1898, February 16 – Letter from Rosalie Bauwens to Lewis Hesse

Rosalie details the final catalyst that began the Spanish American War – the day the USS Maine was destroyed in Havana Harbor and the reaction to it in St. Louis.  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


Transcript of letter:

St. Louis, Feb. 16, 1898

Dearest Lewis:

Your letter of the 15, just read.  I was glad to receive it dear.  I cannot write a long letter as it is a little late now, and I am real tired.  I told you in my last letter about myself up till Monday evening.  Well I slept well Monday night and next day spent a passable day at work, my cough did not trouble me as much as usual.  In the evening Willie Stenger came with his mandoline and I played a good deal on the boxes, said my prayers and went to bed; slept good and to-day, (Wednesday) felt good at work only very excited, because the news boys were calling “extra! extra!” from morning early till evening late in regard to the blowing up of the warship “Maine” in the Havana harbor, supposed to be done by the Spanish with the loss of 253 lives.  Lewis Dearest, things are coming to a pretty pass, I am so conserned about the possibility of war, although the U.S. cannot let herself be ground into the dust by those measly Spaniards either.  The Lord only knows what we may be called upon to endure darling.  St. Louis is terribly worked up about the affair.  Do you read the papers dear, this Spanish affair is getting serious and how I wish you were with me so I might know your opinion and talk it over with you.  My cough is surely leaving me, Thank God, now if I can only keep from catching cold, I hope to be alright soon.  Tell me what you think about the Spanish question dear.  If you should have to be a soldier, I’d never stay home, oh I couldn’t, I would just beg them to let me be nurse for the sick and wounded, or do something, to stay at home and work as usual would be killing me, Lewis dear, you ask what I think about your putting your dear arms around my neck, well Lewis I think it would be a rather difficult undertaking at present, but rest assured, that no one but y own dear sonny will get the chance to put his arms around me if I jnow it and can possibly help myself, and I will take care of myself as best I can, see you dear old bad darling?  Surely Lewis, I never knew, or dreamed that I cared for – yes loved my own Lewis so deeply and truely as I do until here lately; you talk about longing for me and the time being long, well you are not the only one dear, I know when  you read my last letter you thought me awful silly and foolish, but surely, sometimes I think Im bewitched, so I long for Lewis, if only to talk to him 5 min. I better quit or this letter will be worse than the last.  Lewis, honest, I never did write letters like this to any one in all my life, and I don’t now how I got the heart to send them, but somehow it comes natural and I know I couldn’t write different to you if I tried.  unless you made me angry.  Don’t try that though, hear me dearest?  Take good care of your cold dear, even if it is ever so slight, I’ve got great respect for colds.  Lewis darling you tell me to guess at your weight, that alone tells me that you lost.  With your unusual rest and long work, and loneliness has something to do with it too.  I know it by myself, I don’t pick up near as fast as I would if I had you here; it is hard to guess your exact weight but I do hope you haven’t lost more than 5 or 6 lbs at most dear making you 150 or there about.  Well I must quit now and go to bed.  Good night my own darling Lewis, God bless and keep you well and hearty, good night dear Your own

Rosalie Bauwens (a kiss from Dody)


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