Friday, April 20, 2018

Grandma's First Husband - "Have reached my destination safely and am well."

In April came the last big change in James’ location. Around April 5, he set sail for France, arriving on April 15.

Anna received 36 letters from James while he was in France.  She tracked the arrival of all the letters, as well as his allotments and other items on this card.  

The first item she received from James was this simple card that simply stated “I have arrived safely overseas” along with his signature.  Anna received the card on April 22 (an identical card also was sent to his mother).

The letters James wrote from France came to Anna sporadically, and often not in sequence.  For instance, his letters of June 5 and 11 arrived 8 days after the letter of June 16.  On average they took about a month to arrive.  Anna’s letters to James seemed to have taken also about a month, though in his last letter, written September 23, he noted just receiving Anna’s four letters written between July 3 and 19.  Her later letters written in late July and early August were received by James in early September.

The main thing one will notice with the letters is that they don’t tell too much about what James is doing, particularly where he is located.  The letters do comment on things going on in Anna’s life, though the early letters don’t even do this. As James noted in his first letter, “I can learn better what to write after more experience.” All the letters have a statement and signature from the censor approving them for mailing.
No letters from Anna to James survive from his time in France.

The first letter he sent from France is not dated but was received May 4.

My dear Anna;

Have reached my destination safely and am well, except for a couple of days of sickness have been well since I came from home.  My cold is much better and have but little cough now. 
You will have gotten a card telling of our safe arrival some time before this letter reaches you so I know that you will not feel worried because I have not written for some time.  When I was home I felt that you knew where I should be sent next so I said very little about it as I knew it would only be harder for you.
For reasons that you already know we are not permitted to tell where we are but can tell you enough to let you know that we are prospering fine. 
The weather has been nice all the time of which I for one was very glad.  Every protection is given us and I must say we are well provided for and feel that every precaution is being taken for the preservation of the men although we no doubt will have to work hard here which is quite right under the circumstances.
I will not make my letters long as the censor may tire reading same and feel like discarding them but do not feel bad because I write little because I think of you often and perhaps I can learn better what to write after more experience.
Address my letters Co ‘D’, 7th Inf, A.E.F.
Your most loving husband,
PS - I await a letter from you very anxiously.  JDC.

Second letter, postmark may read April 26, received May 9

Somewhere in France
My dear Anna;

You will think I have forgotten to write but such is not the case.  I have been moving and have not had an opportunity.
I know you will be very anxious to hear from me so I am writing at the first opportunity and think I shall be able to write more often since I am settled for the present.  I hope to get a letter from you soon which I anxiously await.  I am feeling very good now and do not tire easily.  My cough has nearly gone. 
I have the privilege of having access to a YMCA which I appreciate very much.  This is a beautiful country indeed and it seems good to see vegetation so green.
I am not very wise yet as to material which I may write but will soon get a few ideas after a little more experience.
I am wondering what you people are doing these days but I can imagine how things are there.
I can readily see how different are the customs of the people here from at home.  I have little success speaking their language and consequently have not tried but little to talk to them.  Everything seems very different but expect I shall simply have to adjust myself to conditions.
I hope to hear from you before very long.  Please write often.
Your most loving husband,

The next two letters arrived the same day, May 20.

Somewhere in France
April 24, 1918

My dear Anna;

I will start another letter on its way.  I will try and send one every few days.
Everything is all O.K. and am getting along nicely.  Am feeling fine and feel that the steady work is doing me considerable benefit.  Am trying to get a good grip on my work but you know how hard I am to get into shape.  I have hopes however and feel that I shall get over my blunders in time. 
The weather is damp and all forms of vegetation look fine.
The language seems very different from ours but know that ours appears just as strange to them.
The weather must be warmer with you now and expect the country there is just as beautiful as here.
I ate the last of the maple sugar this morning and of course wished there was more.

I am interested in my work and as I feel fine I know I shall feel fine.  I cannot afford to be discontented and neither can you.  I have a work to do before I come again.  I know you will understand.
Please write often.  Your most loving husband, James.

Somewhere in France
April 27, 1918

My dear Anna;

Wills send you a few lines today to let you know that all is [well].  I am also sending you a little surplus valuables that I had here.  I am anxiously awaiting a letter from you and expect to get one before very long. 
I have written but few letters; have sent them to you and mother only.  I know that you will let Cora, Anna [his sisters] and the others know that I am O.K.  Tell the people to write me and try to let them know how I shall appreciate a few lines from them.
I expect you are finished with the maple syrup but there is not doubt many other pieces of farm work demanding attention.  I feel that it is good that I can keep busy enough to keep my thoughts from wandering too far away as they surely would otherwise.  Do not think that my thoughts do not come across to you because they do every day as I know yours do of me.
Please notice when the next premium is due on my insurance policies.  I believe there is a semi annual payment due on one Aug. 3 and a yearly payment due on the other October 3 or about that time. 
Now that you know the situation please write as often as you conveniently can.
Your most loving husband, James  

The last letter he wrote in April took over a month to get to Anna.  She didn’t get it until June 7.  Three later letters written in early May all came before this one. 

Somewhere in France
April 29, 1918 (postmark May 19)

My dear Anna;

I am writing you a few lines this evening to let you know that all is O.K. with me.  There are many things I should like to write to you about but since I am not permitted to do so will have to wait until I can talk to you personally.
I was at services yesterday and it certainly did seem good to hear the preacher voice again.  I expect I shall be able to get to services nearly each week.  We are fortunate enough to have an ordained minister with us at all times.
I expect the weather will be getting warmer with you now and you will soon be all busy getting the crops soon.  Am afraid I shall almost forget how to care for horses and cattle but am sure I could learn the art by brushing up a little. 
When I get a letter from you I shall be able to write you better letters than at present.  Letter writing is much easier when the letter in question is in answer to one already received.  I could ask many questions but I know that is needless as you will write me a letter of general information.
Your most loving husband, James
F.S. Long [Censor]

Thursday, April 12, 2018

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

April 1918 was the first anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I. Life went on in town, as reported in the Andes Recorder.

