Daniel Fox’s Letters, 1916
Willow Springs, Mo.
Jan 23rd, 1916
My dear old Sister & Hubert.
Your birthday letter reached me square on my birthday. We were celebrating when it arrived. We have a neighbor whose birthday is the same date as mine and one year we spend the day with her the next she comes to us, so this year we celebrated at our house. She lives 7 miles away so came the day before. And after breakfast we were sitting around the fire, for it was real wintry, when the mail arrived, your letter, others fm [sic] the girls, also one from Anne Cubles (?) with a dandy photo of herself. My! I felt rich. I sure had a good day and thank you for your part in making it so.
I just love to have you “lambast” me in your letters. I know I deserve it. But I get nervous over the Cabinet “shindies” in Eng but I guess that’s the way J. Bull usually goes at it. In the struggle with Napoleon and in the Crimean War I read he fired about half a dozen Cabinets. We have heard a good deal lately about British decadence but to judge by the past, when everybody is shaking his fist in everybody else’s face the outlook is most promising and J.B. is just about “fit” to attend the little matter outside. You fear we get only a one sided account here, but I think we are in a much better position than you to hear both sides of the question. I could send you lots of news published here but I don’t want to put us to the bad with the Censor and lose any of your letters.
We have no friends. The Germans ought to love us because the British dislike us and the British ought to love us because the Germans dislike us but it doesn’t seem to work out that way. Ha! In the meantime we have troubles of our own, killing Americans by the score in Mexico. Jim used to travel thro Mexico but he quit. He went to Chihuahua (Che-wa’-wa) last year tho & that is right where they lined up the bunch of Americans last week & shot them. If we had anything to fight with I guess we would be fighting but fixed as we are we write notes instead. But if you British blockade all the coast of Europe and make it so we can’t sell our cotton & mules why we shall just have to sweep your fleet off the sea — i.e. when we get around to it.
We have had it 6º below zero a week ago but yesterday & today we are sitting with the doors open and no fire. The sun is so warm and the birds are singing like Spring. And I was sorting out garden seeds yesterday but we’ll have many a cold day yet before gardening begins. But we are getting hopeful and that’s a sign of Spring. We are always expecting to have good crops at seeding time, but I do enjoy growing things, working in the damp mold and seeing the young plants push their heads up thru the ground. I wish I had been farming when I had ambition I should have accomplished something, but now I am just satisfied to raise what we need.
Well, Bye bye. I am still hoping Hubert will stay home and be [illegible]. Suppose Harold is with his unit by now.
Write soon as you can so I’ll know where you both are. Wish you were both here.
Fondest love & a good kiss dearest Sister o’ mine. May I hear good news. Shake, Hubert.
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My dear old Sister,
Your dear letter of Feb 13-14 just arrived and I will answer at once as I have wanted to write you for a week or two but if H had gone into training you might have moved near his camp. But am glad to hear he is still with you and I hope the works can’t spare him. I think they will hang on to a man of his calibre [sic]. And Oh! darling I’ll be so delighted if only he is left with you, in spite of other dark clouds this will be a bit of silver lining.
You speak of Harold as tho he was not 19 yet. He must be 20 as our Harold was 20 last Oct. and they are the same age to a few weeks. However I see Group 1 was called up for the 21st so I expect he has joined the ranks by this, as I don’t think they will be permitted to evade service for education. I hope they will allow Basil to stay home with his mother now Burton isn’t there to take care of her. The girls don’t seem to worry much but I think that is assumed, so I won’t see that it hurts. Bless ‘em, they are brave girls and loyal to their country. Ethel is like you she gets mad at me and gives me a good lambasting. The others make allowance for my ignorance of conditions.
I was worried when I read of that Zepp raid. When Lincolnshire and Derbyshire were included it was getting close home. It is barbarous warfare on defenceless [sic] noncombatants and should be abolished by international agreement whenever The Nations can get together again. Oh! I’m so glad you escaped but it must be a big strain on all of you.
I mailed you some magazines a couple of wks ago but doubt if they get by the Censor as “The Literary Digest” is pretty outspoken at times. But I like it better than any other magazine I take, as there is no Fiction in it. I hope they will let them come through, as there was little piece in The Digest about an old friend of mine, Bob Reeves, a conductor who used to run one of our trains into Fort Scott. I used to see him nearly every day and his hearty grip & genial face was always welcome.
Our winter has been about normal. 6º below once and lots of near zero weather but no extraordinary severe weather. For the past two weeks the days have been bright & warm and we have done some plowing for Spring seeding but today we are having another kick of winter, snow & ice. March is coming in like a lion.
I almost forgot to tell you the big family event. Frances has a big boy, born Feb 17 — sure enough a Eugenic baby. 9¼ lbs. Largest one in about 20 at the maternity hospital where she was at. Lil is the only one who doesn’t keep up the family record. And like most women without children she’s crazy over them. I think she has made most of this baby’s layout. She’s hardly been to bed since it came. Has written us every day advising conditions & several times it’s been after midnight. Frances returns to her home tomorrow. She got along fine. Never looked or felt bad Lil says.
