WWI Austin Letters: Jan. 1 to Sep. 27, 1918

Included in this set of letters are some of the addresses and names of a number of the girls that wrote Mac in response to the ad in the Lone Scout Magazine courtesy of his brother Raymond.

CAC 7 Co., Fort Amador, Canal Zone Jan 5, 1918
To Pvt. Mortimer M. Austin, F Co., 11 Inf, Chattanooga, Tenn
Dear Old Mack:
Well this is the date you get a little older and tomorrow I do the same.

Did four hours guard this morning. It is pay day and I go on pass this pm so will have time to write no more. Drew just $13 yesterday. That is all that is left after my four liberty bonds bills, $.25 wounded soldiers fund, collected from loans, $1.65 which left me just $8.40. When I went to town, I spent $5.20 for little odds and ends.

While in the city, I made up my mind to see the place. You talk of slums in New York, London, Chicago, but believe me they cannot begin to compare with the city of Panama. It is only in sections that the other cities have slums, but all Panama is just one great slum district. [a long letter] Yours, George R. Sidwell

Vandervoort, Arkansas, Jan 1918
Kind friend,
Saw your address in Lone Scout. Thought I would write you a few lines. Hope this will find you OK. How do you like the army? I have several friends who have gone to the Army. Oh it is so lonesome and makes me so sad to see them go…Miss Jewell Hamilton

From Peerless, Indiana, Jan 4, 1918
Dear Soldier Boy:
I saw an article that your brother had published in the Lone Scout magazine in which your name and address was given. Although I am only a school girl living in a small town, I would enjoy corresponding with you and if you will write I will prove to you that us country girls can write as interesting letters as our city cousins. Sincerely yours, Ottie Godsey

Peerless Indiana, January 13, 1918
Dear Mr. Austin,
Thank you very much for writing me such a nice letter. Now you said you preferred the country girls to those from the city…Ottie Godsey

Rossville, Georgia, Jan 22, 1918
Mr. Mortimer Austin, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Dear Friend:
I received your letter yesterday and was glad to hear from you…Your Brother of Eldred, NY told me about you and about you going to school at Mount Herman, Massachusetts, and about you going to the hospital twice.

How are you getting along with the mumps? I have had them…I will close, wishing to hear from you again this week. Yours truly, Bonnie Osburn

Flossie Fraser, Gainsboro, Saskatoon, Canada

Equality, IL, Jan 23, 1918
“Well, I am real sorry for your brother. Hope he will get in next time he tries. There was some boys down here tried to get in, but couldn’t so they came back to school and said they guess they could go to school and they are fine now, better than when they went to the station.

…I am glad you like your new life…I am glad you do not smoke as all boys do, almost all I know.

Talk about cold weather, the snow has been 24 inches deep. We have not seen the ground for four weeks…From your loving Friend, Miss Annie E. Heral
The reindeer love the mts., The rabbits love the hill
I like my soldier brother, God knows I always will.

Cleo Morris From Potterville, California

Beatrice Hauson From Keatchie, Louisiana

Peerless, Ind, January 24, 1918
…Your camp is located in a historic little place isn’t it? Just had the battle of Chicamauga for our history lesson a few days ago. So you are in quarantine for the mumps? I have had them and I don’t think they are anything pleasant. Ottie Godsey

Chickamauga Park, January 24, 1918
Dear Aunt,
We have had bad weather. It was warmer today and the mud is about up to my ankles. We are busy drilling now. There is nothing to tell you. We are not allowed to tell much anyway. There was a bit of verse on our bulletin board.

“Soldiers, beware, enemies ears are everywhere.
A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke, the more he heard, Soldier, imitate that bird.”

There is no need of worrying over me. We are getting good food and we have as good care as can be given us. I am feeling good and am getting fatter. You would be surprised to see me now.

Did you see the letter Raymond wrote about me to the Lone Scout? I met a fellow in Chickamauga who asked if I “knew Private Mortimer Austin, F Company, eleventh infantry.” I told him I did. He had seen that letter. He was a nice fellow, Well, goodby, Your nephew, McKinley

Crystal Falls, Michigan, January 28, 1918
Dear Friend “Mac”,
Received your welcome letter and although I have much studying to do…will take a little time to answer.

