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Perhaps this love letter was tossed aside, or perhaps it was one that was treasured. Perhaps the aching, pleading sentiment expressed in this young man’s words were requited. Or maybe not.

This letter has floated around the Local and Family History Department for a while, and, in truth, we can’t tell you much more about it. We don’t know where it came from. We know neither the identity of the author nor the recipient. We don’t have the complete letter, only a couple pages. We can’t even hazard a guess for a date (though it just feels old).

It’s clear that the author pours out his heart with an honest beauty, yet, at the same time, well, it just seems as if there’s some confusion as to the object of his affection. Who knows? Read it for yourself.

“I went over to Illinois this morning and bought a farm, just a few miles from the ferry landing. There is quite a nice house and barns on it, but the house is almost an encumbrance. At any rate it is a useless article to me for I lack that one thing that makes a house comfortable, that brings happiness wherever it is, that dispels the dark clouds of sorrow and brings bright sunshine in its stead. Namely a wife. And that you know I have not, though if I can, I’m going to get one soon – provided, of course, she and I are close—for if I do not get one soon, I shall be an old Batchelor [sic] before I turn around. And that would not suit me.

Now Miss Sarah, I ask you in good faith for your advice and I will follow it to the very letter if you will give it to me. What shall I do in my dilemma? Shall I hunt up some nice young Lady for a Wife or what shall I do? Well for the present I will content myself in my lonely Batchelor’s lot until I get your advice upon the subject.

Miss Sallie, I tried very hard to get out of town this afternoon. I wanted to come out and see you, but I could not do so. I want to see you bad. You know that I have [been] coming to see you for two years and I have loved you from the beginning. You have long been dearer to me than any thing in this wide world. Now I have long regarded [you], as no other woman can ever be by me, not by the passionate love of a boy, but by the deep, earnest, sincere, devoted love of a man, have I, and do I love you still. Now will you trust your much loved self to the protection of that love? You may think this is sudden but you would not if you knew how long you have been…”

Editor’s Comment: See what I mean? Is the letter to Miss Sarah or Miss Sallie? Very, very awkward. For the author’s sake, let’s hope her names were interchangeable or that the confusion was cleared up in the second part of letter. But if not, let’s all take this as a lesson on the importance of proofreading.

For more uncomfortable love scenarios, please visit the Local and Family History Department at the McCracken County Public Library.