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Friday, December 18, 2015

Mirinda’s Missing Letters

John Andrews came of age in April 1852 and in the next several years seemed to make no effort to go courting, so his family began to worry and to tease him about finding someone with whom to share his life. To their efforts John returned an enigmatical reply, “I’m waiting for my girl to grow up.”

He did not tell anyone that the winter of 1851 he had seen a girl in his one-room school and had known inside himself that she was the one he would marry—eventually, for when he had seen her, she was not quite 11 years old. He couldn’t talk about it. He knew his family and friends would tease him, and more importantly, his mother might not like it that the girl was so very young. He waited, keeping track of the Piper family through their numerous moves around Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois, until Mirinda Piper had turned seventeen.

Before approaching Mirinda herself, he asked her father’s permission to write to her. Permission was granted, and Mirinda was surprised to receive a letter from John. Apparently her parents did not discuss it with her. She wrote back directly:

Lincoln August 18 – ’57 
Mr Andrews

I received your letter a few days since, and was much surprised on receiving a letter from one whom I supposed, had forgotten there was such a person in existence as myself. Although surprised I have not forgotten my schoolmates, and I must say I have spent some of the happiest hours of my life in the old schoolhouse at Farmersville. You speak of a correspondence, there are many cases where I would consider it objectionable, but I cannot think there would be anything improper in a friendly interchange of thought. Although my personal acquaintance with you has been slight, I have long been acquainted with your character, and have never heard anything about you that was not calculated to win respect; if such was not the case, I would hesitate very much before admitting a correspondence, let me assure you. You may think it strange that I have not answered you sooner, your letter was directed to the wrong place, and it was a mere accident that I ever received it. My address is Lincoln Logan Co,, Illinois.

Yours with respect, 
Mirinda Piper. 
Mr John Andrews.

This is a wonderful letter. Mirinda is modest, careful for her reputation, yet friendly and open. It is interesting that she had taken notice of a young man and had remembered him through the intervening years although they had been together in that school for only a short three months, and she had been so young and he so much older at the time.

The correspondence went on through that autumn and the next winter and spring. In June John came to visit the Piper family, and he asked Mirinda to marry him. She said yes, and her next letter after he had gone home is full of her happiness and anticipation. They were married the first day of autumn in 1858.

We once had all of Mirinda’s letters; somehow John’s were not saved. My dad gave them to me to read when I was a teenager. Being completely hooked on romance stories at the time, I was enthralled with this courtship-by-mail. During the course of the courtship, John asked Mirinda for a picture, and he sent her a daguerreotype that he had had taken of himself. She immediately went and had her own daguerreotype done and sent it back to him. My father let me have the two daguerreotypes to sit on my desk, and I studied them as I did my homework. When I put together my first book of remembrance about my life and heritage, I carefully inserted this first letter into an archival sleeve along with a picture of John and Mirinda sitting together when they were very elderly. It was one of my most treasured pages in the book.

Some decades later my father told me he had traded the letters and daguerreotypes to his cousin Winona for a clock that had belonged to John Andrews’s father. It was supposed to have been the clock that had been bought as a wedding gift in early 1828.

I had become good friends with Winona as a young woman, and we had visited and traded family history materials back and forth. But when I heard about the trade, I was dismayed. Ever since my high school days when I had been their temporary custodian, I had thought of those letters and daguerreotypes as “mine.” Since the letter in my book of remembrance was still there, I still have that original. My aunt told me she has another one, given her by my father at some point in time. I am thankful that he broke up the set, so to speak, if it means we still have two letters!

My dad gave me the clock. One night I saw a clock on Antiques Roadshow that was said to be from the period of around 1830, and it did not look anything like my clock. I looked it up on the internet. It was not the 1828 clock. The model is from around 1875. I love clocks, but this one gave me mixed feelings. I had no idea now whether it was even an Andrews clock. I supposed it was; Winona had said it had been in the Andrews home, and she had lived there, so she had known. My dad’s supposition that it had been in the Farmersville, Indiana Andrews home was clearly incorrect. It had instead been in the Rockford, Illinois Andrews home, probably bought by John and Mirinda at some point. But I mourned the letters. I meant to ask Winona to photocopy them all for me.

And then I heard from her that she had donated them to a tiny museum in southern Indiana very near Farmersville, along with the dagguereotypes and some other papers. My husband and son and I took a trip to that area and decided to add a look at the museum and the Farmersville Andrews farm to our itinerary. We found the museum after a phone call to Winona for specific directions, but it was closed, and we were unable to stay an extra few days until it was open again. We also found the farm and inspected the cemetery graves of John Andrews’s father and sister that were there.

Winona died about seven years ago. I meant to ask the museum about getting copies of the letters and dagguereotypes, but by the time I tried to look up the phone number, the museum had closed for good, and I have not been successful at finding out what happened to its contents.

All I have are tiny poor-quality scans of the dagguereotypes and typewritten transcripts of the letters that my dad had made before he let them go out of his hands.

Where are the originals now? I wonder.
The Lost Daggeureotypes
Here are my transcriptions of the transcriptions (nothing like 3rd hand stuff, right?):

Lincoln, September 14th, 1857
Mr. Andrews:

I received yours of the 1st and was much interested with your account of the fair. I certainly should have admired those paintings very much, as I am a great admirer of such things. You ask if I ever draw any now. I do sometimes, but I have not improved much in pencil drawing. I use crayon on mochromatic board. I like it very much better. I have some few pieces, but they are such poor specimens I would not wish anyone to see them that was a judge of such things. We had a county fair here at Lincoln, last week. I attended one day. Everything passed off well. I think they are a great benefit to a country when they are well managed; but of course a county fair is a very small affair to what a National fair is.

I do not wish you to think I weary of your letters; although I do not write long letters myself, I am always pleased to receive a long letter from a friend.

In your first letter you ask permission to call upon me. I grant your request, but I think by your letter you will be disappointed when you see me. I think you have overrated me. As I have nothing more of interest to write, I will close.

Yours with respect
Mirinda Piper.
Mr. John Andrews.

Lincoln, Ill., Oct. 5, ’57
Mr. Andrews:

In reply to yours of the 21st I will say that your description of the prairie state was much better than I could have given it; if there is any subject that I grow enthusiastic about it is the beauty of these prairies. Lincoln, the county seat of this county, is situated on the Chicago, Alton and St. Louis railroad; it is a flourishing little town where four years ago there was nothing to be seen but unbroken prairie, now there is between twelve and fourteen hundred inhabitants, five churches, seven or eight stores, besides quite a number of shops of every kind. We live one mile from Lincoln on what I think a very pretty farm. One half mile from our house is Salt creek, a beautiful stream, which never dries up at any time of the year. There is a large hill just this side of the creek, and there is the most lovely view from the hill that I ever saw. It is true, we have not the improvements on our place that many of the Indiana farmers have, still there is yet time for improvements. The farmers here seem to have no other wish but the acquire money and lands, and they often neglect the improvement of their homes, and sometimes their minds; but this is a new country and is fast improving, and it will not always be so. Illinois will certainly surpass every other state in the Union, she has so many advantages, such great resources, the soil is fertile, and there is an almost boundless extent of territory.

It is true, we can judge some of the present by the past but not always. My opportunities, since I saw you, have been limited, owing to various causes. If you will permit me, I will copy a few lines from an obscure author, which is not much read, but I think is somewhat applicable to this case.

“Why should the gay bird see the flower?
That grows neath the cottage eaves,
There are finer blooms in the neighboring tower,
All twined with the rich green leaves.”

Now I think this is quite a long letter considering the writer; if I had anything more of consequence to write I certainly would keep on, but as I have not I think best to quit.

Respectfully yours,
Mirinda Piper.
Mr. John Andrews.

In the summer of 1857, John Andrews proposed to his brother-in-law, James Hinkley, that they go to Illinois and buy a farm and start a large orchard, as the fruit business then looked promising. About the first of November 1857, they went to Washington County, Illinois, near DuBois, and bought 165 acres at $15 an acre. While in Illinois, John Andrews went to Lincoln and visited the Pipers.

Lincoln, Nov. 26th, 1857
Mr. Andrews:

You crave an early answer – well, really, I do not know whether you deserve one or not, but I accept your apology, for like yourself, I have been much occupied since you left which made the hours seem much shorter than they otherwise would have done. Your letter gave me pleasure but do you judge others by yourself when you say “the longer delayed, etc.”?

There are very few young gentlemen that find the city a dull place; often they enjoy nothing better and go headlong into every temptation and allurement that promises so much pleasure but, which in the end, proves to be only pain.

I must confess I felt some hesitation in corresponding before we had met (at least for so long) for I thought on further acquaintance your impressions would be very different from what they were heretofore; and you must know if I had not had the most perfect confidence in you I never would have answered your first letter, as I did; but it seems from your letter that you have not changed your opinion and I have not had reason to change mine. I cannot have any objection to a correspondence which has not been unpleasant, at least to me.

I admit I was mistaken in regard to your being reserved and distant. It was for the want of acquaintance. I now think very differently.

