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Hill Country Living

Frank’s Pulling Days May Be Coming To An End

By Coulter Fussell

Hello, Wagner fans! It’s President’s Day as I write this and so here’s a letter that mentions President’s Day as Maria Wagner wrote about it in 1887 to her son John Henry. There are some mysterious things in this letter, like who/what was singing all night? A bird? A person? There are also some mysteries solved, like how Frank is definitely a horse! I’m happy about this. I have been very concerned in reading these letters that this overworked Frank character might be a human being. Frank is apparently a much loved and tired horse, but Ed, the human being who is ordered to hitch the wonderful Frank to the wagon is barely a side note. Poor Ed. The turkeys also make another cameo. Can’t have a Wagner letter without mentioning a turkey.


Home Feb. 22nd, 1887

My Darling Boy,

I rec’d yours of the 19th this morning. I am glad I got a letter & am so delighted that you are feeling so well, don’t get so warm and then sit down in a drought & cool off so quick, we always feel like doing that but it is very wrong & don’t take off your clothes when you are so hot. Calista says to tell you to write her & Corinne is always fussing that no one answers her letters — I try to make all the excuses that I can for you. The school has half holiday, Washington’s birthday & Calista got her finger mashed in her desk at school the last thing so I expect you will smell the turpentine in this letter.

I wish you could see & hear “Cleveland”, he is so gentle, sits & sings near all the time, sings at night, I never look at him or hear him that I don’t think of Ma – it seems that it can’t be that she is gone. Oh, I miss her more & more.

The new minister at the Baptist Church is a single man & very pleasant, he was up last night to see Emma. Mr. Hudson is his name. I liked him very much & of course we tease Emma all we can about him, Sis is a good hand to tease her.

Corinne has a turkey hen now & she is white & we say the gobbler don’t like “white” ladies. He don’t notice her but the children have teased him so that he won’t let some of them come out in the yard sometimes.

Last Saturday Daniel made Ed hitch Frank to a little wagon and haul cotton motes from the mill to put in the garden coming up in front of Dr. McFarland’s, Frank just lay down in the road & broke both shafts; a piece of splinter of one stuck in his shoulder and made a little place. Mr. Leland was just going to his dinner & he pulled it out & took him out of his wagon, said the collar choked him. Frank did not seem to mind it one bit, just walked out of the place and came on home as if nothing had happened. He is a treasure, most any other would have been scared & kicked or run away but you know how he is, I just think he is splendid…

Well, I have Florence & Edward together with the crowd I have here, I feel like I could fly. Your Papa don’t know what it’s like to be nervous & of course don’t see any sense in it. I pity anyone who is afflicted in that way, for it is a great trouble. I never have been able to stand much noise since before Jessie was born, I think I had a spell of Chorea & I often think it would not take much to cause a return & I often told Ma I would rather die than have such spell again….

Well my dear, I must go now and see about my light bread… Good Bye, Mother


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