Archives give us a chance to look at the world in a lot of different ways, through lenses big and small. Today, we take a cross section of life on this date, August 25, across the decades. From 1840 to 1945, people were still people, and not that different from you and I, whether dealing with everyday concerns or faced with especially trying times.
Their punctuation and spelling could be just as atrocious as ours, and their typing could definitely have used the autocorrect technology we rely on. Their handwriting, however, can be pretty different from ours. That’s reason enough to take a peek at the excerpts below. Are you from a generation that can still read cursive? (I am.) Some of these were a real challenge…
Peter Hamilton in Mobile, Ala., to Anna Beers in Pleasant Hill, Ala.:
Your last letter concluded with “many wishes for my continued health and happiness” — now I will tell you how these wishes may be fully gratified — only continue to write such letters and frequently & I think I can answer pretty confidently both for my health and happiness.
General H. D. Clayton near Chattanooga, Tenn., probably with Braxton Bragg’s forces, to his wife:
The condition of the Reg is improving daily – the sick are [returning?]. We already have the largest Regiment in the Brigade. Much anxiety is being felt as to our future movement not only in the [country/county?] but here in the army also. We expect a big fight before going a great distance from here.
Charles Manly in Greenville, N.C., to his parents (letter with a copy of the war poem “Not Doubtful of Your Fatherland,” by William Gilmore Simms):
I am now pretty certain t[hat] Charleston will fall. People[?] it in earnest – & where I will go to is hard to say – mighty little now here.
Augusta Evans Wilson in Birmingham, Ala., to Rachel Heustis, about her “hay-fever” and subsequent “grassphobia”:
…my suffering in New York
was caused entirely by a visit to the “Metropolitan Museum of Art” in Central Park, where the lawn grass had been mown the day previous, and raked into small piles. Whiles I should enjoy being with you, and would doubtless find the Hotel much cooler than the city, I dread a renewal of my great suffering…
W. D. Campbell in Geneva, Ala., to Judge H. D. Clayton:
I was a candidate in the late Election for the office of Sheriff and was beaten by Sectional Strife the small majority of 72 votes in the county — the Elect has failed to make bond in the time prescribed by law and the office is declassed vacant to the appointing power – and I was the next fastest in the Election and urged by my friends to make application for the appointment I respectfully ask your Honor to recomend me to the appointing power.
Hannah Irwin in Wheeling, W. Va., to Joe Woodward:
Jen B. and I expect to leave for the World’s Fair the first week in September, and from there I expect to go to West [Plaines] to see Bird.
A. H. Woodward in Alabama to his mother:
Hannah Irwin in Beverly, Ohio, to Mattie in Beaumaris, Ontario, Canada:
Alfred has been here twice – he leaves next week – I do wish he could be induced to do something besides smoking and reading fiction. He tried to enter Princeton again but owing to his record there – being conditioned in three studies he could not be admitted unless he worked [them?] off. He ought to be employed.
Andrew Dawson in England, with the American Expeditionary Forces, to his mother in Tuscaloosa, Ala.:
There is certainly something wrong. But we do not have anything more to eat for a week. Why? Because we had some “sho nuff” steak for dinner in addition to the blackberry cobler. Now that is too much for one day. Goodness alive, you should see how we did clean up with that dinner.
Aunt Delle Metcalf to Rick in Wheeling, W. Va.:
I presume you will think I had forgotten all about the coat I wrote you about to tell the truth it has been so beastly hot and our attic like a fiery Furnace for several weeks I simply could not go up to get it out of the Trunk but a change in the atmosphere a few days ago made it bearable up there so I fished it out aired it a day in the hot sun and today I have done it up ready to take to Post Office to be mailed to you.
William Williams at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute to A. H. Woodward, asking advice about continuing in school:
I have plenty courage and faith. For the seven years I have been here I have put all I have into my work. It is not any work I have done that I am ashame of. I can lay brick, plaster, upholster furniture, top cars, landscape grow flowers and play music, and I am second year college. I believe I can make it up if I wont be able to get any more. I feel that I can hold any job I be skillful. I hope you will give me some advice as to what to do.
I hardly know what to say or how to start to thank you for your thoughtfulness and kindness during my illness. Well here goes: your letter arrived first and believe me Dick it was good, and really I had to smile, even though I was in pain. I’m glad you tore up that morbid one I much prefer the humorous one because I also was [morbid?]. Then the beautiful care from you, have me a good feeling too. The verse was well. But when those beautiful flowers arrive in the afternoon, I was spell bound and such a gorgeous bouquet Dick.
Bill Berman serving at Fort Riley, Kan., to “folks” in St. Louis, Mo.:
J. C. Faulkner serving in San Francisco, Cal., to his wife Bonnie in Tuscaloosa, Ala., a few days after VJ (Victory over Japan) Day:
The water still wasn’t on when we come in so we took a B. B. (Bucket Bath). There was a leak in one of the big tanks and was possible to catch water in a bucket by holding your hands against the tank so that the water would fall into the bucket. Cain and I took turns, he carried the water for me while I bathed and then I carried water for him. you know the fellows didn’t grip and beef as usual. about all they said was, “Well we won’t have to do this much longer.” It is going to be wonderful to get back the things that we once thought were the necessitys of life.
For more items from this date, type this into the Acumen search bar: title:(august AND 25). You can also substitute any month and day, or include a year.