Well! bye bye dear old Sis o’ mine and a good hearty “shake!” for Hubert. Hope the Co. can’t run without him. Fondest love & a long kiss.
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My dear old Sister,
Your birthday will be close at hand by the time this reaches you and I hope you will still have Many Happy returns of the day. The war must end some day and peace again overshadow your beautiful land. If the allies could only give the enemy a signal defeat at Verdun I believe it would be the beginning of the end. But from the accounts we get the G’m’n’s [sic] are daily gaining a little. I sincerely trust you will be able to celebrate a victory before your birthday. I anxiously await the newspaper every morning.
I hope you have a note on the way to tell me Hubert is going to remain with you.
Spring is opening nicely here. We are busy, making long days plowing & sowing. Vegetation has not started much, for tho’ the days are warm the nights are frosty. After zero weather the ground is slow warming up. But very soon now the peaches & plums will be one mass of bloom and the hot weather will be here.
Well! We have enjoyed the winter. Didn’t do much of anything except feed the stock so had time to go to school and learn something. We have all been reading & studying in our leisure hours. And now I tell the boys the time has arrived to put into practice what we have learned.
We are well on the circuit here. Good accounts are rec’d of the last new baby, growing & no troubles. He is coming to the Ozarks when the hot weather comes.
Well! The boys have just come in & say there is a forest fire coming in on us so we must go & fight it, perhaps all night. Anyhow will be too tired to resume when I return, if before morning. So I will say good bye dear and I send you fond love for your birthday and every other day as it comes. I was looking at your picture today and wondering if you & Hubert were together as you were then. Again, “Many Happy Returns” in which Mama joins.
Is anything wrong with A.C.?
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My dear Sister & Hubert,
Your dear letter of the 5th just [?] reached me yesterday. The censors must hold them up a few days. How rejoiced I was to get it, with its welcome news that H. Was to stay with you. Tears of joy ran down my cheek when I read the good news. I’m getting old I guess and I love you very much. I don’t think there is any danger of him having to go now. They certainly realize that he is necessary where he is. Now I see the value of his technical education. My boys would have to join the ranks under like circumstances.
Verdun is holding out gallantly and I have hopes the enemy will . . . .
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My dear old Sister & H.
It was on April 4th that I received your big bundle of magazines, “Spectator,” “Cornhill,” Raemaekens [?] Cartoons, etc and they are now all scattered to Billy Giles, Tom Pringle & the rest of the hungry English. For there is only Lawrence (Frances’s husband) in our family who seems to appreciate direct news from home, and he is always begging for anything from Eng. And once in awhile I favor him with one of your letters for he is particular to return them.
A little while ago I enclosed in our circuit letter a letter I received from Hilda. And it was a good one. She can & does write about the best letters I receive on conditions in Eng. from any of the girls. And it made quite a sensation. All of them wrote me direct about it and all felt they wanted to write Hilda. But when it reached St Joseph it got outside the family circle. Lillian belongs to several clubs and she read it before one of them & that started it from one to the other, was read before several clubs & at a convention of mothers and Lillian wrote me for permission to allow the Editor of one of the newspapers to publish it, as he had made a request to do so. But I sat right down on that & told them hereafter to consider any enclosures of mine confidential. I never told Hilda fearing she might resent the publicity but it was a splendidly written letter & when it returned to me it was worn to a frazzle. I received one from her a few days ago, which the Censor had opened. The first one of any of your letters so treated. A notice was posted on it, “Opened by Censor 3238,” but not a word had been erased. I told Mama that Hilda might have known it was going to be inspected for altho she gave me lots of war news she did it so cleverly that the Censor might have dictated it.
Many thanks to you both for the papers. I tell Mama many a time, “I wish I had something good enough to send.” Our best magazines are published simultaneously in England and you probably see them at the library. But when I have anything worth while [sic] I’ll send it. By the time this reaches you we may be enrolled with the Allies anyhow, for I don’t see how Wilson can postpone it much longer. We were talking at breakfast table that it would be a curious coincidence if our boys went & met their cousins in Flanders. They said they would sure stop over & see you all when they were mustered out, or before returning if they could possibly do so. But I’ve an idea that our fighting will be with Mexico reinforced by thousands of disgruntled German-Americans.
There’ll be one battle in the Ozarks I know. There is a German family lives on an adjoining farm to mine and we have been spoiling for a scrap ever since your war began. There are six grown men in the family, all of them Nihilists escaped from Russia a few years ago & came & bought land in these hills so as to hide. They bitterly hate Russia and think no more of killing a man than killing a flea. They seem to have no end of money but they are bad citizens. We have 100 million dollars worth of German ships interned here which will be mighty useful, but we shall have to begin to make an army like you people had to do.
