Hugh Cameron love letters

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Hugh Cameron love letters - 701 XVI11 LETTERS TELL SECRET OF HUGH CAMERON'S...
701 XVI11 LETTERS TELL SECRET OF HUGH CAMERON'S LIFE KANSAS HERMIT WAS THE PRINCIPAL FIGURE IN A ROMANTIC TRAGEDY. In Ruins of His Old Home Are Found Love Letters Written During the War to Mary Phelps, a Belle of the South A Story of Broken Hopes. WILL Mud Creek WILL In A packet of love letters, stained with age but cherised through almost J a half century by the fond sentiment f of a tender love, unrequited but never forgotten, has told to the world the secret of General Hugh Cameron's hermitage. After nearly fifty years of lonely, dreary existence on the pretty bluffs that bear his name, three miles west of Lawrence, and a year of life in his perch in Cameron's tree on Louisiaua street, the old general died in Topeka last December; and with him, everyone thought, was buried the secret of why he lived the life of a recluse. Many wondered at it. Many had asked the hermit himself the why of his lonely life. Always would the General reply; "I wanted to bt alone, to think, to get in close touch with nature, to become a seer and prophet among men," and bis age-dimmed age-dimmed age-dimmed eyes would light up with the fire of youth. Yet after death had ended his lonely life and the world had moved on until the Kansas hermit was becoming becoming but a memory among men, prying hands made public the faded evidences of a tender romance which he cherished through a generation the secret of a lonely and a ruined life. Home Ransacked for Curios When the old general died, his unique home in the tree top at 501 Louisiana street was pillaged by relic hunters. His chest was broken into and valuable papers taken. Clippings from papers of the Civil war time," stories of his life, essays on women and sufferage, everything disappeared before the ruthless hands of the curious. The place was ran- ran- backed from top to bottom. But. only a few weeks ago the Armstrong boy, a son of Chris Armstrong who lives in West Lawrence, was wandering wandering over the hermit's old haunt and exploring the little dugout beneath his tree perch in which he kept many possessions stored. The boy noticed a crevice in the wall, and plunging his hand into it pulled out a bunch of old rags and clothes. Being curious to know wha had been thus covered up he ran his hand in again and pulled out a soiled packet of letters. Jacob Long Has the Letters. The boy was trying to read them when Jacob Lonr, of 1018 Alabama street came by and glancing over the letters and becoming interested m them, offered him a dollar for them. The deal was closed and the love let lers, which Cameron had cherished for a life time through all sorts of experiences fell into his possession, The envelopes are missing but six of the letters remained, written in the fine, delicate, hand of the hermit with which many of the odd settlers are familiar. The letters are addressed to "Dear Mary" and only in the six long love missives does the full name of the girl, Mary Phelps, appear. Are Models of Letter Writing. Written in 1864 and 1865, the letters letters are full of the stirring spirit of the war time and of hope for the dawn of peace, but their historical value a-e a-e a-e lost sight of in the beautiful beautiful romance they unfold, passional and full of heart throbs. They grow almost philosophical at times but always always breathing an unfathomed depth of tenderness and love, they are models par excellence in letter writing writing and reveal a-wealth a-wealth a-wealth of history of the hidden side to the life of the 1 Kansas hermit. So many years did the people of Lawrence know the old hermit by his queer camp, his long white hair which flowed down over his shoulders in tangles and snarls, his unkempt beard, and above all the squalor of his lonely life, that they can hardly conceive conceive of such finer passages in his life as these letters indicate. Yet a few of the ever narrowing band of pioneers who knew Hugh Cameron be fore the war when he was a handsome, handsome, manly figure, proud and independent independent can better understand this disclosure of a noble nature and tenderer sensibilities. His Sister Knew of Romance. While the letters alone revealed most of the tragic love story, the missing links of the romance and those following the abrupt dosing of the correspondence are supplied by Mrs. Grace Smith, a sister of the General, who lives at 1316 Vermont street. Mrs. Smith did not know of the existence of the letters. She knew of Hugh Cameron's love for Mary Phelps and his heart breaking disappointment when the beautiful southern girl married another, but not once did even she conceive of her brother cherishing and nurturing through two scores of years this love which embittered him against man and the conventions of society. Tells of His Great Love When Mrs. Smith was shown the time-stained time-stained time-stained and faded letters, she recognized them at once as having been written by her brother and threw many interesting little sidelights sidelights on the love of Hugh Cameron which the letters did not