So, you are in quarantine for the mumps, eh? Many of the boys and girls in High School also have them, but I hope I do not get them, because then I would never get through with this semester’s work. As ever, Emily Neugebauer

Helen Hamilton Chicago, Ill
going to Columbia College

Katharyne Lancaster, Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Anne Alice Racene, Astoria, Oregon

Laura Watson, Winton, NC

Bessie McCoy, Dante, Virginia

Cates, Indiana, Feb 1, 1918
Mr. Mortimer M. Austin
Dear Friend:
I received your letter and was glad to hear from you…I expect you wonder where I found your address. I found it in the magazine “Lone Scout.” One of your brothers had written a letter to the magazine telling them about you. He seemed to be very proud of you. He signed his name, C. Raymond Austin. Your friend, Vera M. Allen

Mamie Henry, DeBeque, Colorado

Celia Hayit, Springwood, Virginia

Barryville Feb 12, 1918
Dear Mr. Austin,
Yours at hand and I am sorry to have made you so much bother over the 1.80 interest. I have a complete record of the 90.00. Note including payment of 50.00 and interest 1.80. I neglected to put down the page in index. We were looking at a record of the 1500 Mortgage on which the ? on note was not recorded. Thanks for the L. M. Vanness address, yours truly Gee Carmen

Anna Betsa, Lopez, PA, Feb 21, 1913
Dear Friend,
…I would like you to do me a favor. You wrote in the last letter that there is a Russian fellow in the same company with you. So one of my girl friends I told her about this Russian fellow, so she said so I would write to you So you would ask that fellow for his address and you can send it to me in the next letter and I will give it to her. She is my cousin…From your Friend Anna Betsa

Ila White, Durham, OK

Grace Nelson from Hutchinson, Minnesota

February 21, 1918
Dear Friend McKinley,
I received your letter and was of course glad to receive it. I won’t write very much because I walked over to see Uncle Fred and Aunt Mary Myers today and am very tired.

…You heard that Earnest has been drafted? John Horton and Able Hulse are also drafted, I believe. There are quite a number to go from this town on the 23rd, but I don’t know yet who they are. I guess that Earnest’s folks are quite (what shall I say disturbed?) about Earnest’s going.

I saw Edith Seargent today and she said that they thought that you must have started for “Somewhere in France” because quite a little of your mail among other things a couple of registered letters had been returned to Eldred.

Of course, all that I know is what she said about it and how she found out I don’t know. I told her that you were still on this side and let it go at that, but thought you should know about it. I also heard that the company that Fred Straub is with will was to have started with that ship which was sunk, but was quarantined just before is started. Raymond Davis is in France, I believe.

You simply can’t imagine what you have missed by not being here this winter. They say that its the coldest winter ever remembered. Last week was rather warm though and the weather was very pleasant. But I haven’t been able to get to Eldred. I guess that Mr. and Mrs. Asendorf are in the south again this winter.

One day this week, one of Mr. Harry Dunlap’s oldest girls was stricken blind in school. They say that it is caused by a blood clot on the optic nerve and that is too far back in the head to operate. Is it not truly a dreadful thing?

Dad is reading a Johnny Chuck story and if I get some of it mixed up with this letter, well just lay it to my natural craziness.

I haven’t done anything very much this winter except get fat and I surely have done that. But just the same, I helped Dad with the wood last week. Men are very scarce and some of them don’t want much pay. Some of them $2.50 a day and they are just the ones who get to work about 9:30 and quit in time to get a little wood up for themselves.So to cut my long story short, mother and I helped. I didn’t do much except rake it up, but believe me, it made my muscles sore, but they soon got over that and am feeling fine as a fiddle.

Oh I heard the other day that Walter Toaspern (you know him do you not?) is at the same place (Waco, Texas) as my cousin Clifford Colville and he is also in the aviation corps. Is that not odd?

Well I am getting really dreadfully tired and so will have to say “Good-Night”. Write once in a while and let us know what you are doing and where you are. Do you have any idea of moving soon? Your friend, Ruth Colville

Eldred, NY., Monday Feb., 26, 1918
My dear McKinley:
At last I have gathered enough ambition to write, also, I begin too realize that Dad and I are growing old when the cold weather affects us as it has this winter, we were certainly glad to hear you were having good weather. It is beginning to be pretty decent here.

Raymond seems to write quite long letters to you, so I suppose he keeps you supplied with all the news. Clarence Wormuth is in France. Aunt Lottie and Christina had a card from him since he got there. They claim one of the McBride boys are there, too.

Did Raymond tell you that your Grandmother had been very sick? She was taken sick Christmas Day and is not able to go out yet. We all feel quite worried about her.

Aunt Lottie teaches at Barryville (at least four miles away) and walks home nearly every night, but that is not as bad as some of your walks. Can you cook yet and what (if you do)? Your time must be nearly all taken up with training etc., and that letter writing Raymond got you in. He certainly likes to write letters. I would laugh if he only got a letter shower from a lot of girls himself.

Where you are, is it part of Ft. Oglethorpe? Mr. Beck’s youngest son is at that Fort, the one that used to own the donkey.

About the insurance, I certainly appreciate your thoughtfulness and hope you will come safely home after this war is over and in a course of a few years take out an insurance policy in the name of Mrs. McKinley Austin. Dad is insured in the Maccabees and they gave him an insurance paper and we have it here. Do they manage with yours? I dare say it is a government affair.

