Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Grandma's First Husband - “Do not let what I have written make you feel bad or worried”

This continues the sharing of the letters my grandmother's first husband, James Calhoun, wrote to her during World War I. February was a challenging month for James in terms of his health. He spent almost half of the month in the Base Hospital. His letters continue to report on aspects of camp life, how he misses home and rumors about peace. He also tells about one of his fellow soldiers, a married man, who is seeing a woman on the side.

This month’s entry will be excerpts of the letters James wrote from Camp Greene in February.

February 1, 1918
My dear Anna;
I was more than glad to get your letters of Jan. 26 & 27 combined.  You surely do get my letters by starts and jerks but I mail one from here almost without exception every day.  Some days I get two from you and some days I do not get one at all.…There is but three of us in the Orderly room night and sleep one in a bunk.  This is a more pleasant place to live than in tents with eight fellows.  It is always quiet here evenings and I can write and work and get something out of my work.
I am gaining a little on the work here and I have not gotten “balled” out as the expression goes here.  I am trying to give as good as I possibly can and hope to keep in right all around.
Many of the companies have a good many men of foreign birth but not so many in this company.  Many of our boys are from New York and the northern states.  Some of the men who are unable to speak English or are worthless are getting discharge[d].  I am dum[b] but I cannot see my way clear for discharge yet.  I think the company is taking me a long for the “goat.”
The outlook for peace is better now.  We may have to cross the pond but this thing certainly cannot last very much longer.  O “Joy” just think of the happy day when this fight closes up.  Then we will all be glad that we were soldiers and did what we could for our country.  Those who help at home and keep the “home” fires burning are just as much soldiers as those who serve in trench and field.
…Your most loving husband James

February 3, 1918
…It still continues muddy and foggy.  More rain came last night and the roads are nearly as muddy as any time before.  I feel sorry for those who must get out in duty but I do not need to do much tramping so personally I cannot complain.  As hauling has been almost impossible we are without fire wood or coal today but we do not mind.  I just put on more clothes and go on just the same.  I think we can keep enough for kitchen so can get our meals.
Another case of mumps this morning which means one more man in the Base Hospital and six more men held in quarantine here in the company street.  We had three men report for duty from Base Hospital yesterday and our hospital list is in truth growing smaller now.  Most of the hospital boys have gotten along good.  Two fellows have died there from this company since I came to camp.  When measles and mumps first broke out here all contacts were sent to our Detention Camp but that became filled eventually and then contacts of contagious diseases were quarantined in our company street and obliged to keep separate from the boys unexposed as much as possible, were made to eat separate at different time etc.  The Dentention Camp fellows are mostly back to the company again. 
I have a light cold again but do not think it will amount to much.  I used Sloan’s Liniment freely last evening and it has tended to loosed the phlegm and take out the soreness from my throat.
…I have done no washing for a week and think I must get busy tomorrow night.  Have a lot of dirty handkerchiefs, two or three towels, and a set of underwear to wash.  I hope we may soon get some fuel so we can get such cleaning jobs attended too.
…Time seems to go slow at times and I am only too glad to keep busy so I can keep my mind from going over our affairs so much.  I would be one happy lad if the war closes.  I am willing and want to do my part but I prefer civilian life and feel that most of the boys feel the same way.  …

February 5, 1918
…The company commander has just left and he says we are going to move.  When (exactly) or where no one knows.  I am ready to leave this mud and you should just hear the other boys rave about conditions.  We are out of wood again tonight but hope to get some in soon and then we can have a fire.
This has been a beautiful day.  The Earth was frozen this morning so one could walk dry shod but the sun soon melted up the mud and this PM it has been fine.  We will soon have a change.  The worst part of the moving is the confusion it always causes.  I have helped to move several times and it gets to be kind of an old story.  I am going to send home all the surplus clothes and things that I cannot use.  Underwear is one item you may expect. 
Papers daily speak of trouble in Germany and hope they know of what they speak.  As a rule I do not bank very much upon what they say.  However there are more indications of peace than at any time since the war started. 
I have been working on the war risk insurance papers most of today.  Many of the boys are just taking up insurance.  Had I known I would not have taken out mine until Feb. 1 and thus saved my insurance premiums for Jan and Dec approximately $13.60 which is worth while.  All enlisted men were automatically insured by the government to Feb 12 for $4500.00.  I am glad you have your money for Dec.  Do just as you wish with it.  I know you will dispense with it wisely.  I lent a fellow ten dollars last Sat to go home and see his sick father.  I think he will repay OK and I did not have the heart to refuse when he came and asked me for it although I think he is rather a hard luck chap or always pleads hard luck at any rate. 
…Remember me as your deficient, faulty but loving and well meaning husband, James.

