Vroman, Ellsworth
Manuscript Diaries of Ellsworth Vroman, of Schoharie, Schoharie County, New York, Grocery Merchant, member of the Vroman family, owners of the Schoharie Valley Railroad, 1893-1919

23 diaries, 7305 manuscript pages, dated 1893-1894, 1896, 1900-1904, 1906, 1908-1919; with 1 volume, 64 manuscript pp., of cash accounts, dated 1874 and 1 volume, 132 manuscript pp., of memorandum notes, dated 1879. All but two of the diaries are in one day per page format, those two diaries are two days per page format. All of the diaries have every day filled. Several of the volumes have a couple of pages each in the rear with memorandum notes, cash accounts, or address notes. Volumes from 1908 to 1919 are uninterrupted. The diaries went through a fire at some point, some bindings are singed and blackened by smoke, bindings are worn: 7 diaries lack spines, boards loose, etc., the text is good, entries written in ink and pencil in a legible hand, with occasional blackening from smoke at blank margins. Also includes: 20 letters, 142 pp., dated 1 September 1897 to 16 March 1918, written to or by members of the Vroman family as follows: 4 incoming letters to Leland Vroman, of Schoharie, New York, from his presumed girlfriend “Mae,” postmarked Albany, New York, September 1897; one letter not dated. 12 letters written by Leland Vroman to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lucian Vroman, of Schoharie, New York, written while serving with Co. G., 11th Infantry Regt in the Spanish-American War, 3 letters are dated Camp Mobile, AL, May-June 1898; 5 letters dated Headquarters, Tampa Heights, Florida, June-July 1898, one letter not dated; 1 letter dated Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Sept 1898; 3 letters dated San Juan, Puerto Rico, Nov-Dec 1898, one letter from San Juan (not dated). 1 letter, typed, not signed, but written by Lucian Vroman, of Schoharie, New York, to his son Leland’s commanding officer, Capt. James Buchanan, Co. G., 11th Infantry Regt, dated Tampa, Florida, June 1898. 1 incoming letter to Ellsworth Vroman, of Schoharie, New York, from Jennie B. Wilson, dated Riverside, California, 29 June 1911. 2 incoming letters to Ellsworth Vroman, of Schoharie, New York, from his friend “Newton,” serving at Ft. McKinley, Maine, dated February 1918; Newton was serving in the military during WWI. Many of the letters, especially the letters by Leland Vroman, have been singed at the edges, some have loss of text, several are separated at folds. When the diaries begin, Ellsworth Vroman is about 31 years old and has been married five years. From state census records at this time (1892), he is working in the grocery business and the diaries show him going to work at “the store” regularly. He has no children, nor does it appear he ever had any.

Ellsworth Vroman (1861- aft 1940)

Ellsworth Vroman was born in September 1861 in Schoharie, Schoharie County, New York. He was the son of Lucian Vroman and his wife Nancy Roselle Hilton (1837-1911). Ellsworth’s father was born 2 October 1833 at the family homestead in Schoharie. When Lucian was about twenty years-old he went to California searching for gold. He returned in 1856 and engaged in mercantile business and became successful. Lucian married his wife in 1860 and worked as a merchant at Schoharie. After his father (Jacob Vroman) acquired ownership of the Schoharie Valley Railroad, Lucian became associated with him in its management. In 1880 he was listed as railroad conductor. The Vroman family were an old 17th Century New York Dutch family, they settled at Vroman’s Land in Schoharie, which became the family homestead. Lucian Vroman died 13 December 1918 and was buried at the Old Stone Fort Cemetery in Schoharie. Lucian’s wife Nancy Roselle Hilton was born 8 August 1837 at Knox, New York. She died 15 June 1911 in Schoharie and was buried with her husband. The couple had at least six children, one of whom was our diarist, Ellsworth Vroman.

Ellsworth Vroman is listed in the 1880 Census working as a railroad hand. On 20 June 1888 he married Minnie Scheffler, in Schoharie. She was born in October 1865 and died 25 may 1927. Minnie was the daughter of Christian Scheffler and Mary Catherine Carpenter. It does not appear that Ellsworth and his wife had any children.

In the 1892 New York State Census, Ellsworth was listed as a grocery merchant. In the 1900 Federal Census he worked as a groceryman foreman. He owned his home in Schoharie on the 1900 Census. The 1905 State Census for New York shows him as a grocery merchant. A newspaper article of 1929 describes his arrest and sentencing to sixty days in jail for disorderly conduct. He was arrested after being given a number of warnings to behave himself. When the 1940 Census was taken, he was listed as a widower, still living in Schoharie, but at a rented house, and retired. Ellsworth was said to be the author of several books and pamphlets on the early days of Schoharie, New York. Ellsworth became the self-styled “Colonel Vroman.” It is unclear if he served in the military, or not.

