From Priscilla to Madaline, 11/18/1918

Kings Park, N.Y.

Nov. 18, 1918

My dear friend-

I received your letter Saturday evening and I really cannot express in words how shocked and grieved I was to hear of Joe’s death.  It seemed to come so suddenly that I can hardly realize it to be true.  I feel that there must have been a mistake made and that we will hear that he is still alive.  As you say, there is some consolation in knowing that he died a hero and that will help us to bear our sorrows as bravely as he gave his life.

I have always written to Joe regularly and especially since he has been “Over there” and have had a letter, sometimes two or three every week until Sept 14th which was the last I received and in which he enclosed a very pretty little handkerchief.

I sent him a photo of myself Nov. 3rd because he had been asking for one so often and I thought it reach him by Christmas.

If you should learn any details as to Joe’s death, I should deeply appreciate hearing from you.

With sincere sympathy, believe me to be

Very sincerely yours,

Priscilla

© Copyright 2011 by Lanny & Patti Brown, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

From Priscilla, 11/10/1918

Kings Park, N.Y.

Nov. 10. 1918

My dearest Joe-

Well how are you?  I have been watching every mail for a letter from you.  I do wish you could drop me a few lines, so I shall be convinced that you are well and safe.  Goodness, New York just went crazy last Tuesday, when the papers announced “Germany Quits”.  Every factory and shop closed at 12 o’clock, peopled paraded for hours.  Then next day that papers contradicted it.  Isn’t it just wonderful if its really true, I am so anxious for it to end.  Aren’t you?  Joe dear, have you received my letters, and I sent you a picture of myself last week?  Only the picture makes me look so much older than twenty.  Nevertheless you will be able to see some likeness anyway.

How are you making out with French?  Can you speak any yet?  Don’t forget, I want to take lessons from you when you come home.

The “Spanish Flu” seems to be getting hold of every one in K.P. there are nearly two hundred cases it seems to be increasing rather than decreasing.  Lets hope you boys wont contract it over there.

I was going over to see your sister the other day, but didn’t get a chance to do it.  I suppose you get many letters from her.  But I bet she can’t be any more anxious to see her big brother come home that I am and I surely hope it will be soon.

Joe dear, I don’t know what else I can write you as things are very much the same as ever.  No news only excitement over the Kaiser quitting.

Although I cannot get time to write you as often as I would my thoughts are ever of you.  I am always wondering if you are well and safe.  The 27th Div. is royally praised for its good work.  Every time I see anything about the 27th or 105-6-7 Infs I always wonder what part you took in the victory.

Well Joe, I must close as I am so sleepy, please dear boy, write me when you can.  Goodnight and God bless and keep you safe.

Yours with lots and lots of love.

Perce

[Editor's Note: This letter was "Returned To Sender" and never received by Joe.  The back of the envelope is marked with “Deceased.  Verified Casualty Section. Central Records Office”.  There is a handwritten date on the front – 4/28/19. Priscilla kept the letter as a memento of her love.]

© Copyright 2011 by Lanny & Patti Brown, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

From John, Jamaica N.Y. 8/12/1918

John J. O'Farrell, Joe's brother-in-law

Jeffry Ave, Jamaica, N.Y.

12 August 1918

Dear Brother Joe:

I suppose when you get this letter you will have seen some action for according to the latest press reports the 27th Division is now at it.  We all hope and pray that nothing serious will ever occur to you, but in the moment of supreme peril think of the sacred duty you are over there to perform and I feel sure that you will measure up as a real American, the kind that Fritz is getting a taste of along the Somme.

The latest news from the front is the most encouraging we have had since the war began and I think that the superiority of American grit, daredevilness, and gameness is turning the tide; the spirit that is in the breast of an American exists no place else in the world – what our boys lack in military science is more than made up for by their grit, and the people you boys have left behind are as pleased and as proud of you as it is possible for mortal to be.

