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Hill Country Living

By Coulter Fussell

It’s a Wagner Week! John Henry was the oldest of six so many times he and sister Jessie served as parents to the younger siblings. That really comes across in this series of letters. The first is a letter to John’s little brother, George. 

The second is a copy of a letter that John wrote to a Mississippi congressman asking to pull a favor for George…a favor which the congressman ultimately rejected. I’m sure that rejection letter is in this collection of letters somewhere and I really wish I could find it! The fact that John even wrote the congressman back at all is the definition of petty and I love it.

Also, Evelyn’s reaction to John’s newly elected position in the Elk Lodge…is this more telling about Evelyn or the Elk Lodge? Both?

Water Valley, Miss

April 1, 1904

Dear George,

I have your letter to hand and have written Jno. Allen, Vardeman, and Senator Money. I hope to be able to get you something. I will also write to Edgar Rang and see if he cannot do something if these others fail.

As to the shirts, go and get you what you need in your town and send me the bill. It would be some four weeks before you could get them from New Orleans and they probably would not suit. I think this plan much better.

I was over in Memphis yesterday to the races and caught a ten to one shot on DeMiske. To Jones and Bob Townes were there and you know I had a good time.

The Elks elected me Exhaulted Ruler the other night but I am afraid I will have to give it up as Evelyn is so miserable about it. I feel very flattered at being the Master of our Masonic Lodge and E.R. of the Elks all at the same time.

Papa left Monday for Oklahoma. We are all well and all send love. I will do all I can to get you the job and anything I can do for you I am always a ready to do it. I may not be as smart as some of the other members of the family, but there is none of them who loves their brothers and sisters more than I do nor who would do more for them. The baby is not well and has a fever. Mabry and Dudley are very well and we all send you much love.


Your Brother John

Water Valley, Miss

April 20, 1904

John S. Williams,

Washington D.C.

Dear Sir,

My brother George, is taking a course in Electrical Engineering at Cornell University, Ithaca N.Y., and at my request wrote you asking your endorsement in securing a place for the summer in the Electrical Building at St. Louis.

I have just received your answer to his request and while not personally acquainted with you, I must confess that I am somewhat surprised at your letter to him. The reason I had him write you was because I considered you one of OUR congressmen, though we are so fortunate to be in Mr. Hill’s district, and because I thought that as you are a congressman from Mississippi that you would not be averse to helping a fellow Mississippian, especially one who is trying to perfect himself in a special branch of education.

However as you do not see fit to do this for us it is alright. I fortunately have a few friends who WILL assist me in getting him the place and will have no trouble as to getting it for him when the University closes.

Trusting that I will have the opportunity of serving you some times and feeling sure that I will,

Very truly yours,

John H. Wagner

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