December 31st, 1875
Before I say mass for the old year I must cancel your debt. I've been wanting to
write you for ten days, but head and hands have been kept at work fixing for Xmas,
that a chat with the absent could not be thought of. What a good thing Xmas comes
but one day in 365.
I laugh and tell them I'm like the boy who fell in a keg of molasses; "I don't
know about having enough, but I've got to the place it don't taste good."
The congregation gave our dear good pastor a donations party. He told me on
yesterday that he had enough to live on till next July.
I've enjoyed nothing more than seeing Sam
Tate, Jr. with a sofa. It's an arm chair with Boss tweed. Hand him
a copper, he will bow his head, smile and put it in his pocket. Sam
tells all about the $7000.00 and his escape. "Oh! Lala, give him
some money if you want to see him show off." Frank enjoyed Xmas
in a quiet way just like he does everything. I've kept him at home with
those I love most and best. "Santy Claus" gave me some beautiful
gifts. Well, the year is almost gone. It's a time for memory, tears and fears
and ever patient watchers that are asking to be relieved of our task because
it is accomplished. Are we ready to receive new guest for "his face is
at the door my friend." Inside a mighty feeling has been rushing over me
all the evening when I remember the many unaccomplished duties of 1875.
The shadows flicker to and fro; tis nearly 12 o'clock. "The good that I would,
I do not. The evil that I would not, that do I." The whole of life is
comprehended in one word. Duty. Oh, to do my duty, "not like dumb
driven cattle, be a hero in the strife." To take up the cross is one thing,
to bear it is another. Your last letter made me feel badly for I thought you had a
wrong idea of what I intended, and I did not know how to go about fixing matters,
for as I told you I can't talk behind folks backs and you won't let me
talk to your face, so I concluded to just let it go with the strong
convictions of a clear conscience. I'm not one bit curious, Capt. ------- [Laura
left the name blank.]
Now, I'm going to ask one favor of you this New Year, or rather make a bargain;
Don't let either of us fuss, find fault, or flatter, but take things just as we
find them. You want to know what I meant by saying, "From all wild beast
preserve me a tyrant, and from all fame a flatterer." I thought from your
letter that you suspected me of that deceitful art and I only wanted to assure
you how foreign it was to my mind, but I tell you now truly, very truly, I did
not intend to flatter. Now let it rest. I think and say no more about it.
Mother is still quite an invalid confined to her room all the time. We sit and talk
hours at a time. She telling me of the "joys that she has tasted, hope she has
buried till I wonder not at the sadness that clouds her calm care-warn face when
she tells me she is "only waiting to be reunited to the loved
ones gone before."
Our town is enlivened by a very pleasant reading club. We meet every Friday night,
devote an hour to reading. Two readers (one girl and one lady) make our own
I'm V.P. of this august body so you know tis a good institution.
We are having real Spring weather. I'm sorry for this, fearing the first irises
may come out but too soon and be killed by frost. Then I don't want to miss filling
our ice house.
We are all to dine at Cousin Sam's tomorrow. (family dination New Years). How I wish
you could be one of the guests. The young folks talked of New Years calls and having
wine, but Cora E. and Cora A. and myself are all G.T. and put our veto on it, so I
don't think we will have any drinking. I hope not at any rate.
Wish I'd time to tell you a good joke on myself and a blue back. It
was too funny, but they know now that when they board and put $25 and 30
every month is my pocket and go off house keeping they are not the same men, however.
Ray, Capt., Co. D.
W.G. Turner, 2nd Lieut.,
I never got one inch more intimate than politeness demanded and I am so glad of
Do you remember Grey Turner of the 6th Regt? He has had many ups and downs
since that fatal deed that had to be enacted under the apple
tree, but has ever been true to the grey and his gallant Regt. He is doing what he
can to work out a living here in our town.
*Col. Tate, **John, ***Willie, and myself are going down to Charlotte to hear Booth.
Not a word of news in our village.
Our mutual friend" Mrs. Cora Ervin, is well and happy. I enjoyed a day with
her this week.
Col. T. would have a pleasant message if he knew of my writing you. He is hard at
work on the R.R. [railroad], wants to get the [railroad] cars to "Malones
Store" (three miles above "Old Fort") by July.
****Cam and Sis Claude have recovered from their fall, sold Charlie, got another
horse and drives as fast as ever. When will people learn wisdom?
Wishing you a happy New Year crowned with uninterrupted good health and prosperity.
I'm very truly L.P.
Samuel McDowell Tate,
Lieut.-Colonel Co. D.
*Colonel Samuel McDowell Tate, distinguished commander of the Sixth North
Carolina Infantry Regiment at Gettysburg.
He married Laura's sister, Jane Sophronia Pearson.
**John Henry Pearson, Laura's brother, prominent Democratic leader and merchant of
Morganton. He married (Dec. 1878) Florence Walton at Grace Episcopal Church
in Morganton, N.C.
***William Simpson Pearson, Lawyer of Morganton and Charlotte. A director of the
mint at Charlotte.
****Duncan Cameron Pearson of Morganton, Laura's brother, a prominent
Republican leader and office holder.
Go to LETTER 2
Back to MESSAGES FROM A HIDDEN PAST