An old friend and playmate of mine, whom I had not seen for several years was killed recently on the Somme, Major James McKenna of the 165th.  His brother Bill is a captain + regimental adjutant of the same regiment, both old L.I.C boys.

Mr. Grill told me yesterday he had written you during the week but that he had not heard from you recently. I received a letter from John Wulforst a few days ago and just as I expected, he was kicking about his Army life; but you know what to expect of him, a little discipline will make a man of him.  The other brother, Al, tried to enlist in the Navy but was rejected on account of guess (?) – his good eyes.  Bill Zimmer and Ed Fisher are now “over there”, I hope that you run into them some time.

Our baseball team at the Depot defeated the Pelham Naval Team Saturday by a score of 5 to 4, some game.  Gus Sandberg played with Pelham and he is a corking good catcher.  You remember him I guess, he caught for Rochester in the International League for the past two years.  Madaline and I were pleased to hear of Lieutenant Wulfenden’s promotion and we want you to remember us to him and convey our best wishes.

If you need anything please call on me and I will endevour to get it for you.  I realize, perhaps better than anyone, what you are up against over there, but keep a stiff upper lip and think of your God and country and I feel confident that everything will right itself.  Don’t lose your nerve in a tight place for that is a most dangerous thing.

Write me when you can.  With love and kisses from Bob, Madaline, Pop & myself, I remain,

Affectionately.

John

© Copyright 2011 by Lanny & Patti Brown, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

From Priscilla, 8/5/1918

Kings Park, L.I.

Aug 5, 1918

My dearest Joe.

I was so happy to receive your always welcome letters and two cards.  Joe dear, do you receive the letters I write you?  I write every week and you surely ought to have quite a few.  I am so glad you aren’t in the trenches and I hate to think what might happen to you when you are in them.  Every night in my prayers I always pray for you and Jim, that you both might come back to us safe and unharmed.  Yes, and I’m afraid my kid brother will have to go now, as Gen. Crowder says all men + boys from 18 to 45 must go.  You must have a great time sleeping in billets with horrible rats running around.  Your army life is no cinch is it.  Well Joe we all hope for the best + are anxiously looking forward to when our boys come home again.  Joe I am sending you a little emblem of good luck, five leaves means extra good luck, so just put it in your purse for safe keeping.

If the weather in France is any thing like its here you boys have my greatest sympathy.  Yesterday it was 102 degrees in the shade, but thank heavens it’s a little cooler today.  I wish it was winter time.

Ours boys are doing wonderful work in France, the papers give wonderful news which I follow very closely.

Joe, my cousin and I are going to take some pictures today and if they turn out half way decent I’ll send you a couple.

I am still going to school, how I wish I was finished.

Do you hear very often from any folks in Jamaica?  Have you met any of your old friends yet?  I guess chances are slim in that line.  There are three brothers from here who were scarcely a mile apart and didn’t know it until they were moved to other towns.  All the boys from here always write and ask where Jim is thinking they might run across him, but none have so far.

I want this letter to catch the next mail so I’ll close with lots + lots of love.

Yours for ever

Perce

PS:  Excepted for the duration of the war + ever after.  Get me?

Be sure + write as soon as you can.  My cousin says she is going to write to you.

© Copyright 2011 by Lanny & Patti Brown, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

From John, Jamaica N.Y. 7/24/1918

John J. O'Farrell, Joe's brother-in-law

Jeffry Ave, Jamaica, N.Y.

24 July 1918

Dear Brother Joe:

I neglected to write you for a couple of weeks and ought to be kicked but you will forgive me I know.

Well, at last we are getting good news and the Huns are beginning to feel something new, the American spirit of youth and rightesnous which has never yet tasted the dregs of defeat, and I feel sure that before long Fritz will be back in his own yard, a pretty well licked cur, and when this war is over, the rest of the world will look up to Uncle Sam and his boys and salute them as the saviours of the world and liberty.

John Wulforst is now down in Georgia and will be going “Over There” before long.  My old boss, Paymaster Karker, is now on duty in France and has asked me to join him if possible.  I am seriously thinking of it and will go if I can arrange things in the Navy Dept for an indefinite leave of absence; I am sure that if I get duty with him it will only be a short time before I get a commission.

This war, as I told you once before is a man’s size job and is no skylarking expedition, but I know that when the time comes to show what you are made of, you will show the true American spirit of fearlessness and will do your duty as a real American patriot.  I trust that you will distinguish yourself and earn promotion by your valor in a true Spartan manner.  Our daily thoughts and prayers are for you, that you may do your duty and that God may decree that you shall come back to us again safe and sound and a better man for having gone through the fire and seen men do things that shows the fibre of which they are made.

I will close now, dear Joe, and trust that when this letter reaches you, it will find you in good health and spirits, and ready to knock hell out of any hun that you run up against.

With love from your father, Madaline, Robert and myself, I am, as ever,

Affectionately yours,

John J.

© Copyright 2011 by Lanny & Patti Brown, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

From John, Jamaica N.Y. 6/16/1918

John J. O'Farrell, Joe's Brother-in-law

Jeffry Ave, Jamaica, N.Y.

June 16, 1918

Dear brother Joe:

I suppose it will be some time before we get any mail from you but I know that you will be glad to hear from home, for when one is a distance from old New York they always like to know whether the old town is still on the map.  I don’t know whether you have heard of Fritz’s latest scheme, but he is now operating a few submarines off our coast, but like the brave man he is, he is attacking a few small unarmed craft and is taking damn good care to keep away from anything that looks like a war vessel or a transport in convoy.  Generally speaking he has made a fairly good mess of things.  My boss, Paymaster Karker, left for duty overseas the other day and before he left he fixed things so that I can follow him later if everything else is O.K.  I hope to be able to arrange matters, for I am really fond of him, as he is one of the most efficient officers in the Navy.  My old team, the Yankees are going pretty good so far this season and I am pulling for them to win the pennant.  Home Run Baker is pounding the cover off the ball and the rest of the team is following his example; the fans have nicknamed them “Murders Row” for the way the can slam that old ball.

Bill Zimmer, who formerly was quite a ball player here in town, I think you know him, was home from Camp Devens last Sunday.  He shapes up pretty good as a soldier and says he likes the life and that he has gained 20 lbs. in weight.  Doctor Hyland was around town in uniform yesterday.  He has just been made a first lieutenant in the Medical Corps and leaves in a few days for some camp.  Lieut. Fletcher, who lived down in Bergens house has also gone Over There.

I hope, Joe, that you are in good health and spirit, and that you are learning fast, so that when the proper time comes you will be able to fill any position of responsibility assigned you, for you are aware surely of our keen interest in your future.

I will close for now, dear brother, with the sincere wish that no matter what may happen you will always show the stuff you are made of and make us all feel proud of you.

With love and best wishes for all, and may God bless and protect you.  I remain, as ever.

Affectionately,

John

© Copyright 2011 by Lanny & Patti Brown, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Picture Card from Priscilla, 1918

Priscilla in Nurse's uniform, April 1918

I have on a trained nurse’s uniform. I regret that I am not one.  I’d go with you to France.

Fondest love,

Perce

© Copyright 2011 by Lanny & Patti Brown, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

From John, Jamaica N.Y. 6/8/1918

John J. O'Farrell, Joe's brother-in-law

Jeffry Ave, Jamaica, N.Y.

June 8, 1918

Dear Brother Joe:

We received your letter announcing your safe arrival overseas and you may rest assured that it was most gratifying news to the whole family, for we didn’t want our pride to meet with a mishap on the water.

The last time we saw you at Newport News I will always remember with a great deal of pride, for if ever I was proud of being an American it was that day.  To see the four young corporals, Maus, Jenison, Steed and the other fellow, I forget his name, with the look in their eye that they feared no hun that ever walked; four clean cut, typical American doughboys, the kind the Fritz will be sorry he ever came in contact with before they get through with him.  I always told you that the Marines when they got into action would show people some real fighting; well the last two weeks has proved this and the “hell hounds”, as the huns nicknamed them, have added to their old glory, for they have been pushing him back.  It seems ridiculous possibly for me to write you war news from here but it maybe that in your part of the world news is rather scarce.

This war is serious business and some people may speak lightly of it, but to me it is no child’s play, and I realize the position of yourself and the other boys, but I know that you will never flinch in the face of danger but will prove yourself more than worthy of the good opinion all your friends have of you, and that some day you will return to us with a medal of honor pinned to your breast, and in perfect physical condition.  You must remember that everyone that goes over does not meet his end, and dear Joe, you know that our daily prayers are for you, that you may do your duty and escape any serious injury.

Jamaica has very few of the boys you knew who are not in the service.  John Wulforst goes in a week or so, and as one fellow remarked the other day “its damned near time”.  I think Army life won’t hurt him very much; a little discipline will make a man of him.

The Navy Dept is still keeping me mighty busy and I have little time to myself, but I shall make it a practice to write to you regularly, as will Madaline and your other friends, for I know that word from home will act as the proper inspiration.  Mr. Grill asked me for your address, also John Creegan, and you may expect to hear from them shortly.  By the way, we are getting an “Over There” legend to place on our service flag.

Write to me when you can, I know there won’t be much real news that you will be allowed to give, but a word from you as to general health + life will always be awaited for eagerly.

Affectionately,

Brother John

© Copyright 2011 by Lanny & Patti Brown, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

From John, Jamaica N.Y. 5/9/1918

John J. O'Farrell, Joe's brother-in-law

Jeffry Ave, Jamaica, N.Y.

9 May 1918

Dear Joe:

From your latest letter I know that you will soon be on your way to fight the battle of right for humanity and the good old U.S.A. and I wish to God that I was with you, but my home ties and responsibility to my family prevent it, but later on if I am called I will be there to do my duty in the way that every true American should.  But, dear boy, keep the light of faith in your heart at all times and you will be a credit to yourself and family and the country that gave you birth.  Our heart and mind will be with you always and our prayers for your safety and good health will not go unanswered I feel sure.

When the time come to show what stuff your are made of, I am positive that the Bosches will see a genuine sample of American pluck and determination who will never flinch in the face of danger.  Keep before your eyes the figures of the poor defenseless, half starved women and children of war ridden Belgium, who were desecrated so inhumanly by a lot of cowardly beasts, not worthy of the name men.  Think of what that bunch of yellow curs would do to your sisters and their children if they were successful in ever reaching our shores.

Remember your God and your church and receive the sacraments as often as possible, whenever the opportunity affords, for you know that a good Catholic with the love of God in his heart will be guided through danger by the mystic hand of Jesus and his blessed mother Mary.

I am exceedingly busy at the present time, mainly on account of increased movement of troops and can’t get away for any length of time or otherwise I would make the trip to Norfolk to see you before you go over the top, but because we can’t make the trip, Joe, don’t think that we are neglectful of you.  We all appreciate the seriousness of the situation and our every thought is of you, but please keep in mind that if we were to make the trip maybe the parting would be harder to bear and we want our son to go into the conflict with head erect and unmindful of other things.

If there is anything you may want don’t hesitate to ask and we will send it to you.

I will close now, dear brother, with my heartfelt wishes for your safety and good conduct I the face of battle and in the hope that your name will be among those decorated for devotion to duty and patriotic service.  May God bless you always, affectionately,

John

© Copyright 2011 by Lanny & Patti Brown, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

American Red Cross Reply, 7/11/1918

 

© Copyright 2010 by Richard Martin, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

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