Thursday, September 20, 2018

Grandma's First Husband - "I shall endeavor to write more at the first opportunity."

The letters that James Calhoun wrote to his wife, Anna Bell Barnhart from France in September 1918 would be the last he ever wrote. The month started out with a modest announcement in a PS at the top his September 1 letter concerning a change in rank.  He was promoted from Corporal to Sergeant.  The letter was received on September 21. 

(PS - You note a slight change in my rank).  JDC

Somewhere in France
Sept 1- 1918

My dear Anna;
I must drop you a little note this morning regardless of the amount of work demanding my attention for I know my good wife is or will be anxiously awaiting word from me about the time that this note will reach her.  I get over anxious at time about my work and then must get down hard on myself and stop and pen my loved ones at home at note because I know how anxious you are through these long days of waiting.  I am so grateful this Sabbath morning that my life is still spared and that I am well and full of vim.  This is a most wonderful world after all isn’t it.  Things are extremely hard at times but dear Anna just think of the joy that will be ours if I can come safely home again and I trust I will by God’s constant care and guidance. 
 This is rather a dark gloomy morning but not stormy but we have been having some wonderful weather.  Just such weather as we have in the States during September. 
I bought me a fountain pen from one of the boys just newly here who needed the money.  It is nearly if not just as good as the one I lost [next word crossed out] just after we came; you remember the pen I used when on cow test work; that was the one I lost I also have bought a leather cover folding note book with a place for a picture in the fly leaf.  The picture of you and I was just right size to fit the frame so you can imagine where said picture is carried.
I have appreciated those pictures all so much and wish you might send any extra pictures you may have and care to dispose of.  They help to keep me in touch with home.  The picture of Wilford was excellent.  The last picture I received was the one of the wedding party on the lawn. 
I have had no letters from you for about 10 days so I trust that I shall soon get another installment of messages.
I am letting my hair grow long on top now and do not think I shall get it cut short again this autumn.  I looked a worse fright than usual with my head shaved so you can imagine how the Dutch ran when they caught sight of me.  It was hard to be so frightful in appearance but then what was the difference when such does benefit the good old U.S.A. as in case stated.  I think had I kept going I could have walked right into Berlin.
Please write often and pray for your poor miserable excuse for a husband.  May God bles and keep you.  Your most loving husband, James
PS - Am enclosing a little souvenir

The souvenir probably was a handkerchief, as noted in Anna’s log of letters received.

James wrote again 2 days letter, though the letter was received the day before the September 1 letter.  This letter is typewritten.

Somewhere in France
Sept. 3, 1918

My dear Anna;
The noon hour has just closed and I shall soon commence work for the P.M. but not until I send a line of love to a certain little girl, who is anxiously awaiting to hear from me.  I am at present anxiously awaiting to receive a letter from that same lady.  Autumn is at hand and I am not in a position to come to you as I hoped that I might be or at least be planning to come.  I am not disheartened in the least just the same, because where there is love hope cannot die.
I owe many letters to friends and relatives at home and I seem to be unable to secure the time to get them answered.  I should write to James Boggs, Bryson George, Will Storie and a number of others besides my relatives who have so kindly written.  I think that Aunt Margaret must be very lonely and I know that she feels that I should write to her more often than I have.  If you are able to get to Andes at anytime just drop in and pay her a visit.  She will be more than pleased I feel certain.
I know that articles have increased greatly in price in the states since my departure and think that they will be still higher if this trouble continues.  Everything we buy here is very high in price.  In fact these French people think the American soldier is made of money and so they charge double price for their goods.  The French people can buy much cheaper than the American pays for the same article. 
I had a letter from Archie, Florence and Peter a short time past.  They feel that I am very tardy in writing to them as indeed I have been.  I was very glad to get a letter from them and to know that they were well.  Perhaps you will be able to get to see them this autumn and that will have to be visit for both of us.
George Votee is with me in this work just now.  He is the only one the fellows from near home that I see real often.  We have been rooming together for a short time past.  It does seem very good to have someone with me that knows some of the people and places at home. [George Votee was from South Kortright and sailed to France with James. He would survive the war and stay in France on occupation duty until June 1919.]
I have had another installment of lice since I last wrote you and had to take vigorous methods to rid myself of the living little fellows.  I should like to send you a few in a letter if only I could find an envelope strong enough to keep them prisoner during the long trip across the ocean.  I am certain they would live through the journey all O.K. if I could keep them from walking away with the letter.
My helper has just come in so I will close this and get to work.  Surely you will get some of my letter and if you get this one you may know that I am safe and provided the cooties or lice do not overwhelm me.  Give my best re- to all of our people and write real often.
May God’s blessing be with you all,
Your most loving husband, James

James wrote again two days later on September 5, received by Anna on September 28.

Somewhere in France
Sept 5, 1918

My dear Anna;
It is time for me to pen you a few lines as to my welfare.  I am glad to say that at this date that I am quite well and O.K.  I am tired tonight and am hoping I can get a real nights sleep and then I expect I shall be able to perform another days duty.  I have a real bed ready for to occupy tonight.  I have not received mail yet but surely shall soon.
There has been a little thunder storm this evening but do not think it will amount to much.  There has been but little thunder and lightning here this summer. Perhaps there is not so much thunder and lightning here any year as in the U.S. but for all that I prefer the U.S. don’t you.  Be it ever so humble there’s no place like home.
I am letting my hair grow on top now and will soon become as I used too to appear.  It is now about 3/4 of an inch in length on top of my head and thicker than hasty pudding.  I am still chasing lice but think I have them nearly all chased out now.  They surely do make a person feel uncomfortable but we must endure them when we can not get rid of them and keep rid of them.  I never had to endure them in civil life and will not if I am permitted to return to civil life again.
It is getting dark so I will close.  May God bless and keep you.  With fond regards to all.  Your most loving husband, James.

James wrote again on September 8.  The letter was received the same day as that of September 5. It is another of the typed letters James sent.

Company “D” 7th Infantry
American E.F.
8th Sept., 1918.

