Sunday, March 01, 2009

Write a Letter!

You are probably asking yourselves, why is he saying that? The answer is real simple; they are a slice or just a small tid-bit of history that you are making. They give historians a small glimpse of life at the time the letter is written. I''m sure the next question would be; with all this technological media around why send a letter? Let me ask you, when was the last time you saved a text message with all the abbreviated spelling.

I am a writer and there is something about the motion of writing a letter or in a journal long hand. It not only brings what life is like at the moment but it gets the creative juices flowing and you leave behind a small amount of emotion - or a large amount if you would like. For us genealogists they are very important. Why don't we leave something behind for our great-grandchildren. For some reason, paper seems to last longer than electronic media.

Let me give you a snippet of why letters are import. I am going to quote a letter from former Madison, Jefferson County, IN resident William Chalmers Hendricks to his wife Susan Elizabeth "Lizzie" (Glass) Hendricks dated at Fort Bridger Sunday, July 17, 1881.


"My dearest Lizzie

As Jones had (illegible word) in my letter from Salt Lake the Major conducted under invitaion of Genl George Crook, to stop over a day or so here. I was the less reluctant for the reason that I found myself improving in heart & health & was willing to loose tim to that end, and also that the extreme hot wave may have passed away east before we reached it.

After finishing my letter to you from Salt Lake day before yesterday, we accepted the invitation of Genl Bain & son Doctor Bain, for a drive over the city and out to Camp Douglas. After whic with a larger party we took the train at 5 p.m. acrossabout 20 miles to the sotherly point of Salt Lake for a bath & swim. Found the water a little cold, but wonderfully bouyant, being at least 0/5 salt -- jsut the opposite of Lake Bridger. There the water is so light that a person can scarcely swim in it & if they drown go to the bottom & never rise. But in Salt Lake a person can scarcely sink themselves; the principle danger being of strangling from the excessively salt water. I could gloat without the least difficulty on exertion on my back with my head, hands & feet - in fact all the upper surfaces of my body out of water. Had a delightful trip; only sorr that you & the boys were not along. After returning at 8 p.m. with a small party of gentlemen including Gov Murry (one of the easiest pleasantest gentlemen I ever met) We were taken by Genl Bain to his residence for a coffee cake & ice cream lunch. The next morning (yesterday) we returned to Ogden and on to Cantin's Station where a govt ambulance was waiting to tak us over to Fort Bridger about 10 miles. There was an army officer along who introduced us to three lady passengers from the Fort -- One the wife of Captain stationed here -- another a married lady vistor at the Fort, & her sister.

They were dispenced to be very lively & social. I had not entirley recovered my natural health & life; and while the Major was in his glory I felt that I was a restraining element & determined that I would banish the clouds for a while at least & join them. On the principle that one extreme is apt to succeed while in the opposite direction an inspiration of funny anecdote & thought took possession of me & effected them the more because they had obsessed me as a serious old codger, in front of whom neither wished to sit. It not only lasted me through the ride to the fort, but during the evening & at the supper table full of army officers & strangers.

It seemed to me that every funny thing that I had ever heard came up accompanied by plenty of new. I could hover on the edge of the vulgar & profane without pentrating either. Had them all convulsed. For once I took a social bulge on the Major, who remarked when we retired to our room, that he was astonished at the development of a new man.

Excuse the above little egotism, but it is only to give hope that the changed feeling may at least partially last & mark the permanent breaking up of a depressed feeling that cannot possibly be productive of any good. I will try & am (illeible word) I can succeed, not withstanding my stomac trouble & draw back. Find Genl Crook very interesting in converstaion though dignified and quiet. He (illegible work) all as very pleasant & cordial & determined to keep the Major several days -- I will try however to get him off tomorrow. He id off with Capt Bisby for a ride & fidh & i am putting in the day alone peacebly, reading & writing you --

Denver Col July 21st

Monday the 18th in company with Genl Crook & Captain Bisby (commandent of the fort) we drove eight or ten miles over onto a tributary of Green River fishing, caught in all 127 trout. Tuesday 19th spent about trout until about when we drove back to tthe station. The Captain's wife put us up a very nice little lunch (Sage hen, Saratoga potatoes & ) and she and her lady visiting friend Mrs Miller accompanied us (over)to the station. Was much surprised to meet Luce on train -- we traveled together until about 2 pm next day when the Major & I left that train at Cheyenne for his place, where we arrived about 11 last night.

The first person I met this morning when I got up was Prof W F Stewart. We were both glad to meet so unexpectedly.

I have spent today very pleasantly with the Major and Proffessor & a Mr Hale of this place looking over thid Young City of 40,000 or 50,000 inhabitants. Even here at an altitude fo over 9000 fee the themometer was yesterday and day before over 100. Today is cooler & I am in hopes tht extreme hot spell has past. We go on tomorrow. Am getting anxious to get to Indianpolis & get letter from you.

Affectionately, Will Iam"


As you can see, it doesn't matter if you spell everything correctly or have perfect grammar, the thoughts get through. How about we all write a letter to our wives, husbands or children and ask that they keep them and then to pass them on later in life. This really gives me important information about my great-grandparents relationship.