1898, March 29 – Letter from Rosalie Bauwens to Lewis Hesse (and from George Hesse to Rosalie Bauwens)

Rosalie sends letter an exact hand-written copy of a letter she received from his brother George Hesse, which details the capture of court-martial, and shooting of a Spanish spy trying to board & damage the USS Dupont in Key West Florida.  She also wonders how it is that Lewis is so schooled on the status of the young single women in Joliet.   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, March 29, 1898

Dearest Lewis:

Your letter of the 28 just received and read.  When I come home this evening I had 2 letters instead of 1 to read, for I got a letter from George H. also.  I read you letter first of course.  Well I’ll first answer your letter and then give you an exact copy, word for word of Georges letter.  I am sorry that you had such hard work Sunday and wish I could have made it lighter for you.  According to your letter dear you have another room mate named Smith, that puts you in a bed by yourself as you said R. & S. and been in bed 2 hours.  You did not tell me about a Smith joining you in any of your other letters.  You might take a little more interest in the war Lewis so that should it be necessary and you should have to go, you would know what you were fighting for, you must certainly be fooling dear when you write that the serious affairs of your country interests you no more than a prize fight.  Now Lewis, I’m almost sure you were only fooling, wasn’t you dear?  Now look here you dear old bad boy, I want to know in every particular how you know so much about the Joliet young girls, and that 2/3 of them are without fellows.  There is no getting out of this.  you will have to give a full explanation as to how you are so well posted, I want full particulars or nothing.  Where did you get so well posted in their affairs?  I am glad to hear that you have not lost in weight.  Now dearest I’ll try to give you a very exact copy of George’s letter.

Key West Fla. 3/23/98

Friend Rose:

Well as I have nothing in particular to do, why I will just remember you again, as you said I should.  Who could have told you that I had joined the Navy?  I am very sortty that Lewis could not get work in St. Louis, for he knows every hole & corner in it, but I am glad to hear that he has got a good and steady job in Joliet, Ill.  I think, Rose, that you are very lucky to get 3 letters a week from him, for it was the hardest thing in the world for me to get one letter in three months.  Well Rose, if we go to war, I will do as you say, that is, kill a dozen or so for you, (if I get the chance) and if I don’t get the chance to kill so many, why I’ll manage to go and get of them several scalp-locks, just for fun, and you can just bet your best Sunday hat that I will take the best of care of No 1, that is, me, I, and myself.  I wrote a letter to a friend, George Heager, on 9th and Emmet Str & he knows Julie and he told me that she was staying down at Proctor’s on S. 8th street but if she comes to see you, why I will thank you if you will give her my address and tell her to be sure and write soon, for we do not know how soon we may have to move from here and go to war.  Don’t let my writing to you, stop you from answering Lewis’s letters, for, poor fellow, he is very lonesome and homesick I know.  As to the photo, I am very glad it got there without being broken, and as I am going to have some full length cabinets taken here I will send you one of them also.  With this mail you may expect a large photo of about half of the boats crew, which was also taken in Mobile but which we just got, owing to how late we had them taken before we left Mobile; the streak of light across the picture is the sun’s rays reflected from the water and which nearly spoils the picture.  I have written all the names below so as you may become acquainted witih them before we come to St. Louis.  Now for a little war news in which I took part.  Three days before we left Mobile, on a Monday about 12:30 o’clock at night, I being on watch, for I came on at 12 o’clock.  12:30 I was taking a walk up and down the deck when a small, little bit of a man came aboard and wanted to see the captain, adn I told him that he had turned in commensed talking to me, and at last got too inquisitive and I took a tumble to myself and started toward the alarm bell, and when he asked me, point blank, where our magazines were, I just touched the button and rang the alarm bell, well he heard it and watned to know what that was adn I told him that it was the quarter-master’s bell adn then he tried to leave the ship.  but I grabbed him by the back of the neck and gave him a crack over the head with my revolver and stretched him out on the deck before you could wink, then I went and got some handcuffs and foot shackels and fastened him to the deck while I went & called the captain, and when he came on deck all of us were there and he searched him and found about 2 1/2 lbs of gun cotton in his pocket and also Spanish papers which confirmed my suspicions as to him being a Spanish spy.  Well we took him ashore and to jail and when we left for Key West we took him along and he was tried by court martial in Dry Portergus (??) & was sentenced to death, well he was shot at sunrise last Friday and that was the last of 1 Spaniard.  Well half of our warships have gone north to Hampton Roads and the rest stay here in Key West, that is about all the war news that I know of at present, so as I go on watch at 8 o’clock I will have to stop writing and if I stop writing I will close, so Good by & God bless you & all you know.  from Your friend

George Hesse

U.S. J.B. (??) “Dupont” Key West, Fla.

The date on the envelope for Key West was 12 M. March 26, I got it the 29.

Well dearest I spend the day passibly well and as it is now near 10 o’clock again I guess I can’t write very much more.  Give me your opinion of G’s letter when you answer; Lewis I didn’t receive that large picture of the crew that George said he sent but as mamma received his letter in the last mail this evening I thought I’d postpone answering his letter till tomorrow evening and see if I got the picture then.  Well Lu dear I must stop writing now.  for I’m tired, I will read my little book, pray for both you and I and go to bed.  Goodnight Lewis dear take care of yourself adn think of your Dody kindly.  so with best love and a return kiss for each of the kisses you sent me I remain your own true Rosalie

Please excuse paper as all my writing paper is gone, and I got this for mix up at the office.  The folks send thier best regards and wishes.  Well good night dear and dream of me.  Your own Dody.

Write soon.


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