Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Grandma's First Husband - "How pleasant it must be in good old Delaware Co"

Anna Bell Barnhart Calhoun continued to receive letters from her husband James Calhoun from France where he was serving in the U.S. Army. As with almost all his letters from France, the information they contain mainly reflect the news he is hear from home, since he is severely restricted as to what he can write. The fact that the letters came sporadically and out of sequence had to be a bit of a challenge for my grandmother. His June letters arrived mainly in July but not even in sequence.

James first letter in June wasn't received until almost the end of the month, June 29. He references the fire that destroyed Anna's Uncle John Miller's barn in this and some of the following letters. 

June 4, 1918

My dear Anna;
Three letters from you have come to me within the past few days.  I know that you should like to know that I am O.K.  There is not much that I can write but am happy to send you the news that I am O.K.  Your letters were most thoroughly enjoyed.  I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed them.  It is very true that you do not get so many letters as you did but you know that it is not my fault.
The loss of the barn is very hard for Uncle John.  It is fine that you can help them at this time.  Maybe they can feel different towards us now.  Such things are for a purpose, I think.
You wrote so many news[?] that I can scarcely thank you enough.  I am sorry that you have a cold and that you have been troubled with the Liberty measles.
I will write another note as soon as I can.  I will [write] more soon. 
I must stop now and send this.  Please write as often as you can.  Your letters are indeed appreciated.  Let mother know how I am by card.
Your most loving husband, James

James wrote another letter the next day, but it took until July 20 to be received by Anna.

Somewhere in France
June 5, 1918

My dear Anna;

            I will take this opportunity to send you as good a letter as I possibly can under the circumstances.  I must confess that the few letters I have written have been very meager indeed but would gladly do better if I could.  I have gotten three letters from you recently and they each contained a world of news from home.
This leaves me in good health and am O.K. in all things.  I regret to hear that you have all had colds and hope you may be better before now.  I sympathize with Wilford in his measle deal.
Cousin Raymond [Barnhart] is fortunate indeed in getting the work he has.  Perhaps he will remain there permanently.  I am glad Edith sent him candy because I know how much he will appreciate it; I surely did.  Grandmother B is surely working faithful to do her bit at this time.  You are all doing so much.  In fact you cannot realize the true value of the work you are doing as fully as I can when viewed from my standpoint.
It was fine that Davison’s people said for the car.  I hope they get good service from it and get in good in operating it.  I should be very glad if they would drop me a letter.  So Fletcher has his head shaved and so do I (or very nearly so).
Ralph and Wilford will be glad indeed to finish hauling wood.  It is a tedious, tiresome piece of work to get logs from such a place as they hauled those.  Your work will be very heavy especially now that you have so many cows.  It was fine though that you could help Uncle John as you did.  Perhaps they will feel better towards us now.  It is good sometimes to get a chance to return good for evil.  It is just as well I think that you did not bother with the chickens; if we need them we can get them later.  I almost wonder at Chas. McPherson doing as he did in the horse deal.  I surely used him white [??] the proposition.
The burning of the barn no doubt gave you a great scare.  It must have been a great scare to mother B.  Aunt Bertha is usually calm enough but such an event is very liable to give the calmest person quite a scare.  I should not have been surprised if Uncle John had been excited as he seems so frail. 
I wish you could go and see Oliver’s people.  From what mother wrote I believe that cousin Margaret will not live very long.  It was very good of cousin Kathryn to write to you. 
A letter came from mother and Mae and I will try and answer it in a few days.  I wish you might send them a card when you get this so they will rest that I am O.K. at this date.  I was mighty glad to get the clippings.  There is no need to send papers; ten chances to one they would not reach me.  It is just as well that what you said of Cora has proved false.
I will close for this time.  Hoping you are all well and O.K.  Your most loving husband, James.   

Raymond Barnhart was grandma's first cousin on her father's side. Raymond was in the Army but did not go overseas for his service. [Note: I am named for this cousin.]

James next letter came to Anna on July 20, the same day as the June 5 letter.

June 11, 1918
Somewhere in France

My dear Anna;
            This leaves me O.K. and feeling fine.  I have had no letters from you since I sent you my last one.  I expect to receive two or three at one time soon.  I expect to mail a letter to mother C. when this one is mailed.
We are having beautiful weather and the country looks very pretty indeed.  I am wondering if everything is as beautiful at home.  I expect your crops are nearly all in the soil.
I often think of you and wonder what you are doing these days.  It will soon be a year since I helped in the hay field.  How will i remember that day.  Do y\the young people have as many parties as they did last autumn.  If not they probably will renew sociabilities this autumn.
The school year will soon be finished.  Ruth had such hard luck with her school that I expect she will be late in closing her work.  How many weeks was her school closed because of scarlet fever etc?  Lois should have her work nearly finished by now.
I am afraid that you and I will be unable to help Uncle Will and Aunt Mary this year.  I wish we might; it would be a great pleasure indeed.  I presume the Ward farm is practically idle this year; there will be no land under cultivation at all.  Marshall’s are using the pastures; are Will’s going to cut the hay themselves?
This is but a note to let you know all is well.  There is but little news to write so will send this.  I would gladly write more but this will suffice for now.  When I get a letter from you I shall answer more fully.  I often think of you all.
Give my best regards to all of my people and please write often.
Your most loving husband, James.    

