April 3 1865 – Mollie Burns to John J Haun

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Mollie Burns describes her cousin Fannie’s home to John, now back in Georgetown and writes of the amusements she has enjoyed on her visit, including a trip to the circus and a play.

Rose Cottage
Tuesday April 3 1865

Mr Haun, ever dear friend,

This is a bright and beautiful morning. My cousin’s yard, being full of fruit trees, looks indeed like a picture. This lovely spring morning with its pink, and snowy white blossoms, green grass and lazy moths and doors and windows all thrown open. The breeze from the river is refreshing indeed. The little birds seem this morning to be trying to out carroll each other, in the sweetness of their songs. The rivers being high we have but to look out when a boat passes and we have the pleasure of watch them which is quite entertaining to me.

We went aboard the steamer Ruth built here for the Mississippi River. She makes her first trip this week. She cost $210,000. We went all through her—such splendor I never witnessed. The cabins were, to look at their floors, like a mass of flowers. The ship has most splendid mirrors, berths with snowy linen and lace curtains, tables covered, with covers of royal purple embroidered with gold. They talk of giving a trial trip and inviting the citizens. Aunt Pollie says there is rather a risk to run, and forbids us going.

I guess you will be surprised. But I have been to a Circus. Cousin Henry said there was a great many of the nicest ladies in Louisville there, and he wanted us to see Roberson the champion rider of the world. Also the Arab performers. There will be another one here, next week. We attended the matinee Saturday evening, seen Fairclough1 play the Iron Chest.2 City life has too many fascinations for me, I believe. I would go right straight to the old scratch and, wishing to anchor in the harbor of Heaven safely, shall try and cast my lot with those of country proclivities where we can look through nature up to nature’s God.

From the tone of your letter I shall conclude Dora has been telling me what is not true, you and her. She will excuse you in your first offense—all of the Marys are of an excusing and forgiving disposition, or else she would not excuse her rebel husband for going off. The visit to Sister Fan will be new to me, as she has moved since I left.

Tell Dora when she quizzes you again about our being engaged. that you do not know whether we are, or not, that you don’t understand me and if you do I you have the advantage of me. When I tell you I will go with you you talk of going off, and if I want to see you to come home. Well well that is a polite way of doing a fellow. I never did understand you and believe it is mutual. You all have little to do to let a Negro take the place. Will Morris and Zeph were up to see me. Will told me before he left Lexington he heard Bill Story’s wife was dead. Is it so or not? I have been to see Zeph’s wife and found her to be a very pleasant little woman.

You send your love and ask some in return. Well, I always was to proud to let you know that I cared anything for you—but you must have divined my secret  long ago as you are not blind or dull of comprehension. I never would betray myself till certain of your sentiments, but I never have believed you cared as much for me as I care for you. Well I can feel myself blushing now, after such a speech. I never have asked you to burn a letter before this, but please commit this to the flames. I ask it, as a request I think you should gratify.

I wish if you see Dora, you would hurry them up. Tell them to write that if ma is willing Middleton and I want to go down the river Friday week. We will stay till the following Wednesday or Griday, and will be on the boat from 5:00 in the evening till 10:00 at night. We will stay all night in Gransbury. Uncle Hutchins is to meet us in the morning. Tell them to write. I want to know what ma says about it. I shall reserve the stamps to write to you. You must write directly you get this. I want to hear from you before I go. You better not leave before I come home. Have you heard from your ma? Does she know that you are out of prison yet?

I had a ride all over the city in a buggy. I am here did not get to go. Quite soon I shall close as I am going over. I otherwise could not have had. Tell Dora Joe Short has called on me to come to cousin Mag’s in a buggy to take me out to see the water works, but being down here, I did not get to go. Write soon. I shall close as I am going out to spend the day.

From your friend unchanging,

Mollie C. Burns

Dora guesses well—but you did the embracing part, don’t lay it on me. I will not stand it. I had made out all of what you scratched out in the other letter before you told me.

Metadata: Postmark: Portland, KY | April
Sender’s location: Portland, KY | Recipient’s location: Georgetown, KY
  1. Broothroyd Fairclough,  a popular actor of the time.
  2. The iron chest: a play; in three acts. Written by George Colman, the younger. With a preface. First represented at the Theatre-Royal, Drury-Lane, on Saturday, 12th March, 1796.