This is Easter Sunday and it was a beautiful day until about 3 p.m. when it ended in a thunderstorm and downpour. The country is beautiful, woods carpeted with Anemones, Violets & Pansies, and Dogwood & Red bud [sic] in masses of bloom (These are trees). Dogwood, creamy & Red bud, red. The fruit trees have about passed their blooming. Mama & I took a walk early this morning & returned with our arms full of blossoms & flowers to brighten up the rooms & we sang “Christ the Lord is risen today.” You will probably go to the Cathedral but our Cathedral is the forest primeval.
Fondest love & a hug dear and a hearty grasp for Hubert.
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My dear old Sis. & Hubert.
That blamed old censor went & opened your letter but he never found a wrong word in it. A friend of mine got one abt same time and the censor had taken out two whole sheets. They are getting mighty inquisitive. They don’t dare open mine or I would have Pres. Wilson write them a note. Ha!
Am pleased you are able to write, with these Zepp raids every few days. Wish you would go & live at Buxton near to one of those large caves. But don’t go to Ireland. Did you ever see such fools as that outfit. Why! England is in better shape to quell a revolution now than ever. Besides she has her dander up, the Lion has had its tail trod on. So “beware have a care” Sir Roger Casement [?] must be a madman.
Had to leave you last Sunday and have not time to resume week days this season of the year. But I guess you have managed to run things without my assistance. I managed to find time to mail you a couple of magazines. Say! It just keeps a fellow jumping on a farm in this country. Nearly everything is sown in rows and we have to cultivate to loosen up the ground & kill the weeks between the rows. And this makes us have to go over the land time after time & hot as blazes too. But it doesn’t last long. May, June & part of July then everything is too big and we have to let it go. So we don’t work hard for long. It is a fine independent life but not much money in it. But one has such an abundance of everything which is produced on the farm and we aim to produce as near all we consume as we possibly can. We were grinding flour & meal yesterday and we brought 8 sacks of various flour for Mama which cost nothing but our labor growing & milling a few hours. I wish you lived where I could dump off a sack or two so you could sample our products. We are going to have quite a lot of fruit this year, but not so heavy as some years. Peaches did not blossom so heavy and there are only a few on a tree but we have so many trees that we may have more than we can use. We ship the girls what they want. Always I have tho’t some of putting in a canning outfit but am afraid we would work too hard. We have so much fruit and grow so many vegetables and could can our surplus. But I should instal it away from the house so Mama would have nothing to do with it. She has enough to do as it is.
And we are going to have visitors all summer. Just the girls & their families. Expect Josephine this week. And Lil comes in June & her husband is to join her July 1st for two weeks. Then as soon as they leave Frances & husband are scheduled to come for last half of July & August and I half expect Alice & Jim sometime near fall. They like to come to the ranch where they don’t have to dress up all the time and can ride over the hills in the shady forest and bathe in the creek. The novelty has worn off for us, altho’ the boys never seem to tire of being in the water. They have been there all afternoon & aren’t back yet.
How are you getting along? Hope the Zepps haven’t bothered you. Gmny [sic] has made some more promises about submarines but I wouldn’t take their word for anything. I know the G’m’n [sic] character pretty good as I have fought them over here for 30 yrs. Even my particular friend has to have allowances made for him and he’s American born but Gmn [sic] sympathizer to the core. But take a German who has come to this country and I would fail to break thro’. I don’t know if there is any foundation for the rumor but since J. P. Morgan the big financier has returned from England there are large bets made that negotiations for peace will be commenced within three months. I ope they know what they are talking about.
Say! Did you hear we had a war of our own. Began by hunting Pancho (Pancho means Bandit in Spanish) Villa in Mexico but very likely to bring the whole of Mexico about our ears for they hate the “Gringoes” [sic] as they term Americans. And whilst they will fight each other for years they will unite on a common foe. They tell me that the word “Gringoe” [sic] was given to Americans because in the last Mexican War the U. S. soldiers used to sing a popular song — “Green grows the grass along the Rio Grande” — and the Mexicans dubbed them with the two first words as they understood them and use them similar to “Bosche” for the Germans, a name of hate or despicableness. Mama said I had been kicking all the time because England was slow & unprepared and now when Villa came across the border and murdered a number of Americans & burned the town of Columbus, it took our soldiers a week before they could enter Mexico in pursuit. And then their wireless worked only spasmodically and the aeroplanes [sic] fell to the ground and rumor said the motor trucks with supplies refused to motor. Ha! We are smart boys until we are up against it, but will probably learn by practise [sic].
Am glad Alice & family moved from El Paso. Jim sells mining machinery around Columbus & Douglas, often there he has Arizona & New Mexico & Nevada & California in his territory but doesn’t go into Old Mexico lately altho he still sells some machinery there but keeps out of the country.
Rec’d pictures of the new baby yesterday. Should like to send you one for he’s a fine boy but they said “return them all.”
Fondest love and may you be very happy together and both be protected from those fearful Zepps. Have had visitors all day & it is late so good night. I feel so good over you both I want to hug you.
