July 21 1864 – Mollie Burns to John J Haun


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Mollie tells John the Georgetown news as usual. She mentions that his parents have petitioned their senator on his behalf and wonders whether he will return to California on his release, or visit her in Georgetown. This letter includes an enclosed newspaper clipping of a poem entitled, “Off to the War” by Fleeta which has not been retyped.

Thursday July 21 1864

Dear absent friend,

I think every time, I take up my pen to write to you perhaps it will be the last time I will address a letter to you in prison, that Providence will surely favor you in some way, that once again you may enjoy and be restored to those privileges one knows little how to appreciate until swept away by misfortune’s ceaseless visits. But may hope our guiding star still buoy you on. Never think for a moment or allow yourself to harbor the idea that Mollie can forget former friends and associated fun, or change the old for the new, such is not the case. Although she may not write as often as you might wish, yet it is not because she thinks less of her friends than others, but it is owing to a natural distance, or antipathy for writing.

I expected you would receive our letters on the same days as Mrs Webb sent me a little note, written by your ma requesting her to direct and forward on a letter for you. She not knowing whether or not you had been removed, sent to me wishing to know your address. Your ma spoke of her distress on your account and her application to their Congressman on your behalf. I sincerely hope her endeavors may be crowned with success. She advises you to return to California. I think myself it is very good advice. You would then be away from the difficulties attending war. But I am selfish enough, not considering your own comforts, to wish that you would remain here, and help us, share our troubles.

You say of course there are secrets in your duck’s letters and you will let me see them, if I will promise not to tell Chalk. Well I should like to see them but dislike entering into such an agreement for if she was to insist you know you used to say she was quite an inquisitive little body, and the old adage being true, that woman’s promises are made to be broken, I might tell. Dora I think is some what relieved since she has gotten home as Buddie raised up on the street, shook hands with her and invited her up to see his wife. Dora says it seems as if I was blamed on all sides but she will exonerate me of all blame. And you—I had hoped at least to claim one friend who would rather pity than blame when all the world was to ready to censure—but considering I weigh 121 1/2 pounds I suppose my shoulders are broad enough to bear it.

You want me to select you a pretty plump sweetheart of that weight. I intended to ascertain the weights of the girls, and if there were not any of the specified weight and requirements to give you the original. As to the plump pretty and neat part of it, I can’t say, but suffice it is to say, you would have to be ready to pity when others blame, the last to censure, the friend that sticketh closer in adversity, before you could have the original for a sweetheart. Not thinking of course, that perhaps you would not except of her on any terms. But enough of such.

Mrs Bell White has lost her little girl, Mary Lou White, with scarlet fever. She took it very hard. We have had a great deal of it amongst the children. Fannie’s three have had it, but are well at present or very near. E. Canon is much worse.

There was quite a large picnic in Dudley Davis woods by the well two weeks ago but I did not attend, being in the country. The Georgetown boys contemplate giving one this coming Saturday. They expect Saxton’s band down. I think I shall attend. We three houses have quite a lot of company, Grandma’s, Aunt Price’s, and ours. An aunt and two cousins from Lexington, cousin Tom Chalk, Uncle Bob’s wife and daughter from Paducah, Aunt Ritcherson, and two cousins from Wellington Missouri. No time to get lonesome.

Mat Sanders was up on Saturday and I, thinking he came to see Aunt Tish, went downtown. He is as mad as you please with me, but if my burden does not thicken much faster perhaps I can bare it. Tommie L. and Annie Price are in Clark.

If you will just teach me how to commence a letter as pretty as yours is commenced I will be under lasting obligations to you and will try and teach you something in return, if you have not graduated in everything, so accomplished that Mollie, in her humble attempts, would fail in all undertakings which would be any thing but pleasant to her.
You say you do not remember who it was that came near making you lose your hat. If you remember, you was standing in the middle of the street at the hotel and like all the rest, made good use of your hat till a body would have thought every hat was worn out. Well I shook hands with the one who you, as all the rest, delighted to see, the Legion of the day.

I heard from Fannie Johnson the other day. She is well and hearty. When Fan was here, there was a gentleman from Lexington down to see her, and since Fannie has been gone he came to see me. He came down last Sunday. I am trying my best to cut her out and she knows it, for I told her I was going to try. She does not know he was down last Sunday, and you know I, like all girls am crazy to see her. I know you will say I am mean or a bad girl.

Ma McCann came down the same day I was at Orford, and came on out to see me, but could not find the house. Don’t you think after coming to Georgetown and then out there it was too bad not to find me. I am dealing altogether in Lexington beaus at present which doubtless you will think strange, but if you were to see M.C. you would not wonder. I wish you would come home so I could claim a Georgetown beau. I believe they all know me too well.

I have something to tell you which I thought to tell you in this letter but will wait till I see you. It is some thing that will surprise you very much, I know, for it did me. Perhaps you may hear it but if you have not, you will.

Sometime soon the men of Georgetown are getting up a burlesque show of some kind similar to one we attended for the benefit of the poor. I have no news to tell you scarcely, and still I wish to fill out my sheet of paper, with something to while away your time for a little while, even if it is uninteresting—but am fearful on account of its length, that it will not be delivered. But as mine are generally short and far between they may indulge me some. You surely have drawing masters in Camp Chase from the looks of your letter.

We have such beautiful moon light nights now I often think of the pretty night we were sitting in the door after Johnnie. Gabbie, Eaf, and Ellen had left, and the wonderful meteor on that occasion. I always shall believe you were frightened, for you just sat and would not talk to me for five minuets or more. You say you are going to come and see me if no one else. Well now don’t get out and start home without showing your pretty face in Georgetown.

I have just been wondering to myself if you do think of going home. I believe it is this month one year ago that you were made a prisoner. John Lemon is very sick at Camp Douglas1 I suppose your health is good as nothing has been said on the subject lately. You ought to bleach white as snow in a year leading a prison life, but perhaps it is built on the order of the prison at Frankfort.

I am suffering with a very sore mouth, don’t you feel sorry for me? It hurts me to talk and you know that goes hard with me. You would not try any roguery now, I guess, for fear of contagion, if you were to come home. Mollie, Chalk and Mary in one letter, would you not think of another name, Ruby or something else to call a fellow by. Anybody would imagine you were talking about a dozen girls. Just so you think I am worth that many, it is all right.

Mary has written, now you do the same, the very same or the next day after you get this anyhow. You are selfish and wish to keep all, and send all of yours in return. Well, I should never be satisfied with a part in the world. I am two much like you are yourself in that respect. All or none. I don’t like divisions of that kind do you?

Please write very very soon, from,

Mollie C. Burns

What I thought of telling you that was so astonishing is concerning myself, guess and if you don’t succeed I will tell you.

Metadata: Postmark: Georgetown, KY | July 26
Sender’s location: Georgetown, KY | Recipient’s location: Camp Chase, OH
  1. Consult the map for precise location.