Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Tantie followed Uncle Teddy to New York, where he had gone to study mortuary science, and she often visited him in the city on weekends. She had found a job at the Howard Colored Orphan Asylum, which had been established in 1866.

According to the website Commack History, "For the Howard Orphanage ... things were not going well by 1917. ... Due to war rations when the winter came there was no more coal to heat the buildings with and the children were sent into the surrounding woodland to cut cordwood for heating the houses. Then some of the hot water heaters broke down. Now forced to sleep around the stoves for warmth some children were told to place their cold hands or feet as close to the stove as possible, but it was too late frost bite was setting in on some and they were taken to hospitals where a few had to have limbs amputated."

Kings Park, L.I.
Jan. 11, 1917

My Dear Edwin,
I am glad you have made your decision and are complying with our father’s wishes. That means of course that you will soon be homeward bound. I wish you God speed.

I sincerely hope your brother [Moultrie] will be spared to reach home once more and that all at home will be there to welcome him. I am sorry to think I will not even but a witness, yet I shall rejoice with you now in the prospect of having him home after so long an absence. Perhaps you may persuade him to stay and help you and Rob with the business.

I am enclosing a letter from home which I am sure you will enjoy. You may keep it until I see you which may be sooner than either of us know. The first part concerns – not you – skip it.

I also received my box. I really did wish for you to enjoy it with me – devilled crabs – chicken – cake (I’m saving you a piece) candy – nuts. Wasnt’ that lovely? Some "Mudder" eh?

I am a little nervous tonight. Started laughing at supper and – well I wasn’t thinking of you just then so you can’t say I had hysterics over you for I did not. I was unduly nervous and felt like crying and so there. But I’m going to bed soon and sleep it off. ...

Perhaps I shall be able to come in the last of Jan. But surely Sat. Feb. 3rd & Sun. Feb. 4th 1917 – if not sooner.

Hope to hear from you before that time. You can imagine what your letters mean to me out here.

Lovingly your own

Kings Park, L.I.
Jan. 28, 1917

My Dear Edwin,
Yours received a few days ago. Am sorry & then glad I did not come Friday as I thought but glad when I do come I can stay. I expect to come in next Thurs., if I do I will drop you a card Thurs. A.M.

Am very tired tonight. Have been on the job since 6.30 A.M. It is now 7 P.M. I shall welcome my pillow.

I am very glad of your success. Now home & work. I almost envy you. But I hope I’ll be home with you next Christmas.

Don’t worry about me. I have always "looked out" for myself since I can remember and others quite sometime. [Two lines blacked out.]

Please excuse this; it doesn’t happen often but I’m too weary to start another sheet. That was one of my extravagant thoughts and I just remembered how distasteful they are to you.

Just a few more days and you shall see & love
Your own

Monday, Feb. 26, [19]17

My dear "Mr. Harleston",
Did you expect me to answer that note? I have been expecting a letter from you, and even as I write I am listening for the Post man’s whistle.

I hardly know anything that is happening in town, but what you may read of, and what concerns me, is not of such importance to you that I need mention it here.

It seems you had only to get home again to display a bit of meanness in your very first letter. Will you do me the very great kindness to explain why this is? Why do you become so very irritated and annoyed whenever my name is mentioned to you? Any other friend (?) of mine would have been glad to say they had seen me and it is no more than natural. And it has always been a puzzle to me how you can have this feeling, and yet are so very different when with me.

Now then Sir, take this vital question up in your next letter, and explain away all my doubt. Please Ted, write me as soon as you can, a nice long letter; I am anxious to have some word from you.

You did not say a word about the baby.


Through his association with W.E.B. DuBois, who had been his professor at Atlanta University, Uncle Teddy became the founding president of the Charleston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. One of the group's first accomplishments was petitioning the state legislature to change the law forbidding black teachers from working in Charleston's public schools.

[Handwritten in the left margin] This is my second letter on the machine. The first was to Mamma.
New York. N.Y.
March 1, [19]17

My dearest Edwin,
Your letter received this morning, found me home, with a very bad neck. I have two boils in my head which have given me some trouble, had to have them lanced. The pressure caused several lumps to form on my neck, which are very painful. I did not go to work two days this week, as the day after the doctor lanced the boils I have had the fever. You know what this means to my pocket, and to my spirits also.

I enjoyed your letter so very, very much; and am sorry you are not able to say the same this morning, when you get my letter. But you will understand, Ted, and forgive me, and write me real soon, won’t you?

... My work has not been as successful as I had hoped and it is only my desire to fulfill my promise to you that keeps me here and to other things too.

But don’t let this bother you. I am sure I shall be alright in a few days.

Have you been to see my mother yet? And what do you think of the baby? I can just see the studio.

Have a little patience, dear, and all will come right soon. ...

Tell Ethel to write me, also my sister. That is very fine about the [NAACP]. You will make a very fine President.
Love to all, and write me soon.

Your own

P.S. I had to cut my hair so am sending you a curl, if you do not want it give it to Marie. Phone Ethel as soon as you receive this. Have you been to church yet? In the choir?


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