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My dear Lois & Hubert
I have to acknowledge receipt of your dear letter of May 7th and the “Lincoln Leader,” also the souvenir sheet of not paper re “The Great White House Hotel.” You are very kind to spare me one. And while I think of it I discovered that the pkg of magazines I sent before the last one was mailed with only domestic postage on it. I hope they threw it in the discard. We have the mail carrier weigh the pkgs and tell us how much stamps to attach and I find the pkg in question was stamped in error. I have warned everybody now & gave the mail carrier a lecture on his carelessness, but hope the pkg never came thro. And if it did and you had to pay I beg your forgiveness. And a kiss, bless you.
I am sending per this mail a photo of Alice which she sent with one for me. She asked me to forward it to you, as a peace offering I guess, for her neglect in writing you. She’s a busy woman tho and you will forgive I know. Jim is away nearly all of the time and she writes him every day and her girl graduates from the grade schools this month and goes to high school and Alice helps her with her lessons all the time. Alice tells me it is like taking a post graduate course herself. Margaret is 14 yrs and Alice 38 and still in full bloom. I wish you knew her, she’s a . . . .
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My dear Sister & Hubert.
Your good letter of June 11th and 18th received July 6th and should have been answered a week ago but we have so much company in this small house of six rooms that it’s almost impossible to get a quiet minute at my desk. Especially as I have two little kiddies to play with. Lillian and husband have been & gone again, stayed 2 weeks. And Frances & husband and baby boy have been here 10 days. Frances & baby are going to stay with us until September cool breezes arrive. Lawrence will return to biz’ in another week I think. Jo’ and daughter are still here until fall. It is hot! Hot!! And we spend a part of each day in the water and do no kind of work that can possibly be avoided. Wish we could trade for a little of the cool weather you mention. We had splendid prospects for crops but have now had 5 weeks without any rain and 100º or more every day so we are suffering badly for rain and crops are dying. We seem to have a spell every year like this. Then after crops are ruined it rains again and we have to raise a second crop of inferior quality. But we always manage to pull thro’.
We have eagerly scanned our papers the past few weeks and enjoyed the announcements of the Allied successes. I hope you will back the Gmns [sic] into their own country and then make peace. Oh! The cost in brave men but there seems no other way out.
You ask about “Tickets Validated.” We’ll suppose I buy a round trip ticket from Willow Springs to Los Angeles. I am allowed so many days to go in and so many days to return in but can stay at Los Angeles as long as desired. And the ticket is not transferrable. I may have bought my ticket a week before I start but on the day I start I present it to the Ticket Agent and I attach my signature in two places and the agent stamps the date on the part to be used in going to Los Angeles and tears off our signature and then I am allowed so many days from that date to reach L. A. This to prevent me stopping at intermediate towns. I arrive at Los Angeles & have my visit and when I am ready to start back I take the return half to the Ticket Agent there and attach my signature which he compares with my former signature sent to him by the agent at Willow Springs. When he finds they agree he stamps the date on my return half this “Validates” it for the return trip. You know we can buy railway tickets at ticket offices up town in big towns and not have to wait until we go to the station to start on our journey.
Lillian called at Fort Scott as she came home and brought me a post card of our home in Fort Scott which I traded for this farm. It was built by the U. S. government for the officers of the Fort to live in and I bought the lower one for a home. The ceilings of the main rooms were 12 ft high and the whole house inside & outside was built of walnut timber. Right in front was a beautiful square or small park called the Plaza with a bandstand and when the band played once or twice every week the girls had a good dance on the large porch with the columns which were solid walnut logs. There was a cellar beneath the lower rooms and again another wine cellar below that. It was a fine old home. I may have sent you a photo of it before for we lived there several years. It is a double house and I lived in the right hand half with the garden. There were 13 large rooms in my half, just right for my family.
I also send a few snapshots taken last week. I guess there is no objection to photos coming into the country.
Lillian’s husband is an extra good swimmer. Lillian swims very well also the boys swim slowly but Frank can do all kinds of stunts in the water. Lillian’s photo is blurred [illegible] moving the camera.
Little Jane is always busy with the calves & chickens. Haven’t taken a picture of James yet. He’s a dandy boy.
Our little trouble with Mexico is kinder [sic] quiet just now, we have abt 150.000 solders on the border now. 100.000 militia and the rest regulars.
This isn’t much but I can’t write good. Jo’ & Lawrence are playing the nicest kind of music and I have to listen. Lawrence plays the flute.
Fondest love & “God bless you.”
Just discovered Jo’s sent all the pictures to her husband. Will get another set printed for you.
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My dear Sister & Hubert.
We rec’d your card & H’s souvenir card O.K. Beautiful place, H’gate. Hope you enjoyed your visit & rested your nerves. Our papers tell of several air raids in the past week or two and I hurriedly scan them for “Lincoln” but so far have not seen it a victim. Sincerely hope not to do so. The Arabia has just gone down. I can’t understand why Eng doesn’t convoy these large liners thro’ the danger zone.