Many thanks for your little present, the pen. True, it wields a great power in the hand of those disposed to make good of it, but we cannot have good without evil, and I often think a great deal of the literature of the present day is worse than none. We were all much pleased with your visit; for as a friend of mine often remarks, we have many visitors but very little company. We have been experiencing some of the delights of a northern winter; the ground is covered with snow and the wind has been howling and shrieking around, trying to find a place to enter, but the weather has moderated some now and I hope we shall have some more fine weather this fall.

Pray do not be uneasy about the length of your letters. You ought to be thankful you have something to write!

I remain yours with respect,
Mirinda Piper.
Mr. Andrews

Lincoln, Dec. 20, 1857
Respected Sir:

I hardly know how to begin my letter—but I suppose it is very little difference so it is commenced some way.

I was much pleased to hear of the marriage of Mr. Duckworth to Miss Erwin, all of “Posey county” but will add I have not the honor of their acquaintance.

It is truly distressing to hear of so many being carried off with the “matrimonial epidemic”, but I rejoice to say it is not so here, I have not heard of a wedding for quite a long time.

The weather is quite pleasant now and looks as if it would stay so, but very likely before two days the ground will be frozen and the snow feathering down as if it would take revenge on us for having such a fine time.

We are having some carpenter work done to our house and it is not impossible that we may have a gate to our yard fence; interesting news, is it not?

The health of the people is very good at this time. Asa has not entirely recovered from his sickness but I think he is mending now.

Christmas will soon be here, but I suppose it will pass off as usual, without any accident or noise, except the firing of a few guns at Lincoln and Postville and the shouts of some enthusiastic little boys. Then will come the new year with all its unknown changes. How many joys, sorrows and anxieties do we pass through in one short year. How little do we know at the beginning of a year what will befall us before another year rolls round. We may have passed away to that unknown world from whence no traveler ever returns.

But I will not weary you with moralizing. I have warned you of the evils that may be expected to arise from choosing so dull a correspondent, but I see I make no impression on you. I resign you to your fate. As there is room for improvement, it is to be hoped that, dull as I am, I may improve.

You speak of writing—well, I will write again if it is any pleasure to you, for I am always happy if I am giving others pleasure, especially if I am receiving a share at the same time myself.

I believe I have exhausted my very fertile imagination so I will bid you good bye for the present.

I remain                              
very respectfully yours,
Mirinda Piper
Mr. John Andrews

There are twenty more letters to go! Here is the next installment: Missing Letters of Mirinda Piper, part 2.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A 19th-Century Religious Enthusiast and His Memoirs

A Sketch of the Life and Travels of Elder Andrew Jackson Norton

My great-grandfather Ernest John Andrews was researching his great-grandfather Asa Norton in 1924 and came across this account of the life of Andrew Jackson Norton, one of his mother’s cousins. I cannot find a copy of the original; what I inherited was a photocopy of a typewritten transcript. I copied it word-for-word but changed the punctuation to make it more readable and added paragraph breaks. He rarely used punctuation at all, and when he did, often it was in the wrong place; sometimes I have left it as he wrote it to give the flavor of his style. Anything in square brackets was inserted by me. Ernest J. Andrews was a careful and thorough genealogist and found evidence that proves some of what Andrew Jackson Norton says about his father’s family is incorrect; my notes at the end explain where the errors are and what the records prove to be true. It is not surprising that he made errors; both his parents were dead by the time he was seven years old, and most of his siblings were also dead. From the little he wrote, it seems that when he was a young man he was not much interested in knowing family details. But the things that occupied his thoughts were quite interesting enough.

Hampton, November 25, 1873.

My grandfather, Stephen Norton, was born in the State of New York near the city in the year 1755; his wife, two years younger, was born in 1757. Both of English descent, they were married in the year 1776. They settled near the city on 160 acres of land and remained there till the year 1815. He sold his farm for four thousand dollars, removed to and settled in Ohio, near where Springfield now stands, with the view of helping his children, five boys and three girls. They all married but two.

The eldest, Asa [see note 1], was in merchandise in the city for several years; when the War of Twelve broke out, he enlisted and served with honor as a quartermaster general. My Father was the next—Benjamin Franklin Norton [see note 2] and Reuben were rather weakly. They were educated and graduated at the Yale College with honor, received their diplomas and proved very successful in the practice of medicine. My Father bought a tax title to six hundred and forty acres of land, a soldier claim, four of them built there and Father and Grandfather built a mill on a stream; the dam washed out, they rebuilt, and the mill dam and all washed out soon, and the heirs to the land came on, they paid again, other heirs claimed, they lawed them till they spent nearly all they had and had to pay twice more, then sold it to two of my uncles for four horses and two wagons.

Father and Grandfather drove to the Ohio River, shipped aboard a family boat for Illinois going down the Ohio River, landed on the Kentucky side opposite Vevy, Indiana where I was born in the year 1818, March the 13th. They crossed over to Vevy and lived there till fall, then moved west to a town called Washington, where mother died the next March, leaving five living children, four boys and a girl [see note 3]. There were seven boys dead, one fell on a knife—it entered his brain, one drowned, one scalded. We were scattered. My father’s sister Lydia Goodrich that never had any children to live took me to raise as one of her own [see note 4].

My father married again when I was five years old. By this union he had one son and he died in the town of Palmyra, Illinois. At his death I was seven years old. My Grandfather Stephen Norton lost nearly all his property by sickness and bad luck and died when I was three years old [1821]. His wife died the next year [1822].

My uncle [Goodrich] settled in Crawford County, Illinois, fifteen miles above Vincennes, Indiana. The settlers were few and far between. Very little schooling could I get, my uncle paying nine dollars per quarter, I going two or three days and staying at home to work. He was born and brought up in the State of Vermont near Montpelier with sufficient education to teach schools. He taught me more at home than I received at school. He and me read the Bible through before I was twelve years old. I read aloud he correcting me, they kept me very strict and moral not allowing me to swear nor practice any bad habits. They were kind and corrected me often as I no doubt needed it. I had to bow to and reverence older persons and be attentive to and respectful to all religious assemblies, they being Predestinarian Baptist.

My parents and grandparents on both sides were of that order. My father and grandfather on my mother’s side were both ordained ministers, also an older brother but I cared for none of those things—had I been permitted would have spent much time in worldly amusements, till I was in my twentieth year in the month of December.

While at school in the evening we were told to inform all we saw that Elder R.N. Newport would preach at that house at candlelight, it being a Predestinarian Baptist house built of hewed logs. Was a good house of the kind, it was used for schools also; as we left the house my cousin and chum said, “Uncle Dick has come again and he will catch a good many this time.” I said I did not know how many he would catch but one thing I did know, he would not catch me. Three of us returned with young ladies to see and to be seen, caring not for spiritual things as our natural minds could not discern them. We would not have exchanged conditions with any professor present, thinking we was as good and even better than some, but had respect to age and then as a religious assembly.

About the middle of the discourse there was something came over me that I could not account for, similar to electricity, that opened my eyes to behold myself a greater sinner. I had from a small boy believed I was a sinner and intended when settled in life to reform and God would pardon and I would be saved. I know I felt the force of Paul’s language to the Ephesians: you hath he quickened [Ephesians 2:1] the eyes of your understanding being enlightened [Ephesians 1:18]. I now could feel as well as see that I was a sinner.

I did not want anyone to know what had occurred and tried to be lively but before I had gone one and a quarter miles I left my company and went into the secret grove, there tried to pray for the first time in my life that God to give me an ease of mind, expecting by prayer and reformation to appease the wrath of God, but all my tears, prayers and reformations brought no relief. Christ says, “Ask and ye shall receive.” I began to wonder and enquire for the cause I read the thoughts of foolishness is sin, and I think foolish all of the time. Christ said, “from the heart proceeds all manner of evil” [see Luke 6:45]. Oh what shall I do or whither flee to escape the vengeance done to me. I then wandered alone in the secret grove and tried to pray in many secluded spots, my prayers to be a chattering noise so mixed with sin and evil thoughts that a thrice holy God would not deign to hear.

I thought the Lord would hear the holy man of God, a faithful minister in my behalf, this failed also. I had a dream that showed my doom. I visited my only sister and a brother fifteen miles distant to bid them farewell, could not enjoy their company and returned the next day, expecting to die on the road. When I got home I thought I would go to a secluded spot and try to pray once more. I dared not kneel and wandered to where no mortal eye could see. I knelt, in the midst of my petition heard a noise behind me and I sprang to my feet, saw a wounded deer and dog close to it. I knew it must die and the dog ready to kill it, yet it had no soul to suffer forever. I would have gladly exchanged conditions with it or anyone of the brute creation.

I returned and went to see a brother, distant half mile, having no idea of living to see the sun rise again, while hearing them sing “Amazing Grace” my breath seemed to grow shorter. I thought I was breathing my last, but Oh what a miracle of grace for as they sang “tis grace has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home,” as quick as thought my trouble left me; I could read my title clear to [a] mansion above; I could shout for joy, could have embraced my enemy and pointed to Jesus’ blood and said, “Behold the way to God.”

