By Bobbi Spiker-Conley
Editor’s Note: The following is part of a SERIES of articles (that began in November 2020) about Jake Spiker and Gay Zinn’s courtship letters. Links to view previous editions are found below this article.
In he early 1900s, when someone fell ill or was injured, treatment was usually provided at home by family or neighbors. When all remedies failed, a physician could be called to the home who would often treat entire households – husband, wife, children, servants, and sometimes even farm animals.
As you will read below, Jake and Gay seldom endured more than a cold or occasional minor injury. The same cannot always be said of their family and friends in the community.
4 May 1905 – Gay Zinn – “I would have answered [your letter] sooner but I burned my hand very severelyand couldn’t. My hand is better now.”
13 Aug 1905 – Jake Spiker – “I am glad to tell you that my mamma is lots better. I think she will be all right now if she takes good care of herself.”
4 Sep 1905 – Jake Spiker – “I went home Sat. I found my people better than expected, all except Momma. Her hand is not well yet and is likely it never will be any better. She can not youse [sic] it the least bit.”
4 Sep 1905 – Gay replied, “I am sorry that your mama’s hand is in such a condition.”
19 Sep 1905 – Jake Spiker – “I was home a little while on Sun and Mamma’s hand is getting a little better. She can youse [sic] her thumb and one finger a little.”
29 Sep 1905 – Jake Spiker – “I went from your house over to Ezra Bells and stayed there all night. I did not get to sleep much that night for his little girl Lulu has got the typhoid fever and there was no one to set up with her but Mr. Lee Campbell and I, except their own family, and we stayed up till 12 o’clock. Oh, yes, Laura Bell stayed up with us.”
► Lulu is the daughter of Ezra Woodhull and Electa L (Hudkins) Bell, and younger sister of Laura M Bell.
12 Oct 1905 – Gay Zinn – “I went out to my sister’s yesterday and fetched Coe home and I promised to go back Saturday a week to go to Glenville to get my teeth fixed.”
26 Nov 1905 – Jake Spiker – “You will half [sic] to excuse a short letter this time for I got one of my fingers throwed out of place and it is with pain that I write to you.”
1 Dec 1905 – Gay replied, “I was surprised and sorrow [sic] to learn that you had got your finger out of place.” Then added jokingly, “If it had of [sic] been your arm, it wouldn’t have surprised me, being you have been seeing so many pretty girls.”
18 Dec 1905 – Gay Zinn – “I received a letter from Aunt Rosetta Zinn, and she said Judge Woods (Judge Homer Boughner Woods, Sr.) was very low with pneumonia fever.”
► “Aunt Rosetta” (Lowther) Zinn is the wife of our 2nd great-uncle, Granville Monroe Zinn.
► ”Judge Woods” is the husband of our 2nd cousin 2x removed, Winifred (Davis) Woods.
24 Dec 1905 – Gay Zinn – “I was badly scared last Thursday night and I guess we all was. Willis and Clay Kemper was coming from Weston and was coming down the hill just above here and their neck yoke to the buggy broke, and their horses kicked the buggy to pieces and then ran away. Clay got hurt awful bad. Got his head cut to the skull right down through his forehead, clear down through his face. He was the bloodiest man I ever saw when they fetched him in.”
► Brothers, Willis Ray and Thurman Clay Kemper, are the sons of
George Allen and Louisa Mary (Cheuvront) Kemper.
2 Jan 1906 – Gay Zinn – “Bud Toothman very near got killed Xmas. Bane Burwell cut him almost to pieces.”
► Believed to be David Burl “Bud” Toothman and Bayne Dennan Burwell.
28 Feb 1906 – Gay Zinn – “I went to [the church] meeting Sunday and Sunday night and Monday night. It broke Monday night but I caught an awful cold, something or other. I have got sick, a sore throat. I can’t eat or talk. This is one time that I can write better than I can talk, ha ha. I am afraid I won’t be able to attend the Bear Run meeting.”
2 Mar 1906 – Jake replied, “Very sorrow [sic] to hear that you have such a cold, for I know what that means, for I have one myself.”
28 Mar 1906 – Gay Zinn – ”Our brother-in-law Jap [Jasper Allman, husband of sister Della] is awful poorly. He has hemorrhage of the lungs. They sent [our sister] Kate to Auburn to phone home and tell us. They sent for Pa Friday. He went out there and hasn’t come home yet.”
