Servants seem quite reasonable at Batangas

To C.C. Ballou from Bertha – March 9, 1913

[Note: Bertha is 23 and an art student in New York]

Dear Papa,

I received your letter and the check Wednesday. It was quite a surprise to me as I didn’t know a mail was coming through and I usually keep track of the mail pretty well. I was very sorry indeed to learn of Mrs. Maxwell’s death for I know that you must feel it very greatly and I know that you did care a great deal for her. She must have been a very lovely old lady and will be missed a great deal but what a wonderful thing it is that she could have kept her keen interest in everything and her enjoyment of life right up to the very last in spite of many years.

I judge that I must have written mamma something along the general uselessness of being an artist. I don’t know why I feel that way at times because realizing that that is not nearly all I gain in New York and that I am learning many other things and having opportunities I will never have anywhere else, I still do think painting of great importance in a way. It is a mode of expression and education and gaining a living. As this includes almost everything that people strive for in this word it ought to be worth working for and it is not to be expected every individual will be the most successful in this line any more than that every grocer will end a millionaire. I’ve never felt any more wonderful sensation than that of drawing and knowing that I could do it well. The feeling of having produced something. I imagine it is something the same when an engineer finishes a bridge and an architect designs a building. Someday I hope to realize the same exultation in paint. I am not a genius at all but thus far I have always made steady progress and I hope in the end to do something worthwhile.


I don’t really think I want to stay here another year though I surely appreciate a father who is willing to do so much for me. The work would be good for me, no doubt, but I hate to be so far from you and mamma. Perhaps I might stay on a month a ______ longer for summer school if you approve. However I really think I’d be glad to have you and mamma give your opinion. It’s a privilege to decide things for one’s self, I know, but it’s rather a hard one at times. There are always things on both sides of the question. If you were in this country I think I would be very glad to study at the League another year – but after all the goal is always very far off and another year would find me still a student as perhaps I had better for my work as well as other things, stop now and try what I can do at home.

This afternoon a few of the art students were going to take some factory girls up to the museum but the factory girls didn’t materialize so after sitting around in hat and gloves for an hour, I came upstairs and undressed. It must now be nearly time for my Sunday afternoon lecture as I must put them on again. Our Sunday talks are not very interesting as a rule but I rather liked the woman who is going to speak this afternoon and as it’s a fine day, I’m afraid she will not have much of an audience.

A basket factory. Evansville, Ind. (1912 or 1913)

Both my roommates are out this afternoon which makes this a fine opportunity for me to write. I gave your regard to Mrs. _____ and Miss Newman. Both send very best regards to you. Mamma wrote that you were going away for about a month so I suppose you are on _____. I suppose you will have another uncomfortable time but hope it is over by now. Servants seem quite reasonable at Batangas, more so, I should judge, than at Ms. Kinley, though I’ve forgotten how much we paid there.


I had an off little experience this afternoon after the meeting. A lady called to see Evelyn Hope, my roommate, and as she was out, I went up and introduced myself and kept her the three-quarters of an hour that elapsed before Evelyn Hope turned up. Then she only stayed a few more minutes and very kindly included me in an invitation to dinner sometime soon, which we accepted. As I was saying goodbye to Miss Newman, it dawned on me for the first time that this Mrs. Porter was the wife of O. Henry, the author. I was particularly interested to meet her as I have enjoyed some of his stories very much and I will be very glad to know her better.

Well, now I must close as I have just remembered that I must telephone Nell Babbitt tonight.

Love to all.




Miss Blossom’s father was visiting them and he is quite an interesting old man – a Civil War veteran

To C.C. Ballou from Bertha – April 6, 1913

Dear Papa,

There is a boat going with mail in a few days as I want to get a letter off tonight. This has been quite a strenuous day as I did not leave the League [Note: Her art school] until nearly half past five and last night I want to hear Caruso and _____ and _____ in _____. Several of us went and stood – also standing in line from six till seven thirty to begin with. It was well worth the fatigue however for it is a very beautiful opera having it at the little theater, which I think is a good thing. We have a platform built in the dining room now. It’s a perfect nuisance but will be down in two more weeks, thank goodness. In general, the Club is running fairly smoothly now – better than last year and Miss Newman’s nerves are greatly improved which is good thing for her and for us _____ for she is much more popular and has much more loyal support from the girls. I have not heard from Mrs. _____ since I was out there.

Bertha Ballou and Friends

My roommates and I are planning to make the boat trip up to West Point some Sunday when it gets a little warmer. Neither of them have ever seen West Point and I think the boat trip will be fun. I was expecting a letter from Mamma yesterday as I noticed that there were two Philippine mails yesterday but none came. I hope you are alright. We are having constant rehearsals our play now so that most of our evenings are taken up. They have given up and both _____ and _____ sang beautifully thought _____ had been sick and began to cough as he came on the stage so that I was afraid he was going to have to give it up.

Sunday evening I spent with Nell _____ and enjoyed it very much. Miss Blossom’s father was visiting them and he is quite an interesting old man – a Civil War veteran and – to me – a typical New Englander.

…last. She was quite sick then as a result of food poisoning a year ago. Spring is really here and I hoped to spend part of the day in the park but now it is clouding over so much that I’m afraid it will be impossible. Seven Columbia students are coming down to see my roommate this afternoon and I believe I am expected to entertain one of them so I hope it won’t rain so that we can go out for a walk. I’ve only heard only recently from Reba. She says Riley is not very interesting for a married woman without her husband and I suppose that’s true, so she doesn’t find very much to write about. I have had several invitations to visit on my way West but doubt I’ll be accepting any as my change of time will upset the plans of _____ I was counting on and some of the others are too far off my route. Mrs. ______ has been so ill that I doubt my being wanted in Washington even as late as August and the Gandy’s will have left long before that for the summer. I thought of stopping off a few days at _____ _____ and a new baby and _____ Guthrie is away as that I expect I’d be a bother.