I was foolish enough to think I could convert others, but when I tried I failed. I now say it was by grace I was saved, and not by works. I thought my trouble all over, felt like I could fly, but in less than an hour the Devil told me, You have dreamed or imagined it, it may be you are mistaken, for Christians are changed soul and body, think no evil, do no wrong, you had better not tell it yet for three days and two nights.

I tried to get my trouble back and mourned because I could not mourn, as I did before, being greatly troubled as the sun went down; while all alone the Lord appeared or lifted upon me the light of his reconciled countenance. I clapped my hands for joy and said I never will doubt it again, but Oh how far short have I come of keeping the ordinance blameless before God. I often doubted having met the necessary change; two days after the above occurred I told the Little Village Church a few of the dealings of the Lord with me and was received and baptized by Elder Thomas Young. I lived a very happy life and not feeling willing at any time for years to lay down to sleep without returning thanks to God and asking his protecting care.

In the year 1839, December 19th I united in wedlock with Miss Mary Ann Jeffers, in Jessamine County, Kentucky. She was born there in December 19, 1818. She was the eldest daughter of Elder Robert Jeffers, former resident of Henry County, Kentucky, but at the above date a resident of Crawford County, Illinois, near where I was raised. We commenced keeping house one week after our marriage in a house on my uncle’s land. I worked at the carpenter and joiner trade. I had learned of it of my uncle who was a first class workman. I had studied considerable but being poor was not able to graduate and get a diploma and resolved to gain a living at my trade which I did principally for thirty two years.

At the birth of our eldest, a son, my wife remained almost helpless for eight months. She was in trouble of mind similar to the way I described my trouble and when not expected to live; she raised up in bed to tell me she was dying in her sins, but the Lord moved her load of sin at that moment and instead of saying she was dying in her sins, she clapped her hands for joy and said, “The Lord has forgiven me all my sins.” We then were very happy.

The Devil soon made her believe that she was mistaken, telling her she was so low and weak that she imagined it. She was not changed at this time. Elder T. Young the pastor of our church called to see her and asked her to give a relation of her hope in Christ. She said she had none. He laughed. She thought he was wicked for laughing at her condition, but Christ revealed himself again, and she could tell what the Lord had done and as soon as she was able, she told some of the exercises of her mind to the Little Village Church and she was received and baptized by Elder T. Young.

I was then very happy and thought my troubles over, but Oh many troubles have I seen since.

In June 1841 I was engaged all alone framing timber in the woods and thinking of my brother’s qualifications for a minister, who the church had licensed to preach a few days before. I wondered if the Lord had called him up to preach. I could not see any signs of a preacher in him and could see more qualifications in many of my acquaintances and even more in myself than in him. While exalting myself about him the Lord spoke to me with such force that it rang in my ears for weeks, that I heard little else nor cared for nothing but to erase it from my mind in the following words: “Thou shalt also preach the gospel: be instant in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke with all long suffering and doctrine, and then see which will be beloved of the Brethren.”

I was then ready to acknowledge the Lord knew best and perfectly willing he [my brother] should preach or anyone but me at that time. I had a wife and one child, and scarcely anything but my daily labor for their support, and preaching salvation by grace was then, as now, not popular, and my family would suffer. That I could not bear, so I thought I would engage in steady business and work it off, but it only gave momentary relief. I prayed God to remove my trouble and send someone else, but alas! no relief could I get; it pressed me with such weight that I could not live and bear it any longer. I must preach or die. Oft it would ring in my ears: “Preach the word, preach the preaching I bid.” I was like Moses, slow of speech and stammering tongue, so unworthy, unqualified in every sense it looked like, almost burying my family, and to go and preach! I finally prayed the Lord to give me an ease of mind till I could gain by honest labor five hundred dollars, then I could with my labor support my family and preach some; then I would submit.

After this my mind was not weighted so great, was more easy at times, but when I was at meeting, or I could not stay away, I could not leave without saying a few words. I seemed I would die if I did not face my mind; the church granted me license to preach or exercise my gift wherever God in his providence cast my lot, [and] the Lord prospered me or blessed my labor so that I owned forty six acres of heavy timbered land. I built a comfortable log house, cleared fifteen acres, and I remained there until May 1846 when I moved to Beloit, Rock County, Wisconsin.

[There] I thought I would not let anyone know I was a professor [of religion] and I could work it off, for I often thought it was all a whim of the brain, but Elder Jeffers went with me which I did not expect. It annoyed me very much, he would call me up and I would free my mind. We constituted a church of seven members and called it the First Predestinarian Baptist Church of Beloit. The Lord blessed my labors so that I had more than I had asked and yet was not ready in the fall of 1847. The only horse I had died, soon after the only hog I had of two hundred weight died, soon after all cows I had died. That winter myself and family spent visiting in Crawford County, Illinois, our old home that I yet owned, was at several meetings, returned to Rock County, Wisconsin, March the 7th 1848 still unwilling to obey my Lord.

In the fall of 1849 I had a comfortable home, owed no man anything, had money on interest, felt independent, only spoke in public once in a while. My youngest young son came down with lung fever, was very low, and as soon as he could sit up my elder son was taken with the typhoid fever and he was not expected to live from one hour to another for fifteen days and nights, and when he could sit up my wife was taken sick and her youngest daughter was born. My wife was helpless most of the time for over two years. I sat by her bed at night in my rocking chair where she could touch me. I became so used to her moans and wants that almost every move would wake me. I watched and waited on her for three months and during that time I never took off my clothes to lay down to sleep.

It made me think it was better to obey than to sacrifice and hearken than the fat of rams. I was like Jonah thrown on the shore of the ocean of love nearly destitute. I then moved in February 26, 1851 to Scales Mound in Jo Daviess County, Illinois. I now exercised my gift often in public. I was ordained in June of that year by Elders Robert Jeffers and William Long and Deacon S.V. Allison. I remained there until November and in company with William Conly carried on a wagon and Blacksmith shop. While there I assisted to constitute a church at Carnarecha, Iowa. When I got off the boat at Galena, [I] tried to save a dollar and walked home, twelve miles, and bruised my foot so I done nothing for six weeks.

I then moved to the town of Wayne in La Fayette County, Wisconsin, where I had bought eighty acres of land and improved it. The church we had constituted in Beloit all moved and settled adjoining farms in my neighborhood. We then changed the name from Beloit to Mount Pleasant retaining the Predestinarian. I built a small house of worship and held our meetings regular once or twice a month, also held a prayer meeting once a week, at night in winter at 4 o’clock p.m., for three years at one time without intervention. The church increased in number so that three entire churches and a goodly number of two more have been constituted from members lettered off from it. I remained there seventeen years and traveled in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana, and once in Kentucky, preaching at Associations and churches with great success.

The Lord filled my mouth with arguments by his spirit so the gainsayers acknowledged the Lord was with me and the brethren were comforted and strengthened which encouraged me and I continued traveling to fill requests and had I done nothing else could not have filled one half the requests nor can I now. This caused me to trust the Lord for all I needed, working when I could always get plenty to do tried every way to please my employers so I could get work when I needed it and was very lucky in getting my pay, the Lord giving me abundant crops, increasing my herds, blessed me in my basket and in my store in accordance with my faithfulness in what was revealed to be my duty; when I slackened in duty, my comforts lessened in proportion.

To illustrate, I had promised to attend a church meeting 18 miles distant, when the day came to go my wife said I had better stay at home. I knew had better stay at home and I knew I ought to go and felt I ought to stay for my house had to be plastered before cold weather, my plowing had to be done and if I took my only span of horses neither could be forwarded till Monday. I resolved to stay and sent my two boys for a load of sand. When they got in a mile of home one of the wheels mashed down and I could not get it home till I filled the wheel. I sent them after the wheel and they broke the buggy. I told my oldest son to go to plowing—I had a new plow—and he soon broke the beam out. I sent him to digging potatoes and he soon broke the hoe handle, and then I told him to go to bed as he had broke all the tools; it took two days to get where I started in the morning, so I lost more than I had gained. I always lost in like manner when I failed to obey or do as I agreed.

During the seventeen years of my residence in La Fayette County, Wisconsin, I visited many churches in Illinois, distant by rail from one hundred and fifty to two and three hundred miles, from one to four times a year, being absent from two to six weeks at a time. When on one of these tours going from one Association to another I tried to preach at the schoolhouse in Knox County, Illinois, where the Henderson Church held their meetings at two o’clock and Brother Deans at night, the next morning Brother Loverage was taking me ten miles to the train where I was to meet others going to another Association. We had not time to lose, before we had gone one mile I was met two different men in great agony. They requesting me to stop and pray for them one half a mile a part, I spoke comforting to them, told them I was nothing but a man, that the Lord alone could do them good and repeated some of his language: “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted, blessed are they that do hunger and thirst for they shall be filled,” no mistake, he is able, he is willing, doubt no more. I was there requested to stay a week for they believed the Lord was with me. I told them the Lord could work over the head of all opposition and would bring the blind by a way they knew not and paths they never knew when the appointed time came.

My duties called me hence; had a pleasant interview at the other Association and tried to preach day and night until I got home and found all prospering and my wife smiling, not crying as she was when I left for fear we would be ruined. The Lord opened the hearts of the people to take what I could spare to give me work so I paid all I owed, three hundred and fifty dollars to one man, that fall and winter so I was content to serve him two months.