April 5, 1918
·        Al Boggs is here finishing John Hilson’s house.
·        Mr. and Mrs. William C. Russell and family took in the movies at Andes on Tuesday evening.
·        Miss Kathryn Reynolds is expected to resume her duties as primary teacher in the Center school Thursday.
·        Mr. Hamilton, of Philadelphia, who has rented Miss Jennie Miller’s house below the village, arrived on Tuesday.
·        The Dry Milk company is now receiving a large quantity of skim milk from Delhi and are running two shifts – a night and day.
·        David F. Hoy, registrar of Cornell University, and his son, have been spending a few days at the home of his sister, Mrs. Douglas Davidson.

April 12, 1918
·        The Telephone Central was out of commission the first few days of this week.
·        The Dry Milk company barreled the dry milk obtained from 2,700 cans of milk, last week.
·        H. Jalmer Johnsen has sold the farm which he purchased of Frank T. Miller a year ago.
·        Herman Johnson has hired to work in the dry milk plant.  He will move into part of Harvey C. Burgin’s house.
·        The Town Board of Education have appointed Wm. J. Storie, Robert A. Thomson and David Currie inspectors of election for the school meeting to be held May 7.
·        William F. Boggs has purchased from Mrs. (Dr.) G.T. Scott what is known as the Gow house and lot.  The price paid was $1,500.  Frank Miller has purchased of Mrs. W.T. Forrest the house and lot adjoining what was formerly the D.L. Thomson tin shop [this was later the home of Charlie and Eva McIntosh].

April 19, 1918
·        H.A. Ayers arrived home Saturday from Pennsylvania for a few days.
·        The Red Cross will give a warm sugar social in the town hall on Friday evening, April 19.  Special music.

April 26, 1918
·        John Galloway was the recipient of a Shetland pony Tuesday.
·        The Red Cross realized $30 from a social held Friday evening.
·        A number of friends of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Miller make them a surprise visit Tuesday evening.
·        Mrs. G.T. Scott, who recently sold her house here, will move to Davenport next week, where she formerly resided and where she has a sister living.
·        The team of Lawrence Ruscoe started to run from in front of the Crosier hotel, but Mr. Ruscoe managed to climb over the back of the seat and getting the lines, stopped the team at Doig’s store [this is now Russell's].

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Grandma's First Husband - "May God soon permit us to be together again..."

I’m doing a special entry following the story of my grandmother and her first husband, James Calhoun, who died in the First World War, one of two Bovina based fatalities during the war. At the beginning of March, James was at Camp Greene, North Carolina. On March 25 or 26, he was suddenly headed back north to Camp Merritt, New Jersey (though he knew the change of camp was coming).

This is the story of James' last ever trip home. After his arrival in camp, James was granted a 48-hour furlough, which started on Sunday, March 31 at noon. The timing was unfortunate. As he noted in a letter to his mother, “My pass took effect so late in the day that I could not get home by train that night.” James telegraphed Anna and asked her to meet him in Kingston at 5 pm. The telegram came just as she was getting ready for church. She dropped everything and her brother Ralph agreed to drive her to Kingston, arriving just after James’ train arrived at 5 pm. After supper in Kingston, they drove back to Bovina, arriving about 2:30 am on Monday.
James' transit pass
James didn’t even get 24 hours at home, and he likely spent much of it in bed because he had a fever. By Monday afternoon, James and Anna were headed back to Kingston, so James could get a train to New York City before noon on Tuesday, April 2, the end of his furlough. Anna and James spent the night in Kingston before she returned on the Ulster and Delaware to Bloomville and James took the train back to New York and to camp. His fever had broken by the time of his return to camp. This brief furlough would be the last time Anna and James saw each other.
James and Anna did have time for
a few photographs of his
visit home.

Anna's return ticket home
Shortly after his return to camp, both James and Anna were writing to Mrs. Calhoun with explanations and apologies. James’ brief stay did not allow him time to see his mother. Anna and James were both worried about how she would react and explained the unfortunate circumstances of his very short furlough.

James wrote to Anna the day of his return from furlough:

About 12:0'clock
Camp Merritt, NJ
Apr. 2, 1918

My dear Anna;
I reached camp safely about 11 A.M. and had a good trip. I hope and pray as I write this that you are safely back at Bloomville waiting for Edith and wish I was there too. 
I do not feel so hoarse and some phlegm is loosening up today so I shall soon feel better. The boys are going to dinner but I do not feel hungry and the memory of the good things I had at home takes away all my appetite for army chow.
George Vottee(?) came down from Kingston to Dumont with me so I had company all the way. I wish you might have had someone to keep you cheered on your lonesome ride to Bloomville.
A number of those away on pass have not yet returned and a number of them have been away over the time granted them. A few others have returned the worse for drink.
This company goes on guard tonight but I am not on the list of which I am glad.
I do hope you will stand my absence better than I fear you will. I realized so fully this time when we were together now much we really mean to each other. May God soon permit us to be together again as I feel he surely shall.
Will say goodbye for today.  With the greatest love a man can have for his wife.

James' first letter after returning to camp, April 2, 1918.
James wrote twice the next day. A brief card and later a longer letter. This letter would be his to his wife before he sailed for France:

Camp Merritt, NJ
Apr 3, 1918

My dear Anna;

