J.R. Baird Collection

Transcribed by: Wanda Ray

Transcription Date: 2.10.2006           



“Beauty’s Retreat”

March 13th 1866


Dear Nonnie:


From the commencement of yours dated February 25th I have but little encouragement in forming a reply, as I am taking the risk of causing the distraction of another delightful letter, but often perusing further I find such perfect gratification, that I make this attempt; trusting too, that of your goodness of heart will assist my uncouth style in evading a similar blunder.

I am badly wanting in words to express the ecstatic felicity produced by your most excellent favor.  Truly it came fraught with food for serious reflection and though I may have failed to give it the amt. deserved yet am as thoughtful fixed in my first opinions that my life will remain a blank without thee and my “absurdities and dullness of comprehension” still exist until you correct them.  Jesting aside I certainly never knew or understood by our real position, (not withstanding I felt that I had your confidence), until the reception of your last, which I think together with my confidant) so filled with good, sound, contemplated, truth, philosophy and justice.

Consequently after reading it carefully I feel most painfully my incapacity to respond as it deserves and equally so, my unworthiness of such a jewel as yourself.

My reluctancy in trying to decide upon “The eventful day” was caused partly by the belief, that you (very naturally) would much prefer the hills, (hence my endeavors) to this lonesome, gloomy Swamp where circumstances may force me for one or two years; this together with the conviction that t’was a heavy tax upon you to be torn from the bosom of an affectionate and loving family, that ever saddens at your sighs of delights in your smiles.  The ties of society, friends and pleasure are not forgotten in a day or a week – Oh! Fannie, when I contemplate all and feel even threw your willingness to have my lot I am ready honestly to be burned by piece-meals for your existence.  Thank you for your “unlimited confidence.”  T’would not only be false, but contrary to human nature for me to say I never doubted thee, but understand me – only such as those doubts I’ve read a dozen times, in your sweet laughing eyes – those that go inevitably with sincerity and link themselves with our lives, until settled or dismissed by some positive means.

Pardon me if I’m acted too hurriedly, but since I first loved you well enough to get my own consent, “to claim you as mine forever” seems to me a little eternite.  If I had only entertained my many thoughts and tender feelings for four months, then candidly I would have detained my serious confessions some time longer.

Made Miss Ann Mary a visit this morning.  Found her as gay and splashing as ever.  Spoke very highly of you and Miss M., for truthfulness or to sound me I cannot say which.  I was, as a matter of course, never so completely captivated by two young ladies in all my life.  She had just finished a letter to both of you and gave me the pleasure and

Page 2 March 13, 1866


priviledge of enclosing a blossom to each with the emblems.  Says she gave you a description of my plowing a yoke of young oxen – laughable I suppose – Yes after deciding in mind, thought I’d try the experiment as a last resort and when half the day was gone with breath, brains and everything else, I concluded that my fruits would be minus unless I had you to oversee.  Have been sick since my last, but, well now except my headaches and forefinger, which is sore from a cut, am writing without the use of it and doing better than I first expected, even worse scratching than this would be preferable to neglecting on disappointing my “Darling”.  Don’t you think?

Good for Tom.  Am glad at his progress and if he is sincere with Miss Carrie, from my experience, I know his heart must beat happily.  Her sincerity must not be questioned or she will say he is “cruel to doubt me.”  I have great confidence in Tom as

as a Lawyer or Lover and am satisfied he will wield the case as he chooses.

Looking up at your letter which is before me, I see “serenade” and by the way I am having the good luck to hear one – any night I choose.  Have a Danky “Fiddler” and several little laughing and dancing “Toy blossoms” who take it upon themselves when ever I feel inclined to listen.  Hear the violin now but ‘tis hardly so entertaining as Mr.

Elwell, elastic mouth” – can prove this by Miss. Mary.

Am ahead of all of my neighbors (you know I have a great many) in gardening.  Have Peas, Cabbage, Mustard, Radishes, and Onions up and growing nicely and by the time the overflow comes I’ll have a real feast for it.  Ma says I’d make a “first rate “Old Bachelor”.  While I think of it, you may if you desire keep my scribbling from the flames since many falsehood have come to light.  Would speak of and number them, if I had not promised positively otherwise, but this you know.  As for any member of the F_ seeing them, I’d enter not a single objection, notwithstanding they are sorry sights for show.  “Things” of this nature are always frivolous and ridiculous to those uninterested since they subject me to some embarrassing thoughts and perhaps unnecessarily so.  But I have tried enough not to become a member of any family without them knowing me in this way or any other.

Your claims are always first and far superior to all others with me.  I can make it convenient to be present at any time in six days after the arrival of your letter appointing the day.  I am aware of no great necessity of another visit, though crazy to see the idol of my soul.  When is my promised photo?  No matter what decision you make in regard to the form or manner of marriage, twill be entirely my desire of your will.  Oh I’m so happy at reading your sweet letter and learning your real feelings concerning happiness.  Much love to all.

I am unconditionally yours only



The next letter I write shall be nicer than this if it requires 2 days.  R