28 Mar 1906 – Gay Zinn – “I am awful blue this evening. I have had the blues all week. I just cried all day Sunday. I couldn’t help it. It just seemed I hadn’t no friends or nobody…I didn’t like that snow Saturday or Sunday. [My brother] Manley rolled me in the snow Saturday morning to get me in good humor. Made me madder than ever.”
1 Apr 1906 – Jake replied, “It made me feel very sad to hear you have been very sad and crying. You must not look on the dark side of life. It makes me sad when I hear of my little Gay girl being sad. Now you must cheer up, and whenever you get the blues and think you have got no friends, just think of me, and count me as one or two, for I think enough of you for me to count as much as half a dozen. I am not the only one that is your friend, but the best friend that you have got. As the poet says, others may forget you, but I never will.”
2 April 1906 – Gay wrote back, “Your letter was so nice and sweet…Say, do you practice what you preach? And don’t you ever get the blues?”
8 Apr 1906 – Jake answered, “Of course I practice what I preach. It has to be something offal [sic] where I get the blues. Only [one] thing would give me the blues and that would be for me to lose my sweet hearte [sic] and that surely would give anyone the blues. Now when you get mad or the blues, just think of something good and forget all of your troubles.”
22 Apr 1906 – Gay Zinn – “[Our sister] Della’s husband is awful poorly with lung trouble. Pa is out there staying with them. We are afraid that he isn’t going to get well. He has had 4 or 5 hemorrhages of the lungs.”
16 May 1906 – Gay Zinn – “I couldn’t come to the show if I wanted to (referring to the ‘big circus’ Jake had mentioned would be in town the following week.) I have been sick. I can sit up some now, but not very long at a time. You must excuse this short letter and I think I can write a long l-o-n-g letter the next time.”
6 Jun 1906 – Gay Zinn – “My bro Jap is awful poorly. The doctors have give him up and sister Della is almost crazy. I am distressed to death, but I have done all I can do. Sister Coe is staying over there now.
9 Jun 1906 – Jake replied, “I am surely glad to hear that you are getting well and hearty for you know that health gives happiness, and I am very sorrow [sic] to hear that your bro inlaw is so poorly. You have all of my sympathy and I only hope that the doctors may be mistaken and he will get well again. Where there is life, there is hope.”
11 Jun 1906 – Gay Zinn – “My bro in law is resting a little easier today. Last week, he had to holler every breath he drawed.”
20 Jun 1906 – Gay Zinn – “My bro in law is some better. The doctors say he might live if he don’t have any more hemorrhages.”
EDITOR’S NOTES regarding the children of Martha Dell Zinn and Jasper Sylvester Allman Sr. per conversations with Nancy Stewart-Allman — Ina Allman-Cole (1901-1921), Edna Allman (1904-1923), Ila Allman (1896-1918) and Marion “Bukey” Allman (1909-1939) all died of Tuberculosis.
Until the publication of these Courting Letters, no-one in the immediate family had heard that Jasper Sr. suffered from lung hemorrhages, but close family states he never had TB. Jasper died nine years later in March 1915. To date, we have been unable to locate a death record to determine his cause of death.
20 Jun 1906 – Gay Zinn – “[My sister] Coe and I went to Glenville Monday to get some teeth extracted but the dennis [sic] was gone. I wasn’t caring much. I was mostly scared to death. But I was also sorry on Coe’s account for she is suffering with the tooth ache.”
24 Jun 1906 – Jake Spiker – “I will bring this letter to a close for I am just a little sick today. It is not often that I complain but I guess any one is likely to get sick. Maby [sic] I am love sick.”
27 Jun 1906 – Gay Zinn – “Coe and I had some teeth extracted last week. You ought to have been there and heard Coe holler. We had to hold her.”
19 Jul 1906 – Gay Zinn – “[My sister,] Coe has gone to Harrisville. She went yesterday. Tuesday evening, Mrs. [Winifred Davis] Woods came and called me up on the phone and just pleaded for me to come and stay 2 or 3 weeks with her brother [Thomas Jeffrey Davis, Sr. who] has the fever…They had a nurse, and she couldn’t do the work. I told her I just couldn’t go. And then she asked if Coe couldn’t come. Coe said she would stay a week or two and if she didn’t like it, she wouldn’t stay any longer. Coe was anxious to go to get acquainted with the place.” On 26 July 1906,Gay wrote, ”I was talking to Coe last eve on the phone. She likes to stay out there fine.”
