spared to me and realize that we are really blessed and spared in comparison to what some of our fellows must endure.” 

In February, he still was struggling over writing a letter of sympathy to James Boggs “but really I feel I can hardly do it.  I think sympathy letters are hard to write.  Give me a few pointers on the subject please.” 

Other deaths

On January 12, James wrote about two deaths in Bovina. His aunt, Jane McNair Doig, died on January 5. “I was sorry but not at all surprised to learn of Aunt Jane’s death.  She is surely better now and she was a good woman and lived a life of supreme Christian character.”

The other death in early January was a shock to all. John Irvine, former Bovina supervisor, committed suicide on New Year’s Day. Irvine was the father of Isabell Russell. It was his son-in-law Cecil who found him. James wrote “Mr. Irving’s death was especially sad.  The way it happened made the entire affair much more sad.  It seemed as though he had very much to want to live for, but he had lost his health and he couldn’t not see life in a way to really enjoy it.  Money is a good thing to have but good health and a true love works for more to make truly happy lives, doesn’t it?” In a later letter, he speculated whether or not the suicide was caused by Irvine’s fear for his sons going off to war. Clifton already had gone off to camp (Clifton did serve in the war in Europe, coming home in 1919). 

Family issues and Life at home

James had been commenting on the relationship his brother-in-law Ralph had with Ruth Ormiston. In learned in early January that they had a falling out and hoped “it proves to be only temporary.” He went on to note that “No we have never had any smashes in our love affairs and I trust and feel that we never shall…. We surely are getting the chance to write our love letters now but I think our letters are more confidential than those of any two unmarried lovers possibly could be and as man and wife our letters should be perfectly confidential. [Ruth would marry Henry Monroe in 

Later that month, he became concerned about another issue concerning Ralph. This was the draft. On January 14, he wrote that “I am not fully informed with regard to the new draft papers that are served on the young men but I am glad to know that Ralph is attending to his promptly and feel he should get exempted from service on excellent reasons.  It is a grave mistake for the U.S. to call any of the boys from the farms because the worlds people are short of food stuffs now and next years will be much worse than this has been.” 

In his letter of January 24, James makes the first reference to a family squabble that developed with Anna Bell’s mother and her uncle John Miller. His letters do not provide any detail to the squabble, but occasional references show up for some time. John Miller lived next door to Anna Bell’s family farm [this is the farm that later became Suits-Us farm]. James writes “I was not injured in the least by the way Uncle John’s have treated us and I am not afraid that I shall ever be injured by anything they may do or say are you?  I sometimes think it is only jealousy and not us.  We will heap coals of fire on their heads by returning good for evil.  Am I right in so saying?”

James commented on things related to the family farm: “You are having hard luck with the dairy but do not feel discouraged because there are losses in every business.  Feed is terribly high and milk not high enough in proportion.  You have a nice bunch of calves and the cows must be milking well.”

Anna’s letters from home delighted James and occasionally made him homesick. “When I read in your letters of the work you people are doing up there it makes me wish all the more to be there and take part and just for a chance to be with you. The preparations for the future surely sound good to me and I shall try to wait as patiently as possible for that time to come.” 

He also delighted in the food sent from home, as apparently did some others: “Your box of delicious cookies came today and those who have sampled them proclaimed them excellent and they surely were worthy of the credit they received.” One gentleman named Charles told James “Your wife’s cookies are so good I must have another.” 

Life at Camp Greene

Some of James’ time at Camp Greene was spent on kitchen duty. “I do not think kitchen work calls for as steady work as camp orderly job.  This morning we came in and waited on tables at breakfast, then ate our own breakfast.  After breakfast we cleared the tables and washed the dishes, carried up the kitchen slop and cleaned up the floor.  We then peeled 3 or 4 bu of potatoes and are through work until we serve dinner.  I do not know the hour of the day but I think it is about 10:30 o’clock.  Our cook said after dinner was served and the dishes washed we would not need to work again until time to serve supper…Our regular eats here consists of lots of soup (vegetable and meat) and stews.  We get plenty of potatoes, bread, butter and roast meat.  The waste cuts of meat and the bones are boiled up to make stew and soup.  We also use up lots of onions and beans.  For breakfast we usually have milk (solution of evaporated milk) and cereal, usually boiled rice or wheat and corn flakes.  Occasionally we have hot cakes and syrup or hot soda biscuits.” 

The second week in January sees a sudden job change for James. On January 8, he writes that “We are due to go out to the rifle range early tomorrow morning, so I can write but a note tonight to let you know that I am fairly well.” James didn’t write again for three days, an unusual occurrence during his time in Camp Greene. When he wrote again, he reported his duty change:

Jan 11, 1918
My dear Anna;
After I reached camp today the first thing I did was get some eats and then I sneaked out of sight and got a haircut and washed up.  I had just gotten my toilet completed when I was called to the orderly room and told to move my baggage to the orderly room and prepare to become broken in there as clerk.  I will have to do a little drilling but will work here most of the time and think I shall like the work and will see and learn a good bit that will be useful to me when I come back to civilian. 

James wrote again two days later, noting that he was “back at the orderly room.  When I came back I found the sergeant and his company had gone and the clerk was having a clearing out of papers and etc of his desk.  He immediately gave me a job and I have been busy since except when eating supper.” He went on to note that he was unable to go to church because of all the work he was given. He assured Anna that “I am not turning heathen for all of that and will not if I am in the army for years.  The teaching I received at my mother’s knee has to firm a hold on me for that.  There are many men who did not have religion at all but what they believe and do doesn’t affect me at all.” 

He commented again on the lack of Sabbath observance a week later. He is working in the Orderly Room of the Army.  “All the way I see the day differs from week days is that the officers are not here nearly so much.  I of course do as I am told but it goes against the grain for me to do unnecessary work on Sabbath.  I have worked all day and have not even taken a moment to read.  I shall not let that affect me if I have to work every Sabbath for years.  The men here are very good to me and I get many favors in here I would not get if I was doing straight drill.  I am going to do my best without complaint here and when I am out of the army I shall keep my Sundays as I believe they should be kept.”

In another letter, he notes that he “shall not permit my duties here to keep me away from church entirely.” He also hopes to get some of the men he is with to come with him. These two men “both are careless people in more ways than one but they are good to me and I am not blaming them but rather I do pity them. The clerk had $3 pay day, he lost it all in about as many minutes gambling.  I do not believe in gambling so let it strictly alone besides I have no money to throw.”

James made several comments about the gambling he saw. His preference for playing cards was pinochle (misspelled in his letters): “Do you play pewinkle now.  I have not played a game since I came from home.  They play cards down here and shoot dice in place of playing pewinkle.  I do not though.  I do not believe in gambling and have no money to throw away anyway.” [Pinochle was a game my grandmother continued to play into old age.] 

Working as a clerk gave him access to a typewriter. He used this to write some of his letters to Anna: “I hope you do not mind getting a typewritten letter.  I am going to write my letters to you on the machine, so I can learn to typewrite.… I have never written on one before so excuse all mistakes.  This has been a beautiful day.  The nights are cold[cold] but not bad.” He found the experience too laborious and a day letter went back to his pen. But he continued to try to use the typewriter and a number of the letters he wrote were typed over the next few months.

In mid-January, James reported that “Measles and mumps have broken out in this regiment and many of our men have been placed in the detention camp.  I think there are 60 men there now out of a Co. of 250 men.” James noted that he was lucky that he already had had both diseases. He also was glad he was in the orderly room, where there was only “the clerk and the first sergeant and they are not likely to get sick as they are old army men.” The reason he was glad was that when someone in a squad “is taken with measles or mumps he is sent to the hospital and the others of the squad are sent to the detention camp.”  Word around was that the food at the detention camp was poor.