Ellsworth had five siblings as follows:

1. Jacob Vroman, born 1864; died 1940; 1880 worked as a telegraph operator; he married Margaret V. Griggs (1868-1911); 2. Leila Lilla Vroman, born 1867; 3. John H. Vroman (1868-1879) who drowned at age 11; 4. Leland Stabley Vroman (1875-1903), more below; and, 6. Babeta Vroman, born 1879; died at age five in 1884.

Leland Stabley Vroman was born in 1875 and died on 20 April 1903 and was buried in Old Stone Fort Cemetery, Schoharie, New York. Leland was a veteran of the Spanish-American War serving with Co. G, 11th Infantry Regiment. He enlisted at Albany, New York, on 11 May 1898, as a Private. He was honorably discharged on 13 April 1899. He was listed as a student when he entered military service. After leaving the military he worked for a time as a laborer and builder and married Daisy M. Griffin (1877-) in 1901 in Schoharie. He was at one time an editor and published a local paper.

       Schoharie Valley Railroad

The Schoharie Valley became known as the “Breadbasket of the Revolution” because of the rich soils that produced grain for Washington’s Army. This fact made it a target of the British forces and the Iroquois Indian allies, who attacked the valley on a number of occasions, to prevent the grain from reaching the American troops. After the war the valley continued to produce much in the way of grains, and especially hops.

A significant factor in the prosperity of the Schoharie Valley was the building of the railroad from Middleburgh, through Schoharie, and then to Schoharie Junction, where the trains met the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad (which later became the Delaware & Hudson Railroad). Though the rail line operated as a unit, the railroads in the valley were incorporated by two entities: the Middleburgh & Schoharie Railroad ran from Middleburgh to Schoharie, while the Schoharie Valley Railroad ran from Schoharie to Schoharie Junction.

The Vroman family operated the Schoharie Valley Railroad, it went from the Court House in Schoharie to Schoharie Junction, NY, and had a total track length of about five miles. It was originally organized in 1865 as the Schoharie Valley Railway Company. It was sold under foreclosure in 1874, reorganized the same year, then reorganized again in 1880 and was owned and operated by the directors, and leased to one of its board. In 1897 they had 1 locomotive, 1 passenger car, and 1 baggage car. All of the other equipment was leased. The railroad transported forest products, farm products, animal products, some manufacturing products, and also coal. In turn it brought goods & visitors to the valley. At one point in its history it was said to have carried 300,000 passengers a month. In its early years it was the only mode of transportation for the Schoharie Valley besides the horse or horse drawn conveyance.

The Schoharie Valley Railroad was founded by Jacob Vroman, the father of Lucian Vroman and our diarist’s grandfather. The directors were generally all members of the Vroman family. In 1882, Jacob Vroman turned over the railroad to his six sons including Lucian. Each year it is said that the men would meet and whoever made the best offer would be leased the railroad. Lucian Vroman was the one who tended to lease it the most. The various officers of the rail line changed over the years, but at one time Ellsworth Vroman was the line’s passenger/ticket agent, his father Lucian served in various functions as the vice-president, the treasurer, but mostly the superintendent. The family ran the railroad for nearly a half a century from its founding in 1865 and into the Twentieth Century. After the advent of automobiles, and especially trucks, the railroad became unprofitable. The railroad was scrapped in 1942, the lone locomotive, a tender, two freight cars, and the five miles of rail tracks, were all sold as scrap to Uncle Sam for the war effort. Today several of its remaining buildings are on the national historical register.

       Sample Quotations from Diaries:

“Feb 23, 1893

In the store at 7:30. Everybody is drifted in. Mother is better today. Jake & Leland are up this A.M. The first train went through at 11:30. I had two men do my shoveling today. I drove down to the Depot at 10 A.M. and sent 6 men down. Then I went down to see Ma at 10. The night train came up on time. Closed at 8 P.M. Minnie u home tonight. She attended the funeral of Mrs. Jessie Smith today at 2 P.M…Dan Shane moved over to his new market today. Father drove up at 2 P.M. Ma is the same.”