Willie says you never answered his last letter. It might have miscarried somewhere, so when you answer this, write to him and I will understand that it is an answer to this. It seems to be so laborious for Willie to write a letter. I know they are not breezy like Raymonds. This letter is for Dad too. He says sometime he will get started and write such a long letter that it will take you until the end of the war to read it. Well goodnight. Love from all, Mother

Chattanooga, Tenn, March 14, 1918
Dear father,
I got here all right. The train was late into Jersey City and I missed my train. I was 14 hours late, but as I got the conductor to sign a paper telling the reason, I think it will be all O. K. Well I will write soon. Tell Aunt Aida that I am here all right. With love to all the family. Your son, McKinley

Jersey City Heights, NJ, March 21st, 1918
Dear Friend Mort,
Don’t you think it’s about time I answered your last letter? Really I’ve had my hands so full I didn’t know where I was standing. But some Saturday of next month April, I would like to take a trip up there and stop over until Sunday evening with you, with my little girl if you’ll have room for us.

I would like to see the man together with you about renting a house for the summer months for my family. I’ve had Edna sick with Diphtheria a few weeks. Thank God everything came around nicely and she is doing fine.

Say Mort, I am at the same old thing again, and that’s of going south. I was thinking of going there while the family is up in Eldred if I can get hold of a place for them. I have an offer from Savannah, Georgia with the Sea Board Air line RR for the first of May. I am going to make the trip this season either to Savannah, GA or to Jacksonvlle, Florida, whichever place I like best and can get employment there. I’m going to rent a small farm and go into the poultry and hog raising on a small scale for a starter. It would be a good idea for two of us Mort. What say you? Will close for the present,
Hoping to hear from you soon. Love to all from us all. As ever your true friend, Chas s. Dassori

Maria Myers Leavenworth Died March 25, 1918
Maria was grandma Jennie’s mother, and therefore my great grandmother.

Chattanooga, Tenn, March 31, 1918
Dear Aunt,
I was very glad to get those pictures they were real good…We are having fine weather here now.

I did not send anymore this month because I owed some and there are some things that I want to buy to take across with me. But I expect to have a good deal to send back next month.

My corporal is attending sniper’s school and I have had to lead the squad. I don’t like it very much. I am expecting to be transferred to the Machine gun company. I would rather stay with F. company, but I have noticed that a good many things that have happened to me lately, really unimportant themselves, have resulted in advantage to me. And while I am not superstitious, I think it best not to try to change that everything is coming for the best.

Perhaps you understand what I mean? I suppose I could get another man sent in my place, but I think whatever happens is for the best. Your nephew McKinley

Riegelsville, NJ, May 10th, 1918
Mr. C. M. Austin, Eldred, NY
Dear Sir:
In the past three months have lost two hands out of five because of the draft. I have your letter of Dec. 18th before me and after reading same, it occurred to me that the position as herdsman might interest you. I know that you have boys 15 and 17 years of age. Could use the boys to advantage through the summer months and give them work in mill during winter. The position pays $50 per month, house rent, garden, potatoes, table fruit and milk.
If interested wire at my expense when you will be at liberty. Yours truly, Geo L. Bidwell

May 18, 1918, Middletown, NY
Dear Pa, Ma and brother and sister,
I am still in Middle town. But as we expect to leave early Monday morning for Ft. Slocum, and I may not have a chance to write soon again. The recruits got tickets or a pass at a hotel for a free night’s lodging and a ticket that gets them a 50 cent meal at the French restaurant.

They surely use us great. The officers are civil and ready to talk to a certain extent. There are two other recruits here besides me. It costs $2.50 per head a day to keep us here the way the gobernment does. $1.50 for meals and $1.00 for lodging.
Well I hope you are all well as I am for I am sure enjoying myself. With love to all, Raymond

Raymond enlisted May 20, 1918.

Base Hospital, Camp Merritt, NJ, June 16, 1918
Dear brother William,
I didn’t get any letters yet, however I am writing to tell you I am on the (convalesecant) list. (excuse the spelling). I haven’t felt hardly at all, but I was broke out something awful and I guess I fooled the doctors.

They use us great here, ice cream every day for dinner; toast and eggs, cornflakes and cocoa for breakfast, or shredded wheat, pettijohn or grape nuts.
There are about 30 beds in this ward and about two thirds as many patients…

Camp Merritt Hospital ranks up welll among those in the US. There must be 2000 cases altogether and I have heard rumors of on four deaths. I hear that sometimes for three weeks at a stretch there are no deaths at all.

I hope that father will be all right when this reaches you. Tell him to look for me home early next month if I am still here. Sometime ago, ma said you expected boarders shortly. Who are they?