My dear Anna;
I like to get short letters and I love to get real long letters especially from you and I know that you shall be glad to get even a short letter from me.  I shall proceed to send you a few lines of ragged type.
Yesterday’s mail brought me your three excellent letters of July 28, Aug. 4 and Aug. 6, 1918.  I must say that I spent a good time last evening by the candle light reading them.  I also enjoyed the clippings very much.  I must say that if it was not for you I should hear very little from home but the others all know that you are faithful in writing to me and of course they do not write as often as otherwise.  It is hard work to write letters except to those we love very dearly.  It has been exceptionally hard for me to keep up with my correspondence at all and I must confess that I have not written to many of those that have remembered me with a letter, and I have not written home a soften as I should have because I know that they hear from me even if I do not write.
This is a beautiful Sabbath morning and the sun is shining brightly.  It is just such a morning as I should love to be getting ready to go to church with you.  Wouldn’t that be fine.  It is nice that you can have even a substitute as partner at church and I think it just fine of Ruth to be so considerate of you.  I think she realizes how you are feeling these days.  You must have had many very warm days in the states: here it has not been so warm as to be oppressive much of the time.  It is well that it has not been as it would have been terrible at times.  The hail must have been very heavy: Archie and Florence wrote me that they gathered enough to make ice cream twice and that the small hollows in the earth had filled in in places. 
A nice little bundle of correspondence came in to me as I was writing the above paragraph and I have just finished answering letters and other work called for.  You will think your poor excuse of a husband is engaged in fine work for the God Given day of rest.  Please do not hold this against me.  Remember that I am in the army now.  I wonder what Mother C. would think if she knew.  She never wanted me to write even a friendly letter and I never dated my letters written to her on Sabbath when I was away from home.  I guess I was tough and mean to play such tricks on my mother but I did not do that very much.  It is now 2: P.M. according to my new watch.
I must tell you about my watch.  I bought it of one of the boys who was broke of funds as we say in the army.  I paid forty francs or about $7.50 American money but it would have cost me much more had I bought direct from a French store.  It is a very neat 0 size wrist affair with a face shield and a gray wrist strap.  I hated to spend the money but I needed a watch so much in my work that I felt it to be a necessity.  I would have bought one sooner had watches not been so costly in all the French shops where I inquired.  I think this one cost the first purchaser about seventy five francs.  One dollar of American paper money is worth 5.55 francs at this date.
You would like to challenge me one penny for my thoughts would you.  I think that you could guess my thoughts much of the time.  My thoughts are very valuable at such times and I assure you they are worth much more to me than a penny.  I should be glad to let you have them for the asking but they are very sacred to me.  I shall not forget the night you did challenge me and it gave me much courage.  I am ever glad that affairs turned out as they did and I should do exactly the same if I had the choice to make again.  I have wonderful confidence in you and I know that you will never disappoint me and may God grant and help me to ever be true to you.  The day cannot come to soon when I can return to you.  May God grant that I may be permitted to return to you sound in health and strength.  There is so much that I owe you and our people in the way of service.
Everyone has been so good and considerate of us and I think they all have a deep interest in us.  I should be only to glad to repay them and prove to them by good works that we are trying to be worthy of their confidence and faith in us.  You have provide to them by a life of service and good works that you are worthy of their deep trust and respect.  I have that to prove and only hope that it is my privilege to try and do so.  
I enjoyed the bit of news that Ralph and Edith sent in your letter.  I hope they enjoyed the onion.  Those on the parlor door was fine.  Give them a bit of army news for me.  Tell them that I am eating bread, corned beef, army slum, and boiled spuds with an occasional onion these days.  Also beans boiled, baked or roasted.  I had forgotten them.
You surely have a nice lot of berries and do not be to sure that the Barnhart family will have to eat them all.  I am hoping to be there whether I help eat the berries or not.  I know about the little patch across the creek.  Have you made any combination trips for berries and earth this summer?
You have surely gotten on fine with the hay.  It is good that you do not have to cut the lower flat.  You have all worked very hard indeed and it will be a relief that the harvest is over as it must be at this date.  It is hard that you lost the calves because it costs heavily to raise them.
I will write more very soon.
Lovingly yours, James     

James did not write again until September 21.  It is a brief letter, using only one side of the four sides of the writing sheet he used.  Anna received the letter on October 23.  It was the last letter she would receive, though it was not the last one written.

On Active Service with the American Expeditionary Forces
Sept 21, 1918

My dear Anna;
Today, I received four most excellent letters from you, one from mother, one from Cora, one from James B and one from Harold C.  I am so glad to hear so many good news.  I should answer your letters in full and hope to soon but my heart is too full tonight I dare not trust myself.  Perhaps tomorrow I shall be able to write if I can find the time and paper. 
Your most loving husband, James
PS - I am well, J.C.

The last letter James wrote to Anna (or at least the last one she received) was written on September 23, received on October 21. 