James did face quarantine around January 20 “because a man of the company who was sent from here to the Detention Camp Jan 11 came down yesterday with spinal meningitis.  There was really no use in quarantining the company as there has on one from here been with him since Jan 11 except those already in Detention Camp with him.  So don’t let that worry you.  Quarantine will probably last but a few days.”

A few days later, the City of Charlotte was quarantined “because spinal meningitis has broken out there.  We cannot go there except on official business and then must get a special pass.  I for one shall not go very often because I go very little when I am not quarantined.  It is a hardship on many of the however because they feel they are very much misused if they cannot get to town nearly every night.”

He related some little human incidents from camp. One morning he report that “Our first sergeant did not hear the bugle call for reveille soon enough to dress and get out this morning so he pulled on his rubber boots, hat and overcoat and went without pants.  No one could tell but he was dressed.”

James generally did not like the army and two months after going into service, comments on some of the men he encountered. “I do not see how some of the fellows can be so thoughtless and careless of home ties.  Some of the boys do not even take the trouble to write home occasionally to let their people know how they are.  As much as I see the necessity for helping win the war for U.S., yet I shall never forget the loved ones at home.  I am willing to do all I can but there are many things in army life that are really distasteful to me and I shall be that happiest boy in the whole bunch when the glad tidings came that peace has been declared.”

James found being in the south a different experience. He noted in a letter that “I picked up a few bolls of cotton yesterday on my way back from the hospital and will mail them so you can see how cotton really is in the raw state.  These are only bolls that were left from last falls picking and are not good ones but will give you an idea and sometime in the future we can look back and remember where they came from.” [The cotton bolls were not in the letters I got from my grandmother’s estate.] 

The irony of Camp Greene was that it was established to give a better chance of good weather for drilling and other training. It turned out to be one of the wettest and coldest winters the area had experienced in years. In one letter, James writes that “This has been a rainy day and the mud grows deeper and deeper but nevertheless we keep on top.  I don’t mind the mud so much for the simple reason that I do not have to get out and wallow in it continually.  I feel some of the boys are in it pretty bad down on the lower part of this street where the mud is so deep.”

James sometimes wrote about the mundane, right down to dealing with his clothes: “I told you I would send my underwear home but have neglected to mail same.  I shall do so before we move from here I think as extra baggage is only a nuisance to a soldier or a man who is trying to get to be a soldier.  I have a good place to hang up clothing here and our supply sergeant issued me a locker tonight, so I can place what I do not wish to hang up within that and keep them neat and clean.”

Keeping clean was certainly a challenge. Working as a clerk gave James a chance for “a dandy bath here.  I put a part of water to heat and took my dip in the tin wash tub we have.  How good it seemed to be able to get a good bath at my own shack.  A tent is a poor place to bathe especially when the tent is crowded with beds and other junk.” 

The Wheatleys

On January 19, James makes the first reference to a couple living in Charlotte who contacted him. “I have a post card here from Prof. C.A. Wheatley of Charlotte, N.C. stating that he and Mrs. Wheatley have a package of socks sent to them by the Andes Red Cross for me and for me to call and get them.  Mrs. Wheatley was formerly Laura Ballantine of Andes, and a daughter of Geo. Ballantyne of the same place and a sister of Mrs. John A. Gladstone of Albany.  Mr. Wheatley used to be principal of Andes High School and it was there he met Mrs. Wheatley.  I did not know they were down here and was much surprised to know there were people I had known living in Charlotte and I shall assuredly make them a call when I can find it convenient to get to town.”

Within a couple of days of this letter, “Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley…came out today and called me to the head of the company street as they were not allowed to come into the company.  They brought me the two pair of home knit woolen socks from the Andes Red Cross and they surely are fine.” 

Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley gave James a taste of home for the rest of his time in camp.

Going Overseas

James writes several times about the possibility of his going overseas: “I know nothing about when we go to France but I surely count on getting home for a few days.  We may not go to France at all.  I do not believe it is known where we shall go.” James notes that he’s not supposed to write anything about “movement or intended movement of troops but I know you will not say a word outside of our family.” There is no evidence that letters he wrote while in the United States were read or censored, unlike those he would late write from France.

Toward the end of January, James also commented on rumors about peace. “I am watching the peace talk of the dailies.  I hear the officers and men commenting daily on the war situation.  They feel that Austria and Germany are tiring of war but that the Allies will not give up until the world is made safe for democracy and I am afraid the only perfect solution of the problem is to fight it out to a finish unless Germany and Austria give way which I trust they soon must do and hope they may.”  In another letter, he noted that “Austria is getting very short of food and there is but little fighting over there.  I have strong hopes that the war will soon be settled.  I hope it closes before we get across because it would take a long time to get home again should it close shortly after we went across.” In another letter, he wrote that “I for one am ready to have peace but I don’t want it unless it can be permanent.  If we must fight again in a few years we may as well fight it out now.  America would be a poor place to live if the Kaiser rules here which he never will do.”

At the end of the month, James notes that if he does go overseas, his lack of drill experience might mean that “they probably will not put me in the trenches until I get some training.” He hoped that if he made “good as clerk” he probably would not see “much fighting on the firing line. I do not wish you to worry any more about this war business. I am sure it will soon close and if not we will get out alright.” 

January 24, 1918

My heart is very full tonight and though you are miles away I can realize the your full true love so good and sweet to me and if I had to go through again what we have gone through I should not want our relation to be otherwise than it is now.  My God I cannot tell you how glad I am that you are my wife.  You do so much to help me be faithful and true and contented in every way.

January 27, 1918

I was over across the street to the company C this morning and found or inquired about the boys I knew from Del or who came from Dix with me who are in that company.  I found Bilby(?) And George Votie of South Kortright.  Mitchell from East Meredith of C. Co. I find has been sent to the hospital.  Leonard from French Woods NY is in the Detention Camp as also is Charles Houck of Grand Gorge.  I think I shall make a visit to the hospital this PM and see if I may see Mitchell.  I am not going if he has a contagious disease but I can find out about that at Co C orderly room. 

James last letter to Anna in January was written on the 30:

…Dear girl it is difficult to tell when the war will finish but if the time is not very far distant.  There is talk, yes lots of peace talk now and there has never been before since the war commenced.  I feel as you do that we had better not buy many of our supplies now but simply wait until we need them.  Everything is very high now and many articles will eventually become lower in price after peace comes.  We are not making rich now but have a good provision from Uncle Sam and am sure we can make ends meet.

….I am glad to see that you are called upon for church work and are not omitted since you have taken such a disreputable name upon yourself.  I know you can make that name reputable or rather make me live such a good life that I shall be able to look my fellows straight in the eye.

There is nothing more tonight I think.  I shall get ready to help Sgt Schneider do some work. 


Your most loving husband James

Monday, January 15, 2018

Those Who Left Us in 2017

A number of people with Bovina connections left us in 2017:

William 'Danny' Daniel Burns died unexpectedly on January 18 at the age of 41. He was the son of Bovina native James E. Burns. Dan attended school in East Hampton, CT and Chenango Forks, NY. He was a talented and inspired carpenter, tradesman, fisherman and all-around fix-it guy. Danny was buried in Bovina in the spring next to his father.

Lou Miele
Lou Miele came to Bovina from New Jersey, where he was a successful businessman with Miele’s Greenhouses. He came to Bovina looking for a property in the 1980s where he could hunt and relax. He bought the old Paul Rabeler farm, where he developed a Belgian Blue Beef Operation. His contact in this business, Ed Weber, introduced Lou to his mother-in-law Pat Parsons. Pat and Lou were together for 30 years and married in 2002. Lou died on January 21, several years after suffering a debilitating stroke. Lou was a U.S. Army veteran.

