To New Alexandria, Pa.
Sept 25th, 1882
Darwin’s “Origin of Species” is in use at present, and I found that Huxley's works are not in the Seminary library at all. I have no doubt they are in the College library. I shall go over soon to find out, and in the meantime send in this mail “The Reign of Law,” which no doubt you will find interesting.
I am allowed to have any book out of the library for two weeks, with a renewal for two more. If I do not return it at the proper time I will be fined, or denied the use of the library, or both. Otherwise you would be welcome to the books for a year instead of a month.
For a few days back I have been thinking over a plan which I would like to propose. I understood you to say a week or so ago, that in your reading you make notes, comments, criticism, etc. Now the plan is this, that we exchange criticisms and comments, or at least have a little free script discussion of these works I send out. I propose this not only for the sake of the correspondence, which would of itself be a great pleasure to me, but also for other good reasons.
We have opinions of our own on the author and topic we are reading and one may hit upon an error or a truth that another misses. The discussion impresses, make more vivid, and secures thoroughness. And it seems to me that works of Spencer, Darwin, Huxley, etc. at the present time demand thoroughness above almost any other merely human production. I sometimes think there is more real educating influence in reading, digesting and confuting in our own small way, [and] one such work is “The Origin of Species” than there would be in a years study at a college or seminary.
There is great danger in reading such works unless we read thoroughly. For their style is so neat and their methods of expression so candid and sincere that superficially we half believe, and unless we are careful they lead the reason captive, even in opposition to our religion, and a religion that is working against the fearful odds of a disaffected intellect isn’t worth much.
Again if there would be anything that neither of us could understand, I have access to two large libraries directly, and to three others indirectly, and to Dr. Patton who is no mean authority on such subjects. Any difficulty that could not be solved by all these helps, it might be well to let stand for further developments.
I have given but some of the reasons why I think such a correspondence would be profitable. Please let me know what you think of the plan. For my own part I feel sure that it would be both pleasant and profitable. Hoping that you will approve of it and enjoy it, I am
E. M. Haymaker
1 A book on science, religion and cosmology by George Douglas Campbell, Duke of Argyll. 1867.
Penny Postcard to New Alexandria, Pa.
Princeton, Nov 6th 1882
Inasmuch as you are interested in science, you may find the accompanying book readable. I have only read here and there in it, but I think it is one you will like if you have time to spend with it. If you have not, or if any of them are not interesting, or if this influx of books unasked for becomes a bore — or if you do not get enough of them or wish a change in any direction, please inform me and I’ll make it if I can.
To Princeton, N.J.
New Alexandria, Pa.
Oct 2, 1882
I should like to persuade myself that you had charitably decided to wait further developments without the idea recurring at the same time that some persons evidently do exhibit base ingratitude in a greater degree than others, but have an “uncomfortable conscience” that if the second paragraph of your card didn’t contain just the least hint of sarcasm which was there by malice aforethought on the part of somebody it might under the circumstances very justly have done so.
Now I feel sure I should enjoy the correspondence you propose very much indeed and find it both pleasant and profitable, but you at present know nothing of my talents in this direction, and from my knowledge of the same I am constrained to believe that the benefits on your side will be very inconsiderable.
You are so circumstanced that you have both time and opportunity to make yourself acquainted with all the speculations and theories of the writers under consideration and by references and comparison be fully persuaded in your own mind as to what is truth and what science falsely so called. I read more for the enjoyment I find in the mere knowledge of their different theories and hypotheses than because I arrive at any particularly tenable conclusion in regard to them myself.
Their writings seem to me like the imagery of Pharaoh’s dream — some very good and some it may be very evil, but as it requires learning, candor and comprehensiveness to discuss and refute the arguments and I don’t have any of these unless it’s the candor, my opinions are usually reserved for my own personal benefit. However I shall be glad to exchange and if you speedily find, as p’rahps you will, that some of those you receive are not quite orthodox you needn’t adopt them.
Do you really believe it follows in point of fact that if the theories of these scientist should be proven true, religion would be impossible?
I have never understood their meaning to be that the supernatural is irrational, or that God has never intervened from the day when he first caused the nebular matter to float in space.
The very law so reasonably demonstrated by some of them viz. Where there is a want in nature corresponding development ensues, would seem to prove the absolute need of interference on the part of the Deity with material changes.
As so many others I understand (or misunderstand) that literally these theories do not raise the question of God or no God now in the world but deal only with the laws of progression and the atheism is a matter of right or wrong inference.
Darwin admits that he is only seeking for truth that his theories are not proven and says we believe he has not offered his doubtful suppositions as evidence against well established convictions.
From the little I know of his writings I think remarkable conclusions are drawn from the premises and the logical reasoning does remind one of that of the boy: Adam was the first man, Methuselah was the oldest man, therefore St. Paul was shipwrecked.
But suppose that as the “thoughts of men are widened by the process of the suns,” some of these long resisted and often ridiculed hypotheses are proven worthy of credence what matters it?
Although I do not defend the doctrines of Darwin, Huxley “and men like minded,” have not studied them enough to justify a final judgment, and have never yet seen any reason for doubting that the whole act of the creation of man occupied the brief time which any reader would infer from reading the text, yet I would with Prof. Lewis think that so far as respects the origin of things the believer “may go with D~H~ and others to a very great extent without losing or loosening his hold on a divine revelation.”
These scientists’ theories are only modes of making which we may not only refer to a mind or person so creating but for which also we may find scope in the language of scripture wherever the origin or processes of nature are spoken of.
Well “more than I have said the leisure and enforcement of the time forbids,”2 and I have said nothing of the books which you were kind enough to send so will have now to reserve that for another “treatise.”
I think you very much indeed for them, and I very well know this should have been done some six weeks ago instead of this present time. During the greater part of this time I’ve not felt well enough to write much, and I venture to hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me the “very uncivil conduct” and I’ll do so no more.
Jean E. McC
1 Darwin and Huxley
2 Shakespeare, Richard III, Act 5, Scene 3
Penny Postcard to New Alexandria, Pa.
Princeton, Oct 24th 1882
My stars are evil! Several of the books I claimed were in the library about two wks. ago, have been taken out since. The “Origin of Species” which you would of course want to read first, is out, so I send another of D’s works which is more tedious reading but more correct. It shows D’s ability in one direction, just as the “O of Species” (so say many scientists) does his inability in another. It does not follow that because a man is good at investigation and classification, he is therefore good at drawing general conclusions and making hypotheses. I hope therefore the reading of this book will not raise in your mind a presumption in favor of Darwinism though it may in favor of Darwin. About that informal goosequill palaver which I proposed, I hardly know whether to interpret that silence gives consent or otherwise. Perhaps I ought to await further developments? Please remember me kindly to the McC family & “Sancho Panza.” Hoping you will find the book interesting.
Ed. M. H.
To New Alexandria, Pa.
Nov. 24th, 1882
Miss Jean E.,
After a month siege of work from which there was no escape I have again found leisure to seize the quill. It is a duty, I feel, to remove that “uncomfortable consciousness” space you speak of. The card “somebody” wrote was written in the utmost simplicity of intention, “ with malice toward none and charity for all,” and without his ever supposing that it contained a sarcastic tinge. Therefore pardon the unfortunate expression and take the intention for the words.
Allow me also to protest against the disparity you claim in the exchange of ideas. I admit that my opportunities are immense. But we have three recitations every weekday except Saturday, and it would take more than a whole day to do any of them justice. The chief objection I have to Princeton is that there are only twenty-four hours any day here. On Saturday we have to prepare sermons, or go off somewhere to preach on Sabbath or prepare for Presbytery examinations, or attend to the thousand and one little things incident to seminary life. So the time for improving these opportunities reduces — if not to zero then uncomfortably near it. When I go into the library and see the literature on 50 different subjects, all as interesting as this one of evolution, my feeling is not unlike that of the starving ragamuffin who found a molasses barrel and cried — “Oh, for a thousand tongues to lick!” But of course in my calling it his duty first of all to attend to those things which bare directly on the future work. But yet I want to know somewhat of these other topics as they will be indirectly useful besides the culture they give, and so snatch a few moments now and then, and which of course the work must be fragmentary and the wonderful opportunities remain unused but I know I’ve no way of improving this fragmentary information better then reducing it to writing . . . . So I am glad you have consented to the correspondence, and I am sure that I at least will enjoy it.
So to the series of these scientific evolutionists, I am of course willing to accept any of them as theories with more or less probability of truth, at least until a better is proposed — reserving, however, as a believer in the Bible, this one right to pronounce it false to my mind without being required to show just where the fallacy lies if it cannot be made to harmonize with the Bible, or the B. with it, feeling sure that, although I may not see it, there is a fallacy somewhere and the very fact that it is only a theory gives the B. the preference. If I understand your position it is the same.
It would be folly I think to deny that there is development in the world the question is — have Darwin, Huxley, Spencer, Haeckel and others the right idea of it.
I think there is a tendency in us all to sympathize with any theory that Christians pounce upon, because we have taken such a dislike to religious fanaticism as it has shown itself in the past, e.g. in the cases of Copernicus and Newton, both of which discovered such a giant truths. We fear that the persecuted theory may also be true, and may throw the Scriptures into a glorious light of which we never dreamed — if only we modify our scripture exegesis to make it harmonize . . . .
Again Copernicus and Newton were sure of their work; Darwin, Huxley and Spencer are very cautious and timid lest their theories may not be able to stand alone. Copernicus and Newton in propounding their theories affected only the exegesis of just have a few points in the Bible. The evil illusionists affect the foundation on which the whole Bible exists, at least if I have the right idea of it.
. . . .
In answering the question what is the truth in the matter we must I think answer four questions, viz;
1) Just what is the interpretation of the Bible on the subject, now considered orthodox?
2) Just what is the evolution theory and what its logical sequences?
3) Do these two conflict and if so just where and how?
4) Which is wrong and where?
I wanted to look in detail at some of these but have not had the time today . . . . In the mean time, if in your Bible reading you meet a passage for or vs. evolution, just turn down a “dog-ear” and I’ll do the same and then we’ll compare.
I was sorry to hear of your illness, and now I’m afraid if you go to the trouble of deciphering these four sheets of my hieroglyphics you’ll have another siege. However if you find your health failing in the attempt, hire some poor typesetter to make a legible transcript and charge to my account. (This last sentence reminds me of Pat who wrote in a letter to his mother that she should not open it until the second day after she had received it).
Unless you know a great deal more of natural history than I do, you would not find the last book I sent very interesting, but I sent it that you might get the difference in character of the “Or. of Sp." from some of his other works. I can get “Or. of Sp.” now, but the seminary closes for vacation in about three weeks, and they require all books returned to the library several days before hand, and it takes about a week for a book to go and return; and I don’t think you would get the satisfaction you want out of the “Or. of Sp.” or any other book of the kind, in a little over a week, so I’ll risk not sending it until next term. But I have some books of my own you might enjoy and you needn’t be limited to any particular time in sending them back. I have Sales’ Translation of the “Koran,” Watt’s “On the Improvement of the Mind,” Flint’s “Theism,” Hopkins’ “Evidences of Chnty, “Emerson’s Essays,” etc. If there is any one of these you haven’t read and wish to read, just drop a card & I’ll send it forthwith.
Well, the weather is cold, and my fire is nearly out, and my lamp will not burn right, and my paper is done, and it’s late, and I’m sleepy, and I feel mean generally, so I’ll stop.
Ed. M. Haymaker
P.S. Saturday morning,
Owing to the haste in which this was written, you may find a good many mistaken opinions. Any emaciated, ghost-like arguments you find in the above, just assassinate — and return the corpses & I’ll inter them, candidly sorrowing that their constitutions were so frail. E.M.H.
To Princeton, NJ
New Alexandria, Pa.
Dec 30 1882
In or about “the glad Christmas time” I received a package, for the contents of which you have my very sincere thanks.
It was the handsomest remembrance I have received in a long while, but I am rather fearful lest after you have seen a few specimen copies of the document with which my correspondents are afflicted from time to time you will conclude it was a supremely unhappy idea for yourself.
You shall certainly get to know all about evolution(?) and I’ll send you the first chapter very soon. As I didn’t know your address when in Phila. my thanks have been delayed a day or two but they are not lessened in any degree.
Jean E. McClelland
[Written on back flap of card] I wish you Happy New Year.
To New Alexandria, Pa.
“Inflection” No. 2.
“And one did cry, “Murder!” Macbeth A. II sc. 2.
Princeton, Jan 5th 1883
Miss Jean E Mc.,
I am perfectly aware that from your point of view it looks extremely shabby for me to promise to send you the works of Darwin, Huxley, and Spencer as soon as I returned, and yet not send the first one of them till four mos. after they were due; and all the more since I went so far as to ask a correspondence on their contents. The fault however has not been in intention but in circumstances, the book either not being in the library or being required again sooner than it could have been read and returned. I hope then that you’ll either forget the fact or remember the attendant circumstances.
I’m afraid you will have hard work writing your “first” chapter” until my promise has been fulfilled. But I have succeeded at last in getting the “origin of Sp.s” which I send herewith. If you don’t get through with it in three weeks, let me know and I’ll send it back if no one is waiting for it here. I will try to send Spencer just afterward as I think his “First Principles” are no unimportant part of evolution.
In my last I suggested a course of thought by proposing four questions to be answered. I did not mean however to impose this course, and so if you have any other to suggest just mention it in your next as it is my place to follow your plan since I proposed the correspondence.
I have a few notes on the “O.of S.” which I send now so that if you care to look them over, you will have the book to refer to. They were made quite a while since, and I have not had time to review them so the probabilities are you will find quite a good proportion of them false. The number refer to the pages in the book I send, and the fractions indicate the place on the page.
….[INSERT SCREENSHOTS OF HIS NOTES]
I have not made notes any farther than this as this part of the book embraces the chief arguments and those more called in question. No double you think it is just as well — so do I, and if you persevere in dragging through all the penmanship(?) + logic (??) I’ll be ready to pronounce you as patient as Job’s turkey (I never could get that proverb right).
On reading the above notes, which were written in a hurry, about the half of them suggest these couplets of Cowpers —
“So Flora’s wreath through color'd crystal seems,
The rose or lily appears blue or green,
But still the imputed tents are those alone
The medium represents and not their own.”
Ed. M. Haymaker
1 More commonly Job’s cat.
2From William Cowper’s Hope
To New Alexandria, Pa.
Princeton, Jan 24th ‘83
Miss Jean E.
Your note just after Christmas was received, but I forgot to acknowledge it in my last package. I am a little late in taking up that first question, seeing you are anxious to get the next development(?) of truth(?), but I feel sure that you’ll survive the disappointment, or at least linger along till spring.
From your letter I see that you are quite conservative on the side of “orthodoxy,” and of course speaking as a good Presbyterian, we are all safest when behind the flag of the Orthodox creed. It is certainly true that looking at ev. from our standpoint, it is only a theory and as far as we can see only a false one. But at the same time there are persons many of no mean attainments, who look at the universe altogether now under the evolutionist conception. And there are many well-meaning, scholarly scientists who claim that it is at least a question. When a theory however comes in and pretends to revolutionize our conceptions of things, we in all justice demand positive proof from, and we must be willing candidly to weigh such proof when given. But the proof hitherto has been as was indicated in your letter of a rather slippery nature. It may be a mistake but somehow I never could put much faith in philosophical proofs of things. When we consider the fact that 9/10 of the philosophers’ theories have been wrong and that most of what we hold in the line philosophy is of a comparatively late date and may be exploded within the next century — I’d rather be excused from giving up any of my biblical doctrines in favor of some philosophically proved truth.
I’m looking over those four “comprehensive questions” they seem rather pedantic and arbitrary but however ungainly and infelicitous they may be, they have like Pat’s mule the one redeeming feature I’m getting over the ground.
The first question was — “what is the interpretation of the Bible now considered Orthodox?” “Orthodox” is a strange word the Baptist says he is Orthodox and calls the Presbyterian heterodox. The Presbyterian returns the favor, and then they unite and say to the Roman Catholic, “you’re heterodox and we’re orthodox. … reasoning by induction from these facts, we may say that orthodoxy is my “doxie” on any particular subject in hand, while heterodoxy is the “doxy” of anybody else. Christians therefore claiming that their interpretation of the Bible is the true one as to this matter of evolution call their “doxy” orthodoxy. On this subject O is therefore the common belief of the body of evangelical Christians. ….
… I can’t possibly see how Dar. can claim that his theory does not contradict the Bible as he does in his “Origin of Sp.” …. But supposing we could read the B. through under the Darwn conception, still that would not prove Dsm true, but only that it was not inconsistent with the Bible.
Ed. M. Haymaker
1 both (?) are Ed’s
To Princeton, N.J.
New Alexandria, Pa.
Mar. 23, 1883
I have just started Huxley’s Lectures, Addresses, Essays . . . and now I may as well candidly confess in the beginning that I made no notes and wrote no review criticisms, comments or anything of the kind when reading this or any other of the works you have been kind enough to send except the first. These are now not to be found among any of my papers and I consider it very doubtful whether you, myself or anyone else would derive any particular benefit from them if I were as methodical as Longfellow and had them just at hand.
So you see I’ve deliberately broken my part of the agreement in letter at least and nothing can we plead in extenuation of the fault except perhaps my utter inability to fulfill the contract.
I could have sent you “whole packages” which would have contained only a re-hash of the opinions of others and have profited nothing, unless by causing you to grow in the grace of forbearance, but I do not really believe I found either a truth or an error which was not so very evident it could scarcely fail to be noticed by you or any one who interested in the subject read carefully and considerately.
And then again as those who claim that the reasons the account of creation as found in the book of Genesis is not a scientific account is that had it been written in scientific language it would have been unintelligible to the greater part of mankind, the people then living as well as those of the present day — as most scientific books are unintelligible except to the educated few.
The writings seemed plain enough — that is there was no difficulty about understanding what the premises were and the reasoning superficially examined seemed very good but we may reason from false premises the reasoning be faultless and the conclusions false and misleading.
The Origin of Species brought forcibly to mind the old story of the potash kettle in the famous suit in regard to which the borrower defended himself by the remarkably exhaustive line of pleadings that first, he never borrowed the kettle, second, it was cracked when he got it, third, it was whole when he carried it home.
The several specifications not being very consistent one with another but no one could deny that if each one could be independently established there would be made a very satisfactory defense.
So in like manner if Darwin’s several points do not quite agree with each other they would all work famously to his purpose each by itself — supposing the basis to be incontrovertible.
I was interrupted just here and since the foregoing was written have not felt able to write until this afternoon. I can’t add more now as some other matters imperatively demand attention, but will send this to show that I have not forgotten the argument, and will give you the rest again.
You will think the outline has not been very closely followed, but just consider this the introduction to the work and perhaps I’ll get at the subject after a time. One of my former correspondents complimented me by saying, I could say more with less than any person he had ever known, and I fully expect you to agree.
Jean E. McClelland
To New Alexandria, Pa.
Princeton, Apr. 5th 1883
Miss Jean E.
Your letter came to hand on Tuesday last, and as I had just sent “Frag. Of Science.” I mail the notes, made while reading it. They were so numerous and so inflated that I used up the last sheet of my long paper, and so have to fall back on paper of another style.
The history of the idea of evolution which you gave in a former letter was very good, if you’ll allow me to pass judgment. You showed very clearly that the germ of the idea of evolution is by no means a modern thing, but has been in the minds of men all along. Some time ago Dr Prince of Brooklyn gave us a lecture in Princeton in which he brought before his hearers in a very vivid way how highly civilized the earliest known men were, and how highly civilized some parts of mankind have always been ever since. There were the same arts, sciences, needs, inventions, troubles, feelings, emotion, then as now. Thus he confirmed very strikingly the thought you advanced — that the race never was savage though parts of it might have been.
As to those stamps, I had meant that this thing shouldn’t cost you anything and intended sending the back postage in this “package.” But now that your desires point the other way, I’ll keep it and give it to the heathen or buy a pottersfield.
In reading these books, Miss Jennie, allow me to suggest a word of caution, which I apply to myself also. Of course you are too sensible to consider them in any sense authorities further than their experiments show. But beware of letting them exert an unconscious influence on your thinking. For this reason I say we ought never to put a single thought of theirs in our memories without putting their autographs under it, and a big sign on each side warning us to "be careful!!” Atheism is stealthy. And it is possible for us to be eventually enchained before we know it. Beware the leaven of the evolutionists.
Ed. M. Haymaker.
Scrawled sideways across top of first page: Your last letter handled evolution as if you knew somewhat of the subject. “I do not possess the intellectual faculty which would enable me to” reconcile your claimed lack of ability. So in my own mind I am persuaded that on that point at least you are mistaken. The mistake is probably due however to a praiseworthy modesty. If though you persist in holding the same opinion of your ability just pitch in with an air of desperation like myself and immortalize yourself on the score of “Brass” versus Ability.
To New Alexandria, Pa.
Princeton, Apr. 26th, ’83
Miss Jean E.
The book arrived yesterday at the time I requested but I’m sorry to say that you must consider yourself disappointed in the reading of “Bowne” just now. I had expected the term to close on the 13th, but it closes on the 9th. I had expected to send “Bowne” about a week ago so that you could begin it as soon as you finished the other, but — “time flies!”
So if you’ll forgive me the carelessness of promising what I have been unable to fulfill, I will try to atone for it by sending the aforesaid and aforepromised book the very first thing next year, if Providence permits my return . . . .
You spoke in your last letter of not filling the plan I proposed very closely. I am very glad you do not, for I am sure that you as well as I would get far more benefit from it if you take it up just as it lies in your own mind. At least it is so with me . . . .
If you write before the 10th of May or thereabouts my address will be Princeton. After that date I expect to be preaching at Lebanon, Wayne Co., Pa. My boarding place will be a short ride away and I am not certain what the address will be, but will let you know . . . . Had an opportunity to go to Mo., good salary & “no questions asked,” but this other place offered a promising field for three or four mos. work so I took it. It is the smallest church in the General Assembly — one member. But the people in the neighborhood are anxious to have preaching and have repaired the church etc., which I thought a good omen. It hardly pays to leave such a place and travel two thousand miles to work for four mos. only.
It seems strange to drop down to a single sheet after annoying you with “packages” so lone. But I feel sure you’ll consider it a very agreeable kind of relapse. Hoping to hear from you too. I remain
Yours very Truly,
Ed. M. Haymaker
1Borden Parker Bowne.
Penny post card to New Alexandria, Pa.
Rileyville, Wayne, Co., Pa.
Miss Jean E.,
The above is my address at present. I am still living and can read writing. So if you get another chapter on Evolution prepared just send it on. I am about as near the skies here as anyone in Penns. ever gets. The town of Rileyville is situated over against “Big Hickory” the highest land in the state. I will be very busy for a few weeks collecting my one member so that I can’t write on the next point just now. Will try to soon.
Ed. M. H.
To New Alexandria, Pa.
Princeton, N.J. Sept. 24th, ’83
Dear Miss Jeannie,
I should have written during the summer and in fact partially promised to do so. But when I got into my field of work I found it a harder field to attend to than I had expected. I knew no one, and was perfectly single handed in the work, not one person being willing to help in anything. The representation of the field as it was given to me was quite different. Therefore I had to modify my plans somewhat. Nevertheless I can look back on some degree of success as they have now one of the neatest little country churches you could wish to see and six members in it, together with a good choir and Sunday school, and apparently considerable religious interest. But the point I began to make was this — that owing to my change of plans and the difficulty of working on my summer field, I didn’t have time to study up the subject of our correspondence and get it orderly arranged. Therefore it waits till now.
The next question on the proposed plan I believe was this;— “Does the evolution theory [as it comes through the line of Darwinism] conflict with orthodox Christianity?” We have already seen what the orthodox faith on the subject of creation is. We have also seen that “Evolution is an integration of matter and concomitant dissipation of motion: During which the matter passes from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a deficit coherent heterogeneity, and the retained motion undergoes a parallel transformation" (Whew!) OR as Kirkman I think it is, translates it — “It is a change from nohowish, untalkaboutable all-alikeness, to a somehowish, and in general-talk-aboutable not-at-all-alikeness, by continuous somethingelseification and stick-togetherations.”
The Bible however teaches the contrary,— that man is the latest and best and had dominion given him and nothing was created after him by evolution or in any other way. And the intimation plainly is that nothing will be . . . . Therefore as far as I now can see evolution and Christianity cannot be held together.
I send herewith “Bowne’s Review of Herbert Spencer.” You will find him a writer of a flashy and sometimes bombastic style but with a good deal of truth under it all . . . .
Have you seen any book mentioned in any of [continued scrawled up side of page] the magazines you would like to read. We may have it in the library. I will gladly accommodate you with any book [continued upside across the top of last page] I can as it is a luxury to find a young lady who is interested in these things. Please excuse all excusable mistakes and charge the rest to Yours Truly, Ed. M. H.
Penny Postcard To New Alexandria, Pa
Princeton Nov 6th 1883
In as much as you are interested in science, you may find the accompanying book readable. I have only read here and there in it but I think it is one you will like if you have time to so spend with it. If you have not, or if any of them are not interesting, or if this influx of books unasked for becomes a bore — or if you do not get enough of them or wish a change in any direction, please inform me and I’ll make it if I can.
To Princeton, N.J.
New Alexandria, Pa.
12 — 4 — 1883
The accompanying book has brought to remembrance very many things that I used to exercise a great deal of “special wonder” over, and while reading it I decided to send you — at the risk of exposing an unlawful amount of ignorance — a “package” which will come to you in a few days in a very questionable shape.
Heretofore our correspondence has been rather one-sided, and the benefits very much so indeed. In fact it couldn’t be otherwise for the only good my letters could possibly do you would be to give you a good laugh once in a while.
Yours, together with the books and notes you have been kind enough to send, have made a great many things straight for me that I had gotten in a fearful tangle and I am grateful — appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.
All the books have interested me very much. I do not have much time to devote to them — not so much as I would like but was very glad have them at all.
I am fearful this last one has been too long with me and will not be back before the four weeks are past. If you are fined “notify” me. I am accountable you know, and do not wish to have you compromised in anyway with me at the bottom of it. I’ve watched every chance to send it for several days but no available one presented until this.
I do not find stamps in my desk to the amount I am indebted, but enclose what are here and will send more again.
Very truly your friend,
Jean E McClelland.
To Princeton, N.J.
I find this morning that it will not be advisable for me to be from home both Thurs. and Friday evenings — or rather that if I go out on Thurs. evening I cannot go on Friday.
I feel like “the boy with the two coats” but after considering the matter, as I am very anxious to attend the reception, decided to give up the festival.
I suppose it will not be an unbearable disappointment to you as I do not think you are much in favor of this method of church work anyway.
I’m sure it would be a matter of rejoicing if you knew the number of “Hill Difficulties” in the way and the condition the roads will be in.
It will be much less trouble for you to come over and eat dinner with us without going further.
Jean E. McClelland
To Princeton, N.J.
New Alexandria, Pa.
Jan. 6. 1883.
I feel tonight like Talmage’s mean man — mean all the way up and down, across, forward and backward — for since I sent you the note which stated there was more to follow soon, my flying world has seemed to spin with accelerated velocity, and is now more than one day’s journey farther down the ringing groove of change than I expected it to be before you would be in possession of more manuscripts to correct.
As this is rather more than the 11thhour of the week — 9 PM Saturday night it is late to begin on so large a subject but I feel that something serious must be done pretty soon. . . .
It seems to require quite as great a degree of faith to belong to the champions of physical science as to the advocates of supernatural theology, for as Balfour Stewart says, we must accept evolution as in all embracing principle on the evidence of certain phenomena though these are as yet confusedly insufficient to establish all that is claimed. On the one side we trace the effects to causes and these causes to still higher causes until at last above all tangible, existing things, seen and unseen we take refuge in the primary cause of all causes, the idea of a personal, intelligent, infinite invisible God, the Creator and Ruler of the universe. This is the one essential belief, one grand mystery. I have somewhere seen it stated that scientists merely reverse the process, and “microscope in hand search the hidden realms of nature downward through all her ranks to find the primal elements of being, and so passing in the boundaries of the senses they discover, or think they discover the very cells of life, the first elements, laws and forces of matter.”
In the one case an intelligent God is found, whose existence assumed, or proved as it is by revelation, explains everything else in universe — and in the other there is only assumed the existence of atoms which no man ever has seen and which probably no man ever will see.
According to Ruskin, modern science has declared there is no such thing as man, only a transitional form of Ascidians and apes in exactly the same sense it declares there is no such thing as a flower. . . . The real fact is that seen with human eyes, there is nothing else but man; that all animals and beings beside him are only made that they may change into him; that the world truly exists only in the presence of man, acts only in the passion of man —
I’ve mislaid the notes and comments made on the book you first sent so you cannot have the benefit (?) of them now but doubtless this already written will be sufficient to show that you have a great reason to be thankful that you so escaped in any measure. I do not know when I have read any work I more thoroughly enjoyed than that one and although I know very little natural history I did not find the last one tedious by any means. Darwin certainly exhibited unflagging zeal and untiring industry in the matter of making experiments. My curiosity has been aroused to such an extent that it’s now the height of my ambition to see a sun-dew.
I never knew that the religious sentiments of Darwin were positively known but the enclosed slipsettles it of course. I found a copy of it in another paper since you sent.
Well it’s grown late — very near the Sabbath Day. I shall not attack another sheet this time. I hope you rec’d the note sent some time ago: we do not receive mail regularly and often times a week passes and no opportunity comes for sending any so we avail ourselves [continued scrawled upside down at top of page] of the services of anyone going in the direction of the post office and sometimes these are not very reliable — Jean McC
1T. De Witt Talmage, a prominent preacher in both Presbyterian and Reformed. Rephrasing mean . . . backward from The Earth Girdled: The World as Seen To-day, (1896 entered into Library of Congress).
2Drosera, more commonly known as sundew, a carnivorous plant that feeds on insects
3 The “enclosed slip” does not survive.
To New Alexandria, Pa.
9th Jan., 1884
Dear Jennie, —
Although held in suspense by changing hope and doubt, I am yet happy now in the liberty of letting the floodgate of feeling open and writing freely what has been pent up so long. There is solace also in remembering the “encouragement” of Saturday evening gathered from some expressions of yours — “I have every confidence in you;” “I think I’ll give the answer you wish me to;” “I half believe I will;” etc. And combining these with your promise of a definite answer within a month, I am trying to “linger along,” though the month may be a weary one.
As you spoke at length of your unreadiness to marry anyone because of you bodily injury, I wish to assure you again that this is by no means an insuperable objection. I can but admire your fairness in telling me of it, but it would be equally fair in me to think none the less of you because it is your misfortune to dwell in a slightly crippled body. I have always admired Mr. Chalfant’s action in marrying Miss Moore. She was a poor little cripple who had “given up long ago all ideas of every getting married,” and had educated herself for a teacher. Mr. C. saw in her a lovable companion — a good, pure, intelligent Christian lady — and what difference was it if her body was considerably out of shape. So they were married and she became the charm of his home. Crippled as she was she devoted herself to the duties of her new position, and I never saw a more excellent minister’s wife. Wherever Mr. C Preached they all liked Mrs. C so much. And he and all his big boys fairly dote on “little Mother” as they call her, for she isn’t much more than half as high as any of her sons.
I do not believe in the principle of selecting a wife like a machine or a beast of burden merely for the amount of work she’ll be able to do. A home of such a kind is a building on sand. Companionship is the primary and chief idea in marriage as I understand it. And to reject the object of pure, genuine affection for any ordinary person merely because the former had some unnoticeable bodily fault, would be like rejecting the “Kohioor” for a diamond of paste simply because the latter had the better setting.
Now as you have been so fair with me in telling of your misfortune, I wish to be perfectly fair with you in stating clearly my preferences in regard to the mission question. I do not know that I made my position clear the other evening although I tried to. I have always had a desire to enter mission work. I enjoy it in the milder form of home missions and feel sure from what I have heard that I would be just in my element in some foreign field. I have in part been preparing for mission work during my seminary course. I have been throwing my influence with all my might into the foreign mission cause in the seminary in order to develop the spirit among the students. So that although I have not yet bound myself to go, and have not come to any positive personal decision on the subject, yet it would be somewhat of a disappointment to myself, and might appear like fickleness to others, if I should remain at home.
On the other hand there stands the fact that my father is thoroughly opposed to my going at all, although I have with difficulty got a half-hearted consent from him. If I had the consent of my father and of yourself on the mission question as well as the other, I would enroll for Corea without a moment’s hesitation. But as I have neither — and as both yourself and I have large circles of friends and relatives which we would have to leave & leave pretty badly too in case we took our chances together — perhaps it would hardly be right for me to entertain that idea.
But at the same time there are plenty of foreign fields nearer home that give nearly as great promise of harvest and perhaps they would not be so much out of the question, if you should say, “Yes,” and we should agree to go to the foreign field. But if such should be the case I would never ask you to go where we could not enjoy a comfortable home, good climate, companionable people etc. so that life would be a pleasure and not an irksome duty, and our home would be a home indeed. When Judson went into Asia as a missionary, he remained in the work although the climate was simply unbearable for both himself and his family. And his family died one by one, then his wife went in the same way, but he still clung to his work and in a short time died himself. Now there is one sense in which Judson’s action might be termed heroic. But there is another I think in which it was foolish. . . . . I think the cool sober, sensible way to look at the mission question, is — to look at all the fields, climate, people, government, safety, etc and elect the one in which we can live longest and happiest and do the most good in the long run. We need to remember vividly that we have only one short life to live on this side of the tomb, and we have got to make the most of it. And I heartily believe that you could look back over your life with infinitely more satisfaction if you had lived as the respected, beloved, noble wife of a minster or missionary than if you have lived your “three score and ten” by the Derry road cooking and sewing and reading and passing away time. In the former case you could see what you had lived for; in the latter case it would be hard to see. But to come back to the the question of choosing a mission field, I think for one nowadays to throw away his life on hostile Ashanti or burning Siberia or frozen Greenland is mere fanaticism when he might spend it in China, Corea, Brazil or Mexico with their excellent bracing climate and their hands stretched out for the gospel, and might win thousands of souls for the Savior before he dies.
Remember I have not decided to go to the foreign mission field yet. I am only stating my feeling on the subject, for I think my wife should not be taken along, merely as I would take my trunk but as a fellow companion, and as such should be consulted. Therefore I have left the matter undecided. Therefore if the happy event I proposed should take place and we should decide to go to the foreign field, the proper way would be to look carefully and select the one in which we could be the most comfortable and the most useful. I would not select a field and decide without consulting you for it would be little less than cruelty to take advantage of the “knot” and compel you either to leave your husband or live in a country you never liked nor consented to. Now you have my views.
If however it should result that the foreign mission field is not the one for my labors, then I speak in fairness as you have with me, I simply must work somewhere or other in the home field. I could never in the world be contented in the … least in any organized church. I can’t bear the idea of building on another man’s foundation. Why the ministers here in the east are so thick they are trumping on each other and fighting for a living, and they have not use for any more unless they have excellent quarreling properties and my piety doesn’t work out naturally that way.
You yourself have seen and mentioned on the evils consequent on the great number of ministers here in the east [viz-] ministers and their wives are continually talked about, and if they hear about it and get angry and leave, it is a very simple matter to get twenty or thirty more to talk about, but not such an easy matter for the leaving minister to get another church. There has always seemed to be a kind of noble independence in going off where ministers and their wives are scarce and where they’ve got to be appreciated.
Jennie I write these things with fear and trembling. You do not know how my mind has been agitated on the subject. I decided long ago that I would either leave Christianity alone altogether, or else go into it with all my might. There is no safe place between the two positions. And as the first is wrong I decided in favor of the latter.
I have therefore been accustomed to consider the world as the field for so long that I have come to be in love with missions and mission work. I want to do something for others. To me there is nothing attractive or excellent or glorious in simply living through life, minding my own business, keeping out of debt, and then lie down quietly and die and rot! And pass away leaving no more trace of my life than as if a bubble had burst on the surface of the ocean. I want to get into credit of the race of men. I want to do something I can point to forever, and I think no work promises results of a more enduring date that just mission work. Now I do not know what your zeal in this work may become when you look at it as a work in which you may be engaged along with me if you wish. (Please do not understand me as expecting you to do the mission work. I’ll do that myself. But if you will consent to be the center of my home, to which I always return with joy, and talk about that which I am living for, you can’t help but see what an influence you would have on me and on my work, and what a noble calling you would fulfill. The results of our life than would be ours not mine alone. And I feel sure that you would be entitled to fully half the reward for our co-labors when the day of reckoning shall come. This I would expect of you. If you chose to do more, your own pleasure for that.)
As I said, I do not know what your zeal may become. But if you should prove to be on one side and mission on the other so that I should be compelled to choose between the two, I really don’t know what I would do. The choice would be fearful in its consequences to me in either case. It is no longer a terrible thing to be a missionary looking at it in a New Alexandria atmosphere. Now Jennie, because I love mission work and have been fair enough to say so, please do not infer that my affection is any the less for you or that I don’t really love you, for indeed I do. And the highest joy I could be capable of as far as arrangements for this life are concerned, would be to obtain both objects of my love together and have you with me in this glorious work.
The preaching on Sunday evening turned out as I feared and expected. I can now say as a matter of experience that courting and sermonizing will no more go together than fire and water — at least in my case. After struggling in vain to boil down that sermon I spoke of, I gave it up after dinner and studied a couple of hours on the miracle of blind Bartimaeus and just got up and talkificated (Please excuse undictionarial terms).
There is one almost indispensable part of modern courtship which you and I have omitted in the midst of more important considerations, which I wish we could arrange now and that is an exchange of photos. There is only one thing I’d rather have than your photo and that is the original of it. So if you have one about, I would like wonderfully well to get possession of it. And if you have not, get some taken as soon as convenient and I’ll pay for them.
I hold myself in readiness to answer as many of those questions you spoke of, as I can, as soon as you send the “package.” Will send you some more books as soon as you want them. I suppose you are still engaged on Bartlett’s Lectures, so it will not do to crowd you with literature. It is very well to “make haste slowly.”
Jennie please hustle up that “jury” and get them to decide on this case of mine before the month is up if possible for I’d rather live in a tea-kettle than stay this way for long.
Please excuse me for writing so much and so poorly for I did not intend to write one third as much when I started, but “out of abundance of the heart” the pen writeth.
Hoping to hear from you soon,
Yours in Hope
Ed. M. Haymaker
1 Koh-i-Noor Diamond, originated and “gifted” from India to became part of the Crown Jewels during Queen Victoria’s reign.
2 Korea. There was an uprising in “Corea” in 1884 and that may have spurred Ed’s interest in going there.
3 If reference is to Adoniram Judson, a missionary to Burma, the example is in error, but the anecdote serves the writer's point.
4 Region of modern-day Ghana
5 The blind beggar chided for calling out to Jesus for mercy
6 Lectures on Modern Universalism: An Exposure of the System (1856), by Samuel Bartlett
To New Alexandria, Pa.
Jan 17th, 1884
Every day I wonder and wonder how your progressing with the problem. Everyday I carry a sort of questionable hope to the post office and bring it back with the bottom all knocked out of it. I try to imagine what your thoughts are on the subject. Sometimes I fear that you are hesitating out of dread of the idea of going some distance away from your old home. But you must remember that it will not be your home then, and as far as paying it an occasional visit is concerned, it is worth while to note that people who live three hundred miles apart or even one hundred do not see each other much or any oftener than those who live three thousand apart. Sometimes I feel almost ready to say I’ll stay at home. But when I hear the cry of Godless millions, who have souls just like ourselves — how can I? I know here would be infinitely more happiness for you as well as for me, where our lives would “tell.”
Sometimes I fear that you still have not confidence in the stability or possibly the sincerity of my professed love. If it is the former, I can only say, you probably know that I am not accustomed to begin matters and then change my mind about them in less important things, then why should I in anything as great as this? Besides my affection hasn’t sprung up in a day to its present proportions. It had grown gradually from the beginning I told you of, until it has become strong. It had been tested in every way I know how, before I mentioned it to you. I trust I have got beyond childish and school-boy ideas and that this is not any species of “calf-love” but a strong, genuine, manly love going forth plainly and naturally towards its object.
If on the other hand you doubt the sincerity of my professions, all I can do is to reiterate my abhorrence and detestation of this thing of trifling with the affections of another. I always have thought it positively wicked to do anything of the kind, and I appeal to what you know of my character now, do you think that I would or could be guilty of trifling with your affections, professing to love you when I do not, and entering into a relation with you as solemn as that of marriage, when the whole matter is based on a lie! No I am sure you give me credit for sincerity at least or you would not have have given the encouragement you did. The only question in your mind on this score, as far as I can see would be doubtfulness in regard to the stability of my affection, but I assure you, you need not be solicitous about that for I have looked ten, twenty thirty years ahead and I cannot conceive of my possible circumstances in which my affection would not remain firm.
Sometimes I fear you hesitate because of the objection you made when I first mentioned the subject — viz., the fear that for a minister’s wife your piety was not deep enough. I think that was a very natural objection when considering your “call to the ministry.” But at the same time it was a very encouraging one to me although you did not intend it. If you had considered your piety deep enough and “up to the standard” when such an important subject was first thrust before you, I would have wanted no surer proof that it was quite defective. But as it was you showed — as far as I am judge — the essential elements of true piety. You said it might be more lively and full of the Spirit. That may all be, but do you think there ever was a Christian in the world who couldn’t say the same thing? It is only human to have such a state of the soul (this does not make it right however). And though we may often and for a long time feel our coldness in religion, we are not on that account to yield to giant Despair and allow ourselves to be locked up in a Doubting castle; we should thank God for giving us so much of the Spirit that we can see our coldness, and we should pluck out the “key of faith” and go on our way praying , singing and rejoicing. I have know dozens of ministers’ wives and I never knew one that wasn’t a human being. Therefore I hope you will not let this matter delay your decision. While you are away off up there three miles from church and too far to attend many of the meetings and engage in much of the active work, an unwelcome heartlessness has a ready explanation. But if you come with me right into the midst of the work you can’t help not see what an influence it would have on your
piety religious life. And this very fact forms an argument and a strong one too, why you should follow the right and natural course of human-nature and “leave Father and Mother” [etc.]
Now I would like write a whole volume on the subject but after writing so much the last time, I just thought it would be a shame to put you to the bother of deciphering a great lot of my poor writing, so I started out with a determination to make it only four pages long. This letter under other circumstances would be decidedly egotistical, but I hope you’ll remember I’m pleading my own case. And though I am comforted by no slight-hope, yet this horrible uncertainty is wearing. So please, Jennie, don't keep me waiting any longer than is absolutely necessary. Write, if your letter has only one word in it. And be assured that if it is the right word, there will be one man in Princeton who will feel fully a foot taller than he really is, and a whole lifetime happier.
In hopeful uncertainty
I am Truly Yours
Ed. M. Haymaker
[continued scrawled in side margin] I will send you a book tomorrow or Monday. I got one today, but on examination concluded you would not be interested much in it, so I will not send it.
1 Ed’s strikethrough
On Penny Postcard To New Alexandria, Pa.
Jan 18, 1884
Inasmuch as you spoke something of Astronomy, I thought you might be interested in the accompanying book. It is a little out of date and contains some statements that appear rather childish and flat. I tried to get one on the same subject (by Burr) called “Ecce Coelum” which is interesting and excellent. But it was not in the library when I called. If you are interested in the subject I will send it to you when you are through with this.
Hope you find it interesting.
Ed. M. H.
To Princeton, N.J. [?]
New Alexandria, Pa.
Jan 22 1884
I wrote you a long letter several days ago, which upon further consideration I decided not to send. I have been unexpectedly called away from home and send this note to prove that I have been thinking , at least, if an unnecessary silence has been preserved.
I will try to enlighten you in regard to the thoughts in two or three days, and please do not exercise so much anxiety over the result —
Very truly your friend,
E. J. McClelland
To Princeton, N.J.
Jan 23, 1884
Until the letter was received which contained the statement of your preferences in regard to the mission question they jury could not again. The testimony was reviewed again and again and considered in the light of every attendant circumstance and your prophecy proved true. Time did not help me to a decision — on the contrary the more I thought of it the farther I was from knowing what I would like to do, or rather what I ought to do.
When we last talked together you perhaps thought I did not manifest a due appreciation of the importance of the subject, but I assure you I was really very deeply impressed by it — much more than I was by what you said in regard to mission work for I did not fully realize what that meant until after you had gone. It must have been that I did not want to comprehend for you certainly made it clear enough.
You say you have tried to imagine what my thoughts are on the subject.You cannot possibly know. If we were to agree to be “Two to the world for the world’s work’s sake” you knowing little or nothing of my cares heretofore would never think of the many cherished desires, to the fulfillment of which,although I have never counted on length of days, I have looked all my life — and which if I were to spend the remaining portion of it with you in a foreign land, would have to become as nothing to me. As to my life being spent by the Derry road following the daily routine of duties necessitated by life on a farm — that has been no part of my programme. I can never do so and feel that I am of any use in the world.
Although it is very comforting doctrine to many that they also serve who stand and wait like he whom Brutus slew I am ambitious and want to do something more than merely exist, something that will in some way benefit a part of the race of men and make the world a little the better of my having lived in it.
I understand very clearly that as a missionary’s wife I should have every advantage of the accomplishment of as much — perhaps more good than I shall ever do at home but — there are several reasons why I do not think I can be one.
Gifts are given to every man according to his several ability. As Havergal has it I am not excused from effort to cultivate and use my small share, or hide my one talent because it is not five, but I cannot now feel persuaded that I am to use it in a land of strangers, so far from the home of my childhood and all my early friends that I shall see them no more forever — for that as you very well know is what my going would mean — the breaking up of all the old associations, and severing of every tie that binds me to what would then be my old home, and the hearts of my kindred and — oh I cannot go.
You cannot enter into my feeling in this matter for you have been so long from those who if you had lived with them would have been nearest and dearest that your interest must necessarily have weakened and the above may perhaps seem very like foolishness to you but it is intensely real to me and you were right in supposing it one of the reasons I hesitated.
You are wrong however in crediting me with a lack of faith in your profession for although all my knowledge of the world, theoretical and experimental, goes to prove that it is not the height of wisdom to put confidences in princes or any of the rest of mankind, yet something in your manner made me believe you earnest and sincere.
No, it is not you I doubt but myself. You have mistaken me quite and believe me to be not what I am but the woman I would like to be.
I may have wronged you in like manner for until your last visit I always thought of you only as “a man faithful and honorable,” a grave scholarly person who cared little for the commonplace things most of us are interested in, and I now believe there is another side to your character as well.
Will you be surprised to learn that I have spent the greater part of these two weeks in trying to make myself believe that I do not care anything about this matter? That is the way I have always disposed of such things before but this time I cannot so easily. I believe I actually forgot as I listened to you and said what I did in reply that I was not a tall straight “perfect woman nobly planned” instead of like Pope “hopelessly crooked.”
I remember it now and cannot say that I will be your wife when I feel confident that if you had known of this, the proposition would never have been made and think that you would perhaps like but feel that it would be dishonorable to retract now. I believe any man would feel so in regard to it.
Do not be offended by my plain speech. I say it only in justice to you just as I told you of it in the first place and deserve no commendation for my “fairness.” I could not do otherwise.
You can easily guess it is a painful subject to me and I have never spoken to more than one person beside yourself, outside of my own family, of it. In fact I do not think that even they all know.
I thought I could say “If needs be” in the right spirit and bear this my greater cross with patience believing that God is very good, but now I know that after all these years I am just as rebellious as ever.
I might have written pages and pages but it would all have amounted to the same thing. I am very much pleased with the book you sent and think it will be very interesting.
My address for a little while be New Derry. Will you write to me? You can have the photo of course if you want it.
Your friend Jean McClelland
1 Matthew 25:12
2 Kept for the Master's Use: 8: Our Intellects kept for Jesus, by Frances Ridley Havergal: Rephrasing of “The former class are tempted to think themselves excused from effort to cultivate and use their small intellectual gifts . . . to hide the one talent because it is not five.”
3 Alexander Pope had tuberculosis of the spine, rendering him hunchbacked, asthmatic, and prone to headaches.
4 More detail about Jeannie’s health noted in Ed’s letters dated Jan. 29th, 1884, and March 3rd, 1884.
To New Derry, Westmoreland County, Pa.
Jan. 29th, 1884
Dear Jenny —
I had written a long letter and was ready put it in at the office when your note came. On reading your note however, I just thought it was rather foolish in me to be so impetuous. My feeling could be as constant, and my reasons as strong if I would be cool about the matter. And as I have always said that we can do anything if we only determine so to do, I determined to keep cool.But your letter which came in the promised time was rec’d this morning and unsettled the whole matter again. I have conquered many difficulties by sheer will force, but this afternoon it seems as if I was as helpless as a child. I sat for three hours over a book reading and at the end was ignorant of what I had read. This may not be a very manly confession but it at least has the merit of truth.
I was deeply grieved to learn that you still hesitated because of your bodily misfortune; and especially that you had any suspicion that my feeling in the matter was that I had fallen into a dilemma of which a “hopelessly crooked” wife was the one horn and a dishonorable retraction the other. Whatever made you think that I had any such feeling? . . . . I tell you truly your announcement of the fact did not make a ripple in my feelings or my purpose and it would have made no difference in the proposal if I had known it from the first. And then take notice too of the fact that it did not come upon you after I made the proposal.
When I first met you, you were just as you are now, only with the additional misfortunes about health, and partial blindness as I feared. And it was then that my attachment began, and inasmuch as you have improved since then is it at all likely but I make the offer and then get sick of the bargain, when you are just what you were before? Besides I think you make too much of your misfortune. If you were “hopelessly crooked” anything like so badly as Pope, I’m sure you would realize the difference. Why I never noticed any defects in your form that would be at all seriously objectionable to anybody. They might be ten times worse and I would not find fault — why the night we went to the festival, when you came down prepared for the ride, I was sure I had never seen a more attractive and handsome lady in my life. And I had the same feeling when I saw you in the midst of your home life, but even if you were so seriously crippled, yet remember that it isn’t the body alone that constitutes the person — it is you, yourself, that I have loved, and I would love you still if you were anybody as “crooked” as that of Caliban. And when I read in your letter such expressions as — “I forgot that I was not a tall straight” perfect woman nobly planned” but “hopelessly crooked,” and in the same letter read you are “ambitious,” and “want to do something more than merely exist . . . benefit a part of the race of men” doesn’t seem as if your soul did not fit your body? And am I not justified in pressing my suit even against odds, when I find one so admirably suited to my own temperament, as these latter expressions show you to be?
I feel sure that your state of mind on this subject is this — that you have given up into the idea that you were a cripple (and that it was quite noticeable perhaps) and that you would never care to marry anyone, and therefore you have settled yourself for a single life. And in my case you have just given yourself up to this habit of mind, and of course you make a great deal out of it, and of course it is impossible for any arguments of mine to have any effect while you remain as you have been.
I hold that it is hardly “fairness” to me for you to “try to make yourself believe that you do not care anything about this matter.” I do not wonder a bit that while you approach the matter in that spirit your home-ties have an overwhelming influence in deciding the matter. If you find such difficulty in making yourself believe that you care nothing about his matter, just take the other side and try to persuade yourself that you do care something about it.
