This letter was written by 20 year-old Mehetible (“Hettie”) Waldo (1842-1879), the daughter of Horatio Waldo (1815-1905) and Ann Eliza Conway (1807-1850) who came to Kansas Territory by way of Dubuque, Iowa from Vevay, Switzerland County, Indiana. Hettie married Ephraim D. Bowen (1837-1879) on 25 December 1864 in Leavenworth, Kansas.
Hottie wrote the letter to her younger sister Mary Edith Waldo (1844-1915). Hettie refers to someone she called “Rie” in the letter who I believe was her older sister Maria Waldo (1840-1878). Maria married later that year (1862) to Albert Guile Draper (1833-18xx) in Leavenworth.
We learn from this letter that Hettie was teaching school during the summer of 1862 in Alexandria Township, a few miles south of Easton, in Leavenworth County, Kansas. She was boarding with the John Wright family. Mrs. Wright was born about 1830 in Kentucky. Her three boys were Edward (b. 1856), Charles (b. 1858), and Albert (b. 1861).
Addressed to Miss Mary Waldo, Wyandotte City, Kansas
Easton, Leavenworth County, Kansas
June 19th 1862
Only five day have passed since I bid you adieu, but oh! what long days they have been to me. It seems as though it were almost a month since I left home. I am now staying with Mrs. Wright. Arrived here last Saturday evening just before dark. I thought that I would certainly feel quite homesick the first night but I assure you I did not. I was so tired and sleepy after riding all day in the hot sun that I could not think of home or anything else but returned immediately after supper and was sound asleep the moment my head touched the pillow and slept the next morning until breakfast was ready.
Our journey was not a pleasant one by any means. When we started, the wind blew quite hard and we were too cold to be comfortable. But as soon as the sun rose, it commenced to grow warmer and warmer and by eleven o’clock the heat was almost in supportable. Took dinner with Mrs. Harris and remained there two or three hours before we started to the country. Rie was somewhat disappointed about the place where she was going but Mrs. B insisted upon her staying there and said she would find another place equally as good if not better than the first. Has Rie written to you? I have not heard from her yet.
Leavenworth has indeed greatly changed within the last four years. I would not recognize a building there — not even our old residence which is now right in the centre of the city. There is a great many magnificent buildings there. Father showed us where Dr. Marshall lived and wanted us to go there but we were so dusty and tired that we did not wish to then.
Last Sunday afternoon, Father saddled old Charlie for me and I rode up to our old place, down to see the school house, over to Mr. Moore’s, and a good many other places. Things have changed but a very little around here since we moved away. About all of the old settlers are still living here. A few new ones have moved in. Our old cabin on the hill looks as natural as ever with the exception of the little bedroom at the north side which was taken away by a gust of wind.
And now I must give you a description of my schoolhouse. It is in the great City of Alexandria which contains one house besides it. It is rather small, appears to be quite old, and needs repairing very badly. My first impression was that it was a dreadful desolate looking place. I thought I could not possibly spend my summer there but it is in a very pleasant place, surrounded by several large shade trees, and there is a good well just a few steps from the door so I do not think it will be so bad after all when the house is repaired, as it will be this week. I cannot commence teaching until next Monday. I do not know how many scholars I shall have yet though I presume some less than a hundred.
Miss McMurtry was married about six weeks ago to a Mr. Ringgold — a carpenter by trade. Lot and Green Sparkie are not married yet. Green is one of the greatest beau’s in the country. I have not had the pleasure of seeing him. Lot was out with Mrs. Wright and myself yesterday gathering mulberries. I did intend to send you a can of strawberries but I believe they are about gone. We found a few on the way coming from Wyandotte. Mrs. Wright has three little boys. They are all quite pretty. Their names are Everett, Charles, and Albert.
There is a regiment of soldiers camped near Easton. I believe it is the 9th Kansas [Cavalry] Regiment. I think that Easton must be almost as lively a place as Wyandotte. There are two or three stores there and quite a number of private residences. I intend to ride over there tomorrow morning.
Mrs. Wright says that I am not near as large as she supposed I would be. I wonder if she expected to see a giantess.
The country agrees with me extremely well. I have not fallen away the least bit. Mary, have you heard from that Lieut. of yours lately? I presume he will make you a visit this summer as his regiment is not away from Fort Scott. I hope he will.
How is Mrs. Reicheneker and her little girl? Tell her that I will write to her soon. Has Mrs. McMullin been to see you since we came away? I suppose the Wyandotte folks are making great preparations for the Fourth. I hope you will have a pleasant time. I do not know how I shall spend the day.
Ride wished me to go to Leavenworth but I do not believe I can. Do you still go to Kansas City as often as Parson Fish ¹ used to? I fear you do not have much time to go any place though. Is Lizzie married yet? How is that little stranger at your house? Father is going home some time next week. He was quite sick all day last Monday but is well now.
Write soon. — Hettie
Give my love to Miss Loomis. Write soon as you get this. I am so anxious to hear from you. Tell Bub that his colt is large enough to ride. Mr. Wright is going to break it this summer and then I will have a nice time riding. It will make a splendid horse. Do not let anybody see this letter. It is written so badly but I have not time to copy it.
¹ This was probably Reverend Paschal Fish of Wyandotte.