I wrote you a note and mailed it hastily this P.M. as I might not get another chance to write you for a few day but I think I shall be able to write you one more good long letter this evening and will try and mail it before it is too late. 
Three letters came from you tonight. Those of Mar 29-30 and the one of yesterday while you were on your way.  I was so glad to get them all and especially glad to hear that you had a good trip but I know a lonesome one to Bloomville. It was so nice that Aunt Mary and Uncle Will were there and that you could go to Oneonta with them. They would do so much to cheer you up.  I thank God that you have so many kind relatives and friends. 
My heart is especially full tonight and I cannot help it and it is hard to keep back the tears but perhaps I shall feel better if I do not try but let them come freely. I feel so sorry for you because of all the sorrow I am causing you. I love you so and there is not or it seems there is not one thing that I can do for you. I thought I would have an opportunity to get my picture taken at a studio as you requested but I am most afraid I shall not be able to get from camp now to get that done. 
There are so many things I wanted to talk to you about that I could not think of where I was with you and many of them have come to me since. I have one thing to be thankful for and that is that you have a good home when I know you are safe and our people are all so good. I did so little when I was home to show my gratitude to them, I always spoil things that way because I am so quite and stupid.  I want all of our people to realize how highly I appreciate how they have been so good to us in every way. You will try and make them understand, won’t you? I never can make them feel the gratitude that I owe them all. 
I want to tell you or rather ask you to believe that I will be more faithful and true to you than I have been. I had such fond hopes but it is hard to see how they will be realized but maybe they will.  I shall pray to God that if I do not get back that you may have greater happiness brought into your life than you could have ever known with me.
If I stay in the army a dozen years I shall never get so I like army life. I long so for those that I love and I miss the evidence of the christian life in civil life and which are so lacking here. Sometimes I just feel as if I would like to crawl away to some quiet corner and get away from this noisy, nerve racking hurly-burly life.
I had just finished the letter to you yesterday when I was placed on guard and kept there till 1 P.M. today. I had no trouble and was glad I did not have to take a post alone. I had charge of tow sentries and one of them was on the road leading into camp so I was kept busy reading passes.
Rain began falling shortly after 1 P.M. today and it has been so rainy chilly and dreary since.  I guess that helps to make me feel blue.
I feel sorry I did not see mother and know she will take it very much at heart. I think she will realize how impossible it was for me to get there. I shall write and explain it to her the best I can and I wish you would write and tell her of my visit.  She will appreciate it so much. Mother and you need to sympathize with each other. I feel that you are worrying very much because of me and it is telling on your strength. I only wish you could rest easy but I know from experience just how impossible it is.  I know I should have worried about you traveling alone yesterday had you been obliged to change cars yesterday although you would have gotten along good. 
Please accept the deepest love a man can have for his wife and pray and trust and hope that all will end well. Lovingly James

This was the last letter James wrote to Anna in the United States. 

Last page of James' last letter to his wife before he sailed for France.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

This Day in Bovina for March

Ninety-two years ago today, on March 1, 1926, "D.C. Worden, who purchased the Methodist church some time ago commenced tearing it down…." [Andes Recorder] He had purchased the building in the fall of 1921. It was used for a time for roller skating before Worden finally demolished it, using the materials to build a barn on his farm. The church was built in 1849 and used until the congregation disbanded around 1915. It stood where the home of Gert Hall stands, across from the Community Hall. 

Elizabeth Archibald Elliott died 163 years ago today on March 2, 1855. Born in 1832, she was the daughter of Robert Archibald and Elizabeth Hamilton. She married Thomas Elliott in February 1854. That November, she gave birth to her only child, a daughter Elizabeth. The child survived her mother by less than a year, dying in January 1856. Mother and daughter are buried next to each other in the Bovina Cemetery. Thomas remarried in 1858 and died in 1910.

Amanda Burgin died 150 years ago today, on March 3, 1868. The daughter of Stephen Seacord and Abigail Canfield, she was married to Homer C. Burgin in 1849. She had four children and was 37 years old at her death. Amanda is buried in the Bovina Cemetery.

Ninety-five years ago today, on March 4, 1923, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, " Miss Margaret Hoy, one of the oldest residents of Bovina, died on Sabbath, March 4, at the home of her nephew, Arthur Hoy, where she had lived since her health failed a year or so ago, so that she could not live alone. She was the last of her generation and was born in Bovina 85 years ago, and had always resided in the town. The funeral was held Tuesday afternoon, from the United Presbyterian church, of which she was one of the oldest members."

140 years ago today, on March 5, 1878, the following letter appeared in the Andes Recorder: "Messrs Editors: - It is some time since I have written to the Recorder, but having good will to all men, I wish to occupy a brief space in your columns to show your readers that Brushland is still in a prosperous condition, owing, first, to the fact that we have no liquor license; second, we can’t get a license; third, we don’t want a license, consequently we are a sober, industrious people."

174 years ago today, March 6, 1844, a letter from Bovina was written to Mr. Gatchell, a temperance lecturer, from "a drunkard's wife." The letter was later published in the Washingtonian, a temperance newspaper from Hudson, NY. The article published with the letter noted that the letter had "the genuine, unsophisticated feelings of a heart rejoicing because of the disenthrallment of her husband from the iron bondage of alcohol…how encouraging to the friends of temperance to know that such instances are daily occurring." The article went on to say that "many a wife's heart is made to rejoice when the news reaches her that her husband has signed the pledge; a new hope springs up in her bosom, and 'dreams of bright days to come,' when under the influence of temperance, her home, hitherto cheerless and desolate, shall be glad and happy." The letter read as follows: "Dear Sir-I take my pen in hand to inform you that we are in good health at present, hoping by the blessing of God that you are enjoying the same. All those that signed the pledge when you were here have not put on the fetters again. My husband has become truly pious, which is a great comfort to me. I hope that we shall gain our second independence. Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so early beset us. I am sensibly rejoiced at your success in Bovina and Delhi. I hope that you will continue to take pity on the distressed. I have no other way to express my gratitude at present but my hearty thanks."

D.J. Miller held an auction 118 years ago today, March 7, 1900. The advertisement for the auction appeared in the Andes Recorder as follows: "D.J. Miller will offer for sale at Public Auction at his residence in Bovina at 10 o’clock a.m. on Wednesday March 7th the following property: 29 young Jersey cows, 4 two-year-old heifers, two-year-old bull, pair of mules also some farming and dairying implements and utensils. Terms, on all sums under $10 cash, over $10 a credit of six months on approved notes." This farm was on Miller Avenue in the Bramley Mountain area and likely was the ancestral farm of his grandfather, also known as David Miller.