 

“Mar 4, 1893

In the store today. Pa up at 9. He was to our house for dinner. I drove down home to see Ma with Dr. Haines. She is no better. Very stormy day. Leila & her baby is home. Jake is on the train. Today Grover Cleveland will be inaugurated President of the U.S. Pa went home at 6 P.M. Jake up at night he went home at 8 P.M. I closed at 10 P.M. The Vroman brothers had a meeting at the Depot today and they leased the Railroad to Cornel Vroman for 6500 for one year, from the first of April. Minnie received a new silk dress tonight from J.G. Myers.”

 

“Mar 20, 1893

Lovely day. Up to the store at 6:40 at 8 A.M. I went to Albany. Jake is in the store and Father on the train. I arrived in Albany at 10:30 had my hair cut and lunch at the Kenmore. Met Mr. Failin & wife at 2 P.M. I went to the capitol to hear the speakers in favor of the Catskill Mountain & D.L. & W. RR Co. before the state Board of Commissioners. Mr. Judge Gilbert and Mr. B.S. Harmen from N.Y. were there and Mr. Calhoun of the D & H. RR. Co., also Ed Youngs of Middleburgh. I came out on the 4:25. Ada Sands was on the train her father is not as well today. My mother had another poor spell today. I met cousin Louisa Smart on the train. She came up from New York. I paid bill at J.G. Myers for dress for Minnie.”

 

“May 31, 1893

Very fine day. In the store at 6 A.M. Jake up at 8 A.M. I called on Mrs. Houck at 9 A.M. At 10:40 Minnie and I went to Albany. We came out on the 4:00. Father went in on first train and came out on the 4:25. We attended the meeting at the capitol before the Railroad Commissioners to hear the argument for the permit to build the Phila, Honesdale, & Albany RR. Mr. Harmon of New York was there to oppose it and we had tea at home. Closed the store at 9 PM. I set out some [tomatoes] tonight. I had a quarrel with Corneil Vroman today on the train. Mrs. Sias was on the train with her mother Mrs. Baker who has come to live with her.”

 

“Fri June 16, 1893

…at 9:20 P.M. I arrived in Chicago. My Ayer and his friend Mr. Cassady met me at the depot and we came up to 191 54th St. Hyde Park to stop. We arrived at 10:15, returned at 11:30 very tired. Will received a dispatch from California that the Dyer Bank closed its doors on Wednesday.”

 

“Sat June 17, 1893

Up at 7 A.M…at 1 P.M. went on the Great World’s Fair Grounds and staid on till 10 P.M…Will is very uneasy over the Dyer Bank in California.

 

“Sun June 18, 1893

Very lovely day. Up at 8 A.M. Then we went down to the lake front to hear the great evangelist Moody preach in Forepaugh’s Circus tent. From there we went right back of the auditorium and saw an eight-story building on fire. Then we come up to the house and had dinner, then I went to the World’s Fair and staid until 10 P.M. Then came home. Will did not go today. He went to call on Clara Wilson.”

 

“Feb 6, 1894

Very cold this morning. In the store at 7 A.M. Jake up at 10 A.M. Father & Mother, Maggie drove up in the afternoon & evening to attend the woman’s suffrage meeting held in the Court House. Susan B. Anthony spoke in the evening at the Court House. The house was full…”

 

“Mar 3, 1894

In the store at 7 A.M. Jake up at 9:30. Very nice day. The Vroman brothers met and leased the RR to Dave Vroman for 6000. Corneil was very mean towards father. We had a very good trade today. Jake went home at 9:30. Mr. Dego got a dispatch at 2 P.M. telling him that Mrs. Grace Brown had died suddenly at Jacksonville, Florida. Chas. Dego left on the 4:20 train for New York.”

 

“Mar 28, 1894

Lovely morning. In the store at 6:30. Very nice day. Jake and Maggie went to Albany on the 10:40 A.M. train. They came out on the 4:30 P.M. train. I wrote to Bella Dyer this morning. Minnie called on Mrs. Whitting in the afternoon. She attended church at night. The Rev. Mr. Gregg is moving today in the house next to us. Tonight, the train going down at 4:20 ran off of the track by the Larkins farm and was very badly wrecked. The front of the engine was all broken in and one car broke up. I sent Gus Teaburt down after Jake & Maggie with the old horse. He met them at Larkins. I closed at 8:30 P.M.”

 

“[Feb 5th, 1896]

Very dull in the town. At 3:30 a four-horse team drove in town from Albany with the RR Commissioners and the Directors of the new proposed [Eltren] RR. Mrs. Root very low today. Minnie stayed up all last night with Mrs. Wagnell and Mrs. Root.”