James wrote again 5 days letter, but this letter came to Anna 8 days before the letters of June 5 and 11, arriving July 12.

Somewhere in France
June 16, 1918

My dear Anna;
I am very glad to have the opportunity to answer your excellent letters of May 12 and 16.
I am very glad to know that you were quite well at that time.  I hope you have taken proper care of yourself while you have had the “Liberty” measles.  They are not dangerous as a rule unless one catches cold with them; they are not pleasant to have however and I surely am sorry for you if you felt as uncomfortable as I when I had them.  Scarletina also made me feel very disagreeable; almost as much so as when I had the genuine fever.  You said for me not to worry but it is pretty hard to follow your instructions when I know that you will keep working when you are sick.  For God’s sake don’t get down sick when I am away here.
You say Uncle J’s are just the same as ever.  Please do not let that fact bother you in the least.  They only hurt themselves not us.  I think they might show themselves grateful for what you have helped them but some people know naught but jealousy and selfishness.
I am glad my letters reach you O.K. and you must know by this time that I am getting yours O.K.  They come in bunches of two and three but I think I am getting all of them.  Mail coming this way is not censored at least the letters you have sent have not been opened.  You will see that I date my letters now although I sent a few without dates.  I am same in rank as Fletcher.  You seem to consider my letters very unsatisfactory and indeed they are but perhaps I can learn to do better in time.  I am sorry that Wilford does not care to write to me and sincerely hope that he is not angry.  I appreciated his letters and sincerely hope he will change his mind about writing me.
It was awfully good of you people to get the wagon and hope it is not much in the way.  Wilford’s joke about the wagon was cute and it made me think of old times as also what you said about the story in the “Christain Herald.”  I hope your dreams come true and I still want you to build air castles.  Perhaps they will become real one of these fine days.  Nothing can keep a person’s courage up like good old hope.  I will remember the [sell?] picture and hope and pray that all that the picture stands for may be brought to pass.
I am not afraid of you becoming a heathen for I know you are doing all that circumstances permit.  My religious privileges are not the best here but I am making the best of the situation I think.  They will be better some day.
This is indeed a pretty country but I am not in love with it enough to want to remain here permanently.  I can find no fault with my native land.
The Reynold’s case was a very sad one.  It is hard to understand why such things are permitted to come about but they must be for some good purpose.
Expect that Anna would be real sick with the measles.  William is at the proper age to have them.  Is Wilford the only one left in our family to go through the disease.  If so it is better that he have them while he is young.  I anxiously await to know how Anna came thru measles.
I wish you might have gone to the war show.  I know it would have done you good and am sure those who have gone were benefitted and experienced some real pleasure from it. 
I am both surprised and amused that you bought tobacco.  You must feel that since I am not there to use the weed that you will sprinkle a little in my old clothes anyway.  I must write and scold mother for teaching my wife the tobacco habit.  I am not using it myself but many of the boys need it very badly so please save all you can for them - Ha!
The enclosed clippings were fine.  It is better to send them that way.  Papers rarely reach us when sent in wrappers.
I should like much to be enjoying the fine weather there.  Weather has been pleasant here although warm at times.
I am glad you are with the Red Cross. I know now the really great work they are doing.
Please write often and do send one of those pictures because I know it will be alright.
Your most loving husband - James

James’s next letter was written 8 days later, but not received until August 5.

Somewhere in France
June 24, 1918

My dear Anna;
I am sending you a few lines to let you know that I am well and O.K.  I have been unable to write for a week past so I expect you will wonder if I have not stopped writing.  I have had no letters from you for a while but there no doubt will be two or three of them when they come.
We have had some cool weather for this season of the year.  Everything is very beautiful here now.  There are many flowers in this country and especially roses.
As I have no letter to answer I scarcely know what to write.  I have been thinking of you a great deal and should like to see you very much indeed.
It is hard to realize that summer will soon be half past.  It seems as though it should be about May 1.
This will tell you I am O.K. and am writing Cora & Mother.  Please pray for the day to come when I can see you and tell you all.  Write often.
Your most loving husband, James.

James wrote the following letter 4 days later - it was received the same day as the June 24 letter.

