Hersa A. Coberly Soule|
to Annie J. Soule,
August 6th, 1865.
To Annie J. Soule
From her sister-in-law
Hersa A. Coberly Soule
August 6th 1865
My Darling Sister,
You see I am at last anchored at brother Wills. You are anxious to know, I have no doubt, how I like Kansas and the People and if I think Will looks like Silas. Well in the first place I think I will like the country first rate, but I cannot judge yet as I have not been here long enough, and it has been raining nearly ever since I came here but every thing has been done to make it pleasant for me, and I have enjoyed my self long very much.
I like Will and Mary very, very much, but I don't think Will is much like Silas he is not(?) full of fun but his eyes and hair are very much like My Silies' but I have no doubt but he is as good and I love him dearly, but oh dear Annie, no one can feel as I do, he was my future hope, and some time when I look at Will and I see the very same eyes, I think oh can it be, I want to throw my arms around his neck and say tis true you're with me yet my own dear Silie. The thought is almost madning to me sometimes and I go to my room and stay for hours and read to get it off my mind. Oh, I am afraid I shall make them unhappy. I would rather die than so. I think because it is my fate to be unhappy, it is not right that I should make others unhappy on my account. I like the Bensons very much and also Mrs. Percy. I have not got acquainted with anyone yet
and consequently have nothing to write. I had a very pleasant trip across the Plains had no trouble with the Indians but once and then there was but one man killed and one wounded, we saw Millions of Buffalo, the train had to be stopped several times to let them pass. I came through with Maj. Wynkoop and his wife and Col. Tappan. They are of the 1st Regiment and good friends of Silies and mine. they had 40 soldiers as escort. we feared nothing and I suppose was feared by nothing.
I hope you and Mother have good health, mine never was better, I think this country will agree with me. When did you hear from Emmie and was she well? I am going to write to her in a few days, tell Mother to write me a long letter. I think I will be there this fall sure. I left my Mother and Sister in very good health. I have not heard from my Brothers for some time. When you see Mr. Gould (or Ec as I am used to calling him) give him my kindest regards. Mr. Cobb did not get quite through, he only got to Nebraski City, KT and there he forwarded my letter he was very kind. I have got such a horrible pen I can scarcely write at all but then I know my sister looks over my faults of so light a bearing as this don't you? Tea is ready and I will have to close. [From Your Loving Sister,
Hersa C. Soule
I send you two of Silie's Photographs that were taken just before he was killed. They were not finished at that time.
Mary says you are going South to teach, and I see they are very much opposed to it, and in fact I would not go if I were you but come West in the Spring wouldn't you rather. I'm afraid I won't get to see you very soon if you go but do as you think best.
With much love to Mother,
I am your unworthy
From the private collection of Anne E. Hemphill, of Baldwin, Kansas.
Notes & Acknowledgement:
Hersa Coberly married Silas Soule on April 1, 1865, in Denver, 3 weeks before he was killed.
I would like to thank my good friend Byron Strom,
firstname.lastname@example.org, for sending me a copy of Hersa's letter quite a few years ago now. Byron is descended from Silas's older brother Will, mentioned in Hersa's letter above, making him Silas's great-great-nephew. He gave me a bit of background on Silas's family in an email from May of 1998:
"You can guess the family's convictions by Will's full name: William Lloyd Garrison Soule. He was born in 1834 and died in 1931. In fact all Silas' siblings that lived beyond childhood exceeded the biblical 3 score and ten. Annie died in 1931 at age 88, Emily died in 1924 at 84. Their Mother was 93 in 1900 when she died."
Byron, thanks so much for sharing your family with me. I really appreciate it..
"William was born in Maine and died in California. He was always moving in between . . . couldn't stay put. He was Marshal of Lawrence during Quantrill's raid in 1863, worked as a printer in Maine, Massachusetts, Kansas and South Dakota, postmaster in Colorado and Calico California, Justice of the Peace in Calico, owned a nursery in Kansas, and was listed as a jeweller on his death certificate. He married the daughter of William Lloyd Garrison's sister, had three children including my grandmother, then divorced and moved on. In fact his wife also moved on and they left the girls with sister Annie. Her home was very much more stable, so I think they were better off with her.
Regarding Hersa. She remarried a miner from Boulder, Alfred Lea. She had three, maybe four children. She became sick and died in 1879, I don't know the cause. Alfred and the children moved to California, and the oldest, Homer, went to Stamford. He was a military scholar, acted as advisor to Sun Yat Sen during the Boxer Rebellion and wrote some significant books predicting World War II. The Valor of Ignorance predicted the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the Day of the Saxon spoke of the German threat. He died in 1912 at age 36. There are two articles in The Saturday Evening Post by Clare Booth, March 7 and 14, 1942 about his life and work.
By chance Hersa and Silas are buried in the same cemetery in Denver, Riverside."
All my best,