Examining letters, both for their content and their handwriting, can provide insights into personality, as I’ve contended in two earlier posts.
The outbreak of the Civil War ended Joshua Hodson’s education in North Carolina around the third grade, unlike his second wife, Alice McSherry Hodson, who was certified as a schoolteacher.
I examined one letter from him in a previous post, and later did the same for a letter from Alice.
Seeing a second letter in his hand, thanks to Vivian Meek Bibler, opens more insights. He sent this to Ruby at business school.
Here’s my rough transcription, trying to correct some of the spelling but maintaining as much of the spoken quality as possible, and occasionally guessing at a word. I left the lack of punctuation, feeling it gives a closer flow of his voice:
July 20th, 1923
Dear Ruby I thought I would write you a few lines while my dinner cooks I have a beef roast on and I am cooking potatoes in some of the broth wish you were here to help me eat it. I suppose mom is seeing sister today in the Windy City there isn’t much news to write about they are talking [?] some but I don’t think it will amount to anything the Klan men are going to have a parade tonight at N.C. I think I shall go. Mom said if I wrote to you I should tell you that she could not find any pictures that she thought you wanted your grades are very good I think for the first two weeks I will send them to you. I seen Else H this AM up town but did not talk to her any she had got to staying out with Bob Griffin until one and two in the morning so I am told. I must go and attend to my dinner it is 11:15 and I will finish this PM. Dinner is over. I am not working now Jim Cray came and wanted me to help reroof John [?]’s house but I told him it was too hot for me on a roof I was not going. I imagine you almost roast in the school room these days
I made some inquiry at the PO job it pays $14.00 per month some price isn’t it. I do not know how it will be but I noticed in your last letter you said your work is hard I suppose that will be the case all along but you remember no doubt what you have read that there is no excellency without great labor and that is what we may all expect if we ever reach the goal. So don’t get discouraged but push ahead even if you don’t make as rapid strides as you would like to. You will come out all right in the end. I have written all I can think of so I will close write soon your Father
In doing genealogy, it’s important to examine all of the facts, positive and negative.
The reference to the Klan march is jarring, especially to modern readers who are unfamiliar with the fact that the organization flourished in the early 1920s through much of the Midwest and West as an advocate of Prohibition, reactionary populism, and right-wing politics that appealed to many Protestant communities. For perspective, the march in question could have been part of a political rally arousing Joshua’s curiosity or entertainment more than his sympathy. By the end of the decade, the Klan rapidly declined.
The mention of a sister-in-law in Chicago is a new twist. Alice had two sisters, Sarah A., a teacher who never married and was buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Brookville in the family plot, and Mary R., a milliner who also apparently never married. I find nothing more on her at this point, so I’ll guess that she had moved to Chicago.
I’m also amused that Joshua’s closure makes no mention that he’s running out of paper, as well.