LOVE LETTERS AND MAIL ORDER BRIDES–February#blogabookscene by Cheryl Pierson

 

Ah, those wonderful love letters! Don’t we love reading them? I must admit I have an affinity for love letters because of the insights they give us into the past, and the people who lived then.

With Valentine’s Day almost here and my 39th wedding anniversary just celebrated on the 10th, love letters are something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Probably because of the time of year, but also because, as authors, we have to use letters and notes in our writing to “get the message” across that perhaps our characters might not be able to speak aloud.

 

My hubby is, like many men, not sentimental. He wouldn’t care if I never got him another Valentine’s Day or anniversary card, but they mean a lot to me—so we exchange them every year. I suspect that, through the years past right down to the present, most men didn’t and don’t make flowery love speeches from their hearts, or even write their innermost thoughts and feelings in cards and letters.

 

One of the most poignant love letters I know of is the famous letter written by Union Army Major Sullivan Ballou, just before the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861 where he died at the age of 32. Married only 6 years, he left behind two small sons and his wife, Sarah. The letter he wrote to Sarah days before he was killed is one that speaks poignantly of his guilt at having to choose between his duty to country and duty to family. Ken Burns used a shortened version of the letter in his series, The Civil War—and its contents are unforgettable, and so powerful it brings tears to my eyes every time I read it.

                                                                           SULLIVAN BALLOU

In part, it reads:

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar—that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

I had to come up with a love letter, of sorts, for my latest novel, Sabrina, part of the 4-book set entitled MAIL-ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS. Oh, nothing to beautiful as this letter penned by a soldier marching to his inevitable death, but a letter that had to convince Sabrina to leave her wealthy lifestyle in Philadelphia and come West to Indian Territory!

Sabrina and her three older sisters (Lola, written by Celia Yeary; Belle, written by Jacquie Rogers; Lizzy, written by Livia J. Washburn; and Sabrina, my character) have to have mail-order arrangements in order to get out of the fix they’re in with a step-father who plans to sell them to the highest bidder—and they don’t have much time to do it. When Sabrina receives two proposals on the same day, she counts her lucky stars that she’s able to compare the two letters and has a choice between the two men who have written her—something many women of the day did not have.

She’s safely with the man she’s chosen now, Cameron Fraser, but she’s remembering the day she received the letters and why she made the decision she did. Take a look:

She’d answered ads from both Cameron Fraser and David Mason. Ironically, she’d received offers from both men on the same day. That had been a blessing, as she was able to compare their responses immediately.

Mr. Mason had written one page, in sprawling wide script.

“I have need of a wife to help me raise my four children I was left with after my sainted Amelia passed on last year. Your help will be appreciated. And I will do right by you. I hope you are a willing worker and a good cook. Can you make good cornbread? That is a must in our home…”

She’d opened Mr. Mason’s letter first, and tucked it back into the envelope quickly. She’d hoped she’d managed to keep the revulsion from her face when her oldest sister, Lola, had come hurrying through the door. Lola was five years older, and Sabrina could never manage to keep a secret from her, no matter how she tried.

“Well?” Lola had asked, pinning Sabrina with “the look” that Sabrina dreaded.

“I haven’t read them,” Sabrina said defiantly.

“Bree. You know we have to get out of here—the sooner the better. We don’t have much time.”

Here’s the difference, and why she chose Cam. He wanted her for more than making cornbread!

Lola had turned and left the room, closing the door behind her. That’s how Sabrina knew her oldest sister was angry—or hurt. Maybe both.

She’d sighed, and begun to open the letter from Mr. Cameron Fraser. And before she’d read the entire first page of his two-page missive, she knew her decision was made.

 

Dear Miss Remington,

Thank you for your very kind response to the ad I placed for a bride. I felt out of place to do such a thing, but your answer made me glad I did so, after all.

I know that Indian Territory may seem uncivilized and wild to a well-bred lady such as yourself, who has grown up in the cultured, genteel society of the East, but I assure you, I will do everything in my power to welcome you. In no time at all, I hope you’ll come to think of the Territory as your home.