February 6, 1918
I received two fine letters from my good little ‘frau’ today and I want you to know that I appreciated them.  I cannot get letters too often.  If you get my Sunday and Monday’s letters together I can just as well put them together as you do your Saturday’s and Sabbath’s. 

February 7, 1918
…Corporal Charles Emmey of whom I have spoken before (clerk in orderly room) is a married man.  He has been corresponding with a girl at Chatanooga, who of course thinks he is single and as Emmey is real clever with words the aforesaid Miss has become, as appearances show very much infatuated with him and has sent him boxes of dainties, her photo, a scarf, sweater and etc.  Emmey I suppose thinking that he had gone far enough had not written to her for a week or two so today a letter came from her asking him if the was sick and stating that she would come to his side if he were sick and if she might.  Emmey feels badly over the affair himself as he only intended to get her to write and did not think she would learn to love him.  If she is a nice girl I think it is a shame and when she know the truth as surely she will she will feel heartbroken.  It is very wrong for a man to play with the sincere feelings of a good woman.
I am only to[o] glad that I am married to the only woman in the world for me and thank God that I do not care for any other.  It is my earnest prayer that we are long may be permitted to meet and live life’s pathway in the light of each others love so dear and pure to each of us. 

February 8, 1918
This has been another beautiful day and the mud is drying up very rapidly.  Another day or two of this weather and travel about camp will be much better.  The weather is quite warm so we have been about camp today in our shirt sleeves and have had the doors and windows open.
… I have been in helping the supply sergeant Albert Zetterlund check up supplies and probably will help him tomorrow.  We are very busy now and you can scarcely imagine the business handled in the offices of a single company of 250 men or the cost of maintaining a single company of soldiers.  War is certainly an expensive business….  Consider the food for the men.  The money to feed a soldier is on an average not over $40 per day and besides feeding the men of Co “D” three hearty meals per day the company has been able to lay up a fund of several hundred dollars out of the allowance for food.  Uncle Sam’s cooks surely know how to get the most for a dollar and how to use the food without waste.
…  Do not let what I have written make you feel bad or worried because we have much to be thankful for as we are both in good health and surely God will spare us the affliction of years of separation when we long for the company of each other.  Feb 22 will mark the end of three months since I last saw you and many things have transpired since that time which seems like a much longer time.  Tell nothing to your people of how I long for the quiet home life as even those so near and dear sometimes fail to fully understand and I have too much pride to let anyone think I am a white livered coward but as I said before I am not afraid to fight but only long for the affair to finish. 
James Boggs poor boy is surely having his troubles (James’ wife had died in January).  I do not see how he can possible keep his rooms as they are but possibly he can.  He always was so attached to his home and worked so hard to make home life pleasant for Lizzie who was indeed a person who had many well-deserved friends.  I should write him a sympathetic letter but I can scarcely pluck courage to commence the task which you know is not an easy one. 