123 years ago today, March 8, 1895, the Bovina correspondent for the Andes Recorder reported what he felt was disturbing news: "We understand that W.T. Black is talking of selling his farm, we hope it is a false report. The town of Bovina cannot afford to lose such a man. He is an honor to the town. Lives an honest, honorable life, respected by everyone. The best Supervisor we have had in office for years, and hope to have him hold the office for the next fifteen years if he lives to see that day. The echo of the whole town of Bovina." Black went on later that year to build a new barn on the property and continued to farm but gave up being town supervisor. He ran in 1900 successfully for Delaware County Clerk and sold his farm to John Irvine, the father of Isabell Russell. Black and his wife settled in Delhi after he became County Clerk.

Seventy-three years ago today, the March 9, 1945 edition of the Catskill Mountain News reported that "Local Farmers Win Top Milk Production Honors." The Dairy Herd Improvement association awarded “honor roll diplomas” for the year ending June 30, 1944, to farmers whose herds averaged more than 350 pounds of butterfat per cow per year. In third place was Bovina’s Benson LaFever, with 415 pounds of butterfat from his Jersey herd. Two other Bovina farmers who had more than 350 pounds average were James Briggs and Millard Russell. [Note: I think the reference to James Briggs was a typo in the article - I think they meant James Boggs.]

The Bovina United Presbyterian Church Session met 150 years ago today, March 10, 1868. The main topic of discussion was “The subject of promiscuous dancing…" The pastor was instructed by the session "to warn the Congregation that intelligence has reached Session that a violation of the rules of the church in this matter has been made, and that hereafter Session will deal with offenders for said violation."

Eighty years ago, the Andes Recorder in its March 11, 1938 issue, reported that "Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Gerry, Jr of New York and Lake Delaware, have gone to Aiken, South Carolina, to occupy Green Shingles for the season."

Ninety-five years ago, as later reported in the Andes Recorder "Sloan Archibald and his wife and Mrs. Douglas Davidson spent Monday [March 12, 1923] with their aunt, Miss Jennie Miller who is a ‘shut in’ at the Butt End.” Sloan's wife was the former Jennette Hoy (1859-1942). Her sister was Margaret Jane Hoy (1866-1936), the wife of Douglass Davidson. Margaret would be widowed about seven months later. Jennette's and Margaret's aunt would live another two years, dying in 1925.

103 years ago, "Mrs. Margaret Palmer, who has been visiting her brother, George Gladstone [in Bovina], returned Saturday (March 13, 1915) to her home in Andes.” Mrs. Palmer was the widow of Roman Palmer of Bovina, who was killed in the Civil War in 1864.

One hundred and five years ago today, the March 14, 1913 issue of the Andes Recorder reported in its Bovina column that "The roads are in very bad condition, the bottom, so to speak, having dropped out in many places."

One hundred and six years ago, the Andes Recorder Lake Delaware correspondent reported in its March 15, 1912 edition that "The superintendent at the Lake is very good to his help, even letting them take the farm teams to dances, parties and even other things. It is tough on the horses, however, to be out all night and then have to draw a load from Delhi the next day, and it has told on some of them."

John B. Dunn was born 186 years ago today, March 16, 1832, the son of John Dunn and Elizabeth Doig. He became a minister, serving as pastor in East Greenwich, New York. He died at the age of 29 in 1862 and is buried in the old Associate Presbyterian Church Cemetery at Reinertsen Hill Road.

Ninety years ago, as later reported in the Andes Recorder: The team of Harold Campbell took fright at the creamery Saturday morning [March 17, 1928] and ran away. They collided with the bridge before reaching the street and left the wagon. The team continued to run and went up the steep embankment at the Hilson house and into the fields and stopped. The damage was not great.

Vera Lillian Davidson was born 127 years ago today, March 18, 1891. She was the daughter of Douglass Davidson and Margaret Hoy. She would be joined by two brothers, John George (1893-96) and Howard Fletcher (1895-1987). Vera later went to Cornell and Stanford Universities and married Bill Storie in 1915. Vera was widowed in 1963 and passed away in 1967. This photo of Vera was taken by Bob Wyer in November 1943. (Photo courtesy of the Delaware County Historical Association.)

Drusella Clauson was born 204 years ago today on March 19, 1814, the daughter of James Clauson and Sarah Eldridge. Born in Maine, she married Benjamin Tuttle (1811-1891) in Bovina around 1834. They had six children. Drusella died in 1879 and is buried in Bovina.

105 years ago today, on March 20, 1913, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "many streams were overflowing their banks and two bridges on the road above John Blair’s are under water." The road above John Blair's probably was the Miller Avenue area on Bramley Mountain.

105 years ago, the March 21, 1913 issue of the Andes Recorder reported in its Bovina column two challenges facing the town. The first involved the main road through town, now County Route 6: "The frost heaved the State road in several places." The other challenge involved the Bovina creamery. The Recorder’s correspondent also noted that because of the lack of an extra boiler, "the Dry Milk plant is being run night and day."

135 years ago today, on March 22, 1883, the Bovina Town Board met to deal with the fact that David Black, who had been elected Supervisor the previous month had refused the accept the office. The minutes of that meeting reported how the issue was resolved: "We the undersigned Justices of Peace of said town pursuant to section 61 and 57 article 3 Title 3 Chapter 11 Vol. 1 of the Revised Statutes of the State of New York hereby appoint Alexander F. Storie of said town to be supervisor of said town.”

150 years ago today, March 23, 1868, Jane Maynard died in Bovina at the age of 70. Born in New York City, she married Isaac F. Maynard, the son of one of Bovina's earliest settlers, Elisha B. Maynard. Jane would have five children, including Judge Isaac H. Maynard. Her husband survived her by eight years, dying in 1876. Both are buried in Bovina.

Sixty-five years ago, the Catskill Mountain News reported in its Bovina column in the March 24, 1953 edition that "Robert Burns, Robert Boggs and Cedric Kittle all had televisions installed in their homes the past week."

Eighty years ago, the Andes Recorder for March 25, 1938, reported that "Alex Hilson, a student at University of Minnesota, is home for a vacation. His uncle, James Hilson, met him at Utica."

228 years ago today, on March 26, 1790, Thomas Winter was born in Northumberland, England, the son of John Winter and Betty Allen. He married Isabella Turnbull in Northumberland. They settled in New Kingston and both died the same year, 1857. Isabella died in June and Thomas in December. Thomas was 67 at his death and is buried in the Bovina Cemetery.