Marg Hilson Oelsner
On February 11, Margaret L. Hilson Oelsner died in Albuquerque at age of 76. She had lived in Albuquerque for 57 years. Marg was born in Bovina Center, the daughter of Alex and Lil Hilson. She married Ronald M. Oelsner in 1958 (he died in 1999). Marg maintained her sense of humor throughout her illness. She was buried in Bovina in the spring.

Stub Hewitt
Stanley A. “Stub” Hewitt passed away on April 3 at the age of 92. The son of the late John W. and Laura (Alton) Hewitt, he grew up in Bovina and was a graduate of Andes Central School. He proudly served in the U.S. Army during WW II and was in Italy during the occupation of Europe. Stub married Norah Travell Hewitt in Hobart in 1947, a union that lasted 63 years, until her passing in 2010. Mr. Hewitt was employed as a truck driver with Deltown Foods of Delhi, retiring after over 42 years of service.

Mary Victoria Donato Tucker died on May 15 at the age of 89. Mary and her husband Howard Tucker lived for several years in Bovina in the 70s, raising their eight children. At her passing, Mary was survived by six of her children, 16 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

Carol Sue Lowell passed away on May 18 as a result of a tragic motor vehicle accident. Carol's parents were Harold and Mildred A. (Hitt) Hall. She spent some of her childhood on Coulter Brook Road with her family. Carol was a much beloved caretaker of the residents at Mountainside, and enjoyed reading and spending time with her family and friends.

Edward A. Finkenberg, died peacefully on June 27 at the age of 95. Ed was a World War II veteran and a champion of human rights, an advocate for people with disabilities, an innovator, and entrepreneur. His children remember him as an elegant man and stoic father who encouraged them to follow their dreams with courage, integrity, and compassion for those in need. 

Gordon Rabeler
Gordon E. Rabeler passed away on July 16 at the age of 94. Born in Nebraska, he came to Bovina as a child. He was a World War II veteran, being involved in the European campaign. Gordon worked for over 40 years at International Paper Company in research. Gordon, along with Stub Hewitt, unveiled the restored Bovina Honor Roll of World War II soldiers in 2012.

Margaret C. “Peggy” Finch was born in Bovina, the daughter of Ralph and Mary (Thornington) Tuttle. She passed away on September 13 at the age of 79 and was buried in Bovina. She was a Certified Nursing Assistant at Robinson Terrace Nursing Home for 24 years.

Thomas Camb
Thomas G. Camb, 87, formerly of Bovina Center, passed away on September 5. Tom was born and raised in NJ. Tom enjoyed many hobbies such as motorcycles, guns and ham radios, but loved his family most of all. Tom was liked by all and had a great sense of humor, telling jokes was his favorite past-time.  For those of you who knew Tom well, “the check is in the mail”.

Clif Pause






Clifton L. Pause, Jr. came from Adams, MA, where he grew up. He was in the US Navy in the 1960s and worked for the Delaware County Electric Cooperative for 35 years. He had become REA’s primary underground cable installer and was “difficult to replace” when he retired in 2003. He passed away in his home in Bovina on September 26.

Chris Comfort
Christine A. Comfort spent most of her life in Bovina. The daughter of Lester and Janet (Havens) Stewart, she was married to John L. Comfort in 1982. Christine worked for over 43 years at O’Connor Hospital Center. Christine could often be found behind the camera taking pictures or video and capturing memories at family gatherings.  Her greatest joy was her family, she was a caring wife, loving mother and proud grandmother.  Christine passed away October 24 and was survived by her parents, four sisters, one brother, husband, daughter and two grandsons.
Montie Hobbie


Montie R. Hobbie grew up in Bovina, the son of Glenn J. and Anna (Boggs) Hobbie. Montie lived for many years in Cambridge, NY, and was involved in the Presbyterian church there. It was from that church that a number of settlers came to Bovina and established what is now the United Presbyterian Church. Montie died on December 3 after a challenging fight with scleroderma, survived by his wife, five children, two brothers and a sister.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

January 1918 - 100 Years Ago "In That Thriving Town"


100 years ago this month, the Bovina column of the Andes Recorder was reporting on the lack of fuel reduced street lighting in Bovina Center and loss of one of Bovina’s last remaining Civil War veterans. Bovina also saw a suicide and the death of James Boggs' first wife, Elizabeth.

January 4, 1918
·       Many water pipes have been frozen during the excessive cold of the past week.
·       Owing to the cold weather the Center school will not re-open until next Monday.
·       The funeral of Dr. Scott was held on Saturday and internment was in Center cemetery. [This is Dr. Gilbert Scott, who had died at the end of 1917.]
·        A daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Ray Thomson December 24.  The great grandfather of the child is still living. [The parents were Eldred Ray Thomson and Ruth Marie Joslin. Their daughter was named Jeannette. The great grandfather mentioned was William B. Thomson, who lived another decade after the birth of his great granddaughter, not dying until 1929. Ray’s mother was Cora J. Thomson. His 1916 marriage record lists his father as unknown. Ray died in 1975 in Sidney.]
·       George A. Goble, of Michigan, has purchased a half interest in Wm. H. Maynard’s farm in the upper part of Bovina.  His family and household goods have arrived.

Death of Bovina Veteran

Frank Gowanlock died at his home on the outskirts of Bovina Center, at 1 o’clock Wednesday, January 2, at the age of 76 years.  He had been in poor health for several years from hardening of the arteries, and last week suffered a shock.  He was born in Bovina and practically all his life was spent in the town.  He was a stone mason by trade.  He enlisted in Co E, 144th Regt. In 1862 and served until the end of the war.  His wife, who was Jane Liddle, died May 29, 1916.  He has no relatives in this vicinity.  The funeral will be held Friday. 

The Recorder also reported on the suicide of John Irvine, former Bovina town supervisor and a farmer on Coulter Brook Road. He was found hanging in his barn by his son-in-law Cecil Russell. Irvine was 50 years old. He left as survivors his wife, the former Elizabeth Richardson, four sons, William, Lester, Clifton and Lloyd and his daughter, Isabell Russell.

January 11, 1918
·       James L. Coulter of New Wilmington, Penn. was here to attend the funeral of John A. Irvine.
·       The street lamps have not been lighted, thus carrying out the wishes of the state, to save gasoline. 
·       The funeral of Frank Gowanlock was held at 1 p.m. Friday, and that of John A. Irvine on Saturday.
·       Samuel Heller is home from school at Gladstone, N.J.  The school has been closed because of the lack of coal.
·       Mr. Wm. A. Hoy and son, James, went to Walton last week, where the lad will receive treatment for spinal trouble. [James later married Margaret Hoy and passed away in 1956. His spinal trouble persisted throughout his life.]

January 18, 1918
·       William Irvine, of Seattle, Washington, is visiting his mother, Mrs. John A. Irvine.
·       Chauncey McFarland has purchased a Delco Light plant to light his farm buildings. 
·       Gilbert D. Miller of the 144th Regt. And Thomas Gordon of the 79th are the only two civil war veterans now living Bovina.

January 25, 1918
·       Hale Elliott is making boxes for the cheese factory up-town.
·       For the month of December patrons of the Bovina Center Co-Operative Creamery company received 70 ½ cents per pound for butter fat.

