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Friday, March 20, 2009

Letter 136 ~ February 3, 1919

I respond to a letter I received from my brother Willis -- mostly about farm matters.

Addressed to Mr. Willis G. Griffing, Manhattan, KS

Nitro, West Virginia
February 3, 1919

Dear Bill [Willis],

I was mighty glad to get your letter, old top, and wish you would shoot me some more just like it once in a while. It hit me just at the right time. I hadn’t heard from home for three or four days and I was afraid something might be wrong.

I will be drifting by that old serum plant one of these days and surprise yo’all. I expect to migrate with the blackbirds. We heard in a roundabout way from a fellow who flunkies around headquarters that out of the twenty-three applications for discharge, nine were disapproved of by the company commander, but that the Major [Major Walter C. Gullion] ok’d all of them. I suppose at Washington the C.O.’s approval is the one most needed so I think my chances are pretty good for acceptance. I ought to know in a week or two.

You did the right thing in not all four depending on 1 binder even if it is a new one. Now you can make your harvest plans without having to worry about where on earth can I get a binder and then pay forty-seven prices for someone to sit up there and drive while you watch him.

It is too bad there isn’t any stock on the place but you did just right under the circumstances. Maybe we can get hold of a bunch next fall with two silos full of feed and then watch us smoke.

We will certainly have to have more horse power of some kind and there is no doubt but what that is a good colt. I wish we could get hold of a good steady well-broken team of young horses but that is almost impossible.

I wish I could help you pull stumps. Do you suppose I will know the place if you pull all the hedges and orchards? Better leave a stump now and then so I will know where to stop. If it wasn’t for the stumps on the “farms” in this country, they would all slide off the side hill into the creek, so to keep the stumps there they make big rock piles around them. That farm of ours is a pipen now, believe me, and with the stumps and hedges out, it is hard to beat. Believe me, boy, when you and I get to pulling together on the same old double tree, it will be happy days and Uncle Sam can take his old reveille and retreat and chuck 'em in the lake.

If we knew we could have [Louis] Niehenke’s place for more than one year, it would be the proper thing to buy Paul’s machinery. Ask the old man about it and if he says buy, [then] buy it. It isn’t far from the first of March so he ought to come across with some kind of a decision. He talked last summer as tho if he didn’t sell by the first of March, he would write us a lease for five years. Feel him out and see if he won’t do it now. We would be jake if he would.

The other day I mailed you folks the roster of “E” company. I suppose it reached you all right. They are drilling us again now but we are kind of glad of it because there is nothing else to do. Try and find out if you can what they are doing with the 41st Infantry. We have heard that the 70th and 69th are nearly all discharged but the 41st is the one we are interested in because it was an old regiment like the 20th. If they discharge them, we ought to be discharged shortly [too].

All of us fellows got sore at what we found in the paper the other day. Colonel Jordan, Commanding Officer of the 20th [Infantry] with headquarters at Leavenworth had an article in the Kansas City Star saying that 9 out of 10 of the soldiers under his command didn’t want to get out – that they were having the time of their lives and couldn’t be driven out, and for people not to believe the wails of soldiers that were being kept in the army against their will. That was the rankest lie ever printed. Perhaps I should say “mistake” so I wouldn’t have any grounds to be tried for treason.

Well, here’s hoping I can see you all shortly. Yours regardless, -- Ward


  1. Ward is "gnawing at the bit" to get back to farm life. His army career was but a brief, interesting interlude. As a city boy, born and raised, I don't quite understand the attraction to pulling stumps put I guess it beats drilling for no other purpose than to kill time.

  2. True. I don't understand the attraction either. I think it's just the desire he shared with his brother to have the best looking farm in Riley County, Kansas.