Somewhere in France
Sept 23, 1918

My dear Anna;
I was so grateful to receive your 4 fine letters written between July 3 and 19.  They surely did put new life into me.  You have no doubt received several letters from me sent since those you sent those of the above mentioned date; in those letters I have sent you will learn a few of the doings over here and will be enabled to form a vague idea of the situation at the time.
I am glad to know that you had good weather for hay harvest and that you all kept quite well.  You have all worked very hard and know that the exceptionally warm weather has made it very hard for you all.  It was hard for Ralph and Wilford to be so sick.  It seemed strange that they should both be taken so suddenly and at nearly the same time; their sickness must have been caused by something they had eaten. 
As I told you in the note that I sent a few days ago of the second letter from James B.  He surely is a prince and so thoughtful of others.  Indeed, I believe as you do that he is about perfect.  I do not wonder that you sympathize with him.  He said that since his harvest help had gone that he is lonesome.  I must try soon and write him as cheering a letter as possible.  In his letter he told me the results of his dairy for the past year.  His herd averaged nearly $100.00 per head profit per year.  He indeed has my sincere sympathy in his recent bereavment.
We are not enjoying the nice weather of the forepart of the season.  I understand that we may expect considerable rain from now till sometime to come. 
You had better take good care of yourself and not expose yourself too much to the weather.  I know how anxious you are to help and I am glad that you can do for our people but you must also remember that health comes first and that when you are sick others have to suffer for it. 
I am sorry that you read the article in McCall’s.  Do not believe for a single moment that you did me a wrong because you did not.  I did you the wrong and not you me.  I only wanted the privilege to do for you and give all that I can for your welfare and comfort and I am afraid instead that I have only added to your troubles and responsibility.  I cannot but feel that there are better days coming and we shall both be more than glad for the trials of this time.
Do not mind about my missionary money at this time as you have enough at this time without that and we can attend to that later besides I feel that we have an excellent reason for passing it up at this time.  I am glad the money reached you safely and that the allotment for June reached you O.K.  I hope to be able to send you more cash a little later.
Your garden must be fine this year.  At this time of high prices homegrown foodstuffs are very precious indeed.  Cora writes me that she is making preserves and etc but that she has to be saving of sugar because of the scarcity. 
Do not worry about my health as I am well and am rooming with a medical man so you see I am all O.K.
It is fine that the young people enjoy themselves so thoroughly and I know frm experience just how they enjoy themselves when they get together. 
The new draft is calling away many more men and I am glad that Wilford is not old enough to come within the age.  It seems tough to see the boys leave home before they reach the age of manhood.  Cora writes that Herbert will go.  Poor, faithful boy.  I wish I might serve in his place as well as my own.
Outdoor bathing has been plentiful here this year; possibly even more so than over there.  It is a great privilege indeed and one that I would like to enjoy right now.  I have not been cast into disgrace yet because I still have a supply of cooties (body lice) and expect I shall heave a few at all times unless conditions change.  I like the honor of having them but must say they are a pest to have around.
I shall endeavor to write more at the first opportunity. 
Your most loving husband, James

If James wrote any more letters, they were not received by Anna. On November 15, she received the telegram announcing that James had been killed the previous month.        

Monday, September 10, 2018

September 1918 - 100 Years Ago "in That Thriving Town"

September 6, 1918
·  Charles J. Russell has purchased an Overland country club thru the agency of W.T. Hyzer. [Charles was the brother of Cecil Russell.]
·  All enjoyed the picnic last Friday and after paying prizes and other expenses, $10 was turned over to the Red Cross.
·  Mrs. Elizabeth Gordon and two sons of New York, arrived Saturday to visit her father, William Rogers at Lake Delaware.
·  It is understood that Center Creamery has been leased for one year to the Dry Milk Co. of New York.  Patrons are to be paid League prices for milk.
·  At the primary in Bovina 183 votes were cast – 120 Republican; 20 Democrat; 42 Prohibition.

September 13, 1918
·  There were 44 numbers at the dance held here Friday night.
·  F.W. Hyatt had a horse die the past week from indigestion.
·  Joseph Rogers, of New York, is at Lake Delaware to spend his vacation.
·  The contractor for re-surfacing the State road is on the job.  A tent has been put up at the Felton watering trough.
·  Bovina was visited by quite a severe frost Wednesday [Sep 11] morning, doing considerable damage to corn and buckwheat especially. 
·  There is a good turnout from Bovina at Delhi high school this year, viz; Grace and Margaret Bramley, Beatrice Hoy, Emily and Margaret Archibald, Maurice Miller, John Armstrong and William S. Gordon.
·  Mrs. Fred Thomson, Mrs. James A. Liddle and Mrs. George H. Miller left Tuesday [Sep 10] morning to attend the State fair.  Mrs. Thomson and Mrs. Liddle will also spend some time with relatives in Mexico, N.Y.

September 20, 1918
·  Miss Jane Hilson started Saturday for Southampton, L.I. teach English in the high school.
·  There were 91 registered for selective draft last Thursday, and of these 35 will be in the first call.
·  The tax roll for the Bovina Center school district is in the hands of the collector, John B. Aitken.
·  Dr. Norris B. Whitcomb left Saturday, on his way to Albany, to be examined for the Medical Reserve Corps.
·  Miss Emily Hyatt returned to New York city Saturday [Sep 14], after spending the summer at her home on Miller avenue.
·  Alex Hilson, A.T. Doig and Thos Gordon have been appointed to assist the registrants in filling out their questionnaires. 
·  The Bovina Center Co-Operative Creamery paid the League price for milk for the month of August. The creamery is now being operated by the Dry Milk Co.
·  James Divett died from heart trouble at his home in Bovina, September 11th, at the age of 78 years. He was born in Pennsylvania and when a lad went to Indiana.  Later he went to North Dakota and from there to Oregon.  Last December he purchased of Charles Hafele the Gilbert Jardine farm where he died.  He leaves a wife, three sons and one daughter at home, and a daughter in Oregon.  The funeral was held Saturday with interment in the Center cemetery.

September 27, 1918
·  Word has been received of the safe arrival of Earl Miller, son of Mr. and Mrs. John M. Miller, overseas.
·  Lincoln R. Long, nominee for member of assembly, was a recent guest of his daughter, Mrs. Hale Elliott.
·  Mr. Graham, aged 84, died at the home of his daughter on the Hewitt farm, in upper Bovina, September 23.
·  Rev. and Mrs. Julius Kemp, missionaries of the Reformed Presbyterian church, and now home from China, have been visiting in Bovina.
·  Cameron McNee, of Iowa, is visiting his nephew, John Aitkens.  Mr. McNee was former resident of Bovina, but had lived in Iowa for 42 years.  He was a cooper when in this town.

Friday, August 31, 2018

This Day in Bovina for August

Sixty-six years ago today, the Bovina column in the August 1, 1952 Catskill Mountain News reported that "Willis Davis has been drawing the milk for Roy Hadley while he has been on his wedding trip." The same column also reported that "Fred Henderson and Andrew Reinertsen have commenced a carpenter job on the house of Ralph Barnhart at South Kortright.

Eighty-nine years ago today, the Delaware Express for August 2, 1929 reported on the "Perils of Hay Harvesting." The article went on to report that "Three Residents of Bovina Victims of Seasonal Accidents." Mrs. Ray Thomson broke her hand when a horse stepped on it. Fred Bramley fell from a load of hay, breaking his shoulder. And C.A. McPherson was injured when a piece of a wagon he was driving broke. Here's the full article. 

