Sienna, Harrisonville, Missouri
December 18, 1859
It overjoyed me to receive your latest correspondence. I read it aloud at the dinner table. Your narrations gave great entertainment, especially Mikey’s descriptions of New Orleans. He appears to be an exceptionally forthright little man and I envy the time you are spending at his side.
I have always maintained faith that I could converse freely with you. Now with us apart, I am required to lean heavier on this assessment. With the written word, there is no way to gauge how a statement is being taken, so I have decided, I shall be blunt in these letters. In this way, my concerns will be clearly understood. With this stated, let us begin.
I want you to cease reflecting you are being labeled a coward. I judge you are letting this notion beleaguer you far too much. On my visits to Harrisonville, matrons still inform me of how wise it was; to have you escort Josie to New Orleans. I suppose these words have set you to pacing. Well, cease at once. For their disparagements were for Josie, and not you. Why, they shake their heads woefully and tsk tsk regarding her behavior. I have been told numerous times, how I have done her an immense justice by sending her to be properly educated.
Writing of Josie, I have taken note how your letters have little to say regarding her. I know she is doing well, as both Katharine and Lorraine have sent glowing reports. This means you still have not made peace with her as I ordered you. I would like this situation solved. Lafayette, make amends.
Back to your own departure, that filled four-full-pages of your last letter. Although you have eloquently stated your opinions on returning, and I can see a true attorney in you emerging, I still demand that you remain in Louisiana. My Son, I need you to understand. My choice to remove you from our area was the correct decision.
Lt. O’Rourke has appeared on our front porch numerous times since your departure. Always he has a handful of men ready to take you into custody. Yes, they seek to arrest you. His reasoning is a trumped up warrant, alleging how you caused harm to an officer of the Grand Army; thus damaging government property and that by doing so have so have proven accusations of treason against you to be true. Each time, I have patiently relayed to him you are residing in Louisiana. His repeated returns speak volumes of how needled he is by your violence against him. His lack of manners is disgusting; however, they are nothing I cannot handle.
Yet, I fear him coming face-to-face with one of your brothers. I was informed upon his last visit; Web had to constrain Tad within the barn. As you can well imagine, Tad wished to give the Lieutenant a taste of his thoughts on the subject. I have no doubt; Tad would have done a severe damage to the man; which, needless to say, would have done nothing constructive for our current state of affairs.
On the plus side, I contacted my long time friend, Henry Younger, regarding our difficulty. He then presented the matter to Colonel Peabody at Federal Command in Independence. On hearing the account, Peabody nullified the warrant and summoned Lt. O’Rourke in for a tear down. It is said Colonel Peabody is of the mind, there is a superfluous amount of tomfoolery occurring among his lower ranks, and he desires for it to cease. Lafe, though the warrant is reversed, I still forbid your return. Before you fall to posting me a scathing, letter chock-full of your wherefores and such as’, I need you to hold in mind you are in New Orleans for more than this one reason.
The second matter I wish to address is that I have taken to mind it is time for Josie to be married. I am concerned for her, though proud of her great beauty and independent nature; it is also her greatest downfall. Now with her actions, which led to you defending her honor, you cannot refute, how the local gents have tagged her as a hard wife to bear. I do not see a golden prospect for her among our neighbors. With this in mind, I have decided a husband from Louisiana would be a better match.
Please do not inform her I have resolved thus. If she were to acquire this knowledge, I am certain she would throw a hot iron in my plans. I could very well see her obstinately joining the Ursuline Convent or, some such scheme. She would think beautifully headstrong at the time, yet, quite damaging further down the road.
Should a suitable gentleman arise, I am asking you to act in my place. I have faith you would only consent to suitors of the proper social and financial class. Moreover, even if this request has come as a shock to you, I know with some consideration, you too will come to the same conclusion. Once more, I am stating, you need to make amends with your sister.
Reviewing what I have written, I see I have spoken little of Tad. When I am certain he is the one person, you miss most. Do not be ashamed. I know how close the two of you are and how painful it was to leave him behind.
He spends his days outdoors. For the most part, I find the joker, troublemaker, wild-child has vanished, and there is a strange, anxious, restlessness to him that includes wearing his Remington everywhere he goes; even at the dinner table. Daily I hear him at target practice out north of the house. I have observed him from the upper gallery, although I am not much of a judge on firearms. If I am correct, he is exceedingly quick on the draw and accurate ninety-eight percent of the time.
I have my own opinions as to why he feels the need to practice so extensively, most of them linked to the prolific reports of Kansas vigilantes raiding the border counties. It is said, the raids are done in the name of freeing slaves. The plain truth is, they are nothing but looters and sadly, often murderers. Therefore, I cannot say his commitment to achieve excellence in this field makes me unhappy either.
As always, Eudora is his unwavering shadow. I recently learned she has become skilled at loading cylinders. She uses a loading device, which is mounted on a wood plank. So, as of yet, he has not placed a firearm in her hands. I pray he bears in mind how repulsive. I felt it was when he trained Josie to shoot, and has no plans to commit the same error with Eudora.
Simone has had Marie, George, and Web in the gardens picking seeds or prepping the house for the closed-up days of winter. I endeavor to find tasks for Web as to pull him from his Mother’s clutches. I fear I do not liberate him as often as he would wish.
This fall we have all been engaged in so many tasks, that I have begun preparations for hiring extra men come spring. Sienna is simply too large for we five to keep on top of. Let me stop and say here; this too is not a viable point for you to use in your next letter as a header for an argument.
Anyways, we accomplished hog butchering- a rather historic occasion; the first time without slaves doing the labor. I was flatly amazed by the amount of work your brothers accomplished. Although, a wager spurred on their efforts and you may not believe this, but there was not a single black eye at the dinner table. This was due to me, as I judged them both winners in the contest.
Gabe still maintains his forays away from Sienna, but for much shorter intervals. I have come to believe he is riding with a State Guard Patrol, although I have not asked him to confirm it. Primarily, because I do not wish to know, for as you well know I do not approve of this type of action, still, Gabe is of an age to make his own choices. Besides, we two do not need further tension between us.
On the other hand, I have noticed Gabe, Tad, and Eudora have become close pals and Gabe’s friendship with the twins appears to have improved his overall attitude. Fact is, Gabe and Dora seem to have some secret that they use to bedevil Tad. I am sure it is something I will never learn head nor tail of. However, hearing the three of them jesting and laughing is quite wonderful.
Seeing the three of them together does make me long for your companionship. As your brothers do not reciprocate the same sentiment you have forever easily shared with me. Moreover, try though I may, it is not the same. You and I must be two-of-kind, and thusly, it makes us agreeable to one another. Until we meet again, Lafe, always remember you are a constant beacon of pride. Be heedful of who you are, your obligations, and know I am thinking of you.
Inform everyone Sienna sends wishes of a very Merry Christmas. Know you are all sorely missed here and I will endeavor to have us all together again before another Christmas passes us by.
Tenderly, your Father.