February 10, 1918
…To day the tents were all loosened about the sides of the side (wooden) and allowed to fall in against the center pole.  The floors and sides looked like a long row of platforms one each side of the street.  The sides of boards are up to the eaves of each tent.  It really does seem fine to have summer like weather and if the good weather will only continue, think I shall be able to get a little southern tan.  We have experienced some cold weather but nothing so real as Delaware Co can tell of.
I have been acting as sole clerk in the office today as the girl of whom I wrote you that Clerk Emmy was writing to came to see him and he went to Charlotte to meet her and stayed in town most of the day.  They were out long enough for dinner.  She and her mother came to Charlotte this morning.  She said she wished to come down and see him before he left Camp Greene.  I think he wanted to see her and wrote her to come in he would soon leave because no one knows that we shall leave.  We might be here a year or more.  She as I said does not know Emmy is a married man and if I am a good judge of appearances feels badly because Emmy she thinks will soon leave.  It is a shame for him to do as he is but I can say little as I have made girls’ hearts bleed but I did nothing of that style since I was married.  Please do not blame me for it because I could not marry a girl I did not love when I knew one I did love so well.  There is but one girl for each fellow and although he should admire other charming ladies yet he should think and know that his own wife is the nicest of them all.  I speak from experience.  If I were only permitted to live with and provide for her. 
…We have all turned in our long overcoats and instead have been issued overcoats of knee length.  They are a comfortable, handy coat but so short they make a fellow look like a genuine scarecrow.  And those who look that way already as yours truly are made to appear more so by the pesky short things.  My coat is much shorter than my wedding coat but I guess I can get used to it. 

February 12, 1918
My dear Anna;
…Yesterday I was fortunate in getting three letters and two packages in the mail and today I received the box of candy from Edith.  …  I must write and thank Edith for the box of candy and not only that but thank her for me for the many kindnesses she has shown me since the beginning of our acquaintance.  The mail to me yesterday consisted in a letter from you, one from Archie and Florence and one from Harold Campbell, a package of cookies from Anna and a package of good things from the Red Cross.  The package from there contained two khaki handkerchiefs, two or three kinds of candy, writing material, cookies and other things to eat.  Anna’s box of cookies are sure good.  I have so many eats on hand that I have not opened Edith’s box of candy yet tonight but I shall soon.  I know it will be best of all and I shall save that and eat it when I feel hungry for something extra good.
…No Anna I do not blame you for feeling rather worried at times and sort of worked up because I get that way myself and the tone of my letters must tell you that I also feel worked up at times and seem as though I can scarcely stand it that I must go on day after day and not see or be near my better half and all the ones I love and the home-i-ness for which I long.  I think we get sort of hardened to the constant routine of never ending duties but I for one never can get used to living without those I hold so near and dear. 
We had regimental inspection and all companies of the 7th marched out to the parade ground and were inspected with full field pack on by the reviewing officers.  The band was out and the music made marching much easier.  I got through without many mistakes of which I was fortunate because I have not drilled with the boys for a month now and they have had many new drills since I was out besides the benefit of constant practice.  In one way I should like to get out and drill every day because if am called on to drill later I shall certainly have a hard job.
…You should have the pictures of Company “D” before this.  I hope you may be able to pick out my scowling face.  I could not look at all pleasant because the sun was straight in my eyes.  Some of the boys pictures were fine especially those at the right hand side.  I am very glad to get a picture of the boys with whom I trained.…

Here's the picture James is mentioning in his letter. It was taken in January. James is marked with the blue line.


Here's the full version of the picture of James' company.
February 14, 1918
…Your letters are looked and longed for very much and yesterday I missed them very much.  It seemed to do no good to write each day as I get two letters at one time anyway and you do too.  I thought it nice to write every day so you could hear often and I could too but our plans even in that seem to fail.  I should like to write you pages and pages each day if circumstances only permitted as I love to think of you and ours.  No matter how affairs turn I looking forward to that time when we shall meet again and feel that it will surely come.  I shall come home on the first opportunity that offers.  I love my home ones and long for peace and pray that all mankind might be at peace.  There must be some great purpose disguised in this enormous struggle but to save me I cannot see clearly how the world is going to be made better by this terrible sacrifice.  Has Davison’s heard much from Fletcher since he has been in France.  As Russia has made peace the Germans are pouring troops from the Russian frontier to meet the British and French on the West and the chances are ten to one for a voilent battle there in a few weeks.  Germany will try to “Oust” the allies before the Americans get there with strong forces and equipment to aid the Allies. 
…I am glad you went to Ormistons and am sure you had a good time.  They as you say are so musical and such good people.  I do think it nice to hold family worship and believe the world throughout would be a much better place in which to live and perhaps would be peaceful if every family were to hold such in sincerity.  I must halt here as I am swinging back to war subjects again.  The twins are two bright children [twins likely are Marion and Marjorie Ormiston, who were 10 in 1918].  You said it seemed motherly to have one on either side but you failed to say if you liked the sensation.  I can not imagine what the “special” is that you are going to send me.  It will be just as well that I do not then I shall be surprised when I hear.  I hope it may be a happy surprise.…