103 years ago today, March 27, 1915, the funeral of Mrs. Michael Miller was held in the United Presbyterian Church. She had died on March 24 at the age of 82. Born Sally Ann McCune, she married Michael Miller in 1853. The Andes Recorder noted that her husband was too infirm to leave the house for the funeral - he was living next door to the church in the house across from Russell's Store. Michael would die four months later. Michael and Sally are my great great grand parents.

Seventy-eight years ago today, the Lake Delaware column of the Delaware Republican for March 28, 1940, reported that "Peggy Mabon has recovered from Scarlet Fever and her sister Vallory, who became sick with the disease last week, is also recovering, having had the disease lightly." Valarie and Margaret were the daughters of William Mabon and Elizabeth McDivitt Mabon.

106 years ago today, as later reported in the Andes Recorder, "J.B. Gordon, who has the contract to build the State road from Thomas C. Strangeway’s to the Center, was here Friday, March 29, 1912, to make arrangements to begin work. He has hired the barn on the Jennie Miller place below the village of Henry Campbell, and the foreman will be here next Monday and fit it up with bunks for the Italians. Work on the road will be begun about May 1." The state road in question is present County Route 6. Thomas Strangeway's place was on present Route 28, about where Bread Fellows is now located.

Seventy-eight years ago, on March 30, 1940, Marjorie Russell and Rae Storie arrived in Bovina to spend the spring recess with their parents. Marjorie and Rae were students at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio. Marjorie was a junior and Rae a freshman. They returned to Ohio on April 7.

107 years ago today, the Andes Recorder in its March 31, 1911 issue, noted that "John A. Irvine and James E. Hastings, two of Bovina's progressive farmers, have had acetylene gas plants installed and will light their farm-houses with gas. They will also use the light [for their] barns." The Irvine farm was on Coulter Brook (later known as the Elms Farms) and Hastings was on County Route 6, the farm that later became the Damgaard place.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Grandma's First Husband - "Edith & I again tonight did most of the milking."

The largest part of the collection of letters that my grandmother, Anna Bell Barnhart, exchanged with her first Husband, James Calhoun, comes in March, partly because several of her letters to him survive. As noted in earlier blog entries, James was destroying most of the letters he received from his wife because he did not feel he had secure storage for them. As he wrote on March 1, “I wish I had been able to keep each one of the letter(s) you have written me but do not dare carry them about as some one will get them and read them.  Consequently I feel compelled to destroy them after I have kept them a few days and read them carefully.  I know you realize how I am situated.  All the property I now have is over in camp and open for the inspection of all so you can see how easy for people to get into it.” The March letters from his wife that survived likely were ones he brought home on his brief furlough at the end of the month (and after his hospital discharge, when he had a bit more control over his possessions at camp).

My grandmother of course was able to save all the letters. I have 75 very precious chapters of our love story put away in a place of safety up in the little room where I have our things.  I have 6 others which I haven’t put away yet as I always keep them for a few days and read and reread them.

James Health and Life at Camp Greene

James started the month still in the camp hospital. He spent another week there before he was finally discharged. But he continued to struggle with his cold throughout the month and into April.

He wrote on March 1 that “I feel good today but the doctor has not said for me to get out of bed yet.  I think he is afraid I would go to work as I did the last time he let me get up and get sick again.  He is going to keep me in bed until I am able to go out.  This morning he asked me if I would be able to go out soon.  I told him I felt well enough to go out now.…For dinner today I had a glass of milk, slice of toast, one soft egg and a dish of pudding.  The light rations are good here as they are partly prepared here at the ward but the regular rations are for people stronger than I. I had regular rations a couple of days while here and they were enough to make a well person sick."

On March 3, he reported that “This is my first day up since I went to bed from working in the kitchen.  The Dr. gave me strict orders this time to be careful about working. I feel funny when I stand on my feet.  I feel as though I would be unable to work for a week yet.”

James was in the hospital several more days but not bedridden. He was allowed to do some work in the kitchen but when the doctor found it made him quit that and threatened him with bread and water if he didn’t stay out.

He was finally discharged on March 7. His long hospital stay weakened him. It took him some time to get his strength back. He reported on March 16 that “My muscles are so sore from drilling that I can hardly move when I first start to walk.  I hope though to overcome that difficulty after a few more days.” He didn’t totally blame his hospital stay for this. His time in the orderly room in early February kept him from exercising and he later felt led to his illness that put him in the hospital.
Life and training at Camp Greene continued. On March 9, he reported “This morning we were taken to the gas house to learn to use a gas mask and to learn to distinguish different kinds of gas by their odor.  A number of us had not had instruction in the use of the gas mask so were not allowed to enter the room filled with gas but waited until the others had passed through the gas filled room and then we all marked back reaching the company street at about 10:30 AM.”
He was getting outside more once he left the hospital. On March 14, he noted that “The sun is making an impression on my face the past two days and my nose is peeling freely now.  A few days here will make us black like negroes.  When we came here early in the winter the white native population still had on some of the southern tan from the previous summer sun.”

On March 21, James wrote in his self-deprecating way about his promotion to Corporal: “No, I would rather that you would not address me as corporal because, corporal are made here every few days and are often some reduced to privates again.  I would rather that people did not know I had been made a corporal then if I am reduced they will not say I could not keep my job.  It is really much harder in time of war to keep such a position as men coming from civil life know so little about the army rules and so much is expected of them in such a short period of instruction.” He went on to comment on his health situation: “If I felt real strong I could keep up with the pace O.K. but as I am not so very strong it is pretty hard sledding.  My cough sticks to me and I get out of breath very easily.  If I could be in N.Y. a while I could get it to go away I think but the change of climate makes it hang on worse as it does with many of the boys.”

News from Home

James always thirsted for news from back home and commented on it frequently. He was particularly feeling homesick for spring back in the Catskills. In early March he wrote “You will soon begin to get some real spring weather up there and then hurrah! for sugar making.  I know I am going to be more homesick than ever when it comes time for spring up in New York and I am also going to feel more determined than ever not to let that homesick feeling get the better of me until the times comes when I can get home.”  

