I must decline the pleasant invitation

To Bertha from John C. H. Lee – August 19, 1912

[Note: Bertha is 22 years old.]

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Miss Julia Bertha Ballou
Summer Place
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

My dear Miss Ballou,

As I am off for maneuvers at four thirty tomorrow morning, I must decline the pleasant invitation of your mother and yourself for Monday evening.

John C.H. Lee

[Note: John Clifford Hodges Lee (August 1, 1887 – August 30, 1958) was a US Army general. He graduated 12th out of 103 graduates from the United States Military Academy in 1909. He served in World War I, World War II and rose to the rank of lieutenant general. “Heavy on ceremony, somewhat forbidding in manner and appearance, and occasionally tactless,” as the Army’s official history described him, “General Lee often aroused suspicions and created opposition.”]


John C.H. Lee
John C.H. Lee
Lt. Gen. John C.H. Lee during a reception given by Tito in Belgrade on the anniversary of V-E Day, May 9, 1946.
Lt. Gen. John C.H. Lee during a reception given by Tito in Belgrade on the anniversary of V-E Day, May 9, 1946.

Now, let’s have that little party

To Bertha from William B. Loughborough – November 26, 1912

W. B. Loughborough
2nd Street 3rd _____
Madison Barracks
New York

Miss Bertha Ballou
United States Military Academy
West Point, New York
C/O 1st Lieutenant George B. Hunter
Madison Barrack

Dear Miss Bertha,

Your card five minutes since, and any address book on the desk, and I, very comfortably dressed, about to write you.

As I was about to make bold to tell you, poverty keeps one here until after the end of the month. That’s not the real reason, but, anyhow, I can’t get loose until after the first.

Now, let’s have that little party on the evening of Saturday December seventh. If anything should come up to prevent my coming, I shall let you know late in that week, but I think that I’ll be able to make it all right.

Please let me know if the seventh is alright, and anything else you may have to contribute to the general fund of human knowledge.

Please remember me most kindly to your sister and Humpty, otherwise known as, “Bouncy.”

May peace be unto thee.

Very truly yours,
William B. Loughborough

W. B. Loughborough death news clipping (August 1930)
W. B. Loughborough death news clipping (August 1930)

Nothing has happened to me nearly as exciting as having “cutie” call up

To Bertha from Lila – December 1914 (Approx.)

1915 S. St. Washington

Dearest Bertha,

Your know me too well for me to even try to apologize. As usual, my intentions were good but I simply haven’t been getting your letter answered.

There has not been much doing but I have been busy all the time and on the whole enjoying life. Nothing has happened to me nearly as exciting as having “cutie” call up. When you write, be sure to tell me all about it. It is almost as bad as a “continued in our next” story.

The fair Katharine Dickman is here. I have seen her once and she didn’t want to see me then. Sad to relate. She was accompanied by a perfectly good man however I guess he is old enough to take care of himself.

Our friend has arrived but I have not seen him to speak to. Maybe he saw me first. He is aide to the Chief of Staff now.

We went to the Army and Navy reception at the White House the other night. It was a very brilliant affair and awfully crowded. I saw lots of my friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen for years. Of course, it was my first White House reception and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Charles has taken his examination for the regular corps and while the findings of the board have not been made public yet, Dad was told by the President of the Board that he had passed very well so that means that he will be here next winter.

I was just interrupted here by Miss Andrews who came to call. She is quite attractive and I am glad to have met her.

I will murder you if you tell what I am going to tell you now. I haven’t told a soul, not even Reba. I heard from Manila on what I consider good authority that “Uncle Bill” will have a new brother or sister some of these days. Now what do you think of that?

Did you see that the Moros are raising Cain again? [Note: The Moros are the indigenous Muslims in the Philippines] The Mr. Cochran who was reported seriously wounded in the last big fight seems to be the one that I know. I certainly hope that he come out all right and that they get things quieted down without getting any more of our people.

Mary Martin is commuting north next week and is going to be with us a few days. She wants me to go back to Brooklyn with her but I am afraid that I can’t right now. A little later, I will probably go.

This is very much of a scrawl but as the whole family are here talking now, I think I will close and try to do better next time.

Write me when the spirit moves you.

As ever loving,


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I am very much interested in your novel and hope you will send me an advance copy

To Bertha from Melvin Gary Faris – June 24, 1916

[Note: Bertha is 25 years old. She is about to begin further art studies at the Corcoran in Washington, DC. Scraps of paper with excerpts from a writing project have been found – apparently a Far West historical novel  – though they are barely legible.]

Nogales, Arizona

Dear Bertha,

I was delighted at receiving your letter this morning. I am ashamed of being so careless about answering your other letters. I was slow writing and then put it away and neglected to mail it. I enclose it. Something I am sure I would not do if I should read it over. Things I write don’t impress me very well after they get old.

It was very pleasant to receive your good wishes and to have you say that you hope we shall continue to be friends. On my part, the letter is certain. I have been through the mill and I have done a good many things that were wrong. But I have never wavered in my friendship and loyalty to you and I am sure that I never shall. I can’t promise to be either good or sensible but I’ll always like you. I only hope it won’t be too much for my own peace of mind.