I claim that you should do this in fairness to me for it is much more than a mere matter of “yes” or “no” with me. My affections cannot shift from one object to another with weather-vane facility. And now that they have gone so far, the result as you determine it must be either a lifetime’s joy or a lifetime’s burden for me. You can easily see how it would be — even if I should marry another because my work would demand a married man, it would never be a perfect marriage for my heart instead of being free would be the grave of a secret that I dare not tell.
And now I come to the second question (for your objections do center around these two points), and that is the subject of missions.
I was thirteen years old before our home was broken up, and those old memories are as distinct and as dear to me today as your home memories I can therefore appreciate your feelings perfectly. But I think you misapprehend the question somewhat and make more of it than you should. Perhaps if a few remarks on my part would help to clear it up. First I think you do not give due weight to the fact that your interest will be centered in your own home then and not in your mother’s. …. In the second place this separation from home is not a peculiar attaché of the mission work. If we should live anywhere outside of Westmd , the separation from home ties would be almost as complete as they would in a mission field. In the third place . . . . If missionaries did not return every few years and spend a summer or a year at their old homes then I would acknowledge the truth of what you say. Communication is so rapid now and growing more so every day between different parts of this little world that we can get home in very short time from almost anywhere.
And lastly you say that it is yourself that you doubt, that I have not the right idea of you, that you are not what I think you to be. Now I need no better refutation of your timidity than the pages of your letters as they lie before me. … Now such being your character and my ambitions being what I have written, I could not conceive of a happier union that ours would be. And the fact that these things are so clearly revealed in your letter only go to show that I have not been deceived in you. Surely, surely the arguments are on my side!
Now I have another proposal to make. I used to think of going to Corea, but I’m thinking of the number of your friends and mine and the long journey there and the “forever” nature of the work there, I thought a better plan would be to go nearer home, we could return oftener. So I thought of Brazil or Syria. But now that I have learned your feelings on this subject as a compromise I would propose Mexico. It offers as fruitful a field of labor as any of the others. It has on that great plateau a good exhilarating, bracing climate — an important feature in a life-field. There are some people there we are acquainted with — F.Wallace (his wife expects to go out to him next year), the two Misses McFarren, and besides I have a couple of excellent friends there — S.M. Provost an old school mate, whose father is there in Mexico practicing medicine — a very successful physician . . . . and others. If we went there, we would have some home associations with us from the start. And as we would be only a few days ride away from home, we might come up occasionally and take tea with the folks on the farm. … The Spanish language is one of the easiest to learn and we could begin work early.
I mention this field in order to give definiteness to your considerations and that you may recast the evidence. I have so much to say on the subject that I am ashamed to say it all. If only I were sitting in that room again by the grate, and in the sound of the Aeolian harp I would “fill my mouth with arguments.” But I must forbear.
Now Jeannie please write in one or two days if you possibly can for your letter has unfitted me for work, and besides this is my last year and it is drawing to a close, and I have a great many plans to make before another month is gone; — plans for life work, plans for licensure and ordination, plans for work during the coming summer and a host of others of various natures that must be made soon and that I cannot make till this matter is settled and I want to have those plans crowned with orange blossoms.
I am glad you’re pleased with the book. I will send “Ecce Coelum” (by Burr) if it is in when that returns.
Now Jennie, please write soon to —
Yours Very Sincerely,
Ed. M. Haymaker
1 Alexander Pope had tuberculosis of the spine, causing curvature of the spine and stunted growth. Consequence of this is frailty, asthma, and frequent headaches.
2At her wedding in 1840, rather than a crown, Queen Victoria wore a wreath of orange blossoms.
3 Ecce Coelum Or, Pa.rish astronomy (1867): Enoch Fitch Burr
To Princeton, N.J.
New Alexandria, Pa.
I wish most earnestly that you were sitting in the room by the grate and in the sound of Aeolian harp again for people sometimes talk better than they write, and there are many things not, I suppose, exactly needful for you to know, but which I should like to say to you and which cannot be written.
I thought that after thinking the matter over alone without being influenced by the sympathy which a living voice might inspire, I should be able to arrive at a conclusion which would be better for the happiness of each — and after doing this, I have not decided that it would be best for me to promise to go with you to Mexico.
You quite misunderstood my meaning in regard to the endeavors to make myself believe I cared nothing about the matter. That plan was only adopted in order to find out whether I cared at all — and I believe I do not care enough.
Please do not conclude now that I am incapable of open generous sympathy for it is not so, but as often as I try to persuade myself that the place I should occupy as your wife would be all I could reasonably wish or hope for, just so often comes that thought I cannot marry a man of whom I know so little.
I have, as you say, grown up into the idea that I would never care to marry anyone.
I do not have the dread of a single life which some evidently possess and being naturally strong, fearless and self-reliant, having a will of my own and a way of my own and having learned well how to make untoward circumstances bend to these, have seldom felt the want of the strength of anyone’s love and sympathy and encouragement.
If ever at any time a thought of the happiness which came to others and was lost to me came before my mind, a relentless will was brought to bear upon it and my resolution deepened not to care and not to think, and so gradually I came to look on the troubles, cares and grievances of those of my friends and acquaintances — who married for love or a local habitation and a name and were generally disappointed either way — with a sort of thankfulness that I should never experience the same.
Now I have given myself up to this habit of mind and it is hard to get away from.
You will remember what I told you was my real belief. I have always thought that in every true marriage there should be a perfect community of thought and feeling and am sure that to myself there would be no real happiness in the relation were it otherwise. I know nothing of our various likes, dislikes, opinions, prejudices, &c. — The sharp corners of those contending might become round and smooth by courageously clashing them together, but who knows?
If I returned in equal measure the feeling you have expressed toward me perhaps I should not have so many doubts and fears in regard to these minor matters. I do not form attachments readily but I have all a woman’s admiration for a man who is supposed to possess all the metallic qualifications for popularity: “The iron of a holy courage, the brass of an incorruptible honesty, the silver of Christian courtesy, and the fine gold of charity” and all a woman’s responsiveness to sincere honestly manifested love, and yet I cannot now persuade myself that I love you well enough to be your wife and live in Mexico. Nor do I think my father and mother would ever consent to my going even that far.
Had this been some two, three or four years later when I could have considered my duty to my sisters and brother done (I am the eldest you know), doubtless I should have said yes and been perfectly satisfied but now I cannot go. I do not feel that it would be right for me to leave them now just when they need me most, and then beside all this, I should stand between you and your purpose in life for you want to go to Corea and not to Mexico and I could never go to Corea.
Perhaps too I should never become as much interested in this work as you might desire. Our friend Tillie Gallagher and I talked the matter over sometime ago (I mean the matter of foreign missions) and decided that it was not incumbent upon any to go except persons who habitually enjoyed good health, and I felt satisfied.
Now however I wish I could be perfectly willing to go. I have a sort of “misgiving” that troubles me much, especially since a sermon on foreign missions last sabbath.
Pardon my for not writing last week as you requested. I could not possibly while I remained at Millwood. I wish you had sent that letter, and please do not think me “cold-blooded and heartless.”
To New Derry, Pa. / Forwarded to New Alexandria, Pa.
Dear Miss Jennie,
The tenor of your last letter was unmistakable, and I suppose was meant by you to be decisive. And I would have been bound to consider it so if I had not had a “new combination of circumstances to present which I had reason to believe would have some influence upon your decision, for it would certainly be easier to decide to go to Mexico than to decide to go to the foreign mission field, China, India or dear knows where. Besides your letter left me one or two loopholes for hope, and as it is now over a week since I wrote, requesting a speedy answer, I’m encouraged to think that you are reconsidering the decision in the light of new “evidence.” So I add this letter in hopes I may succeed in swinging the balance to the favorable side.
Dr. Ellinwood, Sec’y of the Presb. Board of F. Miss’s, was in my room here yesterday P.M. and I had a Long talk with him about Mexico. They need a couple of men there now badly. The only field that rivals it in fruitfulness is North China. The work is just the kind I would like. Within a year there’ll be three railroads converging in the capital, and we can take the train and ride home easier than we could from some parts of our own land. Northern Mexico is the part where they need men, and where I would enter the work.
I rather felt ashamed of myself for going into “conniptions” over this matter as I wrote of last time, so after a good deal of self-reviling my dethroned will was reinstated and I can now glory again in my Maxim — “determination can do anything” (with a single exception(?)) So although I’ve only to let my feelings loose again, yet I’ll promise not to do so unless this matter is favorably settled, for I do not wish to annoy, or bias, or over-urge you on such an important question.
Please tell me plainly, is it the mission question that makes you withdraw or is it because you cannot feel towards me as you would wish to feel toward your husband? For I cannot think that if the latter matter were all right the former would be a very subordinate consideration. If missions be the real trouble I can send you some reasons I think which may throw light on the subject if you care to read them.
But if on the other hand it is because you’re not well enough acquainted with me I can say that I have been exceedingly unfortunate in leaving this matter to so late an hour of life . . . .
I have always pitied those young ladies who are bothered with unwelcome “satellites,” and if your letter was an accurate expression of your feelings in this matter, it may be some relief to you to know but I do not intend falling under that condemnation. I do not intend, as far as I see at present, to write anymore on the subject. When I write again it will be either to call you my betrothed or to ask you to forget this winter’s history. I do this for several reasons; — I have no new conditions to offer, you know both me and my vocation and plans. You know my feelings in the matter. If it is true that I am to fail — then the sooner the crash comes, the better. If there awaits a happy termination in hopes of which I made the proposal—why shouldn’t we know it. And lastly there are many plans which I must make now, and yet I am not at liberty to make until this matter is decided. Therefore I can’t wait. Looking at the matter in a practical and sensible way I think further delay will be not only useless but foolish. So please write immediately and make your answer definite and final. And I request you once more to remember the legal maximum and “give your prisoner the benefit of a doubt” for my affections are firm. If your answer be favorable please send the photo along, for I would prize it highly. But if it be adverse please send it not, for without its help the task will be all too difficult to consign a whole living world Lethe’s waves.
Very Truly Yours,
Ed. M. Haymaker
1 Jennie’s letter dated Jan 23, 1884
2 One of five underground rivers flowing through Hades, drinking the waters of which caused complete forgetfulness.
To New Alexandria, Pa.
Feb 8th, 1884
Your letter was rec’d today and though it be a severe task for me to say so, yet according to my promise — it decides the question. It has cost and will cost me a severe struggle, for like yourself I am slow in forming attachments, but when they are once formed they are strong, and as my heart was wholly in this affair, the result is indeed a sad one for me. I can write heartily with you in an expression you made the first evening I ever spoke of it — “I wish it had never happened.” But like yourself also I have a “relentless will.” Which is especially relentless when aided by necessity and I have called into play. And why shouldn’t I follow the dictates of commonsense . . . . If you think that you have no missionary spirit save “a sort of misgiving,’” if you think you do not know me well enough, if you cannot endure the idea going to Mexico, if your parents will never consent, etc. etc. — why then we’ll have to give it up — that’s all.
I appreciate your position; my affections do not make me blind. I would not want you to marry me unless you could be happy for if you were unhappy, I would expect to be so myself. I do not consider you “cold-blooded and heartless,” for although I sincerely love you, if you sincerely don’t love me — then the most common sense view to take of it is — to let the matter drop.
By rights I should say nothing about my own sincerity now, for I know you are conscientious and I am afraid you may forget and worry over it sometimes. But I have confidence in that “will” of yours, so I wish from my satisfaction you would promise by letter immediately that you will forget all about this little episode of our lives. I’m going to. There are several ways in which I have thoughts of forgetting it. I have thought of considering it a joke and laughing it to death. I have thought of forgetting matrimony altogether and looking at the world as made up of individuals, and so disregard family relations altogether — but this would evidently impair my usefulness as a missionary, and besides the Board prefer their men married, and missionaries all recommend it. But I can at least do this — I can think no more about it so far as you and I are concerned and consider myself a sort of widower.
True it will cost determination but I have always said will can do anything. My will has never been put to such a test before . . . . I have thought that I could forget by considering myself as one of those who have left “houses and lands etc.” for the sake of the kingdom, since we broke in great part on the mission question. Or I have thought it could be done by turning my love into another channel, or rather cultivating love for some one else. Or I have thought it could be best done by subordinating the whole affair to the will of Providence. I have prayed for God’s guidance in this matter, and now I have no right to say it has not been given. I have given myself to Christ’s work and that is the great plan of my life do which everything else must be subordinate though it be as important as the matter in hand. And so Providence has pointed very clearly, I think, that I can do most in Mexico — to Mexico I’ll go.
Now I think that by combining most of these methods this matter can be forgotten on my part. And I know you can forget it if you will. And this mutual forgetting Will end the subject. Please tell me in your next letter that you have burned all my letters on this subject.
You said on January 3 evening that this would “break up our friendship.” I don’t think it should. I never get angry at anyone — I sometimes pity them, but as you have too much good sense to become an object of pity, I can truly say that although you have have rejected me, yet you had reasons satisfactory no doubt to yourself, and therefore I have only the best feelings toward you. I think it is only Christian that it should be so. I would be sorry to think there was a fellow being in the world that I hated or who hated me.
Providence evidently does not intended for me to go to Corea. Just before I wrote you last, Dr. Ellinwood, Secy. Of the Board, was in my room and I spoke to him about Corea. He said they could not send any one there now, and I could not go if I wished. They have not the means to undertake the work there. He recommended Mexico much above Brazil or any other field . . . . I am sure no one can dislike more than I to leave native land and all its associations and go to a land of strangers. And when the struggle was over and I had got the victory, all these other things rise up in the way till it is almost too much to overcome, but yet I can see clearly that I can do more good there than here. Why is it that I have to bear these things?
You spoke of the cross you had to bear as though it were a special case and you were an exception perhaps among mankind. I may be wrong but it seems to me I could bear ten such crosses easier than my own. Perhaps it is restlessness, impatience that makes me think so, often in calm moments I can sometimes see I think what God means. It is discipline. It is to break down pride. It is to build up character. It is to determine life. For example, take your cross. (I would not refer to it only that what I write may help you bear it.) See what an influence it has had upon your character (judging from what you have said and written to me). I remember you said you were sure you “would have been quite a flirt” if you had not had the misfortune of being a cripple. And in your last letter you showed I think very clearly that this same cross had no little influence in developing your will, and your views of life, and in giving the bent and force to your characters. These are some of the outcropping reasons that are not “buried to human eyes.” And if we could see all the reasons no doubt we would gladly choose the cross even if we might go free. At any rate it is better to have the cross and be what we are bad as we may be than to have it not and be what we might have been. I have no doubt there would be tears of sorrow shed if we could see how we have these feelings of insubordination to a God who loves us and is doing the very best things for us we could ask — if we only knew it. Oh let us not be rebellious, for we are not alone with our crosses, and God is good!
You spoke to me on that first evening about difficulties in your religious life, and I promised to give you any help I could. And now I wish to renew the promise. To be sure, your Pastor would be the proper one to consult on such subjects, but you and I have been writing so freely about ourselves to each other that it is possible you would feel more at home writing to me than you would in talking to Mr. Senour. If you would, I would be only too glad to give you any help in my power. If the offer is a liberty uncalled for, please pardon as I do it from the best feelings and motives. If you do not care to write on the subject then let the matter drop. I have written far into the night, and perhaps too long, but I feel loathe to say the last word forever on a subject that which entwined with my very soul — it is as when I followed my mother to the grave. But now as then, I can only say — “God’s will not mine be done.”
Farewell forever as an esteemed bride — but welcome again as an esteemed friend. And since you have chosen that your life be spent in a different sphere from that which I can offer — may God’s richest blessings attend you in it, and give you submission, peace, and reward — is my fervent prayer.
I am your Friend,
Ed. M. Haymaker
1 Jennie’s letter dated Feb 5, 1884
To Princeton, N.J.
New Alexandria, Pa.
Feb 9, 1884
Dear Mr. Haymaker,
The letter which you sent to Derry came to me last night and after reading it “paradoxical as it may appear” after all I’ve written to you, I believe I am willing to go to Mexico.
You were altogether right when you were here in saying that if I gave in a favorable verdict at that time I would have less anxiety over the matter after, for truth to tell I have thought of little else since and until now the matter has seemed as unsettled as ever to me. As you know I did not fully understand your purpose in regard to missions at that time and hesitated only because I did not feel well enough acquainted with you to know certainly whether I could ever have the affection for you that a wife should have for her husband — just as I wrote in the letter which I sent several days ago, and which did not contain the truth part of all I wanted to say, for I had a chance to send it to the office and sent it off hurriedly thinking it could be concluded again. Perhaps it is just as well for since then I have thought of the matter very differently from what I have been doing all along.
As I told you all my interests, plans and hopes have heretofore been centered in my present home and it seems every time I thought of it, utterly impossible for me to leave it to come no more.
I tried to reason soberly that what you wrote in regard to the “old home ties” and “own home ties” was altogether right and proper and sufficient in itself to convince me but I could not decide to go. China was quite out of the question. I thought I “might as well die and be buried” — Mexico not so bad but I could not think that I ought to go there even. Now I cannot see how I ever thought it in that way at all.
When a thought of the millions unenlightened come to me, I think that knowledge with an unwillingness to make sacrifices for the cause is only an unmitigated evil.
I had no idea that my parents would be willing for me to go, but after your letter came last night I talked with my mother about it. She said she did not wish to influence me in either direction as she believed such questions should be decided by persons themselves, but it was a glorious work and if I felt that I could love, encourage and help you in it, she could not object to my going although it seemed very far away.
Now I do not know how much actual work I may be able to do but feel sure that if I go there as your wife, I shall use my best endeavors to make a pleasant happy home for you.
I do not believe I return the feeling you have expressed toward me in anything like equal measure, possibly because of the habit of thought which I wrote you of, and which I have encouraged for years, but I honor and respect you above every man of my acquaintance, and believe you worthy of all the purest love of the truest hearted woman in the world. The last time I saw you I liked you very much indeed and fully believed I should be very happy with you. Now if you are satisfied with this and think you can teach me to love you more, if you still desire it, and my father’s consent can be obtained, I am willing to become your wife.
The “arguments” certainly were on your side all along but you must do me the justice to believe that although I could easily see that and my reason told me you were right in everything, yet I could not decide as you wished — and as I really wanted to myself — until this present time.
From my letters I fear you will think me very undecided and vacillating. I admire the decision of character you manifest yourself, and know that I have a little, if I have not made a very fair display of it in this matter.
If you do not receive this too late, are made satisfied with it, and want the photo, I will get you one. I have no good ones now and have not been able to have any taken as yet.
Yours very truly,
Jeannie E. McClelland
1 Ed’s letter dated Feb. 5
2 i.e. the mail carrier was nigh
To New Alexandria, Pa.
Feb. 11th ‘84
Dear Jennie —
An hour or so ago, I rec’d your letter. I am sure you cannot imagine what an agreeable surprise it was to me. It was not “too late.” I was sorry when I read it that I had made the mistake of sending that letter of farewell to the subject. But I did it supposing you had rec’d my letter requesting a final answer before writing your letter of Feb 5th, for in your letter I noticed an expression that I had used just before, so I thought you meant me to consider the matter ended. And if so I did not want to intrude a painful subject upon you any longer. I was making my best attempt to think nothing more about it though I found it a difficult business. I am enjoying a most wonderful relief since receiving your letter today. Like the old philosopher I can exclaim in the midst of my joy — “Eureka!” And while thanking you for the confidence you have shown in trusting yourself to me for the rest of your life, I can say with all my heart — God bless you for your decision. And I hope in the future to deserve your confidence and prove worthy of such a desirable charge.
That farewell letter is ripe now for the flames and I hope you give it its due.
As for the photo you need not raise any question about whether or not I want it, for I do, and badly. I send you one of my own herewith. It will reach you just about Valentines Day — it was the ugliest valentine I could find anywhere. As for the consent of your parents, I will send a letter to them when I next write to you and as you talked with your mother on the subject, I suppose you have no objections to handing it to her. But if you would prefer I can send it directly by mail.
I have always had a great deal of admiration for your mother ever since I became acquainted with her, and judging from what you have written, I have not been deceived. I know that it must be no slight trial for an affectionate mother to give up her daughter to foreign mission work. But after all it comes down to whether or not she can trust her daughter to the care of her husband. If she marries a worthy man, she can have a happy home and a happy life in the mission field as well as anywhere else. If she married a “scalawag,” she would be wretched at home as well as abroad. And so if your parents are willing to trust you and me in a home of our own, I think we would be just about as trustworthy in Mexico as we would be in Latrobe. And parents could help matters just about as much in one place as in the other if once the “young married couple” start out for themselves. I think you have the right idea and spirit for a missionary — that of service to Him “who has bought us” and service to those who are capable of enjoying Him. It is the old story of the talents over again. “Ye then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak” i.e. ability is under obligation of service. And I think that when we come into actual contact with the coarseness and degradation, and superstition of the Mexicans it will indeed be inspiring to think that we have in our hands and hearts the gospel that will refine the heart and mind and will save the soul. And I think that there will be not a little satisfaction in meeting the death angel, with the consciousness that in the general course of our life we have “done what we could” for the word and for our Master. I would not know how to die if I had shirked a good opportunity to make life a success.
But I have said enough I want to send this in the earliest mail, and I have written this soon that you may not worry over that last letter I sent you, for after you have decided in my favor, I know such a document as that would create no slight disturbance — I know how it is myself.
Thanking you again for your decision in my favor, I am glad that I can at last sign myself,
Ed. M. Haymaker
P.S. I send also a paper I read before the students of the Sem. on the mission question. You may find it a help. A good many of them have been reading it over a second time and it has become soiled, which please excuse. And send it back as soon as you are done with it, for it is still in demand and like an old sermon may do good.
I’m afraid Mrs. Waigle (?) will think you and I are about swamping the office.
1 Jean’s letter of Feb 9, 1884
3 Ed’s question mark4 Post Office
To New Alexandria, Pa.
Feb 20th, ‘84
Dear Jeannie —
When I wrote to you some time ago I said — but did not mean — that “the arguments were all on my side.” What I meant was — that I thought the reasons you gave were such as you could overcome if you decided as I wished.
So now I wish to tell you that I deeply appreciate all the objections you have given. I know what it is to turn your back on “many cherished desires to the fulfillment of which you have looked all your life.” I too have felt the timidity on the question of “gifts” not only in preaching the gospel to immortal souls but in moving into a heathen land and becoming an authority in these momentous things. I too have felt the shudder as I look to a life-time “in a land of strangers,” “so far from the home of my childhood and all my early friends.” I know the prospect must have been a gloomy one which required “the breaking up of all the old associations, and severing of every tie that binds you to what would then be your old home.” I know what the possibilities of an “unhappy marriage” are, and how awful it would be for you to be thus unfortunate and so far from “home” at the same time. I know what it is to have a habit of mind and how “hard it is to get away from it, and live contrary to it. I know what it is to be “the eldest” of the family and the accompanying responsibilities, for I am the oldest of a family that has been left in more distressing circumstances than even your brother and sisters were. Add to these dozens of other objects and possibilities of momentous consequences — and do you think for a moment that I am so blind and heartless as to see no force in them? No, they do mean something and I appreciate them heartily. And I think that any woman, who in the face of objections like these will leave all for me and my field of work, is worthy of my most lasting care and love, and I could ask no stronger proof of your “confidence” in me. (You may call it “confidence” and “liked you very well” etc., but I think no woman would do what you have done unless she’d fairly and squarely “loved the man a little — yes a good deal! Am I not right?) I cannot but feel that you have done me a great honor, and I cannot but feel proud that my one should go to such a sacrifice for me, especially the one whom I most wish would do so.
To some girls it would never have been a sacrifice at all. They would have undertaken it for the romance and never thought of half the objections, and then have repented when the romance got threadbare. But inasmuch as you have thought of the objections, and have felt them, and have overcome them — all I can say is that any girl who thinks enough of me to do that — she’s just the girl I want to live with, and I hope I may prove worthy of your “confidence.”
[Notes written sideways in top margin of page one] Enclosed you will find the letter to your parents. I think that my sending it through you is probably the neatest way of introducing the subject to them.
Hope you will find time to drop me a letter soon; you know I enjoy your letters.
How do you like Burr’s writing? I can send you more if you want them. Am reading “The Poet at the Breakfast Table.” I can send you any of Holmes works if you would prefer them. Please excuse the appearance of this sheet as I did not know it would take so long to get stopped. Write as soon as you can; and tell that photo to pack its trunk and set out for Princeton at the earliest possible date.
Ed. M. H.
1 Epic poem by Oliver Wendall Holmes, 1882
2 Ed asks again that she send her photo
To New Alexandria, Pa.
Feb 20th 1884
Mr. and Mrs. McClelland,
Dear Friends —
With the consent of your daughter Jennie, I write to ask the privilege of calling you Father and Mother hereafter. Jeannie and I have talked the matter over and written about it, and she gives her consent on the condition of your approval.
You may feel more ready to give us your approval of our plans if I state my prospects briefly. —
I see my way perfectly clear for entering a home of my own, and for the comfortable support of a wife. On or near the first of September I will begin to draw a regular salary which although it will not warrant luxurious living, will yet be quite sufficient for our support.
My health is very good and has been for years even in the midst of close student life.
But while I expect to depend entirely upon myself to provide for our living, unless it becomes absolutely necessary to do otherwise, yet, “if worse should come to worst,” my father is quite able to help me out of difficulty. He is the owner of two fine farms, also of several valuable building lots in Centerview Mo. My step-mother owns property worth over $40,000. They have only my two brothers to care for besides themselves, and one of them, so far from needing pecuniary help, is farming very profitably on his own account. So they are fully able to help me rather than that Jennie and I should suffer inconvenience from lack of means, and their willingness to do so is undeniable.