We will probably stay at Camp Merritt till July 15, as I haer that they haven’t got an extra transport on hand. If my company goes and leaves me in the hospital, I am going to transfer to an overseas company if possible. Raymond

Camp Merritt, NJ, June 17
Dear Father and Mother,
I received the letter addressed to the Base Hospital today…They let me up today and I am feeling fine. I have inspected the whole ward and then bean this letter.

I wish you would send me a bundle of “Lone Scouts” and Christian Advocates” as I am allowed to read now. I will probably be here till July first, so don’t worry about me taking pneumonia.

…ice cream every day for dinner. Today we had creamed chipped beef macaroni and tomato sauce, baked potatoes, bread, butter, and cofee or milk.
For breakfast we had toast, boiled eggs, cocoa and corn flakes.

Macs letter is with the rest of my stuff being fumigated…Well it’s supper time, so will close. Write soon. I am with love your son, Raymond

Camp Merritt, NJ, June 21, 1918
Dear Father,
…I am very glad you are better now. Mother told me you didn’t feel good, but she didn’t mention the doctor giving you medicine. However it is just as well she didn’t, or all is good that ends well.

I hope Willie will like his job on the hill and if he don’t work under Kinney, I believe he will be all right.

Mrs. O Brien, Joe Hayden and his mother came up to see me yesterday, but they couldn’t git in as the measles ward is always under quarrantine. They sent me a note by a dispatcher telling me to write her at her home address at Brooklyn.

I may leave the hospital tomorrow. But I am in no hurry to. They use us too good here for me to be anxious to leave soon….

Well, write soon and give my love to all the folks. Hoping you ar eall well. I am your loving Son, Pvt. Chas. R. Austin

11 US Inf., APO 728, June 27, 1918
Dear Mother,
Just a few lines to let you know I am all right. I have been to the trenches and like them better than drilling. It was bad when it rained, but on good days, I like it.

The Germans shelled us once or twice but the more I see of artillery bombardment, the less I am afraid of it. The trench rats scared me a couple of times when I was on guard. When they run around, they make a lot of noise and I thought once that it was a German in the next bay when it was only a rat.

Did Raymond ever join? I think it will do him good. I wish you would send me the address of the Eldred boys who are in the army. Well I guess I will close hoping you are well. I am Your loving son, McKinley M. M. Austin, Private, Machine Gun Co.

Camp Merritt, NJ, Jun 30, 1918
Dear Father, Mother, Bros and Sister,
There’s some mistake. We didn’t leave this morning and probably will not go till Wednesday, maybe not then…

When I go to Panama, it will probably be nearly a month before you hear from me as it takes nine days to go down and probably more. It will likely be two weeks before I can get assigned to a regiment so as I can give you an address.

However, I’ll write you at the first opportunity. Don’t worry if you don’t hear from me for if anything happens to me, the government will send a telegram something like this: “Soldier 377340 has been wounded” or “Killed” or “ is “missing” whatever the trouble is. If I am hurt, I will be classed as wounded or if I die of disease, I’ll be classed as killed.

{Some insurance info, then], If you think it necessary, tell them my age which was 18 years on May 6, 1918, don’t forget that the penalty for enlisting under age is 6 months at hard labor and a dishonorable discharge from the service. However I don’t consider it necessary to tell them my age…When I get to Panama, I’ll send you my company and regimental address, also my number if they change it…Have I ever had any broken bones or serious illness— no.

Tuesday we hiked to the Hudson River. We went down the side of the Palisades on a narrow path four abreast for a mile. The road was almost straight up and down and it double back and forth three times to the hundred yards.

The Palisades are brown rock and run almost straight up and down at one place. I saw them I think they are 200 feet high. the river there is about three quarters of a mile wide We saw two transports at anchor farther down…

When we left camp for the hike, we had seventy men and three officers. We came back with forty men and two officers in the ranks. The rest were straggling along in the rear.

Yesterday they sent us out into the country in an auto truck to get sod. We got two loads of sod and we got a ride through a little village. We crossed a railroad at least every mile. The gardens here are growing fine.

Most of the roads are macadam, but on our hike we went over some cobblestones that nearly broke some fellow’s ankles. On the way back, we made a forced march and every once in a while, someone would drop out the hike was nine miles. Five of which we made at forced march. With love to all, Raymond

Camp Merritt, July 4 1918
Mountain Grove House heading
Dear Folks,
I expect to leave here tomorrow morning at 2 am. I don’t think they are bluffing now, for we can’t leave the company street, so I will mail this letters. I’ll
have to sneak out of here to do it.

Sunday had a nine hour pass to Patterson NJ. Our expenses were all paid for and we went out in private autos. The YMCA gave usa supper which I surely enjoyed.

Well, don’t worry if you don’t hear from me ofr two or three weeks. I was glad to get the package, but no letter direct from home has reached me…Will write as soon as possible with love to all, Raymond

11 US Inf., APO 728, July 7, 1918
Dear Mother,
I got your letters all right. And I got one from Raymond. He was still at Camp Merritt. If he goes to Panama, he may see George Sidwell, if George is still there.