disclose or which were alluded to but not ex plained in the love missives. Then after she had told of his war time romance, she took from her treasures of the by-gone by-gone by-gone days disclosed the face of Hugh Cameron of the '60s in all his manly strength and pnde. The Hugh Cameron of the faded past was not the unkempt hermit as he is remembered by the present gen eration. He was born in New York and received a fine education, becoming becoming an instructor in the Ritten-haus Ritten-haus Ritten-haus academy at Washington. He moved in the best ranks of society there and was a friend of Douglas, Webster and others of the heroic figures of the ante-bellum ante-bellum ante-bellum epoch. His bitter antagonism to slavery aroused a feeling against him and, prompted by his own restless spirit he decided to move to Kansas, the battle ground of freedom. Thus he became one ot the pioneers of Lawrence. Lawrence. A Pioneer of Kansas The part he played in the free state troubles has often been related and it suffices to say that when the war actually broke out he was a prominent enough figure to receive a commission as captian in the 2nd V - ,-. ,-. ,-. -. -. . ' S , ' -. -. i i HUGH CAMERON, IN I860. (Prom a daguerreotype now in pos session ol his sister,, Mrs. Smith.) Leavenworth. Later he was trans- trans- 0: desire to remain there forever. Tell me, Mary, have you received my let ters since Christmas T 1 was mustered mustered as lieutenant-colonel lieutenant-colonel lieutenant-colonel yesterday. Excuse me from writing a long let ter at this time. I remain as ever, yours only, HUGH. She Asks for Her Release Mary Phelps goes away to school and writes to Hugh asking to be released from whatever promise she may have made to him. Cameron's proud spirit is touched. He writes a reply but does not mail it) until several months later when his old love becomes too strong and he evidently overcomes his first inclina tion not to reply, and writes, his letter full of a lover's agony." Cassville, Mo., July 22, 1864. Dear Mary: Enclosed you will find what was written long ago in answer to your letter of February eleventh last, where you express a desire to continue continue our relations as they were before writing, and state as the reason that while you are at school we will see each other but seldom. You declare that you are to be free, "yes, tree as a bird or the wild gazelle." Would to God that I could make you so, and more secure than either. You must excuse me from writing more tonight. 1 have sought to improve the measure somewhat, and hope to have succeeded succeeded to your satisfaction. I claim you as my critic, Mary, and shall expect expect that you will criticise, no matter matter how severely. Good night, my little pet, HUGH. Cameron Asks for Forgiveness Just before the third letter, Cameron has evidently called upon Mary but is piqued and treats her cool. The letters does not . state just what causes the coolness between them but it alludes to some comment having been passed upon his culture or lack of it, for he promises to improve socially under her tutelage, becoming almost facetious at the close of his letter. Monday morning, Oct. 24, 1864. For Carrying the Hills Causing At a drainage board with the farms along election either $3,000 bonds to The work were nothing after the when the with their completing these due they brnd If the it undoubtdly will be dug waters to which have damage to This ditch ranging depth and that it of the now on the as this is how many the election ferred to the Second Arkansas, one of the few union regiments raised in that divided state. Here began the romance of which the letters tell so fervently. The colonel of the Second Arkansas was John E. Phelps, a son of John S. Phelps, the military governor of Arkansas and later, trom lbo to 1880, governor of Missouri. The Phelps family is today one of the prominent families of Missouri. . Colonel Phelps was a dashing young southerner, restless and eager for adventure. Although their natures were strikingly unlike, he and Cameron Cameron became boon companions, the six letters containing several allu- allu- isions to this friendship. Mrs. Smith almost feminine Savs that Hugh was a favorite of Mrs. Phelps because he kept her boy out of trouble. Ozarks Made Romantic Setting The Phelps were one of the rich families of Misso.ui. They lived in Springfield and had a country home, "Prarie Shade" in the Ozarks. Here in the beautiful mountain country, full of romantic glamour was the setting for the wooing of ' Mary Phelps, the southern belle, by the dashing young Captain Hugh Camer on. faded daguerreotype and opening it Mrs. Smith says that Cameron iirsi met Mary Phelps when he rode to Prairie Shade with Colonel Phelps, One visit followed another and Cameron became the avowed suitor for the hand of Mary Phelps, the sister of the Colonel. The details of this early courtship are missing but when the first letter was written, Cameron had evidently proposed to her and had been given an indefinite answer. That he had been accepted by the family is shown in his first letter where he tells of a visit to Prarie Shade in . company with her mother. Some Mysterious