Russia is having a hard time. I’m only afraid she’ll give up & then the bulk of the Eastern G’n [sic] army will be released to fight in the west. Any how G’n victories are sure to affect the decision of certain Balkan states. Whilst the taking of Warsaw is not by any means a decisive blow yet there is tremendous moral advantage in such a feat. It will hearten the G’n people and their allies and will make other nations pause on the verge of entering the war. After a years war not a hostile soldier is on G’n soil except a small section of Lorraine. And while Russia is defeated & driven back from her invasion of both Germany and Austria poorly supplied with ammunition, & her army apparently poorly officered [sic] Germany seems to have plenty of men, ammunition & credit. I can’t understand her ability to keep herself supplied with munitions of war after using them with apparent prodigality. England’s great wealth & staying power is my hope in it all. Her resources are almost unlimited, but our papers announce that she is going to resort to conscription. I don’t like that. Compulsory service means the failure of liberty. Eng & the U. S. believe in democratic freedom and their boast has been that no man is a soldier against his will & the evil of compulsory military service is its onslaught on personal freedom. But I suppose in these exceptional times it calls for exceptional practices to meet the emergency as they did here in the Civil War. I am always pleased to hear you & Anne Cubler speak of the thousands of soldiers in training wherever you go. They will be needed.
We are well, ditto all the family. The problem of our big peach crop was solved by nature. We had a 3 days & nights storm. The tail end of the storm that wrecked Galveston & other Texas cities. It blew & rained 3 days & nights. So blew all our peaches off & many of the trees down. Blew our fields of corn 10 ft high flat on the ground. Truly this is a country of extremes. We got our cattle & horses in the barns like in winter & it was with difficulty that we could feed & milk them. Haven’t seen those on range. Boys found 6 head of horses & mules today, young ones not working which were on the range. But the cattle appear to have drifted before the storm so many trees are struck by lightning and blown down in forests that it is dangerous for stock to shelter under them. I tell you a farmer has a hard time either too wet or too dry or a storm of wind & hail comes & ruins his crops & fences & buildings in 15 minutes. I have seen hail stones piled up 2 ft deep & all as big as goose eggs. They broke every window in my house & took the roof off in ten minutes just battered it to pieces. Killed cattle & horses & people. Had 13 rooms in our house & when the roof was off it rained in torrents & poured down thro’ ceilings & carpets & furniture from garret to cellar. Just about ruined us in ½ an hour. That was in Fort Scott.
Good bye my dear old sister & boy. I admire your cool grit in taking your vacation in the midst of all the uproar. You are English all right.
We know that peace & happy quiet days will come again. May they hurry, so we can feel comfortable again.
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My dear Sister & Hubert
Was glad to receive yours of July 16 and know you were both well. When I don’t hear about every month I get anxious and am “Just a’wearying for you.” Oh! How I wish you could drop in for Sunday and “week end” with the crowd on the farm. Today we are celebrating our 32nd Wedding Anniversary and we had plenty and plenty of room for both of you and how we would have welcomed you. You should have feasted on wild turkey and roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, which Mama made for my benefit. 32 years ago we were married at Mama’s brothers who had a farm about 12 miles from Sedalia and since then it hasn’t been all smooth sailing but I could fill a book with the good times we have had for we have never let our troubles come between us but have faced them together. Really we have had little but smooth sailing for I’ve always had plenty to do and plenty to do with and the last ten years on the farm together has been our long day of happiness. So we are rejoicing today for we both feel young and face from [?] the aches & pains of old age. We had letters from the absent ones of the family full of love and good wishes for many more years of happiness together and I know we have yours. Thank you.
Jo and Jane are still here, infantile paralysis is so prevalent at Detroit that Jo is afraid to take Jane back. We also have the school teacher boarding with us. It was our turn but we tried to beg off for Mama has had a house full since May and the cooking and work is heavy in such hot weather, however we had to take the teacher and will have her on our hands for six months anyway. She’s a nice girl and we like to have her company, when Jo’s gone she will be company for us. We like young people. She is 19. I know her father well. He’s a commission merchant in Willow Spgs [sic].
That is a good picture of Hubert at the testing machine. Many thanks. The boys said when they looked at it, “If he wears such good clothes at work I’d like to see him dressed up.” Ha! We work in rough clothing, just overalls on the farm. I think he looks well & hearty, but he’s in the profession class while we are pioneers but I wish he could join us for a years vacation. I believe he would enjoy this life for awhile but not to stay with it. That couldn’t be expected.
Aunt Polly is good to send her kind remembrances. But as she is one of the family I think it ought to be love. We send our love to her and I believe she means love anyhow so I’ll just change it to that. For I remember the time when I thought her the bonniest sweetest girl in Chesterfield and I bet she’s a nice plump smooth little woman about like Mama. And if so she’s perfect.