Another Bovina Death reported in the Andes Recorder was that of Mrs. James Boggs (Elizabeth Felton), who died January 17 from blood poisoning.  She was 24 years old. She was married to James 4 1/2 years at the time of her death. Elizabeth gave birth to a son in 1915, but he lived only two months. James would marry two more times. He married Edith Barnhart in 1919. She died in 1930. James' third wife was Catherine Cameron Kelsey, who he married in 1947.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

This Day in Bovina for December 2017

Here are the Town of Bovina Historian Facebook page entries for December 2017:

102 years ago today, December 1, 1915, the Hilson Bros new feed store was dedicated "by a dance with 57 numbers." This is photo of the feed store taken in the 1990s.

Seventy-six years ago today, on December 2, 1941, as later reported in the Bovina column of the Delaware Republican, "Mr. and Mrs. Gay Hafele received word…from California of the death of Mrs. Carrie Doig, the widow of the late Andrew Doig. The remains are on the way here for burial in the Bovina Cemetery." Andrew Doig owned what is now Russell's Store until 1919 when he sold it to Cecil Russell. He died unexpectedly in 1924.

110 years ago, on December 3, 1907, Miss Jennie Dickson died at the home of her nephew, Dr. G.J. Dickson, aged 79 years.  As later reported in the Andes Recorder, "She sustained a shock several weeks ago.  She was a dauter of Gilbert Dickson and was born in Scotland, but most of her life was spent on homestead farm above New Kingston." The funeral and burial took place on December 5 in Bovina.

119 years ago today, on December 4, 1898, former Bovina farmer Duncan Campbell died in Andes.  His passing was reported a few days later in the Andes Recorder:  "While he has not been in the best of health for some time he was seen on our streets last Wednesday and was taken ill that night.  He was born in Scotland, December 24, 1817, and came to this country in 1820, when it took forty-two days to come across the ocean.  In 1857 he was married and came to Bovina and farmed it for thirty-five years, and in 1893 he moved to this village where has since lived.  The funeral was held Tuesday in the Reformed Presbyterian church the sermon being preached by Rev. T. Slater, and the interment made in the new cemetery.  He leaves a wife and seven children, two sons and five daughters."

Sixty years ago today, on December 5, 1957, Anthony Banuat died. His obituary in the Oneonta Star noted that "A native of Calicoon Center, he was born October 28, 1878, son of Henry and Mary (Zahsniks) Banuat. He married Margaret Craig of Andes September 2, 1914. He is the last of 11 children. He owned and operated a farm on Bramley Mountain, Bovina Center for 40 years." Anthony was survived by his son David (known to many as Craig) and three daughters, Mrs. Mary Reynolds, Mrs. Catherine Foster and Miss Marjorie Banuat, the latter serving at the time as a missionary teaching in the Sudan. Anthony was buried in Andes.

Ninety nine years ago today, on December 6, 1918, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "A party was held at A.P. Lee’s.... Dancing was indulged in."

Eighty-eight years ago today, on December 7, 1929, as later reported in the Catskill Mountain News, "M.O. Miller while at the farm in Bovina last Saturday was injured by a horse, and was brought to the office of Dr. C.L. Wakeman, who found that his right shoulder had been dislocated. He will be compelled to favor the injured member for some time but it is hoped that no other trouble may develop." This likely is Mural Oliver Miller, who would have been 33 at the time of this accident. He recovered and was 79 at his death in 1976.

Eighty nine years ago today, on December 8, 1928, Mrs. John McCune fell while hurrying across the street to avoid an on-coming car and sustained a sprained ankle.  That same day, David LaFever, son of Mr. and Mrs. Benson LaFever, was born at the LaFever home, about a mile from Bovina Center.  David lived less than two years, dying in March 1930.

116 years ago today, on December 9, 1901, Spillman Riggs, lecturer, whistler, musical impersonator appeared at Strangeway's Hall. 

The thermometer registered from 2 to 5 degrees below zero 117 years ago today on December 10, 1900.

134 years ago today, the Bovina column of the December 11, 1883 Stamford Mirror reported that "William Thomson, who met with the accident last week, we learn does not improve as well as was at first expected. The arm does not heal, and fears are entertained for his recovery." This was William Thomson, son of the late Andrew and Elizabeth Thomson. He was 75 years old when he lost his arm in a thresher. William died about two months after the accident on January 30, 1884 from pneumonia, caused in part from the loss of his arm and his age.

Abigail Fuller was born 163 years ago today on December 12, 1854.  The daughter of James Seacord and Esther Close, she married Thomas Fuller in 1878 and was widowed in 1913.  Abigail died on her 79th birthday, December 12, 1933 (eighty four years ago today).

122 years ago, the December 13, 1895 issue of the Andes Recorder reported that "A club called 'Patrons of Industry' has been organized at Bovina, with Sloan Archibald, president and A.T. Russell, vice president.  It is proposed to establish a store at the Butt End and buy their supplies at wholesale, and thus dispense with the profits of the middlemen."  It is not clear how long the organization operated, though there are references in the Andes Recorder to about 1898 about the activities of the Patrons. The Patrons of Industry was an agarian group, somewhat like the Grange, created to support and promote agriculture. The group was active in Delhi into the early 19th century but by World War I all references to the group in the area disappear.

Ninety-four years ago today, the Andes Recorder in its December 14, 1923 issue reported that the "Bovina Dairymen have received notice that they must put in three tons of ice per cow.  Must want the milk made into ice cream."

Seventy years ago today, on December 15, 1947, Bovina native Harold Campbell was injured while working at a saw mill in Monticello - he was struck by a piece of wood. He developed pneumonia and died a few days later at the age of 53. Harold had moved to Monticello from Bovina about two years previously. His surviving sisters were Evelyn Campbell and Eleanor Worden.

Ninety-one years ago today, on December 16, 1926, M.T. Hastings sent this bill to Town of Bovina Highway department. 


Seventy-five years ago today, on December 17, 1942, the Bovina column of the Delaware Republican Express reported that "Delbert Dickson is laid up with a sore hand which he had crushed while working on the truck he was using."

Seventy-six years ago today, the Bovina column of the Delaware Republican for December 18, 1941 reported that "Mrs. Sara Archibald is much improved in health; she is able to be about the house part of the day. Her daughter, Mrs. Charles Lichtenberg returned to her home in Massachusetts last week; she had been with her mother for a month."

Ninety-one years ago today, on December 19, 1926, Loren Dickson took ill while visiting his mother in Bovina. It was later reported in the Bovina column of the Stamford Mirror as follows: "Attorney Loren Dickson, who returned home last week to spend Christmas with his mother and sisters was taken suddenly ill with appendicitis on Sunday [December 19] and had to be removed to the Delhi hospital for an immediate operation. The young man is reported to be getting along at this time as well as can be expected." Loughran Dickson was the son of the late Dr. Gilbert Dickson and was living in Binghamton at this time. He survived this operation but nine months later, on October 30, 1927, died very suddenly in Binghamton.

Wallace Smith, Bovina's Supervisor-elect, died 74 years ago today, December 20, 1943, at the Delhi hospital.  Smith had been elected Supervisor in November, to succeed Charles Lee, whom he defeated.  Smith was a Democrat and had served two previous terms as Supervisor.  He was 70 years old at the time of his death.  On January 6, 1944, the Bovina Town Board voted to appoint Charles Lee as Supervisor for one year to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Smith.  Lee went on to win election to the position in November 1944.

Ninety-three years ago today, on December 21, 1924, Gladys Reinertsen was born, the daughter of Andrew and Sophia [Larsen] Reinertsen. She grew up in Bovina and married Clark Lay  in 1946. She and Clark raised their four daughters in Bovina. Clark died in 2004. Gladys passed away in 2011. These photos were taken on Clark and Gladys's wedding day in November 1946 by Bob Wyer (courtesy of the Delaware County Historical Association).

