The leeriness of the lower part of his face and thickness of his lips would seem to indicate strong appetites


To Cora Hendricks from Bertha – September 3, 1913

Art Students’ League of New York
215 West Fifty Seventh Street
Telephone, Columbus

Dear Mamma,

I had three letters from home yesterday when I was not expecting any at all. I know you must miss Senn but I very much hope he will be benefited by the school experience. I rather think I’ll be with you in August just the same. It’s hard to decide and either course may bring regrets but when you are so far away, I don’t feel quite right in staying here. Certainly, I have gained a great deal here. I am glad that you are so well situated at Balangas and find the people pleasant. Yes, I met Sumpter Bratton at a hop last fall and he was very pleasant, though to tell the honest truth, his face did not greatly impress me. I know that one often makes mistakes but I do rely a great deal on faces.

[Note: Colonel Rufus Sumter Bratton (1892-1958) was Chief of the Far Eastern Section of the Intelligence Branch of the Military Intelligence Division when the United States entered World War II. A character based on him was featured in the move Tora! Tora! Tora!]

Lt. Colonel Rufus S. Bratton
Lt. Colonel Rufus S. Bratton
Lt. Colonel Rufus S. Bratton
Lt. Colonel Rufus S. Bratton
Bratton played by E.G. Marshall in Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
Bratton played by E.G. Marshall in Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)

Sumter’s is not a strong face to my way of thinking but neither, in the other hand, is Francis Newcomer’s, though in a different way, and knowing Francis as well as I do, he is one of the few men whom I have entire confidence in. So I give Sumter the benefit of a doubt. What I mean about Francis’ face is that the leeriness of the lower part of his face and thickness of his lips would seem to indicate strong appetites, and Francis is most abstemious, apparently.

[Note: Francis Kosier Newcomer (1889-1967) rose to the rank of Brigadier general. He is most noted for his service as a Governor of the Panama Canal Zone from 1948 to 1952.]

Francis K. Newcomer
Francis K. Newcomer
Arlington Cemetary
Arlington Cemetery

As I have written you, General Simpson is or was, still living when I last heard, and was much improved. I’m rather afraid Captain Guthrie is on the bad _____, or rather at Galveston, as I noticed that M. Company of the Engineers is there.

Mr. Godfrey has not been seen or heard of in a long time. I regret to say, I dare say he is very busy and there is plenty going on at West Point. I was amused at what you told me of him but I can see how he might impress people as rather trivial at first, for he did me except for his lovely voice and manner but then even a perfect gentleman can be found at West Point.

[Note: We cannot know for sure who “Mr. Godfrey” was. However, only one “Godfrey” graduated from West Point around this time: Stuart Chapin Godfrey (four years prior, in 1909. However, an American Society of Civil Engineers membership list indicates that he still lived in West Point, NY in 1916.) Born in 1886, he would also be the right age to be Bertha’s love interest. Stuart Chapin Godfrey rose to the rank of Brigadier General and by 1945, he was Commander of Geiger Air Field near Spokane, WA. He had directed construction of airfields in the China-Burma-India Theatre for use by B-29 Superfortress bombers on raids against Japan prior to assuming command at Geiger Field. He was killed in a plane crash as he was returning from a conference in San Francisco in October 1945.]

Stuart Chapin Godfrey
Stuart Chapin Godfrey

I don’t understand Mr. G. at all thought sometimes he seems childishly simple. That’s the most confusing part of it. His apparent simplicity with his fine brain and beautiful manners, I’m inclined to be very suspicious of such innocence but I believe he is sincere. The question in my mind is how can he be as wonderful and show it so little? I don’t think he talks particularly interestingly or ordinary subjects, well enough but nothing more, I have a suspicion when I talk to him that either he is stupid or he is inwardly laughing at me which the latter seems more probable though on the occasion of our last meeting, my general impression was the former. Isn’t that funny? And yet when I had talked at some length on the subject, quite condescending, he quite inadvertently admitted an embarrassing knowledge of that branch of art. I should like to see more of him for he is full of interesting lessons to the inexperienced. I can’t tell you how hurt I feel at his not coming to see me again but I am calmly and fearfully learning how much less our friends think of us than we do of him. I reckon that I give each one a very large place and “out of sight, out of mind” seems particularly true of men.