There is an unusual gap in James’ letters of three days. When he writes again, Anna learns why this happened. 

February 17, 1918
Your most welcome letters of Feb. 12 came to me tonight and it has found me in a rather unexpected place.  I am taking a little vacation in the Base Hospital.  Came here Fri. night this 15th; have tonsillitis and had acute indigestion when I came here but that is better now.  My sickness is not at all serious although I may have to stay here a few days.  My throat and head has bothered me at times since I came into this climate.  I think if my tonsils were removed my trouble would be relieved, but I may not need that.  I have had no writing paper until tonight when two of the boys came and brought your letter and got me paper, envelops and stamps and as a fellow in the bed next to mine lent me his pen and the fellow on the other side gave me his writing board so I have no excuse for not writing to you.
… By coming to the hospital, I was excused from going to the rifle range Sat morning through the mud and rain with a full pack on my back.  I sure feel sorry for the boys who had to make the trip because it was indeed a hardship.  There is some talk of this place being abandoned as a camp and it surely should be if drainage and sanitation conditions are always as bad as they are this year.  The boys who are able to come through a winter spent in this place can pass through anything with a whole skin. 
…The boys came over today and the office clerk Emmey was over yesterday so you see they are real good to me.  The clerk is real anxious to have me in the office tomorrow as he wishes to go away but I cannot go until I am given permission to go here.  I am afraid Emmey is going to be disappointed as I am billed to stay here for a few days at least.  I do not mind staying here a few days as I am getting a little holiday and can get away from the responsibility for a short time.  As long as I was in the office there was not a moment I could call my own and had considerable responsibility besides.  This is the first Sunday in the past month that I have not had to work just as hard as on week days. …While John [Anna’s uncle John Miller] was kind to let you water your cattle at his spring and I think all would be well with us and them if it were not for the Mrs. Bertha and the girls don’t you?…

Feb. 18, 1918
Monday is here and finds me on the gain.  My head and throat feel much better; the doctor said today that they were better and I was placed on solid diet at dinner.  I shall be out of here in a few days if all continues to go well and will feel I have had quite a vacation from the never ending army mill.
…My stomach feel[s] much better and my head does not ache very much but yet at noon I did not care much for the beefsteak, potatoes, white bread and beans given and although it tasted quite good yet it took very little to satisfy me.  Previous to this noon I have had toast, malted milk and soft boiled rice.  In a day or two I shall be alright at my stomach. 
I knew Mrs. Archibald as she was at Scotts once or twice while I did testing there. [This is Carrie May Scott Archibald, wife of Russell Archibald. She was 40 at her death.]  Such deaths are always very sad and much worse it seems to a person just in the prime of life.  She was not a strong looking person.  Life is surely a frail thing at its best….

