LOVE LETTERS AND MAIL ORDER BRIDES 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 just passed, and my 42nd 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 do have to add that there might be hope, because he sent me a dozen red roses and a box of candy–along with a very sentimental note–for our anniversary!) 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 2017 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. At only .99 for the Kindle edition, this is a STEAL!  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

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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: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 40 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
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38 thoughts on “LOVE LETTERS AND MAIL ORDER BRIDES by CHERYL PIERSON”

  1. I do have some special letters from my husband.

    I have some treasured letters written by my great grandparents from the early 1900s. They died young, leaving eleven of their thirteen children orphans–two had died in infancy.

    denise

    • Oh, goodness, Denise. That is a treasure that you have those letters. I have some that my parents wrote to one another that are so precious. Hope you had a great Valentine’s Day!

  2. I adore love letters, I can’t imagine what it feels like to receive one, because I haven’t ever gotten one yet, except for my baby cousins writing me the cutest ones literally every month since they learned to write. I did receive an anonymous valentines note in my locker at college yesterday, but it was very straightforward and I didn’t much care for the words at all, I don’t think guys at my college can write sentiment to be honest. Also, Sullivan’s story is so sad, and his words are so moving. Sabrina’s story sounds wonderful as well <3

    • I’m so glad you stopped by today! I think writing love letters is a lost art in today’s world, honestly. With the hectic pace of life anymore, it’s tough to find anyone who can or will take the time to sit down and put pen to paper and write a love letter rather than just texting something. I hope you’ll be able to get this set and that you enjoy reading it. This is one of my favorite projects — I really enjoyed working with the three other authors on this one!

    • Debra, I think people generally took more time and placed such value on each word they chose to use in their correspondence than we do today. I remember how my mom used to check the mail so often hoping for letters from her mom or siblings, and later from my sisters, too, when they left home. It was such a lifeline back then–all letters. Everything has changed in our lifestyle.

    • Hi Janine, I think I have saved every card my hubby has given me–and that’s a lot. LOL He’s not sentimental. He just trashes the ones I give him after a few days. BUT…I think I’ve saved a few of those, too. I will probably start “weeding out” soon. I don’t want to leave all that for my kids to deal with. I’m thinking what I might do is take pictures of some of the most special ones so I’ll have them preserved somewhere, at least!

  3. Such fun to read this blog today! I have a box of letters my dad wrote to mom before they got married. He even made her a homemade Valentine! Their written words were passionate, loving, kind, and funny. What an honor to still have those treasures.

    • Oh, Kathy! A homemade Valentine! That is priceless! But, back then, people did more thoughtful things like that for one another. That is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever heard of. I agree–having those things is an honor. They truly are TREASURES! Thanks so much for stopping by today!

  4. I don’t have any love letter here but did enjoy your post. I can’t wait to read this book because I love mail order bride books and I think I will check it out.

    • Quilt Lady, I really think you’ll enjoy these stories. My hubby writes songs–he used to write love songs “back in the day” but not so much anymore (HA!) . He did write me a few love letters, notes in cards, and so on, and I treasure those because they are so few and far between. Glad you stopped by today and hope you enjoy the stories!

  5. Welcome today. This is a great post. Sounds like a fabulous story. I am a hopeless romantic. My husband is totally not. Maybe that is one reason I love mail order brides books. Hope you had a fabulous Valentines Day.

    • Lori, sounds like we are married to “twin sons of different mothers” and you and I have a lot in common, too! I’m totally romantic. I think of all the nuances and meanings, and what the looks and glances and smiles might “portend”–but I just love to read and write about them because my hubby is very straightforward and not romantic — although, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I got those roses and candy for our anniversary! LOL So I guess, “Never say ‘never’.” Glad you stopped by today!

  6. LOVE stories about Mail order brides! It’s fascinating to me that a marriage can be made by two people in that manner (more of a business arrangement!) Ordering these books now!

    • Teresa, I love mail order bride stories, too. They’re probably my favorite kind of western romance. Maybe because, though some things might be ‘predictable’–there are so many things that are unique to each situation! So, though there is a familiarity, there is always a surprise because we don’t know how things are going to be resolved. I can’t imagine giving up everything familiar to go someplace I didn’t know a thing about and marry a man I had never met! I hope you enjoy these stories!

  7. Cheryl, Thank you for the lovely post. My parent’s were pen pals before they married. My Daddy was in the army, so one of his cousins had my mom write to him.

    • Oh, what a great beginning to a relationship, and then a marriage, Caryl. That’s really sweet and different, and just wonderful. I think that’s probably one of the very best ways to get to know someone’s heart, mind, thoughts–REALLY know them–even before you ever meet them. Thanks for stopping by today and commenting. I always look forward to your comments. Hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

  8. Cheryl, I love your post. That letter Major Sullivan wrote gave me chills, especially that last line. So much emotion from a time when men were taught to show very little. I think he might’ve had a premonition of dying. It’s very touching. Your mail order bride series fascinates me. These women have their backs against the wall but they’re strong. I love that about mail order bride stories. Wishing you much success, dear filly sister. Love you dearly.