Moreover, I don’t think men and women can ever deal fairly with each other. I used to think they could and tried to act accordingly but honestly seems peculiarly unattractive to the male human being at least when women are concerned. I’ve no idea of hurting men or women either but I certainly have no idea of ever again being a rashly frank in my friendships with men. It seems to them to be a new and startling eccentricity.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 2.24.33 PM

“Sister” Larghbrough is in Cincinnati, I believe, starting up a manufactory of _____, cheese and other _____ meat dainties. The best _____ in the world has been on leave helping set the business on its feet.

He said if he couldn’t stand the office work for two months, he’d put an overalls and go out in the yard to help leave the shoulders of beef around. He is greatly grieved about Sister, I think, though he didn’t talk about it often, only a sort of undertone in his conversation which I know meant that. He told me among other things that I had too much intelligence to marry a ruffian but dwelt on the extremely foolish marriages of many very intelligent girls. The rest of his family in this country pleases him. “Sonny,” Sister’s Sonny, is a very attractive boy and “Little Brother” six-feet-two and pronounced by his physical construct to be the most perfect specimen in the United States. Bill Loughborough is fatter than ever, _____ is a better wad, lean faced, getting thin as to the top of his hair and very boyish still. I don’t think he approves of the step mother for he did not make the slightest mention of his father which is unusual. What else was I going to tell you? Well, I don’t believe there were any more questions.

The number of women in mourning in France is appalling


To Bertha from C.C. Ballou – June 19, 1918

[Note: C.C. Ballou commanded the 92d Division – an African American unit – in France during World War I. A transport ship for the U.S. Navy in World War II was named after him (the USS General C. C. Ballou (AP-157))]

Headquarters Ninety Second Division

My dear Bertha,

I am at rest for a minute. Have found various old friends – Edie, Dave, Stanley, and others that you don’t know. Expect to move on in a day or two. You get more and more accurate war news in Washington than we do here. My two brigade commanders arrived today and are with me. Get very good food. It tastes deliciously cooked. Think I will _____ up a French chef as I don’t like soldier cooks very much, especially colored ones. You would be reminded here of paintings you have seen of peasants of Brittany – white caps, wooden doors, and coarse Celtic faces, of course I refer to the women. I heard a rather good _____ apropos of Anne of Brittany. I had said I merely knew of her existence but nothing of her history and was told that she was a very lively lady and had as many husbands as there are bathtubs in Brest, a city of 90,000. I took this to mean quite some husbands but not an excessive number of bathtubs. The number of women in mourning in France is appalling and brings a realization of what a horrid thing Germany has done in causing war.

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 11.09.58 AM

Officers of the “Buffalos,” 92d Division, in France, 1918

My mind keeps getting pretty closely at home, in spite of the newness of things – newness to me of old things around me. I see you all in the little homes, all but Senn, ____ _____ at West Point where I trust he will make a better record in every way than his dad did. I ran against the Professor of Language today. He graduated a year ahead of me, had not seen me since ’85 and _____ me. Some stunt to keep one’s Cadet looks for thirty-three years and now I must close for there is little news one knows, and less that one can write.

Of course you must not speculate out loud as to where we are going to be located. Just think as little as possible of disagreeable things and don’t worry. If you hear startling stories, take them with a grain of salt.

Love to all,

Your loving old dad.

I wrote Mamma in route. Of course you will give _____ ______ that I am well and _____ when you get my letters.