► Winifred and her brother, Thomas Jeffrey Davis, Sr., are our 2nd cousins, 2x removed.
22 July 1906 –Jake responded with humor, “I am real glad that you did not go to Harrisville to work for I would be afraid that Mr. Davis would kill you, ha ha.”
7 Sep 1906 – Gay Zinn – “I was so sorrow [sic] to hear of you having such a bad hand. I have been uneasy about your hand all week. I could have just cried when Daisy told me you had tried to get me [on the telephone.] I was in the kitchen canning tomatoes all morning. Our phone surely didn’t ring in…Oh, I do hope your hand won’t prove to be anything so very serious. Indeed, I would just love to hear from you. Can’t you get [your sister] Gracie or [brother] Guy to write me, just so I will know how you are.”
18 Sep 1906 – Gay Zinn – “I will write you a few lines tonight. I hesitate on writing to you after I heard you had the fever, for fear you was delirious and couldn’t read them. And of course, that would have been a little awkward. When I wrote those two other letters, I wasn’t aware of you being sick, only just your hand. [Our friend] Bert rang me up on the phone this evening and told me you had made your will and had willed me your old overalls. I certainly need them now while I am hauling corn and working on the farm. There was some woman from down there, rang me up on the phone Monday and told me how you was. She teased me quite a bit. She said you was as fat as a match. You will be fatter still before you get out of bed I’m afraid. You told me just the last time you was up that you never had fever. You didn’t know how soon you was going to have it. I received Gracie’s letter this morning. She certainly is kind. Tell her I will try and do as much for her sometime…Tell Gracie I received her 3 letters…and am looking for more. P.S. Tell that lady to call me up again. I didn’t catch her name, only that she was some relative of mine. Ha. Ha.”
6 Oct 1906 – Jake Spiker – “My dear friend and sweetheart, I will now try to write you a few of my many thoughts to let you know I am getting along. I am lots better. I can set up and walk a little bit, but I just stagger like a drunk man, I am so weak. I want to get able to come up two weeks from today. I am as poor as a snake. Indeed, you don’t know how I appreciated your letters for I got so tired and lonesome, although I had lots of company.”
10 Nov 1906 – Gay Zinn – “[My brother] Manley is going a fishing tomorrow. He cut his finger awful badlast evening while he was splitting stove wood. He come in the house in a hurry to get it tied up.”
30 Dec 1906 – Gay Zinn – “We went after [my sister] Daisy Wednesday. I fixed to go to the birthday party, but I took the sick headache and couldn’t go. I was awful sick. Jonnie[?] came in the morning and felt my pulse and said I had heart trouble (meaning Gay’s heart was pining for Jake.) Marion came down in the evening and stayed till bedtime. I was in bed in the sitting room, and they all came in there and teased me. They said I was going to die and got money to put on my eyes. I couldn’t hold my head up hardly.”
30 Jan 1907 – Jake Spiker – “I was not out of the house all day. I was sick. I took a very severe cold and I am not over it yet. I do make it out to work and that is about all.”
31 Jan 1907 – Gay responded, “I am sorrow [sic] to learn that you have been sick. I hope by this time you are much improved. You must take better care of yourself.”
By 3 Feb 1907, Jake is “very much improved in health from what I was the last time I wrote…I suppose you got to see your shadow yesterday. It was Groundhog Day, ha ha.”
3 Feb 1907 – Gay answered, “I received your letter this eve and was glad to hear that you are much improved in health. I am as fat and hearty as any groundhog and, of course, I saw my shadow.
17 Feb 1907 – Gay Zinn – “There is no one at home but Katie and I. We are both complaining. The grippe has about got us.”
20 Feb 1907 – Jake replied, “I certainly am very sorrow [sic] to hear that you and sister Katie are complaining of the grippe. I have been nearly down myself for about three weeks, but I am well and hardy now. I never felt better and was less thought of, ha ha.”
25 Feb 1907 – Gay Zinn – “Papa is sick this morning. Everybody out here is sick it seems.”
4 Mar 1907—Gay Zinn – “I am better now. Mama and I are going to Auburn today. I am going to see the Dr.and she is going to the store.”
6 Mar 1907 – Jake Spiker – “I never saw such a winter as this has been for colds. I have had one nearly all winter.”
18 Mar 1907 – Gay Zinn – “The measles are raging out here now. I am afraid I will get them. None of us children has had them.”