February 19, 1918
Will send you a letter today.  I am still on the gain I think.  Had some solid food to eat and my throat feel[s] much better.  I must stay her for a few days yet however. 
We had a nice little shower last night and today is damp and cloudy.
I think there is probably a letter from you over at Co “D” but it may be a couple of days before they get it over to me.  I know they will be very busy over there and do not expect them to get over to see me every day.  I scarcely know how they will get along if their clerk left them today.  I am sorry I cannot be there to help.  Sergeant Schneider will be jumping about very quickly today I think looking after affairs and Captain Russell will be just as bad.  They will get along someway so I am not going to worry.
…Since I came to the hospital I have had more time to think and dream of our own personal affairs and my mind has wandered back and lived again the happy times we have had together and some events that bear a sadder tinge but which have only served to bring our love out more fully.  How well I remember the day we went to the fair at O and many other happy times.  We had lots of fun the night that Edith and Wilford, you and I went out riding in the little tin Ford the first time; the night we drove to Doig’s gate and return.
I am afraid Willie and Vera will not have been able to get much use from the Ford (Jerusha) this winter but they will have a nice time when the snow leaves the state road and they surely will feel well repaid for having stored it during the long winter months. [This was the car that James and Anna sold to the Stories.]
Ralph will probably be back from New York by the time this letter reaches you.  I am sorry he and Ruth have failed to see alike well enough to become husband and wife but they know best.  I believe in letting people choose their own mates.  People tried to get me married more than once and talked as you know but I paid no attention to their hints and did my own choosing and am sincerely thankful I did.…

February 20, 1918
I will send out my daily message to let you know how I am faring.
This is quite a nice day but more rain came last night and this morning.  I think mud must be pretty deep outside although I am not in position to see for myself.
I am feeling quite good today and think that I am improving.  My throat and head are not entirely well.  I am going to see a throat and head doctor tomorrow to see if there is anything wrong there.  I hope to get out of this air a few days.  I am back on regular diet now. 
…The people who must work in the hospitals have long hours and the work must be very strenuous and trying to the patience.  Some of the patients are disagreeable enough and whine and complain if they are not attended to the minute they call.; Others are here who are just as patient as others are impatient.  The hospital corp hire[?] for their ward consists of one doctor 3 day and one night nurse, one ward master, one night orderly and two day orderlies.
…There are many nations represented here.  There are Syrians, Greeks, French, English and several other nationalities represented in this ward beside the Americans.  There is an English lad in the bed next to mine and he is very good.…

February 21, 1918
 I am back on my feet once more and feeling quite good.  Have been up nearly all day.  Was over and had my nose and throat examined by a specialist.  He failed to locate any trouble in my nostrils.  He said any trouble that was there came from the cold I had just had.  I think I shall be back with my company about tomorrow or next day.  I had not walked any since Fri. last and the first few steps this morning caused my legs to wobble.  I wonder how those people get along at first after remaining in bed for more than a month.
This is a beautiful day.  The sky is so clear and blue it will surely bring rain for tomorrow.  I am anxious to get back to C “D” and work again.  I would pity anyone who was compelled to lay idle all the time.  I have gotten along fine here though, since I could write, read and sleep.  The first two days were harder.
            …I am dreaming very much of New York now.  It always seems much nicer to be alive and look ahead at springtime than at any other season of the year.  Now comes the time when we can feel that the cold winter has passed away and plants will spring forth again…How glad I would be to be proprietor of a nice New York farm, how interesting to work out plans and live the ideal farm life.  Such has long been my ambition and though I must not for a while yet I feel that finally I shall realize my ambition don’t you?  I like to hear the boys tell where they are going after the war.  I just listen and say nothing regarding myself but I have plans for all of that.…
     
February 22, 1918
Will drop a few lines to you this P.M.  I thought I should get back to my company today but the doctor decided to keep me here another day as there is plenty of sleeping room here and the source of help is none to plentiful.  Consequently, they have been using me for dishwashing and to help wait on patients today.
…I do not mind helping do the work here, someone must do it.  I am wondering if I shall have my office work when I get back to my company or if someone-else will be doing the work I did.  I probably will have to go out and drill when I get back.  I am not particular and furthermore it would do me no good if I were.  We have to do as we are told in the army.
…There is a barber in this ward.  He is able to cut a head or tow of hear each day.  He isn’t very strong yet but he seems to know how to cut hair.  Most of the patients in this ward (B-I) are getting well.  No real bad cases at all.  Most of them are stomach, rheumatism, tonsolitis or those getting well from pneumonia.  Archie Saunders the boy from Co “D” and New York was up in a chair for the first time today.  He will get along nicely now unless he gets a setback.  He came to the Base Hospital on the 22nd day of January just a month ago today.
…I am very anxious to get those letters that I know you have written me and which await me at “D” Co. office.  Maybe some of the boys will be over from there tonight and will bring over the mail for the hospital boys.  Mail is looked for eagerly every day by the lads and it does me good as well as themselves when they get their letters….

