1813 – 1931

Barnes Family Letters

Watson, Ark.
Jan 5 - 24

Dear Aunt Mary

          I have started to write to you several times since I heard of Aunt B's death but just couldn't. I was not much surprised but a death of our dear ones always shocks us even if we are expecting it. I knew that her health was bad. She told me once that they would find her dead some time. Am so sorry none of my children were not at funeral. Stella said she would have gone if she had known it, and I am sure Fred would. I was too far away, had I been informed of her death. Am glad Ma went. She wrote to me about it at once. Uncle John will miss her. I feel sorry for him. He wrote to me and sent something for me to sign, said his mind was at sea. Did not know what to do. I wrote him immediately and asked him to write to me occasionlly and let me know where he is and how he is getting along. He wont though -I know- He never did seem to care one thing for me. I love him - because - if nothing else - he is my Father's brother.

          Aunt B is better off and she did what we all are going to have to do.

          We are having some terrible cold weather - milk frozen hard in kitchen. It hurts me - this cole-I can hardly stand it. We have had lots and lots of rain lately. Seems like it rained all of December. Xmas dull with me. I was truly glad when it was over. If I feel like going, I intend to go to see Ma some time this month. I am not well - never feel right well but will go if I can. I wont go to Tylertown or Foxworth. If my children want to see me they will have to take to doing some of the going. I feel my age and cant go so much. I intend to go see Ma as long as she lives it I am able to travel.

          God gave us only one Mother, Aunt Mary, do write and tell me about yourself and all. Love to Loula, Charlie, and yourself. God bless you is my prayer.


H.B. (Huntington Beach) Cal

          Dear Aunt M. & Folks,

          I wrote Papa today that he could come out anytime after Feby 1st as we are moving to Long Beach then and will get extra room for him.

          Now I want you to do me a favor. He speakes of shipping 5 or 6 boxes of books weighing #100 lbs. Thats absolutely nonsense. He can bring enough in his trunks allowed 150 lbs also see that he doesn't do that nor send one piece of furnature as it is hardly worth the freight to Lbrton. Anything you folks can use take it. I have enough money to take care of him but none to waste and this isnt a pleasure trip but a neccessity and try and make him see it in that light. And if you honestly think he isn't fully decided about coming, dont let him come as it is 3000 miles here.

          Also I don't show Blanch one half of his letters. They are too morbid, blue and full of advice. I can hardly recall having a cheerful letter from N.A. in 5 years. I would be hard for Blanch to understand so tell him not to write all those blue things.

          Van gone to Hell also Dan (?) all the time. Be frank about it -1 am not worrying about Van & Dan - only mildly. They are grown men so thats that. Then you folks wonder why I like Calif, and wouldn't live South if they gave me the Country.

          Now Aunt Mary after all this I dont want you to think we dont want Papa to come out for we do. Blanch is anxious to have him come, she doesn't know or realize I am afraid how nerveous he is etc, but we will all be fine if he can be satisfied and I hope if he comes he will want to stay for I can always take care of him I believe and want to.

          I've read this letter over and feel as tho I might better tear it up but believe you can appreciate my feeling without being prejudiced. In a nut shell I am the one to take care of Papa and realize it, and knowing how excited he gets about nothing I am asking you to help me from that end.

Love to all
Hugh & Blanche

H.B. Cal
Jan 5, 1924

Dear Dad,

          Your numerous letters recently. We are going to move to Long Beach Feby 1st if nothing occurs, so you can plan to come out after Feby 1st.

          Now I wouldn’t think of bringing anymore out here than 150 lbsallowed baggage. None of that furniture is worth moving any further than Lbrton and you certainly can select enough "favorites" among your books not to try to bring your library.

          I havent got too much money however enough to take care of you and I expect the reason I have is that I dont get excited unduly when I have a few dollars and waste it.

          So we should try and get along as smoothly as possible not incur a bunch of expense unneccessarily.

          From what you write I dont suppose Van is going to help much and I dont expect Dan to.

          So rent or sell the house bring out your needed books and no more, and do not send or ship any of H H goods here at all. Of course you would have fond memories of all the things, but you cant extend that to a bunch of wore out furniture etc., and my worries and regrets are not what to do with a few H H goods, but what I failed to do when Mama and Aunt B were alive.

          Also you may not like it out here and all the extra expense would be doubled. I realize you are all torn up, but we have to think along material lines at times never the less.

          We want you to come out and stay as long as you want to. You are bound to like the Country, but whether the people and missing old acquaintances time can only tell.

          I dont want you to think that a tone is creeping in my letters that we are giving you an invitation reluctanly for we are not, but Calif is 3000 miles away not like jumping over to Lbrton etc., therefore must be given more thought to just what you want to do.

          Take care of yourself and let me know just the status of things.

