May 1857 Sunday, Jun 15 2014 

From Julie to Morris, excerpts from a typical letter, bouncing from the practical to the philosophical:

“I think the twentieth of June very early for our projected trip, but if you say so I will be in readiness. I have a very pretty traveling dress in process of completion, it will be done next week and my traveling hat. And by the way don’t dare to come on without a box of powdered sassafras to make gumbo. I must have some. I expect to go out on horseback next week with Jamie Smith to make myself certain that I can acquit myself creditably before I shall have the pleasure of riding with My Lord. There is a chill in the air yet but it is getting tolerably warm and pleasant, still velvets are not at all uncomfortable.


I almost wish you would not stop at Brockport but I shan’t say much about it. I feel in a desperate hurry to see you. Remember you have been gone since last October, which is not a short time, at least to me, but I know man’s love and woman’s love are very different. I found that out long ago but I have not got quite reconciled to the fact yet. Man’s love is of his life a thing apart, tis woman’s whole existence.

Good night. I can print better than you. But you are my darling all the same.”

Love Letters Thursday, May 15 2014 

Because I was looking for a random letter between Julie and Morris* and this one caught my eye.

April, 1857 from Julie to Morris:

“I have been today, in consequence of lighting by chance upon one of those interminable yellow letters, comparing the present with the past, and cannot help wondering if we are really the two beings who wrote thus to each other. Now Dearest, I see you as I saw you then though a haze of uncertainties, when I never thought to look upon your face again. I have today lived over the days when I wrote those letters at the table in my little room, and so on to the time of your coming, when (how I can’t now conceive) the object of your visit never occurred to me, the Sunday Evening on the sofa, and so on to the Tuesday evening, and so on to the night in Syracuse, and so on to the winter in New Orleans, the first parting, the utter sinking of heart I felt aboard ship and so till little Fanny’s breath touched my cheek, and so on through all our sad partings and joyful meetings, the happy days, the evening amusements, the concerts, the operas, the book-talks, the love and joy and peace, which has filled all our days and nights, and I can’t help believing that we have had full our share of life’s pleasures since we spent that first day together in the parlor of the Graham house so long ago.

….I wish to say this now because I should not like to say it only on paper, but you will never, never know how dearly I love you.

I did not intend to write such a letter but what is writ is writ. I can’t say now as I used to do, ‘you have no power over me’; now you have all the power, I have none, I am all yours.”


*We have lots of letters between other people, it is just these are conveniently transcribed and printed up….

**Twitter lacks somewhat, does it not?!

Long distance relationship Tuesday, Apr 15 2014 

Julie and Morris had, for most of their marriage, a long distance relationship with the only contact through letters.  It wasn’t always easy.  Here is a passage from a letter in 1857:

“Now here I sit scribbling away against time and to what end, I cannot interest you, I cannot amuse you, I cannot comfort you. I need not advise you, and don’t you think I were as well in bed and asleep?

…You are maybe at church, maybe in Mollie’s room, maybe smoking with Mr. Allen, possibly in your room, perhaps writing to me. At any rate, Dear Morris, if there comes a bright dream of home to you tonight and pleasant looks from home faces, I shall be there, and you will see me.

I put your picture under my pillow the other night in the hope that I might dream of you. But instead I dreamed all night of getting a convict out of a prison dungeon and was horribly afraid of him after all, and so awoke dreadfully fatigued and miserably disappointed. I have had some pleasant dreams of you through this winter. I have seen you, talked with you and have waked with such fresh and real impressions of your presence, that I have gone joyfully all the day long.”

For the entertainment of the locals Wednesday, Mar 12 2014 

An excerpt from a letter dated 1857….’Plus ça change!’

Julie writing to Morris:

“These abominable people brought me a bill of eleven dollars for that good-for-nothing sewer down in Albany Street – which profits us not at all. Might as well not have any government as one which rules by oppression. I hate Hartford and there’s the end of it. It is a cold raw disagreeable stiff forlorn uncomfortable place and I wish I was out of it.”

She never did really get out of Hartford, living there every winter for the rest of her life, though there were a few trips to New Orleans after the Civil War.  But she did get out of it in the summer time finally.

They did not, by the way, live on or near Albany Street.  So the sewer really didn’t profit them.  Those who know the goings on around here will agree that the arguments haven’t changed much…

From a letter 1860 Wednesday, Feb 26 2014 

Still poking around in the volume of letters* between Julie and Morris in the late 1850’s and early 1860’s, mostly concerning parenting trials, i.e. four young daughters.  One would not know of the brewing national storm going solely on their letters.

Late winter 1860:

“In the morning the first I heard was an out-cry from Lottie, “I don’t want this old cradle! I want a bedstead and some candy!” As I had a bedstead in the house, I substituted the one for the other…and in about ten minutes she said, “I wish I had kept my cradle!”

Today I have been to church and Jamie Smith dined here, on soup, cold boiled chicken and pork, currant jelly, bottled cider, and Baked Alaska. Lucy is asleep. The other barbarians are down stairs. The room is cold, there is a hole you know in the window by the desk, and though there is a bright fire in the grate, I am none the warmer.”

*There are plenty of others, it’s just that’s the one on the desk.

Winter 1859 Saturday, Feb 15 2014 

From a letter by Julie to Morris, she in Hartford with the girls and he in New Orleans:

‘I took a carriage Saturday, or a sleigh rather, and took the four young off shoots out sleighing upon which the ‘flambergasted’ young ladies took the opportunity to acquire the snuffles….

Lucy grows every minute, she looks like you I think….I hope you will enjoy member four (Lucy) next summer. Nellie (Helen)’s last mode of computation is ‘fourteen, nineteen, eleventeen!’..