But do not misunderstand me. I am not relying on the money of my parents. I have had some experience in taking care of myself and looking out for my own bread, and have come out more than “even.” I expect to make a living for myself, and see my way clear to do it, or I wouldn’t say to Jennie — “Come and let us have a home of our own! For “a home” and nothing to live on is entirely too poetical and is the mark of a mental weakness — somewhere.
So then financially considered you need not fear but that Jennie and I will be able to have a very comfortable home under whatever circumstances may come.
My profession is not merely respectable but it is honorable in the light of the world even, and preeminently useful in the light the world to come. And I feel sure that Jennie will live a far more useful and consequently happy life if she comes with me and allows her sisters to take her place at home than if she should not. At least I feel sure you can spare her better than I can. I have learned to think a great deal of her. She combines the qualities which I would like my wife to possess, and altogether is such a one as I could love and protect and feel proud of as my wife anywhere.
There is the one objection however which you might raise, but which I think is easily surmounted. And it is that my life-work will not be very near Jennie’s “old home.” But after all it isn’t one fifth as far away as I might have asked her to go, and besides, written communication can be just as brisk, and personal communications with the “old home” will yet be almost as frequent as they would be if we lived in some of the neighboring states.
Perhaps however the whole matter hinges on whether or you have confidence enough in my character to trust your daughter with me. For if you are willing to trust her to my care and affection, I would certainly take as good care of her in one place as in another — there as well as here. And if I would be capable of allowing her to suffer, or to be uncomfortable or unhappy in Mexico, I would be capable of the same thing within twenty miles of New Alexandria. Recognizing the fact that it means a great deal to you both, to answer my request in the affirmative, I shall consider it not only a great honor but a lasting favor if you do so, and I shall use my best endeavor to cherish faithfully the beloved charge you have committed to my trust.
Hoping to hear from you soon in a favorable reply, I am
Yours Very Truly
Ed. M. Haymaker
To Princeton, N.J.
New Alexandria, Pa.
Dear Mr. Haymaker,
I want you to know that I thank you very much indeed for the letter you sent me last week.
You cannot imagine how glad I was to know that you so fully understood and appreciated my feelings in regard to going so far from home for I really was strongly impressed with the idea that you thought that was only foolishness on my part.
I meant to write you a long letter by way of payment but as I expect to go over to Fannetsburg soon, I’ve been trying to do two or three weeks work in one and the duty that lay nearest took all the hours of all the days.
I will write as soon as possible after I go and ask questions.
I do not have the photo either, but hope to before long. Yours is very good and I am very glad to have it.
The paper on missions ought to have gone east much sooner but I will try to send it in tomorrow’s mail.
To New Alexandria, Pa. / Forwarded to Fannetsburg Pa.
Mar. 3rd ‘84
On Saturday I went to N.Y. City to have a consultation with the officers of the Board of F. Missions. I found them a little more particular about their candidates then I had supposed, but yet not unreasonably so. Among other things they ask very particularly after the health of my intended wife. I described her case as well as I could. (Of course they do not know her name nor who she is so that I have not betrayed your infirmity.) Those spells of sickness that you are troubled with sometimes, if I understand your case properly, are neurologic and are not caused by any organic affection or weakness. At least that is what I told them; if I am wrong let me know right away.
Further, they want a certificate from your pastor and session, in regard to your qualifications for your position, your piety, prudence, energy, health etc. Again, — “in all cases a medical certificate is required, which should be thorough in all respects, and should have special reference in each case to the adaptation to the climate of the country in which the missionary expects to live.” I had some doubts whether the “all cases” in the connection in which it occurred had reference to missionary’s wife or only to the missionary himself, and on inquiry found that the wife must furnish a medical certificate too. And further in our consultation I found out that it isn’t merely a matter of health, but rather of adaptation. Some missionaries and their wives both very strong, go out and cannot stand it at all. Some who are weak or in poor health go out and get into the very climate they are suited for and become strong. So in your examination tell the physician (the Board prefers that the certificate should come from the family physician) to make a point of adaptability rather than positive present health. What you need is nerve force a certain elasticity of constitution that will counteract any wilting influence of the Mexican climate.
Now as to the place — I expect to go to Northern Mexico. There are three grades of climate there, varying according to the altitude. The first is along the shore — low land with a mean annual temperature of 77°F. The second or temperate at an elevation of 5000 feet or over is an excellent climate of perpetual summer with temperature varying only between 70 and 80°F. The third or Mountain District has a mean annual temperature a 66 or 68°. I am ready to go to either of the three divisions that will suit your health best but would prefer the second if your constitution were equally suited to all. And as for my part,I think my happiness for this world will be complete when I get into that excellent climate, with whole oceans of agreeable work to do, and. a home of my own and in it a wife who is my very first choice from a world-full of women.
I have been waiting anxiously to hear from your father — watching every mail. And it may be that by the time you receive this they will have written. In writing the above I have gone on the supposition that he will give his consent — an assumption that may not be altogether warrantable. But I would not be in such a hurry still it if I were not in such a position just now as the matter must be settled. I must get his consent and your certificates in the recommendation of my Presbytery and make application formally (though I have already applied informally) and get the appointment and make application to the Presbytery for ordination — together with dozens of other complicated plans with reference thereto — all before the next meeting of the Presbytery, which will take place in the beginning of next month. I would not be in such a hurry still, if I were dealing with anything else than the Presb. Board, but they are so awfully slow that I’m afraid they’ll keep me waiting so long for my appointment that I cannot come up at the spring meeting of presb. for ordination. Again, if it were any other presb. there would be no hurry, but the presb. to which I belong (or will belong) is noted as being the meanest presb. in all this “vale of tears” except that of Brooklyn, and they have set apart this spring meeting for attending to such cases as mine, and if it is not attended to this year, it may throw me back a whole year from my regular work.
Indeed Jennie I’m sorry to hurry things up so, but these business matters will not wait, and matters have been delayed so much already that I have to hurry.
I send herewith a manual of the Board which gives most of the business rules of the Board. But I want to catch the first mail so I haven’t time to write any more.
Truly Yours — Ed. M. H.
1 Elders of Presbyterian congregation
[Note scrawled sideways on top of first page] I have just rec’d your letter. Hope you will have a pleasant visit and not overwork yourself. Ed.
To Princeton, N.J.
Dear Mr. H.
As stated in the note which I sent you several days since, it was my intention to write you a long letter as soon as I reach this place, but I came late last evening, and today’s opportunity will have passed in about an hour, so considering this better than nothing “here goes.”
I ought to have told you in my last communication that my father had given his consent to our plans and commissioned me to say that if we are both satisfied he will not object. His remarks were substantially the same as my mother’s. She expressed fears that I will become homesick and discontented and be only a trouble and annoyance to you and says if I expect to do that I must not think of going.
I do not expect to do so though of course the longing to see the old “familiar faces whereupon the fitful firelight paled and shone” may sometimes be very great.
You will perhaps be a little homesick for the “States” yourself sometimes. Do you think you will be willing to bear with me a little and shall we comfort each other or will you look “grave very grave” and be disagreeable.
I am about as sorry as I ever get over anything that I forgot that mission paper of yours — it was ready for the office and someone called to me to run or I’d miss the train so I rushed off and left it on the table. I gave orders that it should be sent yesterday and hope you will get it today.
Write to me. My address is
Jeannie E. McClelland
1 from Snowbound: A Winter Idle, John Greenleaf Whittier, 1866
To Fannettsburg, Pa.
Mar. 7th 1884
“Bonnie Jean” —
It is true then that this affair is decided and you are to be the lady. I’m glad it is, for although you gave your consent conditionally some time since, yet as long as there was yet a possibility of failure I could not feel altogether comfortable. But now that both your own consent and that of your parents is obtained — that settles it.
Last night after I rec’d your letter a friend came in my room, who is one of my “confidentials,” and who has harangued me from time to time on the virtues of his lady love. I broke the news to him and retaliated in a similar harangue of some considerable length. He listened with all Christian patience while the clock kept striking and striking, and that last he couldn’t stand it any longer; he made a break for the door, and just as he was going out he put his head back in and said, “Well Ed, you’ve got it about as bad as any fellow I ever knew.”
I suppose you did not receive the last letter I wrote in such haste. I was afraid you’d be gone on your trip before it reached you, so I put “In haste” on the end of it in hopes it would be forwarded if you had gone to Fannettsburg. In case it has not been forwarded, I will write now the substance of what it contains. … they require a lot of certificates from each missionary, among others one from his wife given by her pastor and session …. I am afraid such action by the session will give publicity to our plans, but as the Board requires it, I see no way of getting out of it. For my part I don’t care who knows it, for I’m not ashamed of myself for intending to get married, and if anyone does not like my plans I would simply ask them — “What they are going to do about it?” But it is slightly different in your case, as you will live among the gossip friends, who make it their business to discuss and herald anything of this kind. But I have every confidence in your ability to hold on “the even tenor of your way” with a dignified disregard of talk.
I never loathed a bachelor’s life until now. The idea of having a quasi wife and being several hundred miles away from her is a good deal liked scratching your head with a sunbeam, or is about as satisfactory as kissing through a telephone — it’s better than nothing, but — as Mr. Sir J. Reynolds says, “it wants — hang it it wants that!” (snapping his fingers).But patience grows with culture and in view of a happy future I can “endure the ills I have” and await the proper time to “fly to others I know not of”(?) And so I sit, almost on the back of my neck, with my feet poised aloft on Webster’s Unabridged although the ponderous quarto is on the table, and thus pass away my time in true bachelor student style, and a bookish position, that a year from now might secure me a whack with the broom from Mrs. H. who by that time may be fast developing her Dame Van Winkle propensities. Perhaps my imaginations are running a little wild however. But if such an occurrence should come me thinks it would dislocate my center of gravity. At any rate it is an experiment worth the trial — whenever you find me becoming “grave very grave” — use the broom (if we’re wealthy enough to own one) and see what effect it’ll have.
Yours in Sincerity
1 Reference to Sir Joshua Reynolds bringing by a friend to see a picture, and he looked it over and proffered his criticism as follows: “Capital composition, correct drawing; the color, tone, chiaroscuro, excellent — but—but—it wants, hang it!—it wants—That,” snapping his fingers. from: The Players, Volume I. — No. 21. Saturday May 19, 1860
2 Reference to Hamlet / Ed’s question mark and parens
3 Reference to Rip’s wife nagging after his laziness
Princeton, N. J.
18 March 1884
Your letter, the certificate and the elements of a country post office were rec’d on Friday eve last. As the matter of the letter was more radical than either of the other articles contained, it had better be answered first.
I am perfectly aware that the ancients represented Cupid as a blind diety, and I know that in very many cases he is so. But in my case I have on several occasions and for considerable periods forcibly banished the winged archer and viewed his candidate and the possibilities of his proposed felicities in a cold intellectual way with my own eyes, and the result corresponded so well with his representations that I now believe that in my case it isn’t blind at all, or at most in but one eye.
In other words I thought over the matter very carefully before making the proposal. Your health is really better than I thought it was then. And several times since when matters were at such a pass that I might have put a stop to the whole affair rather than enter upon an unhappy life, feeling deeply conscious of all that was involved in the case, knowing full well that I was selecting a companion for a lifetime, and a companion in such a relation that she must inevitably have an influence of some kind or other on my life work — in full view of all this I have often abstracted the case from all influence and bias of affection, and cooly considered it in the lights of common sense, of reason, of duty, of Providence, of usefulness, of domestic happiness &c, and in every instance the result of the experiment was a determination to continue my suit with an earnest hope of success.
Now although I never had a doubt on the subject, and although I could have answered you immediately, yet in order to make the matter very certain for your satisfaction, and to prove yet again that I am “perfectly sure” that I “would prefer taking you with me” rather than any other, for the time being I considered the case again undecided and reviewed the evidence again from beginning to end as if I were investigating the subject to find out the results for the first time.
I considered every girl of my acquaintance — which is not at all limited — and the results of the review is that I have come back to the conclusion I have done this candidly, deliberately and thoroughly, and I am absolutely certain that I want you and not another. . . . . Now if my being “certain of this” is all that keeps you from being “as happy as you can get” — then I am glad of this first opportunity of making you so. . . . . I look forward with brightest hopes to the time when we shall have a home of our own and I shall enjoy your company all the time. True you haven’t the strength of an Irish “Bridget,” but a Missionary’s wife isn’t required to undergo “any unusual exertion for any length of time.” From what I can learn there is a good deal of regularity about a Missionary’s life with enough diversity to make the work intensely interesting. And from what you say I’m sure you’ll get along admirably in that lovely Mexican climate (that lovely Mexican home).
I’ve written to Mr. S- but have not had time to hear from him yet. This certificate you sent will do, I think. . . . .
I sent you a book to Fannettsburg before I received your warning but hope it got through the P.M.s fingers. You need not have sent the stamps. I had expected to pay all the postage myself both ways when I first offered to send you the books. But “It’s all in the family” either way, so you needn’t to worry about them any more. I hope to hear from you soon. Tell me about the book when you write.
1 Irish immigrant women performing domestic service in American homes.
To Princeton, N.J.
Mar. 31, 1884
Dear Mr. Haymaker,
I’m rather surprised on referring to your last letter to find it dated half a month ago for it only seems two or three days since it came into my possession.
Every letter you have ever written to me has been so earnest and sensible that mine suffer woefully by comparison but this is remediless for I couldn’t be sober and sensible if I tried — and a letter is usually a pretty correct exposition of the writer, or so I’ve always understood.
I’m glad to know that you think cupid is in full possession of all his faculties but if at anytime you find that you are wrong, it will be considered your bounden duty to mention the same for one of my chief fears in regard to this whole matter is that at some time you may come to believe you did not sufficiently give heed to the counsel of the Scotch brother who confessed he thought “falling in love the best way to begin, but then the moment you fall you should get up and look about you, and see how that land lies, and whether it is as goodly as it looks.”1
I know that you will find the territory anything but “summer isles of Eden, Lying in the dawn purple spheres of sea”2 and I’ve no special desire that “sunny dreams reduced to the dull standard of the actual” shall prove sufficient cause for “thirty alases, and sixty sighs and a hundred and twenty curses on the one you brought you into that situation.”
“Much time is necessary to know people thoroughly.”3
I candidly believe you know nothing about me and entre nous4 you are giving about ten times as much as you are getting. I’m wretchedly ignorant of very many things I might reasonably be expected to know all about — “intellectually nothing — in experience a child.”
As I never cared much for the things which interest most girls, my chosen friends and companions have been boys and young men — always — and this together with the cross before mentioned has perhaps had a great influence in determining my views of life and given a peculiar bent to my character — at any rate I know I’m considered “queer” by those who think they know, and to myself I am one most incomprehensible anomaly. It seems strange to me that I have any faith in you for the troublesome, pleasure spoiling knowledge that mankind is not to be trusted came to me very early and continued with me — but if I did not speak truth when I said I have all confidence in you, it was because I misunderstood the meaning of the expression. I thoroughly believe you to be possessed of a Christian conscientiousness which will be a true defender of household peace, effectively prevent any unreasonable demands and preserve the charitable feeling which “never faileth.”
I do not “expect to be unhappy in the mission field” and if you are the sort of man I believe you to be our work will not be “any less pleasant or successful than mine would be should I remain at home” — on the other hand I think it will be much more so. I have thought that if you really want me to go with you and I can aid and abet the good work you hope to do there by adding anything to your comfort and happiness I shall have a clearer conscience and be consequently happier than if I refused to go through selfishness only. It is not absolutely necessary for them to have my presence at home.
Perhaps I’m altogether wrong, and quite undeserving of all your confidence but I certainly want it. I believe the very completeness of mutual confidence is the basis of a happy marriage — and the purity of attachment is measurable by the extent of faith.
I would that beside this perfect faith in the Father of all we shall each have perfect faith in each other and you shall be to me the very excellency of human nature and by thought, prayer and effort we may strive to maintain an undiminished height in one another’s esteem.
For I do hold you in high esteem now and think any woman might be proud to call you her husband and yet sometimes I cannot help thinking how positively awful it will be if our tastes should prove entirely different and there should be jarring about little everyday matters.
I suppose you will think that is traitorous and p’rahps it is but you just give me credit for doing like the Fool’s wife (Tourgée) “smothering her fear with a blind baseless hope that because what they proposed doing was born of good motive and kindly feeling it would be prospered”5 and believe that although that statement is perfectly clear I don’t feel just exactly so either.
When you first made the proposal I could not see that I had an interest in you which could have been measured by the American unit of value or any fraction thereof, and “see where I am today sir” like Old man Gram.6
Possibly this is “enough,” but I wish you would tell me what you meant when you said you could not bear the idea of failing in this. Was it that you just thought you would feel hurt if you were refused?
I received the book all right and found it very entertaining. Perhaps I judged hastily about the PM but we have lost some valuable articles between this and Westm’o7 and I am suspicious. Where do you plan to spend the summer? I mean to go to Huntington Co, this week if nothing occurs to prevent and my address will be “Blair’s Mills.” I am now at my mother’s old home just beside the Conogocheague Creek8 and a little distance from the famous Tuscarora tunnel of the Vanderbilt line. These same Tuscaroras on one side and the Kittatinny on the other form grand boundary walls to the fair valley from which my forefathers — strong limbed and level-headed — at least I should say they were . . . . rich in the limitless possibilities of a future cast in the way which had been marked out by natured as the path of advancing empire, journeying, came to a plain (!) in the land of Westmoreland and dwelt there. The house here is one of ye olden time — wainscoted throughout with pine and has a garret such as we read of belonging to the primitive old England homesteads — filled to overflowing with things everyone of which has a history, and every nook and cranny below stairs packed with that which belonged to bygone generations and is eminently calculated to bring forth questions. I’d defy you to tell me the names of half the articles — or their uses either — which I have unearthed in my tons of discovery. Wish you could see some of them.
Do you know a man named Hanna at the Sem? He is to teach here during the coming summer.
I had hoped to have a photo to send you but I received it just now and it is positively not fit to give to anyone. My hair looks as if it had been arranged by a hurricane blowing through it, and you would never want to see me again if you saw this so I’ll “try again” the very best opportunity.9
Please write me a long letter before a great while. I know I don’t deserve it but I want it.
[Notes scrawled sideways in top margins]: Excuse the pencil writing please. Among about a dozen pens I could not find one that would write and I can get along faster with the pencil anyway — Jean
The first Sabbath I went to church over here there were 38 present, the next 33 and last sabbath quite a goodly number. I couldn't resist the temptation to count. The father, that Mr. Goodman at the Sem., is pastor, but I guess he’s not in your class. I suppose you do not know him — I didn’t know I’d so much to say — that will account for the look of this paper.
1 Spare Hours by John Brown, Volume 2
2 Alfred Tennyson, Locksley Hall (1835; 1842), 164.
3 reference to Don Quixote
4 fr. between us
5Albion W. Tourgée, A Fool's Errand: A Novel of the South During Reconstruction, p.28
6Old Man Grahm from A Home Idyl and other Poems, John Townsend Trowbridge, 1881
"You see where I am," says old man Gram,
"You see where I am to-day!
"I came to town at twelve years old,
With a shilling in this 'ere pocket,"—
You should see him chuckle and knock it!
8 Conococheague Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River
9 To give an idea of Jean's hair issue, pictured below is Ed and Jean's youngest daughter Sarah with an opossum, who took a dare for this photo-op:
To Blair’s Mills, Huntington, County, Pa
Princeton, Apr. 8th, 1884
Dear Jennie —
According to promise, today must see a Jumbo Epistle off the end of my pen. Have just arrived in Princeton from my presbytery examinations. In one sense I feel as Charlie Rainey used to say “all broke up” — i.e. as if I had taken a dose of dynamite and then got kicked. In another sense I feel — Oh! I feel — well-words can’t express it — so I’ll have to resort to hieroglyphics — though I find they also fall far short of giving a true expression of my emotions. I’m afraid however that in view of the hieroglyphics you’ll not think me sound, “earnest and sensible” anymore. But “you know I cannot tell a lie” and so I still hope you’ll find it in your heart to pardon an outburst of unconcealable hilarity. Suffice it to say that I went through the examinations a-whizzing and came out unscathed. It was the nearness of ex. day that prevented my writing to you sooner.
Now in reply to some of the sentiments of your letter; — first as to the opinion that I am ‘”giving about ten times as much as I am getting?” Reverse the pronouns and I would say “amen!” But if you will hold still to your own order — then all I have to say is that you have altogether too high an opinion of me and too poor an opinion of yourself.
As to those who consider you “queer” — I do not know who they are but to my mind it is proof positive of their own queerness that they ever said so. If you are queer — why it must be a kind of queerness that is handy to have around. You are in the same boat with the Apostle Paul, for one who thought himself a good judge said — “Paul thou are beside thyself.” The fact of the matter was however that Paul was alright.
So do not worry because you are “an incomprehensible anomaly” — for if you were not, and could understand yourself throughout — you wouldn’t be worth much, no selection on your understanding.
And now as to “confidence” — it does seem very favorable that we both have such confidence in each other, doesn’t it. For you most certainly have mine.
I know that I have had opportunities that would have been better used by many — although I have tried — but I’m naturally slow in learning, and have a memory that I know is below average so that the result of it all is that my scholarship is quite mediocre although my ambition is not. But I can say this that though my talent is but one, I sincerely desire to be in earnest in the use of it, and the history of the world seems too show that very often earnestness and sincerity will accomplish more in the end that brilliancy without sincerity. So I still have hope. And believe me Jennie I have not forsaken my principles in this affair of ours.
So I am very fully persuaded, Jennie, that if Providence permits our plans to ripen, our wedded life will be a very, very happy one — one that will not lose all its joy while it is yet springtime — but one that is founded in perfect mutual confidence and esteem . . . .
I have forgotten to answer your request for explanation of the statement of my not being able to bear the idea of failing. I do not remember in what connection the expression occurred but there are several reasons why I could not bear that idea. It is true as you said I would feel hurt if I were rejected — did you suppose I would enjoy it? Besides I have always taken a sort of pride in success in every thing and whenever I fail — I feel mean . But more especially would I hate to fail because I had the matter so much at heart.
You ask where I intend spending the summer. I will have to be present at the class reunion at Easton, for our class had a “split” and now they have agreed to unite again if a certain combination ticket of class officers is elected. I am on that ticket as class poet (though — mercy on us! I can’t write poetry! I’m so awkward I never could get within a quarter of a mile of the Muses!) so I want to be there to do all in my power to harmonize the class again. I’m not certain what to do in the meantime — agonize over a little poetry perhaps. After the reunion a small party of us “theologo” have been talking a little of going to the mountains for a week or two or three and “rough it” in order to work the “blue” out from under our eyes. It is very well to be a “blue Presbyterian” but it doesn’t do to have it show too much, which it is liable to do after seven or eight years of close study. Our commencement here is on the 14th of May — (“Drop Over”). The reunions at Easton will be about the 27th of June. Then after we have been roughing it for a while, I’m going to take up my journey towards the rosy west, where dwelleth among the biers and sheep-cropped “plain” of Westmoreland a lovely maid whose virtues and beauty are — Whoa! If I let myself loose on the strain I’ll write for a month!
If however you are afraid that I’ll become reckless of appearances and become what persons outside of our mutual admiration society would call “soft” — why — I’ll undertake to keep away till ‘ye happy time” draws nigh. But if your are not afraid of your being bothered by my occasional presence in the (— what high sounding name have your folks given your home anyway? ...) Spruce Mansion, why then I might come some weeks earlier. My plans about which I was somewhat exorcised, are straight, working out nicely. Glad they are.
Would like to have seen that hurricane photo just to see how you’d look after encountering a storm, but suppose I’ll have to wait for that and the photo too. By the way, were any of your relatives in Mo. carried off heavenward in that cyclone of Saline Co. sometime since? (I believe you have an uncle in that Co.)
I rec’d the certificate from you Pastor & Session” and I’m not going to tell you what it said either, for you’d certainly withdraw your consent and look around for a better man. After we are married right tightly — then I’ll tell you, if you think your piety can keep your vanity in subjection.
Well! well!well! I had intended to tell you what books I have (would you care to know?) but the proportions of this scriptification already entitle it to the rank of “Jumbo”, and if I write any more I’m afraid I’ll have to wipe my weeping eyes and hunt another woman, for you’d certainly share the fate of Uncle Sammy’s wife in Will Carelton’s poem. So it is I am really anxious to know whether you’ll read it all, for if you do I’m sure that Patience will take away her palm from Job and give it to Esther. (Please do not retaliate by calling me Ahasuerus or Balaam or anything.)
P.S. Apr. 9th after a little sleep. — on reading the above I find it not fit to send, but as I have not time to write another just now, you can expurgate whatever nonsense etc. you do not like.
How soon do you expect to go home again?
1 Years later, Ed re-enacts his glee!
2 their planned wedding
3 Reference to Uncle Sammy by Will McKendree Carleton, a poem in which the wife died of neglect; however, the following lines seems apropos to the arrangement Ed and Jennie have arrived at — whether or not he invited this comparison:
And he married a simple maiden,
Though scarcely in love was she;
But he reasoned the matter so clearly she hardly could help but agree.
To Princeton, N.J.
Blair's Mills, Pa.
Dear Mr. H.
The week is very nearly passed and I haven’t done anything like “likewise.”
I would like to write you something rich, rare and racy, something fresh, new and interesting, bright as the sparkling of a mountain stream under a full yellow moon, and all that sort of thing, but there’s nothing of that kind in all the Tuscarora Valley, and if you were to be the recipient of such a communication as I sometimes send out so that another may be received you would say it was anything but very good.
It’s a pretty place up here and I wish I were an artist, Tuscarora Creek runs just back of my aunt’s home in the swaying tops of the tall Pines on its banks seem to ever give warning of approaching storms. Wouldn’t you like to be in the Maine forest at midnight? The sighing of the wind through the pine needles has a sort of fascination for me especially at night.