I dare not say “war” for the censors are growing so strict. Had a letter from Ethel at Scarboro and she said something objectionable so the censor swiped his paint brush over it. I wanted to swipe him. I’ve got his number and am going to hunt him up when I come over. Ha! Every letter is opened now it looks like.
We were just 60 days without rain then we got a shower but too late to do crops any good, just imagine 60 days of 100º temperature in shade and no rain or even dew. You can see where fires have swept across whole farms & burnt stacks & crops & fences as you ride along the road. We had to contend with forest fires where the dry grass & weeds caught fire.
Goodbye. Fondest love. Hope you are well & safe. We are O.K.
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My dear Sister & H.
Just a note to thank you for your Scarboro letter which was a surprise, sure! I remember us singing on the Spa & in the boat and any old time we got a chance. It was easy to sing those days. There’s just 3 of us left and if we ever can we will go to the old place & sing in memory of those who have gone before. You ought to hear me sing now. More volume than quality. My time for singing is usually about 5 a.m. when I go to the pasture to get the cows. The sun is just throwing its red streaks upward like a huge face behind “Taterhill” mountain close to my farm. And the air is clear and I draw in all I can hold until I almost feel intoxicated, then I take off my hat and sing “We Praise Thee, Oh God” — and wish I had a chorus of 1000 voices to emphasize my adoration. I’ve done it for ten years, there’s something about the solitude of the hills that tends to purify and uplift a fellow but yours made me long for a taste of the salt spray & the boom of the waves and the “swish” as they spent themselves on the sands but I’m glad that you had the opportunity to enjoy it all.
The summer is ended. Cool nights. Warm bright days. Just lovely. We are busy trying to garner the remnants of the crops that came thro the long drouth [sic]. If frost keeps away another month which it often or usually does, we shall have enough feed for our stock. And we always have abundance for our house. The bins are filled with apples & potatoes. Mama has several hundred quarts of fruit. And the hogs are fattening on nuts & acorns ready to butcher soon as it is cold enough. Plenty of wheat from last year in granary to give us flour & milking 9 cows for milk, butter & cheese. We try to be as near self supporting as we possibly can be. Wish you were here to dip into the pile, enough for us all. We often regret the children are so far from us. For we could feed them all so cheaply and yet they have to pay big prices in the cities.
Jo & her girl are still here & we are boarding the schoolmarm this winter and Mama rec’d a letter from her brother in Oregon to say that he & his wife were leaving in a few days to visit us, perhaps all winter, for he is sick & Dr has ordered a change of climate so we shall be full up. We are seldom alone. We have had about 5 extra all summer and looks like we are going to keep it up. Mama had invited a lady friend in Nebraska to visit us for a month but has had to cancel the invitation under the circumstances. We have got to take care of the sick folks.
Your Scarboro letter wasn’t opened. Once in awhile they let them thro’. I guess they know we are British to the core.
I received that bunch of papers “Colour” etc but must have forgotten to tell you. Colour was too much for me. I could see no beauty in the “Cubist” pictures am not educated up to such art, are you? I sent you a couple of magazines a week or two ago. “Literary Digest” had a picture of the interior of Lincoln Cathedral this week. But I want to keep it. You see the original.
The whole family here are O.K. Lil and her husband have just been busy moving. They sold the house they lived in for $6500 but they owned another one still larger which they have been renting but now have moved into it themselves with a view of putting it in first-class condition & then selling it. It is too large for them.
Good bye both of you. Bedtime. A fond kiss my dear old Sis & God bless you Hubert.
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Willow Springs, Mo.
Oct 15th, 1916
My dear Lois & Hubert.
Rec’d your dear “letter card” yesterday and was glad to hear you were both well, as we are. Jo’ and the kiddie returned to Detroit a week ago but before they went Mama’s brother and wife and son arrived from Oregon. Had not seen them for 20 years so it was a great re-union. Arthur is a dandy good fellow. Owns a wheat farm east of the Cascades near The Dalles on the Columbia River. Tells me he is just a one horse farmer out there, but he left 4000 bushels of wheat in sacks piled up in the open in one of his fields and came here and left it without any cover. He says they never undertake to put it in a granary, leave it piled up in the field sometimes until spring. Dry climate and if it rains it dries out again and doesn’t hurt it. This year it is worth 1½ dollars per bushel, so the Oregon farmers make more money than Missouri farmers. 20 years ago Arthur left Missouri with just about enough money to land him and his family in Oregon nicely, now he owns 500 acres of good land and a big equipment to work it. So he has prospered. He also has 5 stalwart boys and 3 girls. 3 of the eldest children are married and have families, so the Harrimans are not likely to run out. They left us yesterday. Mama & I took them to town & started them back home with a promise to visit them soon. They are to stop off in Idaho to visit their oldest son who is homesteading a farm there. So this is the first day in over four and a half months that we have spent without from 2 to 5 visitors in the house. We seem very quiet especially in the kitchen. Mama has the hardest job filling them all up. But we’re a jolly crowd and keep open house. In town I was too busy to entertain and Mama had to do it all but now I can enjoy my friends.