It must be hard for you to see us go, but you have been very brave. If all the mothers in America were like you, there would not have been a need for a draft. I think the reason we boys, who are no braver than the average, were so quick to go, was that we have always been taught that we have a duty to our country. Some seem to think that their country should protect them, but shouldn’t call on them to help.

I am getting along well. We have been lucky so far. This is a fine place for a summer home, but we have some bad neighbors. Give my regards to all. Tell Aunt Aida I will answer her soon. But it is hard to get time. I have several letters now. Hoping to hear from you soon, I am Your loving son, McKinley

July 27, 1918
Dear Aunt,
I have started to write to you several times, but something always bothered. I have been busy, so would only write one letter to the folks and expect they tell you what I write.

I have been so busy lately, or so lazy that I have not written lately. But I thought you might worry…I got the pictures all right. They were good.

You wanted to know about this country. There are some of the prettiest places here I have ever seen, but I prefer Sullivan County. I have seen pictures home that look just like the country here.

How is everything in Eldred? I suppose nearly everyone of the boys have either gone or expect to go soon. I can’t think of anything much to write, so I will close. Your loving nephew, McKinley

Culebra, Panama Canal Zone, Ancon Hospital Panama, July 27, 1918
Dear Folks,
I arrived at Colon Panama. OK, only I was just recovering from the mumps which I took on ship board. I also got seasick from being confined in the ship’s hospital and I couldn’t eat much. My stomach was all upset and nothing looked good to me. But I hadn’t been on land half an hour before I was as hungry as a bear. Don’t worry about me, as I am going to join my company tomorrow (Sunday) so the lieutenant who is the surgeon tells me.

Well I’ll try to tell you about my trip in the order that things happened. We got up at 2 o’clock in the morning on July 5. We ate breakfast at about 3. But it was nearly 6 before we marched out of camp Merritt. We entrained at Dumont for Hoboken which we reached at about 10:30.

We surely looked good with our rolls slung over our shoulders. We marched through Hoboken to the docks where the red cross gave us a cup of coffee and a sandwich. By 12 we were all on the “Killpatrick” and at 1:10 we began to move. that might at about 7 or 8 o’clock, we saw seven small whales. The food we got to eat during the whole voyage was the worst I ever tasted.

We saw porpoises almost every evening. ON the third night we saw the glow from the lights at Newport News, VA, and we saw the light from a search light nearly a30 miles away. We saw land for the first time on the fourth day when we passed Palm Beach, Florida.

The next day, I went to the ship’s hospital which was a disgrace to the US Navy. There were only five pair of slippers for 16 men. The food was almost unedible and anyone who was seriously sick would have surely died. They were all men and only one fellow took any interest in the sick men. The average medical man was a good for nothing bum before the war in my opinion, although some of them are real fine fellows who try to be of some good.

Through the portholes I saw several very mountainous islands. We also passed the north eastern coasts of Cuba. We ran into San Juan, Porto Rica on the tenth day. I could see the crowds through the portholes. Everyone wears a straw hat there. All the soldiers who were well went ashore on a hike and got some fruit and coconuts. We didn’t get any, although one of the medical men paraded around the hospital eating fruit.

On the 18th of July, we left San Juan. We came through the Carribean Sea and it was surely rough. On the 20th the hospital got so crowded that I and some others were moved out on the deck. That night for supper, I ate my first meal since going to the hospital. The next night it rained and our bed and blankets got wet and stayed that way ‘til we landed at Colon, Panama, on July 23.

They took us off the boat in the afternoon. I walked, but some had to be carried on stretchers. By the time I got on the train, I was feeling as well as ever. There are surely a lot of railroads here. We came from Colon to Ancon, 57 miles in about one and a half hours. the railroads run on embankments raised out of the swamps in many places. On both sides there was nothing but water with the stumps of trees standing about it. Here and there an island of two to five acres raised 15 or 20 feet above the water. It is on these that the natives have their farms.

At Ancon, I helped unload the men who were on stretchers from the train and put them in ambulances. Then I climbed on the back of an ambulance and rode up to the hospital…With love to all, Raymond

Camp Gaillard, Panama Canal zone, August 3, 1918
Dear folks,
I came out of the Ancon hopsital OK except for my uniform which got filthy dirty from being kicked about in the ship’s hospital. Three other men came out with me. One had no hat, leggins, or socks, and his pants were about six inches too short. His beard was about half an inch long and was red at that He had brought a blanket to Ancon with him, so of course, he had to carry it on his arm. The other two had all their uniform, but they were all smeared with tar and grease from the ship.

We left the hospital about noon. I never felt so cheap in all my life as I did when I got out on the street in my dirty clothes and with out my leggins…
Aug. 4: I write my letters on different dates as I am continually being interrupted.