Poor Sal! Her suffering is as poignant as her nature is intense


To Bertha from C.C. Ballou – November 5, 1918

My dear Bertha:

Senn’s cable reached me at 11:30 am today, and I know what sad hearts are in our home tonight. It is useless to write of it. I don’t know who is hardest hit. We all know how dear she was to us, yet never knew it as well as now. My hear goes out in sympathy to each of you in turn.

I think of Mamma and of all the love and happiness she felt in our first _____ one, and all ____ can she lavish on it. And I know that her heart is now _____ from this loss. (…) And poor Senn. He never dreamed that he could lose Reba, and I am sure he is now realizing the first real deep sorrow of his life.

And Sally – we all remember how she mourned when Reba first left home. Poor Sal! Her suffering is as poignant as her nature is intense.

Reba Ballou

Among us all Mamma alone will have none of those bitter regrets because of things done, or left undone. Always faithful, patient, loving, kind. What wouldn’t I give tonight to be able to feel that I had been the same! But I don’t think she remembered my harshness and my impatience. She realized that she shared my nature and forgave it all. My poor baby girl, and I can never see her again.

At one point today, an hour and a half after this cable came, I was at my post of observation and stood there during two hours of fierce fire from a hundred cannons. It was a Godsend in a way, yet I nearly forgot what was going on.

But I will continue to work and fight, and in many ways I am more fortunate than you who are at home. Do not worry about me. I only wish I could comfort you who are at home. There are months of heartache for us all, yet we are of the many. France is a land of heartaches. A house of mourning – and our own land is being deeply wounded. We must bear our part, and do it ____ _____as the others.


Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 6.08.15 AM

Her life was , in a sense, full and complete, in that she had known the best that life has of joy and happiness, and except for the final parting, none of life’s great sorrows – none of its bitterness. She was good and true. May her example and her memory remain with us as an inspiration, and may time assuage the pain.

It is hard to write. You know how I feel for each and every one of you. You and Mamma have the hardest part, for you will have least distraction.

Your loving dad.

[Note: Report of her death in Oakland Tribune, Oct. 23, 1918]

The 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic-Colonel Hunter’s Wife Grip Victim

BERKELEY, Oct. 23- Broken with grief over the death of his wife, which occurred yesterday afternoon from influenza, Lieutenant Colonel George B. Hunter, commandant of the School of Military Aeronautics at the University of California, will seem immediate transfer to active service in France to forget his sorrow on the field of battle.

Colonel Hunter left last night with the body of his wife for West Point, where services will be held at the army cemetery at the military academy. Should his request for transfer to France be granted, it is probably that he will not return to Berkeley.

Mrs. Hunter’s death occurred at the family home, 1536 Le Roy avenue, after a two weeks’ illness of influenza followed by pneumonia. She was 30 years old and was born at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. All of Mrs. Hunter’s life was spent in army environment, her father, Major General C. C. Ballou, being a prominent army officer and now in command of the 52d division of American troops in France. Mrs. Hunter was a graduate of Randolph Macon College, Virginia.

We should not stamp our work as “failure”


To Bertha from C.C. Ballou – June 1, 1920

War Department

Fort Logan, Colorado
June 1, 1920

My dear Specks,

Your letter received. Excuse me for taking issue with your conclusions drawn from my letter. While I expressed the opinion that you would find copying the Sargent portrait very difficult, I don’t think I expressed the opinion that it would be “unsatisfactory.” Also, I fear that you are becoming a bit too dissatisfied, or difficult to satisfy, with regard to your own work. Of course, the mere words, “satisfactory,” or “unsatisfactory,” do not express deeply defined lives; but you should, I think, avoid running toward pessimism, and as is expressed in your statement that you are “foredoomed to failure” in copying this portrait, as your apparently think you were with the Benson. “It wasn’t Benson.” Surely not. It couldn’t be; yet it is not necessarily “unsatisfactory” because the impossible was not achieved. It was your first “copy,” and it seems to me that the commendation it elicited should stamp the effort as very satisfactory, all things considered. A too complete satisfaction, I am fully aware, may result in some such _____ content as makes an A.J. Smith, and renders progress impossible. I don’t believe in that, but I think that so long as there is progress, progress that makes one’s work stack up well with that of one’s fellows. We should not stamp our work as “failure,” or even as “unsatisfactory.” And we should avoid getting that that way of thinking and feeling. It cultivates discontent.