Two months after the above mentioned tour I visited the Henderson Church again in November and preached twice a day and once at night for two weeks. I never had seen such a manifestation of the outpouring of the spirit of the Lord and for ten and even fifteen miles around the people of all classes and denominations were drawn together to see and hear for themselves, acknowledging the Lord was doing a marvelous work among the people; during this time a poor unworthy servant was permitted to baptize eighteen willing and I believed gospel subjects at that church and also many others; at other places in Illinois and Wisconsin I labored almost day and night either in the gospel field, at my trade or on the farm of 70 acres under the plow and all this time without receiving one dollar as a salary.

I never did hire out to preach neither would I now if they would give me a million a year. I was always ready to accept freewill offerings but not as hire. My R. Road fare has been partly paid by my brethren, I having paid out hundreds of my own. The salary system is a great inducement to many lovers of filthy lucre to adopt the ministry as a profession, who God has not called to the work nor qualified and they having learned in one school and Paul in another, they learned of men, Paul of God, they quote the language of their teachers, Paul his qualifications 1st and 11th and 12th but I certify you brethren that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man for I neither received it of man neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ [Galations 1:11–12] 16th vr. to reveal his son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood [Gal. 1:16]. 3 ch. 7 vs. whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power [Gal. 3:7]. Gal. 1 ch. 1 vs. Paul, an Apostle (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father [Gal. 1:1]. 8th vs. but though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed [Gal. 1:8]. Now unless God called and also puts the words in their mouth, how can he preach like Paul? If we could we are to be accursed; we should read and examine for ourselves and compare what men preach with what Paul preached, or how can we know what we receive? If the Lord has not called and qualified me to preach Jesus Christ as the way of the truth and the life [John 14:6], the master, the husband that loved his bride with an everlasting love, and the stronger than death who paid the last farthing of her immense debt. Justice says let the prisoners go free, I have found a ransom the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come to join with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads [see Isaiah 51:11], and when he who is our life shall appear, then shall we appear with him in glory [Colossians 3:4]; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away [Isaiah 35:10]; when they see him they shall be like him, for they shall see him as he is [see 1 John 3:2]; she shall be brought in to the king in raiment of needlework [Psalms 45:14] and wrought gold; he is to present himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing [Ephesians 5:27].

The speakers of the above language speak of those having authority and not as the scribes [see Matthew 7:29 and Mark 1:22]; if I speak not like the above it is because there is no light in me and I have no business in the field. There are thousands of living witnesses that I have not shunned to declare salvation by grace not for price nor reward, but to the honor of my King and to feed the flock over the which the Holy Ghost I trust hath made me overseer. I am like Paul: if I seek to please men I cease to be the servant of Christ [Galations 1:10]; I try to please my King.

But to return to my farm. I had two good boys to work and with my wife to manage though in poor health for many years, having two good girls to help her in the house, they with what I done managed to get a comfortable living. I educated my oldest son and two girls so they could teach and the oldest girl taught five quarters before she married A.H. Minor. He had some means from his father’s estate, and I gave them forty acres of rough gruly [sic] land, he paying fifty dollars and they improved it, and I also gave my oldest son forty acres and he paying fifty dollars income once. Those fortys I valued at two hundred each and gave my two younger children two hundred each in good property when they married. My two youngest were each married in one day. My sons and sons in law were all in the Army of the Rebellion and came out discharged honorably. H.D. Brown was a veteran with two discharges and he married my youngest daughter in 1865 while she was teaching her first term.

I rented my farm to my youngest son and went to Freeport, Illinois and worked at my trade and attended three churches once a month by rail paying my own expenses, also two Associations in December 1866. I came back to my farm and my wife and we went south in Illinois and visited four churches, five weeks from home and had a very pleasant trip. The next summer H.D. Brown tended my farm and I worked at my trade and tended many churches and two Associations; in November 1867 my wife and me went south as far as Vincennes, Indiana. I was engaged most of the time in the Gospel field and had pleasant interviews and returned in March 1868.

There was much more of this, but nothing of value to me.

[This is a penciled note by Ernest John Andrews at the end of the typescript, indicating that there was no more genealogical information in the rest of the life story, so he stopped copying at this point.]

1 Asa was not the eldest of the children of Stephen and Sibyl Norton; the children were probably born in this order: Benjamin Franklin, Asa, Olive, Theodore, James, Delia, Samuel, Joel, Reuben, Stephen, Lydia, Sarah.
2 Benjamin Franklin Norton was positively older than his brother Asa Norton.
3 Mary Kelsey Norton (Andrew’s mother) died in March 1819 in Washington, Indiana. It is not known who Benjamin Franklin Norton’s second wife was. Andrew Jackson Norton’s known siblings include Benjamin F. Norton, born in 1810; Alonzo Norton, and Mary Ann Norton. The names of the rest of the children are unknown.
4 Lydia Norton married first Sewell Goodrich (or Goodridge), and after he died in the 1840s, she married James Grimes. Sewell Goodrich was the uncle who helped Andrew Jackson Norton learn to read the Bible. Lydia and Sewell took in Andrew’s older sister too, although Andrew does not mention the fact. It is recorded on the 1830 Census. In 1840 the Census shows that Andrew, his wife, and his older sister were all living with the same aunt and uncle.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Newsroom “Pomes” 1914 – 1918

These poems (“pomes”) were written by the staff of the Elkhart Truth before and during the First World War. They used to type these and paste them on the wall above their desks. Enjoy!

R.E.A. = Robert “Bob” Edmond Allen
B.B. = Beatrice Boedefeld
M.M.F. = Maurice Mahurin Frink
B.F.B. = Beatrice “Fairfax” Boedefeld (Fairfax was her nickname there; Beatrice Fairfax was the well-known writer of the first newspaper advice column)
T.H.K. = Thomas H. Keene
Dickie = cub reporter whose full identity is unknown

The snow is gently falling
New York is loudly calling
But the fake coke in the fuel box
Claims me first.
  The elements are squalling
  And many orphans bawling
  But this office force in winter
  Needs me worst
So we’ll let the snow fall
And we’ll let New York call
To Hell with elements, orphans and all

The Truth force had a little fire
And it was fed on coke
But every day that fire went out.
It got to be a joke.
That joke our Robert couldn’t see
When he the fire built
And with the others of the force
He had full many a tilt.
“Why does the force love Robert so?”,
The new reporter cried
“Cause Robert makes the fire go,”
The office force replied.

The smoke goes up the chimney
Then returns as if ’twere loath
To leave this haunt of journalists
Where ne’er is heard an oath.
It circles round and round the room
It hangs upon the wall
It covers us, our clothing too
With its begriming pall.
But no complaint is ever heard
Our spirits but rise higher
For we are sure that where there’s smoke
There also must be fire.

The cost of living is going higher
Christmas time is coming nigher
Why should We worry about the figher?

Fireman spare that stove
Touch it not while peeved
At times it madly strove
To make us feel relieved
When Wintry blasts were furious
Now can’t you see, you Bloke
The trouble’s with that spurious
Blasted blank bum coke?

Damn, damn, damn the fire
That arouses everybody’s ire
That coke is sure
An awful joke
Hence this swan song
Of provoke.

[Tom Keene married Bessie Simmons in September 1914]

Oh have he went and gone and did
The thing that oft I warned him not
Oh knows he not the fate he courts
Captivity that he should bid?
He have him tied though warned I he
That thusly he should never do
I weep in vain and here extend
To him my meed of sympathy.
Dickie, newest of the gang
Tom who like Caruso sang
Alphabet did it years ago
About Be at’trice I don’t know
But there’s one thing I am sure in –

One more rhyme on the walls of time
To gaze on Tom from above.
A nice little wife is just the kind
To have, to hold, to love.

Oh warblers of the force
Who chart the joyful news
Pray save the leather of your lungs
For leather will make shoes.
And if your feet are bare you know
I think you will stand little show
Of treading the path I am to go
So Stop, Look and Listen, Bo.
The Victim.

Here is a pome on Bob’s misfortunes in love.
O am he went and are he gone
And did he leave I all alone
Oh cruel fate you is unkind
To take he fore and leave I hind

Oh am he went and are he gone
And did he leave I all alone
And will he ne’er return to I?
Oh said not such, it cannot was,

[magazine clipping:]

I’ve been a good fellow;
Earned all I’ve spent;
Paid all I borrowed;
Lost all I’ve lent.
Once loved a woman;
That came to an end.
Get a good dog, boys;
He’s always your friend.

The reporters and editors took turns writing the verses to the next pome. I am betting verse 4 was written by Bee Boedefeld.

This old world is a hell of a place,
With nothing to do but work.
There is always trouble enough for all
Be you pastor, reporter or clerk.

Newspaper work is the worst of all.
It sure is a damned hard life.
You can’t make enough to support yourself,
Let alone supporting a wife.

But cheer up my old downtrodden friend,
The worst is yet to come,
To have a wife is bad enough
But what IF you had a son?