February 23, 1918
 I am yet in the hospital but am not very sick.  I am going out tomorrow so the doctor said.  They kept me here as I have said before to help do the work.  I told the Doctor this morning that I ought to get back to duty and so he said I could go tomorrow.  I hope I may as I am getting restless here and anxious to get back to work.  I would not like to have my regiment depart and leave me in the hospital.
…  There is a number of southern lads in this ward and actually they haven’t ambition enough to move at all.  Two or three of them are nearly able to leave the hospital and though one of the hospital orderlies is sick yet those lads hate to make a move towards helping in any way.   May of the people of the warm states seem to lack the snap and perseverance of some northern people of my acquaintance.…

February 23, 1918
…I rec’d 5 letters from you from the office.  The first one was written Feb 13 and the last one the 18th.  They certainly did me good.  I am going to read them all over again but I will write this letter first and what I miss answering this time I will answer next.
I am glad to hear that Frank Munson is home.  He has had a hard time but has been really very fortunate in getting home so soon and having a furlough at Christmas also.  I bet Hazel and all of his people were only too glad to have him back.  He is certainly a nice fellow if I am a good judge. [Frank was discharged due to medical reasons and would marry Hazel Russell. He was killed by a falling tree in 1920.]
…You surely are getting your share of winter.  I can imagine just how the roads are up there now.  The tracks of the road get so high when the snow gets deep and then trouble comes when a thaw out comes.  It is fortunate Ralph returned before the worst weather came and traveling became so bad.  I hope his cold does not prove anything serious.  He no doubt had a good time and hope he did enjoy himself.  Ralph does not look upon farm life just as you and I do Anna and for that reason you should not blame.  We cannot all see things alike you know and if the things of the city appeals to our brother we ought not to care.  I am sorry he does not care for Ruth more than for Miss Lifgren but we must hope that he will change his mind yet…
The Doctor came around and said my temperature had risen a little tonight so I may be unable to get to my company tomorrow.  I had been working all day and he told me to stop and go to bed but I am going to finish this letter if the Doctor doesn’t come in too soon.
…Your milking will be getting quite heavy now if you have so much milk.  I expect you can have the privilege of drawing every other day...

[February 24, 1918] 

My dear Anna;
…I have had visitors today and there has been a good many visitors in the ward today.  Smith Bilby[?] one of New York’s first lads has been here.  He brought me some reading matter and indeed has been very good to me having come over every three or four days since I came here.  He came over with Wilford Wheatley’s from Charlotte the people who brought me the socks from the Andes Red Cross.  He has invited Beilby and I into Charlotte to dinner next Sabbath.  I think we will go if I am able to get out of the hospital previous to that time.
You know I had planned to get out of the hospital today but I overworked in the kitchen yesterday so the ward Doctor made [me] go to bed again.  I feel quite well today but I suppose I shall be unable to get out of here for a few days.
…I can imagine you were somewhat alarmed when you received my letter stating that I was in the hospital but you need not worry.  I have stated the facts of the case just as they were.  I am not worse than I have stated to you in my letters.  If I had not worked so much yesterday I could not doubt have gone back to my company today and feel that I shall be able to get back there some day soon.  I am getting along good here.  The Ward (B-1) Doctor is very good. He spends a great portion of his time with his patients, is skilled in his profession and I have never heard him say a cross word to anyone.  Some of the patients complain that they do not get as much to eat as they need but I cannot imagine the quantity that would be necessary to satisfy the hunger of some people.  All some people can do is to whine and growl anyway.
…Part of the nurses here have signed up for service oversea and part for home service only.  Those for oversea service are anxious to get started for Europe but I trust some of them will get enough foreign service to satisfy their longings for such before they get back to the good old U.S.A.  I for one am sorry it has become necessary for anyone to go oversea.…