123 years ago today, on August 3, 1895, the Bovina ball team went to Delhi to play their team. They not only lost, but were heavily plagued by injuries. The Andes Recorder reported the injuries: "Chan [probably Chauncey] Squires and Leonard Thomson collided while running to catch a fly and were badly cut about the face. Thomson's cheek was cut so that the services of a physician was required to sew it up and while the doctor was at work dressing the wound John L. Gordon [1871-1908, son of Thomas Gordon and half-brother of Margaret Gordon] and Andrew Seacord [1872-1913] fainted. Al Thomson fell on his arm and injured it so that he was disabled." The paper concluded its report by noting in an understatement that "Taken altogether it was an exciting game."

134 years ago today, the August 4, 1884 Delaware Republican reported that "Rev. O.R. Bouton returned to Bovina on Wednesday evening to gather in the Fresh Air Children for their home voyage yesterday. We learn they were to entertain their hosts with music, recitations, etc., at Brushland, on Wednesday evening, and have no doubt the entertainment was an interesting one. They will return much profited by their trip."

Mary Rotermund was born 173 years ago today, August 5, 1845, in Andes. She was the daughter of Herman and Adelaide Rotermund, both natives of Hannover, Germany. Mary married James A. Coulter in 1868. Widowed in 1882, she died in Bovina in 1931. She was the grandmother of Ruth Coulter Parsons and her sister, Celia Coulter; Don, Bob and Norrie Boggs, and Millard, Art and Ernie Russell.

Ninety-three years ago, on August 6, 1925, as reported later by the Andes Recorder, "Elmer Gladstone was attacked by a bull and knocked down. Fortunately, the bull then walked away a short distance and before it could renew hostilities Mr. Gladstone made his escape.  All the other members of the family were absent from home."  Elmer probably was Robert Elmer Gladstone, the son of George and Helen Gladstone.  This likely happened on the Gladstone farm, located on what is now known as Bob Hall Road.  Elmer was 49 when this accident happened and would live to be almost 81, dying in 1956.

117 years ago today, on August 7, 1896, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "The union Sabbath School picnic in Michael Dickson's fine grove last Friday passed off very nicely, and all appeared to enjoy themselves. The sports were numerous. There were races by the little folks, then a tug of war between the married and single men, but the young men were sharp, laid down and neither side won. After dinner D.L. Thompson, master of ceremonies called the assemblage to order and invited the ministers, superintendents and their wives to the platform and Mrs. Myres recited "Deacon Jones' Prayer," and Revs. Lee, Buck, Myres and Samson made short addresses. Sports were again indulged in, and the short and also the four-mile bicycle races were won by Elmer McNair, the foot race between John Gordon and Milton Hastings was won by the latter. It was estimated that there were five hundred people present."

Leroy Worden was born in September 1899, the son of David Champ Worden and Harriett Boyd. He was married to Eleanor Campbell. Roy was my next-door neighbor throughout my childhood. This Bob Wyer photograph was taken in May 1943. Photo courtesy of the Delaware County Historical Association.

Ninety years ago today, on August 9, 1928, three year old John Storie, the son of Mr. and Mrs. William Storie, fell and broke his collar bone.  The accident happened at the home of his uncle, Fletcher Davidson, while he was at play with his little cousins.  This is where the Denisons live now.  Tragically, John would die in another childhood accident while, again, playing with his Davidson cousins.  In January 1938, when he was 12, he was sledding with Alan Davidson when he was thrown from his sled, rupturing his spleen.  His spleen was removed but he died about three days later.

131 years ago today, the August 10, 1887 Delaware Gazette carried the following report from the Bovina correspondent of the Dairyman newspaper (Franklin, NY): "David Sloan and Peter McNair went to Hobart last Monday, after Dr. McNaught to come and visit McNair's wife. They did not return that evening, as expected, nor the next. Alex. Hoy became alarmed about his horse and wagon and on Wednesday he sent David Finkle to bring the horse home. He found them at Bloomville, where they had driven through the rain on Tuesday. They had imbibed too freely at Hobart and had upset or in some way had broken the wagon and were in a sorry condition. McNair came home with Finkle, but Sloan was not satisfied and went on to Delhi and has not returned yet."

127 years ago today, on August 11, 1891, Anna M. Burgin was born, the daughter of Edwin Burgin and Ida Liddle. Sadly, she would die in 1899 at the age of seven from an abscess on her leg.

One hundred and seventeen years ago today, on August 12, 1901, work was commenced on construction of the Bovina Center creamery. 

Harold Hall was born in October 1912, the son of Harrison Hall and Elizabeth Kinch. He was married to Mildred Hitt. Harold was 91 years old at his passing in 2004. He worked for many years for McIntosh Farms. Bob Wyer took this shot of Harold in September 1944. Photo courtesy of the Delaware County Historical Association. 

Eighty-one years ago today, August 14, 1937 a traffic count was taken at "the Bovina corner."  The result showed that 2 motorcycles, 430 New York cars, 115 other cars, 88 light trucks, 59 other trucks, and 2 horse drawn vehicles passed the counter for a total of 644.

Seventy-eight years ago today, the August 15, 1940 Bovina column of the Delaware Republican reported that "The Bovina Recreation Club will hold a garden tour on Thursday, starting from Mrs. John Hilson's home at 10:30 am."

A special school meeting was held in the Coulter Brook district one hundred and seventeen years ago today, August 16, 1901.  As later reported in the Andes Recorder, "both those for and against a new school house had their forces marshaled and the result was a tie vote.  The result will probably be that the Commissioner will condemn the old shell of a building now in use."

Ninety-nine years ago today, on August 17, 1919, the pastor of the Bovina Reformed Presbyterian Church, Rev. Thomas E. Graham, surprised his congregation by announcing his resignation to become the pastor of a United Presbyterian church near Pittsburgh.  His resignation came as a complete surprise to the congregation and to the community.

