Wednesday, December 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My dear James;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Co K 310th Infantry, Dec 3, 1917

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

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

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

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

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

Bovina Center, NY, December 4, 1917

My dear James;

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

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

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

Yours with all love imaginable, Anna

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

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

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

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

That same day, Anna had written to James: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On December 11, James wrote that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James closes his last letter of 1917letter with:

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

Your most loving husband James

1 comment:

  1. Great read...thanks you so much for putting this blog together about my (and yours) grandmother. Howard B.(Butch) LaFever