Bertha paints

You’re receiving the first award in your first attempt at “still life” must certainly be regarded as eminently satisfactory, regardless of the fact that your work probably does not equal the works of Chardin. (I am not sure if I have that name right.) Of course you think I am too partial, and I know I am incompetent as a judge of your work. Nevertheless, I believe I am capable of a general estimate, based less on my judgement as to the merits of what I see, than on a general survey of the views of others. And, while I have not made any very great success in life, as regards worldly achievements, I have at least learned that a sense of disappointment or even of failure, is not necessarily fatal to progress or to happiness.

Have you yet made any inquiry as to cost of living in Boston? We might be able to fix things up so you could go there this coming year. I didn’t ask Madame Breger to look up all those matters. She did it on her own book. I merely asked what the expense were at the best of the Paris schools, meaning the tuition. I suppose she misunderstood me.

The news from the dag, or from Denver.

Love to Mamma and Sally.

Your loving old dad.

The man is a wonder


To Bertha from Marie Schubert – (Date is approximate)

[Note: Marie Schubert Frobisher was a fellow art student. She later worked as a commercial graphic designer and illustrator of children’s book]

Despite the title, the stories in this book are sympathetic to the Indians and their plight.
Despite the title, the stories in this book are apparently sympathetic to Indians.
Illustrated by Marie Schubert
Illustrated by Marie Schubert

Dearest Bertha,

I haven’t much paper and as for time — but little trifles like that couldn’t deter me. I have a budget of news so I’ll just use Christian Science on the fishes and say “there’s no such thing as dirt. You are in error.” (It’s very simple.)

Let me see. How on Earth can mere words describe Dorothy’s stroke of luck! Her mother said last night the door burst open and in flew D. like a gale with her eyes as round as saucers. She was waving a canvas and screeching, “I have a De Laszlo. It’s mine. He painted it and it was my canvas” and so forth. Mrs. Davidson say she has never seen Dorothy in such a state. Well of course she was! I hate to admit it but I’m afraid I think De Laszlo (or whatever the name is) is better than Sargent. He lectured at the Corcoran after his exhibit of which I think I told you and everybody thought that he was wonderful and (I missed it). Dorothy said the minute he finished speaking, some of the men in the night class leaped up on the platform and grabbed his illustrative sketches. Mrs. _____ ring stopped them and said, “Those sketches are the property of the gallery…” and everybody was so glad to see the men get left because they had been so piggy about it and made such an exhibition of greed and illbreeding. You know how it would look.

[Note: Philip Alexius de László was a Hungarian painter known particularly for his portraits of royal and aristocratic personages. John Singer Sargent – also a painter of aristocrats – is the more famous of the two.]

Winifred, Duchess of Portland (by de Laszlo)
Winifred, Duchess of Portland (by de Laszlo)
Lady Agnew (by Sargent)
Lady Agnew (by Sargent)

