Lydia Lord Davis Letter to “My own dear beloved one”
Ravenna, Ohio; August 14, 1900
L, A: Oberlin College Archives, Lydia Lord Davis Records Group (RG 30/80), Personal Correspondence Series III, Box 3, Letters Sent to Francis Davis, May-Aug. 1900 Folder
This is a fragment of an original handwritten letter by Lydia to her husband on their 11th wedding anniversary in 1900. Francis had returned to Shansi the previous fall and Lydia wrote to him with the same dedication seen in her family correspondence from the mission field. This letter suggests that news of the Boxer uprising was spreading throughout the United States and Lydia expresses fear for her husband’s safety. Throughout this very lengthy letter, Lydia included information about daily life and the children, amongst worried prose about his safety and whereabouts. From this letter it is clear that the couple continued their passionate and loving endearments begun in courtship and that their separation was a lonely time for Lydia, made only lonelier for lack of news about him. This is one of the last letters Lydia wrote to Francis, as she received word of the massacre in Shansi and his death the following month.
Ravenna, O., Aug., 14—1900[pp]
My own dear beloved One: — I wonder where you are to-night and what doing would that I knew you were safe! I have just been playing “Abide with Me” – how I love that hymn – Oh, Francis – today is our wedding day! Where are you? Perhaps safe in far away China – perhaps suffering [word??] there, and perhaps looking down as you are from the heaven, which wherever it is, is only a little way off for Christ said “Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise” – I’m going up to Hudson to-morrow for the day – perhaps two day & take Wm. & John. It will be according to how the boys behave—(I suppose by then you would look for me to-morrow night) May own precious one how I do wish I knew about you – know where you were, what you have suffered & all – you – my [word?] one!
Oh my precious one – 11 yrs. Today we were married – How little it matter how many friends they are around if you are away I’m lonesome. My own dear precious one. If only you are spared to me.
Good bye now – oh my darling how can I write. I have hardly the courage too – the dear Lord (has one?) You who have been so good to me I do to hope you are not suffering.
Good night dear have heart – good night
[pp] Lydia probably returned to Ravenna, Ohio, while Francis returned to the mission field. This letter was written two weeks after Francis’ death, but Lydia did not receive notification of his death until September 1990. “Reported Murdered,” Ravenna Republican, September 13, 1900.