So stop and think it over boys,
Before you cast your die.
Be assured that e’er the race of life is run,
You’ll have to heave many a sigh.

So stick your chin up in the air,
Tell your boss to go to hell.
If you don’t like the way we do our work,
Just toll the parting knell.

Here is the pome that celebrates the mistakes they found in their own paper!

There was a man in our town,
Who, being wondrous wise,
Once sat him down to read The Truth,
When this did meet his eyes:

When he had studied it for a time
And at last succeeded in gleaning
From those three scrambled lines
A vague resemblance to their meaning,

He turned him to another sheet,
The end of a yarn to see
Which the bottom line on the front page
Said was “(Continued on Page Three.)”

From northeast corner to the far southwest
That patient man scoured every line;
And at length he learned that Truth’s “Page Three”
Is often on Page Nine.

So then he turned him back again
To where he’d started from,
Thinking to read the war news,
Thus to hear the far-off drum.

A startling headline there he found,
That made his blood run cold,
Which of “line hurled back” and “claims by Russ”
And “enormous losses” told”: —

In desperation, with befuddled brain,
The poor man news and stories spurned
And, ever cheerful, hope pursuing,
He to the Want Ads turned.

’Twas there the last hard blow was struck,
For as he read them through
He found one rather puzzling, for
Which I don’t blame him. Do you?

Then the Kind Reader his tongue unloosed,
And, while one cannot praise his diction,
One must agree with his sentiment: —
“Damn if The Truth AIN’T stranger than fiction!”


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Only with a Manual Typewriter

Here is a little ditty and illustration that one of Bee Boedefeld’s friends sent to her at the beginning of the United States involvement in the First World War.

I tried to reproduce the soldiers using Word’s graphics capabilities, but they’re awkward and just don’t look quite right:
Their guns should be a stronger stroke. But the computer program doesn’t know how to do that. Their arms are odd, their pants too wide. The courier font on the computer is not the same as the one on the old typewriter. The ampersand is all wrong. I can’t find a font where it looks anything like the old typewriter.

Bring me back an old typewriter. And plenty of ribbons for it too.

So, here is an update! My friend told me that this poem is actually one of a bazillion parodies of a well-known World War I song that I had not known about, “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier”—an anti-war song by Alfred Bryan and Al Piantadosi.

Here are the lyrics:

Verse 1:
Ten million soldiers to the war have gone,
Who may never return again.
Ten million mother’s hearts must break
For the ones who died in vain.
Head bowed down in sorrow
In her lonely years,
I heard a mother murmur thru' her tears:

I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier,
I brought him up to be my pride and joy.
Who dares to place a musket on his shoulder,
To shoot some other mother’s darling boy?
Let nations arbitrate their future troubles,
It’s time to lay the sword and gun away.
There’d be no war today,
If mothers all would say,
“I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier.”

Verse 2:
What victory can cheer a mother’s heart,
When she looks at her blighted home?
What victory can bring her back
All she cared to call her own?
Let each mother answer
In the years to be,
Remember that my boy belongs to me!

Repeat Chorus 2x

Monday, November 23, 2015

Letters from Newsmen—Mac Gildea, Pat Malone, Jack McCloskey, and Louie Bressler

Bee Boedefeld worked for the Elkhart Truth from 1910 through most of 1919. You can read more about that in her series, “Ten Years in the Newspaper Game.” During that time many reporters came and went, but a few formed friendships that Bee treasured. She kept the letters and postcards sent by some of these colleagues in her scrapbook. Here are letters from several of those reporters.

This first letter is from Mac Gildea who had followed Maurice Mahurin Frink in going to Columbia University’s School of Journalism in the fall of 1916. Edward Mac Gildea was born 24 Feb 1896 in Elkhart, Indiana, to Augustus Gildea and Mary McCurry. He was a cub reporter before he went to New York City. His passport shows that he joined the American Ambulance Field Service and went to France July 14, 1917. After his return, he went back into newspaper work but not as a reporter. After the war he married a woman named Mary, but in 1930 he was living in New York City with a 20-year-old woman named Alice while Mary was living at home in Elkhart, still claiming to be his wife. He died November 5, 1945 in Chicago.

In-fernald hall; shortly be-
fore the w.k. Witching Hour
on the 15th evening of No-
vember; 19and16 A.D.
To the Darlingest Gang:

It is a fact, well known to me, that France acquired Alsace, Metz, Toul, and Verdun in 1648. Well known, I say, for I have spent the evening in mapping for a waiting world the history of these places. Now I will endeavor to place Elkhart on the map.

In the very firstest place let me say that after a long and aduous day such as I spend every twenty-four hours, it is mentally impossible to be clever; even Jim Blaine Wallalley couldn’t be so. So prepare to wade, for wade it’ll be. Frankly I admit it; I have delayed writing you because of the High Water mark Mahurin set on journalistic cleverness last year, of which I am afraid. I hate to be beaten without a struggle. Then of course he told you everything there is to tell. Remember, he told you about the street cars pulled by hosses and labeled “South Ferry” when they weren’t any ferry at all; and he told you about the “fellow-craftsmen”-ship that exists in the School of Jerusalem (excuse me, I meant Journalism); an’ he told you about it and about; so what is there in N’Yawk left to tell.

Today the fellow-craftsmen, vintage of 1920, elected officers. Some brave lad voted for me, but—hist—I’m not radical enough. I must, if I am to be successful, outdo Free Love, communistic socialism, cosmetic intellectualists, anarchistic aristocrats, and a few more mild things like that. As yet I am a Democrat, and I ask you, what chance has a Democrat with a cosmetic intellectualist. I pause for a reply. This evening Charles Bayard Swope, city editor of The New York World, circulation over 400,000, lectured the fellow-craftsmen of all vintages on his trip to Europe. Tomorrow Frank Harris, editor of Pearsons’, talks on “Socialism”; later on I will make a speech myself.

The Truth gang—being good Democrats—are of course overjoyed at the country being so heroically saved on November 7th, last. Which reminds me! In an endeavor to collect fine specimens of address reporting for my note book I came across the The TRUTH’s account of Wilson’s visit in Elkhart, and I am going to turn that in. Who wrote it? Mahurin, I warrant, altho’ I might suspect Jim. It is safe to say that as a result of my action your sales in New York will increase by the same amount they did when Frinkum wrote that pretty piece for BLT. (Whose colyum I look up whenever I get lonesome).

Do you want a good, expert dramatic critic? T’other evening a redheaded chap named Sauer (Frink, do you remember him?), a Beta Phi Sigma from Muncie, rapped on my door and asked me to go to “Under Sentence” with him. He writes reviews of the shows for the Muncie papers and consequently gets free seats. I went. The show was rotten, thank you, so I got my money’s worth.

Then, too, I have run into about a million or six people from San Antonio, all of whom know everybody connected with the “Express,” and one of whom—a petite Barnardite—plans to become a sob sister therefor. They are all going to look Bob up; by the way, is he still look-up-able?

When it comes to comedy I am outre, absolutely outre. All life contains is deep, dark tragedy. The dorm maids are on a strike. The unreasonable things want more than 67¢ a day, and don’t feel like working Sunday morning. Did you ever hear of such nerve. The darkness about the tragedy is the fact that Negroes now make the beds; which is a bum joke I will admit.

Monday evening next.

If you are curious Maurice can tell you what mid-terms mean at Columbia; he will, at least, understand the cause of the delay.

By the way, Maurice, I don’t want to turn this into a memory contest, but of course you will want to know this. You remember Prof. Barry, Journalism 1, don’t you? Well, he hasn’t been to school for a week; we learned he had diphtheria. Well, yesterday the Sun and the World both contained these humorous articles—you know ’em—about the marriage of a diphtheria patient. None other than old F.B., marrying a recent divorcee. Much to my surprise I learned from the papers that he was a star prof in chemistry at Harvard before coming here. But the old scoundrel, played a dirty trick on the fellow-craftsmen of 1920—he ’phoned Miss McGill and gave out an extra theme and about 10 chapters of reading to make up for the lectures.

The dorm smoker is a thing of the past; it wasn’t much of an affair here in Furnald. The grad students who make up the population are past that sort of stuff. I’m invited to attend the Hartley affair, where vaudeville artists are to perform. If I don’t watch my step I’ll become real rough.

T’other day, me and muh pal went footing. We took Alma, and Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson, and the great god Pan, and So Forth. I’ve got a camera spoken for and I’m going to take some pictures at night, and some of the Phi Delt house and some of muhself.

Tomorrow morn at the bright and early hour of 7 and ½ the First Year man and Fourth Year man of the aforesaid S of J meet in the deadly game of soccer and sock’im. I am a whiz at the sport and expect to carry away laurels.

And Mr. Mac! In my wanderings around the downtown precincts the well known and bulky forms of MacDonald and other famous Irish-American Olympian champs who spend their spare time patrolling Fifth Avenue have been pointed out to me . . . The Jews may possess N’Yawk, but the Irish own the town.