The Car

A discussion that James and Anna had in their letters during March concerned their car, Jershua. They debated back and forth about whether or not to sell it. They had sold it to Will and Vera Storie, but Anna wrote in early March that "Will and Vera do not want to buy the car, he says he hasn’t got the money.” She went on to write that “I sometimes feel that I want it here to use and then I think it will be a great deal better not to have it as you say the tires will rot and then the “juice” isn’t as free as water.  I do wish and trust you may get home and then you can do with the car as you want to.”

This whole discussion about the car shows how hard James and Anna were trying to accommodate each other. James wrote that “Certainly I think it would be nice to get the car and run it if you can for it only be careful and do not try any speeding.  Why need you ask me the car belong to you just as much as to me?” The incident also shows the frustration of communicating long distance by letter. Letters sometimes took a week to arrive. The last mention of the car comes from Anna: “I am almost sorry I mentioned selling the car as I believe you really wanted to keep it but agreed to sell it because you thought I wanted too.  This war is a nuisance, and no one knows how much suffering is caused by it but it must be for a purpose.” In the end, the car was sold after James went to France.  

This may be 'Jershua,' the car that Anna and James were discussing. There are three different cars in pictures from my grandmother's collection from this time, but in a blurry picture of the car being driven, the driver looks like James. So I think this likely is the car in question. 
Family issues

During March, Anna reports numerous contacts with James’ mother and siblings. James and Anna both feel the importance of connecting with each other’s families. Anna makes at least one visit to James’ mother and siblings in March. And from his letters, James has frequent contact with at least two of Anna’s siblings, Edith and Wilford. He did feel he went over the line a bit concerning Edith and wrote “I am going to stop teasing Edith because from what she said about Geo & his tatting I believe she resents it.  I wouldn’t have her angered at me for the world.  I used to tease you, as you know, but I had to discontinue that.” Anna wrote back that he shouldn’t worry about angering Edith.

James also expressed his happiness that Ralph was low on the draft due to being the primary breadwinner on the family farm (Ralph’s father died in 1916). James wrote “I bet Ralph feels pretty good about the way he came out in the draft.  I am sure I feel glad.  If I am one of the army boys yet that does not make me wish to see others in the service.  I am especially anxious to see all farmer boys stay on the farms.  They can do more to win the war working there than they could do in the army.”

Anna and James continue to exchange information about the family squabble with her Uncle John – John Miller, her mother’s brother. On March 2, he writes “I am sorry indeed that Uncle John’s people have no use for me.  I cannot remember when I wronged them and if I have unwittingly done so I am sorry.  I surely did not mean them any harm.  I often offend unmeaningly but perhaps I can repay them some day.” Anna wrote back telling him not to worry about it and hoping that it would all come right in the end.

Wilford was Anna’s ‘baby brother,’ and was at home the whole time of her marriage. He was 17 in 1918. He is mentioned frequently in her letters and on March 11 she reported to James that “I must tell you some more trash - Wilford took me on his knee today at the dinner table and fed me nearly a slice of bread.  He is quite cute by spells.”

James makes one reference related to the settlement of his late father’s estate (his father, Daniel Calhoun, died a week before he married Anna): I know from what mother has written that she fears trouble in getting the estate settled.  Most of the troubles are really imaginary ones and will never occur.  Harry will make her no trouble or none else.  I am very sure I shall never give her any trouble no matter how she settles things.  I want her to have every use and privilege of what is rightfully hers and furthermore I care not.  Mother has never had to carry such responsibility before and I think she fears the task. 

Other People in Bovina

March 20 from Anna - I don’t think I’ve written anything to you about Mrs. Copeland at Pittsburg.  I think you know who she is, a sister of Marshall Thomson.  She has been real poorly all winter and has been in the hospital part of the time.  A 10 ½ pound son was born to them  Sabbath day.  A short time ago she was sure herself that she would never live but she is doing nicely now. Mrs. Copeland is Laura Amelia Thompson (her brother Marshall was married to Helen Blair). And Mrs. Copeland did survive her confinement and died in 1958. The child was Andrew Laird Copeland, who lived until 2001.

Anna speculated about Mrs. Frank Coulter in March. Mrs. Coulter was the former Agnes May Craig and was the mother of Grace Coulter Roberts. I must tell you that I think there is something doing up to Frank Coulters.  I am not sure but the last I saw her I thought so and she doesn’t come to church any more.” She wrote later in the month I saw Mrs. Frank Coulter today and what I told you a week ago I feel sure is true, but a week later she wrote Mrs. Frank Coulter was at the meeting today and I do not feel very sure yet of what I have written before. If she was speculating that a baby was on the way, she was wrong. Mrs. Coulter would have been 33 and had had three children, her last a child who died shortly after birth in 1911, so it was possible.

Anna’s Home Life

On March 7, Anna reported that “Something very funny has happened tonight.  We have had very distinct northern lights and they have spread all over head of us.  And now at 11 o’clock they have all turned red.  There is so much red in the sky that the snow looks red.  There must be something queer connected with it but I don’t know what.”

Her letter on Sunday, March 17, reported that “This has been a beautiful day.  The snow and ice has moved alright today. Lifgrens were down to church with a sleigh and they had very poor scrubbing coming back. We all went today. There were 130 something at S.S. J.C. Strangeway came and asked me to teach a class downstairs and I asked him what one it was and when I came to find out it was one which Lois O[rmiston] substitutes for and so he went and got her.  You know how anxious we all are for those jobs.  Mr. Galloway’s scripture reading was the 22nd chap of Revelation and the 17th verse and his text.”

She went on to write “I don’t know as I can tell you who all inquired for you today.  J.W. Thomson, Viola Russell, Mrs. J.C. Strangeway, Margaret Gladstone, Mrs. Davidson, Jessie Stewart, Mrs. Lifgren, poor James Boggs, Aunt Bell, Jennie Miller.  I don’t who all asked the boys and Carrie, Mac and Mrs. Frank Miller were talking to mother about you and Mable is clear out of patience at them not sending you home to recruit up at least.” In 1921, Viola Russell would become her sister-in-law when she married her brother Wilford.

