1898, February 11 – Letter from Rosalie Bauwens to Lewis Hesse

Rosalie tells how she & Josie look over each other’s wedding things, how she was assaulted near their home, and her concerns for their future if he has to keep working nights.  Read a transcript of the letter below (original misspellings & all) or click on the image links to view the actual letter. As you read the transcript of the letter click on the links to view information & images about what they are discussing.


Click on a link to view the image: (some images can be further enlarged by clicking on them once they open)

Envelope Front     Envelope Back      Letter Page 1      Letter Page 2-3      Letter Page 4-5     Letter page 6-7     Letter page 8-9     Letter page 10-11     Letter page 12


Transcript of letter:

St. Louis, Feb. 11, 1898

Dearest Lewis:

Your welcome letter just received and read.  Got home this evening and was almost afraid to ask if there was a letter for me for fear there was none.  Well first I will see if I can answer your letter.  I do hope the place you are staying at now is the right place for you, and that when your two companions join you, that as time passes you will find them all you now expect them to be.  I am glad to hear that you are near George and your work.  Say Lewis, when you write a letter, do you look over any my letter and see if there is anything to be answered?  I don’t ask you to do this during the week, but when you write on Sunday or so, then look the letters over that you receive during the week and see if you left anything unanswered, won’t you?  You see I always answer your letter before I tell you anything. Lewis you say you don’t know yet how long you will have to work night work.  That sounds as though you will not have to work night work all the time.  You see that worries me not a little bit.  If I should have to live up there and you had to work night work, gracious I’d rather be excused, it makes one shake with fear, gracious that would mean days of pure lonesomeness and nights of fright.  See Lewis, don’t feel bad about my view of the situation, you certainly see yourself it is truth.  Dearest, how long do you think I’d last under such circumstances?  So Lu when you find out any thing in that line, let me know, you may be sure to find an anxious listener.  If you write on the outside of an envelope in led pencil write heavily, if you don’t, some time one of your letters will fail to reach me.  Well Lulu I’ll tell you about myself now.  I wrote you my last letter Monday evening, didn’t I?  Tuesday our foreman didn’t come down to work, I guess the poor fellow was finding out what it was to be good and sick, I felt passibly well Tuesday.  When I had eaten my supper, who should step in but Josie S. well we had quite a talk and I showed her the things I have in the boxes under Edd’s bed, because she asked to see them.  She also asked when we were to be married, and I told her some time this Spring if God was willing.  After she had seen all she wanted, she would have it that I should go hoe with her and see her things; well I dressed and went.  Oh Lewis her mother was so good to me, and so was she.  Josie & Will are to be married the 24th of March  Josie is so happy, I didn’t see Will, say, she has lovely things.  by the dozen of everything, and everything was given to her as presents, Gold bless her, I wish them to her from all my heart, but it kind of give me the blues to think how hard I have to work for every stitch that I have to have.  Well they took me home a good piece and I come the rest of the way myself, that was my first experience on the street at night without gentlemen’s protection for a very long time, and I guess I was as scary as a child in a dark room.  Well I got home and in bed at 15 min to 10.  Wednesday I didn’t feel so well, I felt so weak and got a real weak spell at work and with side pain to boot.  I thought I’d have to come home.  Well in the evening I wen tto Dickmant and asked him to give me a bottle of the very best wine he had in the place, and ever since I’m taking a glass before each meal and one at night, I’m feeling stronger since then.  When I was at the store getting the winde I got weighed again, I am 102 lbs now – dressed just as I was the last time, thats a gain of 2 lbs.  My cough is bad and I cough up terrible stuff and lots of it, but these last two days I think I am safe in saying I notice a slight improvement.  Well the folks had made up to go to Mamie P. Wednesday evening, and although I didn’t feel like going, I went any way.  Getting that wine, getting weighed, and getting ready to go to Mamie’s didn’t take so long, and 15 min. after 7 oclock Edd an I were on the way.  Jack had gone to J’s a while before to hold the baby while she got ready.  Well Lu, I had quite an experience right here, I’m going to tell you.  Edd & I start out, and only get as far as the corner (11 and Soulard) when I find that I forgot my cough-drops, I tell Edd to go back whiel I will walk up on the east side of 11 street about half a block.  Well I walk up half block and turn round to see if Edd is coming, never thinking of any thing when, help me goodness, from the back of me a man puts hs arm around my neck, – I was like struck dumb for a moment only, – then I turned round suddenly and planted my pointy elbow with a good force in his sotmach, – well Lu it seems comical now, but I did not laugh one bit then – well the man dropped his ar as though it worked by pring adn said “Oh” and walked a step or two, I told him he was a dirty dog, and he’d better walk on; then he said, “what you say” I told him to come back and find out, but he walked on; you see I was brave because I knew every second Edd could come.  The man could have been about 35 years old and he went in the corner saloon just as Edd turned the corner.  I didn’t tell Edd about it till we reached the next corner by the drug store for fear Edd woudl call the man out and make a disturbance, and Edd was mad at me for not letting him fix him.  The man was just the least big bigger than Edd, he must have come out of one of the many hall ways along there just as I turned round, for I saw no one before I turned.  Well there was no harm done except that I was frightened and the man got a good punch in the stomach.  We had a good time at Mamie’s but was home again at half past 9 and I got to bed at 10 oclock.  Thursday the foreman was about as thin as I do.  I spent a passable day but I was longing for evening because I was sure I’d get a letter.  But when I got home there was none, adn Lewis I got the blues and kept them till I fell asleep.  But this morning I was feeling well, and felt well all day.  This evening I received your letter and here I am answering it, and I don’t think there is one thing I didn’t tell you, Well I’ll have to quit writing or I’ll be robbing you of your time by making you read it.  Well write soon, pray for me, keep yourself well and hearty.  (Come to see me when you have time or I’ll forget how you look)  Good night Lewis it is after 9 oclock and I am tired, good night dear.

Your own


I forgot to tell you, that Wednesday evening while I was at Mame’s, Louis B & Clara were down and they want me to come over Saturday evening and they will take me home, I’ll try and go before its real dark.

Your very own sweetheart

Dody (a kiss from)


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