February 25, 1918
Another day has nearly passed so I must get busy or my poor but well meaning letter will not go to you in the morning.  I have been taken cough mixture since yesterday which does not sit well with my stomach so I have not been feeling very much like writing as I am sick to my stomach and have the headache.  I wish I might get well enough to get out of here before many days and surely will.
As nearly all of my personal belongings were left at the company when I came here I am wondering how they are all faring.  I shall be very fortunate if they are taken care of for me.  Very little attention is given the belongings of the soldier if he is not there to care for them himself.  There value is not so great but some of the articles I should rather hate to lose as they are of value in my eyes.
…The hospital has been kept very warm since I came here, too warm an close for the good of those accustomed to sleeping in tents.  When I go back to my company I doubt if I go into the office again unless ordered to do so.  I doubt if I should have been sick had [I] never gone to the office.  I have just taken a dose of that terrible cough liquid.  I don’t wonder that it makes my head ache and my stomach feel a though it would turn over because it has a most nauseating taste.  Maybe it does me lots of good though…

February 27, 1918 (Wed)
I am feeling better today so I can sit up in bed and write you once again.  I did not write yesterday but succeeded in getting one of the boys to secure me some paper and envelopes today.  My stomach feels better today and I ate good at dinner and breakfast.  My bronchitis is not cleared up yet.  The doctor finally discovered bronchial trouble to be my chief sickness.  He thinks it will soon go away though but I myself think perhaps some good warm weather or a change of climate would be of more aid than anything else.  I hope to get out of here soon.
Your letter written on your way to Mae’s came to me last night late.  I can imagine how high the water would get at Delancey and at R. Mable’s.  I was testing at Delancey during high water one spring and the road was covered for several rods with water between the bridge and the railroad track.  It will be good to get rid of so much snow as must have gone during such a thaw.  I have been wondering when you received my letter stating that I was placed in the hospital.  I wrote to mother C the same time I wrote to you and I think she would get my letter when you were there.  I am surprised how long mail takes to reach you after I mail it.  Mail from you generally comes in three or four days and it takes most a week for my letters to get to you. 
…I am truly very glad that Ralph is in Class 4 - which means he will not be called for a long time at least…Mr. And Mrs. Wheatley were up again Mon night and brought a nice lot of magazines, books and papers.  Also two glasses of gelatine and newly baked cake.  I enjoyed the gelatine very much but could not eat the cake so the other boys enjoyed that.

Feb 28, 1918
I am still in the hospital but feeling the best for some time.  I feel I shall get out in a very few days now and can get back to my company and to duty.  Time at least will go faster when I am back at work.
The afternoon mail has just been given out but no mail for me.  Ray Stubbebine brought over the co “D” payroll so all boys from there in the hospital could sign it.  He brought me the postal card stating you had just gotten my first letter stating that I had been put into the hospital.  I know how worried you have been over this but I have gotten along good and surely will get out now in a very short time.
I am anxious to get a letter from you telling all about your Delancey visit.  I know how much mother and Mae have appreciated your visit.  I am sorry there was no one at the Depot to meet you.  They probably thought you would not come since the weather was so bad.  They do not know the Bovina grit do they if they thought that.
This is another beautiful day and if I can see right through the windows I believe the buds on some of the trees are getting quite large.  There seems to be no beautiful coming of spring like we have in New York.  The days just seem to grow gradually warmer day by day without the beauty of the spring days we get up in Del Co. 
It is now time for supper or chow as the soldiers call all meals.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

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



February 1, 1918
G.D. Miller shipped two tons of hides last week.
A daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. John Burns last week. [This was Agnes Burns, born January 21.]
Town Clerk Gordon has issued 16 hunting licenses so far this year.
Thomas A. Archibald, an up-town farmer, is installing a milking machine.
Samuel Heller is recovering from the measles.  Three other members of the family now have the disease.
Miss Louise Dennis expects to leave Saturday for Virginia to live with her brother, John P. Dennis. She will pack up her household goods, with a view of remaining permanently in the south.

W.H. Maynard Will Run Big Dairy

William H. Maynard has stocked his farm in the upper part of the town of Bovina, with 90 cows.  They arrived Saturday night.