For the first time I heard the Elkhart returns today. I am much chagrined. I have lost my faith in humanity. Tomorrow I may go down-town to the Night Court, where all sorts of scandalous doings come to light. Vur’ wicked and fascinating place, wherever it is. And I think I’ll eat my Thanksgiving dinner in Greenwich. Either there or at the Ritz, I haven’t yet decided.

Edward Mac Gildea
I have begun to make fine distinctions. I now claim that I am not a “college boy” but a “university man,” and when anybody asks my class, I answer indifferently “Journalism.” I refuse to be a verdant frosh. I am a full blown rose.

This is pretty raw I’ll admit, but between it and my first painful effort I ought to draw a reply. At least I hope so. If I don’t begin to get mail pretty soon I’m going to rent Box 90 out as a bird house.

Save me from that awful fate. And until I hear from you, at least, I will remain,
Yours in the Gang

Miss B: Extend my affections to the absent member, your sister. Also remember I always did like your Round Robin idea. I know who’s boss, so I look to you. Mac.
Box 90—Furnald Hall
Columbia University
New York City

Here is the pathetic last letter from H.H. Pat Malone, the reporter who contracted tuberculosis and had gone to the sanitoriums of Colorado to cure it without effect. He returned to his home near Indianapolis where he died.

Sunday – 4 – 22 – 17 
Dear Miss B. :—

I can’t write but a few lines as I’m too weak. I’m slipping pretty fast now. Remember me to all the folks and write me a long letter about what’s been doing in Elkhart. What has become of Bressler. Is McCloskey still there. I see Sykes is Mayor. Hurrah for Walter. I would like to see you all again but that’s impossible. So write me a long letter and you bet it will be appreciated.

 H.H. Pat Malone

John G. McCloskey worked a few years for the Elkhart Truth; his nickname was “Jack” or “Cap’n Jack.” He was born in Pennsylvania about 1863. He married Julia G., and they lived in New York City when they weren’t separated. Jack was apparently an alcoholic; eventually Julia divorced him. Their children were Walter P, born Sept. 1892, a policeman; Mary, born Jan. 1894, and Abigail, born Jan. 1897. Walter married Millie Sassano or Cesano, nee Struen, who had a daughter Mabel born in 1910. Walter and Millie had two daughters and later divorced. What do you think? Is J.G. McCloskey the real identity of the tramp reporter Bee wrote about with exasperation and affection in her newspaper game series?

New Haven, Conn., Jan. 11— 18.—

My Dear BB: 73 S. (If you don’t know what that means, ask “Jerry”).

It never is too late to do good or to wish good. Hence, my wish is that yourself and yours had a very merry and happy Xmas, and another wish for yourself and yours that you all may have a very, very happy, healthy, lucky and prosperous year and many more of them to come only that each new one will be more so than the last previous one.

My sincerest regards to the staff.

For quite some time I’ve been prompted to write you, but (I’ll confess) I’ve been too lazy.

I was so put out, when yourself and Miss Perla visited me in Pgh, because you would not stay and allow me to take you to lunch and a good chat.

I made many of the best friends of my career in Elkhart, and, in a way, I didn’t like to leave there. Elkhart is a good town!

Pgh is one rotten dirty robbing spot! I’m glad to get out of it. Ask Jerry. He knows.

Jack Gallagher, who was in I.N.S. Bureau in New Haven, wanted to get away because his wife had poor health. Pgh won’t improve her condition.

I had my bid in with Sup’t Thomas since last June, for a change “somewhere closer to N.Y.” Thomas managed the swap for Gallagher and myself.

I like it here. The work is much the same as Elkhart, only bureau offices pay $3 a week more. Also, there is a Saturday night job at $6.41. Makes it $39.41 a week. Not so rotten!

Again, the Publicity Agent of the N.Y., N.H. & Hartford RR donated me a 500 miles pass book, good in Connecticut. I use it to Stamford, then pay carfare 32 miles to N.Y. Fine! Was down to “that dear ole N.Y.” last Sunday. One lovely day—made to order. Hope to go down again next Sunday, the 13th.

Ma is not quite so well [his wife]. Has had all kinds of hard luck—going to dentist for $.75 worth; all run down and her heart swollen, and in St. Mary’s Hospital three weeks; now a very tough cold settled on her chest and bronchial tubes. Poor dear, I’m doing all I can for her with hopes she will pull up well soon again.

I believe she worried too much over Walter’s marriage [their son]. She won’t admit it, however, as she’s afraid I’ll kid her. She took herself “an only son.” My mother didn’t like it. My wife (young then) used to say “it’s foolishness for a woman to act so.” I then would say: “Oh, well! We shall see some day!” “Never!” she’d retort. She’s keeping mum on it. Walter comes to see her very often, and those visits brace Ma up.

Walter married a widow with an 8-years-old girl. Mrs. McC was 24, 5 feet, 95 lbs. Walter is 6 feet, 190, and 26 years. His sisters and girl friends jollied the life almost out of him, telling him “you played safety first.” He replied: “There’s much dynamite comes in small packages.”

Then the girls would say: “Oh, Walter, to think you’d go marry a widow and so many nice single young girls trying to grab you off.”

They rigged him so that he stopped visiting the house, and I think this helped to make his Mother down sick.

His wife is a very, very nice little girl, neat as a pin, a good cook and housekeeper. Mr and Mrs McC. are keeping house. The daughter goes as Miss McCloskey. I was made a grandpa in a couple of questions and answers. Hi! Hi!

I got a card from Bob for Xmas. I’ll write him next week. On the card he wrote, “There’s many a slip.”

What was the trouble, BB?

For Bob’s sake, I’m pleased.

How are you? How is Ruth? My sincerest respects to her and your Ma.

For a while before I left Pgh I was on with “Ha” (the wire signal for Elkhart) but never had a chance to say “Hello,” as wire always was busy.

“Jerry” (Jerslaman) is a rich card! He won’t let trouble trouble him. He was engaged to a girl (32) in Kokomo, but she canned him last August on info to her “he drinks.” I used to say to Jerry, “Never mind, Jerry. You didn’t want that old maid, anyhow.” That would make him laugh. Jerry won’t worry over anything.

I’d like to hear from you, if you ever get time. I know how busy you are and don’t wish to burden you.

“God be with you till we meet again.”

Very truly yours,
J.G. McCloskey.

P.O. Box 436
New Haven, Conn.

New Haven, Conn., March 20, 1918.-
Beatrice Boedefeld,
The Elkhart TRUTH,
Elkhart, Ind.

My dear Miss Boedefeld: Received your very welcome letter of February 4 and was much pleased to hear from you, and through you, from all there.

Also read “with wonder and delight” your story of “Full up on sleigh-rides.” Glory, that certainly was an experience!

Well, so long as you didn’t get your “tootsies” frozen, you are OK.

March 15 a year ago, James Blaine Walley took hold. I suppose there is a young J.B.W. now? Or, have I another guess? Jimmy always looked pretty swift to me, and I don’t think he’s lost his pace.

Anyone hear from Mac Gildea? Is he “over there”?

Also, where is M.M. Frink?

I hope they got Raatz in the cooler—him and his. I’d like to see he and his’n working on Lincoln Highway.

“Jere” is a card. I am going to write him. Whatever, will he do on April 2nd has me puzzled.

[Note: In Indiana, a statewide prohibition bill was passed with an effective date of April 2, 1918, making Indiana the twenty-fifth state to vote completely “dry.” At the national level, the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition) passed Congress on December 18, 1917 and thus passed to the next step of needing ¾ of all state legislatures to ratify it. Indiana voted to ratify it on January 14, 1919. Two days later the amendment was ratified by enough states to go into effect in 1920.]

Also, there are others there, too. Oh, I’m in a glorious State. Conn wants no prohibition. Albany Legislature buried it in N.Y. It’s about time people got wise to those hypocrites who, because liquor don’t agree with them, they want to prevent others from a bit of pleasure.

This office positively is the rottenest office I ever worked in. It is always cold. This Winter was the toughest on me I ever put in. I will go to California for next Winter unless I can do better than what I had this Winter.

I positively do not see how this paper gets by. They don’t care if a scoop is put over on them. They will print the story the next day, clipped from the AM’s [copied from the morning papers]. They should worry.

I have to work Saturday nights. It’s a shame to take the money—$6.41. Editor told me: “Mac, take only what you think we will use. We want no long stories. I lay it all on your judgment.” Fine! You bet Johnnie don’t work too hard, yet he lets nothing get by.

I suppose you are already moved in new office? I don’t doubt the rats were numerous there. I used to look at them cavorting around the yard in the far rear. However, they are getting rather too familiar with you when they invade the office and cart off your pastepots. And you used to be so careful of those pastepots!

Jee-ru-sa-lem! Some changes! So the little editor has been made the big editor! He always did the work of the Big Editor anyhow, so his change is nothing new—unless there’s more money attached to it, which I hope there is, for Tom is one damned hard worker and conscientious. He takes pride in his work. I am losing my ambition here, as never is a sign of pep displayed. You go along and do as you please and let it go at that. I’m not used to that. Excitement keeps us a-moving and our blood quickens with it—and I am getting on in years where I may need such things to happen. Although I am not getting older, I know I am not getting younger.

