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More Than 80 Years Old, Dozens of Letters Tell A Family Love Story

Patch Local Editor AmyJo Brown recently found two years' worth of dozens of love letters that her great-grandfather wrote to her great-grandmother in 1928 and 1929. She said tht every letter makes her smile, laugh and—often—gasp at the PG-13 content.

Early last year, my great-aunt pulled out a box of love letters that my great-grandfather wrote to my great-grandmother—dozens of them, written between March 1928 and late summer 1929. 

My great-grandmother, Dorothy, was 19 years old. My great-grandfather, Charles, was 18. He left Dorothy, Pittsburgh and his "gang" of good friends in Etna to travel and work on a plantation in Mississippi—the Macon Brooksville Farm.

The letters are an incredible treasure. I've been working on putting together my family history for about two years. At first, I hoped the letters would give me some clues about Charles' parents—both died very young, his mother in 1913 and his father in 1918. Charles' stepmom (who also was his aunt) and her second husband raised him. Other than the place they are buried (Hampton Cemetery in Allison Park), I have very little information about them. 

The letters don't provide much light in that area—but they provide something just as precious: A family love story that unfolds, letter by letter, week by week, told in my great-grandfather's voice. 

He was a writer and a charmer, full of compliments and professions of love. In between describing life in the South on the plantation, he dreamed of their future together—the car they'd drive, the house they'd have, little "Chas Jr." 

He also was a flirt with the ladies in Macon and loved to tease Dorothy. She, too, was spunky, and he would then be full of hurt when he heard stories of her paying attention to other men. He would scold her and remind her he was coming home soon.

Every letter makes me smile and laugh and often gasp at the PG-13 content.

In March 1928, shortly after he arrives at the plantation, he says Macon is "marvelous," but

"God, how lonesome it is without you and a piano to dream on and to pass the time away." 

A year later, after finding out two close friends are getting married, he reflects on their time apart and how he is trying to  up enough money to take care of her after they are married:

"There are so many lovable young couples broken up these days just because they haven't sufficient means to get along. Now, I don't think I'm an old-fashioned foggy, I'm just trying to look into the future a little bit. It's pretty hard at times to realize that those same (reasons) are robbing me of precious moments with you. ... 

As I sit here by the  and look out over a 100 acres or more of the best oats, I hope and pray that they reap good results for the labor spent on them. This is another game that is all a chance and not skill. While gambling on crops, I'm gambling two years of the best part of my life. 

This year will decide all. It's either make or break with the farm. ...

Well, Dor, the time has come to go to the barn, so closing with my deepest love. Good-bye and good luck for now.

Forever yours. I love you, Chas." 

I could go on and on sharing parts of the letters. There's the poem he wrote: 

"All to myself I think of you.

Think of the things we used to do, think of the things we used to say, think of each happy yesterday.

Sometimes I smile or sometimes I sigh, but I think of each olden wonderful while

All to myself."

And there's the check. On what appears to be a real check used to pay the plantation bills, he makes it out to my great-grandmother on March 18, 1929, for "1,000,000 kisses." 

They married in October 1930 and celebrated their 50th anniversary at the in 1980 at  with their five children, 19 grandchildren and one great-grandchild (me). 

More family came later, and I am in the middle of scanning all of the letters so that everyone in the family can read the story as he wrote it. 

I feel so lucky to have these letters and to know this love story. 

What love letters do you cherish? What love stories do you love to share? What is your own love story? Tell us in the comments!

Susan Ruiz Patton February 14, 2012 at 06:28 PM
My husband wrote me a love letter on a fast food napkin 20 years ago. I still have it in my jewelry box and he has no clue that I still have it. I think the fact that he doesn't know I still have the letter makes the letter more special to me.
Larissa Dudkiewicz February 17, 2012 at 05:03 PM
That's so romantic. I think letter writing is a lost art, especially with so much technology these days. Imagine if AmyJo's great grandparents had communicated via Skype. That history would be lost. I also like that you saved the love letter on the napkin. That's quite sweet.

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