I tell you I enjoy being grandpa. The other day I rec’d two large photos, one of Margaret a sweet girl of 14, the other of little Jimmie Bothwell, six months, stripped for a fight, just a splendid boy. Both were taken for Christmas presents to the family but grandpa was not kept waiting. Always favored. There’s lots of pleasure in a big family who are affectionate one to the other and who are succeeding in life.
Will you please excuse more tonight. I should love to chat with you but I’m so far behind with my correspondence I’ve been writing letters since noon.
I love you my dear old Sis and I’m proud of you Hubert. May God preserve & bless you both until Happy days return.
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My dear Sister & Hubert.
I have nearly worn out your “Letter Card” of Sept 26th and need another note to replace it in my pocket. I expect there is one on the way. Hope so. And hope both of you are in your usual good health, and enjoying as much of happiness as it is possible to do under conditions prevailing with you. I understand you are going to inaugurate food supervision. That seems kinder [sic] tough, not to be allowed to eat what one wants, but I expect it is the proper thing to do under the circumstances. I know that the “British workman” when he has plenty of money is prone to be extravagant. They won’t be careful in their expenditure like you would be, and so I think it is wise on the part of your government to be careful for them. But at the same time I wish you were both here. I don’t like the thought of it. I have lots of meatless days but it is thro’ choice, not by edict. We always have such an abundance of meat here, too much, I think, a person uses only about 5% protein they say, then why eat meat three times per day? I drink lots of milk and a quart of milk is equal to ¾ lbs beef steak they tell us, and beans & peas are great sources of protein too, so a day or two in a week I pass meat and for bread we grind up our wheat fine and eat it all, the whole grain without taking out any bran. Of course we have to have fine flour for pastry & cakes etc but whole wheat bread is best we think. Then we use lots of cheese, Neufchatel Cheese. Mama makes it nearly every day and we eat it fresh when it is very digestible and nutritious. I am a crank on eating and give my diet credit for my activity and strength. I have no fear but that you will be allowed whatever is necessary for your wellbeing [sic] but it is the restriction that galls. However I know from your past loyalty that you will not begrudge a little self denial when your brave men are so freely giving their lives for the cause.
We are thro’ the throes of election and are thankful. Glad that our man Wilson still retains the Presidency. Harold cast his first vote this election and voted on my side. England will know someday if she doesn’t now that Wilson is O.K.
Lawrence won the race for prosecuting attorney of Buchanan County (St Joseph is the County Seat). Had a majority of nearly 4.000 over his opponent so we poured telegrams of congratulation in on him soon as we knew it. His salary will be $5.000 per year besides fees, so the whole family is tickled. We told him those of us who were too far away to work for him would wish hard for him. And it worked, for his opponent beat him 2 years ago by bout 2.000.
We are all well and prosperous around the circuit. Many thanks for [illegible]. Very good. Also Dbl Army Number Punch [?]. All the English here enjoyed them & still going. Beautiful weather still. All outside doors open, no fires. Lovely balmy day.
And now with fondest love I kiss you goodbye my dear old Sis. And God bless you Hubert.
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My dear Sister & Hubert,
I’ve a busy week ahead so must write my Christmas wishes tonight for by the time this reaches you it will begin to feel Christmassy [sic]. If you were here you would scarcely believe it was December. We have sat outside on the porch today just like summer, doors open & no fires. But I remember one Christmas day being just as warm and afterwards we had the worst winter I ever experienced. 25º below zero. So we may have lots of bad weather any day now but we are all snug for the winter whenever it comes. Finished our hay harvest Nov 27th so on the 30th which was “Thanksgiving Day” we sang.
“All in safety gathered in
Ere the wintry storms begin.”
Wish you could have celebrated Thanksgiving with us and helped to eat all the good cheer. We had a “stranger within our gates,” a young Baptist minister I found in the forest the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. He was hunting & about 400 miles from home so I had him come home and stay over Thanksgiving with us. We gave him a good time and talked to him about his wife & 2 little boys for whom he was growing homesick. He left us yesterday.
Was so sorry to know you had been sick my dear old Sis, and A.C. tells me Hubert was also sick. Are you sure you are well now. I do hope so. If we could only have been there to take all the worry off your hands & nurse you. Oh my! We’re no earthly use to you. It’s too bad we are separated so far, but hope you have some good neighbors. These people overdo the neighbor business. I remember nursing one very sick man here and on the first Sunday there were over 40 neighbors came to see him. Drove up in wagons etc & made a regular picnic of it. And Mama & a few other women cooked dinner for four sittings down. And the chatter & noise were pretty hard on the poor fellow who was very near death. Am sure I shall be glad to hear you are both well again.
Your pkg of clippings were very interesting thank you. That Schlagin [sic] —– (I mean the fellow whose name sounds like someone gargling) was sure a spy. The country was full of them. So is this country.