My family owns a fairly large cattle ranch in Indian Territory. I wanted to assure you that, although the ranch itself is somewhat isolated, we are close enough to Briartown to travel there frequently for supplies.

You will be safe here, Miss Remington, and cherished. You will be well-treated, and I promise you here and now, I will never raise a hand to you.

If it is your will, and I hope it will be, I am willing to be a good and loving father to any children we may have—and a good and loving husband to you.

The sky here is the bluest you’ve ever seen. The water is the freshest and coldest. And I hope you will come to love the open range as much as we Frasers do.

I await your arrival in Ft. Smith. I will meet you there, where we’ll be legally married in a civil ceremony before we travel together to the ranch. Enclosed, you will find a financial draft for your passage and travel expenses.

Sincerely,

Cameron James Fraser

 Something about the underlying feeling of the words Cam had written spoke to Sabrina. That he’d taken time to describe—even briefly—how he felt about his ranch made her know that he cared about her feelings—not just about what skills she might bring to the marriage table.

I see it, too, don’t you? He loves the land and his life, and wants her to share it with him. I wonder if women who were forced to take this route looked for these types of things—I know I would. And Sabrina is a bit of an adventurer, so going to Indian Territory would not hold her back. Adventure awaited!

Have you ever received a love letter that meant the world to you? I’ve had a few in my lifetime, and they’re tucked away in my desk and my heart! If you would like to share, we’d love to hear about your love letters—it’s that time of the year—love is in the air!

 

Here’s the blurb for MAIL ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS–buy link below!

Boxed set of four full length mail order bride novels.

Brought up in the wealth and comfort of Eastern “old money” in staid and proper Philadelphia, the Remington sisters are forced to scatter to the four winds and become mail-order brides. In order to gain a fortune, their sinister step-father, Josiah Bloodworth, has made plans to marry them off in loveless marriages. Time is running out, and no matter what lies ahead in their uncertain futures, it has to be better than the evil they’re running from…

LIZZY: Livia J. Washburn
Elizabeth Remington’s world is turned upside down when she is forced to become a mail-order bride. With her cat, Fulton, Lizzy flees to Alaska—only to discover the man she’s to marry is not who she thought he was! Now, she must protect herself from the biggest danger of all—her own heart. Handsome Flint McKinnon has signed his soul away to her step-father, hasn’t he? He’s chased Lizzy across the continent, but can she believe him when he says he loves her?

BELLE: Jacquie Rogers
Belle Remington must marry someone before the dangerous Neville Fenster catches up with her. She hightails it out of Philadelphia to the wilds of Idaho Territory to become a bootmaker’s bride, but when she arrives in Oreana, she discovers her groom has been murdered! Now, handsome, inebriated rancher Cord Callahan insists on fulfilling the marriage contract himself. Belle is beautiful and smart as a whip. But she has a secret. When Fenster shows up, can Cord protect the woman he wants to love forever?

SABRINA: Cheryl Pierson
Impulsive Sabrina Remington, the youngest, weds a man she knows her family would disapprove of. Though Cameron Fraser’s family owns a ranch in lawless Indian Territory, he’s made his way in the world with a gun, living barely on the right side of the law. With everything on the line as Bloodworth and his henchmen close in, will Cam be able to protect Sabrina from the desperate man who means to kidnap her for his own wicked purposes?

LOLA: Celia Yeary
Sensible Lola Remington, the eldest of the four sisters, must be certain the others are on their way to safety before she can think of fleeing Philadelphia herself. With the help of a local bridal agency, Lola finds the perfect husband for herself—in the wild countryside of Texas. Jack Rains owns a ranch and he’s in need of a bride—and children, of course! But just when Lola starts to believe there might be a future for them, she discovers a hidden letter from another woman…Jack’s first wife.

