This letter from 1912 was out of order in my notebook, so let’s rewind eight years. By 1912, P.W. and Clara have been farming for seven years. J.W. Johnson, Clara’s uncle, is a successful businessman in Laramie. His oldest daughter Tillie (by his first wife) is married and probably living elsewhere. His three children by his second wife are Melven, Elwood and Evelyn. This letter is from the oldest son Melven – he would be Clara’s first cousin.
The language of the letter suggests that he’s mainly writing to P.W., so it seems that P.W. must have close with the Johnson family while he and Clara lived in Laramie. Melven has recently married the stepdaughter of an old friend of P.W.’s from the railroad days. Melven and his new wife have recently moved to Cheyenne where Melven works in a drug store.
The letter is written on the letterhead of the A.E. Roedel drug store. A little big of Googling reveals that the Roedel drug store existed until as recently as 2007 and was in continuous family ownership until it closed.
There are some relatives mentioned towards the end of the letter: Josie and Bailey Cornwall, Eva Cornwall-Fox, Aunt Minnie and Uncle Larsen. Bailey Cornwall is listed in J.W. Johnson’s obituary as a niece. I believe she was a relative of J.W.’s wives (who were sisters), and I think that’s the case with the other names that are mentioned too. However, there’s still much work to be done in fleshing out Gustafva’s and J.W.’s family back in Sweden so I’ll be sure to keep these names in mind.
Febr. 18, 1912
Your very welcome letter arrived and was sure glad to hear from you, also to receive your kind gift and wish to thank you very much for the remembrance and assure you that it is more than appreciated.
As we have not as yet found a suitable place to start housekeeping, most all our stuff is over at Laramie yet but we hope to get located soon and then such gifts as yours will more than come in handy and will help to get us something that we will be able to look back to and remember our relations in Nebraska. It was entirely unexpected and therefore all the more appreciated.
I have tried to find time to answer your letter before this but am kept pretty busy in the store as we are one man short and being one of the largest drug stores in the west it makes a hardship on all of us and necessarily causes all of us to work harder so if you will excuse the typewriting I will try and drop you a few lines while in the store between customers.
I don’t know whether you remember a Conductor on the road while you were here by the name of Hull. I guess he was braking about that time. Well it is his daughter that I married or rather his step daughter. Her name was Rae Daniels, a little dark haired girl, probably Clara will remember her.
We are getting along fine and dandy and I know I didn’t make any mistake by going into it and really wished that I could of done it a long time ago as its been just one continual round of please ever since and I think I have got one of the dearest little girls in the world.
I have got a pretty good job at present but the work is awfully hard and we are on the jump all the time. We have an $85,000 stock here and handle everything from paints and stock food up to tissue paper and violin strings. It is one of the largest retail drug stores in the west and I tell you we are on the go all the time as he has an awfully big trade besides doing some little wholesale business.
How is everyone in Nebraska? Gee I sure would like to come down there fro a trip this summer but I guess we will have to wait until next year before we can think of anything like that. I wish you folks would come out this way once. We sure would all be glad to see you again. Don’t you think it’s about time to make a trip? I’m anxious to see all those little children of yours and hope that it won’t be very long before we can get together someplace either out here to down there.
We have been having a very funny winter here and although very cold most of the time, the wind has been something fierce and I tell you it would be a relief to not have it for one day at least but that’s the way it always is, anything but comfortable and it almost makes one hate themselves. It hasn’t showed much signs of moderating either as today it is very cold. And I hope you are not having as bad a time of it as we have had.
We went to Denver after we were married and saw Josie and Bailey Cornwall, also Eva Cornwall-Fox and Aunt Minnie and Uncle Larsen and they all thought of you and wanted me to send my best regards to you folks the next time that I wrote to you so you see we don’t forget you even if it is a long time between spells that we write.
Well as I have had to get up and down during this letter I have almost forgotten about all I had to say so I guess I will stop for this time and try and write more next time. Now let me hear from you whenever you have time to write and don’t wait for an answer as you have more time than I have so write often.
With best regards to everyone I know and love to all of you and best wishes for the happiest New Year possible, I am