Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Letter To The Editor 1921 - Sarah Writes Home

Both my maternal great grandparents, Oliver M. Wallen and Sarah F. Davis, grew up in Rockcastle Co., Kentucky in the 1870s and 80s but left for Texas in 1905 because of health issues. When Oliver died just two years later his family returned home to Kentucky. In 1916, nine years after Oliver's death, Sarah married John Lloyd Livesay. John's family had been residents of the county for several generations. His father and grandfather owned the George S. Livesay & Son general store in the tiny town of Wabd. After they married, John and Sarah remained in Kentucky only two years before making the decision to move their family to Randolph, McLean Co., Illinois. The following letter appeared in the local newspaper, the Mt. Vernon Signal, on January 28, 1921:

Jan. 23, 1921
Randolph, Ill
Dear Editor:
   If you will allow me a little space in the dear old home paper I would like to send a few lines. It has been about fourteen months since we left the beautiful hills of dear old Kentucky and came to this state to live.
   We live in McLean Co., said to be the best county in the state. It is almost a level prairie divided into well kept farms with modern homes, good schools and churches. The soil is black and fertile. Grains of all kinds grow well, also fruits but very little attention is given to the latter except berries of various kinds.
   We all like this country very well. We have good roads and traveling is done with much more ease and comfort than it is there but we haven't reached the "honey pond" yet. It's farther on.
   Yet with all of it's good roads and nice homes and rich rolling prairies our mind wanders to scenes of our earlier days where the rocks and hills look rough and rugged to many people but to me they are not only beautiful but show the hand work of the great Creator who had created only the beautiful and good. Now this does not mean that we are homesick but that we haven't forgotten home and friends.
   We are always glad to get the Signal. It's like getting a letter from home. It is perused by each member of the family and it's the one who gets it first that gets to read it first but that one is now allowed to tell what he reads or read aloud as every one wants to have the pleasure of reading the news himself or herself. We read the home news first, then begin to look for the letters. Level Green comes first naturally as it is the place where so many pleasant memories of our home and school days linger. Of course there are sad recollections too, as in all our lives, for, as the poet said, "There was never a life so happy but has had it's time of tears." Wish the correspondent from Level Green would send a letter each week.
   We read all the letters. We're glad to hear from Livingston again; we don't know so many people there now, but attended one very pleasant term of school there a few years ago under the tutorship of Prof. Dickerson whose death we hated so much to read of recently. I think the correspondents from Hopewell and Withers are old school mates of mine. I wish some one at Wabd and Maretburg would write every week.
   I expect this long letter of not much importance will find a resting place in the waste basket. If not I may write again someday.
   Very truly yours,

This was an exciting find and I couldn't wait to share it with Sarah and John's daughter Myrtle, my half grand-aunt, who is 90 years old and still a very sharp lady. Most of Myrtle's photos and mementos burned up when the family farmhouse burned down in 1958. She wrote me an e-mail not too long ago and at the bottom she wrote: 

"Thank you so much for loving genealogy and sharing it with me!"  

Not in her wildest dreams could she know how much I appreciated those words.



  1. This is beautiful! What a treasure.

  2. Hello, Do you have copy of Oliver M wallen journal ?Im from Rockcastle co Ky the same area he lived .email me kyagate@windstream.net

  3. I have been transcribing his diary for quite some time but so many other things get in the way of finishing it.