Mail Order Brides for Sale: The Remington Sisters is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon. Here’s the link!

http://tinyurl.com/y8cmb4m8

PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS WEBSITE: http://www.prairierosepublications.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cheryl.pierson.92

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Cherokeegirl57

Cheryl Pierson
A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 37 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.pierson.92
http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules

24 Comments

  1. Any letters, notes, or cards that warmed my heart at the time are now all gone as are the ones who sent them. Those that have such treasures should hold them in precious keeping.

    1. Jerri, I agree. My mom was one to keep everything sentimental. When she and my dad passed away my sister and I went through all their stuff, and I’ve got a lot of it up in my attic. We started going through it at their house, but it was too emotional and we were pressed for time so we both took some boxes with us to our houses and then she ended up having a stroke not long afterward, so I ended up with all of her stuff like that. I go through it a little at a time, and oh, what treasures. I don’t think either of my kids will ever care about these letters from the past and keepsakes, but I’m still keeping most of them for them, just in case.

  2. Cheryl the anthology sounds great. My husband is a quite man in general, but he does give me sweet cards and candy OR my fav, beef jerky, peanuts, for Valentines Day and he usually puts something like. “Tonya, I love you more today than yesterday, and I’ll love you more tomorrow than I do today.”
    Those words just melt my heart.

    1. Hi Tonya! Thank you! I think you will love the set. These are all full length novels rather than short stories, and let me warn you, you will not want to put them down. Sounds like you have a keeper of a hubby. If my hubby ever said anything like that to me it would melt my heart, too. You are one lucky lady!

  3. I wish I got letters like that. My husband is not sentimental either.

    1. Debra, my hubby came from a very unemotional family–not any hugging or much touchy-feely stuff and CERTAINLY no talking about feelings. HOWEVER, he is a songwriter, so in the beginning of our relationship, he did write me some really nice letters and even a song or two. After 39 years of marriage, that doesn’t happen much anymore. LOL

  4. I have never gotten love letters.. But I have had cards and letters from friends and family that I cherish.

    1. Kathleen, those are love letters of a sort, really. I mentioned in an earlier comment about the letters, cards and so on I ended up “inheriting” from my parents’ house when they passed away. Among those are the cards and letters I sent to them. My mom took those letters and made notes on them–things she wanted to ask me about, etc. Those, I will never get rid of.

  5. My husband was in the army when we met. We actually got to know each other and grew to love each other through letters. I received wonderful love letters from him. We will celebrate forty three years of marriage this year.

    1. Melanie, that is sooo cool! I know there are many young people who began their relationship that way and you know, I think that really helps people understand one another–the written word is so powerful, and you can go back and reread it and think about it–not like “just” a phone call. When my sister was going to college in Hawaii back in the 60’s long distance phone calls cost a mint, so my parents bought my sister a little cassette tape recorder (those had just been invented) and they would send tapes back and forth. I still have some of those. I remember how my mom would buy that really thin onion-skin stationery to write to her because “air-mail” postage cost so much. Thanks for stopping by today!

  6. Congratulations on the new boxed set, Cheryl! Nothing gets my imagination stirred up quite like mail order bride stories. These really intrigue me. Your letter to Sabrina mentioning cornbread makes me laugh. So funny. Cameron is the kind of man we all would like to marry. I adore love letters. It’s odd sometimes what men think important to put in them. Major Sullivan Ballou’s letter is quite poignant and sad. He died so young.

    Love and hugs!

    1. Thanks, Linda! And congrats to you too for your new release! You know, probably nothing would have scared Sabrina more than being expected to cook and take care of 4 kids. LOL With her being the baby sister, she was pretty used to them all kind of taking over and she’d not really made a lot of her own decisions. Cam’s letter really touched her because she sensed a kindred spirit in him–kind of rebellious, you know? LOL

      I love love letters, too, Linda. You can tell so much about a person by what they put on paper. You know, I can’t watch that segment of THE CIVIL WAR where Sullivan Ballou’s letter is read with that beautiful music playing in the background, and the pictures are being shown without just bawling. Now THAT is a LOVE LETTER!

