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Yesterday, I uploaded lots of great photos I received from Jenny West. Also included with the photos was an old letter that Lewis Fowler, my second great-grandfather, wrote to his son, Oliver Fowler, on Christmas Eve in 1920.
I thought the letter was interesting enough it deserved its own blog entry.
I edited the punctuation and spelling.
Dec. 24, 1920
Well Wilson, I received your letter day before yesterday. Was glad to hear from you all again. We have been waiting for a long time. We didn’t know what had become of you. (?) …it may find you all well. We have just got done gathering week before last.
I have just returned from Jackson. I went to see Daisy and the children. They were all well and I am thinking of going up to Chestnut (Grove) in a few days after xmas if the Lord wills.
Mollie says tell you ever since you went back they are all well.
What has become of the children? Vassie and Rose Lee used to write to me and Willie and Otis, where are they? I would love to hear from you all.
You asked me if times was hard out here. Yes, times are harder here than I have (?)
Ed Patterson says his advice is to try to get through the winter the best you can. He says he can live on lizards and grasshoppers until next summer. He says for you to (?) and go on trusting in the good Lord.
When he wrote this letter in 1920, Lewis was 72 and living with my great-grandparents, Ruby and Jim Lovelace. His wife, Sarah Patterson Lovelace had died in January of that year.
Guy Lovelace, my grandfather, was three years old. Also living in the home was Ovid (age 13), Earl (age 12), Blanche (age 9), Homer (age 5), and Otha (6 months). Two Fowler nephews were also living with the Lovelace family: Jissie (age 13) and Leslie (age 11). I am uncertain of the identity of their parents.
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Lovelace Family in 1920 U.S. census
Living two farms over was Ed Patterson to whom Lewis referred in his letter. Ed was married to Eva Pearl Lovelace who was Jim Lovelace’s sister. Lewis’ wife was also a Patterson but I’m not certain of the connection.
Lynn Lovelace and his family was living just a few farms over in 1920. Lynn was Lewis’ uncle. He and Lewis’ father, Thomas A. Lovelace, were brothers.
For me, old letters like this really open up a small window into the past and show the personality of my ancestors much more than photos and other records. Even from this short letter, you get a sense that Lewis Fowler loved his children and grandchildren and was interested in what they were doing and enjoyed visiting with them. If he were around today, he would be posting photos of his grandchildren on his Facebook page.
You can also tell that, although times were hard for them, he had a good sense of humor, including Ed Patterson’s comment about living off lizards and grasshoppers.
At some point in the next 10 years, Lewis went to live with his daughter, Mollie, and her husband, G.W. Parker. They were obviously more well-off. In the census of 1930, Mollie was 59 while G.W. was 70. Their farm was valued at $2,500 and living with them was their daughter, Geraldine and a 21-year-old “servant,” Rosa Brooks.
Mollie and G.W. had married 18 Feb 1901 when Mollie was 30. I don’t know much more about them.
The only bad thing about old letters is they leave me wanting more. The moment that small window opens, it slams shut again. Letters like this are rare and unfortunately many ended up in the trash after being read or once the recipient died.
It’s sad to think our own descendants won’t have old letters to discover. Just a bunch of emails, texts and blog posts if some version of all this digital data survives into the future in some way.
Of course, I’ll continue to look for more old letters and photos so if they are able to read these blogs in the future, at least they’ll have that.
For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific family lines, go to my Haywood County Line Genealogy Website. You can read more about the Fowler family on their page of my website.