Letter From Mamie Lawton To Her Mother

Letter from Mamie Lawton to her mother. This poignant letter gives a clear look at the warmth and closeness within the real "Walton" family, and the softer side of a national hero, the future General Lawton. At the time of this letter, Henry Lawton was still a Captain, but was already nationally known because of his capture of Geronimo the year before.  When this letter was written, Mamie was also 7 months into her pregnancy with her son, Manley, who would later become "The Little Captain" of the Little Colonel stories. 

You will see what a wonderful writer Mrs. Lawton was in her own right. She later wrote many articles for the Louisville newspapers while she lived in the Philippines in 1899 (We know of these, but still haven't found them.  Research is in progress.)  

It's also interesting to note here that General Lawton's favorite flower was the pansy.  Read on, and you'll know why.


Fort Huachuca, Arizona, May 8th, 1887

My dearest Mama, 

Your good letter, with book and papers, reached us yesterday afternoon. You don't know what a comfort it is to hear from you all just now. I was glad you enclosed Kate Thomas' letter and Annie C...d wrote me such a kind one, so full of sympathy. I like to think they remembered my darling and feel for me now. 

Henry Ware, is as considerate and lovely as it is possible to be. Not only offered to let me go to you, but suggested a visit to Sallie Weston or to some friends at Bowie, but I felt a as if I could not leave him, now of all times. He feels it terribly, and I think we both miss our treasure girl, more each day. The days seem so long without her. Everything is changed for us. Nothing can ever be the same again. We talk of her all the time, and keep her things about us, but there is the feeling that we can never, never see her again. Never feel her dear little arms about us or have her toddle to us with her sweet face so full of joy. Never see her little mouth held up for a kiss, or hear her voice that was the sweetest music in the world to us. 

Don't think I nurse or encourage my grief. I try with all my might to look forward. To be cheerful and go about as usual. I want to think more of this little one coming to us, and find comfort in it. And believe, when ones tries, as I do, God will give the help and strength needful to conquer and bring peace. But it is so so hard. And I suffer so now. It was such a comfort, and pleased me much to have you think me a devoted Mother to my little Heartease though I know very well I deserve no credit, for she was not only the best, sweetest, baby a Mother ever had, but I had your example before me. I always wanted to be to her, what you were to us. 

How I wish you all could have known her this Winter. She was so much larger, and more advanced than children usually are at her age. You would be surprised to see her chosen companions here. Eleanor is five or six. "Buss" four and Court two and a half. They came to see her four or five times a week, played with my darling so nicely, and were so fond of her. I always let them do exactly as they pleased in the nursery, and the little things did have such good times. Dear baby thought she was as big as they and sat down to the doll parties with as much interest and pleasure. And so enjoyed having them. She was almost as large as Court. There was wonderfully little difference in their size. She was such a bright, active child. Such a dear busy little soul, and so graceful in all her movements. So loving and tender hearted and generous. 

I wonder if I will miss her all my life like this. I can't believe God will let me endure the desolate, awful, pain so long. Mrs. Parker said to me the other morning "She was to me the most beautiful, perfect child I ever saw." And Mr. D who is not one easily affected broke completely down the day her little coffin was brought into the house. He and Mrs. Brown were very fond of my darling. Indeed everybody here was and have been most kind. 

You must have received my two letters before this. I hope they have told you what you want to know. I want to write so much to you. There is so much I wish you to know about her, but it seem impossible to write it all. If I could only talk to you and Fanny! Only tell you these things! I scarcely know what I have told you, Mama. Sometimes I can't see my words, but you must believe I do the best I can. 

Henry Ware appreciates thoroughly, more than I can tell you on paper, the kind loving letters he has gotten from you and Fanny. He said last night he would write to you, but I doubt if he can. If you could see and be with us, you would understand better what such grief is to a man of his intense feeling, and affectionate, sensitive nature. And you know he hasn't yet found the comfort or consolation, we do, in Gods promises. It does no good to tell him of these now. He feels it too bitterly. I do not give up though, but pray that in His own good time He will give my Henry a new heart and make him an earnest Christian. He is so good to me, so thoughtful and kind. We try to help each other and in doing so, I suppose we help ourselves too. 

He was afraid you would feel anxious about me when you heard of our earthquake, which was quite severe, though no damage was done. Some of the walls cracked slightly, a little plastering fell, and the lower shelf to a corner bracket was shaken down and one vase broken. We were all more or less frightened. Some of the ladies slept in tents for a couple of nights after, and some would not undress. Others had great bundles of blankets and wraps ready on the porch in case there was a shock during the night. Henry and I went regularly to bed and rested pretty well notwithstanding the excitement. There are a great many conjectures about the possibility of active volcanoes in the mountains around us. Certainly there was a strange fire in the "Dragoons", about 18 or 20 miles from us, which we saw quite plainly without glasses. We have not felt anything so far today, but about ten last night there was a slight shake. We were wondering if you felt it at home. 

I came near meeting with an ugly accident yesterday morning. I went upstairs to put up some fresh curtains in Nellie Van's room and while on the top step of the ladder, which I thought I had placed carefully, it slid from under me. I came down easily, fortunately and was untouched except my knee which pained me very much the whole day and kept me on the sofa most of the time. It is much better now, and I am able to limp around quite easily. Will be all right tomorrow. 

I have not forgotten the pattern you want. Will send as soon as I can. This is my 7th month, right now, so it will be very early in July, that I expect, dear Annie's "little sister". I had so looked forward to her joy over it. She would have been so delighted. 

I must tell you, before I say goodbye, about Henry's interest in Mexico. He owns one fourth interest in these several mines (silver and gold) that promise a good deal of money. Every precaution has been taken, and as far as human powers can tell, they are rich mines and there must be money in them. At any rate, we won't lose for Henry has put in no money at all, in consideration of which he is to attend to the business for awhile and says if things go as now expects he will take me to Pewee next Fall. 

How I wish some of you could be with me this summer! It would be so nice and economical if you could rent the place, let Mert board, you and Harry go to Louise, and Fanny and Alice to me! 

I had a very nice telegram from Mr,. Van(?) as soon as he and Nell reached S.F. and a sweet letter from Nell a day or two later. They had not decided which way they would go home. Nell will write me again and I am expecting to hear every day and so hoping it will be by here.

Henry joins me in dear love to each one. Kiss Alice for me and tell her I will always love her extra much, for the way she treated my darling. Always lovingly,

Mary

Do write as often as you can. Home letters are such a comfort. I will be so glad if Fanny can get me the Pansy frame for dear baby's picture. She was so fond of pansys and one of my pet names for her was "My little Heartsease" or "My Pansy Blossom".


Notes: 
(Courtesy of 
UNITED STATES ARMY GARRISON, FORT HUACHUCA
FORT HUACHUCA, ARIZONA 85613-6000
September 29, 1989)

Annie Lawton died on April 26, 1887 and is buried in Section 3, Plot No. 55 of the Fort Huachuca cemetery. Her grave and that of Elsie 11, daughter of the 4th Cavalry Regimental Quartermaster at Fort Huachuca at that time, are surrounded by old time wrought iron enclosures; both are just inside the main entrance to the cemetery.


Annie Lawton's grave.
Click photo for enlargement

Captain Lawton served at Fort Huachuca from June, 1884 until August, 1884. He then went on detached service in San Francisco, California from September, 1884 until January, 1885. He subsequently returned to Fort Huachuca and led B Troop, 4th U.S. Cavalry in pursuit of Geronimo during the period May-September 1886.

The original of this letter is still a possession of the Lawton family.