On March 20, she wrote that “I have mixed some oatmeal bread tonight.  I am using your receipt now for it.  I made one batch before and we all liked it.  I got the receipt from Cora she says you sent it home to her when you were in the West and that makes it all the better to me.”
This likely is the recipe my grandmother is talking about. It was recently discovered in a set of letters and postcards James received while he lived in Iowa and Colorado. Amazingly, this is very similar to a recipe that I have used since the late 1980s to make bread.
I’m presenting the following of my grandmother’s letters in full because I think it gives a good idea of what her life on the family farm was like at this time period:

Bovina Center, NY, Mar 18, 1918

My dear James;

I will start my daily message to you now while we are writing for our company to come.  This has been a real busy day.  To begin with Mr. Lifgren called at 5 o’clock and wanted Ralph to take Mrs. Lifgren to Andes with his car, she is away to the city.  Edith & I did all the milking except 3 cows.  Wilford hitched up his team and drawed out one load of manure.  Edith & I fed the cows the hay and by that time Ralph came home and we all had our breakfast.

Alfred & Viola have been and gone. We have had a nice time.  Alfred isn’t as bashful as he used to be and he is fleshier.  We, of course, had a good came of pewinkle and the three boys beat the girls by 106 to 91.

Viola brought our mail she brought me a letter from you written Mar. 14 also one from Mother written the same day.  They are all real well.  She sent me the pictures which I ordered two of.  I am enclosing one to you.  I wish you only had turned your face.  You would have looked so much better.

I will proceed to tell more of our work of today.

After breakfast Edith went out to water cows and I at the weeks washing.  After we finished the washing I washed out a piece of carpet.  The boys finished tapping and Wilford went after 2 tanks of sap.  We have 410 buckets out.  Edith & I again tonight did most of the milking.  I feel quite tired tonight after doing this days work and preparation for company and all.  I need not complain about work when I know of what you have to do.  I wish I might to some of your work for you.  I think the reason you did not get a letter from me the day you wrote was likely because of one not going out Sabbath.  It must be very dissagreeable when the sand blows so much.  I do not like to think of you as a negro but I expect you will get well tanned.  Leila and Mike finished tapping today.

Mother said they had tapped some.  She also said she had hoped you would get home.  Yes I remember not to write anything of help to the Germans.

I seem to have more cold tonight but don’t worry please it is just a little in my head and have caught a little more by washing.  I have felt well slept out today and if I can only get more sleep right along.  I shall feel better of course I am loosing some now but I must write to you in spite of it all.

Edith side has been better today of which I am glad.  I shall close wiht lots of love.

Your most loving wife Anna

Milk Testing Association

When James was drafted, he was the area’s milk tester. His job was to visit the local farms and test their cows and their milk for butterfat content. He had been hired through a local milk or cow testing association.

On March 4, James wrote in his self-deprecating way that he “received a postal from W.T. Russells and family showing they have not forgotten the milk tester with his evil ways and the trouble he used to cause.  I guess milk testing among Bovina farmers is a thing of the past.  Do you hear anything to the effect that another association will be started up again.  It seemed strange that no one could be gotten to do the job.  I was so poor at it I believe the farmers were all glad to have the association drop through don’t you?  Well perhaps testing doesn’t amount to much but we are going to test our dairy if we ever get the opportunity to possess such and we are going to test them thoroughly and we won’t need outside help to do it either because we can do it if cow testing associations have gone out of existence.  Can’t we because I shall need your help very much.”

Anna responded that You will know before you get this letter that a new tester has arrived at last.  I am sorry to say that were not in it.  No, the farmers were not glad to see the association fall through and I know how much they all thought of the tester even before.  I dared hope to own him.  You sure have many friends in Bovina and always will have I know.”

Their Future

Anna made a couple of references in her March letters concerning their future places, specifically concerning having a family. “I had some advice given me today.  Aunt Jane Miller always wanted children and couldn’t have any so she told me to have them if I could…. You talk of our family, it would be wicked of me to put my foot down and say “no” when you want one so much.  Anna said the other day that she bet we would both be disappointed if we never did.  The aunt Jane she mentions likely is her great Aunt Mary Jane Banker Miller, the wife of Gib Miller. They were married for over 50 years but did not have any children.

The Ward place is still waiting for you I guess or at least it stands there idle.  I do not know about the pasture.  (I well remember teasing you about the place). This may be a farm that was on Pink Street. From what I can work out, it is now the Hal Wilkie farm. On March 24 she makes another reference to this farm: “I know I laugh when I think of you on the Ward place with the old ‘Biddy’ hen and your wife.  I should be willing even to go on that place if we could only be permitted to live together.”

Anna wrote in later March that “I am not worrying about the home you provide.  I know what a happy one it will be.  I am afraid on my part that I cannot be what a wife ought to be to such a man as you but I am so anxious to make a trial at it just the same.  I do so much planning for that home and hope and pray we may soon realize it.” 

The War

As in previous months, James writes about some of the news about the war. He also has a couple of exchanges concerning a possible change of camp.

On March 5, James wrote that “I do not hear so very much about the war and practically nothing about the coming of peace.  Things seem to move along pretty slow.  I wish we could get at it and get the job finished.  This everlasting waiting is getting unendurable.  I have been engaged in the war business about three months and it seems like three years.  When the war finally does come to an end those who are left will be so glad they will be uncontrollable.   Some people try to make believe they like war but I know well enough [that] they are either crazy or else they are terrible liars.

He comments on the war toward the end of the month on March 26: “Battles are raging in Europe now and this may mean the last great drive of the war.  The Germans are sacrificing thousands of men in an attempt to beat the allies before Uncle Sam can get enough men there to prevent a victory for the Allies but the Allies are holding them back good yet and Germany is losing thousands of men.”

James also wrote about the status of Camp Greene: “There was talk of this camp being abandoned a short time ago but authorities have decided to maintain the camp and complete draining it so that the place will be more healthy.  It is not a fit place for a camp and it is a wonder that half the soldiers did not die during the rainy muddy spell we had here this winter.  For most two weeks it rained every day almost without fail and these has been other times since I have been here that have been nearly as bad.  Those who lived through such conditions as we had here this winter will go through most anything alive.”

On March 8, he writes “I did not wish to worry you by telling you the fact that this regiment is soon to go to Camp Merritt but since you have guessed the truth I may as well admit it.  I think we will be in Camp Merritt some time possibly a month and I am going to try and get a furlough to come home from there and if I cannot I thought perhaps you and someone else could come down there for a day or two.  I still have hopes that I shall be discarded as unfit for oversea service when we are finally ex- arrived at the port of embarkation but of course that is only a hope.”

Though it’s not stated obviously in their subsequent exchanges, it appears that James may have been reprimanded for writing about the move. A few days later, he wrote to Anna, telling her that “…under no consideration write to me regarding [the change of camp] because all information which might be useful to the Germans is strictly forbidden and anyone writing such if caught will be severely punished. I know one fellow who was given a sentence of 6 months in the guard house for telling in a telegram something concerning the movement of his regiment and especially the time and place of movement of troops.  Please do not write a word that you know but just wait patiently….  Keep writing here but do not telegram.  You may feel that I am sending undue[?] advice but dear Anna I would not have us get into trouble for the world besides we must play true to our country.  All will come right in time.”
James did go to Camp Merritt briefly in early April.

As in past letters, there are occasional references to the possibly of James being discharged. On March 6, he writes I am glad to know Edith still thinks I will get a discharge but am afraid she is doomed to disappointment as I am billed to fight Germans.  I will take a discharge if they give it me but do not expect it.  I will discharge my gun at the Germans the first chance I get.

Anna writes on March 8 that “Will and Anna say that Mrs. Lee says the boys at Camp Greene will never have to go across as they are to be on home guard a sort of standing army.  I would feel better if that were true.  I cannot bear to think of you going across.  Will felt sure you would get home when you were sick.  And he said he could have swore you went by in the stage the other day.”

On March 15, Cora thinks you might not have to go across because she thinks the drafted boys do not have to go across if they don’t want to.  I know you want to do what you can but I wish you might not have to go.

James and Anna also exchange information about some of the people they know who are in the war. On March 2, James noted “that Lauren Archibald was in officer’s training camp.  He will be trying for a lieutenant’s commission which should be quite easy for him to get as he has a good education and plenty of ambition for work or study.” In the same letter, he commented on the fact that Helen Thomson and her family did not get to see her brother Millard Blair “before he had to leave.  Notice to leave usually comes very suddenly, I think.” Anna noted that “It is pretty tough not to let [Millard] home before sending him across.  He hasn’t been home since he enlisted.” She also noted that “Blairs haven’t heard from Millard yet and they feel sure that he is on his way across.”

On March 8, Anna reported that “George Miller rode from Will Stories up to the Center with me.  Their son Clark is in France.” Clark would become Bovina’s first World War I fatality in May. She also wrote with more news about Millard Blair, writing that “Blair’s got word today that Millard is in France.  Got across alright.” The long gaps in communication from overseas would become a problem for many. Anna reported on March 18 that “Davidson’s haven’t heard from Fletcher in 4 weeks, his mother is quite worried about it and I think she has need to be.”  

End of March

The last letter Anna wrote to James that has survived was dated March 25, 1918:

Mar. 25, 1918

My dear James;-

I have fallen back into my old tracks again.  It is now after 10 o’clock.  I got interested in some crocheting I was doing , of course it is something for our home and it is no wonder I got so much taken up with it do you think?  I have to put the trimming on it yet but I have it all made.  I have seen a difference on myself since I have been going to bed earlier.  I have felt quite good today.
We did not get our mail today so consequently I didn’t get a letter from you.  I am disappointed though but we had sap together and I can send with Marshall in the morning for the mail.  I sent the Reporter, Express and Recorder to you this morning.
This has been quite a cool day with just a few flakes of snow in the air.  They gathered 5 tanks of sap today and boiled some more today but I will not try to tell how much. 
We did our washing today and the clothes were all dry after dinner so we brought them in and I got them already to be ironed and then spent the rest of the afternoon patching.  You know in these hard times we have to make everything last as long as possible. 
There is a great fight going on now over across.  I do pray that this may end the war.  Would you like to have me send you a quarterly again?  If you do I will get one and send or do they just make and extra burden to you?
I thought it had come warm enough weather so I wouldn’t need the soap stone anymore but my feet are cold now and I shall have to warm them on mother see what you are missing. 
It does seem as though I ought to be able to write a much nicer letter than this but I fail to find any thing to write about but promise you something better tomorrow night.

Please accept my deepest love dear James.  I am still hoping and praying that we may soon be together “forever and always.” 
Your most loving wife. 

James’s letter of March 27 shows that he is on the move again. He gave no indication in his previous letter that a move was happening.

Somewhere in U.S.
Mar 27, 1918

My dear Anna;

Am sending you just a few lines today to let you know I am very well and getting on good. 
This is a beautiful day and just the right temperature for comfort.
I am ready to tour and will send you my new address as soon as possible so you better not write for a few days.
The boys are all feeling much happier since the weather has become warmer.
Threes are green here and grass is getting quite a start.  Looks like June 1 up in New York.
We have just had our dinner and hope soon to be on the move.  There is not very much that I can tell today but do not worry about me, you will hear from me in a few days O.K.
Your most loving husband,

The last letter James wrote in March is about as vague as the previous letter:

Mar 29, 1918

My dear Anna;

There is not much that I can write but will send you this meager note to let you know I am well and getting on good.  I will not give my address now as I believe such is not permitted.  I should love to hear from you but I think it best not to tell my whereabouts.
Everything is more homelike here and we feel better.  The weather has been beautiful since I last send a letter to you.
Please do not think that I do not care because I have written so little because I should like to write a nice long letter.
With a great deal of love,

James would get a brief furlough on March 31. The story of that will be in the next entry in this blog series.