This is the wet season down here. It rains some every day and the roads are all sticky and slippery. I have heard old veterans speak of Virginia mud…But Panama mud is a reality to me now in fact, big clods of it are sticking to my shoes now.

We are quartered in tents now which reminds me of Ft. Slocum. But our food is ten times better. We have to eat outside and today we ate in the rain. Nevertheless, I got enough. Something has given me an awful appetite and I will soon gain back what I lost on the “Killpatrick”.

I haven’t had any letters from you since the 27th of June and I am beginning to be quite worried…

Have you heard from Mac yet? I wish you would send me a bundle of “Democrats” rural New Yorkers, “Farm and homes” and “Christian Advocates” and any other papers except “Lone Scout”. Save them ‘til I come home…

While I was in the hospital someone stole a pair of pants and a suit of underwear off me. Some of the fellows lost their blankets or mess kits, so I was comparatively lucky.

Has any one else volunteered since I left? What kind of crops have we this year?…I’m going to write grandfather (Sherman S. Leavenworth who was in the Civil War) as soon as I can “afford” it. With love to all, Raymond, 33rd US Inf.

August 9, 1918
Dear Mother,
I hope you will pardon me for not writing sooner. But when I had paper, I did not have time and when I had time, I could not get paper.
Have you heard from Raymond lately? I have had one letter from him.

I don’t suppose there are so many city boarders up this year. Aunt Aida sent me a couple of pictures of the children saluting. They certainly looked comical, especially Robbie. Is Willie still working at Proctor’s?

In the last letter I got from you, you said that Miss Ferguson was inquiring for my address. I have not heard her yet, and I am beginning to hope that she has lost it.

Tell Grandfather that I will write him sometime. When I get back home, we will have some time swapping war stories. Raymond will talk for a week steady when he gets back.

I am getting along well. Except in a big drive there is not much danger, so you need not worry about me. Well, I will close. Give my love to all. Your loving son, Mac

Edred, NY, August 11, 1918
Dear Nephew,
The letter I commenced to you the forepart of last week, I did not get finished until the last of the week, but as I have planned to send you a letter every Monday, I will write you a few lines tonight so as to send it off in the morning.

I have just answered Mrs. Carlin’s letter. She is at Long Beach with her cousin. Will be there until September. Fred Morgan is home for a few days. I have not seen him. I think I told you in one of my letters, that George Sidwell is at one of the camps in one of the southern states. He is attending some kind of a school. His father was telling your dad that at Panama they wanted George to drill for an officer, but George didn’t want to be an officer. It is quite comical to hear about the different fellows from this place being officers…

The Congregational Church had their fair last Thursday and Friday and took in a little over 300 dollars the first day. I did not hear how much they took in the second day. I don’t know when the Methodists have their fair.

Dr. Austin and Joe Ayres came up yesterday in Joe’s car, but went back today. We have been having some fearfully hot weather, but it is cooler now again. I hope you haven’t had such hot weather over there.

I will close as I want to write to cousin Tina tonight. She has married a rich rancher and lives in Montana. She sent me a souvenir of Montana. One of the scenes is of the Custer Battlefield as it is today.

Be sure and send my letters to Barryville, NY box 26…Hoping to hear from you soon. Your loving aunt, Aida

Camp Gaillard, Crulebra, CZ, August 12, 1918
Dear Brother,
…It is quite warm here, but no more so than it is in New York during August. I suppose you have heard from Mac again. I wrote him a letter day before yesterday. It will probably be two months before I get an answer.

Has anyone else from Eldred enlisted? Also has any news been heard from Fred Straub, George Dunlap or any of the fellows who went over?

I suppose by the time this reaches you, Mrs. Luzza and the others will be thinking of going home. Give all the people my best regards and tell them I am glad I joined the army although I am not a crack Soldier…

We drill a couple hours every day. I am no expert at drilling, but I like it very well. We have half an hours exercise every morning which I don’t like so well. But it’s got to be done, so I do my best, which is none too good…hoping that all of you are well and will wirte soon, I am your brother, Raymond

Camp Gaillard, Culebra CZ, August 16, 1918
Dear Folks,
I just received two letters from Willie and one from Mother. I also received letters from four Lone Scouts who read some articles I wrote for our paper. They are from Wisconsin, Kentucky, New Jersey and south Carolina. I’ll probably have more letters soon.

…I’ll have $7.60 left. That’s enough to buy stamps writing paper, and bananas with and that’s about all I can buy here anyhow.

We had a nice little hike this morning. We were over to the canal. From where we were, there was a good view of Culebra cut form the south side. the water in the canal is very muddy. We saw a dredge at work removing the dirt that works up from the canal bottom. After one of the officers explained a good deal about machinery that operates the “little ditch”.