Sixty-eight years ago today, the August 18, 1950 Catskill Mountain News reported in its Bovina column that "Miss Matilda Menke, who will become the bride of Paul Rabeler Aug. 27, was honored at a shower recently at the home of Miss Hilda Goldhammer."

Seventy-five years ago today, the Lake Delaware column of the August 19, 1943 Delaware Republican-Express reported the following: "A group of players from the Lake Delaware Boys' camp will entertain with a play at St. James parish hall on Thursday evening of this week. Everyone is welcome. No admission will be charged. The entertainment will be followed by dancing and refreshments."

The Bovina column of the Delaware Republican reported seventy-six years ago in its August 20, 1942 issue that "John W. McCune, for many years sexton of the Bovina U.P. Church passed away at his home here early Saturday morning. Funeral services were held from the home on Monday at 2 p.m., the Rev W. Wade Miller officiating."

Elizabeth Russell Archibald, the wife of Sloan Archibald, died 107 years ago today, August 21, 1911.  Born in New Kingston in 1848, she married Sloan in 1869 and had two children.  

James Burns was born in April 1917, the son of William Clinton Burns and Emily Eleanor Elliott. He owned a farm on Pink Street for many years (the farm is now owned by his son Thomas). He was married to Helen Bowen and passed away in March 1994. These photos of Jim were taken by Bob Wyer in May 1945 and May 1952. Photos courtesy of the Delaware County Historical Association. 

107 years ago today, August 23, 1911, as later reported in the Andes Recorder "The school controversy in the D.J. Miller district was settled at a special meeting Wednesday evening by the district voting to have school this coming year. For several years the pupils of this district have been sent to the Center school." The Miller district was at the intersection of Miller Avenue and Lee Hollow.

Seventy-four years ago today, the Bovina Center column of the August 24, 1944 Delaware Republican-Express reported that "Mrs. James Foy and son Richard are spending a few days at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Claude Erckson (sic). Mrs. Erckson is ill." Mrs. Erkson would pass away the following February.

The Bovina Town Picnic was held ninety-seven years ago today, August 25, 1921. The Oneonta Star reported on the event the next day under the headline "15,000 at Bovina Town Picnic." The article noted that "Aside from the feasting, there were wheelbarrow races, a tug of war and a baseball game for the amusement of the throng, while the Delhi band with its music added to the enjoyment of the day. Reminiscent speeches were made by Hon. Lincoln R. Long, member of assembly from Delaware county, and Rev. Marvin Thompson of Troy.

Seventy-five years ago, the August 26, 1943 Delaware Republican-Express reported in its Bovina column that "Miss Evelyn G. Lay was the guest of her friends, the Misses Ruth Thomas, Mary Hart and Frances Harner of near Afton last week Thursday. All visited the Afton fair in the afternoon. She was also a week-end guest of her friend, Miss Vesta Norwood at Norwich. All are employed on the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift in the Scintilla plant at Sidney. Miss Norwood is floor-lady in Dept. 27." Evelyn was the sister of Clark Lay.

Eighty-seven years ago today, August 27, 1931, as later reported in the Andes Recorder Bovina column: "Born to Mr. and Mrs. Benson LaFever on August 27, a son - Charles Raymond." Dad had two license photos taken by Bob Wyer, the first in August 1949 (two days before his 18th birthday) and again in May 1952. Photos courtesy of the Delaware County Historical Association.  

104 years ago, the August 28, 1914 Catskill Mountain News published a small article entitled "Gerry Will Build Road." The article noted that "Robert Gerry will have a stone road built from where his private road connects with the highway in southern Bovina to the top of the pitch above T.C. Strangeway's. The town of Bovina will probably put on a team or two. Work is expected to commence about the first of September."

Seventy-eight years ago today, the August 29, 1940 Delaware Republican reported in its Bovina column that Misses Helen Hotchkin and Jean Ditty went to New York City on Sunday to spend a week with friends and visit the World's Fair." The same column noted that "Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Thompson of Manhassett, L.I. are visiting her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Blair."

Fifty-three years ago today, on August 30, 1965, as later reported in the Delaware Republican Express, "Many of the Bovina people awakened [in the morning] to find their gardens frozen. Some gardens were badly hurt, while others were not damaged nearly so bad. Several have had killing frost every month since they were planted."

178 years ago today, on August 31, 1840, Revolutionary War vet James Vanderburgh died, aged 83 years. He is one of three Revolutionary War Soldiers buried in the town. See the Bovina NY History blog at for more about Bovina's Revolutionary War soldiers.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Grandma's First Husband - "I know how very much a letter from me will be appreciated by you."

James Calhoun last wrote to his wife, Anna Bell Barnhart Calhoun on July 11, 1918. It was over three weeks before James wrote his next letter to Anna. Dated August 4, it wasn't received until August 23.  The letter is typewritten.

August 4, 1918

My dear Anna;

You will thank me very neglectful in not writing you for some time but I am taking my first opportunity to send you a letter.  For more than 2 weeks I have been in a position, where it was impossible to send out mail.

Since returning I have had several most interesting letters from you and others at home and I feel very guilty indeed that I have not been able to do my part in return.  I have had letters from Geo Storie, Bryson, Pearl G. and several others of our acquaintances and friends.  I was more than glad to get the letter from Rev. Forbes.  The date of your latest letter rec. was that of July 12.  During the period of my inability to write you I also was unable to get mail and you can imagine how anxious I was to hear from you.

Personally I have been feeling fine and was glad to know that you have all been quite well at home.  I naturally worry at times as to your welfare and am glad in one way that I am kept busy so I do not have the time to permit my mind to dwell on those things and conditions over there that I would gladly prevent if I were permitted.  It does me good to hear of all the happenings at home.  Wilfords letter came to me in the late mail and I have enjoyed it so much.  Tell him that his letters mean very much to me and wish that many more of my friends and relatives at home could be made to realize the same.

It was fine that you could go to Delancey and thus get to visit Mae.  You remember what you told me about helping out on that occasion.  No I do not blame you in the least for doing so when the opportunity presents itself.  I know the young folks will appreciate your help in such a case. 