 

“April 21, 1903

In the store at 6:30. George out for orders. Father drove over from the Cave at 6:30. Leland died at 10 P.M. last night…At one o’clock Pa, Ma, Minnie & I drove over to the Cave to see Daisey and to make arrangements for the funeral of brother Leland. We came back to Schoharie at 5 P.M. Went down to fathers and had our tea with Pa. Minnie came up home at 8 P.M. We stayed over to the Cave with Daisy…”

 

“Feb 14, 1906

Very dark this A.M. and rains just a little. Charlie Roanck came with his teams at 7 A.M. to finish the filling of the ice house. He drew 7 loads today. Chic Vroman and John Manchester packed it. Charlie drew one load after dinner. The men got through at 3 P.M…Walter took Maud, Mrs. Dewey and Minnie up to Middleburgh at 1:30 P.M. It was awful dull in the store. Closed store at 6 P.M. I attended Reform Church prayer meeting. Minnie & Aunt Fan did not go out. I rec’d a letter from Donald Campbell in regard to his hiring a man David Scram.”

 

 

 

“Feb 15, 1906

In the store at 7 A.M. Colder this A.M. All the men are at work getting in ice. Dego and the Hotels are busy. Dr. Scanton is putting in a safe in his office this morning. I wrote to Donald Campbell this A.M. in regard to his hiring David Scram to work on his farm near New York. It was very dull in the store today. No trade at all. Nearly all the men got their ice in today. C.A. Dego finished today. I closed the store at 6 P.M. and spent eve at home. Rev. Mr. Karg had his annual donation at Lutheran Parsonage tonight. None of us attended.”

 

“Feb 16, 1906

8 below. Very cold this A.M. I opened the store at 7 A.M. Carl Spaulding came and went out for orders. Quite a few are getting their ice in. In the afternoon I had Carl draw some saw dust down from the farm and put it on the ice. Chic Vroman helped him. Closed the store at 6 P.M. and spent eve at home alone. Minnie went down to Corniel Vroman and Aunt Fan. Went out very dull in the store today.”

 

“July 31, 1914

Was up at 6 and got the breakfast for Father and self…No trade today…All the Stock Exchanges in the world are closed today on acct of the great War talk that is now on…”

 

       Sample Quotations from Correspondence:

 

“[Sept 1st, /97]

 

Dear Leland,

 

No doubt you think it is strange that I have not written to you. Before but I hated to hurt your feelings, so have put it off till the last moment thinking it better to tell you now and not keep you in suspense. I have made up my mind that we can never be more than friends and that I should always like to keep you as such. You know there was no decided engagement settled between us, and as long as I have not worn your ring, I do not feel bound in any way to you. I have excepted some one else which I think I could be happier with. I did love you Leland very much and I still like you very very much now, but really can’t bear the thought of living in Schoharie and especially as you have nothing to do. Now don’t take this too much to heart and for the love we once had for each other don’t do anything but what is right. Above all things don’t be led again into drinking, please Leland don’t. I always want to look up on you as a friend and hope you will always be one. Some day you will meet some one and forget all about Edith and I hope and pray you will and be happy…Don’t do anything you will be sorry for and forgive me if I have caused you a moment’s pain, but believe it is for the best. Good bye Leland. I can’t write anymore. Please look upon me as your friend always, Mae”

 

“May 23, Monday 1898

Camp Mobile, Co. G. 11 Infantry

Mobile, Alabama

 

Dear Parents,

…Today is a beautiful day but very warm and hot. 1,000 men arrived this morning that makes two thousand Texas has sent. They were a very hard looking lot. There is some Indians among them. A torpedo boat by the name of Porter is lying in the bay, also two large transports and a coal barge. I assume those boats are waiting for us, but of course do not know. I think they are waiting to see how [Sampson] comes out before they send us. Well we have a very lively camp here. 5 or 6 bands a going and bugles sounding and orderlies dashing about. It makes me feel good…They bound a gaged a fellow this morning… [They] think he is crazy. I think he is playing up so he will get discharged but they won’t do it. He will get about 7 years in prison…. Good bye until we meet again…Leland”

 

 

“May 27th, 1898

Camp Mobile, Co. G. 11 Infantry

Mobile, Alabama

 

Dear Parents,

 

Today is a beautiful day but very warm. Yesterday we had a right smart shower, but in ten minutes it was as dry as powder and as hot as blazes. 800-900 cavalrymen came in yesterday from New Orleans...many more expected today. We have about 8 or 9000 altogether now and I think we could clear the island of Cuba alone in less than a week. I see McKinley has called for more men if I had stayed, I would have been right in it with my company.