Was delighted to see you had bro’t down two more Zepps. That’s doing well. If the new Admiralty officials will now do something to the submarines I’ll hurrah for them. They are sending down too much good food, no wonder the price is high. Everything, both food and other merchandise has increased in price enormously here. Not necessarily but speculators have cornered necessities and the government hasn’t proved it on them yet. Law works slow. Meanwhile the consumer pays. But up in these hills I tell them we have solved the problem of “high cost of living” as we dig most of it out of old mother earth, all just the price of labor. But your turn will come again when you will be surrounded with peace & plenty, and then we shall all breathe free again.
You ask about Hughes. Probably not so important now he missed out. I’m a Wilson man. But Hughes is a clever, good principled man but he made a poor running. He is a learned and forceful man but a poor politician, cold, stand off, a poor “mixer” and altho he was the capitalists choice and they spent 3 million dollars in their endeavor to elect him, they failed. You know the President is not elected by direct popular vote. The names of the presidential candidates are not on the ballot at all. So altho’ Wilson had 400.000 more votes than Hughes, if Hughes had received 4.000 more votes in California he would have won and been the President. I expect you know all about the way they are elected tho.
Well! Another stormy, war raging Christmas. But every day there are more people earnestly praying for peace, and the tide will have to turn soon. Meanwhile, we all have to suffer and shall do for years after peace is proclaimed, but I feel and believe you concur that we can endure any other hardship if this slaughter of brave men will cease.
I think they realize that they will need men like Hubert after the war is over to assist in building up manufacture & trade again and will not send them to the front and risk their lives. They will need educators & technical mechanics and must reserve them for future needs. So I’m feeling pretty easy about H being called out. If he is he’ll make just as good soldier as he is a mechanic I know.
We love you think of you and hope you will enjoy Christmas together and we always end by wishing you were here.
Fondest love & best wishes in which Mama & the boys join.
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My dear old Sister & Hubert.
It is 1917 with you but we shall have to wait an hour yet. I am going to write the old year out. Thinking of my loved ones and hoping they are well and as happy as it is possible to be under existing conditions.
There’s so much peace talk floating around that I hope something will come of it, for I earnestly desire peace. If the war is continued, you are going to suffer, never mind if England has not accomplished what she set out to do. Neither have any of the other countries, and the whole world is tired of the conflict and ripe for a world peace compact. I think something can be formulated to avoid a recurrence of such awful carnage.
Hope you had a happy Christmas. Thank you for your dear letter and good wishes which arrived about 10 o’clock Christmas m’n’g [sic]. I was getting a little afraid they weren’t going to get here on time, was so glad to see your letter. We had a good time. No visitors, English fare, roast beef, plum pdg [sic] & mince pies. We failed to get a wild turkey, but butchered a steer a few days before Christmas. Harold shot a turkey a week before but we had it for dinner the Sunday a week before Xmas and had our neighbors here for altho they are so plentiful in the forest they are so wary that it takes an Indian to kill them. But Harold has the patience of an Indian. Time is too precious with me. I always think “time is life.”
We have had some cold weather just before Christmas, 12º below zero, and before that about a week 5 below. But Christmas day the snow was melting and we have had reasonable weather since.
Mama made a Christmas tree and trimmed it with tinsel & candles & gaudy toys and useful things, for 4 families who are poor wood choppers. They have 3 children each, so she had to provide for 12 children and their parents. She was working on her warm gifts & goodies for days, and then after they all had left tired & happy with their arms full, Mama regretted there was so little one could do in these woods to make people happy. I grabbed her and said, “You little old Santa. Not one of those people ever saw a Christmas tree before & never had Santa find them.” Oh! That isn’t much, she answered. But those poor folks’ hearts & backs will be warm all winter.
We sang Old Christians Awake just as we have done ever since I can remember. I hope it will be handed down by some of the family.
Win & Max keeps up the old traditions. They have 3 children and Win is a good provider and they make a big thing of these festivals just as Mama & I have always done. They are such landmarks to look back on and keep all from forgetting home.
I have told you about my nearest neighbors being Nihilists from Russia. There are 4 brothers but two were away from home when the week before Christmas one of them phoned for me to come. His brother had committed suicide by shooting himself. I rushed over ½ mile and his shirt was still afire where the charge had entered his heart. I smothered it with my hands. He had removed his shoe & stocking in order to work the trigger of the gun with his toe. It was a relief to see him dead for I always felt that someday it would be him or me. He was the most morose & dangerous man I have met in years. Always armed and I never am only on special occasions. The memory of his former life was too much for him I believe. The others are becoming Americanized but he, never!
Never mind sending any magazines while they are restricted. I saw a reference to Sir O. Lodges book in Lit Digest. Will send you one or two after rush is over.
Fondest love my dear old Sis and may your hearts fondest wish be relised [sic] in 1917. And your happiness be secured by peace coming & leaving you together.
Happy New Year for its 1917 now.