Jane, the 15 month old daughter of Walter Coulter and Margaret Storie, died 188 years ago today on December 22, 1829.  Out of the twelve children that Walter and Margaret would have, four would die before reaching adulthood - a fifth child, their eldest daughter, died six weeks after her marriage.

122 years ago today, on December 23, 1895, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "Bovina had a case of Kidnapping on Monday evening. Archie VanBramer came to W.B. Thompson's to see his wife, a daughter of Mr. Thompson, and his child and had the child brought out to the wagon and then took it into the wagon and sent his wife to the house on some trivial excuse and in her absence, drove away with the child. The child has not yet been recovered. It is thought that Van Bramer hopes to secure money for the return of the child." The Andes Recorder reported in its January 17, 1896 issue that Van Bramer brought the child back "of his own accord, after having caused the family lots of trouble and worry. If he has any shame about him he should be ashamed of his recent capers." I'm not sure which Thomson/Thompson this was, but there was a William B. Thomson (1843-1929) and he had a daughter Cora. I have not confirmed this is the same person yet.

123 years ago today, on December 24, 1894, Alexander Storie wrote this diary entry: "Cold last night. Sunshine in the morning. John doing the chores. He went down to Mr. Millers towards night and bought a turkey for Christmas. He went to Brushland in the evening. James C[?] came up in the evening. Harry[?] came with him." John likely refers to his son John Storie. Mr. Miller probably is Michael Miller, who lived just down the road from Alex. I am not sure who James and Harry were. Alexander Storie lived on Pink Street on what is now the Tom Burns farm. 

121 years ago today on December 25, 1896, a "Christmas tree" was held at Strangeway's Hall.  As later reported in the Andes Recorder, it "was a success and well attended.  There were lots of presents for the children and some of the older folks were in luck.  Everyone enjoyed themselves apparently."

Ninety-eight years today, the December 26, 1919 issue of the Andes Recorder reported that "In addition to the new highways to be constructed in Delaware County during 1920, the 2.34 miles of the Bovina Center state road will be re-constructed with concrete."  This likely refers to a section of what is now County Route 6.

120 years ago, on December 27, 1897, the thermometer registered sixteen degrees below zero at the Butt End.  This was the coldest so far that winter.

123 years ago today in the December 28, 1894 issue of the Andes Recorder reported in the Bovina column that the "butter market is very dull. Many of our farmers have not yet sold and those who have cannot get the buyers to take the butter away."

118 years ago, in the December 29, 1899 issue of the Andes Recorder in the Bovina column, the following appeared:  "A new order just received from the State Department forbids the acceptance of any excuse from pupils except for sickness, and that only on the certificate of a physician. Take warning."

A notice from the Andes Recorder, dated 150 years ago today:  "Estray – Came to the premises of the subscriber, on or about the 16th of December, a Newfoundland dog.  The owner can have the same by proving property and paying charges. Jas. Coulter, Bovina Valley, Dec. 30, 1867." Bovina Valley is now the Lake Delaware area.  And no, I have not found out if anyone ever came forward to claim the dog.


151 years ago today, December 31, 1866, the Bovina UP Church session passed the following resolution: “Whereas Elder Wm Thomson has for the past 18 months failed to perform his duties as an elder and whereas Mr. Thomson has not given to Session any reason for this course, or formerly tendered his resignation of the office of Elder, and whereas it is desirable that there be a free interchange of views between Session and Mr. T. therefore Res[olved] That Mr. Wm Thomson be again cited to appear before Session to either tender his resignation or give excuse for his neglect of duty.  Res[olved] 2nd That in case Mr. Thomson refuse or neglect to appear at the next meeting of Session, his case be referred directly to the Presbytery for its actions and instruction.  Res[olved] 3 That a copy of the above resolution be given to Mr Thomson, with his citation to appear at the next meeting of Session on the 22nd of January 1867.”  Thomson ultimately resumed his duties.  His absence was due to a family squabble that is further documented in the Bovina NY History blog for May 5 and 17, 2011.  http://bovinanyhistory.blogspot.com/2011/05/brothers-in-law-part-i.html

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Grandma's First Husband - "You cannot help me by grieving and, my dear, if you continue to grieve you will be sick."

This month’s entry about my grandmother’s first husband will take their story through the end of 1917, including Christmas, a holiday they at first thought they would be able to spend together. You’ll see, sadly, that hope was dashed. [Warning, this blog entry is a bit longer than average.]

Nine days after his marriage to Anna Bell Barnhart, James Calhoun went off to war. They wrote many letters to each other. Most of the surviving letters are those from James, but a few from Anna Bell also survive.

James started his military career at Camp Dix, New Jersey.  On November 24, 1917 he wrote his first letter from Camp Dix, noting that “Most of the boys are feeling good and in a spirit of determination to make good soldiers.” He went on to note that “The Delaware Co boys are together in barracks temporarily at least but we do not know for how long.  In subsequent letters, he reports on the camp set-up: “One of the full-sized bunk houses have four sleeping apartments with about 80 cots in each apartment.  The cots in our apartment are rather close together but not at all bad.”

His early letters also talk about waiting for his physical exam. He ultimately passed but several of the Delaware County soldiers failed due to the lack of back teeth.

James goes on to report on preparation for Thanksgiving dinner, which is the next day. “I was down at the barracks of the 310th Infantry last night and saw the cooks preparing for Thanksgiving dinner.  There are about 45 men in their company.  The cooks put up 30 pies and have 85 lbs of turkey to cook.”

James also notes that several of the men were getting furloughs, but that “None of the new fellows get furloughs yet.” He expresses some hope of getting one at Christmas but reports that there will be no more 10-day furloughs until the end of the war.

In a paragraph, he explains what he understands bout getting paid:

I am told a private in the service gets $30. per month and clothesA married man has to sign an allotment from his pay of at least $15 per month then the government puts from $10 to $15 a month with it according to circumstances and sends it all to the wife.  That leaves $15 for the soldiers per. month minus his insurance premium which amounts to as high $6.70 per mo. For $10,000 insurance or $.67 per $1000. per. mo.  After insurance is paid the private has $7 or $8 left for expenses.  If a private disobeys orders he is punished by having his pay docked, is shut up in the guard house or put at hard work without pay.  There are a great many rules and regulations to remember so we have to be very careful not to disobey or we get in trouble right quick.

James responds to a theme that would continue for a bit – Anna Bell’s wish to make a visit to the camp. While he is anxious to see her, he is hesitant about her coming to the camp. He writes that “There are some of the vilest pieces of mankind in this camp you can imagine and many of them are not even fit to meet a good woman on the street.” 

In his letter of November 30, he mentions a couple of Bovina boys, and an intriguing reference to a competitor for Anna Bell’s hand:

This has been a cloudy day and rain is gently falling tonight.  If we can keep the good will of the officers.  I think maybe we shall have tomorrow P.M. off and we shall find Sergeant Lifgren and Lauren Archibald.  Lif and I shall have no scrap as I shall not scrap with him but can afford to be gentle since he didn’t get you. 

It appears that at least one member of Anna Bell’s family was passing along a suggestion that might bring James back home, though he dismisses the suggestion: “Tell Edith I cannot shirk as such work would only get me into trouble and would not give me a chance to come home anyway - I cannot tell when I shall be home but after awhile if I can get a furlough of decent length I shall come straight home.  A two day furlough is not long.”

James’ letter of December 1 includes the fact that he still does not have a permanent address and does not really know to where he may be transferred. He optimistically states that he does not expect to be moved very far. Unfortunately, he would be proven wrong a couple of weeks later.