Well, he promised to come to the school some time and criticize and the pupils have been making nervous daubs ever since expecting him any minute. Last night, he walked unheralded into the night life and was amazed to see some of the students painting at night. He became so interested that he called for a canvas. Dorothy had a good one big and clean except for a mere outline. The man is a master undoubtedly. You will love this portrait of Reggio(?) (the hawk-faced Italian on Sicilian or whatever he is. You know he posed once a magenta silk cap and gave a talk on cameos). He did it in fifty minutes and Reggio (who adores and worships this man) sat like a statue the whole time. Dorothy says it was just marvelous to see him scrub around and bring out the skull and eyes and nose and mouth and all, in big firm swipes of paint, and oh, oh, oh such color. I went down before breakfast to see it and remained till nearly lunch time. When I came away I felt glassy eyed I had stared so hard. The man is a wonder. This is Reggio and it is color and it is form besides, Dorothy is going to have it framed in diamonds and have the fire department, police and militia guarding it. I’m thinking of lending her a kitten too as poor old Reggio plead and wept begged in trembly chest notes for it. He said he would give it to Mrs. Reggio and to think what it would mean to his great grandchildren and words to that effect. “Compliment me, I am a married man. I will give it to Mrs. Reggio.” Embarrassed poor Dorothy to pieces but she escaped off with it. Mrs. Leisinring saw her and didn’t stop her and it was Dorothy’s canvas do I don’t think they will try to make her return it now. She might lend it but that would be risky you know it would. (“Nine points of the Law” n’everything.) [Note: This refers to the expression “Possession is nine-tenths of the law” meaning that ownership is easier to maintain if one has possession of something, or difficult to enforce if one does not.]

And guess what D said to me? “And now at last I have some news to write to Bertha and I’m going to have to write her.”

I have other things to chatter of but they pale beside an event like the hereinbeforementioned excitement. (Here’s for the anticlimax.)

Blue mist presented us with four kittens on Friday the thirteenth and Krishua was so sympathetic and interested in petted blue and the kittens and I said to her, “You see Mistie got ahead of you. She put you in the shade. She had four babies and you only had three.” If you please then minutes later I went to look at them again and it was Krishua who had four and Mistie three. Krishua had simply swiped one and had it with hers, petting it and shining it all up. Mistie didn’t mind either. It was Friday the thirteenth for her and three kittens looked just as desirable as a family of four.

Having sandwiched the kittens in between to soften the shock of transition, I’m gathering courage to discuss my dinky little commercial-art affairs – though I must say that to glide gracefully from Count Philip’s masterpieces to “eight men’s straw hats and give Palm Beach suits, and five…

(missing page)

I seem to be coming to the end of my paper so some of my gossip must keep but at any rate, I’ll crowd on as much as I can. For instance, Catherine Melton has somewhat deserted D. She was hurt about some theatre tickets. D asked to get them and I couldn’t get good ones. D met her and exclaimed disgustedly, “for goodness sake, is that the best you could do?” and I apologized and D was still put out over it and I took it personally when D was just impersonally annoyed (of course) and then later there were often things and they have drifted apart. C is very much “in with” the arts club people now. So is D Trout by the way. Oh, did I tell you Miss Critcher has invited D.J. to paint in her studio with her class but as a friend and fellow professional if you please and Dorothy criticizes pupils and Miss Critcher too and is such a help to everybody.

Oh, did I tell you? I met Miss Critcher and she mortally insulted me. She asked how I was getting on and I raved on about my orders and how I had more work all the time than I could possibly do and how fascinating and lucrative it was and she said wasn’t it nice that I had found a branch of art, if one could call it that, in which I could succeed.

Bertha, she wasn’t trying to be catty. She said it because that was just what she thought and it came right out a la enfant terrible and afterward she wasn’t conscious that I was simply pulverized and annihilated.

I bet I’ll pain better portraits than she does yet. Oh, I forgot to tell you she asked after you very particularly and I just blew your…

(missing page)

…have good anatomy, clean times, and some degree of composition about the things and so in spite of the haste which is so bad for drawing, I think it is good experience and is teaching me a lot. I am interested in it and am making money. Besides, I feel that I’m just getting started and that the field has unlimited possibilities and though I yearn and long to do some (notice the plural, might as well wish for a million watermelons as for one of you know if I’m hungry) canvases and some statuary groups three at least. My “Paw and _____” My Seminole Indians for Cadman’s “No Dawn for and no Rising Sun”, and my Uncle Remus and Miss Sallie’s little…

(remainder missing)