Many of the boys are here or ready to come to this side but I have not been fortunate enough to meet any of them.  If you learn the branch of service of any of the boys at home I wish you might include same in your letter and perchance I might be able to meet some of them if I happen to learn the where abouts of their outfits.

There are many things that I should write you and know I should answer your letters more fully but as I am working in the office and have much work I must close and get at my duties.  I will at least send you a short note each day or two so you will know I am OK. 

Please do not think me neglectful or ungrateful because if I could I would gladly sit down and pour out to in a nice long letter all that my heart contains.  At times this is almost unbearable to me and I know it is to you but there is nothing to do but endure it all with patience and hope in our hearts.  The only means of keeping up is my trust in God and the love that I have for you at home. 

I will close now.  May God bless and keep you.  Write and tell me all your perplexities and troubles - keep nothing back.  I feel I can endure all for your sake. 

Your most loving Husband, James

James wrote again two days letter.  James’ next three letters, written between August 6 and 10, were received September 9, after letters James wrote in mid-August. 

Somewhere in France

Aug 6, 1918

My dear Anna;

At the close of another days work I am sending you a few lines so you may know that all is well with me.

I have been so glad to get your most excellent letters and it does me so much good to know that you were getting along good when the last letter which I have from you was written (July 12).  It would be impossible for me to comment on all the news that I have gotten from home but I know how things are going back there.

Things look better now and perhaps things may change for us.  I hope so at least.  It seems like an age since I saw you. 

Frank and Hazel must have had an up to date wedding.  Should have liked to have been with you.  They are fortunate indeed.  Their pictures looked natural and Frank evidently wore a happier look then he did when leaving Walton last Nov and I think he had a reason to feel happier. [Frank Munson had been drafted with James back in November 1917 but was discharged for medical reasons early in 1918.]

I read with interest all the little happenings at home.  Am sorry uncle John is not so well.  He no doubt worries about the construction of his new barn.  It surely is going to be large.  Wilford gave me a fine description of it.  It is too dark to write.  Hope to hear from you tomorrow. 

Your most loving husband, James

The next letter is typewritten.

Somewhere in France

Aug 7, 1918

My dear Anna;

Another day is fast drawing to a close and I feel that you will be expecting at least a note from me date to-day.  I have had no letters from you for a few days but expect that I shall receive word from you soon and that there will be more than one letter when my mail comes; my mail usually arrives in a collected form.

We have been having rather rainy weather for some time past but there has been nearly enough sunshine intermixed to keep one from getting overblue.

I am wondering as I write this note what you are doing at home.  As there is such a great difference in time between here and there it will be only about midday with you.  I can imagine nearly the way that the new mown fields appear and the smell of the newly cut grass lingers in my nostrils as I write these words.

I am very glad to know that you receive the money that I send O.K.  From your letters I gather that up to July 12 you had received two orders of $15 each.  There is an order of $10 that you should receive soon if you have not gotten it already.  I hope to be able to forward another small amount soon. 

This note leaves me all O.K. and it is my sincere hope that you are as well.  I will close this now as I wish to get it censored.  I must write often even if my letters are brief.  Please drop mother a note telling her of my welfare. 

Your most loving husband, James 

The August 10 letter also was typewritten.

Somewhere in France

August 10, 1918

My dear Anna;

Well here I am again to send you another Hooverized note.  I am yet awaiting a letter from you and feel certain that tomorrows mail will bring me the desired message.  I am going to take time to answer your next letter in full even if I must steal the time to do so, which I hope will not prove necessary. 

This is another rather dark day but have had no rain.  Am hoping that we may be fortunate enough to enjoy a few clear days.  We have had but very little truly warm weather this summer I know from reports that the good old U.S.A. has been blessed with her usual time of hot weather. 

Crops must be very good there this year.  I gather that the hay crop is rather under the average but that other crops are fine.  I know several boys whose people wrote them that crops this year are better than the average.  I should like to have some of the fruit that is ripening over there or will ripen ver[y] soon.

I expect you watch the papers closely these days and do a good bit of hoping.  I have been in a good bit of it all myself and was very fortunate.  I am watching the news these days with a good bit of interest.  How I would enjoy seeing you and then I could tell you so many things that have happened since I left you that morning in Kingston.  No doubt there have been many items of interest that you would have enjoyed talking over with your hub. 

Tell Edith for me that I enjoyed the poetry that she enclosed and did as that instructed as far as capability goes but I hope it will not necessary for her to perform all that particular piece of poetry advocated.  You remember the piece of poetry I used to read last autumn.  Those are happy memories with me.  When I saw the last picture, in fact both of the last ones you sent made me recall many of the good times we enjoyed together.

Well I will close this little note hoping that in the near future I will have a nice newsy letter to answer.

Your most loving husband.  James 

James next three letters arrived in Bovina two days before the previous three letters of August, on September 7.

Co. “D” 7th Inf
Somewhere in France
Aug. 11, 1918

My dear Anna;

I am having a real half holiday today and a beautiful day it is.  I am writing a few letters today to make a start on catching up with my correspondence.  I have written Cora a note and hope to have ambition enough to write to Archie’s after I get this penned. 

Have had a slight sickness but am feeling much better today and think I shall be quite O.K.  I am yet awaiting a letter or rather several letters from you.  As I said in a previous note, I get my mail in collections of from one to five letters at a time. 

Lunch is over and I will complete this letter and then go down to the office and see what work awaits me there.  I feel so free today.  I cannot tell you why but I do feel as though I had been chained to a post and just released.  I think it is because I have not been feeling well the past week and now feel better. 

Our kitchen put out a very nice dinner today which I enjoyed very much.  You spoke of the difficulty of using the new kinds of flour.  Am I correct in believing that orders are such in the states that people there must use a certain per cent of other cereals for each pound of wheat flour consumed.  It is no doubt to an extent difficult to become accustomed to making bread with other flours than wheat but I believe that the coarser flours are much more healthy than so much refined wheat flour.  The French people use a coarse flour for bread and bread made from such is very wholesome, especially when fresh baked.