The first letter from Anna to James to survive in her papers dates from December 2 and was received December 5 by James. She is living with her widowed mother and three siblings, brothers Ralph and Wilford and sister Edith. In this letter, she continues to hope that James will be able to come home on leave, given that some other Bovina soldiers have been doing the same. The Fletcher and Vera she mentions are brother and sister Fletcher Davidson and Vera Davidson Storie.

Bovina Center, NY
Sabbath Evening [December 2, 1917]

My dear James;

I do not think there will be any great sin if I do write to you tonight.  The boys and Edith are away to services.  Mother is sleeping on the couch.

I try to write to you every day, but of course will no doubt miss a few, but not many.  I got a letter from you every day last week but Friday.  I am dissapointed when I do not get a letter.  They all tell me that I cannot expect a letter every day.  I received your letter yesterday that you wrote Thanksgiving.  One you wrote Wed. I got Thursday.  I think very likely the mail comes this way quicker than it goes your way.  Have you received the mirror?  I hope so and I hope it didn’t get broke.  I wrapped a towel around it.  I thought it might be you could use the towel and it would be a protection to the glass. Have you got any gloves yet?  Was it the real gloves or the wristlets that you wanted?  And what color?  I can get a pair of the wristlets from the Red Cross at the Center in either gray or olive drab.  I think those have a protection for the thumb and hand.  But Vera told me that Fletcher says the Government furnishes the real gloves.  I think with the uniform.  What color is your Red Cross outfit.  I wish I could have seen it.  Fletcher has been home for a day or two.  He went back yesterday morning.  Lauren Archibald came home Wednesday night and I think he went back yesterday morning.  He said it was better than not coming at all.  I am looking forward to Christmas hoping you may get home for a few days and pray to God that I may not be dissapointed.  Will it be so you can let us know you are coming?  We will meet you at any place if you let us know.

Fletcher didn’t get home until half past twelve.  So if we didn’t know you were coming and you came in the night you know where mother and I sleep, just come to the window there and wake us and let us know who you are.  Or Edith might hear you if you called to her from under the window on the front you know where she sleeps.

How I would like to get into bed with you tonight.  
  
It is awfuly cold here.  Has been snowing all day, but not very hard.  Ralph put the tires back on his car the other night to go up to the party for Lauren.  He took the car tonight.  The roads are good for cars now.  Is it cold down there?  I hope you are comfortable.  Are your beds warm?  I expect they are not as warm as they would be with two in them….

Mrs. Lee is soon coming down to Camp Dix to see Donald and Viola Russell was advising me to go down with her.  Would you think it advisable?  Viola was in hopes that Clarence Lee would have to go when you did not that she wanted either of you to go but that you might be together….   

It seems to me that you were left here just long enough for us to get married and I hope that is true.  I am so glad that we did go on and get married, it means so much to me to know that I belong to the best and truest man living.  Thank God.  I am glad that you respect my home here so much.  It isn’t a beautiful mansion but it sure is home.  Such as I hope you and I may call a place that some day in the near future.  We will soon have been married 3 weeks.  It is over a week now that you went away.  It seems more like months….

People all over town heard that you were home, that you were rejected and sent home.  I try to keep your people posted on what I hear from you.  I have talked with all of them but Mae.  Cora called me yesterday.  Mother was up with her a few days and went up to Archies last night for a few days then she goes to Mae’s.  Will Mabon is feeling better.  Do you still have a good supply of cigars on hand?  Let me know when you want more, Eh.

How often do you see a woman?  And how often comb a maidens silken hair?  I miss that.  Have your teeth been aching anymore?  Mine havn’t.  I want you to be careful and not catch cold because you probably wouldn’t have very good nursing.  Have you been vaccinated? 

I wish you only knew how much you were thought of in town.  So many people are asking for your address and I will surely give it to them when I know it for sure.  Mrs. Davidson asked me today if I cared if she wrote to my hubby.  I know you will be glad to hear from them all but I don’t want you to forget to write to me and send the letters all to the others and I know you won’t. 

Postcard from James to Anna from Fort Dix, NJ, December 3, 1917
James’ next letter to his wife, written the same day as the above postcard, he finally has an address and is in a somewhat better situation.

Co K 310th Infantry, Dec 3, 1917

We reached our new barracks about 6:00 oclock this evening and were given such a meal as we used to get up in old Delaware.  We have much more room in our new quarters and no smoking is allowed which is a great relief to me after living for over a week in a cloud of smoke although it vexes some of the tobacco lovers.  I assure you I shall never tease you about those cigars again.  Some careless smokers caused one of the barracks to burn and that put an end to smoking in several barracks. 
I am 28 years old today and I don’t feel a bit older although I am a little tired from steady drilling this forenoon and standing up almost all P.M.  From now on we expect to get steady drill and ought soon to begin to toughen to the work. 

His next letter (December 4) is on a postcard, reporting that he is sick from his inoculations.

I am sending you but a card tonight as I have been sick and in bed all day caused by smallpox inoculation given me in arm last night.  Am better tonight and expect to be on duty tomorrow.  Nearly all the boys were sick from inoculation.

Dear Anna I have tried not to write anything in my letters to make you feel bad but I know how lonely and miserable you feel.  I feel just that way myself and life is almost unbearable but please for your own sake try to enter into and enjoy your home life and your friends.  Do not stay home because I am not there to go with you.  I will love you must as dearly because I know I can trust my loved one.  Do everything you can to keep well and strong. 

The next letter to survive in my grandmother’s papers from her to James is dated December 4 and was received December 8. She reports that she wrote several letters that may have gone astray. She makes some intriguing references to their courtship and other incidents that at this point, we can only guess as to their nature. She also expresses a hope that they will find a small flaw in James so he can come home.

Bovina Center, NY, December 4, 1917

My dear James;

Leila brought the looked for letter today.  I am so sorry that you haven’t got my letters.  But I am afraid it is my fault.  Of course as you said you told me not to send anymore mail to that address but I knew you would be glad to hear from me I thought I would write just the same it wouldn’t do any harm to write even if you didn’t get it.  I have written nearly every day.  …

The paper week before last stated that Mr. and Mrs. James Calhoun and returned from their wedding trip.  Mrs. Oliver at Delhi wanted to know if we went to New York and Hazel said she heard we were at Niagara.  We had some trip, didn’t we?  Was your trip down to N.J. like the one from Roscoe to Andes.  That is a trip I shall always remember.

Wilford [Anna Bell’s younger brother] has begun giving some more pointers.  A while he didn’t bother me he know how I felt when he could see tears in your girls eyes most of the time.  I have got so I can control my feelings better now.  I still have the blues though.  I guess Wilford will never forget the night we were at Uncle Wills to choir practice.  You know the misunderstanding.  He also says he wishes he had taken his flash light along the night we went after our license so he could have seen in the back seat. 

Yours with all love imaginable, Anna

PS - I have a box of candy on hand which a fellow once filled for his wife and I will save the great part of it to share and eat with the fellow.  Anna.

James recovers from his inoculation, but in a letter written December 5, is concerned that the second shot might make him sick again, as it has several others in his company.

This was the soldiers half holiday and Lauren Archibald came up and brought the packages for Frank and I.  I took Franks down tonight and also some from mine.  Those cookies were the best ever baked and those candies remind me of some very happy times we have had together.  Those cookies tasted so goody-good and different from the stuff one can buy - they simply couldn’t be beaten. 

How is everything in old Bovina?  I shall never find any fault with good old Bovina if it is my privilege to come back there and live.  The boys here all feel the way I do.  They are not here because they wish to be but because they must be and some of them do curse Germany and the Kaiser fierce. 

