1898 Letters

August 17, 1898 letter to Nancy Brown from Clara Owens

August 17, 1898

To: Nancy Brown

From: Clara Owens, Milldale, KY

They arrived on June 4th; it is a little place like Galesburg. She misses everyone from “back home” and writes that if she doesn’t come for a visit in the fall, she will come in the spring and stay all summer. Her baby is three weeks old and looks like her other children. Gives an update on her husband’s family including his mother who is near death.

1898-08-17 Clara Owens to Nancy Brown

Milldale Aug 17. 98

Dear Cousin Nan

Received your welcome letter last night, was so glad to get the pictures. Next to coming home & seeing you all the pictures done me the most good. I was talking about you only yesterday to Mrs Sanford & told her I was going to have you send me your picture for I wanted her to see how you looked & when W[1] came home last night he brought me your letter. We are all well. I have been up for about a week, am feeling as well as ever only I cant stand much, get tired so easy. Babe[2] will be 3 weeks old friday. I suppose you would like to know how she looks. Well she looks like my other babies[3] only she is lighter. She has dark blue eyes, the Keith nose & is very white for a little babe. A heavy head of hair only it is much lighter than Georgies or Irenes. She is a good little thing has not been a bit of trouble untill the last two days. I think it is the warm weather. It [h]as been quite cool here the last two weeks untill yesterday & day before. I was quite supprised when I read in the Kal[4] paper that Edson Alorages[?] had a little girl. My baby is just a week older than thiers. I did not tell anyone back home untill I sent for Irenes cloths. I dont think Owens folks[5] know it yet or untill they read it in the paper. I would like to see the expression on their faces. By the way Bad luck is following that family up. I think it is for some of their meanness last fall & I dont feel sorry for them at all. First Johns barns burnd then W.s mother[6] was taken sick & she is now lying at the point of death. We expect to hear any time she is dead & the other day his sister Maggies[7] little boy[8] had a fit & fell off a wagon & broke his arm. And last but not least Will has had awful luck. The machine has not made enough to pay our board. We never see such hard times & he was sick for about 8 weeks this summer. I thought he was going into Consumption.[9] He is better now but looks bad yet. We came out to this place the 4th of June. It is only 3 miles from Cov a little place like Galesburg but it is so much cooler than in town. The street cars run out here & some one goes into town every day. I think we will go to keeping house again before long because I am so tired of boarding. I can get 3 furnished rooms & live a good deal cheaper & take lots more comfort. If Wills mother dies he will come home. Talks some of bringing G[10] with him. I cant help myself if he takes it to his head to take him but I’ll not rest easy untill I see him coming back. I want to come home & see all the folks so bad. But dont much expect to come this fall on account of baby. I am afraid it I would be so much colder. If I dont come this fall I shall come in the spring & stay all summer. You wanted to know what W & G thinks of the baby. I think W was disappointed to think she was not a boy. But G thinks there never was such a baby only he is afraid the Dr will come & take her away again. Speaking of doctors, I would not exchange Dr Bosman of Kal for all the Drs. in Kentucky. W & this Dr gave me chloroform & a kid could have done a better job. But I was not sick but a little while so I have no complaints to make but I knew every thing that was going on from start to finish. Geo called her Irene at first then he changed it to little moon eyes. He picks up the funniest expressions. He has grown so since we brought him out here. It is next to being in the country. O say, do you know where the old Shafter place is near Galesburg where General Shafter[11] was born. I have that much to brag of down in Kaintuck, that we were only 10 miles from where Gen Shafter was born & raised. I got a letter from Nina & Gertie,[12] they are all well. Lee[13] is home, goes with Pa[14] threshing. His wife[15] is still in N.Y. I suppose you know they have got a little boy born after Lee came to Mich. He is about 5 months old. They call him Morris. There is a beer garden a little way from here and there is a picnic over there to day we can hear the music. Every body drinks beer around here men, women & children.

Well I cant think of any thing more to write so will bring this to a close. Direct to Milldale.

Love to all. Give my love to the Galesburg folks when you see them.



[1] Her husband, William Owens

[2] Ruth Owens; she was born July 29, 1898

[3] George and Lucy Irene Owens

[4] Kalamazoo, Michigan

[5] Thomas & Mary (McGrail) Owens

[6] Mary (McGrail) Owens

[7] Margaret (Owens) McAllister

[8] Henry “Harry” McAllister. His death record (01-02-1910) lists his cause of death as “Exhaustion; Idiopathic muscular atrophy” with a duration 17 years. The 1900 census shows that he did not attend school

[9] Tuberculosis

[10] Georgie

[11] William Rufus Shafter was born in Galesburg, Mich. He served in the Union army during the Civil War and in 1867 joined the regular army, rising to become brigadier general (1897). Shafter was teaching school in Michigan when the Civil War began. He accepted a commission with a Michigan volunteer unit and by war’s end, he had earned the rank of brigadier general of volunteers. In the Spanish-American War he was placed in command of the army that in June, 1898, invaded Cuba. After hard fighting at El Caney and San Juan Hill, the expedition entered Santiago on July 17. Shafter was much criticized, however, because the expedition had been poorly prepared and ill-equipped and the mortality rate from disease was high. Shafter retired in 1899 and was advanced to major general on the retired list in 1901. In 1895 Shafter received the Medal of Honor for meritorious service in the Civil War. Shortly after his promotion to major general in 1901, he retired to his sixty-acre farm adjoining his daughter’s ranch near Bakersfield, California. On November 12, 1906, Shafter, terribly overweight, died at his daughter Mary’s home from an intestinal obstruction complicated by pneumonia. He was buried next to his wife at the presidio in San Francisco, California. His films include: “Surrender of General Toral” (1898) and “Major General Shafter” (1898). In both films he played himself. (From FindAGrave.com)

[12] Her sisters, Nina (Milham) James and Gertrude Milham

[13] Her brother, Ansel “Lee” Milham

[14] Martin Milham

[15] Gertrude Helen (Cecil) Milham

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