I wish I might write you a real interesting letter but as usual since I cannot write all I would like my letter must be confined to telling you I am O.K.; to discussing affairs at home.  When I get your next letter than I can write more in return.  The hardest work I have to do is letter writing which is easy to me under normal conditions.  I am glad however to be able to write and tell you I am well.

I think at this date that you will be attending services in the good old home town.  My mind is filled with fond memories of the past.  Please write as often as possible and give my fondest regards to those at home.

Your most loving husband, James

The next letter is written in very faint pencil.

Somewhere in France

Aug 14, 1918

My dear Anna;

I have received your three most interesting and welcome letters of July 14-18-21.  I am going to try and write you a nice letter in return for them.  I feel that I cannot write you a letter that will fully make you understand how much I appreciate these three messages and how much they mean to me.

I was glad to hear all about services at the Center and how I wished I could attend them myself.  I can appreciate as never before what a blessing such religious privileges are.  I am glad you can enjoy them and it does me good to have you tell me the texts of the sermons.  You said you took the text - the thorn in the flesh home to yourself.  I can not think for one minute that you needed such a sermon at all and it is not because of any vanity on your part that you are made to suffer.  I feel that I am made to endure some very hard things because of some sin on my part but I cannot be made to believe that such is the case with you.

I am glad to hear that Uncle John is getting on so nicely with his barn and hope the responsibility of the undertaking does not undermine his already delicate health. 

I must confess that my letter are far from as satisfactory as a face to face talk and I am also glad that you understand so well how I am handicapped in my correspondence.  I am grateful to have these three letters to answer.  I can see no reason why you should feel that your letters should be destroyed because they are of great account to me.

The picture of Wilford is the best ever.  I am indeed glad to get these home pictures.  Please send me more of them.  Pictures are the only means of seeing you people now.  You want to keep right at work building air castles and perhaps we can make some of them come real some fine day.  I for one am going to keep up hope until the last and feel that God’s blessing will be ours.  I am so glad that our belief is so similar and so strong.

I am quite willing to take all that motherly advice of which you spoke and feel that I need such.  I may be good at giving advice but I do not feel competent to give such.

You are becoming a real financier and your investments are good indeed.  I know of no better.  You are fortunate indeed to receive your money from the government so promptly each month and am indeed glad you have the insurance policy.  I see by the clippings you sent that Clark Miller’s people had gotten $1000 from the Travelers Insurance Co which proves that my policies there are good as gold in war times as well as in times of peace.

In mother C’s last letter she spoke about the family trip on July 14th.  I wonder that mother would go but I am convinced from her letter that she thoroughly enjoyed the trip.  Huckleberries must be plentiful there this year.

You wrote me a letter tino(?) to a day since a certain very memorable event occurred and further more it is just nine months today since that memorable event.  It seems most an age but it would seem longer than that perhaps if my dull memory could but recall all the happenings of that period. 

I know you must have watched the most interesting news of the past six weeks and now it does seem as though the news have been good ones for all concerned.  You no doubt wonder how I have fared.  In answer I will say I am O.K. to date and thank God for it all. 

Please do not wear the blue silk out entirely. If I am so permitted I want to see it once more.  I always liked it so much. 

I sincerely wish the milk tester might come and help you milk but not as a milk tester this time.  No I do not mean the tester who is there now but the one of old see(?). 

Uncle John can use those shingles very nicely now since he is building a barn.  A good way to get rid of the disease.

Do not send telegrams unless you can send something else than Jessie’s yarn such as that get stale in such long voyages but are better administered direct what do you think about it. 

I am not wrought up at all over the affair with Uncle John.  Just sorry that was all and I am glad that there is a change there now and feel that all will be so much nicer for you and them too. 

Wear the H.M.H.S. and get all the joy from it you can.  I can remember just how it looks.  Has the brass begun to show through on the ring?  I hope and trust not. 

You spoke of the kitten.  Cats(?) are scarce over here.  I have seen one or two cats.  See plenty of dogs.

Give my kindest regards to all of our relatives and friends.  I am pleased you sent word from me to mother.  Write very often. 

Your most loving husband, James.

Somewhere in France

Aug 18, 1918

My dear Anna;

Sabbath is here again and I know or at least think I know what you are doing today.  I am waiting now on some business matters so I will fill in the time by getting this note written.

I have had no letters since I wrote you Aug 14 so have no letters to answer.  News are scarce as usual and it is indeed difficult to write a letter that will prove at all satisfactory to the person receiving same.  I think you must become tired of the excuse I always make regarding the unsatisfactory make up of my letters.

I am getting very heathenish indeed and scarcely ever get to religious services.  I hear the church bills ringing and should love to attend if only I could understand the minister who delivers the sermon.  I think I could pick up the meaning of French words if only I would give my attention to learning the language.  However I have more than I can perform to keep up in making use of the English language as I must.  Returning to the subject of religion will say that I am glad that you can enjoy such privileges even if I cannot.  I am yet hoping that the day may soon come when I can enjoy those privileges myself. 

Harvesting is in progress here and I have seen many fields of as fine wheat as I ever have seen.  A few of the farmers have reapers and binders(?) but many of them are using the old fashioned grain cradle for gathering the grain.  Most agricultural are very primitive in this part of the globe and much too slow for American people who believe in the more up-to-date methods.  If the people here were among the hills and rocks with such means of cultivation as they have at hand they would indeed starve to death.  

I am anxiously awaiting more letters from you.  I cannot receive them fast enough to satisfy my desire to hear from you.  Give my best regards to all of our people and tell them one and all to write.

Your most loving husband, James

James’s letter of August 22 was not received until September 26, after two later letters were written.  The August 22 letter is typewritten.

Somewhere in France

Aug. 22nd 1918


I know how very much a letter from me will be appreciated by you thus I am very glad to write.  You guess by the manner in which this is written, the work in which I am engaged.  I must confess that it has kept me very busy and am glad that I have been able to stand the work.

I know you will wonder about the many things that I have experienced since I came from you and wish as usual that I might have a good heart to heart talk with you but must content myself for the present with a miserable note.  I am hoping the day will come speedily when I can talk to you.