The children have just come in from school wet above the knees, every article of dress saturated. They have been elegantly amusing themselves sliding, now they must be Redressed for school this afternoon, but by whom am I to be redressed for all this botheration. Verily I need patience.

I feel perfectly twisted out of my senses trying to write with so many children around me and talking in my ears, and I have to hurry lest Mr. King be gone….But good bye now My Boy. God keep you safely till May.”

Julie and Morris had four children: Fannie, Carlotta, Helen, and Lucy.  Lucy had been born in late 1858, Morris had stayed late that year but had had to leave for New Orleans when she was barely a week or two old.  Between late fall (anything from September to November) and May of every year, Julie had charge of all four children while Morris was in New Orleans overseeing the company’s branch there.  At the same time she was beginning to write short stories for publication.  Most of her letters to Morris naturally describe the daily small details of their lives in Hartford.

Reading lessons Monday, Feb 3 2014 

From a letter by Julie to Morris, winter of 1859

“The children have an hour’s reading every night, and I believe they will never forget these hours while they live. They are worth a great deal to them and they will thus be well started in what they ought to have read and prepared to keep up with literature of the day, beside which we read you know every morning in the Bible. We are now in first Samuel and tomorrow will read the fourteenth chapter, so you can follow us if you please, and wouldn’t that be pleasant? Will you. A chapter every morning is all we get through and the children are quite interested in the fights and squabbles of the old Israelites I assure you. What queer doings there were in those old days to be sure. If the chosen people went on at that rate I wonder what the heathen did.”

The girls (Fanny, Carlotta, Helen, Lucy) were all, except for Lucy who was then just a baby, in school as well.

Book Collecting Sunday, Jan 26 2014 

1856, from a letter by Julie to Morris:

“Dear Morris,

If you can find a copy of ‘My Peninsular Medal’ illustrated and illuminated, bound in double gilt extra, had you not better add it to our collection. It is a rare and choice work you know, and no really fine library is complete without it. Joking aside, we must either pause in our book buying or enlarge our borders for decidedly the place is getting too straight for us. The Edition of Dickens, however, we must have. If indeed it shall be all that it promises, fair sized volumes, good large print, and complete in all the stories. I insist on large print because I mean the delightful tales of this real man shall be my companions when I wear double spectacles from extreme old age, when I walk with a staff and then heavily. Where we will bestow the precious books is a matter to be decided after we really get them. We will resolve ourselves into a committee of two and fix their destination.”

There are several complete sets of Dickens hanging about, so they did get an edition.  Whether it was The Edition? Who knows. 

World War One logistics Friday, Jan 10 2014 

Finishing up a transcription here, from a letter by Capt. Bradford Ellsworth (306th Inf, 77th Division) to his sister Helen van Loben Sels, written in January 1919.  While those in the military are acutely aware of the headache that getting a force from one side of the globe to the other entails; those of us who are civilians tend to overlook it.  The almighty traffic jam after WWI is hinted at in this paragraph:

“Not much of interest happens now that Jerry has quit and even the threatened revolution doesn’t seem to come off and the only excitement has been the rumors which were many and interesting until last night when our preliminary order for going home came in. We leave this area (ed. note: unspecified area of Northern France) before 14th February and go to the delousing – pretty word- station at Le Mons and from there to the ports as the boats become available. We ought to sail about 15th March and be in New York 1st April, where a quarantine of 2 weeks will make us all sore. About 15th May we ought to be out of uniform and sitting around and telling ‘what a helluva a fellow I was’ and other stories. Everyone has cheered up immensely and we’ve forgotten to knock even the Y.M.C.A. which has always been a favorite indoor sport with the A.E.F. We say ‘the military police of Paris Won the war, the Marines got the glory, and the Y.M.C.A. got the money, where does the doughboy come in?’

His comment on the revolution, refers of course to the upheaval in Germany, and that rather nasty affair in Russia…in which a few American forces did end being involved in.  The rumors probably had been quite wild.

His estimated timing for demobilization wasn’t too far off, only about two weeks too optimistic, the advantage of being the I.O.

Dec. 15, 1858 Sunday, Dec 15 2013 

Morris in New Orleans to Julie in Hartford:

“Your boy has nothing of consequence of news or gossip to report. This morning I was detained in Court some four hours getting a poor fellow clear of assault and battery. He was from the country and consigned to us (i.e. working for Morris’ business) and under provocation struck a man. Got him clear but saw great sights. It was in the Police Court, they had about sixty men and women, the rag tag and bob tail of all creation, the proceeds of last night’s haul to sentence, before our friend’s case came up.

You can think of me at the old desk, writing to delinquent customers and to lawyers. Nothing to interrupt this dreary existence, same old song of good and bad customers, and the confusion of tongues in our Babel store is the same as of old…Still I can get along in the daytime for we have plenty of business, but at night it is awful to think of going to my lonely room. Perhaps Dick (his partner) is the same way, for we smoke one cigar after another, till the small hours of the morning,and only fly to bed from sheer weariness.

I hope that our nest of young ones live happy, and that they enjoy themselves, and more than that I hope you are well. I am becoming strangely nervous of late, for in absence of letters I conjure up many uneasy fancies. Now good bye, and don’t forget, Morris.”

Morris was in New Orleans from November through May 1858-59, as was usual.  He would have had reason to be worried while writing that letter, when he had left Julie had just given birth to their fourth daughter, Lucy, and had been quite ill afterwards.  He had not received a letter from Julie in over three weeks, an unusually long break in the correspondence, and would have had no way of knowing that all was, in fact, well.

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