Skip to content

Hill Country Living

Big Daddy Wagner Upset Over Son’s Purchase Of Suit

By Coulter Fussell

 I intended to find some Wagner letters about Easter this week so I turned to the April months. Instead, I found some serious family dynamics playing out over a new suit. Poor John, they ate his eatables.


March 3th, 1884
Dear John,

Your letter arrived this morning. Your father got home last night and he got a beautiful suit he intended to send in a box of eatables, but after he got your letter, he felt very bad although he did not say much, only that we would not send any box.

I am so sorry you did take it on yourself to order a suit, you ought always to consult him and go by his advice, I was really surprised that you would do it, don’t never never do the like again. I’ve always noticed when boys or girls take their affairs in their own hands they don’t often turn out satisfactory. And now, John you get a dollar a week, pay 50 cts. a week on your vest that you owe for, deny yourself this much and pay your just debt. You are not like me. I would have paid for that the first 4 weeks after I got back this session. I want you to be man enough to do this for your mother’s sake. You bought it and now pay for it, that is the way I would do if it was me, and for my sake and your sake please don’t buy any thing, no matter how bad you want it until you get your fathers full permission, it is not all the worth of the thing but it is the principle, of course, I don’t think you looked at it or thought about how it would look or you would certainly have known it would not do, try and not want everything you see, and you know that possessions don’t always give happiness. I would give anything reasonable to see you make the man your father & mother’s hearts long for, I think of you so much and hope you do of me….

Well my son i have thought of you most all day and if I could only have whispered to you when you first thought of doing that ordering, how happy we would both be you and I…

Write soon, with lots of love & good wisdom, from your ever affectionate,



Water Valley, Miss
Apr 2nd, 84
My Dear Son,

I am very sorry you took the liberty of ordering a suit after I had promised you one. I read your letter the day after I returned from Memphis and spent 1/2 day there looking for a suit that you would like. I finally got one that I knew you would have been delighted with and brought it home and your mother baked you a lot of cakes etc & we were just going to send them all to you when we rec’d your letter that you had ordered a suit. We, of course, did not send anything. We ate the cakes and Dappy Wagner will take the suit. If you had told me that you wanted a military suit I would have been willing for you to get one. You say the Maj. said you “kneaded a new suit! That made me ashamed of my appearance. I went directly to the Taylor and ordered it.” Well you will do as you please, I suppose but after this if you order anything that I am not willing for you to have you can pay for it, for I am sure I will not. I notice you spell “kneaded” for needed, “heared” for heard, “scholdined” for scolding, “shure” for sure, “doore” for door. I hope you will try and do better and not think and write so much about something to eat and to wear but study hard and try and do well for yourself and you will please your mother and all of us.

From your father,

DR Wagner

Anything you want after this or any debts you owe you must pay out of your 4 per month. Send me the bill for the suit (not the vest) and I will pay for it.



Leave a Comment