We are having very fine weather, but warm.  I know you have had some very warm weather in the states.  It is hard to realize that the summer is passing so rapidly away - (time seems long when I consider all that has taken place in the past).

I have had access to a Y.M.C.A. most all the time over here.  In fact the people keep in touch with us practically at all times.  The Salvation Army people have huts at various points.

Hay harvest will be almost over in the good old county.  Harvesting is well under way here.  It is almost comical to see the primitive methods used by farmers in all farm operations.  There methods are very conservative and far to slow for us.  How are the calves growing this year?  Have the worms bothered them as they did last season.

If I remember correctly, you wrote me that a party came very nearly purchasing the Strangeway farm.  All that prevented was a slight disagreement on price.  I hope that it is not sold to soon.  I should like to see if we could not buy it for a reasonable price.  What do you think.  I would not be willing to give a small fortune for it at that would you?

Have not had mail from any of you for some time but know I shall get several letters soon.  How often do you get letters from me?  I will number several in succession then you can tell if you receive each one that I write.  I believe I am getting nearly all of yours.  Is the mail service good as usual at Bovina Center?  Where is Mr. Case and does he help Uncle John now?

I expect that the new barn up the street is all ready for the hay by now and probably has been for some time past.  It will take some no doubt to get the entire structure complete.  It is a great undertaking to build a barn.  I hope I may not have to do that but sometimes such is necessary as in the case just stated.  I think I could do so if necessity called.  We are sometimes called upon to do some things that we feel are very hard and difficult but there is always a way provided so we can get on somehow.  I hope that the task is not so great that it undermines the already delicate health of Uncle John.  I think him very fortunate to get such good help as Walter Coulter-

I must write mother a letter soon so that she will know that I am well and prospering.  I know you will have sent word to her since the last letter she received from me.  Cora no doubt expects a letter from me and in trut[h] I owe her a letter in return for those that she and Pearl and Herbert have written.

James wrote one more letter in August. His August 25th letter, though recorded as received by his wife on September 20, was not in her papers I received after her death. Recently, however, as my cousin was clearing out my late aunt's house, she found this long missing letter. It was with some other Calhoun materials. I think it was set aside because it is the only letter from France where James can provide some information about what he was doing there. He makes a couple of references to the Dutch, but I suspect it is a term for the Germans. The Netherlands was neutral in World War One, so it is highly unlikely he was fighting the Dutch. 

Somewhere in France, August 25, 1918 (top corner torn off)

My dear Anna;

            This is Sabbath P.M. and I am in the office. Most all the clerks are out and as I have my work caught up I feel I must drop you a line. You no doubt feel that I should drop my work and write you anyway but here I must get my work up in good shape before taking anytime to myself. As you no doubt guessed from the typewritten sheets that I have sent you will know that I am at the clerking job once again. Neither of the former clerks and with the company at present so I am trying to fill the place. One of the boys who has been with us steady is helping me.

            Now that it is all past, I have been given permission to write a few of the things that have happened to me since landing in France in Apr. I cannot give you any facts as to our whereabouts or what we are doing at present except that we are not on the firing line.

            After reaching France Apr. 15 we went in land considerable distance and trained until the 1st of June when we moved up to the front. I was attending gas instruction when the boys came to the front so consequently came a different route than they. I was at school Decoration Day when I wrote you that letter. I soon rejoined the boys however. We moved about near the front line fro about June 2-15 during which time we were within shelling distance of the enemy, who wounded a very few of the boys. On June 15 we went into Bellou Wood where the U.S. marines had such a hard fight and drove the Germans back when they made their desperate drive to reach Paris on that date. Here we spent several days fighting most of the time. There was a good bit of shelling at all times and snipers and machine guns surrounded us. We were located in a point running into the enemy line and the Dutch were on three sides of us. Our men did fine work, causing the enemy much damage succeeded in taking prisoners and held the line against the enemy. We were relieved by Marines who succeeded in driving the Dutch still farther back. After coming from the front line in June we were near the line in reserve for a time and were transferred to the Marne section near Chateau Thiery, and were in the front line trenches on July 15th when the Germans put over the most notable barrage of shell fire known in history, covering a front of 60 miles. The enemy started a drive then but it turned against them and as a result have fallen back along a long front and we had the pleasure of chasing them back from the Marne River. They commenced falling back July 18th and were still going when we were relieved on July 29th. Since that time the Allies have had good success and the Boche (Dutch) has fallen much farther back then where we left them.

            Well I am glad to write you that I am well and strong and am indeed glad to be alive. I only wish I might tell you all the experiences I have had. This is surely a strange world isn’t it. One little knows as a youngster what lies a headin life’s pathway. I had never expected to cross the ocean and would probably not have had Fritz not became so unruly. I think he is getting plenty to keep him interested these days. The Yanks are right there when it comes to pure grit.

            I am expecting another bunch of those dandy letters from you soon as I have had none for some time. And I am going to enjoy them too if they bring me good news as I trusty they will. We are have (sic) nice weather. Yesterday and the day previous was very warm but outside of those days it has been extremely pleasant.

            Have just been paid and think I shall soon send some money home. I expect to buy a watch and fountain pen because I feel the need of both so much in this work. This is the first pay since May 31 and so money came quite handy just now. I must also get me a new jackknife and some paper and pencils.

            I have been issued a Gillette Safety Razor one of the $5.00 kind. I think they are good ones. Just received it last night so have not used it yet. I lost the razor previously issued ot me while we [were] in action on the front. Our packs were traded and the pack I got had no razo but it contained good blankets, underwear, shoes and a general equipment so I found just as good as the follow who received mine. I have been lousy a couple of times but had no difficulty in ridding myself of the pests. They surely do refuse to let a chap rest. I am letting my hair grow again. It is short on top but it is growing as thick as a mat and will need considerable training as it grows longer.

            I am wondering how you are. Ho much I should like to see you. I cannot tell but we must still endure as better days are coming. We can think God that we are both alive and well.

            Give my kindest regards to all of our relatives and friend and may God bless you.

            Your most loving husband James.