Letter # 12; 5 April 1864

‘Dear Sister Mary, we got along without severe sickness, nothing more than influenza. A few died of it. We had a lovely winter. No snow or ice, only a skin of ice over the water bucket. Peach trees are in bloom and the rose bushes are also bursting into bloom. Emory put in six acres of wheat and we prayed for rain and the Lord sent plentiful showers.’

‘Don’t send shoes for the children. Their feet are growing so fast by the time the barrel gets here they outgrow them. Send me a pair of high skin boots with thick soles. I must be out in all weather.’

‘I have done the milking for the last six weeks instead of Emory. A savage pig bit off the end of Emory’s right finger. He has law business now and then but the people pay in pork or wheat. We have enough food and we are thankful in this war time (Civil War).’

‘You have two different Casters (Ladies Beaver hat) for me to choose.  I like to be stylish so pick the best one. Beulah is learning to sew so I ask you to send her a thimble. Not silver because she loses things. Also, a toothbrush apiece for the girls. Letters should be addressed to Lakeport, Your affectionate sister, Susan.’

      Letter # 13; 1864 (a fragment only)

‘…Since Emory parted with his watch, we lived never to know the time of day. One time, when Emory had an early law appointment, we got up early in time for him to make the long trip on time. I found out later we got up at two o’clock instead of six which would have been soon enough. You gave me the privilege of naming anything I would like in the next barrel. A watch or clock….’

These next letters were written to her other sister, Shotty, and her husband, James.

       Letter # 14; 3 October1864 (fragment)

‘Dear Shotty and James,

I thank you for daguerreotype. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to see that family group. I knew James when my eyes lighted on him. If I had not known it was you I would not recognize you. Still, you are still a good-looking woman but so changed from what I remember. James is older and grayer but his face is the same, the same soul in his eye…’

       Letter # 15; 12 October 1864 (fragment)

‘Dear Shotty and James,

‘ …Emory has returned from San Francisco. The decision had not been rendered before he left the city but he is confident of the result. The particulars show the villainies, which may be practiced under the law, especially when the county judge is Secesh and the victim is a Union man…’

Feeling ran high in this, the last days of the Civil War. Southern sympathizers and Copperheads still held positions of power in California.

‘Rain came in August when Emory had all his wheat stacked in the field waiting to be threshed. It rained but the stack was wet only a few inches and soon dried out when opened to the sun. ‘

‘You ask about our bees. We had two swarms and both stayed with us, We took twenty-five pounds from the two hives. We sold it for twenty-five cents a pound and kept some to eat. This was not all virgin honey so I used it to make vinegar. Until now I have not been able to afford vinegar at seventy-five cents a gallon. Thus, you see, the bees are profitable…’

       Letter # 16, November 1864 (fragment)

‘… I feel truly thankful that in all our trials our hearts have not been alienated from each other. I feel assured of the affection of my husband I think he does of mine. It is a different thing from the love we felt when we were first married for then we loved something imaginary. I am happy we are in unison in the government of our children. Emory is firm in matters of obedience. He plays and fondles them so they love him dearly.’

‘When we got the barrel, Beulah said, ‘Everything in the barrel was nice but the nicest is my dolly and I think she is worth kissing….’’

Next Episode: A Barrel of Goodies Arrives.

Lake County History. $32. (includes. Tax & Shipping)

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Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

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