The high mountaintops around the village remind me of our own Western Hills in their happy!! green old age and the harrows out to Concord and Path Valley is the only visible means of communication with the “the great forgotten world outside.” It is very quiet place much like it is at home but the people of the “Mills” are all related and the friend of one family is esteemed the friend of all, so I have received a great many calls, I’ve been invited out quite often and of course am consequently having what is usually denominated a good time.
I believe this would be a good mission station. There has only been preaching at the Upper Tuscarora church trail during the past winter and there does not seem to me to be any reason this should be thusly.
There being no place else to go, and having a great desire to see the “natives” I attended a funeral I few days ago and judging by the staring that was done they had quite a strong desire to see me. Being assured that my hat and bangs we’re Comme il faut — I underwent examination patiently and heard a sermon or eulogy or something of the sort more than an hour-long . . . my cousin, Dr. Blair . . . said he felt like choking the speaker . . . .
He dwelt largely on his own readiness to depart this life and hoped the young brother present with him would notice in what bodily weakness and fear and trembling he endeavored to perform his duty that day &c. As he is a hale, hearty old man and the trembling was altogether simulated, I fancied the “young brother” who sat beside him might have been tempted to smile had it been anywhere other than a funeral . . . .
Glad to know that you felt like executing a species of triumphal Indian war-war dance after your examination as to my mind it’s better to be in that frame of spirit than as many fathoms in the depths . . . .
As to that certificate — recommendations are cheap and as a general thing anything but trustworthy. However the Board won’t know anything about it in this case.
I do not expect to go home for some weeks yet although I should like to be there during “the great annual miracle of the blossoming of Aaron’s rod repeated on myriads and myriads of branches!” And may perhaps go sooner than I now intend.
It would be very advisable for you to go to Westm’d at some time during the summer I think, for it might be as well for us to become slightly acquainted, and I’ve any amount of confidence in your ability to conceal the recklessness you mention for fortunately there’s none in the case.
Very truly, Jean Mc.
[Continued scrawled upside down at top of last page] Won’t you please write to me so that I may receive it before I leave for Fannettsburg. I will be here for a week. I will send the book in Tuesday’s mail as I think it will still be in time and I am not done with it yet.
1 fr. proper
2 Methodist Episcopal church
To Blair Mills, Pa.
To Blairs Mills, Pa.
23rd April 1884
Dear Jennie —
It is rather early to write an answer to your letter, which was read only this morning, but I see from the post-mark that it did not leave B’s Mills until Monday, but was written and mailed on Saturday; and as I want both this letter and the accompanying package to reach you at the Mills, it becomes a matter of haste.
I have never given you any present as a pledge of our betrothal — and as I might miss the size if I sent a ring, I send this package as a substitute — if you are willing. It is the best excuse for a Bible I have been able to find, and considering the sacred work in which we expect to spend our lives, it is just as appropriate and perhaps more practical than the ordinary pledge.
If however it does not fit — send it back. Most persons prefer that marginal index, although I must say I never could find much convenience in it. But I have sent it to you on the supposition you would prefer it. If you would prefer the plain edge — send it back immediately and I can exchange it.
You ask if I wouldn’t like to be in a Maine forest? I’d like it well enough if you were with — I mean — that is — well, yes it might be enjoyable for awhile — but come now! There wouldn’t be any poetry in your banishing me away off to mope around among the Moosehead underbrush — alone, while you were enjoying the sighing of the pines in an entirely different section of this great land — would there? I half believe that when you asked that question you meant its answer should be, — “Yes, if I might choose my company.”
I may succeed in reaching New Alex. at an earlier day than I expected. That party of campers seems to be dwindling into ultimate dissolution. One of them is going to marry a wife and therefore cannot come. Another is talking of driving several yokes of oxen and wishes to be excused, etc. etc. I was anticipating quite a pleasant rest, for we had some "characters” on the role. One of them was so fleshy, that if Origen’s theory, that human beings in the next world will be globular, is true — he must be almost an angel. And he is just as good natured and as witty as he is fat.
Another is so thin that a party of five of us threw snow-balls at him for half an hour one day and couldn’t hit him. He is tall enough for a fire-escape. Someone told him he ought not to get married for he evidently has no heart. He replied that “no girl should ever trifle with the holiest affections of his breast bone” However, one has charmed his breast-bone for he has a picture of her and owns up to the circumstances and says she is as tall as he is and twice as handsome (whew!) and he loves her from her tracks to her bonnet.
. . . .
I have secured a place to work till the end of June and said place is in the mountains, so that I can “rusticate” and work too. Then I’ll go — “Westward Ho!” It is certainly highly desirable for us to become right well acquainted (and the more the better) before the “orange blossoms” are worn for neither of us could feel quite happy in marrying and going off with a stranger, although that is perhaps too strong a term. I may make a short trip into West Va. after I come to New A. — but it will be a short one.
I also want to do some work among the young men of New Alex. when I go out, if possible for there are certainly some crying cases of neglect there, and it has been intimated to me once or twice that they had confidence in me, and that I could possibly influence them some in the right direction. If it shall prove true — wouldn’t it be grand to rescue some of those fine young fellows from — drunkard’s graves perhaps, for it is too evident whither they are tending. That would be something to be proud of! What’s fame or wealth or any kind of reputation worth?
. . . .
I would rather be instrumental in saving a soul than be the author of an epic poem, although the latter would make much the better show in this world. . . . . Jennie, the work we have before us is — infinitely more attractive to me than any occupation humanity has devised. It pays better. And if the gospel be true then there is no logical ground to rest on unless we are in the thick of the contest doing the most good we are capable of. I am overjoyed that Providence seems willing for me to enter it. And I am overjoyed that you have found in your heart to take my hand and enter it with me. And now noble girl, let us have a strong purpose and strong faith, and with God’s blessing we’ll do something during our lives besides maintain existence simply. And is it saying too much if I should venture to guess [written up the side of the page and across the top upside down] that with a true Christian conjugal love our home will be attractive & happy & be a little Gibraltar — a stronghold of safety & peace & joy which Satan can never take and which will help us daily in demanding the land in the name of the Lord.
& tell if package arrives ☞ WRITE SOON ☜
Yours Ed. M H
[Continued scrawled sideways across top of first page] You must excuse my careless penmanship. I can read it myself & always go on the hypotheses that others are as smart(?) as I. I can write better when I stop to think but within the last year I have got into this habit by writing draughts of sermons in great haste. I wish I could write as neat a hand as you. Mine appears hideous beside it. As it is somewhere in Shakespeare — “your hand is very desirable.” Enjoyed your description of the Tusc. Valley very much. Hope you’ll succeed in converting the Meth. Preacher — the old one I mean, not the “young brother.” A kiss & good night. Ed.
1 Origen of Alexandria (185—254 A.D.), early Christian theologian.
To Princeton, N.J.
Blair’s Mills, Pa.
Dear Mr. H.
It is true isn’t it that our thoughts are very like our bodies in that if they start off in the wrong direction in the morning, they are scarcely likely to arrive at the proper destination by night.
I do not know if mine went north east south or west, but they are not here — I don’t seem to have a single idea and — letters to write . . . .
One for you — imperative — for yours and the package are both in my possession and you must know that I consider the contents of the latter a very handsome excuse as you say, and suppose there is no reason why it should not answer as the ordinary pledge. I do not know that either was or is essential but it was very kind of you to send it and it’s to be hoped it will “fit.” You must help me do so — you remember your promise. I wish you were not so many miles off just now for so many things come into one’s head to say sometimes which will not, from pure perverseness, “come to your call” when most needful, and again although we are not quite “strangers,” yet I can’t write after the manner I did to others aforementioned. You would be shocked at my recklessness and consider me “one fraud” . . . so it behooves us to be sensible!
My cousin Will Mc used to make fun of my “writings” by telling me he didn’t doubt that I would make a second Mary Blimmer and now you call my descriptive powers in question. The Tuscarora Valley is pretty — you would say so yourself but I don’t know whether you would think the music which some persons find in beautiful scenery, in grand marches or dreamy reveries, not being well acquainted with your style “of expression!” — venture to guess it would be something decided. I found a picture of the “Arrows” today by “our special artist” — a home talent piece —time anticipated — and a railway train “careening” wildly along toward a mountain which suggests the famous passageway from France to Italy. The audacity of the picture prophet brought golden visions of the yellow prime of good Haroun Alraschid II in the year 19— when Science will cause cities of clear glass to be builded on the mountain tops instead of in malarial regions by riversides and men will pass to and fro thro’ “thin air” breathing that only which has been made free from noxious gases, and drinking water from which, by simple processes, every germ of disease has been taken; and the electric light too shall light the land throughout the full length and breadth of it . . . . Mother Shipton herself would hold her hands aloft and exclaim “Du tell” — There! I’m forgetting — the good resolutions have gone by the board and gone on in the old style — one interminable string of nonsense. . . . . As Mr. Torrance used to say about certain murders chronicled in a very ancient history “for this most reprehensible conduct” there is no reasonable excuse.
I’ve been “rummaging through some barrels and boxes” in my cousin Mac Blair’s store today and found some pretty “views.” There’s one of Mt. Pisgah and don’t wonder at the miniature woman who felt the doxology. There are some of the mammoth trees of Cal. too and one might sing it as well underneath their branches. Do you know anything of a spreading Chestnut tree — “27 ft. in circumference” near Easton, beneath whose shade the early Methodists held regular services — preaching , prayer-meeting and Sunday school during the summer months?
I’m reading the lives of the Wesleys and Whitefield. So you see I’m interested in the early Methodists. You have seen Whitefield’s love letter haven’t you? I guess that term would hardly apply though for he “blessed God that if he knew anything of his own heart he was free from that foolish passion which the world calls love.” If he had done as good catholics do in other matters, and made a mental reservation of that statement he would show more policy wouldn’t he?
I shouldn’t like to undertake the “conversion” of the old Meth. Preacher mentioned in our last. Judging from appearances the “young brother” would be preferable and much more easily influenced — but then ah me! They’re all according to the Widow Bedott! “dreadfully set in their ways.” As the amateur correspondents of agricultural papers say when railing at the “Lords of Creation” and the kings of disorder “Men will be men the wide world through. And women can’t help it whatever they do.”
I’m sorry the party of campers came to naught if it would have been any particular enjoyment to you and yet it’s refreshing to know you are resigned.
And now lastly my dear fellow, don’t make any calculations in regard to work among the New Alex heathen. It’s not altogether “neglect” that is the trouble — though I admit there is a certain sort of it in the atmosphere thereabout — but too much work. Beside, there is a reason why you will not have a chance to labor much among them; there’s no just reason why they should feel [continued written sideways in top margin] so but they do and many another would have more influence with them than yourself. They are “fine fellows” and most of them “not nearly so bad as he commonly had the misfortune to be represented.”
I am glad to number some of them among my friends although the relations we have maintained have been strictly discountenanced by the good people of N.A. and I hope not one of us have ever been the [continued scrawled down side of the page] worse for the association but that we have been mutually benefited and [continued scrawled atop 4th page] had our views of life in all it’s aims, interests and ends widened and strengthened in every way. I do not believe in social ostracism as a means of salvation. Do you?
Well, I didn’t think it was going to take me so long to get stopped. I’ve been about half homesick for awhile. Do you where Mr. Kolb is going? I hear my old friend McBundy has rec’d a call to a Phila. Church. I half wish you would — no I don’t either. I won’t tell you what I was going to write.
I’m going to Fannetsburg Mond. Write to me next week won’t you, please Jean.
[scrawled upside down at bottom of 3rd page]“Tell me when you want “Rev.” suffixed to your name as my sister Alice calls it.
1 the Bible Ed sent her
2 a ring
3 To help her spiritually as per private conversation on Jan 3 and in Ed’s letter dated Feb 8, 1884
4 16th century prophetess
5 Harun al-Rashid, in 766 became fifth caliph of Abassid dynasty with an empire reaching from Mediterranean to India
6 Reference to English soothsayer, Ursula Southeil, c. 1488—1561
7 Francis Whicher, humorist from 1840s, satirized the upper social class in The Widow Bedott Papers (1855), featuring the foolish Widow Bedott.
To Fannettsburg, Pa.
8th May ‘84
On Saturday Apr. 26th I went to N.Y. City to have a talk with Dr. Ellinwood. Shortly before that date I had rec’d the appointment to Mexico, so I was anxious to know what part they wished us to make our home in, and when we would be expected to leave. Dr. E. said they usually left it to the missionaries already on the field to determine the particular part the new missionaries should work in but that he felt pretty sure that Durango was where the most need was at present. That is where Miss Kate(?) McFarrent has taken charge of a “boarding & day school for girls.” She used to be a great friend of my mother. Perhaps you are acquainted with her — the daughter of late Dr. McF. Of Congruity. I think her mother lives in Blairsville. It would be pleasant, wouldn’t it? to be so near a Wesmorl’ Co friend. The town of D. is on the upland of Mexico and is in direct railroad connection with — Latrobe. It is not certain yet however that Durango will be our place.
But time will tell. It will be some place in that beautiful land of daggers and poison and Colt revolvers. The Mexicans are making it lively down there now especially in Guerro on the “annexation question” — but I suppose you have seen accounts of the trouble.
And now the second question — that about the time of our departure for the land of the palm and cactus. Dr. E. said they were ready for us to go “right away” if we could and he was very anxious to have us “go as soon as possible.” Remembering that I told you that I wouldn’t ask you to go till fall, and feeling sure that you wouldn’t want to leave home any more suddenly than that, I told him we couldn’t possibly be ready before September. For my own part, I would rather not go till November or at least till October, and had not expected to, for I would like to go well settled and prepared physically, mentally and spiritually for such a work should not be entered in a hurry but deliberately. He (Dr. E.) seems very solicitous however, and as the climate is so good we can go any time as far as that is concerned. Write real soon “won’t you please” and let me know your position on the subject — how soon you would like to go; if you would prefer our being “made one” some time before leaving to getting married and going right off; “set the day” if you are ready to do so . . . that I may know how to write to Dr. E.
Now a few words suggested by your letter which is a good long one and — would you think I was biased if I should tell you in all soberness and sincerity that it was the finest letter I ever received from anybody? I have some correspondence with persons pretty well up in the world too. I felt ever so proud that ~~~~~~~~~ [Ed trails off with a squiggly line]
I have your letter in hand and if you will not object will answer the questions as they come. First as to “suffixing” Rev. to my name — if you wish you can do so with propriety after the next Friday after you receive this — that is after May 16th at which time I am to be ordained as a For. Miss. I passed the examination at the spring meeting before I rec’d the appointment, with the condition that ordination itself should take place after the appointment was rec’d.
Investigation seems to be a marked train in your character. The first letter you wrote you have torn up somebody’s garret; the second you had torn up the character of the old Meth. Minister; the third it was another garret I think; the fourth a lot of barrels full of trash; and will you scold me if I tell you I chuckled with delight when your last letter announced that you had been “rummaging through barrels and boxes” again. Huntington Co. no doubt is beginning to look like your hair in that picture you didn’t send. “Won’t” Catholicism in Mexico get riddled in a year or so!
I have never read Whitefield’s love-letter but from your quotation I think I know what Whitfield meant, and can say “amen” to it. Ordinarily what “the world calls love” is a combinedly mental, moral and physical disease. And therefore the maxim in the tale of Ne-Ne-Hopa in Ben Hur (by Wallace) is true in many cases — “The curse of love is love.” Whitefield would certainly be glad to acknowledge love to God & love to his fellow man, yes and love to his “beloved.” It is certainly true that the love which is taken in Sol. Song as the type of the love between Christ and the Church is a noble, praiseworthy, God-given affection. And it is I think equally true that love used in Sol. Song is not the diseased mushroom growth that you and I have seen so often, and that makes so many miserable lives after it has finished it’s short existence. It certainly must have been this distinction that Whitfield had in mind, and if so, and his lady understood him — His policy was truth wasn’t it?
What the world calls love must have been in Bacon’s mind when he wrote in one of his essays — “Love is a weakness” — and by making such a statement lost his betrothed because she did not understand him. Bacon’s “policy” was wrong.
I quoted above from Lew Wallace’s novel “Ben Hur.” Have you ever read it? I am reading it now.” It is intensely interesting. I have it in my library.
And now — the work among the “New A. heathen.” I’m glad you wrote me your views on the subject, because from being acquainted with some of those young me, you surely know what you are writing about. If I wrote calling those young men “neglected” I certainly did not mean it. It is another instance of how I often write in my haste things I mean just the opposite of. It was only last winter that I was told of several instances of “too much work” of a certain kind. It certainly takes no argument to convince one who has been raised under Christian influence that intemperance is wrong or that he ought to be a Christian. Yet the chances are ten to one that if young men are approached at all it is in just that way — at least I have seen it so. You know how disagreeable it is to have someone demonstrate to prove and prove to you what you already believe — what is self-evident, and especially when it is some fault of your own and you heartily wish it were not. Well so it is I think with them; They hear the same argument over & over again till they get sick, sick, sick of it. Now if I were to undertake to do anything it would not be of this nature, neither argumentative nor coaxing but more of a spasmodic attempt — something to get them started — to enthuse them, and I think if they once take the stand, most of them are just the kind of fellows that would hold out. Such an attempt might perhaps be successful, and if it proved a failure would not do so much harm as “work” would.
I know I am very poorly informed about the state of these boys, although sometimes I have got some very straight stories about them, and have them corroborated by others from quarters so different as to prevent a common origin. I have been asked by anxious parents, sisters, etc. to try to do something . . . .
I’m glad you know something about the matter. Do write “lots” and tell me all you think about it, and whether you think, now that I have explained further that it would be altogether useless. For if it would, I certainly do not want to interfere and do harm; and if I can do anything I want to learn the ground well so that I’ll know what what I am about.
No I do not believe in social ostracism as a means of salvation — to those ostracized. Ordinarily persons are ostracized (socially) because they are considered beyond salvation . . . . Now such doctrine is not Christian — where society is Christian. We have no right to say any one is beyond salvation. For my part I would enter work expecting greater results from a congregation of inebriates than from any congregation of good moral but indifferent people. If we take aim over the pages of the Bible there is not so very much difference between the best and the worst & there is therefore no place for any one saying “I am holier than thou.” Those who are sliding or beginning to slide pit-ward are the ones who need the help most . . . .
I heartily admire your conduct in regard to those young men in New Alex. And have little doubt that those who found fault with you for being a “good samaritan” are the very ones whose characters are strong enough not to suffer and who therefore ought to follow your example.
I have been over half a day writing this letter. I sat down this morning determined to write till I had “said my say.” But have had about two dozen callers — Here comes another (What a bore it is to be popular!) So if you find the above exceedingly tangled in logic, mercifully let your just apprehension fall where it is due and not on
[Continued scrawled sideways in top margin of page one] I learned from Emma lately that “Uncle” Free W. Expects to come back this fall for part of his family. Perhaps we can take our journey with them.
Mr. Kolb will probably go to Indian Territory to take charge of a large school there. It is not settled yet altogether but — that is my opinion. If not there then probably to Brazil.
What do you suppose will be the next news about Dr. McCurdy?
I’ll be impatient till I hear from you.
PS Dr. E. wishes us by all means to go to Mex. as early as Sept.
I will leave Princeton on the 15th or 16th of May so write soon after that. Address 1229 Race St.
To Princeton [?]
May 14, 1884
Dear Mr. H —
I’m quite at a loss to know what to write in regard to the time you want to know about. However it will be safe to place the time for starting as far from this as you possibly can.
I mean to go home Mond. Then perhaps can speak more definitely in regard to it all.
As to Durango — I suppose it doesn’t make much difference where — I feel reckless whenever I think of it — and you will be provoked I know but I can’t help wishing you were going for a “term of years” instead of “for aye and for always.” ‘Twould be comforting to feel that if we didn’t like it we could try “some other-where.”
I believe I’m half homesick this morning — and perhaps the above is the result. I will write to you about a bushel when I go home in return for the flattery contained in your last.
I can’t write more now. This is the last opportunity I will have of sending you a note before I go and this is only to reply to the questions.
I liked your last letter better than any you ever wrote before and the writer better of course. There — that’s to pay for yours — truth however — “Hard solid facts.” I can’t help wondering whether I’ll change your opinion of me when you see me face to face again or whether vice-versa. Did you ever think of it?
Yours [note scrawled below signature with line drawn up toward the following ]Which Billings says may mean anything or nothing.
I’m shocked to learn of your reading novels, seeing you always seemed to frown on such literature, I only thought you didn’t care for it and — I enjoy a good one by way of “the slice of life.”
So I’m relieved to find you guilty too. Pardon the pencil writing please. I thought I only had a minute and I had two, but the “wagon waits.”
Just look at the first personal pronouns contained in this will you, and don’t dare laugh — can’t say who is accountable but suppose it is I.
1 She remarks at the preponderance of I’s in this letter.
To New Alexandria, Pa.
Dundaff, Pa. (Susq. Co.)
May 24th ‘84
Dear Jean —
Leisure at last! And now for a good, hearty ghost-confab with a “kindred spirit.” I have been in so many places, with so many people, and lived so many different kinds of life, that it seems an age since I wrote you last or rec’d yours in reply, although in reality it has been scarcely more than a week since yours came. I have been in the “slums” of Phila. — for be it known to you that I have some friends there, real, noble-hearted friends, Christian friends, although they do belong to the “low-class,” and although I have been cautioned to have nothing to do with them by certain “I-am-holier-than-thou” Christians.
I have been threatened not only with social ostracism, but worse than that, with banishment from a household that I called home, because I persisted in visiting “low” class people who had not had opportunities of improvement . . . . . I persisted however, after giving my reasons for doing so, and — the penalty was never executed . . . . Perhaps you didn’t think you were striking so much sympathy when you wrote of your own case at N. Alex. Or that you were writing to one who particularly admired a force of character that can face social danger, relying on commonsense and integrity and Providence to carry it through. Such however, you see, was the case.
But to follow the thread again I was among these “low” people, and lived a little lifetime with them. I was among the “better class” and there lived another little lifetime. On Friday I was knighted into the greater and better chivalry, of the gospel which has superseded that of brute force. Oh how solemn and impressive an occasion it was for me! It fairly bewildered me. The awful meaning of the ceremony! The momentous consequences. But most of all, my own unutterable weakness and insignificance when compared to the “sword” I have to wield & the “armor” I have to wear. Thank heaven we don’t go in our own strength.
On Saturday I attended the funeral of a cousin, whom I have been expecting to die for two or three years. I went to Baltimore on Saturday and took up my abode with one of the “elite” families of the City of Palaces. Another little lifetime. Preached on Sunday in Dr. Pervis’s church, one of the “big churches.” On Monday I received a check for twenty dollars — enough to buy a table and some carpet and a bag of potatoes, and a ribbon for somebody. On Monday, being so near, I rode down and spent another lifetime in Washington. Enjoyed myself very much for the time I had to stay. Saw much but not all. To tell you all about it would be pleasant to me but perhaps not to you for you have probably seen it all yourself or heard it over and over. So with Christian forbearance I’ll pass on away from W. over the B.&P. road through so much dust that before I got to Balt. I could write two names on my hat-brim, with my finger.
Started from Phila. yesterday, forgetting my pen and ink (hence this graphite) and arrived in Dundaff last night, as ignorant of the place and people as if the moon had been my last home. It was almost another little lifetime before I got acquainted and “at home” among them. I have not “nine lives” like a cat, but each one of these little concrete experiences has been so unique, so unlike all the rest, that you can now see what I meant when saying that it seemed like an age since I wrote and rec’d. And when I went to the P.O. this morning and thought almost loud enough for the P.M. to hear — ”Sakes! wouldn’t I enjoy a letter from Jennie!” It wasn’t because I’m “soft,” and “lily livered,” and “girlish” was it?
Well, you may infer from these five pages, where I have been, and what I have been doing, and where I am, and that I haven’t been “making love” to any other girl. But if you get much more out of it you’ll take rank with Dr. Hodge, who some of the “boys” accuse of getting more out of Paul’s epistel to the Romans than Paul ever put in it.
Dr. Hodge and the “boys” — it recalls old Princeton and the “class of ‘84” neither of which I’ll see again in this world. And it will surely not be heaven in the next if Don MeLarsen & Jno. Kolb and others of the class are not there . . . . I never felt the parting of a class so much as this last one.
The classes at academy and college all contained a good many scamps, fellows who had not enough of character or conviction on any subject for a strong friendship to grasp. It was like Hamlet trying to catch his father’s ghost. You have seen people sometimes have you not, who presented a poorer resting place for a strong friendship than the happy face and great brown eyes of a faithful, intelligent dog?
In a seminary class such men are scarce. Partly because they are men who have come into the ministry because of their conviction of its truth; partly because they are older and have seen the necessity of taking a definite stand and forming a definite character; but chiefly because they are educated, cultured Christian gentleman, bearing more or less in themselves the fruits of the gospel.
And not only are the men more trustworthy on average, but they are all bound together by sympathy in a common cause. They go out into the work as one man . Another thing which I think makes the separation more vivid is the fact that it is final and that in a year we will be so widely separated — some to China, some to India, some to Brazil, some to Mexico etc. . . . . Our class turned out nine foreign missionaries, twelve home missionaries, and twenty two who are willing to stay here near their “alma mater” — which to my mind is a sacrifice to a live Christian, far greater than going to either mission field.
But I have written too much about the class. If I have unwarrantably assumed that every one else takes the same interest in my class that I do myself — please pardon me.
Freeman Wallace (“Uncle Free”) writes that he is coming home in August for his wife and that he will return to his field in “Sept. or Oct.” It would be of great advantage for us to go along, as he “knows the ropes” of the custom-house, Mexican travel etc. We will have time enough will we not, to have our little affair over and get all ready by that time? If we go down with him, I would like to start from Pa. a little sooner if possible, so that a visit to my old home may be possible. I have not seen it for over twelve years. And I have “lots” of my best relations there, who if I do not stop will rage about it, — to say nothing of the joy I would have in revisiting the "home of my childhood,” and in showing you my esteemed relatives, — and in showing them my highest ideal of womankind.