Trouble The course of their love, however, did not run smoothly for constantly through the missives the captain is alluding to enemies who are trying to make trouble for him, and asain states that someone has been telling false stones about him, asking her to overlook these factional jealousies Mrs. Smith knows nothing whatever of this trouble but the letters indi cate that an officer, a Southerner and superior in rank to either Phelps of Cameron, was a rival for Marv Phelps' hand. Letters Models of Rhetoric The letters are models of rhetorie The first one tells of his visit to Prairie Shade with her mother and is overflowing with love and tender ness. With his heart brimming over with joy he recalls the various spots about Prarie Shade which have become become hallowed because of their association association with tender moments with her. Leon House. Springfield, Mo., Feb. 23, 1864. Dear Mary: I returned to Springfield last Thursday with your mother, and I have visited "Prairie Shade." The old buggy in which we took our last ride, the sofa on which we sat together, together, the garden wherein we gathered gathered flowers, are all there. The old homestead, dearer to than where I was born, around which cluster cluster so mRny very pleasant memories, needs only your presence to make me Since parting with you'last even ing l have been troubled, believing that my manner toward you, particularly particularly at taking leave, was cold and formal. Do not hold me entirely responsible. responsible. You were so beautiful and womanly m your new attire that I did not realize your kindness nor your generosity while in your presence. presence. You know I would not indulge a habit of indifference or neglect in-tentionally. in-tentionally. in-tentionally. Yet still, of late, bein? often occupied with my thoughts, I fear that I am sometimes guilty. Socially I would be under your tu ition and hope to profit by precept and by example too. And with my prospects for improved social culture would again resume our corre spondence. Tell me, if you will, what caused this sudden termination and permit me again the right to write of rites which right innumerable wrongs. As ever, HUGH. Please answer. A Letter from Mississippi From down in Mississippi where Cameron has gone with his regiment comes the fourth missive. Cameron has received two letters from Mary, who has been traveling in the East. With a lover '8 desire to link himself as closely as possible to his sweetheart sweetheart he lives over the trip again, placing himself with her in the various scenes she visited. Holly Springs, Miss., June 21. 1863. Dear Mary: 1 have just received two letters. one from Marv PhelDS. the other from Mary, the former of date December December 18, 1864, the latter January ana February, lsbo. 1 regret that these, like certain other letters. should have been withheld until out of date. I have often thought, since I lastsaw you that what I suffered was merited punishment of the sin of idolatry, and yet I doubt if I have been taught either wisdom or phil osophy thereby. This, will, perhaps, be sufficient with what I have already already written oh this subject at any rate 1 will not now trust myself further further indulgence. I am glad you have a high appre ciation of my native state and hope that you will vjsit all the great natu ral curiosities in New York, around which cluster so many bright memories. memories. You like not Connecticut so well, TO CARRY BEAT A Frenchman Aeroplane Stayed in Minutes, Than Paris, sustained morning Frenchman at remained in minutes minutes record. KEPT Only Four Get Away to Not all were Fe plus weeks' farm. could not this night, of the rest will evening. y Two party, one the other Italian, more with en of the just at the Kansas City stay a homes. Will Go A for more sidewalk to The and other LawTenee of cement, from the Kansas, begin. The biggest Lawrence will start run out Haskell walk the end through will be street. The side took of cement now and were able cheaply. There eouncil walks which so that there will the stitute. 1 take it, although the scenery by which you are there surrounded seems to awaken both reflection and imagination to the exclusion of "tired nature's sweet restorer." If it were not the last of June in the Sunny South, it would not even require require a slight effort to behold with the eye of imagination the scene you paint from the window of vour bed chamber.. I can almost hear the crash of the ice. as it dashed to pieces upon the awful breakers," or rudely jostled in the cave below. With the blue light on the beacon I always typify constant and ever faithful love that continually watches the wayward mariner on life's dark and tempestuous sea, admonishing him always of "awful breakers." which should be avoided ; which the THEY Watkins The nies Watkins direct They by the wanted W. company, car line up some Sullivan franchise J. D. General (Continued on page 3.) i i - , coeeriess music 01 tne wind as it mff . hne arrive lers

Clipped from Lawrence Daily World07 Aug 1909, SatPage 1

Lawrence Daily World (Lawrence, Kansas)07 Aug 1909, SatPage 1
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