That same day, Anna had written to James: 

I received your card and also letter of Monday (December 3).  I can tell you I didn’t forget your birthday.  I am glad the mirror has reached you at last and I hope it proves satisfactory in every way.  I have sent all letters so far to the old address at Co No 6.  I mailed one today at that but perhaps you will get it….

Mother and I were down to the congregational meeting today. … I am still receiving congratulations, but everyone always adds their sympathy and tell me that it must all be for the best.  Did I tell you about the people thinking you were home?  That was all quieted down and yesterday John McCune asked Ralph if you were.  …  It is queer what stories will get started. 

Do not eat too much and get fat because how it would be for you to be big and fat and me a poor little thing.  I am not getting any fatter and do not think I will under the circumstances.  …  Vera wants me to come down and stay with her all day and all night.  Everyone is so good to me but I havn’t the heart to go away any place and have a big time.  My heart is too heavy for that when my lover and husband is in such a place. 

James’ next letter responds to her letter of December 2. He also addresses her wish to visit him in camp.

I am still hoping I can get home at Xmas and will not dissapoint(sic) you indeed if they give me time enough so I can have at least two days and two nights up there.  I do not know as I could let you know the exact time I would reach there but would let you know the exact time but will let you know if I can.  If I could not let you know I can hoof it in all O.K. If I get there in the night I can easily awaken you.

Anna I scarcely know what to say in regard to your coming down with Mrs. Lee.  If want to come I should hate to advise you not to do so and I should awfully like to see you.  I hate even to think of you coming to this camp of men and I do not know where I could provide for you while here unless you went with Mrs. Lee to some nearby town.  The men here run around and stare at a woman as though they hadn’t see[n] one for the past 5 years.  Don’t take too much chance traveling.  I shall come home at the first opportunity.  Don’t take my advice on this but do just as you think best…. 

Yes I am very glad we were married it helps to keep a very warm spot in my heart and it has meant so much to me and always will and to think I belong to the truest and best little woman alive.  Sometimes I wonder if I wasn’t sent away just as a judgment on my head for something but I can see why you should suffer

James’s hope for coming home for Christmas start to fade in the face of a possible move further south, as his letter from Dec 9, 1917:

It was nice that Mr. and Mrs. J.C. came back from their wedding trip OK and that they saw so many places of interest.  I had always wanted to see Niagara falls hadn’t you?  The trip down here was very similar to the one we took from Roscoe to Andes and I was glad when it was finished.  I scarcely dare look at our pictures they only tend to make me more homesick.  A bunch of the fellows have to go south and I don’t know whether I am included in the list or not.  God knows I hope not.  If I must go I won’t get home at all.  I am glad you feel better, please do not worry but trust the best you can and get all the wholesome enjoyment out of life you can.  Wilford likes to tease but he doesn’t mean to be harsh about it at least all the teasing he did never hurt me one bit. 

Anna wrote a letter the same day hoping James will get some time at Christmas.  She hasn’t yet heard of his concern that he might have to go south, scotching plans for Christmas.  This letter is the last of Anna’s letters to James found in her papers until a batch of them dated in March. She reported going to church:

And the leading thought all through the sermon was about the home.  It made me think about what our home will be some day.  I built an air castle all through the sermon.  He said the home was the oldest institution and will last the longest of any institution. 

I see all through the paper that a good number of boys from all over have been home from Camp Dix for Thanksgiving and so I am thinking that you may get home at Christmas.  You must tell them that you have got to come and have a good long furlough too.  I think if they knew how we felt they would let you off….

After I got my dinner work done up today I laid down on the couch and finally went to sleep and they never woke me when they went to chores and I never knew a thing until Edith came in from milking.  We are only milking 19 cows now.  Havn’t anymore fresh ones but will have soon.

Now about who swiped the suit case the day of the wedding.  We thought none of the married were into it but it was Shirley, Jessie, Vera Storie and Dora Hastings Barnhart.  I guess if we only knew the whole truth the whole way through they all felt pretty sore because of our fooling them so much all around. 

Wilford put 2 little onions in Jessie’s muff today but she found them before she started for church and so she put one in each of the boys coat pockets.  Ralph found his coming home but I guess Wilford has not found his yet. 

Davidson’s expect that Fletcher started sailing last Friday night.  O dear I don’t know what I will do if you ever have to go.  It is all I can do now with you where you are.

James wrote the next day (December 10), confirming the plans to move him further south, and he obviously is not happy about the situation:

 I hate to write this but you must know it.  A bunch of 35 raw recruits are to be sent for Co K to Camp Greene, North Carolina and I am on the list.  I feel most indignant over it but please don’t feel bad, and make yourself sick.  I cannot keep from crying myself.  It seems as though these army people have no heart at all.  I have been forced into this thing and now have to be pushed farther from home without a chance to get home.  …

There will be one advantage in going south we won’t freeze to death but suppose there will be just as bad drawbacks there as here.

[Ironically, the winter of 1917/1918 was one of the wettest in North Carolina in years, causing a serious problem with mud, as James would find out]

On December 11, James wrote that:

We have not heard very much more regarding the fellows who have to go south but we know more definitely who they are.  I do hope your box reaches me before I have to start.  It probably will if it comes by parcel post.  I am sorely vexed to think I must go south.  That means that if we go south before Xmas, I cannot get home now and probably not for some time.  However today’s paper stated good news regarding the war and it may soon close now.  God grant that it may.

All the fellows to go south were marched to the hospital today and given our third innoculation against small pox.  My vaccination is healing now and I am glad it has worked.  I hope this innoculation doesn’t make me as sick as the last one did.

I would most certainly enjoy some of that Bovina water and I should most assuredly like to have you with me but not just to have you wash my clothes I didn’t marry you to make a drudge of you and see to it that you don’t overwork.  How I wish I could have eaten some of those rolls and a piece of cream cake with you.  It makes me think of courtship days.  It is nice to think of housekeeping days and no one will appreciate a home more than I after feeling so lonesome and deserted and cast away as I do here and it would simply to be paradise to have you with me again. 

In his next letter, James notes that “The officers here tell us they are much more strict in the regular army than they are here in the national army.” And he reports that “Eleven of the Delaware Co boys who came down when I did were rejected as unfit for service and started for home this morning. They were a happy bunch.” The main reason they were rejected was because of their poor teeth.

On December 13, James writes: "This will probably be my last letter to you from this camp as 35 of us expect to leave for Camp Greene at 9:00 oclock tomorrow, Dec 14.  There is one advantage it will be warmer down there.  We are to be changed from the National Army to the regular army and we expect to get a very rigid examination down there.  Perhaps I shall be thrown out." 

James’s next letter is written on a train while in transit to Camp Greene, North Carolina. He mourns the upset to their Christmas plans: “Well good bye to Xmas vacation.  I am so sorry it has to be this way.  I had planned so much on seeing you there and I know you will be almost broken hearted.  Don’t give up hope yet I shall come home the first opportunity I get.  It will be a long time before we cross the water.”

During the following week, James’ letters report on how he is settling into Camp Greene, North Carolina with Co. D. 7th Infantry. He also rues the ruining of his plans to visit his wife at Christmas. He notes that “We live in tents here with eight men in a tent.” He describes the tent as “about 14 feet square, has a board floor and is boarded up to the eaves of tent which is about 3 feet from the floor.  We have a small sheet iron stove, which is indeed small but we have a good fire now and it gives an excellent heat…We have to cut our own fuel but it is good wood to make fire where it is cut; it is of different varieties of evergreen.”

While the heat was ok, there were problems with frozen water. He reported that “our hands and faces were black with dirt so we went over to the mule stable to wash in the watering trough.  We had just gotten our hands nicely soaped when the mule driver came out and told us to get out of there that we were spoiling the water.  I got out at once and finished my washing with snow.” The situation with the water did improve.   