This Mexican scare has certainly upset Army _____ plans a great deal this year but things seem to be quieting down a little more so I hope the troops may be recalled from the border before the summer is over.

Love to all.

One hypochondriac, one high school boy and one “missing link” as we call him

To C.C. Ballou from Bertha – June 24, 1913

Dear Papa,

This last week has been a very busy one and yesterday about the busiest day of all. I was up and down stairs at six o’clock. After breakfast, I walked down to the Post Office and back – a distance of about half a mile and then got my painting materials and worked, only stopping for lunch until nearby six. I like to work very much but was somewhat disappointed when our model left us yesterday and I was just nicely started on the biggest canvas I have ever attempted.

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We will now turn our attention exclusively to landscape. I needed a start in that very badly and I think that a month will help a great deal. It is pretty expensive – a good deal more so I expected for the lessons are twenty-five a month and the materials are used up a good deal more rapidly as we make a good many more canvases in a week and larger ones than I have previously done. This morning I have been out for a walk. It is a lovely country – in the Berkshires and we are only about five minutes’ walk from the state line as I have been in Massachusetts this morning. It’s an ideal place for the summer and does not seem to get really hot at all. The milk and bread and butter agrees with me, too.

The Berkshires

I’ve been up here. In company, this isn’t much of a place – there are the Shakers who are rather interesting and whom we’re getting acquainted with. Three or four elderly women, two or three old maids and younger married women – all painting – three of us about my age and pretty congenial and about four rather nondescript men and boys – including one hypochondriac, one high school boy and one “missing link” as we call him also wears a painfully downy mistake and what he fondly imagines to be artistic hair. Mr. Johansen, an instructor, is rather young man between thirty-five and forty, full of rigor and vitality and very much bent on making us work. His wife is also quite a distinguished artist.

I’m awfully glad I came here and am enjoying every minute of it. This morning, two of us have been out _____ out the land for more work. There are a good many bulls around which is our main trouble but I guess they are pretty well pinned up and we are learning what fields to sketch them in though sometimes I wish the fences were higher. This afternoon, we are going to Mrs. Johansen’s to team. It is about two miles so I think we will have had plenty of exercise for one day when we have walked over and back in addition to the distance we walked this morning.

June 24th we made our trip to Mr. Johansen’s and had a good time though it seems quite a long trip over and back. Since then, I’ve been making half day sketches and have seemed a good deal encouraged by the enjoyment I have made. Evelyn Hope and I are about the contented people here as the others seem to feel a great longing for moving picture shoes and such luxuries and we are nearly dying of boredom. It is an awfully out of the way place but I’ve seen much worse and I don’t mind the lack of amusement in the evening because I’m too tired and I go to bed pretty early.

Please tell Mamma that I will invite her soon but there is little to write and I am busy all day and the kerosene lamp is not very good so I don’t do any writing at night. In fact, the evenings are so fine that I am almost never in my room except to sleep. I’m getting quite a coat of sunburn after my winter in New York. I guess I’ll be hardened to the sun before I leave here. Just now I’m beginning to be afraid that I didn’t bring as many supplies in my trunk as I’ll need for painting in the islands [Note: The Philippines] but I guess I will be able to order from San Francisco through Mr. McCullough’s. Anyway, I am learning how to do without a lot of my seemingly essential things. Some of the boys here make their own sketch _____ in half a day. Maybe I could get a Filipino to make me one if I find myself in great need.

Love to all,



Pivet was killed. Glenn Wavis he is also thought killed.

To Bertha from C.C. Ballou – April 1918 (Approx.)

Headquarters 19th Division
 (U.S. ARMY)
Camp Dodge, Iowa

[Note: Camp Dodge was the scene of a notable event in U.S. racial history around this time. Three African-American conscripts were hanged for the rape of a white woman. According to one historian: “the event was a tragic culmination of an experiment in race relations that had begun with high hopes. The vast majority of African-American leaders, most notably W. E. B. Du Bois, had made a calculated decision to support World War I as a quid pro quo for possible racial advancement. If African-American troops trained and fought alongside white troops, they reasoned, there would be cause to hope that African Americans could be integrated into American society after the war.” About C.C. Ballou, the author writes that “At Camp Funston he ordered Negro troops not to seek to integrate establishments off base. After a soldier attempted to integrate a movie theater in the nearby town of Fort Riley, General Ballou condemned the effort as a distraction from the central purpose of winning the war.”]

My dear Bertha,

_______ _______ told me that Sherman White is dead in France, by suicide. He also thought Faris was killed, but I think that is probably not true. Pivet was killed. Glen Davis he is also thought killed. I hope it is not true. Please remember one Lucy Whithall and the _____. Tell them all that I honestly meant to call, but I guess old age prevented it.

How are the Newcomers getting along? I am sorely sorry Henry has to go away. You will miss him. When I get a house that can be comfortably _____, and seem to have some prospect permanency, I want to get the family together again, in so far as schools will permit, but I fear that will not be soon. At any rate, I shall hope for a month’s leave in the spring if you all stay in Washington.

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Nothing doing in buying bonds here, but I hear they are selling in _____ at 92, rather hard on those who have to sell. The future is not bright. The whole world is in a ferment.

Your loving old dad.

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.

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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.