      Thanks for stopping by today! XOXO

  7. I have photocopies of love letters exchanged by my great-grandparents.

    1. Denise, that is so cool. I don’t have anything like that. I do have some old pictures of my great great grandparents, though. Boy, from the looks of them at that point in time, you’d never now they’d ever been in love, much less written any kind of love letters. LOL I do have some love letters from my parents to each other though.

  8. Congratulations on the new set of books! I love mail order bride stories.

    BTW, when I read Cameron’s letter I nearly jumped out of my chair! Not only because it was just so wonderful but also because he mentioned Briartown–very, _very_ close to where my great-grandfather and family lived. Frequent mentions have been made for them of Porum (nearby to the north), Texanna, Longtown, and Eufaula (to the east), and Whitefield and Enterprise (to the south). My mom, son and I have driven over all the back roads there we could find–including Briartown–to be where they were. And as I’m sure you know, that was Belle Starr country too (along with the James-Younger Gang, the Daltons and others hiding out on her land).

    Good luck with the new books! I can’t wait to read about Sabrina and Cameron, and of course Briartown!! 🙂

    1. Hi Eliza! That is really something, isn’t it, about your family being from Briartown and Porum. I used those towns in my Wolf Creek stories, too. Yes, I remember about Belle Starr and the other outlaws that frequented that part of Indian Territory.

      I love Sabrina and Cam’s story, but all of the sisters have wonderful stories and they all take such different paths to get away from what their stepfather has planned for them. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  9. My dad sent me letters that I have kept over the years. Also, a great aunt sent postcards when I was in high school. I still have those and letters and cards from my grandmother.

    I love reading letters. When I was studying Olive Schreiner, an author, I came across several books of her letters to other people. I loved reading those.

    1. I love letters, too, Sally. I remember how, growing up, my mom waited for the mail to come every day, anticipating letters from her family. She was the oldest of 11 kids and they all wrote back and forth, but especially to her since she was like their 2nd mother. When I start cleaning out stuff, it’s going to be really hard to part with letters from long ago. Those are truly “something” of the people who wrote them, aren’t they? Thanks for stopping by!

  10. I have an email and note from my Daddy. He’s been in Heaven since 2011.

    Thank you for this lovely post!

    1. Aw, Caryl. My mom and dad are both gone, too, and I might not be able to ever part with any of their cards and letters when I start my “sorting”. I really wish my kids were more interested in the past but I think in today’s world, they’re just trying to get through, day to day.

      So glad you came by.

  11. Both sets of my grandparents married out of necessary not so much for love though both sets stayed married for over 50 years and neither of my grandmothers worked out of the homes. Both there husbands died years before they did.

    1. Kim, I think that happened a lot back then. I know my great grandmother married the 2nd time for necessity–I’m sure they grew to love one another, but her 1st hubby died and left her with 4 little ones, then the man she married had been a widower for a bit, too, and had 5 or 6 little ones himself. They married and had MORE KIDS. I think they ended up with a total of 17 yours, mine and ours. I guess people just made the best of things and went on with daily living.

  12. Congrats Cheryl on 39 years. That’s wonderful. I’m really looking forward to reading all the Remmington Sister’s books. I too would have chosen Cameron. 🙂 I have many letters from my in-laws from WWll and my late parents as well. I treasure them. Thank you for the post.
    Carol Luciano

    1. Hi Carol! Thank you–there were many times I wondered if we’d make this long! LOL

      I think I’ve kept every love letter/card from my hubby and I need to go through those and get rid of some of them…I hate to, but I had to clean out my parents’ house when they passed on, and I don’t want to leave that kind of thing for my own kids, so it’s time.

      Yes, I would definitely have picked Cam, too–and Sabrina was doubly glad she did when she had the rare opportunity to actually pass through the town where the other suitor lived and see him at work in his blacksmith shop. LOL She knew she’d picked right.

      Thanks for coming by, Carol!

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