We have signed the pay roll twice and I expect to hear the old bugle say “pay day.” “pay day” almost any morning. The money and the stamps came together (thanks for them). The stamps are worthless here anyhow. They were stuck tight to the letter…don’t risk any of Ma’s letters until I am assigned…

How is grandfather getting along this summer? and have you heard from Uncle El lately? With love to all, Raymond

Eldred August 19, 1918
Dear McKinley,
We have been having a few cold days and it seems good after the terribly hot weather we had…Doctor Austin didn’t get up Saturday, but is coming Tuesday and will stay a week this time.

Tommie Collins is getting around again, but of course has to use his crutches. I think I told you about his falling from an automobile and breaking his ankle just before Robbie Croft was called to the army.

Your dad’s and Uncle Lon’s buckwheat looks fine. Uncle Lon talks of getting a small mill so that he can grind his own grain this year. He had a fine piece of wheat, or did have. He gathered it last week. He has a yearling that he is going to put into beef this fall, so with our wheat and buckwheat, meat and vegetables, and fruit that I am putting up, our living won’t cost so very much and we will be able to save quite a little toward a payment on the place. I am going to put up some plums and crabapples this week.

The only thing lacking is the chickens. Lon doesn’t seem to want to bother with them. But the doctor’s wife and I both want chickens. We two are planning on the quiet about them, for I am sure I could make them pay, and I think you will find a fine flock of chickens on the place when you get back.
I see by the papers the government is going to make some provision with regard to the education of the boys under twenty-one when the war is over. So perhaps you will be able to go through Cornell before you settle down as a farmer. I do hope you can for it will mean so much to you later in life.

Sunday slipped by again without my writing to you. Dr. Austin was in quite a while in the morning and Ell came up in the afternoon and stayed to tea…your folks were going to take Ell out home…They were going to get Bert Eldred to take him then, but his automobile broke down on his way back from Lackawaxen, and they couldn’t go…

Ell expects to go down to Virginia to work this winter. He told Dr. Austin he would buy this place of him if he was able. But he said, “I suppose that would take a good lot of money.”

The Doctor said, “Not such a great deal.” This is the only hint we have had with regard to what the doctor would ask for the place. Although we have had quite a few talks with the doctor about the place, we have never asked him anything aobut what he wanted for it.

We thought we better wait until we were ready to make a payment. He says they don’t want to sell the house and yard, but will make arrangements so that you will have that and too when they are through with it.

Your dad says Ell took your address and Raymond’s and said he was going to write to you both. He liked the largest picture of yours the best…With love from all, Aunt Aida

Company M. 33rd US Inf., Pier 18, Balboa CZ, Sept 9, 1918
Dear Father,
I received your letter while I was still at Culebra…We are quartered on the pier, so we see practically everything that goes on. There was a big Japanese vessel here bounding for Chile with about 500 Japanese, Chinese, and Korean emigrants on board. I have several pieces of Chinese and Jap and Australian money I will send home when I have a chance. I will also send some photographs if they will let me.

Sept. 11: …The money order came yesterday. Thank you ever so much for it. I have not had a chance to cash it yet, but expect a pass around Saturday or Sunday and will do it then.

I have been permanently assigned to company “m” so my address will be sure from now on. I wish you would send the pictures now and also Mac’s letters. I have almost expected one from him myself. It would seem good to read some of his letters just now.

I am on guard today and was just relieved a few moments ago. I am watching the electric station this time. My orders on this post are, “To allow no one to pass with out a check. To arrest all suspicious persons and to examine all packages.”

What did Uncle El say about my enlisting? Did he think I did wrong?

…They are using us fine here and any one who knows enough to obey orders will not get in any serious trouble. I ran across one over bearing sergeant at Ft. Slocum and that’s about all…It is getting warmer here and believe me it takes lots of ice cream and soda to keep me comfortably cool.

So some of the people would like to see me? What does Uncle Lon and his consort say now?

…When I think of the four long years that grandfather fought through and of your cousins and Mother’s uncles who never came home, it would be a disgrace to the whole family if I should want to quit now…don’t worry, for if anything happens, I tell you the truth, and conceal nothing. With love to all, Your son, Raymond

Pier 18, Balboa, Panama Canal Zone, Sept 19, 1918
Dear Mother,
The papers and magazines you sent me arrived tonight…As I am doing guard duty quite often now, I wish you would please excuse the interval between and also the briefness of my letters…Hoping you, father , bill and the kids are as well as I am. Your loving son, Raymond

Pier 18, Balboa CZ, Sept 19, 1918
Dear Brother,
…I haven’t seen much here to write about that would pass the censor, so don’t think I am forgetting you because my letters are short.
I broke my rifle yesterday and I guess that’s the climax to my “hoodoo” streak of luck. Everything has gone smoothly since that and I am picking up confidence again.