As far as we know, this was James’ first time in the south. He noted that “The country here is rather rolling and in places there is considerable evergreen timber.  We saw a good many negroes while on our way south but there is none in this camp.”

He reported a bit about his squad. “Our squad leader or corporal has been in the service 6 months.  He is of Spanish and Indian descent I should think by his appearance and actions.  I think he is going to be a good leader and will try and help us greenies in every way he can.” He reported that there were some Delaware County boys in nearby squads. And he commented that “The fellows in this squad seem all good but one and he has the big head so bad the boys all detest him.  If he stays with us he is liable to get a few lessons I can tell you that.” 

The food James is getting at Camp Greene apparently is an improvement from Camp Dix. One night he reported having “bread, cake, meat, potatoes, coffee, butter, sugar and sauerkraut and plenty of everything.  They say this is the best fed company in the regiment.” 

James continues to mourn that he can’t be home for Christmas. “It will make me home sick I know when I see the other fellows hiking out for home.  Maybe I can be with you next year at Xmas and may God grant that the good old U.S. be at peace with the rest of the world...”

Once James was settled in Camp Greene, he was asked to take up an old profession of his, teaching. He was asked by one of the men in his tent to help him teach English to a “class of foreign fellows.” He found it “funny to help men of my age to learn to read and write words of three and four letters” but noted they were eager to learn. He did find some of their surnames to be challenging. “It takes an expert to write and read them; just pronounce the following for an example - Nanastorvitiz - Don’t you wish you possessed such a name.  Some people think Calhoun is an odd name but I think there are other names just as queer as mine.”

Sometimes, James found his attempts to write to Anna thwarted. He reported that one afternoon, “We we[re] called out after dinner, placed in company formation by our lieutenant and marched about 4 miles to the outskirts of Charlotte to watch a football game between boys of the 7th Inf and boys of some other company.  I cared nothing about watching the game.  I should just as soon see a dog fight as a football game.” 

James reported about getting paid and how some of the men spent it. “We will probably get our first pay one month from now and then will be paid from Nov 23 to Jan 1, 1918.  Many of the boys spend their money almost as soon as they get it or else they gamble it away.  One fellow who I am certain received pay yesterday came into our tent this morning and wanted to borrow $.50 on a ring his had until next pay day when he would return the $.50 and get the ring.  He was unable to get the money from anyone in this tent.” 

James and Anna’s only Christmas as husband and wife is spent apart. He writes her on Christmas Eve:

This forenoon we had to pass in our mess kits given us at Camp Dix and had new ones issued to us from this camp.  This afternoon we received more shoes and underwear.  I was given another pair of hob nailed shoes (size 7 ½ E).  I wear two pairs of heavy woolen Red Cross socks with them.  If you can get some more heavy woolen socks just send them along down as they give us the best service of any sock we can wear.  In underwear I have just been given three woolen shirts and three woolen drawers….

If we get no colder weather than this we certainly are going to miss the winter this year.  We have no idea what will be required of us when we get through training at this camp but one thing very certain is we must have a good bit more training before we are fit to go into actual warfare.  I doubt very much if we ever see very much fighting and if we do you may feel sorry for Germany.  When this war closes and that will be when Germany is whipped, there will be a good long period of peace. 

James also writes on Christmas Day, reporting on his meal and rain:

This has been a brown Xmas indeed or perhaps a green Xmas.  There is plenty of material here for decorating purposes and our mess hall was beautifully decorated today.  Our Christmas dinner was surely all one could ask or desire in way of good things to eat and plenty but I missed the friendly faces and hominess I know would have been mine to enjoy had I been in good old New York.  I am enclosing a menu card of our dinner today.  Supper call has sounded so will write more later.
It is drizzly outside tonight and that will mean more mud.  Rain only began about 4 o’clock.  This afternoon a bunch of us went out to watch athletic events given for the soldiers.  We walked about two miles out.  There was such a crowd of soldiers and some civilians that we could hardly see the races.  I saw a sack race, some fancy horseback riding and a pole race.  The Red Cross distributed candy and tobacco but one could not get near them had they wanted to do so because of the crowd. 

This is the menu card James enclosed with the above letter
The day after Christmas, James received several letters from Anna that had gotten delayed by his move south. He received letters from several other people too, but he’s not sure packages are reaching him. “I shall tell you just what and when I get a package and in that way I can tell if packages reach me OK.  I maybe that packages travel slower than letters during the Christmas rush.” He comments on some of the things going on back home as related in Anna’s letters, including a reference to lice: “They are certainly hard fellows to fight - they are like the Germans must be.” 

On the 27th, James received more delayed letters, as well as a folding case. “I cannot tell you fully how useful it is going to be.  We have no place to keep our article laying out in our tent and need a place where we can keep numerous articles in a small space and also when we have to move.” 
James writes how much he enjoys getting letters about life back home. “It seems to be natural for my mind to the place I love to be so much, and that place is on the farm.  I have not given up hopes of occupying one myself some day in true partnership with you.  I like to hear of the preparations you’re making for our home.  It does so much to keep up my hope and interest.”  James also is worried that Anna is making herself “sick grieving and worrying about” him and admonishes her to “keep your mind from your trouble as much as you care and enjoy your home and your many loving friends and relatives.”
  
On the 28th, James reports the receipt of three boxes of candy from three different people, “a good variety chocolates from Wilford, maple fudge from Will and Vera [Storie], and assorted homemade candy from Grace and Gene [Storie].”  He also is a bit concerned that his letters are not coming to Anna more regularly, noting that he writes to her every day. He does warn her that soon the will be sent out to the rifle range, which involves a hike of 12 miles with all their equipment, camping for a week or so, then hiking back. Letters won’t be likely when that happens. The day he wrote this letter the company picture was taken. He noted that the picture is about 4 feet in length (I have it today).

Early on the morning of the 30th, as James later reported in a letter that same day, they were aroused at “3 o’clock this morning to go to a fire at the hospital.  The fire was gotten under control with the loss of one building.  We were there in time to form a bucket brigade… It is about a mile and a half from our tent to the scene of the fire.  We went on double time most all-way there but were glad to walk coming back.” 

James had been noting that he had a sore throat and it was continuing to the end of the year. The weather was very cold and windy, making the tents cold. James managed to stay warm with seven blankets and slept with one of his bunkmates, which also helped. “I know some of the boys sleeping alone were nearly frozen last night.” 

On December 31, James reported the receipt of his wife’s letters written at Christmas. His cold has gotten worse, with a sore throat and headache. Many of his fellow soldiers also are sick. Much of this letter responds to the news from home.

Anna had reported in her letter that her sister Edith was not at home but helping at the home of James Boggs. His wife, Elizabeth, was ill and in fact would die about a month later. [Edith would marry James Boggs in 1919.] 

James wrote that “I am glad to know that Wilford is so interested in the stock.  If he wants to get a fancy bull calf he can get the addresses of thoroughbread stock men from the “Jersey Bulletin.”  I think I gave him a few copies of the Bulletin of earlier dates.  Has the new tester commenced work in Bovina?  I hope the testing work may survive again after a time if I farm in Bovina I want my cows tested and I desire to see the other farmers doing the same thing.” 

James closes his last letter of 1917letter with:

I also wish I might write you something real good and encouraging but the best I can say is that the war may soon close and that we can have a few bright spots in our life such as those letters were this morning.  Please try and enjoy your dear ones up there and do not think but that all is well with me.  You cannot help me by grieving and my dear if you continue to grieve you will be sick.

Your most loving husband James