Bovina Center Co-Op Creamery – Annual meeting held Tuesday and Directors elected

“During the year there were received 5,485,226 pounds of Milk and 64,542 pounds Cream and this milk and cream produced 268,537 pounds of butter fat.  The total receipts were $167,160.38.”

February 8, 1918
William H. Maynard will install a milking machine at his farm up-town.
The estate of the late John A. Irvine is estimated at $15,000 personal and $15,000 real.
Thomas Ormiston was injured last Tuesday while he was returning from Delhi with a load of feed. Near Wm. C. Russell’s the load upset and Mr. Ormiston landed on his head on a frozen mass.  He was so painfully hurt that it was necessary to take him to his home in Mr. Russell’s cutter.

February 15, 1918
Henry Hennings has moved his family to the Thos Hoy farm, which he recently purchased.
On account of the illness of Miss Kathryn Reynolds the primary department of the village school is closed for two weeks.
James Hoy, son of Wm. A. Hoy, was taken to Oneonta to consult Dr. Sweet for supposed injury to the spine. The doctor could not help him, but recommended that he be taken to Binghamton to consult a specialist. [James would suffer from spinal issues the rest of his life. He died in 1956 at the age of 47.]

February 22, 1918
Benjamin Mead has purchased Harry Robson’s Metz car and also a new phonograph.
The Red Cross will give an entertainment in the town hall on Friday evening, February 22.
W.B. Gladstone and son, Walter, of Andes, were here Monday and purchased a number of yearling heifers from F.W. Hyatt.
For the month of January patrons of the Bovina Center Co-Operative Creamery company received 69 cents a pound for butter fat.
The receipts of a social held in the town hall Friday evening amounted to $10. After the expenses were paid the balance was divided between six of the schools to be used in purchasing pencil pointers.

Bovina Man Cut his Leg

Monday while Howard McPherson was cutting wood for Wm. J. Archibald he cut his right leg just at the knee joint. Two stitches had to be taken to close the wound.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Who is E. Thomson?

Gary Manning recently shared with me a picture that was found by his wife (and my cousin) Joyce Manning. It was found behind a framed print that was in Joyce's family. The small signature in the corner says E. Thomson.


Behind the picture was this information:
"To My Sister
"Tis not the value of the gift,
That friendship's hand may tender,
Tis not a thing's intrinsic worth,
Though gems of rarest splendor;
That call the heart's best gratitude
Or wakes a deep emotion."

It is signed "E. Thomson."

Also on the back it says "Bovina, Apr 8th 1858, Del. Co. NY"


I have not succeeded yet in determining who this is. The first name probably is Elizabeth, but that doesn't help much, since there are several Elizabeths. I looked in the 1860 census for any Elizabeth Thompsons/Thomsons and there were five in Bovina. I looked to see if any of these Elizabeths had sisters alive in 1858 and all five did. And on top of that I found two Elizas and an Ellen. 

The Elizabeths range from 63 year old Elizabeth Thomson, born Elizabeth Scott to an Elizabeth who was 17, the daughter of William Thompson and Amelia Lyle. This Elizabeth had a sister Mary. If the artist is this Elizabeth, she would have been 15 years old. She was married in 1873 to Adam Scott and died in 1922 when she was 80.

The second Elizabeth in the 1860 census was Elizabeth J. Thompson. She was the daughter of John R. Thomson and Mary McFarland and had a sister Eleanor. In 1860, she and her parents were living with her grandfather, Andrew Thompson. This Elizabeth died in 1862. 

There's a third Elizabeth who shows up but information about her is harder to find. She appears to be the daughter of James and Elizabeth Scott Thomson. And she had at least two sisters. 

There's an Elizabeth Thomson who was born in 1806, the daughter of James Thompson. She married George Thomson. 

There also was an Eliza Thompson, who was born Eliza Murray in 1829. She married David Lowe Thompson in 1854 and had several sisters. She was the daughter of John Murray and Jennet Scott.

If anyone recognizes anything about this picture or the handwriting, please contact me. I'd love to figure out the identify of "E. Thomson."