Archive for April, 2008

Earlier letters to and from McKinley Austin

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

Madison, NJ
October 5th, 1908

My dear McKinley:
I received your card several days ago and was glad thinking to learn you were all well.

You speak of playing checkers. I have not played a game since I left Eldred, but have often wished you were down here so we might have a good one.

I only wish my sister Annie was as wee as she was a year ago, we would have been with you long since.

Sister Annie is very ill and will never be any better. She is living in Newburg and I saw her about three weeks ago. She was then very sick indeed. I have since learned that she is steadily getting weaker.

When with her she referred to our visit at your place last September. She said how I did enjoy it. And how kind are you folks were in doing so much to entertain us. We cannot soon forget.

This year on account of her condition, we cannot be with you, and Mrs. Collins and my daughter are so fixed they cannot go either, but sometime we hope to again.

Remember me to Aunt Maria, Ida, Uncle Lon, and your papa and mamma.

We all hope you have had a good year this summer and may always have. Don’t forget to remember me to your Grandpa and brothers,

With best wishes for yourself. I am

Sincerely yours,
R B. Collins

Mount Hermon
April 6, 1916
Dear Aunt
I am getting along all right and I like the place very well.

All the fellows I have met so far are nice. There is one from India that I have met. He’s all right too.

Give my regards to all and tell them I’ll write soon.

Your nephew,

Grandma Austin’s letter to Cousin Melva

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

The Pines
C M Austin, Prop.

Eldred NY

Wednesday night

Dear Melva and all the rest of the Family:
We sure were glad to hear from you and to know you folks are well. I hear your grandfather is down with you. I also heard that he is to be Joanie Hills Grandfather, too. Did he tell you?

We had a lunch down in the Church Hall today. They served salmon loaf, creamed potatoes, tomatoes, salad and apple pudding.

Next time you come here, you will think you got in the wrong house for I am having the kitchen papered and painted and it is some job.

First the ceiling had to be washed and two coats of paint put on the ceiling and all the rest of the wood work. Now they are ready for the paper which has not come yet, so they will begin to paint the room where you slept and paper it also. I will try and send you some apples in a day or two and put in pieces of the wallpaper. I will have two clean rooms. Tell your mother I will try and write to her soon.

Love to you all,


Letters to and from Mortimer McKinley Austin in WW I: September 1917 to December 1917

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

September 1917
War work Council; Army and Navy
Young Men’s Christian Association; “with the colors”
Sept 5, 1917

Dear Father,
We had a holiday today. This is the day when the drafted men were called.

There was a big parade in Chattanooga. My company was not in it fortunately and I had a day off. I watched the men march down Market St. They took about three quarters of an hour passing. The drafted men marched behind the soldiers. There were a number of Civil War veterans in the parade wearing their old uniforms of blue or gray

I bet the drafted men will be sick of war soon. We got some hard drill at first, but I don’t think it was anything to what the conscripts get. Some of our non commissioned officers were transferred to train the National army as the conscripts are called, and form the way most of the regulars fee and speak of the “d—-slackers” they won’t be shown as much consideration as we were.

Some of our men got awful lectures at first and the NC officers say that a man that has to be made to fight, doesn’t deserve to be shown the patience a volunteer deserves. I don’t mean they will be ill treated because of the rules in the discipline that forbid striking a man and all that. But they will probably get some savage calling downs and be reminded they were forced to fight for their country.

At noon a couple of the boys and I were down on Market St. I was just going to look for a restaurant when a fellow came up to us and said. “Boys, there’s a lunch for you soldiers at the courthouse.”

The lunch was served by the “Daughters of the Confederacy” and they sure treated us fine. They seemed to be afraid we won’t get enough to eat and they kept urging us to eat some more. One of the fellows with me, tormented the other by making out that the other wanted more to eat and the poor guy was as full as he could be. The first fellow would say, “Shorty wants some more cake.” Then a girl would come over with a plate of cake and offer it to “Shorty” who would protest that he didn’t want any more. The girl would think he was bashful and insist on his taking it while we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

We made out that “Shorty” was the big eater of our company, but that he was bashful out among company. So the ladies tried to feed him all the more. When he got outside he gave us a calling down.

One of the old ladies told us that she had seen both armies in the Civil War and the men in camp in 1898, but that the lads in camp now were the best behaved soldiers she had ever seen.

Good bye and best wishes from your son,


September 3, 1917

Dear Mortimer and Jennie
We would be very glad to have a visit with you before we return. Will you give us the pleasure of your company with us at dinner on Sunday Sep. 9th at one o’clock that we may all keep the Lord’s Day together? We are all proud of Mortimer McKinley A. and we will be glad to talk of him with you in the place where he was born.

Hoping to welcome you to the old cottage on the hill.

Very Sincerely Yours
Sara Hall Austin
Charlotte C. Hall

September 15, 1917
Eldred NY
September 15, 1917

Dear McKinley,
It is nearly nine o’clock, but I will write you a few lines as I have so little time during the week.

Dr. Austin’s folks went back to the city yesterday and it seems rather lonesome. I will have the house this week and so be home every night.

I was rather diappointed when I came home Friday and did not find a letter at the Post Office from you, but I suppose you are kept pretty busy.

Dr. Austin has not returned from Maine yet and so we have not been able to learn anything definite with regard to this place, but I think we will get it all right.

Your father and mother with the three youngest were up for a little while this afternoon. Your father is working on the road now. Raymond worked a while, but thought he was not getting enough and so left. I don’t know what he intends to do.

Willie seems to hate to go to school, so I wil have to give him his work after school each day. I was in hopes I would not have to do any school work after school this year, but I do not lie to make him go when he dreads it so.

Uncle Lon is very busy with the fall work. We had a very heavy frost three nights in succession and everything is killed. Miss Hall’s flowers were just beginning to look fine. Everything was so tlate this year.

Maggie Dunlap was in for some butter tonight. She said Harold wrote to you sometime ago, but has not heard from you yet. Dr. Austin’s wife received your letter.

Do write soon

With love
Aunt Aida

September 20, 1917
Eldred, NY
September 20, 1917

Dear McKinley,
I have not had a letter from you in two weeks. This makes the fifth that I have written to you.

I thought perhaps we were not getting each others letters, so I will register this to you to make sure of your getting it.

I had a letter from Mrs. Carlin last night. She said she had just written to you.

Do let me hear from you.

With love,

Aunt Aida

October 1917
October 7, 1917

Dear Ma,
I am sorry you were worried about me. I might say though that it is best to always believe the best you’ll hear of the worst. I have learned since I joined the army not to worry.

I would have written sooner this time, but we had 24 hours in the trenches, a long hike, and a couple of sham battles and I have been so tired whent the day’s work was over, I didn’t feel like writing. The strike is over and we can go to Chattanooga when it doesn’t interfere with our duties.

Oct. 9th
Aunt Aida was here yesterday. I thought I made it clear in my letter that I was out of the hospital and what ailed me. She said the folks told her that my letter didn’t say what was the matter or whether I was out of the hospital.

I was glad to see her, but I thought it was foolish to come down here.

from Mc Kinley

November 1917

Chickamauga Park
Nov. 3, 1917

Dear Father,
I got out of the hospital alright. I wish I could get off and come home for a couple of weeks, but they are only giving short passes now.

I am sending you some pictures I had taken in Chickamauga.

One of the pictures is of me on the bridge below Chickamauga, another of two fellows from the 52nd down at Crawfish Springs, another of another fellow and me at the same place and the other of a place on the road to Chickamauga.

Tell Aunt Aida I’ll send her the pictures took, and that I’ll write soon. But I am busy straightening my things out after being in the hospital and have not much time.
Your son

December 1917

Chickamauga Park
December 4, 1917

Dear Father,
I am on guard at Fort Oglethorpe just now. I’ll be through and go back to our quarters the 11th. We go on guard every other day. My company goes on at 4 pm today. Then we come off at 4 pm to morrow and rest till Thursday.

Unless the rules are changed in our regiment, no furloughs will be given and no passes for over ten days. We have now a system for giving passes. A person who has been in the army:
4 months can get a 6 day pass
5 months can get a 7
6 months can get a 8
8 months can get a 9

As it costs almost $45.00 with the new war tax on tickets and it takes near two days, I don’t think it worthwhile getting a six day pass I would only be home two days. Most likely we will be here in March, then I’ll see if I can get a 9 day pass. I would like to see home before I go to France as I think the war will last some time.

The climate here averages much warmer than home. There are spells of cold weather, but they do not last long. The average type of weather here is the sun is very hot in the middle of the day. It gets cool about four o’clock and is very cold by morning (of course it isn’t as cold as it is home then. The nights are cool all the year. This part of Georgia is much colder than the average as we are in the mountains. The sudden changes in the weather are the worst here. The ground never is frozen very deep and soon thaws out, I am told. So far the ground has not been frozen as I have noticed. This is another disadvantage as it allows the “hookworm” to spread among the people. If a person understands how to prevent the spread of this trouble, there is no danger and cure is easy and certain. If a person has a good warm house and uses sense, this wouldn’t be a bad place to live.

Work is not so well paid as it is in the North, but rents are lower and I believe land, is cheaper. Of course, it takes money to buy a farm in good condition. There are several companies here who will money on farmlands at reasonable. rates.

To give you examples, I will send you some advertisements of farms for rent or sale. Running form 4 to 7,000 acres. And Raymond was thinking of coming here and getting work. I’ll put in some labor advertisements. Well, I’ve got to get ready to go on guard now.

from your son

More 1907 Postcards to Mortimer McKinley Austin

Monday, April 7th, 2008