1898, April 12 – Letter from Rosalie Bauwens to Lewis Hesse (along with a handwritten copy of a letter from George Hesse to Rosalie Bauwens)

Rosalie hand-copies a letter from George to send to Lewis so he can read it & has a confrontation with the dressmaker over her poor workmanship.  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      Letter Page 3     Letter Page 4     Letter Page 5     Letter Page 6


Transcript of letter:

St. Louis Apr 12, 1898

My own dear Lewis:

It is now after 10 o’clock, but I must write a few lines to you.  I didn’t get a letter from you this week so far, but I know it is because you had to work so hard, but dearest, write to me as soon as you can, for I want to hear from you.  Well dear I have had my terrible trouble in every way since I wrote to you last.  I wrote to you Saturday night didn’t I, well it was far after 12 when I got to bed and I had to get up and go to 5 o’clock mass to take communion without eating a bite or drinking a drop of anything, well when I came home I was so weak I could hardly stand, and I had an awful headache and they all said I looked awful bad.  Well after I had my breakfast I laid in your big chair and tried to sleep till 9 o’clock then I got up and washed and dressed and went to the dress makers on 18th & Russell ave. to get my dress.  Well I did not look at the dress hardly, because it was so close and oppressive in her house that I could not stand to stay in there.  I paid her her money and came home.  When I got home I put on the dress and Lewis the thing was simply ruined that’s all there is to it.  If I want anything half way decent out of it anymore I’ll have to rip the whole thing and press the silk and goods and fit the lining and make it all over, there is nothing good on the waist except that she made large seams so that I can manage to make it over.  It doesn’t fit me no more than it fits our tom cat.  Well I just sat down and cried and got the blues for true to think that no matter how hard I work and scratch and hope ahead, everything goes contrary and pushes and bumps me around into the harest corners of every circumstance.  Well I tried my best to calm down but I had the blues terribly and felt awful sick.  I ate a little dinner and went to bed.  I laid there about 1 1/2 hours when Dan and another friend of Jack’s came and that was the end of rest.  I got up and washed and dressed and about 4 o’clock my cousin Ida Prise & 2 more young ladies came and I had to take them to J’s where the boys had gone a good while before.  I staid at J’s till about 9 o’clock in the evening and when I got home I was very near dead.  But I slept well all that night and Monday morning started out bright and early for work.  Monday evening I came home and I had a pack waiting for me with a 1 lb. shell in it from George H. with a short letter.  The shell is in 7 pieces and is a curiosity, I’m real proud of it too and I had lots of fun with it to-day at work.  They were all afraid of it, and no wonder, for it is about 8 1/2 in long and very heavy and looks just like a large cartridge.  George’s letter to me is as follows: –

Key west Fla 4/7/98

Dear Rosalie: –

I have sent you a relic of the “Maine” it is a 1 pounder shell, it is the smallest shell used in the Navy besides the cartridges that are used in the revolvers and rifles.  To see all of it you must pull the shell out of the cartridge and on the butt of the shell you will see that a plug is screwed into it.  Well unscrew the plug and you will see that the shell is hollow, well it was filled with powder and I took it out.  Well on the inside end of the plug you will see that there is 2 screws one inside of the other, well unscrew the inside one and you will find a cavity in which was 30 grs. of fullminate of murcury, a very powerful explosive which is exploded by a plug which is found inside of cavity 2.  I had a very hard time to get the plug out, as you can see, for it is all cut up by a chisel which I had to use.  This 1 lb. shell came from Havana Harbor on the 2nd of April and I got it on the 4th. and cleaned it up and now send it to you so you can say that you have the only 1 lb. shell in the Ciyt of St. Louis, which came off of the wreck of the “Maine”.  Write soon again for the war is about over and I will not be able to kill a “dozen or so” for you, and I will be in Key West for a long time to come.  Yours Truly

George Hesse

USTB Dupont

Key West, Fla.

It took $25 worth of stamps to reach me, and had been opened no doubt many times befor it came for it was undone & the letter dirty.  I didn’t answer G. yet for I did not have time.  I guess I’ll answer to-morrow evening, I hope I’ll have a letter from you by that time.  Well dear I was just getting ready to go to the dress maker after reading George’s letter when Julie steps in and pays me a short visit.  She is well and still stays at the same place.  She is having a nice dress made for her, she sends her love and best wishes so do my folks.  Well I went to Mamie Miller’s to show those folks what kind of work the dressmaker did that they recommended to me.  Well they were mad and Mame said she’d go over with me.  When we got there the woman wasn’t home and that settled Monday night.  Well this evening I went to Mamie’s again and we went to the dress-makers again, Frances M. was with me also.  When we got there I tell you I gave her the very dickens and she asked her what she meant to do about it.  Well Lewis dear you must remember that the skirt was made alright, but you could hardly tell the waste was what it was supposed to be.  Well finally after much fuss she said the best she could do was to make me two wrappers only charging $35 for the making of both.  That was the very best I could do with her.  Well we came home Mamie & Frances took me home & Edd & Jack too them home.  On the way home we had lots of fun although I a not feeling any of the very best.  Well when they went home I started this letter, adn I am not finished yet, but I will have to stop now as it is 20 min after 11 and I am very tired.  Lewis dear you must excuse the bad writing for my hand is unsteady and I begun this letter late and was very tired.  Now you darling old fellow, I hope I’ll get a letter from you to-morrow.  Well take good care of yourself dear and pray for me good night with lots of kisses I remain with the best of true love

Your very own


kisses aber nit


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s