I don’t know Sibbett, do I? Bert Meyers! Well, well, well. Fred Palmer now has a chance to smile. He “liked” Bert, NIT!

I guess by now City Editor Frink has gone? If not, give him my best.

Poor Cutshaw! Well, he can make more money in a munitions factory and MAY learn something he DON’T ALREADY KNOW, if that’s possible.

I am glad Foster was elected. They have a real man as mayor and no Mollycoddle like Smith. I am glad Foster got in. He is better than those who declined to advance him money when he needed it. Now he’s worth more than they, I shouldn’t wonder.

Prudes, those Indianapolis folk! Kick against Cleo! She was a baby, all right. Someone told me all redhaired women of note made big marks in history, but Cleo put a big dent in her history. Well, she at last found the man she REALLY LOVED when she met Mark, but it was, alas, too late!

If they show that picture around here, you bet Cap’n Jack will “eat it up,” as he is very familiar with the story, as related by Billy S.
Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
her infinite variety; other women cloy the appetites
they feed; while she causes hunger where most
she satisfies, etc. etc.
Poor Antony! My sympathy to the pair of them.

Was it Iago who said: “Oh, to think that I should put the vile serpent in my mouth to steal away my brain”? Well, I’ve done that lots of times. So has my old comrade, Jere. However, Jere can’t do it much after April 2nd C A M I N G!!!

Yes, I know Boal well. He shook hands with me and bade good-bye as he was leaving for Spartansburg. Oh, me, oh my! He’s one very excellent young man, and I certainly am sorry to hear of his affliction. My, but I know he is disappointed, because he often expressed his desire to go “over there”.

I didn’t get much of a look at Perla, as I was so glad to meet up with you that I really believed (pardon me) I may have seemingly slighted her. I did not intend any such thing. I cannot say as to your looks and her looks, but YOU looked all right to me. It was so good to meet an old friend! I was sincerely sorry you didn’t wait and I might have got a sub and treated you girls right.

However, next time, and MAY THAT BE SOON. I WILL NOT stick around here another Winter, I’m thinking. On my way West I’ll surely drop in on you all. And I’ll have “some goods” for Jere and other pals when I do that.

New Haven may be all right “in the Summer time,” as Vesta Tilley, I think it was, used to sing about her husband—portrait painter posing her in the many seasons. I will see very soon, I’m thinking. However, I DO NOT like the East. Me for the West. I thought I’d like it here, but I am disappointed. People here are not like in the West. Can you give me Bob Allen’s address, please? I want to write him. Perhaps Velda will wait for him to come back decorated all over with medals. I hope Bob returns safely and sound.

My wife is not in good shape. She is extremely nervous and doctor says she will have to stop worrying. I want her to come up here and rest with me a week or two. I have a very quiet room, and it is as still as a graveyard at times, so that might help Mrs McC out. The kids want her to come, but she is a bull, and MUST have her own way. I can’t do a thing with her.

Well, BB, I will cut this off here. I am always glad to hear from you and every friend there, and I made many of them in my short stay. Sincerest respects to Ruth and your Mother, with best wishes for your own welfare, and regards to ALL the GANG, from
Your sincere friend,
Jack McCloskey
P.O. BOX 436, New Haven, Conn.

This next pair of letters might (or might not) reveal the identity of the hitherto elusive Bressler, whose first name is never mentioned in connection with his last, and since Louie B. never writes out his last name, all is conjecture. But it is certainly very possible, considering how chummy this Louie sounds about all the gang at the Truth office in Elkhart.

Camp Gordon.
Oct. 25. ‘18
Friend Beatrice:

Excuse my failure to answer your “telephonic” communication of recent date sooner, but have had my name in the sick columns for about a month with the “flu” which threatened to turn into pneumonia. For four days my temperature hovered about the 104ยบ mark, the highest I have ever known it to notwithstanding the fact that my temper has risen to high degrees on various occasions at the Democrat. The “flu” is certainly a puzzling disease, I being stricken in about 10 minutes enroute back from the drill field and in less than 45 minutes being in the hospital.

I have attended some farce shows at the Orpheum and other “famous” northern Indiana points where the singing was heart rendering, but the yelling of a number of the patients hit high “C” and surpassed all the chorus’ in harmony, especially the show at the Buckler when Beane paid $3.30 last spring.

This will no doubt be the last letter you will receive from me here as I am awaiting to be sent to Hoboken, N.J., from where I will embark for England, having secured a good position with a lieutenant colonel, which will get me a salary equivalent that of a second “lieut” and a chance to get “over there” and also see “Old Broadway” as I am afraid the war is going to blow up very soon if the present conditions continue to exist.

Encounter Frink and Stiver, of Goshen, who formerly was employed in the law offices of E.B. Ziegler, almost daily, but Lehman has departed from our midst, being at Anniston, Ala.

Through “certain” methods of which Frink is fully aware of, I “escaped” camp for an excursion to Atlanta following my discharge from the hospital for the purpose of recuperating. I may have recuperated, but financially it was very disastrous, two S.O.S. calls being sent home for funds before the affair came to an end.

After glancing over the numerous paragraphs I am of the opinion that very little of Camp Gordon happenings of interest have been omitted so will come to a grand finale.

Trusting that you will not collapse on your new undertakings, I am,
Louie B.

ON ACTIVE SERVICE                                                     AMERICAN RED CROSS
                        WITH THE
AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE                                                                    +
March 10 1919
Paris, France.
Friend “B”—

Not to be “outdone” by the ex-soldier, Lieutenant-to-be Frink, I have again entered the newspaper field after an “enforced vacation” of several months during which period I “visited” at Atlanta, New York, Liverpool, Southhampton, Le Havre, Rouen, and other points, including the well named French city of Bar-le-duc, having secured my transfer from my former misfit aggregation as I would term it to be frank, to the Stars & Stripes, the official newspaper publication of the A.E.F. and which is located in the building occupied by the American Chamber of Commerce at 32 Rue Taitbout in the “village” of Paris.

Believe me I certainly was lucky in getting away from my former organization.

As a result of this change I am quite positive that I’ll not receive any calls from 31 before 1920 if ever gain as confidentially I have something else in view in another foreign country with a British major who I met at Rouen some time ago and recently at other points. However, don’t let this news get into the hands of The Democrat as it might play havoc providing things would change.

Paris is certainly full of visitors from all sections of the globe due to the Peace Conference and things of “lesser” importance and a person could put on “The All Nations” Show with ease by garnering in the various pedestrians at almost any point to make up the caste.

I am living at the Helicoe Hotel at the present time, but don’t know how long I’ll be there.

As a result of this change I have been unable to keep in touch with home news, so will rely on your official “dispatches” as they surely were appreciated in the past.


P.S. How is the farce comedy “Why Marry” with Krau & Greene featuring? Any metropolitan bookings?

If you would like to read other letters from newsmen, here they are:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Letters from Newsmen—Bob Allen

Bee Boedefeld worked for the Elkhart Truth from 1910 through most of 1919. You can read more about that in her series, “Ten Years in the Newspaper Game.” During that time many reporters came and went, but a few formed friendships that Bee treasured. She kept the letters and postcards sent by some of these colleagues in her scrapbook.

Bob Allen was the telegraph operator for the Truth during the first six or seven of those years. He was born Robert Edmund Allen to Joseph Patrick Allen and Mary Doyle on 13 July 1887 in Holland, Michigan. (He was just three months older than Bee.) Bob became a Press Telegrapher for International News Services and worked for the Truth Publishing Company until he entered the military. He was shipped overseas in the spring of 1918 and was apparently wounded in the fighting and spent time in England recuperating. After the war, he returned to his old job at the Truth and married Velda May Sterner on 31 March 1919 in Elkhart, Indiana. They had a son named Robert Jr. in 1923, and they moved shortly thereafter to Buffalo, New York, where Bob continued in the same profession. He died in 1948.

In early 1916 Bob went to San Antonio, Texas, to report on the military news. Bee included him and Maurice Mahurin Frink, who was studying at the Columbia School of Journalism at that time, in a “Round Robin” letter that went to one of the two men, who sent it to the other, who sent it back to Bee at the Truth office. Mahurin joked that it wasn’t as much a “round robin” as a “triangle.” This card was postmarked March 17, 1916 in San Antonio, Texas.

Miss Beatrice Boedefeld
c/o Truth
Haven’t located the Ex-Line yet. Had a card from Mahurin this week. Lots doing here these days. I’ll write soon. Bob
313 Navarro Street

Postmarked San Antonio, Texas, May 11, 1916, 10:30 AM

Miss B. Boedefeld
c/o “Truth”
Round Robin has reached here from N.Y. Going forward in few days. Needs a rest after its long flight. Did Tom ever get my letter? “Bulletin of Bulletins” received and on exhibition.

The next letter was fastened into Bee’s scrapbook with a straight pin. It was typed except the last line below the P.S., handwritten in pencil. The paper was a highly acidic, cheap, 24"-long sheet so that the whole letter fit on one page. The salutation includes the following: B.B. = Bee Boedefeld; Belva = society writer; Bert = bookkeeper Bert Myers; Tom = city editor Tom Keene; Dick = cub reporter; Harry = Howard H. “Pat” Malone; Jack = John G. MacCloskey; Mac = Mac Gildea; Fred = Fred Palmer, business manager; Bress = Bressler.