Believe me, it’s hot down here. They tell me the sun here drives some men crazy, especially weak minded ones. I suppose that you all will have serious apprehensions for me after hearing this. Howsomeever, I believe I’ll get back as sane as I left. thought that may not be saying much.

So Proctor won’t raise the men’s wages? He’s sure generous.? Always was that way anyhow.

We had a tug of war yesterday between the front and rear ranks. It was exciting sport while it lasted, even if we were out pulled in the end. Your brother, Ramond

11 US Inf. APO 728, September 19, 1918
Dear Mother,
I was glad to hear from you. I have been busy lately and have not written as I should I am well and feel as if I will be lucky.

I only wish that I could tell you more about where I have been during the past couple of weeks. You would blame me for not writing more. I certainly thought enough about you when I was laying in a shell hole with the German shells throwing dirt and tones all over me.

I don’t think much of the Bacre? either as a fighter or a gentleman. They are tricky fighters without much idea of honor. Their artillery and machine guns are fair, but their infantry is not much good. It may be I have not seen their good troops yet, but I think we can lick them anytime we have half a chance.

I got a letter from Raymond, a few days ago. He seems quite well satisfied. I think both of us will be more contented with home when we get back.

We are not allowed to get parcels without having permission from some officers and I don’t know as I need anything much now anyway.

It is surprising just how little a person really needs. I hope George Dunlap was not badly wounded. Well, I will close with love. Your son, McKinley

11 US Inf AEF, Sept. 22, 1918 (received Oct 23)
Dear Aunt,
I am writing to let you know I am well. So far I have received all your letters. They did not come in rotation for I got your fourth, 3 days after your sixth.
I have not written as I should because we have been busy and when I get a while off, I like to rest…

I got the pictures all right. If you see Lena, tell her I got her letter and wrote once from over here. Her picture is not as good looking as she is but, I knew who it was.

I am glad to hear you are getting along so well on the farm. Next year I may be home to help, of course we can’t be sure. If it is possible to get the land? castle place, do so.

When I come back, I will have a couple of hundred dollars or more to help with. I think that I will be lucky here. I have been so far.
Well, give my love to all, Your nephew, McKinley

Mountain Grove House, Eldred, Tuesday, Sep. 25, 1918
Grandpa Mort is on jury duty
To: Mr. C M Austin, c/o Mrs. Fowler
Monticello, New York
Dear Mort,
Received your letter tonight and will write a few lines. You have been away two days and it seems about that many weeks. You got another nice letter from Raymond. I will send it with this. He has been moved to Balboa. I think that is on the Pacific coast. Wasn’t Balboa the one who discovered the Pacific Ocean? I only wish we could feel as easy over Mac as we do him. I paid Raymond’s Red Cross money over today. They was after it.

Elizabeth still gets along well in school. Little Anthony made me a short call after school today. He is a bright kid. We are feeling fine, but only wish you were here. Still it is a good rest for you and likely you will have to work hard all winter.

Willie is feeling alright again so don’t worry about him or us. It will certainly be good for I have no chance to be bad. Take good care of yourself with lots of love, Jennie

Pier 18, Balboa CZ, September 27, 1918
Dear Father,
I received your letter yesterday. I was delighted with the pictures. The children have not changed so much after all. Although Bob seems bigger to me. Did you send Mac any pictures?

So you will be glad when the last battle is fought. I think we all will be. I don’t like to discourage you, but I feel we will see quite a while of it yet. Our loss to date has been about 25,000 men, so you see we haven’t fought a single big battle yet and I feel sure there are some big fights in store for us yet. We’ll win though, cost what it may.

Tell Bill not to enlist until he is at least 17 years old, unless we should get hard up for men, and I don’t believe we will. There are enough between 18 and 40 to do up this job good and proper.

As I say every time, there is nothing much worth writing that would pass the censor.

I am glad you are sending the papers every week. I sure do enjoy reading them. Bye the way, if you can get any books on military drill, tactics, etc., send them to me. I think you could get them in any city like Port Jervis at a bookstore.

…hoping you and the rest are all well and happy as I am. If you have any to spare, please send more pictures. With love to all, Raymond

11 US Inf. APO 728, Sep 28, 1918
To Miss Lena Hill
Dear Lena,
Did you get the other letter I wrote? It was so long ago I forgot when. I got a letter from you that you wrote just after I left the states. I got your picture from my aunt. It was good, but you are much better looking than the picture.

Well, How is everything in Eldred now? I hope to be back there by this time next year or sooner. It is now about 14 months since I enlisted in the army and I will be glad when the war is over. We are doing our best to get it over soon, too. The allies are winning everywhere now, and America is doing her share. I heard from my brother Raymond. He is in Panama now. He seems to like the army pretty well.

I guess I will close now. Write soon. Hoping you are well. I am. Your friend, McKinley, M.M. Austin

Leave a Reply