    • Linda, I’m so glad you dropped by today! I’m like you–that letter gives me chills, too. And to hear it read by the person who did that in Ken Burns’ Civil War series…that brings me to tears, every single time. I think you are right that he must have had a premonition. I love mail order bride stories, for sure! They are probably my favorites. I think every mail order bride story has at the heart of it a very strong woman who is not really running ‘away’ from something but running to a chance at a future that is better than what she’s faced with where she is. Thank you for your kind words, my dear friend. Love you, too! We need to catch up!!! XOXO

  9. Love your post, Cheryl. I’m an incurable romantic, so I guess that’s why I’m a romance writer. I love Sullivan’s love letter. I can well imagine he never wanted to go to war, but being an honorable and patriotic man, he had to make a choice. Personally, the beauty of his prose makes me think he was a poet in the making. How wonderful that his words have lived on. Shortly after my Doug proposed, he went on a six-month N,A,T.O. peacekeeping mission to Cyprus. We exchanged lots and lots of love letters and we were married a month after he came home. A year later he was posted to Germany. I still remember us burning all our letters in a barrel behind a dear friend’s house. I stayed a month with her until Doug was able to secure lodgings for us in Germany. We stored our things with my grandmother, but didn’t want to chance someone finding our packets of letters. So, we don’t have the letters, but I have saved every card we exchanged over the years and there are a lot of them. Many of them were those big romantic cards to “my wife” but I don’t see them anymore. One year we had a really good laugh on Valentine’s Day. Not only did he give me red roses, but his card was identical to mine! I’ll have to dig through my photos and post it. Talk about great minds thinking alike, eh? I bought the Remington Sisters set last year. I think it’s about high time I read them because I love mail-order bride books and wrote one myself years ago. Every now and then Abby whispers in my ear to find her and Nathan and blow off the dust

    • Elizabeth! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Well, if I HAD any torrid love letters from Gary I would probably burn them too. I wouldn’t want my kids finding them. My parents’ love letters are not torrid at all. Just full of making plans and love, and so on, since they had known each other from the time they started 1st grade together. Dad always called my mom his “older woman” to tease her. She was born in January and he was born in May. LOL I have all of Gary’s cards, too, and they are wonderful because I know they say all the things he would write if he was to write a love letter. Isn’t it nice to have Hallmark around? LOL Take care, Elizabeth! So good to hear from you!

  10. Thank you for sharing CHERYL. What an amazing post about romance. I hope you had an amazing Valentines. I sure did.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Tonya! And glad to hear you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! We had a good one, too, very low-key and relaxing–couldn’t do anything anyhow with all this snow! LOL

  11. It is really a shame that letters are not written like they were in the past. Text messages and emails lack so much in feelings and true passion. During the Vietnam War, phone calls were impossible or terribly expensive. There were no cell phones to text with or internet to email on. I have letters from the end of my Peace Corps tour and then the ones when my fiancé (and then husband )was sent over to the war just weeks after I returned to the US. They are not nearly as eloquent as those from Major Sullivan Ballou, but they shared feelings, plans, experiences, and yearnings. I have saved them all and cherish them. They cover over 3 years of time that was hopeful, joyful, frightening, and lonely. It is really a shame that the language like Major Sullivan Ballou used is no longer in style. It is beautiful, poignant, and eternal in its meaning and impact.

    I already have these Mail Order Bride books. Now to find the time to read them.

    • Hi Patricia! So glad you stopped by. Yes, I agree–love letters like this are one in a million–but it does make you wonder how many other men wrote these same kinds of letters to their loved ones during this time period that were never discovered, doesn’t it? I wish we knew! It sounds like you and your hubby learned a lot about one another through your letters, and I think that is the basis of a good relationship–just being able to say what you mean to one another, whether it is “eloquent” or not–it’s meaningful, no matter what! Hope you all had a Happy Valentine’s Day!

  12. I always enjoy your posts, Cheryl. I don’t have any love letters to share, but the two letters you shared is why I love Historical Romance, especially mail-order bride stories. How romantic! And sad. I’m sure what Major Ballou wrote in his letter happened to many, many Civil War veterans.

    • Sharon, thank you so much for your kind words! I’m so glad you stopped by, always love to see your comments! Yes, I agree–those sentimental love letters probably happened more than we know. It was a time of great uncertainty and I’m sure many men committed their thoughts and feelings to letters to their wives and loved ones thinking they’d never see them again. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting, Sharon!

    • Thanks, Alicia! I’m so glad you stopped by — sorry I’m kind of late in replying, we couldn’t use the computers yesterday due to rolling blackouts (I live in Oklahoma and we’re part of 13 states that are in the grip of this horrible Siberian cold, so they’re trying to preserve energy.) I think the rest of the week has GOT to improve–maybe with some “above zero” temperatures! LOL Glad you enjoyed the read!

    • Thanks, Jacquie! I still say this project was probably my favorite of all group projects I’ve ever worked on in my entire life. We sure had fun with our characters and their situations, didn’t we? And it all came to a very SATISFYING END! LOL Thanks for stopping by, my friend! XOXO

    • Sarah, what a treasure those must be to you! I think my husband has written maybe two. LOL And they were short. But they are all so precious to us, aren’t they? The sentiment never fades.

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