San Antonio, Texas.
June 4th, 1916.
Dear B.B., Belva and Bert;
“ Tom, Dick and Harry;
“ Dick, Jack and Mac;
“ Fred, Bres and the res’;

Greetings and salutations, one and all! The round robin is about to resume its flight. The long rest in this summer clime has strengthened and nourished the bird, until I am now ready to offer two to one that it beats Mahurin to Elkhart. Dash along, birdie, with the speed of a Resta, and save my wager.

Well, I’m still on the job, seven nights a week, slaughtering Germans, French, Italians and Turks; sinking dreadnaughts, ruining political prospects, and trying my doggondest to start a rumpus down in this neck of the woods. The town has been infested with war correspondents for months. I’m getting tired of feeding them. In the wake of the National Guard came a troop of camp followers, free lances and boomers. I am located in a front office, on a busy street, near the Express, the Western Union, the postal and Mackay offices. Every operator who strikes town, (broke, of course) hearing to the sound of my instrument, and seeing no guard at the door, drops in and “mooches” me for two bits. I’m going to have cards printed asking the question “Have you a card?” That card question is all that saves me from being a sort of an accentuated Salvation Army. I find that the class of operators who carry cards, very seldom get “down and out.” Score one more for Unionism.

I am getting to be quite a “flip” sender. Remember what an effort it used to be for me to even answer my call? Now I can reel off a thousand words or so without much fuss. We send out a story from headquarters here each night. Our mutual friend, L.V.B. Rucker, drops in occasionally, removes his Texas sombrero, wipes his brow, twirls his cane, utters a few phrases in the accent that Mahurin is no doubt acquiring, and then ---- off for the bright lights! He doesn’t file any copy at night; Joseph Timmons attends to that end.

You no doubt have printed some Mexican stuff written by Basil Dillon Woon, Authority on Banditry. Well, I’ve fed Woon for a week now; hope his check turns up soon. He accompanied Major Langhorne on the dash of the second punitive expedition. The hat he now wears is part of the loot from Jesse Deemer’s store.

I can imagine the broad smile that spread o’er the face of Frederick the Great when the story of the German naval victory came out, and I can hear plainly his “I told you so.” Poor Willard Chester! Give him a word of sympathy for me.

Bee, is your western trip to be another three months’ affair? And is our poetess laureate, Margaret W., to fill the bay window? Or is it to be Ruth? And has Tom taken his annual canoe trip?

Mahurin, I’ll probably see you before you leave for school next fall. I’ve got a two weeks vacation coming, and I may stretch it into four. And I sort of want to see Elkhart this summer.

Well, be good, all of you, and make your stories brief, all except “Captain Jack.”


P.S. One more word. I promised my sister, just before leaving Chicago, that no matter what else I might do, I would never acquire the Southern drawl, the southern slur, the southern accent. So fear not. Whether you are able to understand Maeterlink or not, after his year in Little Britain, I solemnly swear that I will always talk straight Hoosier.

Oh, by the way, In front of the “Express office” proper, sits an armed guard all night long.
In our preparedness parade last week, Thousands of Mex and Niggers trotted along carrying flags. Some parade!

Postmarked in San Antonio, Texas, Nov 4, 1916, 8:30 AM

Miss Bee Boedefeld
c/o Truth.
Elkhart, Ind.
Assignment for Tuesday night. Order chicken early and see that Jack gets his share. After seven P.M. tell all inquirers “Wilson wins” Don’t let Bob Proctor say “I told you so!” You may leave at midnight.

Postmarked in San Antonio, Texas, Dec 22, 1916, 6:30 AM

To Miss Beatrice Boedefeld
c/o “Truth”
Elkhart, Ind
Tell ‘em all hello for me. Hope you enjoy the double holiday.
R.E. Allen

Bob went home to Indiana sometime after the Christmas postcard and was drafted into the army. The next messages are from military posts. This card is postmarked October 21, 1917, Louisville, Kentucky

Miss B. Boedefeld
c/o Truth
Elkhart, Ind.
Getting settled is a painful and tedious process. Will write Saty or Sunday.
72nd Co 18 Bn 159th Depot Brigade

Postmarked Louisville, KY, Oct 21, 1917, 3 PM

Miss B. Boedefeld
c/o Truth
No, they are not eating fudge. I saved that all for myself. Umm—mmm-mm! Sure did appreciate it, Bee.
Co. C. 309th Field Signal Battalion.

Got into Co E 309th Engrs in time to escape Mississippi trip. Watch me escape everything else. I’m getting to be a soldier. Of “40’s” and “20’s”, 18 transferred, 5 discharged, 11 still here, and remainder in Hattiesburg. 18th Bn no more, the eleven going to 10th Bn.

This next letter had no envelope and was pinned into the scrapbook with a straight pin. It is on lined note paper with colored letterhead, an American flag on the left and the YMCA logo in red on the right; the two logos flank the centered heading.

Camp Taylor, Ky. Nov 12, 1917
Dear Bee:—

All is well along the Ohio. I know, because I took a trip to Jeffersonville Saturday. I am no longer an Engineer. Packed up my scant belongings today and moved over to the Signal Corps. It took five hard weeks of wire pulling to land where I should have been sent in the beginning. My new home is right “down town” in the camp. Gen. Hale’s headquarters are close at hand, and the camp post office and theatre are close at hand right across the street. I don’t know much about the work as yet but I do know that I’ll like it better than I have liked the Engineers. (over)

We now eat from real plates instead of shiny tin mess kits, and do not have to wash our own dishes. Bee, you should have seen me trying to get the grease off the tin in cool, soapless water. I will no longer have to tote a fifteen pound rusty gun around with me from sunrise to sunset. That d----- gun was getting my goat. Last Saturday the whole division hiked over to the manouvre field and passed in review before the powers that be. It meant an eight mile hike altogether, and despite the turkish towel padding I placed on my shoulder I was about ready to quit when we got back to our section of the camp.

The gun took up all my spare time in the evening. It needed more cleaning than a five year old boy.

So far, Bee, I am not greatly enthused over army life. Beans, peas and prunes seem to be the only foodstuff left in the country, and I’m too far away from a restaurant to get an outside meal when my stomach revolts at the regular mess. They say we will “get used to it,” army canteens don’t sell much outside of stale ham sandwiches and cracker jack. Oh, what’s the use? Lets speak of something pleasant. I certainly wish I had not been sent with this last bunch. I’d rather be hanging around town, playing rhum, and waiting for the next quota to be sent, than to be here. We will probably all get out at the same time anyway, and every day of liberty is a day of liberty. Just wait till I get out of this mess! maybe I won’t cut loose with a whoop!

I’m still able to get about without crutches, and my appetite is unimpaired. Guess I’ll manage to pull through without losing much weight, and I’ll be in to see you all when we get through with Wilhelm.

Give my regards to the “gang” and drop a line occasionally. My new address is Co. C 309th Field Signal Battalion. Just eight o’clock now and I’m ready for bed. Will wonders never cease?


There was no date or stamp and the postmark simply says Military Post Office Soldiers Mail.

Miss Beatrice Boedefeld
c/o Elkhart Truth
Have arrived overseas safely.
Bob Allen.

Bob served in France and was apparently wounded in the war and spent time recuperating in England, and Bee wrote a letter hoping it would find him. But her letter landed on the desk of someone with a similar name, who wrote the following extraordinary letter back to her.

April, Fog, & London.
Dear Miss Boedefeld,

If you really want a job & will overlook all mistakes in spelling etc. I’ll drop you this little note to tell you how surprised & how glad I was when the postman gave me your letter. I little thought that my fame? would reach Elkhart although I & my brother have both played ball in your town several years ago.

You describe your R.E. Allen so here goes for this one. Blonde. 5’-11½” 180 lbs. They say I look like a swede & act like an Indian, nick name Swede or Big swede. & I love athletics. Is that enough.

I want to say that in the 17th we had some Base Ball & Football team, with a bunch of fellows who didn’t know how to quit. I’m sorry to say that I’ve had to leave the good old bunch but “C’est la guere.” I’ve been sent to Headquarters A.E.F. & am now in England on Special work.

Now about you. “Me? Oh I am the good looking society editor of that same, etc. etc.”

I knew a society editor on one of the Baltimore papers who was realy good looking so I realy believe you when you say so. I can easily understand that you are a writer from the letter for it is really quite good. Won’t you do it again as news from the good old U.S. is sure welcome.

You understand that you are not to use the letters for a theam for a novell or short story or a sermon because if you do I’ll be forced to come to Elkhart & collect Royalty. Realy, please don’t put in the “news from the front”

I’ll be looking for a letter one of these days if you care to write.

Lt. Roger E. Allen,
care of Gas Service.
Headquarters A.E.F.

I’ve been fortunate in being able to see a good deal of France & I’m now in England but the man “Censor” says I can’t write & tell everything I know so I’ll have to stop.
Roger E Allen.


More letters to Bee from newsmen and servicemen are here: