Saturday, August 6, 2011
Helen Melvina (Mellie) Groesbeck Morgan was a prolific letter writer. Part 1.
In 1869, the year following Mellie’s marriage to John Morgan, her mother Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck, left Mellie in charge of her younger siblings and the Groesbeck’s Salt Lake City household while she traveled to Springville, Utah. On August 14 Elizabeth wrote:
My dearly beloved daughter:
I received your kind and welcome letter this morning. I was very glad to hear that you were all well and so willing to do without me till next Friday. (More of this letter is posted here.)
Mellie frequently exchanged letters with her husband during the fourteen years he was away from home, assigned to the Southern States Mission as missionary and president.
On November 28, 1875 from Normal, Illinois John’s journal entry read, “It is Sunday, and I have just finished writing to Mellie.” From Selma, Illinois, on 7 March 1876, he wrote, “have written several letters home.” Upon reaching Rossville, Illinois on March 30 he wrote, “received a letter from Mellie with six stamps in it.” While still in Rossville on April 13th he wrote, “received a letter from Mellie.” And on 29 April 1876 In Perrysville, Indiana he wrote, “received a letter from Mellie, who reported. All Well.”
In his absence Mellie treasured his letters and prepared for his return.
On December 7, 1877 John Morgan arrived in Salt Lake at 8:20 p.m. and recorded in his journal, “Came up home and met my dear wife and children after an absence of 2 years, one month and ten days. My family all well.” The following day he wrote, “About home all day which I enjoyed very much. My wife had a new suit of clothes for me, which I needed very much. The rooms of the house were nicely fixed up and everything looked cosy and neat. I feel very thankful to God for His mercies and blessings.”
In October 1878, while John was back in the mission field, Mellie delivered her fourth child. She wrote to him with the news and on 17 October 1878 he recorded, “Started to write my letters and answered one from my wife informing me that a little babe [Ruth, born 4 October 1878] had been born into my family at home.”
On Christmas day, 1878, in Alabama he recorded, "Early this a.m. Brother R. A. Elkins took Elders Ralph Smith and E. Edlefson 10 miles on the way to Rome. I walked some distance with them and parted leaving them feeling well. In the p.m. I rode to the P. O. and got a letter from my wife. "
John and Mellie undoubtedly longed for the next letter; the familiar hand, the warmth and comfort the written words and news carried with them. However, not one letter written by Mellie to John survived.
(To be continued.)
John Hamilton Morgan Journal, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah. Helen Rex Frazier collection.