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.