I think Dr. Ellinwood will agree to our going out when Unc. Free does, even if it is as late as the early part of Oct. if I explain the circumstances to him. We will see “Unc. Free” this summer no doubt and learn a good deal about the work there in particular. He writes that I’ll need a revolver and a rifle. Now I know nothing about handling a revolver. I think I’ll bring one out when I come and you & I can practice on the sheep, and whenever we can kill a sheep each shot, the presumptions are that we will be equally fatal to the Mexicans.
I am boarding around at present, following the gospel rule that when I get too much dust off the soles of some good man’s feet, policy suggests it would be best to “move on.”At present I am writing in a garret, right next the roof, and the temperature does more to justify the expression “hot as blazes” than any temperature I ever expect to be in. Where I am to go next or when — I can’t tell. Like Uncle Remus, I “don’t know what minit is gwinter be de nex’. But be sure of this that I’ll get anything you send to this post office. So write, & do not let the Is worry you for your Is (eyes) have a great attraction for me and the more of yourself you have in a letter the better I like it. (Strange isn’t it?) (Methinks I hear you say something about “flattery.”)
Dundaff is in Susq. Co. not in Wayne as I was informed. But it is no difference for there is but one in the state.
I am yours
1 Susquehanna County
2A. A. Hodge, 1823-1886. Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton
3 Ed has no intention of shooting Mexicans any more than live sheep. (But stay tuned — future letters show what happens when missionaries wield guns!)
To Princeton, N.J.
New Alexandria, Pa.
June 3rd, 1884
Dear Mr. H.
I’ve been doing everything in my power to induce you to believe that I’ve forgotten you “entirely,” and I feel guilty, very guilty indeed, but like Mrs. Carlyle. I have absolutely no composure of soul for writing just now. The fact is I’ve undertaken far more this time than human discretion would have dreamt of putting into one week — or indeed into several of them. I only hope like her, things will not thicken into “immortal smash.”
Since I wrote you I’ve been having what is in common parlance a “perfectly splendid” time and did not come home until very lately when I found the summer here and all my nearest kins-women in the lamentable condition of Miss Flora McFlimsey of Madison Square.
I find things in Westm’d much as usual. The “old place” never looked more beautiful than at this homecoming. Perhaps I look at it through rose-colored glasses but “no place seemeth half so fair.” “Ah” the air, the sunshine and the blue sky. The feeling of the breeze upon my face, my feet, the feeling of the turf beneath, and no walls cut the far-off mountains. Sweet is the air with the budding trees. And the valley!, stretching for miles around, in white with the blossoming locust trees as if just covered with lightest snow. Oh, I wish you could see them. I know you would appreciate their beauty — the locusts I mean — although it is beginning to fade — the glory to depart and the blossoms are falling in soft summery showers like apple blooms do in machine poetry.
I’m glad to know you are having such a good time. Hope it may continue even unto the time when I shall see you when all these matters treated of in your last letter may be arranged.
I really mean to write you a very long letter and tell you a great many things but cannot this time, “Procrastination is one of my worst failings — don’t be frightened it’s worse in the matter of letter writing than anything else — and I’ve put this off so long that I feel this must be sent this evening and Craig waits. I’ll promise better things next time.
Yours very truly,
1 Reference to Letter 68 to Thomas Carylye Esq. The Grange by his wife, Jane. 1844
2 Both lines borrowed from the same letter: “I have absolutely no composure of soul for writing just now. The fact is, I have undertaken far more this time than human discretion would have dreamt of putting into one week.”
3 Reference to same letter: “… had you arrived this day, as you first proposed, you would have found me still in a regular mess, threatening to thicken into 'immortal smash.’”
4 Probably a slight reference to their displaying ostentatious dress while complaining of having “nothing to wear,” as per the poem, Nothing To Wear. An Episode Of City Life Harper's Weekly February 7, 1857)
To New Alexandria, Pa.
7th June ‘84
Your last at hand, and although its watch was slow, I had comforted myself excellently well with the good Presbyterian doctrine that should I get what I deserved it would be much worse with me than it was.
Since writing last my life has been a crazy patch-work of preaching, visiting sick people, and others who are not sick but ought to be, “boarding round,” seeing new sights, climbing Mts., catching trout, avoiding the flirtations of the Meth. Minister’s wife (who persists in calling me “My Dear Brother H”) reading poetry, attending funerals, swimming and repenting, writing “machine poetry.” I might as well confess it, though, I suppose if properly classified it would come under the topic of sinning. Shakespeare in his “Seven ages” says that fellows in my fix write poetry to their mistress’ eyebrows. But he missed it sadly in my case — ”narry” a verse have I written on that subject, though it might justify a poem, yea an Illiad! (flattery?)
Some one has said, “Never write poetry unless you have to,” and I have followed this rule though not in the sense intended by the author, I fear. But I undertook it because the college class of ‘81 decided unanimously that I was the biggest fool in the number, and the only one whose headlong indiscretion warranted any reasonable expectation of an attempt at verse. Therefore I write poetry (?) because I have to. I have been doing numerous other equally silly things of which I hope to reform ere our nuptials.
Inasmuch as you enjoy natural scenery so, I can’t help but wish you could spend a few days here at Dundoff on Crystal lake & Elk Mts. Methinks it would ungloss the Maine forests sighing deep in the primeval bosoms, or the coelenteratic cradle of Tuscarora’s streams, yes even the sheep cropped hills & locust vales near N. Alexandria, fair though they be. Crystal lake is full of springs & highly justifies its name.
The trout stream as you may see “by our accompanying map” [INSERT PIC OF ED”S MAP] runs not two hundred feet from the door of “home.” I can go out any evening and catch as many trout as I can eat. I study my sermons just over a beautiful crystal trout pool, round, and about thirty feet in diameter, in whose cold waters I take a plunge every day or so, while just above is a beautiful waterfall for a shower bath. The rocks rise perpendicular on three sides making it cool and dark in the warmest and brightest day. And I can watch little trout, “speckled beauties” lying in the water and dashing at the careless fly that has ventured too near the surface! How I wish I could fold it up like the tent of the fairy queen Paribanon — trout waters, rocks & all, and carry it in my vest pocket all they way to Mexico.
Have you ever seen a trout? They are in my opinion the prettiest fish swimming, I caught the finest of the season the other day, a great strong fellow with cow’s eyes pure and dark. It’s back is colored with a gray background over which is sprinkled a “milky way” of beautiful brown spots fringed with a light brown or hazel. Further down along the side the spots become lighter and less defined till it presents the appearance of a beautiful sky blue. Then along this blue is sewn a row of bright red spots and a gray line which looks for all the world like the seam where the Joseph’s coat was sowed on. From this the skin grows lighter till on the under part it is pure white. The dorsal fin is the color of the back spots and all and is quite heavy and fleshy. So with the caudal fin. The ventral fins are red and blue with a pure white strip just along the front. The whole fish is very regular and beautifully formed and gives the idea of great strength and decision for it’s size — But what am I doing” I can’t describe it; you’ll have to see it to get any idea of it. . . . . I have about a whole peck of them in Mr. [Joel] Stephens stock spring into & out of which the water turns through small pipes, and so they can’t get away. Now see here! — What do you care about trout or fishing or anything of that kind? And here I’ve been writing away as if you were old Isaac Walton himself. Well, Pablike, I’ll say if you’re not interested just skip this article.
I have made some very interesting acquaintances since coming to D. Some “characters” among them. There is an opium eater for one, a very smart man and strong and hearty, yet a perfect granny and perfectly useless in the world it would seem. Then there is the Metho. Minister’s wife who in spite of me, will sit beside me in prayer meeting — no matter what part of the house I go to unless it is the WC. She is young and her husband is old. She is his second wife, and he her second husband, her first being a Presbyterian minister. Now what her designs upon me are, I can’t tell. Perhaps she wants to secure another minister when this one dies, and she prefers a Presbyterian — speaks well for Presbyterianism doesn't it? If she should succeed in breaking my heart we’d have a terrible state of affairs wouldn’t we? I’d like to tell her that she’s too late, I’ve been “pulverized” already by another, but I, I don’t like to make matters so public. Another character is an old Presb. lady quite old, but a good pure old soul as ever lived. I often go and talk with her, and enjoy it much. There is another lady who is “Presb. first and a Christian afterwards” — her piety is not of a marked type. There is an old Methodist lady who has been quite an invalid for a long time. She can’t live long. But such a Christian. I visit her every day or so and get more good from her I think than she does from me. One can see the strength of the gospel in such cases. Her thin emaciated body and burning piety remind me so vividly of a dear one of many years ago who had greater suffering but the same Savior and the same hope.
Then there is another character. I am rooming with him. He used to be an elder in the Dundaff Church, and of course, is yet but he won’t acknowledge it. He is a genuine old yankee mountaineer. He has the same way of saying everything, making every letter of every word as emphatic as if he would say, “I am sir an oracle, and when I open my mouth let no dog bark.” He is a man who has opinions on all subjects any one can talk about, great or small, but no knowledge back of them. He doesn’t believe in all this hyer doctrine’ when people git sick, fur it only makes ‘em worse, and them allus gets ‘long best wot ain’t talking’ no such trash on their stummucks.” He “believes in them kinder medsins wot yer put on th’ outside till it gets th’ outside blood het up.” “Home yopathy ain’t got no kinder sence in it no way.” “It’s this yer stuffin’ med-sins inter em ‘at gives people brown kets an’ cancers an scrofby” His highest ideal of speed is, “as fast as the yer telegraph-wire-stuff” (electricity). He says the way Mormons are made is that “they keep gitten wickeder and wickeder and wickeder and wickeder till they git so bad they kin massacree people.” His description of lightning is worth as much as any comic lecture any day. His barn was burned up by it and his house was torn all to pieces by it — so he considers himself a better authority on “lightnin” than all the science of the 19th century, etc. etc. Sometimes I have listened to him for an hour with my face as straight as a hearse-plume, and when I could get off by myself I would laugh for another hour. The other morning I wanted some fun, so I asked him his opinion on geology, and — lecture for two hours! He talks and argues and reasons, and after mature deliberation “fetches up” wrong, always. He is the man refered to above under the name of Joel Stephens, and he most surely is a “character.”
I’m sorry my time is nearly out with him for I like to hear him. But I suppose when Saturday night comes I’ll have to “move on.” That’s the way I’ve been moving on pretty much all of the last fifteen years, — a homeless sort of a wretch — but Ha! It won’t be long — keep it up old, cold world while you have a chance, my anticipations are so bright that I would almost enjoy getting kicked just because it would heighten the contrast.
And now girl, do not forget your promise of a good long letter . . . . “There is beauty in the pathless woods. There is a pleasure on the lonely shore. There is a solitude” etc. But it by no means breaks up the pleasurable part of the loneliness & solitude to get one of your letters. (Draw your own conclusions.) Must stop now from very shame as well as from very pity for her who has the task of reading (and she busy too!). Must also stop to prepare Sunday. Last Sunday week I went to the Meth. Church in the evening and I had to get off a sermon in five minutes. And lest it may occur again, I want to make preparation of an extra one, so I’ll have to stop. Aren’t you so glad!
1 Perhaps in reference to the A Thousand and One Nights.
2 Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler (1683)
3 Phonetic approximation for ‘this here doctrine.’
4 Phonetic approximation for ‘It’s this here stuffin.’
5 Phonetic approximation (possibly) for bronchitis
6 Phonetic approximation for scurvey
7 Fractured quotation from Byron’s "There is Pleasure in the Pathless Woods.”
To Dundaff, Pa.
1884. 18th Day of the Month of Roses
Dear Mr. Haymaker,
Half a loaf is better than none isn’t it?
Mary and I are keeping house “all by ourselves” and I, like Martha, am cumbered with much serving, or if not exactly that, the practice is very “wearing.” We are planning a surprise for Mamma when she comes, and though I know a mild reproof will be all the thanks we will get, I’m anxious to have it done. It takes time, the stuff life is made of, and I know that when you remember that before so very long all my minutes will be employed in your service you’ll forgive me for devoting them to those nearest me now.
We had a lawn fate the other evening in Mr. Lenours grounds, and everybody seemed to be glad they were there. I like to see people look happy and can’t help wondering when I do see them how much that glitters is worth its face value.
My “neighbor friend and companion” Lizzie Moore was married last week, and I feel like he who was dreaming of “Hallie,” very like one forsaken. We had a very enjoyable time at the wedding and I all the time had an uncomfortable consciousness that if the whole affair wasn’t a happy one, I as the chief instigator, was personally and only to blame as I had introduced the “high contracting parties” and done the recommending on both sides — with Rev. Vincent on the side of power chief aid.
When I was over helping with the decorations I did wish most sincerely the thought of it had never occurred to me, and when I was back the next day helping to clear up things — order out of chaos — I wished so again and yet I cannot see that it was not all right. What does make people feel so anyway?
I’m beginning to have a sort of presentiment that perhaps my attainments in the line of housekeeping are not up to the standard too. What will you do if — well, I won’t suppose what dreadful things might happen, but it’s devoutly to be hoped that your Epicurean taste can be modified until somebody learns something that is not known now.
Thanks for your good long letter — my gratitude was so great that I actually felt like writing ten or twelve pages, but when I came to consider found nothing wherewith to build. Be charitable and write me another and perhaps we will be nearer even next time. I modify it this time you see. I don’t like to break such sound, solid [continued scrawled upside down at top of page] promises, and in future mean to make them to suit. Misses Sallie and Beckie Wallace were to spend a day with us not long ago. Sallie’s sojourn in the east has improved her muchly — Well good day.
I heard Sally King tell someone the other day that your are coming up here in July. What did you tell that for anyway? Mc
[continued scrawled sideways atop first page] I’m positively ashamed of the looks of this letter and the last one too and I’ve good reason to be, but really I hurried so it’s necessarily only a scrawl and as for the paper — couldn't find any other with lines — so I beg pardon for the whole thing.
1 Referring to contents of a package mailed with this letter.
2 Reference to lyrics of Listen to the Mocking Bird
To Evergreen Farm [?]
June 21st ‘84.
The “half a loaf” was gladly rec’d last evening and devoured forthwith. If all your “half loaves” prove as satisfactory you need have no apprehensions of wry faces and faultfinding on my part.
Since coming to Dundaff I have lived on a gallon (daily) of buttermilk (a beverage fit for a king) + anything else I could get my teeth on. And if your knowledge in the culinary department extends to making buttermilk, we’ll get along swimmingly. I have gained several pounds since coming here, partly because of the buttermilk, but chiefly because of old Joel Stephens. Poor Clown — I have nearly laughed myself blind day after day for a whole month and he is as funny and original as ever. He told today of a “feller that had got the yaller janderies (jaundice) and he et like a shoat and it all come from putting so much o’ this hyer sour cider down ‘im.” He watched a lot of goslings sliding and falling over a bank today and made the remark — “George! Them durn goslings’ll kill themselves — well sir, a goose is well named.” etc. etc.
I can’t imagine how Sallie K. Got so well informed, unless it came from my asking Emma W. if they would need an extra harvest hand, for I got a postal from her last evening stating that they were counting on me for harvest time. I had occasion once to tell Beckie Shields that I would come to New A. probably some time in the fall but it could not have arisen from that. Well, no matter our motions are not momentous enough yet to bother the world much, and per contra the world’s motions will not bother us much if we only think so.
Tomorrow is my last Sabbath in Dundoff. I leave for Easton on 23rd. When you write next address 1229 Race St. Phila. On Tuesday I’ll have to read my little piece of machine poetry — Ugh!
I am sorry in some respects to leave D. I got into an intellectual garret the other day and made some fine discoveries and interesting resurrections. I found out among other things that my present parish is as an old parish of Joe Smith, the founder of Mormonism. (Hope the present incumbent will not turn out as badly as the other, don’t you?) (Perhaps the Meth. Minister’s wife is one of his converts!)
I found out besides that a “scalawag” here by the name of “Jim McAlla” once got access to Smith “Book of Mormon” on the sly and tore out two leaves and took them home to a friend, remarking that the friend probably wanted to see some of the “new Bible,” so he thought he’d bring him some. The leaves were preserved, but under the administration of the present generation they have got in among other papers and it is not known whether they are preserved or not. The family where I got all this information did not seem to know how important those two leaves would be, so I came away with an urgent request that they would make diligent search and let me know if they found them. Have not heard from them yet. They seemed to be afraid the leaves had been thrown away with a drawer full of stuff “at grandmother's death.”
2 Closing to this letter and any additional pages from it are missing.
To Dundaff [?]
1229 Race St. Phila.
“The Ever Glorious” Fourth ‘84
Since writing last I have done Easton & Laf. College, the business part of New York, also Newark, East Orange, and Coney Island, and now return to the “City of Brotherly Love.”
Have just resurrected my “old stud pen” from the sepulchral depths of my trunk, and thought I could not celebrate the find and the “Fourth” in any better way than by sending you a page or two of hieroglyphical fire works.
We had a pleasant class reunion in Easton, and — the class is one again. My time there was made miserably happy however by having to sit up all night with a poor class-mate who came to enjoy the reunion but arrived quite sick and remained so all the time during commencement week. Poor fellow. I pitied him.
At New York I was piloted around by a business reporter for one of the news agencies and learned a great deal about the N.Y. business world. Visited the Stock Exchange and was deeply impressed by the stillness and magnanimity of the “bulls” and “bears.” It reminded me of a quaker meeting. The stillness in the large hall full of active businessmen was such that you could hear a pin drop. The quiet, peaceful nature of the meetings of the Stock Exchange is a standing rebuke to the noise of our church assemblies.
At East Orange I visited a friend whom I had met in Wayne Co. last summer. He took me out for a two hours drive through one of the prettiest suburbs of N.Y. City and the next day took me down to Coney Island where we procured bathing suits and wrestled with old ocean’s billows. He (the friend) told me that some of my last summer’s talks with him had decided him to become a minister and a missionary. Hope it is true.
At Newark I visited Rev. J.H. Polhemus former missionary to Mexico & got some very valuable hints. He asked if I were going out married and when I told him yes, he said that his wife would be very glad to correspond with my lady and could give many useful hints as to going out and what to take along etc.
Dr. Ellinwood told me that at a meeting of the Board they had decided to send us to Zacaticas. That is where “Uncle Free” has been. Their plan is to send him to Durango as he is better suited for itinerating work than for stated preaching. If we go to Zacaticas we will be near Dr. Provost, the best physician in the “Republica Mexicana,” and a man who is a “whole team” for protestant missions and who has a fine family of young people who are all genial, kind hearted and earnest and who will make it also impossible for us to get homesick or discouraged. There’s a bright side to our future life, isn’t there?” It won’t do to forget however that we are going among those who are morally heathen, and we will have to meet and live near filth physical, filth intellectual, filth moral, and filth spiritual, and we’ll have to hold our noses sometimes figuratively as well as literally.
I expect to start to New Alex. on Monday night next (7th) and will be up to see you on Tuesday evening if the traveling doesn’t “use me up” too badly. I know this isn’t my turn to write but you’ll pardon the irregularity as this is the 4th & I’m not responsible.
[continued scrawled upside down across top of first page] I am writing in the rooms of the Presbyterian Historical Society. They are full of relics. I wish you were here till we’d take a “rumage” through this old historical garret — chains and hammers & pictures & documents — interesting, very.
1 Lafayette College conferred Ed with a Doctoral Emeritus Degree
To Dundaff or New Alexandria [?]
New Alexandria, Pa.
Aug 5 1884
If you haven’t gone to Murrysville and it is quite convenient, I want you to come up to McCs this evening and be placed on exhibition (?) — no, but I want you to meet my friend Rob Donaldson and then someday I’ll tell you, perhaps, how much we both owe to him — you through me of course. He and Will Guthrie have come over to make me “a farewell visit” and think will be here this evening. If not Rob will be again. You come anyway if you have made no other arrangements and get this note in time. Don’t be alarmed by the immensity of this envelope and the amount of paper it contains. Belle and Alice do not have all the modern conveniences I find and — well, the invitation is all the stronger because it looks “biggity.”
To New Alexandria, Pa
Aug. 16th ‘84.
Dear Girl o’Mine, —
Enclosed you will find a note for your cousin Will, which you will please hand to him if you see in it nothing that you find objectionable. I would have posted it in the office, but I feared you might not be ready to sanction it in every respect.
Would have been glad to talk over a lot of things last night in reference to the affair had convenience permitted.
My talk with “Unc. Free” opened my eyes to the amount of work to be done before going to Mex. I hardly see how we can do it all in the time allowed between our wedding and Oct. 1st. In the words of the sage and venerable Remus, we’ll have to “fa’ly hump” ourselves. So be sure to shape matters to bring the wedding on the early side of the 15th if possible. And if there is anything that I can do to hasten things on just let me know what it is. My address will be Murraysville for the present at least.
I have lots of things to write but here comes “Jim—” Rugh with the horse. I will write from M.
1The letter Ed enclosed follows:
16th Aug. ‘84
Mr. W. C. McC —
I write to make a request. No doubt you have learned from your study of the stars, or otherwise of the intended alliance between your cousin Jennie Mc. and myself. The conjunction of our stars will take place on or about Sept. 15th (D.V.)
Now it is our purpose to add beauty, wit, grace and dignity to the ceremony, and to this end I want to borrow your presence and very acceptable services as an attendant of the groom.
Please let me know as soon as you can whether or no it will be convenient, so that if it will not, I may secure the attendance of — Elisha, or some equally noted person whose noble features and unimpeachable word shall be a lasting witness and unquestioned and unquestionable ratification of our nuptial vows.
My address for a week or two will be Murraysville, P. (Westmld. Co.)
Hoping sincerely that you can and will comply, I am
Very Truly Yours,
Ed. M. Haymaker
1[Latin Deo volente]. God Willing
To New Alexandria, Pa.
“The Old House at Home”
Last night I sat on the pillared portico of the old stone house of my forefathers. …. It was early twilight and the crickets and Katy-dids lent their merry music to the antique scene, but all other sounds had fallen into stillness, & in the ghostlike evening air I sat where five generations of our family had sat at different times. For the life of me I couldn’t help feeling that they were all there — every one of them. And so vivid and so quiet was the scene that I forgot that I was in the body and they not. And I caught myself almost in the act of giving place to my great-grandfather with the words almost audibly expressed — “Here good father, take the rocking chair (sakes how he eyed it! he never saw one before) and let me take your hat sir! But just at this juncture I heard Grandm. in the kitchen laughing at one of Mike’s jokes — suddenly great-grandfather broke for the pine hill or some such place, as readily as did a certain excarnate Mr. Hamlet when the cock crowed. And I was left with the only ordinary feeling that I was in the old home.
Home — the place where one knows he is welcome and would be even if he had no right there. How many dear ones this venerable stone-pile has been the home of, but now they are gone — one generation succeeds another, new homes succeed the old — thus the world goes.
In such a train of thoughts you would not blame me, dear girl, for air-castling a little about my own home. But I’ll not tell you what I thought — enough that the center and charm of my home was one whom I dearly love, a loyal hearted girl — all my own! Almost as tall as myself, well shaped head, high forehead and intelligent face and eyes dark blue, not flashing and fiery but appreciative, quick, deep, that tell of the soul that shines through them. Could any man be unhappy when such a one tells him or has told him that she loves him and is his?
So much for the picture — now for the prosier part — the frame. I suppose you are making “all things ready.” Uncle Free strongly recommended that you write to Mrs. Polhemus as to what kind of preparation to make, what china-ware, furniture, ladies’ clothing etc. to take out. I learned from Uncle Free that the weather is colder there than I had expected. The nights are quite cold some parts of the year. Uncle F. says to get chinaware in Pittsuburg. We can get that some time when we are in Pittsburg together. We must mark every thing in the way of clothing to make them unsalable and convince the customhouse offices they are are private. And we must keep a list of all articles packed in any box or trunk so as to facilitate examination. I will give you a note of introduction to Mrs. P. which will make it easier for you. Uncle F. recommends taking down a hair mattress as the others cost so much. Perhaps we’d better. He also says it is better to pack as much in trunks as possible. I think I will get a large trunk in addition to the one I have, and we can use it to pack any of our “truck” that we conclude to take. I’m going to get a set of second hand tools — to make things with. Remember girl we have to do all our buying, and packing, and shipping, and saying good-bye, and a whole thousand things we can’t think of now at all — all in that week — whew!
Do you expect me to do anything about the invitations? If so I can attend to them while I am in Pittsb. I think the plan you spoke of would be best — that we be married in the evening, go to Latrobe (some of the young folks would probably see us off) take the train for Ptsburg. and stay over night at the hotel and begin our calling the morning. This would necessitate a rather early hour for the wedding which would be all the better in some respects as some of the friends have a good distance to go home. However, if your parents have any other plan, I and my friends can easily conform be it what it may. Let me know then as soon as you can what your plans are. Don’t get too excited over this thing.
I preached on Sunday in the Murraysville church. Will stay at Murraysville until next Monday a week. Write soon girl!
(This is the only available paper So please pardon.)
2Large lined sheet torn from a ledger
To New Alexandria [?]
Aug 25th ‘84
“My D. L. S. Lassie Jean”
It hasn't been a week yet since I wrote last, but as this is the only method of communication that we have, I might as well make my “weekly visit” this way as in any other. How unsatisfactory it is though. The touch, the voice, the living smile are wanting, and letters though faultless seem flat when compared with a live hand to hand and heart to heart visit. But standing on the sunny side and comparing letters to no communication at all — even my poor scrawls may be acceptable to you if you be as I hope you are, very much prejudiced in my favor.