Love to you
Hugh & Blanch

Prentiss, Miss

Feb. 20th / 24
Mrs. Mary Barnes

Dear Cousin,

          We received yours and Cousin John's Letter Monday.

          Trust you are still improving and will soon be yourself again. I feel sorry for your brother in having to give up his loved ones and home but there is many such sad experiences in life.

          I ought to have written you when your letter telling us about your Sister's death, but kept thinking we would get off to see you. Her sudden death was an unexpected shock as we had planed to see you all together again. When I think of her placid looks and ways I feel there is nothing to greive over, that all is well with her Soul.

          Mr Brady says tell you we are coming just as soon as he can get things arranged so he can leave home and the weather will permit, and to tell Cousin John not to rush off too soon.

          Will tell you the news when we come. Love from both

Martha Brady

246 Euclid Avenue
Long Beach, California
March 15, 1924

Dear Sister:

          I am pleased with the kindness both Hugh and Blanche show me. But, dear old Sis, I would rather be back in old Mississippi if I had any sure plan to make my expenses. But when I was elected there County Attorney my Civil work all left my office, so it looks as if I'll have to stay here.

          Moreover, while this section would fascinate any and all young persons it is too fast for aged men and women. For instance, if the autos have any speed limit I have neither seen any posted warnings or otherwise learned of any restraint at all in speeds. And the record of auto deaths in Los Angeles is greater than New York City which is about five times as large in population as L.A., and L.A. is a suburb of L.A. for it is a town all the way. I beleive they have perhaps two places incorporated as towns between L.A. & L.B.

          I asked Van about his chek for Sister B's tombstone. He said he received it in his statement las October. So Hoffman, hundered by cold, told a --- --- !

          I wrote him from here to send you and me a photo of it when he sets it up. No news- haven't seen a soul except my own loved ones since I left.

Your bro John
P.S. I didn't know I was so green, but I never saw conveniences for house and home that would come near what Hugh and his friends have. And the houses are the finest finish. Drawers in some walls, with shelves with glass doors in others - places for everything, so that Blanche is never confused as to where to deposit any article. Chairs from $110.00 to $135.00 each. Sofa $250!!!!!!!! Hard to believe but true. Other cheaper chairs of course.

246 Euclid Avenue
Long Beach, California
March 19,1924

          Dear Sister:

          I guess I am writing mostly to aid whiling away the time.

          We all went to Los Angeles yesterday to see and hear a vaudville show, but went first to Ingleside a cemetery on the outskirts of Los Angeles where Blanche's mother is burried.

          Her tomb is not yet set up but each grave is marked with a number on a metal plate, so that there is no danger of losing the location of a grave.

          Another new grave yard custom, feature, usage prevails. They never raise the mound on a grave above the natural surface, and this is because they run a mower over the entire cemetery, graves and all. The entire suface is covered with a beautiful even grass, that seems never to grow high and Mrs Little's grave was matted over with this grass so that you couldn't tell by looking at it but what she had been buried for years.

          A ready adaptability to meet with serene prudecnce every opportunity, trial, circumstance and experience is a comforting trait of character. Blanche wept silent tears at the grave, then attended the vaudville just like anyone else might do.

          It was both white and then negro humor and dialogue between only persons in each play, wherein it differed from a regular drama. Girls dressed in tights, also in full dresses but the touches of indecency were not so vile and bold as I have seen. A mixed band of string and cornet furnished music while girls turned somersaults and whirled cart-wheel style clear across the stage.

          While it was a decent as such things ever are, there was absolutely nothing done, acted, or shown which had the least educative value to either the mind or to the morals.

          Language falls in limp failure in any effort to give a word picture of the place, the autos, the hurry-skurry, pell-mell, touch and go scenes to be observed here. Even men of extensive travel say it is the fastest city they ever saw.

          Gas filling stations have the sign "Service Station" and on the highways from town to town a station is to be found every two or three hundred yards. Each Station has a retreat - prive - for the convenience of patrons and the general passing public.

          When you think of Los Angeles forget its 1/6 size of New York, and remember it as 3 times as big as New Orleans in population; for New Orleans is only about 1/18th as New York.

          It is usually fair here, and never freezes, but the ocean wind makes men and women even now, wear overcoats most of the time. It is strangely chilly compared to the stand of a thermometer.

          Lastily: I do not believe I am improving any at all in my bladder or kidney troubles, and I feel that it is the beginning of the end.

          God bless you and let us all hold to Faith in our only hope to meet the loved ones gone on before us.

Your bro John

246 Euclid Avenue
Long Beach California
April 4, 1924

Dear Sister:

          I have no news much. It has rained here every few days for two or three weeks, and as rain is too scarce here the people seem to be made glad by it. The rain is so seldom that you see but few people on the streets with either umbrellas or rain coats - dont own them, I guess from needing them so rarely.