Somewhere in France
June 28, 1918

My dear Anna;
A recent mail brought me six letters, four from you, one from mother and one from Archie and Florence.  You can imagine that they were received with joy and their contents devoured several times over.  I am attempting to answer your messages of love in my humble way.
I am relieved to know that you are entirely well of measles and that those who had measles or were otherwise ailing are again well.  I can not but feel slightly worried over your welfare at times, you know when I am so far from you.  Regarding myself, I am glad to say that I am indeed quite well.
How pleasant it must be in good old Delaware Co. and the season must be advanced.  I longed very much to be with you when I read your letters telling of all the fine things you are doing over there.  It would be a genuine pleasure to enjoy home life once more in those places so dear to my heart and the thoughts of which call forth many fond memories.  God grant that our hopes and prayers may soon be realized.
It is well that Uncle J. is able to care for his surplus stock now and it must mean a great relief to you all.  The burning of the barn was all for a purpose and after reading your letters I am satisfied that Uncle J’s people now will all feel different towards us.  They have a hard task before them but no doubt the new structure will be modern in every respect when complete.  I take it for granted that Mike remains with them when Andrew Worden takes up his duties.  You spoke of the lack of help; I wish I might furnish a small amount and commence at once.
I am glad to know that your work is progressing fine.  Wilford surely came out fortunate from what might have been a serious accident.
You no doubt know what the surplus valuables are that I sent you as they must have reached you.  By way of explanation will say that on or about May 1 I sent you $15.00 (saved from Feb & Mar pay) and again on May 23 I sent $15.00 both amounts being sent in care of the YMCA.  I have receipts for full amount in case you fail to receive them.  I am surprised that you had not received allotment for April.  I do not think my change of station made a difference in the time you would receive your money.  I do not think any policies are forwarded but sufficient records are kept so insurance is a safe proposition. Your letter of Memorial day was most interesting of all.  You must know by now how I spent that day but I cannot help but think of the better way in which I could have spent it in the place and environment which I desired so much.  I feel very sorry for James B. and indeed there should be a deep bond of sympathy between us.  I rested assured that father’s grave was heaped with flowers because I know that Cora and the others would see well to that.
I can scarcely imagine “Jerusha” as being so unruly as to jump the fence after always behaving so well.  I thought perhaps it would be difficult for Mr. Davison to learn driving at his age.  It was indeed fortunate that nothing worse than a twisted axle and a broken windshield resulted although I am sorry that even that happened.
I believe I know what you meant by Gene Storie waiting so long.  I am rejoiced to know that you think it impossible for me to have to wait for so long a time.  I believe it quite certain about Hazel as I think Frank knew what he spoke of.
I just noted in your last letter that Edith has the Liberty measles.  I hope indeed that she is better and all is well.  Your letters contained so many news that I can scarcely answer them in full.  I expect you would like to hear about what I am doing but I must wait until I can see you then I will tell all.  My best regards to you all.  Your most loving husband, James.

James’ next letter was received on August 3, two days before the letters of June 24 & 28.

June 30, 1918
My dear Anna;
Perhaps this letter will appear funny to you but I am “Hooverizing” on paper.  Your excellent letter written just after the Walton conference came to me very recently and was thoroughly enjoyed.  Letters also came from Cora & cousin Wm O at Dubois PA.  Cousin Will’s letter was very good indeed.  He wants me to visit the home of our ancestors and tell him all I can hear and see. 
I am glad to know that you saw Mrs. Chambers and Mrs. Bryce.  It would be fine if Mrs. Bryce can come to see you.  Cora writes that she expects to pay you a visit soon and that you had written her. 
I am relieved to know the money reached you.  You need not be so saving of it as that.  I sent it for you to use as you see fit.  I really feel sorry that Chauncey has felt compelled to join the service.  I can sympathize thoroughly with his family and himself.  I had hoped that in his position he might get excused.  Clark Miller’s death is indeed a blow to his people.  He is the first of the Bovina boys to fall.
We are having beautiful weather now and has been most all the time since for a month.  Today has been fairly warm but weather never has been oppressively warm.
When I was reading your letter I told the boys what you said about making short cake and they almost mobbed me for speaking of it.  I guess their mouths were watering for a taste themselves.
Lloyd Irvine may be near here but I have not found him.  I do not know where any of the boys that I used to know.  No doubt some of them are near me if I only could locate them.Mr. Davison and Rev Galloway surely did come out lucky.  I am glad you keep me posted on Rev Galloway’s sermons.  It seems more as though I still can enjoy a few of the religious privileges I used to know.  I was pleased that you were chosen to attend the conference at Walton.  One gets considerable benefit from such as a rule as there is always many talks worth hearing.
I expect you will have a celebration on the 4th.  I do not know where we will hold out at that time but there are plenty of celebrations of that nature. 
Please write real often.  Your most loving husband, James  

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