Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Letter Project

Sunday, I transcribed the last of the letters from 1918. In fact, this letter was written a week before Christmas and John (my grandfather) laments to Mary (my future grandmother) that he hasn't any gifts to send, or Christmas cards, because none are to be found in the area and he hasn't been paid since August anyhow.

John was with the 23rd Regiment of Engineers, but was on detached duty  from September 2nd until after the Armistice.

In the last few letters I've learned that my grandmother took a job in Jefferson City, Missouri, but unfortunately her letters from this time do not survive, so I can't say exactly what that job was. Go Grandma!

I've often said that I never saw this softer side of my grandfather, the side that he showed to his first wife, Mary Bowman. In almost every letter that I have, he tells her he loves her more and more every day. I really love this because it is almost word for word what my DH and I tell each other on a daily basis.

On a historical note, I discovered that Mary's sister Frances & her husband Hugh Rogers both had suffered from the influenza during the great epidemic. Both recovered. This is actually the only account I have of the flu in these letters. 

Also, in this last letter of the year, he tells her he wants to work in drainage engineering in Minnesota after he is discharged and he is making plans with another fellow who was from that area to work there. I don't think this plan panned out since in February of 1920, John was again in Iowa just prior to his marriage to Mary. And instead he ended up working in Detroit, see my post for Monday, April 12th.

Finally, the best line in this letter is John talking about celebrating of the Armistice on November 11, 1918. He presumed Mary and everyone he knew in Missouri celebrated, but he was saving his celebration when he could see the Statue of Liberty from the Jersey shore!

Copyright 2010, ACK for Gene Notes


  1. I also have some passes that allowed John to move around in France from one camp to another. I will put all the John S. Stuff together for you. Have you found anything out about the french currency?

  2. Reminded me that I wanted to show them to DH. Currency is sitting in envelope awaiting it's turn.

  3. He was on detached duty a couple times.