 

General Howard spoke the other night. He only has one arm. He gave us a very fine address. I shook hands with him. He is a very smart man. I heard Pierre Danforth and Nate Mamaug had enlisted. I wonder if that is so they will be sent to Atlanta, Georgia because they don’t send any more recruits here…. all are sent to Atlanta and then sent here…It is fun to watch some of the new men get called down. I knew what it was before I came and of course it is nothing new. We have very little sickness yet and I hope I won’t get sick. Wish you would send me some Quinine and a little paper.  You know it is good for fever and I may need some. Well, how long do you think this war is going to last? I hope we can settle it the first crack and get it done with…I will close write soon…Leland”

 

 

“Headquarters Co. G. 11 Infantry, Tampa Heights,Tampa, Florida

Sunday morning 26 [June 1898]

 

Dear Parents,

 

…I wrote last night that we as to leave in one hour those orders were countermanded but we are all packed up and it is a sure thing that we are going. We are, that is my company, Co. G, of the 11 Regiment, as a body guard of General Miles. I told you it was General Coppinger in my last letter, but it is Miles and it is one of the highest honors that we could wish. Our captain has been seeking that job for quite a while. Our captain’s wife gets 23 dollars a day and so you see we have quite a rich man for Captain and we will be the [bonbon] company of the war where ever General Miles goes, we go and I suppose we will have to dress spick and span. We may see the City of Washington in the future, but will leave for some distant land in a few days or hours. I think it will be Santiago de Cuba but I don’t know. We drew 30 days traveling rations and 30 days field rations. It is my idea that this war will last a few years perhaps more. The American people have learned a lesson once more you can get together a mass of men but it takes years at least two to make soldiers of them and then we were not ready to go to war. We did not have arms or equipment enough to equip our army. We can get the men easy enough but to arm and equip those men, that is the question. Why the government is issuing all kinds of shoes and the uniforms are of dark and some of light blue and you see how easy it is as was in the case of the Rough Riders to be mistaken and shoot each other thinking they might be enemies. We are to be issued 500 rounds of ammunition and that with the 100 rounds we have will make 600 rounds. 100 rounds weighs with a belt about 12 pounds but of course we will not carry that 600 rounds all at one time…During the storm the other night a soldier was killed and several of his comrades stunned by lighting and it was a very sad affair for at the particular time the lighting struck the bugler was sounding church call and ere that call had died away one poor fellow had been hurled into eternity to meet his God. Oh, how full of uncertainty this life is but how glorious it is we are only prepared to meet death in whatever form it comes. Last night one poor fellow died while they were on their way to the hospital with him. He died from that cursed stuff called drink. Here as elsewhere that demon makes its influence felt. Mark my word Dear Parents if I come out of this war alive and I am ever elected to any office in politics I will fight against that enemy with just as much vigor as I do the Spaniards for you know the followers of King Alcohol are more to be feared than General Weyler and the Spanish Army.


We number about eight or ten thousand men and are expecting forty thousand more from the North. Our men are suffering a great deal from the heat but take it all in all. We have very little sickness among us and as my regiment is mostly New York men it is surprising there isn’t more. This war is a godsend for the people of Tampa. Why if you to buy anything they charge you just as much again for things here as they do at the north and if Ell was down here with his staff, old Ed Michaels included, he would own one side of Main in less than a month…

 

I hear Doc Harnes wants an appointment as surgeon in the army. Well, all I have got to say is this, Doc can’t get here any too fast to suit me for by the look of the men here calling themselves doctors and surgeons, there will be some terrible cutting and slashing done someday. If you are sick here it doesn’t matter what ails you. They give you a pill. If you have a headache you get a pill, or if you have a stomach ache you get a pill, just the same. Pills, pills for every known ailment under the sun.