My “corporosity seems to segasheate” (Uncle R) very well since coming to Murraysville. When I came out of the pulpit the first Sunday, Uncle Dr. Service said to me, —“My good fellow your liver is out of order — I can see it in your face, you’d better take a lot of blue-mass.” After coming home he spoke to the same effect. I had felt dish-raggy and ill humored before leaving New A. but had attributed it to laziness and wickedness. But if it was bile you’ll know how to excuse all blunders and surliness you’ve seen in “yours truly,” and you’ll also know what sort of a creature I am when I get out of sorts.
Went to church yesterday as listener and was surprised to find so many friends left from the destructive jaws of time. There were enough to call up “auld lang syne” very vividly. As I shook hands with old school-mates of eighteen or twenty years ago I felt as if . . . . I were ungrown and left a barefooted, bad schoolboy acting the heartless tyrant over boys smaller than I was . . . Yes I felt myself once again a veritable, bad, toe-headed lad with the possibilities of developing into a first-class devil on the one hand and on the other into a much higher type of individual than the present “court; if it knows itself and it thinks it does.”
. . . .
But to return to the church — I saw something there — it was only three days old — the old maids called it a bride’ngroom. It was double, yet single. But the two parts kept so close together both in church and out, that you couldn’t have got a case-knife between them. It seemed to have a bad conscience — at least it looked very, very silly, and seemed laboring under the painful impression that all the world was looking at it. (It was right, but what should make it think itself so noticeable — I don’t know). It wore a broadcloth coat and black silk dress and a white vest and new shoes. It had on a pair of black kids and a pair of white kids and a black plug hat and a white straw hat with a pretty white plume on it. It looked sick when it wasn’t laughing and looked sick when it was laughing. After services were over it got out of church as quickly as it could, and then as if struck with remorse for leaving so unceremoniously it took up its stand by the front-gate and spoke to every man, woman and child who dared to go past it. And sakes alive! How the people in the church did turn and look at it. I had determined that day to support my dignity as a clergy-man and set those gadding people an example of attention, but lo! this thing came and sat down just in front of me so that I had to look around it to see the preacher. Like the dog in the manger it would neither worship itself (it was posing for observation) nor let those worship who would. Dear Lady! Is there no law to prevent such things from disturbing religious meetings?
I remember of your saying that your Mother was getting worried more and more about your going to Mexico. I rec’d a letter from Uncle Free which gives I suppose part of the reason. But as Uncle F. himself makes reply, I enclose his letter which may be of some comfort to your mother.
I sometimes fear still that she may not have full confidence in me. But from your assurances, I feel that she considers me neither altogether a fanatic nor a fool. Well then if I am a reasonable man and you and I go there and live and I find the country either uninhabitable or find that there is any danger to my wife or myself worth minding — why of course I won’t stay there. I’m not going to throw away the life of either myself or my wife upon a thoroughly dangerous country when I could live longer and do more in a thousand other places. I hope I’m not so madly enthusiastic as that. I have entered the mission field not because I want the heathen to kill me so the friends at home will write a Sunday S. book about me, nor because I’m so imbued with the spirit of our religion that I’ve got to do something desperate to get relief. But I have entered the work because I have come to the deliberate conclusion that it is the best thing for me as a Christian and a Minister to do. Now if at any future time and by reason of any further developments I should find out that it is not the best for us to stay in Mexico — why we’ll leave — unless I’ve lost my reason. Suffice it to say however that I see at present no reason for either or us leaving before we go, nor after. Why in our own country you can hear reports from any of our western states, and one will be all sunshine and another worse than the Pilkin’s report of Mexico, while in reality the trouble has been in the persons reporting. Of course every country has its good and bad qualities. But the right kind of person can get along in most of them, and if he can’t he’d better leave. These are my sentiments on the [continued scrawled sideways up the right margin] subject & if you can derive from them any comfort for mother Mc I hope you’ll do so — for her sacrifice for me & missions is heavy enough at the lightest. A good stout kiss & goodbye Ed.
[Continued scrawled sideways atop first page] I haven’t heard from Will Mc. yet. Hope I may soon as I expect to leave Murraysville on next Monday (a week from today).
My Jean, I would enjoy one of your letters very much, though I know you are very busy. If however you can drop me a line & let me know your progress in preparation for the “happy event” and whether your heart and the hearts of the family weigh less than they did, it will give me great relief. My love to them all. Hope they have found Ben Hur worth the perusal.
1Jumbled references to got Uncle Remus (How duz yo' sym'tums seem ter segashuate?) and to a Texan greeting: How does your copperosity sagaciate this morning?
2 glove made of kid leather
3 Letter does not survive]
To Murrysville / Forwarded to New Alexandria, Pa.
New Alexandria, Pa.
Aug 29, 84
My Dear Mr. H.
I meant to write you a long letter today and tell you all about everything but Emma Wallace and her mother came over to call and now some others have arrived on the scene of action and it will have to be postponed until tomorrow now.
I kept your note to Will and he [is] not putting in an appearance at all. I ran all over Pitts and Allegheny yesterday in quest of him and failed to either find him or learn anything of his whereabouts so I know of nothing better to do than ask someone else.
He will be in Washington after this week — you can write to him there if you prefer or — well, just arrange it to suit yourself —
I’ll write tomorrow and tell you all the plans. I’m sorry to have kept you waiting so long — and “guess” you’d just better speak to the one you first mentioned.
I’ll get the invitations. Please excuse this scrawl — I’m trying to write and talk at the same time, and the girls are waiting.
Yours &c &c Jean McC
To New Alexandria [?]
New Alexandria, Pa.
Sept 1, 1884
My Dear Mr. Haymaker,
Blessed be letters! They are the monitors, they are also the comforters, and they are the only true heart talkers — so says IK Marvel and we suppose he knew, but he never meant the sort of letters I’ve been sending to you.
I’m afraid I’ve “mixed” your affairs a good deal by not writing sooner but I “momentarily” expected to see my revered cousin and never dreamed of him disappointing me by not coming at all as he has done.
Every person that has ever been acquainted with me at any time from my youth up seems bent on making me a farewell visit and these prove woeful hindrances in my work of preparations. However, I’m getting along pretty well — considering the coming and going.
I find the 15 th “comes on a Monday” — that will not be a fitting season for the “ event” so suppose we have it on the 18th. Will that do? What dost thou think of it? I don’t see how I could possibly be ready the week earlier. Jamie was altogether mistaken in regard to what my mother said in regard to Mr. Pitken. She received no unfavorable impression on the Mexican question from him, as she only saw his sister and she said they like South America better than Mexico but said nothing about why they came away — But we can explain this again.
Craig is waiting — and I have ever so much that I haven’t time to say.
Perhaps you had better get the invitations, as I forgot them when I was there and I may not get in again.
Will the foregoing plan suit you? Let me know by letter or come in person. As to the time it doesn’t matter much. As I said before, if we go away we must have the ceremony in the afternoon and if we stay it can be later. I do not think any train goes west in the evening but am not certain.
It is pleasanter for the company in the evening. Perhaps we had better have the ceremony at 4:30 or 5 o’clock — later if we do not go. I will want 45 or 50 invitations.
[Scrawled sandwiched between closing] Tell me what you think “notionally” of the arrangements and we can change it easily if it doesn’t suit.
Craig can’t wait a minute longer
1Reveries of a Bachelor: Or A Book of the Heart By Ik. Marvel [Donald S. Mitchell] New York: Baker & Scribner, 1850
To New Alexandria [?]
The House of Grandmother, No. 3.
1st Sept. ’84
My own Betrothed;—
How heavily the hours roll by! The calendar says it has been two weeks and three days since I left the borders of New Alexandria. The calendar is wrong, “radically wrong!” To mortals under ordinary circumstances it might be just that, no more — no less. But when it separates — (lovers) it is full three weeks — a month — months! Doesn’t it sometimes seem strange to you that two souls can become so much attached to each other that a separation will make even the most pleasant surroundings seem unpleasant. A year or more ago I never would have believed that I could have thought so much of any mortal. Strange, strange! And yet not strange after all. It is perfectly natural for one man and one woman to become one in heart & then one in life. Plato compared a man & his wife to the two halves of the same apple. We wouldn’t have been made so if we were not intended to be complementary. A man’s soul is quite unlike that of a woman & yet in a complete house neither can be dispensed with. Their natures are made for each other and are therefore each complete when they are united. It is like the leaf and the blossom or like the two poles of a magnet that balance each other and then only, have the power of attracting others — only then complete. And the unmarried man or woman seems to me a good deal like the rose tree that has on it only leaves, or only blossoms — a rose tree — but incomplete.
I remember the evening we sat upon the lounge till rather late and I was in such a position (quad brachias) that you made the remark, “Just think, the Rev. H acting this way. You made the same remark at a later meeting when we stood just inside the parlor door, and the osculation had been rather frequent. And perhaps you would ask me now if I were with you if I wasn’t a little ashamed of it. My answer would be, no. There are some things that are not meant to be done publicly and that would be shameful if done publicly, but privately they are perfectly proper & pure & right. Such I think were our actions on those evenings. Of course I would not wish to get up before the church and go through those same particular movements, would you? But I’ll not admit that my actions on those evening were foolish until I admit that love itself is foolish. And so far am I at present from admitting that, that I think love is not only necessary to complete manhood and womanhood, but it is even a dignified and ennobling affection of the mind. Love between lovers has been taken in Sol. Song. as an illustration of even the love between Christ and the church, and so much would not be made of a “foolish passion.” But I’ve written to you before now my opinion of true love, so I’ll not repeat. If therefore true love is proper and becoming and dignified and elevating between a young man & young woman, it surely follows that the honest expression of it is perfectly proper & does not detract in the least from the dignity of — even the Rev. H.” I have a sincere love and I’m not ashamed to admit it to my own heart and yours and to whomsoever else it may concern. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoy an honest embrace of one whom I consider pure and good, nor am I ashamed to express my love honestly by a pure and hearty kiss upon the lips of her I love — when you, Jennie, and I are “all by our selves.” Am I not right?
I hope to be with you on Thursday eve next. Have had a very pleasant(?) time with my friends and they are all pleased with what they have heard of you from other sources than myself. I’ll tell you some of the things I heard when I get home. Expect to be in Pitts! and Al. till Thursday morning. If you wish to write my address will be care of Robt. McConnell, Dunph’s Store Alleghany. Father & Mother are both in Missouri and I do not know whether they can come on to the wedding or not. If not, my family can be well represented by three grandmothers, all widows.
[continued scrawled sideways across top of first page] I’m going to to try to get a second hand Brussels carpet in Pittsburg. If I get it among my friends, I’ll wait to let you see it, but if at auction I suppose I’ll have to use my own judgment of what your taste is. I think it should be something dark to suit our Adobe Home. I hope to see you soon, Till Then
P.S. Excuse this paper. It was all that was eligible & the pens are not fit to use & this pencil is short.
1 perhaps meaning their four arms entwined as for an embrace
Mr and Mrs John McClelland
request your presence
at the marrying of their daughter
Jennie to Rev. Ed. M. Haymaker
On Thursday Sept 18th
Ceremony at 3 o’clock
To New Alexandria, Pa.
Zacatecas, Aug. 7th, 1885
Dear Grandmother Mc. —
This morning at half past six, Jennie made me the present of a beautiful daughter, as far as that adjective can be properly applied to new born babes. Jennie worked with her needle last night until ten o’clock, and then began to get sick, her pain growing more and more violent till the conclusion of the operation. She stood it bravely, and all the particulars of the birth were perfectly natural and regular, with perhaps one slight exception which did no harm. At present writing she has slept a good deal, has eaten some chicken broth and seems to the Dr. to be doing admirably. We had Dr. Prevost to assist, a man of great experience and skill, and one upon whom we could rely to do all that a physician could do.
The babe is quite a bouncing girl. Weight 9 pounds. Length 19 in. Eyes darker than her mother’s, large hands & feet like her father, perfectly well formed, and red as a lobster.
This is the principal item of news at the our house. It might be well however to mention the fact that we are about concluding the bargain for the Zacatecas property. When this is once done Jennie and I will probably move into it and there we will have pure air fit for a palace, and there we will live and raise our baby. The part that we expect to use is in rather bad repair, but I think it is better to shift along with some disadvantages, than to live in an atmosphere that is fairly thick.
Our daughter sends her love to her Grandfather and Grandmother and Uncle, also to her wicked aunts.
Please communicate the above items of news to Clan Wallace. It would be well too, to have someone stationed at the lower end of town with watch in hand, to mark the exact time required for the news to get through New Alexandria from end to end. It would be an interesting item of scientific observation.
Love to all and let us hear from you soon.
Affectionately Your Son
Ed. M. Haymaker
1 Ed has acquired a typewriter! A first in this series of letters!
To New Alexandria, Pa.
Sept 3 ‘85 Zacatecas, Mexico
I really never thought until yesterday how long it has been since we sent any word to you. Ed wrote a letter to tell you how we are getting along and left it for me to put a note in and as I was not able to write — it is here yet. Tomorrow baby will be a month old. I am still in bed with a pretty fair prospect of staying here three or four weeks longer. I was up two or three days a little while each day when it was two weeks old, but soon got back to stay — and oh what an awful time I’ve been having what with the dreadful pain and everything in the house at sixes and sevens — the servants smashing every smash-able and feasting in the kitchen, baby raw from head to heels, and nobody to wash her. Ed sick — and me not able to move without screaming — you can imagine what kind of a house we have had.
I was getting along all right until my breast began to harden when the nurse had to suck the milk out and in order to get more she pressed and squeezed it until it started inflammation and then I put all manner of salves on it and kept it fairly cooked in hot vinager and water for about two wk’s but all to no purpose — and finally it was as large as it could get without bursting so I put belladonna plasters on for several days and the Dr. lanced it in two places then the next night it broke in another and altogether a good deal more than a tin full of pure thick green bloody matter ran out. When it was cut it ran out for a long time in a stream as thick as a lead pencil, and oh but I was relieved. I still have belladonna plasters on all the time and it is still discharging a great deal. There are some very hard lumps to suppurate yet so it will be long time before it will be well.
I am nothing but skin and bone, but feel a little better today. I have no appetite at all and take very little to eat, but drink a good deal of Port wine and it is strengthening me considerably. I had a ravenous appetite until my breast got sore, and everybody sent me so many goodies to eat. Mrs. Alexander sent me egg custards, rice custards, roast apples, preserved peaches, minced meats, cakes, butter, etc. Mrs. Jesi butter and preserves and Mrs. Wallace made me all kinds of good things, beef tea, roast-beef, soups, jellies, tongues pickled, oh everything, and she still sends me something almost every day. I don’t know what I’ll ever do to repay her I’m sure. My milk fever all came out on the baby and her head was just covered with great ugly scabs some of them larger than a dollar. She did look frightful, but the Dr. gave me salve and they are all gone now.
The first nurse I had was good to wash me but she didn’t know how to wash the baby, and she had her perfectly raw every place she could get that way but I never found it out until the morning she left here. She had all sorts of excuses — the powder was bad and its clothes were too coarse etc. etc. The young one isn’t well yet and I have this awful breast to thank her for. The plasters on my right breast — to dry up the milk affect the other too and I haven’t half enough for the baby but we feed her fresh cows milk and it seems to do very well as she is well, fat and hearty; nothing the matter except her right arm half way down to the elbows and under it half way down her side just looks like raw meat. The other places have heeled but this doesn’t seem to get well. The next nurse couldn’t even put a diaper on her much less wash her, and one morning when I waked up the first thing I saw was her trying to change the diaper and spitting on her to wash her off. Oh but I did scold that woman all the time she was here and I told Ed she was lousy for she scratched so at night but he said Mrs. Jesi would find them on the baby if she had them — and it wasn’t long till the baby was alive with them, and I suppose they are all over my parlor on the sofa for she sat there a great deal and on the carpet — oh, dear. I got an awful big one on me last night and there’s another one fairly eating me up now. We sent her away and told her to take a day to pick the lice off. I’ve another one now only for a day or so though, for I sent to Icrez 40 miles out for one to come tomorrow and I hope she will be of some use.
[closing absent from this letter]
1 Dysentary or Typhus??— which he will have six times in the coming year?
To Zacatecas, Mexico
Saturday, Mar. 13th ‘86
Dear Jean & my Blue-eyed Baby; —
We have reached this point in dust and safety. We spent Wednesday afternoon & night in
Jerez with Don Casiano and the brethren, and Thursday afternoon and night in the Rancho de Dios with Don Pancho and the fleas. We found the journey as interesting as stone and wind and dust could well make it, the only other incidents worthy of notice in the secular side of our journey being that Mr. Wallace lost somewhere along the road after leaving Rcho. de Dios, his canvas roll in which he had his gun cape, his hat, and his blanket; and that a curious scalawag in Rch. De Dios got to fooling with the “works” of my gun, and blew off the whole end of my new “funda,” and I thereupon indulged in the unministerial wish that the load had removed the end of the scalawag instead of the end of the funda.
I have stood the trip well and feel better now than at starting. We found the scenery beautiful all the way along, when the dust would allow us to look at it. On my next trip I want to have a valise large enough to pack my family in, so as to give them an opportunity to see the scenery.
In Jerez the work seems to be very encouraging. There are interesting beginnings in the work in two ranchos near Rcho. De Dios. We expect to stay here and conduct service tomorrow, and on Monday start across the mountains to visit Jesus Ma and Tabasco. Me thinks I hear you emit a blue groan and “he’ll fall off the mountains and get killed.”
Tell Tildita that Sr. Abeyos has a little pet doe, very young, and it is beautiful with its great ears standing up, and its beautiful eyes as clear and black as Minerva’s. If I had some means of transportation I would take it up for her to play with — if Sr. A. would part with it.
Dr. Perdo Herrera, the jefe of Tlaltenango and Sr. A . Rode out some two or three leagues from Tlaltenango to meet us and escorted us into town. We are putting up at present with Ab. and have very pleasant accommodations. Mr. W. and I will doubtless loathe to leave such quarters, to go back to such places as our homes. Oh that we could afford to live so. But never mind “wait till we get into our new house!”
But Mr. W. wishes to write a line so I will stop.
Enclosed please find two kisses to be disposed of as you know I would do it myself.
1 Perhaps Ed’s valise
2 Ed and Jeans’ new daughter
3 Sp. chief
4 presumably to share the pen
To Aguas Calientes, Mexico
Zacatecas, Mar. 30th, 1886.
My Dear Wife and little babe:-
After a hard days work I find myself unconsciously sitting down to have a machine talk with the earthly beings I love best. This morning I got up bright and early and got my breakfast; then went around to a carpenter’s to get an estimate of what he could do various items of carpenter work for that we have to do. Went next to Silva’s to see Salomé and see if I could turn him from his heresy. All I could get out of him was a blank denial that he had changed in any way. Thence I paid a visit to Pilar’s mother, who was said to be growing cold in her religious belief. I talked and prayed with her, I hope for some good. Thence I paid the Palmer family a visit and had quite a pleasant one. On my return, went to see how the Wallace boys had succeeded in passing the night. Returned and sold $1.75 bible to Manuel Barajas. Thence I went to collect the shoemaker’s rent, the which I didn’t do. This was followed by a tour of observation through the building to see if all things were going as they should. Then went to see Lauro Ortega, and only succeeded in using the place where he had been. I then went on a tour to all the carpenter shops of the city in order to come to conclusions about the different items of work. Made an agreement with one to make five doors for the fourth floor; with another to make the desks; with another to make the seats for the school; then hustled up my old carpenter who is making the glass doors for the third story but not fast enough. Went thence to the Calle del Guerrero to see some second hand lumber that was for sale. Then visited three carpenters to see about making some bookshelves for the new reading room. Came home to get some dinner and got some. Received a letter from Milo and read it. Rugh has gone back to Penna. Rec’d a Century and read some of it. Made another tour of observation through the house. Drew $150 from Leon Alverdi & Ca. Paid Stork’s bill and got the fifty gross of screws necessary to make the desks. Went to see carpenter and ordered two more doors. Taught English class for an hour and a half. Cussed the carpenter who was to make the doors, because he sent his men to carry off more vigas than would make twice that number of doors. I told him how many were necessary and let him take that many and no more. Paid Galavis’s bill. Sold a Confession of Faith. Paid Incarnacion his quince. Sent him to collect shoemaker’s rent the which he didn’t do. Filled the big lamp. Did without supper because I didn’t want any. And now at dark I am writing to you. I have yet to write the rec’ts for the rents for this month, after which I expect to taper off on an article or two of the Century and will close the day be reading in my bible, and with a prayer to our blessed Father in heaven, that he may keep my dear ones still beneath the shadow of his wing and in his good providence bring them safely back to me.
With love —
Your Husband and Father
1Spa resort where Jean recovered after childbirth. Her report follows shortly.
2 Ed is typing again.
3 Ed’s brother
4 Exposed wooden beams typical of Mexican architecture
To Aguas Calientes, Mexico
Zacatecas, Mar. 30th., 1886
I have just come home from prayer-meeting and locked up the house and filled up my stomach so now I must cheer up my family, and then I will be ready to cover up in bed. I am feeding fatly these days, the only difficulty that I have met being that I burnt my thumb. I picked up the hot frying pan, and as I have been working some of late, the skin was so thick that my thumb was pretty well burnt before I heard of it. You need not worry about my eating. Whenever I get hungry, you can just take your note-book and write it down that I’m going to get something to eat, unless the city is under siege. I got your letter today. Tell Tildita that her father is glad she is behaving well at the watering place. By the way I want to tell you that I have made arrangements for you to stay till Saturday the 10th of April or even till the 17th if you prefer. On next Monday or Tuesday I will send you the money necessary to do it with. Tell me how much your hotel costs you per day, for Dr. P. wants to know. He is thinking seriously of sending Mrs. P. down after a while. Tell me some of the particulars; what kind of table they set, a particular description of the room, &c. &c. so that I can talk to him intelligently. Remember that if you like the baths, the climate &c, you must not come home under two weeks, for if you do I won’t recognize you nor receive you into the house, unless sickness or something of the kind makes your return necessary. I will promise to write you a letter each day if you stay, and now that your are there it will be just as easy to stay, and but little more expensive than to come home, for what you spend there I save here. Thus far I have spent but two reales and a medio. The Dr. was here this morning and talked to me on the subject of the night school. He says positively that Mr.s P. must not undertake it again, and wanted to know if you would be willing to take it. I gave him your desires on the subject and it was forthwith arranged, so you can count on it as soon as you come back, or at least very soon afterwards. So don’t come back too soon. I asked the Dr. what he thought about your staying there another week, and he thought it was a capital idea, that it would do you good, and urged me to recommend it to you by all means. And the same is hereby recommended. But I must close and rest, for I have done more today than I did yesterday, so the bed is my [continued scrawled in pencil at bottom or torn page and up the side] most fitting place. Kiss the baby several times & in several places for me.
1 Jean n Tillie (Tildita)
2 Penny and a half
To Zacatecas, Mexico
Agues Calientes Apr. 1st 1886
Your letters both reached me this afternoon and I really don’t know what to think about my stay her being lengthened. I should dislike exceedingly to go back to Zacatecas and not be recognized or received into the house and on the other hand I don’t like to stay here longer than the time agreed upon — for Tildita behaves so badly at night that the loss of sleep about counter balances all the good the baths and fresh air do. . . . she screamed more last night than in all her life before.
Her face is nearer well than it has ever been since the eczema came out on it and I would like very much to see if the baths really would cure it, but suppose it would necessitate a stay of several months. They tell me here it surely will cure all such “distempers.”
She won’t let me put her in at all — in the water I mean — but talks all the while I am undressing her about its not being safe for such little people, at least from her looks of suspicion I am led to suppose that’s what she’s talking about.The minute I pick her up she begins to send forth all the yell one would suppose such a “small bit of mite” could contain but when her feet touch the water she proves conclusively it was the merest fractional part of what was in her. As she can’t be persuaded to believe I don’t intend to drown her, I merely wash her off now, then dress her in fresh clothes, wrap her in blankets, and lay her on a straw mat where she sleeps while I bathe.
The city is quite a long distance from the station but we come in the horse cars all the way to the Place principal or Alameda or garden or Como se llama and the Hotel de la Plaza is about half a square from the end of the car line. It is a large building of one story only and is not well furnished. However there are two or three good rooms, but the whole building is crowded now and bids fair to continue so. The beds are good, and clean too, but bugs abound. Rooms all open on patio and have no windows, thought the present managers have put glass in the upper parts of some of the doors. There is one large front room which is occupied by Gen. Frisby’s (?) daughters (of Mex.) who are spending the summer here, so no one will be able to have that for some time. It is the only one with windows on the street.
The dining room is in the charge of a Mexican woman who is a good cook. They serve very good substantial fare and it is clean which is a fact worthy of mention in Mex. They scrub every thing about the kitchen every morning, and the victuals do not have that dirty, mixed appearance, everything in Fresnillo had. Of course birds have a good deal of plumage about them still — and the manner of serving and table decorations could be improved, but on the whole its all very good. I pay for board and lodging $2.00 per day. They have about as much variety in articles of food as they had at the Zacateano — but a great deal better quality and better prepared.
There is a corridor around tree sides of the patio which is very large and has a flower garden in the center. Across the street is a garden and I couldn’t begin to tell you how beautiful it is with the thick green trees and flooring shrubs and fountains and — you must come and see it yourself. The Gov’t buildings are very near —- very large and fine. This place is much ahead of Zac in appearance of the buildings and people.
I have not been in any of the churches yet, as I have to take Tildita along everywhere and I always have everybody for a square around looking at me and wondering why I haven’t a nurse and I dislike to go out.
