Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

August 16, 2014

Love Letters

Filed under: At home,Family,Genealogy,Writing — Janice @ 1:15 pm

I have returned to blogging. For the last 12 months I have been working on a book for my family. It was completed, printed, released, and is done. A great accomplishment. It took up so much of my time and energy that I haven’t blogged in forever. I want to return to it.

Now that I am THROUGH with that family (ha, that’s a joke, I’ll never be through) I want to dig in on some of my other family history and maybe put a book together on some of them just so all the info is together and simpler to read. That started me into a box of memorabilia to see what I had. Of course, the first things I come across are still the Cunningham family, but it is love letters and a diary from my great-grandmother.

The community of Newburg had a cotton gin, a grist mill, a blacksmith, and a post office in 1898. It was at that post office that – I assume – both my great-grandmother, Henrietta Cunningham, and her beau and my great-grandfather Ed Hallford each got their mail. I’m sure they only lived a few miles from each other, but they corresponded as if they were across the country.


This letter was written April 20, 1898. The couple married in October of 1898. She was 22 and he was 25.


I love the formality, even though they had probably known one another most of their lives. She says, “Mr. Ed Hallford, kind friend, As Edra is going to the city in the morning, I will write you a great long letter tonight as you did me.” Edra is Henrietta’s younger sister (she would have been only 16 at the time) and I assume the “city” is Newburg since that is where the letter is postmarked.




I don’t know how letters like this one were delivered, but perhaps someone was going to see the Cunningham family and Ed sent this along. It is a long single piece of paper, folded in half and then into thirds. On the outside is written:


On the inside:


I also have a few pages of what seemed to be a short letter from Ed to Het and from there it turned into a diary and also has a list of figures added up on it. Amazing that a scrap of paper like that can survive 116 years without being thrown away. The diary portion was written in August of 1898 and there are several mentions of Ed visiting, along with other people.


The piece de resistance, another item I didn’t even know I had, is a “family record” written by my great-grandmother with the dates of births and marriages and the HAIR from my little grandfather’s head, back when he had hair!


The little lock at the top is tied with string and ribbon and pinned with a straight pin to the paper. On the back of the paper it says “Arla’s hair clipped April 8th, 1901.” Looks like she would have been almost 9 months pregnant with my Aunt Det and maybe Arla was getting his hair cut for the first time. I assume the other lock of hair is his, too, but it may not be. Since she wrote in the details of Papa’s conversion to Christianity, she might have taken a lock of Aunt Det’s and just didn’t get it identified.

It is interesting to see that my great-grandmother used “Henry Etta” in writing her name on these documents. I have seen her do that in some other places, but it is generally accepted that her name was “Henrietta.” But since her brothers and sisters had middle names, maybe her name was Henry Etta after her father Henry.

These items were in an envelope my mother had written “SAVE” all over. It’s taken me most of the day to scan and ponder and scan and ponder and scan and transcribe and then to write the blog.” At this rate, I will never ever get the next book written. But maybe I’ll know a little bit more about what I possess.

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