The Letters in the Antique Trunk

I’ve done my best to put these in chronological order using the clues in the context. They were translated as literally as my abilities to decipher the antique handwriting would allow. The words and names in brackets are those that I could not definitively make out. My intentions are to research the history and genealogy of the characters and update these posts accordingly. I will outline the story and give a brief synopsis of the events. If you find it remotely interesting to look through the window of history and spy into another era, then I implore you to acquaint yourself with the characters and read the letters. I am certain that you will not be disappointed.

The Story

As of 1899, the Young family made Glen Elder Kansas their home. The people mentioned include the matriarch, Pauline and her children. With the exception of the one written by the mother “Pauline”, the letters are all written to or by “Freeta”. They include letters written by her sister “Pauline” and brother “George”. A brother called “Johan” is mentioned, as well as a person named “John”, who may or may not be another brother, or even the same “Johan”.

The story begins with a letter from Freeta’s sweetheart “L.J. Anderson”, who is living and working in Glen Elder, Kansas. Freeta is away, and it is unclear for how long. What is clear is that L.J. is smitten with Freeta, as he calls her his “wife” and peppers the letters with “Here is a kiss”. He also intends to incite a jealous reaction by mentioning the attractive girls in town and how some of them are interested in him. This serves him well to reassure her that although others find him attractive, he only has eyes for her.

L.J. is a farm laborer and follows the harvest crews to make the few dollars per week (which must have been good pay in those times). Subsequent letters reveal that Freeta is in Taloga, Oklahoma Territory. In translating, it took my by surprise to realize that I was holding letters written up to eight years before Oklahoma became a state.

The letters are rich with details and insight into Western life at the turn of the 20th century. We get a rare glimpse into the personal lives of a family of German immigrants making their place in the harsh, yet promising landscape of the Great Plains. They are full of love, hope, disappointment, loneliness and restlessness as we trace the romance and marriage of Freeta and L.J. through their letters and those of Freeta’s familiy.

By the last letter in 1912, it seems that Freeta and husband L.J. have a farm in Glen Elder. L.J. is still working the harvest crews and Freeta is away (presumably in Oklahoma) The multi-paged letters filled with tenderness have given way to letters that are lonely and almost businesslike.

There is no mention of children, so my next project is to piece together how and when Grandma Reenie came into the picture.



Date: July 9, 1899

From: L.J Anderson in Glen Elder Kansas


Date: July 23, 1899

From: L.J Anderson in Glen Elder Kansas

To: Freeta Young


Date: October 28, ????

From: Pauline Young in Taloga Oklahoma

To: Freeta Young


Date: December 12, 1899

From: L.J. Anderson in Superior, Nebraska


Date: July 12, 1900

From: George in Waukomis O.T. (Oklahoma Territory)

To: Freeta


Date: December 2, 1900

From: Pauline in Taloga, OT

To: Freeta


Date: December “Dezember” (?), 1900

From: Pauline (the elder) in Glen Elder, Kansas

To: Pauline (daughter)


Date: July 16, 1912

From: L.J. Anderson in Glen Elder, Kansas

To: Freeta Anderson


Date: July 19, 1912

From: L.J. Anderson in Glen Elder, Kansas

To: Freeta Anderson


Date: October 28, (1900,1906 or 1917?)

From: Freeta Anderson in Glen Elder, Kansas

To: L.J. Anderson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: