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Friday, February 27, 2009

Letter 96 ~ November 16, 1918

Minnie writes me a long letter from Parkerson's farm in Sherman Township, Riley County, Kansas where she is boarding. She tells me she became scared during a storm while alone at the Parkerson’s and ran to a neighbor's farm. The wet weather and the muddy roads prevent our getting together this weekend.

Addressed to Pvt. Ward C. Griffing, Co. E 20th Infantry, Camp Funston, Kansas
Sherman [Kansas]

[Saturday morning] November 16, 1918

Dearest Ward:

We sure have had a siege of bad weather up here this weekend. I had planned to go home today. Mr. [William] Hoffman was going to Stockdale so I was going that far with him and then take the train home. But it was so muddy and cloudy, I was afraid I wouldn’t get back. I’m sure disappointed. I wanted to be home [on] my birthday and then I had so many things to buy for my school.

I wonder very much where you are. I hope you write pretty soon. I haven’t heard from you since I came up here [last Sunday evening]. I don’t understand. The paper says they didn’t send any of the 10th Division away after the Armistice was signed but I know you have left [Camp] Funston or you would have written to me. I wrote Mama this morning and asked her if your folks knew where you were.

Thursday, Parkerson’s went to Manhattan. Mr. Parkerson went to a sale over across the river so they didn’t get started home till late. Then they had a blow out near Stockdale. Well, I knew they intended to get home early because Mrs. Parkerson didn’t make any arrangements for me to stay anywhere as she always does when she thinks they will be late. So I came home from school and expected to see them coming any time, but they didn’t.

Well, it got real dark. I lit the light and thought I would build a fire and start supper. Well, the wind was blowing and the cows were bawling and this house seemed so big and lonesome. I began to get cold feet. Knowing what a coward I am after dark, you can imagine how scared I was getting. Pretty soon the dog barked up. I jumped and blew out the light and off to Hoffman’s I ran. [When the] Parkerson’s got home later, they called to see if I was there. Kenneth [Hoffman] brought me home then.

That day the [Krause] twins asked me if I wouldn’t go to the revival meetings with them. I told then, “Sure I would” but it was so rainy and bad Mrs. Krause called and said they had decided not to go.

A week from next Wednesday is Stella [Munger’s] box social. I hope it’s nice weather so I can go. Mrs. Parkerson is going to Kansas City to visit her daughter. She asked me tonight if I would stay with Chalmers' or Krause’s. I told her yes, certainly I would. She seems to hesitate so about leaving while I’m here. I may have my “shes” mixed up but I guess you can make it out.

Tonight’s the night I had planned on going to a [picture] show in Manhattan. Maybe I can next Saturday night. I’m sure going home then, rain or shine. I can’t hardly stand it to stay here over weekends – this is the second time. It wouldn’t be half so bad if I would get some mail. The mail man didn’t come today, but Mr. Parkerson got the mail at Stockdale. I was sure anxious for him to get home. I thought I would get a whole handful of mail – this being my birthday. I thought sure Mama, Stella [Munger], and you would write. Mrs. Parkerson hated it when she did tell me. But I think the folks expected me to come home until it rained so last evening.

Ward, you remember Capt. Willis [L.] Pearce that carried mail on Route 8 for ten years? I noticed in the paper tonight that he was killed in action October 9th. And that Riley County boy [named Henry Uhlenhop] that was reported dead the same time George Wingate was killed is alive. His folks got a card from him last week. He’s in a German Prison hospital. They think it may be that George Wingate is alive yet [too]. Neither one of the boys clothes were sent home. And they always are [once their bodies are found].

I have all the papers graded. Did some last night, did the rest up at the school house this morning. Just have my monthly report to Miss [Reppie] Carey to make out yet, and then I’ll be thru. I have the grade cards all made out. Well I do wonder where you are tonight, dear Boy. I wish we were both where we were a week ago tonight. As ever, Minnie G. Frey

  • Capt. Willis L. Pearce served in Co. F, 142nd Infantry. He was killed in action on October 8, 1918 while serving in the 36th Division's efforts to push the enemy from the area north of St. Etienne-a-Arnes (specifically, Hill 140) back to the Aisne River. The division was successful but Americans suffered heavy losses in their first action under fire. Willis was born in Kansas about 1882. His father was a farmer in Grant, Riley County, Kansas at the time of the 1895 Kansas Census. Willis is buried in Arlington Cemetery, Section S W Site 4348.
  • George L. Wingate was born on August 5, 1894. The August 22, 1918 edition of the Manhattan Tribune reported that George was the first Riley County soldier killed during the war. He died leaving a wife and a baby that he never saw. Prior to his enlistment in 1917, George was a farmer near Ogden, Kansas.
  • Henry Uhlenhop was indeed reported dead and the whole village of Leonardville, Kansas, mourned his loss at a funeral conducted shortly afterwards. He later turned up in a German Prison Camp where he had been well cared for by the Red Cross. He won the Croix de Guerre in the Second Battle of the Marne. He became the postmaster in Leonardville following the war.

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