Sienna, Harrisonville, Cass County, Missouri
17th of April, 1860
I miss each of you so greatly. I would adore having all of you home for the summer, as you requested. Yet, the situation is still not correct for you to do so.
It troubles me that you feel city living is corrupting Lafe; turning him into what you feel is a disgrace. Come what may, I need you to comprehend he is far safer there than he would be here. I am astounded he has you so vexed, as I have always seen him as steadfast and rather chivalrous. Be assured, I shall write to him regarding his behavior.
I understand your wish to return home to the serenity of Sienna. My dear, you should be made aware; Sienna is far from serene. Daily an argument seems to erupt between Tad and a member of the household, as he will not let go of his notion to enlist in a State Guard Militia unit. Each time he is forbidden, he rails about, swearing a terrible blue streak. You would find him to be the most thoughtless of sinners. He might even make you re-consider Lafe’s virtues. When Tad becomes heated up, I send him to the stables where Peter sets him to training horses. At least there, his vigor serves him well.
Mams requested me to convey that she loves and misses all of you. You should see the way she mopes around here. In an aim to console her, I reminded her that she still has Gabe, Tad, and Eudora to care for, which regretfully earned me an earful. Part of what she said was… ’Them two garçons is headed straight to hell. Gabe imbibes too much hard liquor. Taddy too much hard language.’ How she so simply depicted them embarrassed me and I thought, I should put a halt to their waywardness. And yet, Katharine, they have been conversing freely with me, and I do not wish to burn the bridge we are building by chastising them. I hope my being lax does not wind up biting me in the end.
Dora is doing splendidly. She has taken a share of household chores on herself and fulfills them cheerfully. She and Gabe are still holding a joke between them, which they use to wind Tad up daily. Eudora giggles the hardest whenever they get him good and riled. I have never known her to be so impish, but her mirth brings needed sunshine to this home. You will be pleased to know she has become quite proficient in leading the nightly prayers. Her readings of the psalms have brought about a rebirth in me to the word of the Lord. Listening to her often leaves me wishing we had a Cathedral nearby so we too could attend Mass.
Thinking of this, I implore you to cease being angry with Lafe for his single failure to participate in the Eucharist. He has partaken in each Eucharist prior and since, correct? This one lapse will not cause him to be turned from the gates. I also feel that anyone speaking of it is mashing him for the pleasure of doing so. Thusly, rather than apologizing, you should be confronting them. My dear girl, you could be handling Tad. He is so headstrong, I am afraid it is only a matter of time before he absconds. If it were not for his bond with Eudora, I am certain he would have left weeks ago.
My hand seems to have taken on a life of its own this evening, scribbling out all my mind has been dwelling on, clearly illustrating how greatly I miss our long chats, my pet. Regardless of my desire to have you here, I still say the time is not right. I feel so strongly on this matter, that if there were a way, I would convey more of your siblings South; beginning with Thaddeus Robert.
Perhaps in the late-fall when the coolness might bring a sobriety to the animosity along the border; we can then speak of your return. However, until that time, I ask you to please do not revisit the topic. As to your pleas to return wring at my heart.
My Loving Regards, Father
Sienna, Harrisonville, Cass County, Missouri
17th of April, 1860
I receive constant chronicles of your high adventures from Katharine. Not surprisingly, she has rather dramatized them. I actually get great enjoyment, often laughing, as I read about them. Nevertheless, I implore you to abstain from aggravating her so.
In addition, do not let on I praised you, as I wrote her I would reprimand you. She has no understanding of the ways of men. Which is as it should be. For serenities sake, at the least my son, please try to conceal your dealings from her.
I am pleased by all reports I receive regarding Josie’s beau, Jonathon Burgess. He appears to be a good, solid man. I wish I could meet him. However, times being as they are, I do not foresee this happening in the near future. Additionally, I am thrilled each time I read of yours and Josie’s escapades, for it pleases me to no end that you are once more pals.
To give you news from Missouri, let me begin by saying we have had little rain and Kansas has had even less. Reports are Kansas has become a desert, their wells are dry and crops withered in the fields. I would pity them if not for the constant raids. You see, the Kansasans have been using Missouri homesteads for their personal source for supplies. As of yet, they appear to be sticking close to their border. Although I worry if the drought continues how much deeper they will push into our State.
Whilst you were here, the guard units were more a jest; a boys club almost. This is no longer the case. They have grown in size and fierceness. I have mixed feelings over them, except with the goings-on along the border, I am coming to see their usefulness. Many units have entered into hard clashes with Jayhawkers, Kansas troops, and I loathe to say Missouri Home Guards. These Union based Missouri Home Guard Units have become as viciously feral as wild animals, forcing Southern Missourians to be thankful we have our own boys riding the border.
Unfortunately, the Federal garrisons are also hunting our brave boys. I find myself thinking often of these young men who are forced to lair up in the woods during this past winter to avoid being arrested simply because they believe in protecting their neighbors. Overall, it makes me particularly happy you are safe and warm in Louisiana.
Our own local unit is ‘The Cass Cavilers’, and our citizens eulogize them as if they were knights of old. Apparently, it is their sacred duty to sentry the roads against encroaching thieves and the dishonest Federal troops stationed within our borders. I cannot explain in mere syntax how inordinately Tad desires to enlist in the Cavilers. At this juncture, I am grateful Gabe and I see eye-to-eye, for both of us feel Tad is too young for such an endeavor. Gabe stoutly refuses his entry in any unit, including his own.
Politically, Mr. Claiborne Jackson has been making rounds promoting himself for Governorship. I have determined, I shall vote for him, as he is a true Southerner. Yet, he believes in the Declaration of Independence and is positive a State cannot and should not continue to exist outside of the Union. In his speeches he strives to remind us we are citizens under one flag; a flag created by our ancestors some of whom gave their very lives so we could all live as free Americans. I listened to his oration comparing the States to children within a family. He says children may squabble, and yet, these same children, being of one family, still respect and love one another despite their differences. Hence, in the end they settle their squabbles peacefully. Seeing similarities within my own home, I can readily agree with his supposition.
The light is fading and Gabe is absent, so I know my assistance would be appreciated in caring for the stock. Before I go, I want to let you know we have trained a large number herd. Honestly, I should say Tad has done the training. His ability with a horse amazes me. Yet now, it is up to me to determine how to best deliver them to buyers willing to reimburse their value. The difference from past years is that I am considering selling a majority of the herd. I know this sounds shocking, but I believe if the raiding moves deeper into Missouri our herd will make Sienna ripe for the plucking. I will keep you informed of future decisions as I make them. For even though you are not present, Sienna is still and always will be your birthright and home.
One last bit I wish to impart is, despite the fickleness of some neighbors, the Eriksen’s continue to be true friends. Countless times I have come upon Jackson assisting Tad, as there are days when the chores seem endless for your brother. We feel blessed to have such rare and true neighbors. And Tad, despite any grumblings you may hear from me, I want you to know he is a devoted son. Never does he shirk from the endless labor Sienna presents. Certainly, he curses loud enough for all to hear, yet even as he is doing so, he is bending his back to accept the yoke. I estimate he will surprise you when, once again, you lay eyes on him. Now I must end this and head outside. I love you dearly Lafe. Your letters bring me great joy, please, write soon.
Your Father, Antonio R. Crowe