          Hugh and Blanche are gone to Huntington Beach to a card party. Blanche won - Oh, a something - the other day - hopes to win a fork or something today, and it rained this morning - nearly 12 now, and there is danger of auto skidding as every rain causes one or more fatal skidding.

          Now this, as follows, is my main reason for writing. I saw Van at Sweetwater and he said he had back for two or more months, the paid check for B's tombstone, though Hoffman told me early in February that because of harsh weather and the resultant delay in setting it up, he had just ten submitted Van's check to the bank - a down right story. I wrote Hoffman three weeks ago to send me a photo of the tomb set up. He had promised to do this, and I can't hear from him. I also requested him to mail you a photo, giving him your full address.

          If Charlie or Loula either one has occasion to visit Hattiesburg, tell them to see Hoffinans Dixie Marble Works about it.

          My boys - all three- have always said Earl Rose was a smooth crook. I waited on him and Harmon Young until Circuit Court was in full sway at New Augusta. As Earl had some cases and also draws legislature's salary, I felt sure of him but no answer to an urgent letter for money. Young (?) and Rose remains silent. Brother Ellis answered saying he was to have until June or July to pay. I dont recollect this feature of our agreement. Perhaps Loula does.

          I dont really need the money yet, but know too well that old debts are always slowest to be paid.

          As I wrote you on a card and by letter, I am sending you for a month the Los Angeles Examiner. It will in its salactious pages give you a sort of insight into life here.

Your bro
PS: I took my last ounce of paregoric at Tucson, Arizona, March 8. My doctor here said I must quit it - gave me something - a black fluid - to moderate the nervousness resulting from discontinuance. He may have relieved it some, but I suffered death for a week or more, and it was three weeks before I felt natural and composed of mind without paregoric.

          The Doctor half believes - though doesn't say so - that I may have to go under the knife of a surgeon for relief of an enlarged prostate.

          Lastly: I recognize that my letters are only a sort of idle prating, but it's company to my mind to write you. I got a long letter just now from Abe White giving the local news.

          I mailed you a card today.

246 Euclid Ave Long Beach, Calif
May 3, 1924

Dear Sister:

          As I have written you that I was coming back, and as, for the time being, I have decided to stay here a while. I write to let you know you can write me here until otherwise informed-

          I have two reasons for staying : One is because I seem to be about well of my trouble, but the other reason is the main one. I want to work on Hugh to soften his temper-

          You know too well that an ungoverned temper is a Davis weakness. My dear Sister; Father, Van, Dan, you, Barbara and I myself are all mild, gentle and passive as compared to Hugh. This I know is hard for you to believe, as you have seen him only on brief visits with nothing to arouse him. Blanche - and is good to me, and truthful - says herself that he is getting worse. In short, unless he controls his rage at trifles better, his temper will finally wreck and ruin him worse than even drink has done Dan.

          You's have to see and hear him in one of his tantrums to believe it fully - But he is my child, so I am staying here to try to modify him down to reason and at least a little bit of self control.

          Heredity is an awful law, and each family trait good or bad either gains or loses strength in each succeeding generation, and Hugh is the worst ever knew to have as much sense as he has, and never to be in drink.

          I went to the public library some time ago - got into but one room in the basement - almost 100% trash for children - But I have since been in the main room, Oh! they have everything - nearly all good solid books. For all I think almost hourly of you all, the library here has, to some extent, neutralized my sense of lonesomeness, as books are always good company.

          One more idea: You never saw advertised so many creeds and cults of religion - "New Psychology", "Theosophy", "Christian Science" these are just a few leaders. Why dont souls that yearn for hope and safety just take the Bible - the only way. For these cults all prove that their adherents are yearning for peace and hope.

Your bro

246 Euclid Avenue
Long Beach, California
May 9, 1924

Dear Sister:

          No news at all, and just write to let you hear from me, and to let you know I am so much better that I hope the surgeon's and hospital bill can be avoided.

          I am not at all worried about Van or Hugh as to their making a good living. You, Loula and Charlie and Dan and his family are the ones I'd help if I were able, as Preston and McEwen seem to be like Van and Hugh - safe for a living - But I know when what little I have is gone, I'll be at the mercy of my boys - and this might bring me a sad surprise and sorrowful experince.

          This is the finest climate I ever knew - never too cold or too hot with but little rain.

          Lots of wealth here from fruits and oil wells.

          I wish you'd write to the Dixie Marble Works in Hattiesburg about B's tombstone, as I read in the American that it was sued and a judgement for over six hundred dollars given against it. This makes me afraid Van has lost his pay for it. Though we will have one put up, I hate for Van to lose his money that way -

          Write here until otherwise told

Your bro
PS If any mail comes there for me forward it here.

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