Someday I’ll come to see you in New York or wherever you are, wheen I feel that I can do so safely. I want to keep on corresponding with you. Your letters will be such a comfort when I am in Mexico as I am sure I shall be soon. I not only like your father but I admire and respect him. When I am promoted, I’d rather go to his regiment there any other colonels in the Army. We have a good colonel here and he was kind enough to enter on my Efficiency Report that I would make good anywhere. Of course I like him for it and he has a good deal of ability but taking everything into consideration, I do not know an officer of the ability of your father.

There was a time when I did not like him but it was where we crossed and I am sure that was the reason. It is long since passed.

I am very glad you have changed your mind about being a nurse. I should dislike very much to think you were enduring the hardships it would involve.

I am very much interested in your novel and hope you will send me an advance copy. Lord knows there was enough material at _____ for one of the most modern.

I fear you will not have an opportunity to watch my detail at Leavenworth soon. I don’t expect the school to reopen for three or four years. I think we have some very unpleasant service ahead of us.

Except for wild rumors, this place is quiet. Most of the Mexican population on this side has gone north because they are afraid of their own people and almost everyone on the other side has gone south because they are afraid of the Americans. Some samples of rumors we get are that, “The Mexicans are going to board a train loaded with dynamite over to this side to blow up the town.” “They have 16-inch guns and Japanese gunners and are going to drop a shell in the Airdome Theatre next Thursday at 8:00 o’clock.” We have a few excitable officers in the 12th but not many of them are worried. I believe without exception, they think war is inevitable. I made expert with the pistol again this morning and had a very interesting set of tennis this afternoon. Did not shoot the rifle this year as I am holdover expert from last year. I have been studying for my promotion examination since I write you. Think I’ll stop it as the board let everyone else through with…

By the way, I can’t agree with you about the militia. I think the militia is at best a makeshift. That makeshifts never are any good especially in war. That we are encouraging the people in a delusion when we acknowledge the militia is a military force. That the right thing to do is to tell them they are no good and have nothing to do with them and _____ the people that compensatory service in the regular army is the only thing that will save the country. The regulars fall for enough short of what they should be but we can’t tell the people that.

From the military nature of this letter, it would not be inappropriate to enclose a recount paper I prepared on the European war. However, I’ll spare you would talk of another of my hobbies. I have been playing tennis regularly since I was saw you. Have developed into a rather good player. Note my modesty. It is good for fat people. I was very suspicious to hear of your trip and what you have been doing at Fort Riley. I remember Riley rather unpleasantly from the maneuvers in 1908.

Sincerely yours,

Melvin Gary Faris

Alas the creature went and got married before you arrived

To Bertha from Nell Babbitt – January 5, 1917

[Note: Bertha is 26 and is studying art in Washington, DC]

Bertha dear,

I don’t know what you can think of Ethel and me for not writing sooner. We’ve been disgracefully late this year about writing to everyone because we unexpectedly went up to Chicopee Falls for Christmas and have been busy since returning.

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Your delightful package came through safely. It was indeed amiable of you to give us such a pleasant surprise. I didn’t even know where you were until a short time before that when I heard from mother that you were all in Washington.

And now about my beautiful box. You were certainly a dear to send it to me and I think you sincerely. It’s charm grew upon me the longer I possess it. It’s coloring is simply delicious. Please sometime have time to write me a little letter and tell me all you know about it. (I don’t mean to confine you to that subject when you do write, though.) And do you know what it is for? I confess that I do not, though of course one could use it for any number of things.

In regard to your Christmas box, I must add that I’m awfully glad Ethel is in the family because I’m quite fascinated also with the _____ carvings!

Ethel’s family are still living in the Isle of Pines, and it’s rather fun having them there for they tell us interesting things about it. Though it isn’t interesting in the same way that the Philippines are, still it’s a queer little island, full of things that are new to us.

There are a great many caves in the mountains which the Blossoms delight in exploring. It may amuse you to know what “Dad” Blossom (who is now seventy-five) climbs up all the steep rocky passes with just as much agility and pleasure as his son and grandson.

I half believe that sometime, unbeknownst to himself, he has had a drink, or at least a little sip from that fountain of eternal youth that mortals used to search for.

Have you any idea how long you are to be in Washington? And if you’re there for some time, shall you not skip up to New York for a while? We’re wondering how you like the art school there and who teaches you. I have a rather nice cousin in Washington, but alas the creature went and got married before you arrived. Otherwise, I’d have like to send him to see you.

We are still living in the same old place, though we have intervals of hunting the town madly for a place that we’d like better. We talk a great deal about moving from beneath the young elephant who is caged above us, but end our expeditions by coming back to our comforts and discomforts! We are about to start on another tour of exploration, we feel it coming on! If by any chance, we should change our address, however, we shall let you know.

In the meantime, please feel moved to write to us. I shall now turn over the pen and ink to Ethel in the hope that she can think of something to say to you which will convince you that we are not the ungrateful objects that I am sure we must seem to be. Please give my love to the family, and with much love to yourself, I am as ever.
Your affectionate cousin,


524 West 122nd St.
New York City