I go on the cars to the station when I go to the baths, and there take another car at the other side of the railroad and go about as far again on that line. There is beautiful road all the way with two or three rows of very large trees at each side. Alamo they say. I suppose it means elm but I do not know what an elm tree looks like. A stream of water runs all the way and all the pobres “wash” in it, some having tubs and others stones such as they use along the canal near Mex. City. They are a very picturesque company but when we get to the baths we find all the washerwomen from the city and a merry party they are. Some deep in the water and others washing on stones about the pools where the water runs out of the houses. There’s quite a little lake below the houses and always a lot of boys and men gathering there. It is quite deep. It is one of the prettiest place I’ve seen in Mex. green green everywhere as far as we can see. Oh you must come and see it.
The fare on each end of the road is 4cts which makes 16cts a trip and the bath costs a reale. The principal passengers on the other side of the railway are the washerwomen with their baskets and bundles. Often I go and come alone. I’m about half afraid too, and today a man and woman got on just as I got off with a poor little girl all parched with fever going down to bathe here. Now I suppose I bathe Tildita in the very same bath just such filthy wretches have been in and I almost made up my mind never to take her there again — [Friday morning] I have enough money to keep me here until next Wednesday and to go home on and I think I had better go then. Tildita’s face is as bad as ever this morning and she does scream awfully at night. I can’t think what is the matter with her unless it’s her arms for she is so good in the day time. They are both beginning to get sore and I think I would rather have her at home if they get very bad. Little red spots are coming on them. I suppose they are getting sore. My finger is not healing at all and keeps gathering all the time. I don’t know what to do with it.
Oh but it is delightful here. I wish we could live in such a place always — It seems as fresh and cool as in the country at home and if I had you here, and some conveniences for taking care of Tildita I would like to stay always. I am wonderfully freshened up and will be quite ready to “work like a Turk” when I go home, but I am afraid of that night school. I don’t believe I can make them understand anything I say.
Oh, I’ve got you some stuff to send to people who write for curiosities. The cutest little sieves — hair cloth like they make atolie with and cane baskets. They will give a little variety along with hair brushes and the like. They have metal affairs for striking fires with but I supposed they would be too heavy to send. Would you like me to take all I can find in the way of queeriosities?
Mr. Grimes has a native minister in charge here and they tell me the work is not in a very flourishing condition, more than 30 or 35 people attend services. So the Mexicans say. If I can get anyone to show me the place, I will go to the church on Sunday. A Mexican woman from Durango tells me Miss McTerran has no school now. She said the Durango people do not like Mr. McDonnell and theses ladies!
[continued scrawled sideways in between margins of inner pages] The hotel here seems to be new or newly repaired at least — has good brick floors and is all nicely painted. If there’s anything you want to know about it ask me and I’ll answer to the best of my ability — only for goodness sake don’t send anybody from Zacatecas here until I am gone home. A large party from there left for home yesterday.
[continued scrawled on scrap of matching paper] You needn’t send me any more money — but if you want to make me stay, you will have to write me all about how to get it if you do send it for I don’t have least idea. I would enjoy living here several weeks very well, but I have only the one suite of underclothes that I have on along with me and they are dirty now, do you see I can’t stay unless you send me some more. I’ve only had a reales worth of washing done for baby so far but if we are to stay longer than tomorrow she will have to have some dresses done.
I wish you could see her crow at the birds in the patio. A cage hangs between each door, one has a red bird, one a pair of canaries, some have gay singing birds, but she likes a tiny yellow one the best. They all sing all the time and she evidently thinks they are talking to her and feels called on to answer. So she laughs and coos and reaches out for them. She yelled and hollered ever so much last night and I heard the men in the next room “cussing” her for keeping them awake, but towards morning I just had to go asleep and about half past 8 this morning she waked me up by poking me in the eyes with her fingers. I made believe they wouldn’t come open and she worked at them ever so long and seemed perfectly delighted when she got them open.
She is delighted too with the spring beds and lies and bounces herself up and down all the time.Oh suppose if Mrs. W goes home, we get their bedroom set. Would you — let me go home Wed. and keep the money you would have to send me for that. Do please my darling, Tildita is asleep or she would put in a kiss. I put in six and you can call one hers.
Your loving wife Jean.
Penny Postcard To Juanita E. Haymaker in Aguas Calientes, Mexico
Tue. May 18th 1887.
To Whom it may Concern,
Know all men, and especially all women and children to whom these presents may come, that the undersigned reached Zac, this morning at 2 A.M. with his head above his shoulders. That both horses were sick all the way home, especially the yellow one, and so could not come faster than a slow walk. That they are better this morning, the which I also am. That I lost my rifle in the road, and after reaching home & putting up horses & buggy, started back afoot to Ojo Caliente to find said rifle and found it! That undersigned found house sound & shut up so tight that he could only get in after pounding for space of 1/2 hours. That the undersigned may possibly not be down on Friday.
Penny Postcard To Zacteas Mexico [?]
Salitllo, 2 Feb. 1997
We left Parras after a sojourn there of three days and came to Patos, the place where Powell tried to baptize the Presbyterian congregation. They are just finishing a neat little church and there about 20 persons ready to be baptized at the dedication of the church. We were about two days getting from Parras to Patos and “slept out” for two nights in succession. I had tonsillitis badly when I left Lerdo but with the “roughing it,” it quickly disappeared. As we neared Saltillo Rev. & Mrs. Boyce came out in their “gig” to meet us. Their little girl “Anita” is fat & hearty but of course not as pretty as ours. She was vaccinated some days ago & has a very sore arm. Boyce has a nice house & patios — keeps a horse & cow, the latter of which costs him about 25¢ a day and gives (in season) about 3 pts worth of milk. How do you think such a plan would work with us? Is there any place we could keep one? On our way to Saltillo we came upon it suddenly as we gain the brow of the hill that overlooks the city in the valley below. Saltillo is an admirable place to live. The climate as they tell me is very equal all the year around, the city is room, the air pure and good, and the water supply most admirable. Just above town is the fort and around the back the old dismounted cannon used by Taylor in the siege of Saltillo. I am staying with a dentist by the name of Chess and have very comfortable quarters which are quite enjoyable after the dust & rough of the Laguna trip. The house is just opposite Mr. Boyce’s house and so very convenient. I was quite disappointed in not finding any letters here waiting for me when I came, but suppose there is some good reason for it. Perhaps Mr. W. will bring me something. It is a good thing I did not follow your advice & bring all my linen, for when I reached Saltillo every shirt collar etc. was as dirty as if I had worn it six weeks. I must close with this, as Boyce wants me to help him prepare some papers for Presbytery. I cannot tell yet how soon I will get home, but it ought not to be more than two weeks yet at the furthest & probably not much more than one. Kiss Teldita for me, also yourself. Love to Belle. With affection increased by absence I am Affectionately Yours,
To New Alexandria, Pa.
Zacatecas, Mar. 18th, 1887
Dear “Grandfather” Mc.-
This afternoon at 2 O’clock Jennie gave birth to a daughter. She is a fine large child and with much the same characteristics as Tildita, as far as manifested yet. The mother is getting along very well, I should say admirably, her sickness being not very long, and everything acting as it should. The babe is a little larger than her sister was at birth, and has already manifested a good appetite. A strange occurrence was that at the very moment of the birth of the new baby, Tildita got a tumble in the yard and nearly broke her nose, though we hope it will not disfigure her. It is true therefore in two senses that her “nose is broken.”
I write to let you know what has happened, and can write no more before the mail goes out for the North.
Love to all.
Filially Yours. Ed M. Haymaker
To Guatemala City [?]
Escuintla, Sunday Morning 91?
Mr. I wrote me that young priest has adopted a new tack that of assembling our congregation on the other side of the street & keeping them occupied until after our services begin. A good plan would be to see impudence with cheek and when the hour arrives just go over and say to those who are listening to him that the hour has arrived, and invite him to come over himself to the meeting and take a seat and learn some pure christianity. If he continues it, that is what I will do when I return. He will have to be watched at every turn
To Guatemala City [?]
28th May ’96
Dear Boo Gates:
PS Sunday 31st Yesterday I was at work in the lot with a mattock when my foot slipped & I struck the sharp edge or corner of the mattock into my left foot severing the artery, tendon & bone of the great toe & cutting a gash back of the next two toes but without cutting the tendons of these latter. After sitting for 31/2 hours with my foot in the air to prevent losing blood I succeeded in getting a surgeon & having it dressed. The wound is doing nicely today but the doctor orders me to keep my bed for some days (probably much longer for bone to heal) so have not been able to preach today. I hope that by next Sunday I shallowing be except at first & while undergoing the operation of dressing. I have written my wife about it though intentionally omitting particulars & extensors of the injury. I did not know I had so many friends in Q. till now. I have all attention & care.
Say as little as possible about my wound to my wife. E.M.H.
To Guatemala City
Quezaltenago, 31st May, '96
Dear Old Girlie:
This is Sunday & I should not be writing except to you & on account of professional work not even to you except that a slight accident happened to me yesterday & I cannot go to church today. I was digging or rather grubbing in the new lot when my foot slipped & I dug my foot instead of the brush getting about the biggest little cut I ever got. As it bled a good deal I had a doctor dress it & he has ordered me to bed for a few days so as not to start the blood again, so I did not go to church & so I am writing to you on Sunday, see?
The new building has progressed nicely. I finished all the framework in one week working little more than half a day in each 24hrs. It is all considered about the quickest building I have done yet. It is now ready to put on the rafters roof & iron sides like the 2nd story of Mr. Gates house. We will have a real nice little chapel & also a living room a bedroom & a kitchen. The plan is this:
It will make a very neat dwelling for a native.
We are all elated our Mr. Morehouse’s signing the contract & hope he may have health & strength to come off well.
The children are both in splendid health. Tildita takes good care of me while I have to stay in bed. The mail is just closing so I must put a stop to this to catch it. I only drop you a line to let you know that all’s well. Love to them all.
Your aff. Hub.Ed.
1 Ed presents his wife a different account of the accident he detailed in the previous letter to Boo Gates
To Pennsylvania [?]
May 1, 1928
Dear Leda and Sara
I thot I had told you in the N.O. letter what was the matter with Mamma. The robin hadn’t arrived yet probably, and it was explained in that. Well, what she had and has is pernicious anemia, the same thing that killed Mrs. Hayter, and five years ago would have killed Mamma or any one else as it was then incurable. But they seem to have got able to control it now by feeding an injection liver extract, and by very careful dieting.
Mamma had grown so weak that Ainslie saw that something more than “run-down-ness” was the matter, so he took her up to his house where he could study and test her carefully and diagnose her case with scientific accuracy. . . .. He cloud-count showed but 1,800,000 red corpuscles were there should have been 5,000,000 to the cubic millimeter. No wonder she had no pep. Ainslie said she should get out of that climate right away, so I took the next steamer. Just before leaving he initiated that there was a good deal of likelihood of her recovery … and that the liver treatment and diet was now giving some very good results.
Jess has moved the radio out to the sun parlor where she lives and she is hanging on to that half the time and enjoys it.
If she continues to improve I will start back before so very long, tho I hope to wait long enough to see you all here before going. I am in good health and can go back and go to work easily, as soon as I can safely leave Mamma. …. I am rather anxious to be there if the votes go against Hillis, for there is no telling what sort of a kink he will take. He might try to wreck the college. Besides I would need to be there to go on with things.
1Two of their daughters who were teachers in Pennsylvania
2reference to their "round robin" of family letters
3An R.N. who traveled with them from Guatemala
4She died May 18, 1928, and this last line is telling about Ed's priorities.
by John Haymaker
My great-uncle John, a farmer gifted with quick wit and a ready pun, used to tell a funny story — superficially funny anyway. As a young man of about eleven mid-summer of 1910, he stood outside the family farm house set atop a steep hill wearing dungarees, turning soil in a garden plot. As a stranger trudged up the gravel drive carrying a valise, Uncle John planted his shovel in the soil and stood back, eyeing the man, arms folded, “And who might you be?” he asked.
The definitive answer lay buried in two disintegrating copier paper boxes of old letters and documents dating from mid-19th century that I inherited, a cache of family letters dating from 1882. I’d glanced inside when I first “inherited” the boxes, an endless sea of withering manila folders clenching yellowed, disorderly scrap paper covered top to bottom, front and back, in scrawling cursive, amounting to ten reams of paper in each box. Here perhaps were held dreams, secrets, admissions — but nothing I felt especially compelled to untangle from the scrawl, which often continued sideways up the side of the page and then upside down across the top.
The stranger at the time replied succinctly to my great-uncle, “Why, I am your father and proprietor of the land you farm.” Father and son had a hearty laugh and delighted in repeating the story to John’s mother and to each of his eight siblings ad nauseam and regaled the same on my every visit. To be fair to Uncle John, his father was a missionary tramping back from Guatemala by ship to New Orleans, LA, and then by train for a rare visit home in Warrensburg, MO. He had shaved his beard for the very first time in anyone’s memory; such was the distance between them that a slight change in appearance might render someone a stranger.
The selections presented here are an insightful, witty and charming full set of love letters exchanged between a Princeton seminary student and a female acquaintance in New Alexandria, Virginia, between 1882 and 1884. Their love is kindled by mutual fascination with science. The student, Edward M. Haymaker, must have been smitten with the young woman shortly after meeting her, one Esther Jean McClelland, having found in her a kindred spirit, and it seems he thereupon set out to “blind her with science” sending a barrage of Seminary and Princeton library books for her perusal — a century before Thomas Dolby’s new wave pop song of a similar vein, “She Blinded Me with Science,” hit the charts. Certainly she had blind-sided him with her interest in science and their letters dissected trending ideas of the time, particularly those of Darwin and Huxley, seeking reason to accept the new theories of evolution while still clinging to their religious beliefs. As much as Darwinism and cosmology conflicted and contradicted Ed and Jean’s religious views — yet they were fascinated by it and could not look away, perhaps already swayed as to the truth of evolution even as they professed to one another they could not.
At least the letters began as a serious exchange of ideas between mere acquaintances until Ed made his natural selection and (SPOILER ALERT) proposed, hoping Jennie might share his dream of embarking on a foreign Mission to Korea or China, Syria, Brazil — or even Mexico. The letters then mostly turn from scientific discussion to candid introspection even as both writers continued devouring the many recent titles Ed mails. As Ed pleaded his case, Ms. McClelland weighed the evidence, deliberating a proposal fraught with issues — her disabilities, partially blind and given to spells of neurologic origin, the depth of her own piety and his dream of a foreign field as far as China. She provided no immediate answer, saying only the jury was hopelessly deadlocked while Ed had but a few months to apply to the Board of Foreign Missions — who preferred their missionaries be married. There is also mounting confusion and hurt when their letters cross in the mail.
I know such details now only after reading the letters, but all throughout my childhood the missionary remained an enigma to me. My family spent holidays on that same farm wandering knee-deep in yellowed newspaper stacked everywhere containing articles and photos noting Ed’s local celebrity, conserving his numerous interviews and noting his infrequent arrivals and sermonizing around town — or introducing some new artifact he had brought back to the states for display.
Photos of this large-framed man, his straight back, white beard, piercing eyes and sombre suits paired with white shirts were familiar to me. His children, my great aunts, great uncle and grandfather, regaled of us their memories, though they chattered more to themselves than anyone else present, speaking English with the rapid-fire pace of Spanish, in which they were fluent, details slipping between their speaking over one another, their laughter and anecdotes interspersed with Spanish phrases — I never grasped. But their adoration for their father was clear.
If they seemed to ignore me for the most part, they perhaps pitied my domestic suburban life — and why not? They were all born and raised abroad on various missions, had ridden steamers between ports, steered covered wagons, and boarded trains. A striking point of note — the love letters never mention any desire to start a family and raise children, maybe it was assumed, yet in all Ed and Jean had nine, all born in Mexico and Guatemala raised there until the eldest was ready to enter college. At that time, Ed repatriated his family to Missouri before he returned to his mission in Guatemala, leaving his family with a dictum: each older child assist one younger, and each younger child help one older. His wife of course would surely have an easy life with that all sorted!
Raised an atheist and having attended church only once, I had a great suspicion of these missionaries. I knew little of the Bible except that I wasn’t forced to read it. I held deep disdain for missionaries anywhere trampling indigenous cultures and converting souls. And my first peak inside the box of antique papers overflowing with cursive scrawl certainly caused me to wince. Curiously, no one ever mentioned their being a set of “love letters,” so I do suspect no one other than me had read them since their initial mailing and receipt. Their children may well have blushed at the thought of delving into their parents’ private communication — though the youngest daughter, Sara, organized the letters chronologically by writer back in the early 1980s, removing letters from envelopes and noting the postmark atop most. The envelopes and stamps do not survive, though there remain a few postcards with stamps and postmarks.
The two photo copier paper boxes survived an eternity stored in closets at the farm in Warrensburg — which Uncle John continued farming until the 1990s and to which to which the great aunts returned upon retiring from east coast teaching posts in the fifties. The boxes survived a few years stored and untouched in my parents’ basement until my father’s untimely death — and once they passed on to me, survived no fewer than my twelve moves across the country in thirty years. I’m not sure why the last of their children hadn’t donated the boxes as they donated the last of their Guatemala artifacts to the local university, where a Haymaker Collection remains housed and popular today. Perhaps they preferred to ensure everyone in the family was sufficiently dead, causing no one embarrassment or harming reputations.
Of course, I was always of a mind to find a proper library for the letters and documents. Fifty years is the general rule for releasing sensitive data. The last aunt died in the late 80s and Uncle John in the 90s. So we’re not quite at that sweet spot in the timeline — but then again, these aren’t state secrets. Cutting it short won’t severely harm anyone’s reputation — other than perhaps mine. Would the missionaries and their children want these letters exposed to the world? I can’t speak for Jean, but I do know she wasn't shy at all. As for Ed, he was certainly a bit of a media hound in his day.
Inasmuch as the letters were kept together, I can’t imagine they did not intend to donate them to an archive at some point. While I never delved into the boxes before, I admit to harboring a vague, selfish notion perhaps to hang on to them in case my partner passed before me — ensuring I’d have some semblance of family ties or some sort of task at hand to remain occupied.
However, three months prior to the COVID lockdown I weakened and reached out to a few theological institutes via email, offering them the letters of a noted missionary. One replied asking to see photos of a few letters to make sure they weren’t bug eaten or moldy. Satisfied they were not, the institute declared interest and wanted them, but cautioned that preparing a deed of transfer might take up to two months. The COVID-19 pandemic hit two weeks later.
Lockdowns ensued, institutes and libraries closed, during which time I found myself without an unread book at hand and ebooks don’t satisfy me for long — I was desperate. Cursive be damned! I needed paper and ink I could hold in my hands. Luckily, I retain these letters and my partner did not have to die before I read them. I culled the boxes from the heights of the top shelves in the back most closet in the house. I sliced through the brittle 3M packing tape I’d applied thirty years earlier, pawed through folders and stopped at one marked PaPa’s Letters 1882-1900, the thickest of the lot, and pulled it out.
Thumbing through, I immediately asked who was the woman in his salutation, variously addressed as Dear Jean, Dear Jean E., Dear Jennie. The correspondence was all one-sided. Any responses from her were missing. His one-sided barrage of communications regaled her with his access to any books on science she’d like from the Princeton and Seminary libraries. He offered up his understanding of this new theory of evolution, his take on Darwin, Huxley, and even cosmology and philosophy. He asked her opinions about the same. He noted the titles of library books he sent.
I dug through other folders where I had found his first set of letters. Nothing from her there. I opened the other box and after much digging, unearthed one slim folder marked Mama’s Letters, sandwiched between their children’s letters — as if she were a footnote to Ed’s life. I was incensed at finding her buried there.
After laying the folders side by side I read their letters chronologically, beginning in 1882, their discussion seemed noteworthy and then fascinating as they evolved a year later into an awkward negotiation after Ed proposed marriage — a proposal that came with a caveat, a requirement to accompany him on a foreign mission.
As I read her letters to him, I became incensed that I never heard anything about this intelligent, headstrong woman. She is a woman I would liked to have heard about. Willful and independent, she was his intellectual equal, someone who could stand up to him — she certainly dressed him down at times in the letters. She also became Edward's enabler. She gave him the strength to follow through with his dream of working in a foreign country. Having read his letters, I doubt he’d have dared to take a foreign mission if she hadn’t agreed to accompany him. Even when their plans to go were finalized, he found this and that excuse to delay their departure — to be sure he had the "proper mindset."
Reading her letters, Jean's willfulness and strength demanded to be heard again, and I determined to scribe their correspondence for historical purposes. Ed sarcastically mused in an early letter that if Jean found her health failing attempting to decipher his scrawl, then he advised her to “hire some poor typesetter to make a legible transcript” and charge it to his account. He surely found such a typesetter in me! And with pleasure — I do not offer these up in prideful discovery of my ancestry, which I have zero interest in tracing: I simply enjoy their great writing — if not the scrawl.
Throughout their deliberations, both writers also continually offer up humorous self-deprecation, apologize for their poor penmanship, mismatched paper and lack of better writing instruments. Both were also fond of sprinkling in literary quotations and allusions, and I’ve added footnotes where they might be helpful.
I am not sure how or when Ed met Jean. I do know that while at the seminary he was required at times to tramp to various congregations and practice sermonizing at some. As Jean was also an avowed Presbyterian, it seems likely they met after a church service or at a social just before he mailed his first missive to her in 1882. It is clear, she caught his eye and impressed him as a likeminded and avid reader of science, certain he’d found a kindred heart and soul. Did they exchange addresses that same day? I can’t say, but it wouldn’t be necessary, for in those days, simply knowing the name and county of residence was sufficient.
The only story I did hear about her as I grew up was that she refused to accompany him to a foreign mission in China — that was a bridge too far. I also recall the aunts and uncles giggling, imaging to think of themselves if they had grown up speaking Chinese. Their wanderlust surely took root in me — for I did venture as far as China where I lived and worked several years — but only as an English teacher, having no religion of my own to impart. Of course, the foreign mission question wasn’t the only sticking point — she wasn’t in love.
As he endeavors to convince her of the merits of accepting his proposal, and she remains doubtful of every marrying anyone, Ed and Jean come alive in these letters, revealing a human side beyond the fire and brimstone you’d expect but embraced alternative views and people from all walks of life and a heartfelt desire to leave a positive impact on humanity. I was immediately struck at how open-minded my great grandparents had been in their day — a surprising trait quite unlike that of their conservative offspring, who certainly grew to dislike me.
In 1970 at age thirteen, I adopted a Sgt. Pepper look, shoulder length hair, mustache and chin whiskers and donned mock military garb. One of the great aunt’s chided me going out her door to her house across town from the farm — come back when you’ve cut your hair. I never went back to her house. I later bumped into great-uncle John at the only grocery in town and hailed him as such. He suddenly felt called upon to introduce me, or more to the point, compelled to explain my presence to the cashier — “This is my nephew’s son,” he said, “and I’m not the least bit proud of it. Thank goodness his great-grandfather isn’t alive to see what the Haymaker’s descended to.” I wasn’t surprised. We had our issues ever since the cow he readied for milking at four a.m. nearly stepped on me when I but four years old — I screamed and spooked the cow which thereupon refused to give any milk. Uncle John forever-after dubbed me that “City Screamer.”
Here I was the last of the family line since only one of their lot had produced children and only one of those survived to produce heirs — but insufficiently to their expectations. Maybe they disliked children. All had been teachers, but retired, and perhaps tired of children. Or perhaps in their eyes, the family line had already died out. Never baptized, I must have been a lost soul in their eyes.
Overall, I found them overly obsessed with their father’s mission so much so that the missionary lore had become something of a bore to me. I wasn’t the only one. I recall Aunt Hilda and Sara remarking about he lady’s auxiliary or some such group of Warrensburg that had recently published a history of Warrensburg avoiding a single mention of Ed the missionary — as if he hadn’t been a factor in town. The stacks of newspaper attested otherwise.
During the pandemic, Ed and Jean’s letters provided me with endless fascination. Like a good book, they hold up to additional readings — or this site, loveletters.quest, would not exist. They offer a window on current thought at the time. Their letters also allow us as voyeurs to see what drove them together to a foreign land — and I include a few selections to show the life they encountered abroad as missionaries.
Whatever your view of missions, the letters establish the mindset of these two in their undertaking and provide detail of their circuitous route arriving at their mission — and love. The letters certainly stand in marked contrast to the superficial and fleeting twittering of our time.
— John Haymaker
From Guatemala News: Organ of the Guatemala Mission, Vol. XIX. Num 5. May 1928
Dr. and Mrs. Haymaker in the U.S.
Many of you know by this time that Dr. And Mrs. Haymaker were compelled to suddenly go home on account of the serious condition of Mrs. Haymaker’s health. They left here on the 18th of April for Port Barrios, accompanied by Mrs. C. A. Ainslie, R.N. who saw them safely on the boat. The following week we were rejoiced to get the cable from Warrensburg, Missouri. “Arrived yesterday. Jean tired but improving.” Dr. And Mrs. Haymaker came to Guatemala forty-one years ago when there were no other missionaries on the field and only two baptized believers. Their faith and perseverance through all the years have been the wonder and inspiration of us younger workers. How happy they have been to see the great spread of the Gospel in that time! For several years Mrs. Haymaker remained with the family in Missouri while the children were getting their education and Mr. Haymaker was here on the filed. But after Mr. Haymaker’s serious illness a few years ago she has insisted on being at his side. Though not strong, she was always busy about some kind of missionary work. Up to the very last she was helping backward children and grown-ups who had not had a chance to learn to read. She was an inspiration to missionaries and we shall miss her greatly, for it is probably that her sickness will not permit her return to the field.
This site developed by John Haymaker, great-grandson of Ed and Jean. John is a writer and web programmer with credits for news aritcles, op-eds, short stories, poetry and Chinese to English translations. He's taught Literature and Composition at American colleges and universities and ESL in China. On the programming front, he develops data-driven websites and paperless transaction systems and configures mobile apps and search engines.
Contact John using the form below or at his website: johnhaymaker.com
(Jean and Ed available by seance only — might work!)
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