The Cuban girls I have saw are all as a rule very small of stature and very dark skinned, but then as the song goes, they are dark but not too shady, but give me the good old Schoharie Dutch girls, they are the stuff anywhere you put them. But one thing more right here in Tampa there are about 12 or 14 of Cubans who ought to be in Cuba fighting for themselves but instead of going to the front they stay here and if you ask them if they are going, they say no, not until after the war. I must say, I am greatly disappointed in them…from your loving son, my prayers, Leland”

 

 

“Tampa, Friday July 1898

Dear Parents,

 

Your welcome and last letter received by me last night. It is the last letter I will receive from you in these United States and perhaps on this earth. We are going to sail today some of our companies have already gone. We sail on the Whitney so Lieutenant McGinnis of Co. M. told me. He asked me to pack up Lieutenant [Lances] stuff and I had a good talk with him. He said we are either going to have a hard fight or they will surrender. I said to him if I keep my head, I will be all right. He said there was no danger of my going to the rear. If I went anywhere, I would go to the front. He was sure of it…All the afternoon for Lieutenant Longrue of our company it was war orders and it was ordering soldiers from all over the United States to report to Fort McPherson…I can only get promoted for bravery. What a help to me it will be to redeem my past life…A silent hush has fell over our camp. A few hours ago, where all was laughter it is as silent as death and it is likened to the calm that precedes a storm on a summer’ day. It only shows that the men are preparing for the deadly conflict that is to come…

 

If I get killed the young man at my side in the front rank his name is Curtis and he is from Waterford, NY and he is a fine fellow and if he falls, I intend to inform his folks and he will do the same for me. If I get wounded, I will endeavor to reach New York City as soon as I am able. I would like you to meet me in Albany if possible. Some of the boys are not preparing for death for only last night I saw many reeling under the influence of strong drink. It is a sad state of affair when men have to indulge in that strong poison to give them nerve. I am strong than ever and I am sure I never will drink. I will refuse to taste a drop even if I am wounded on the field, better to die than to live a living death brought on by drink…Leland”

 

 

“San Juan, Sunday Nov 27, 1898

 

Dear Parents,

 

I received your letter yesterday and papers and was very glad to hear from you. It found me in the Hospital. I have had the fever but am better now. I have been sick for three weeks. I am in the Typhoid ward. I was very sick but I think if I don’t get a relapse, I will come around. There have been four deaths from Typhoid since I have been sick. They don’t last very long here when the fever takes them. Some have died on the fourth day after coming here, but we are nursed by trained nurses (Women) from the states and all of us have a bunk to lie on and while it is not like being home it is a vast improvement over what we have been used to having. When I first came in, they gave me ice cold baths three times a day and it is due to those grand good women that I am feeling as well as I am. The hospital is gradually getting in shape and in a short time it will be a very nice one. It was formerly the Spanish Hospital but I have undergone such a wonderful cleaning up that the Spaniards wouldn’t know it.

 

Well my diet has been three glasses of milk a day and on Thanksgiving I had one small dish of pudding and three glasses of milk not a very heavy Thanksgiving dinner for me but they wouldn’t allow me to eat any solid food. I am up now and walking around but am very weak. But I think I will soon be home as peace has been declared. Perhaps I can get home on the next hospital boat but I don’t have much hopes for it does seem as if I get overlooked every time.

 

The transport Mississippi is lying outside the harbor here. She has Yellow Fever on board and they won’t let her come in. She also has a troop cavalry onboard. I know how to pity them outside there on board a boat in the hot sun is no fun. I can tell you…

 

The hospital here is built in the style of all of the Spanish buildings, immensely thick walls with large arches and a court in the center which contains many strange plants and one immense Palu and if you could have that in the front yard it would be fine but of course it would not stand the climate…Leland”

 

 

 

 

 

 

“San Juan, Dec 21, 1898

 

Dear Parents,

 

Your letter of Dec 4th I received tonight. I will answer right away so it will go tomorrow morning on the Transport Mississippi. I am out of the hospital again I went back to my company today. I am better but am quite weak. I did not get my furlough they said it was too cold to send us North…

 

We had a very sad affair happen last night. A young man, a very dear friend of mine, committed suicide, just before first call this morning. That is about five o’clock. It is dark here then. He put his rifle barrel in his mouth and he must have pulled the trigger with his toe blowing the top of his head off. His bunk was next to me and if I had not been in the Hospital, I would have saw the whole affair. I am very glad I was not next to him last night, but perhaps if I was there, I might have saved him. As it was when I arrived at the company, I could see the terrible remains of blood spattered around and tonight I will have to sleep in his bunk on account of mine being full of blood. So, you see dear Parents, a soldier has to contend with everything. It has cast a gloom over the whole company. We buried him this afternoon. The band played the Funeral March that I have, the one you bought me That is the piece they always play at a military funeral.  A military funeral is one of the sadist sights. They fire three volleys over the grave and taps is sounded on the bugle. Very different from a funeral in civil life…”