11 Feb 1907 – Gay Zinn – “Mr. Britton’s baby has lung fever and is not expected to live. They sent for him Thursday last, and he hasn’t come back. He was sick also when he left.”
► Currently unidentified, however, the name, “Mr. Britton,” is mentioned numerous times,
usually in reference to the school teacher who (may have) boarded at the Zinn residence.
Notices of Deaths
24 Oct 1905 – Gay Zinn – ”I will write you a few lines this morning although I am awful sad. One of mother’s sisters (Mary Bush Vannoy) died yesterday. We got the message last night and Pa and Mother left early this morning. I am verrry busy. I hafto cook for B-men (referring to the Boarders that were staying at the Zinn home.)
► Mary Bush and Alice Bush (Gay’s mother) are sisters. Mary’s husband,
Rev. Lemuel Stump Vannoy, performed Jake and Gay’s wedding ceremony.
30 Jan 1906 – Gay Zinn – ”The mad dog scare is up here. Mr. White on Slab Creek and his little 11 year old boy got bitten about three weeks ago and the little boy went mad Saturday and they can’t do a thing for him. They have nailed him up in a room by himself and they said they never saw such a distressed sight in the world. He scratched his grandfather while they was putting him in the room.
He has gone off to a hospital. The people took up a collection and sent Mr. White off to a hospital too. Dr. Eddy went with him.
A mad dog went by here last week and had a fight with our dog. He bit several dogs around here. The people around here are shutting their dogs up. We haven’t yet. We want Pa to kill ours. I seen them fighting but didn’t know he was mad. I thought he acted funny.
I just heard on the phone that they didn’t think that little boy would live till morning. I heard he is just biting and scratching himself to pieces.”
On 4 Feb 1906, Jake responded, “That surely was a very sad affair about Fred White and his boy. I was well acquainted with them.”
In a follow-up on 7 Feb 1906, Gay wrote, “Mad dog is all the talk around here. The people around here are killing their dogs. [My brother] Manley killed one of ours.”
► Roy Arden White was born 29 Sep 1894 to James Frederic “Fred” and Elmina (Starkey) White.
“Dr. Eddy” is presumed to be Doctor Nathan Elbert Eddy.
11 Jul 1906 – Gay Zinn – ”Miss Sarah Pierce died last night. She has been an invalid since she was 13 years old.” Then on 19 July 1906, Gay wrote, “I was to a Wake last Thursday night. It was the first Wake I ever was at.”
► Unknown, but this MAY be Sarah E Pierce, daughter of Christena (Wilson) and Jesse H Pierce.
1 Oct 1906 – Gay Zinn – ”General Harris diedSaturday night at 12 o’clock and will be buried Wednesday 2 o’clock. The Old Soldiers are going to bury him.” Then on 3 Oct 1906 Gay wrote, “Tuesday there was an educational speech at the Court House and yesterday was General Harris funeral and there was a crowd of people in town.
The Funeral Program pictured at left was included with Gay’s letter.
► General Thomas Maley Harris (1813-1906)
Read the Obituary from the Parkersburg Dispatch as transcribed on the WV Archives and History website.
View photos of Harris and learn more at the WV GenWeb Project.
8 Nov 1906 – Jake Spiker – ”This morning finds me thinking of my little girl in Ritchie. I got here safe and sound but was very much surprised to find my boarding Mrs. dead. She died at the hospital at six o’clock yesterday evening. She died with appendicitis. They just brought her home this morning. We will move our boarding place today. We will board at the same place as Bert.” Then on 10 Nov 1906, Gay write, “I received your letter this morning and was glad to hear from you. It certainly is sad about that woman, especially for her husband a child.”
► Based on the info I found in several newspapers, I believe the “Boarding Mrs.” is
Amanda Waugh-Starkey (1881-1906,) wife of George William Starkey.
20 Jan 1907 – Gay Zinn – ”This stormy Sunday eve finds me trying to scribble a few of my many thoughts…Haven’t we been having some rain? It has rained nearly every day since I have been out there. There has been 3 protracted meetings going on close here for the last week, one at Auburn, Newberne, and one on Sinking Creek. [My sister] Fay and I wanted to attend some, but we couldn’t. It rained nearly all the time.
”There was 2 men drownded [sic] close here last week. A Sisk man 20 years old and a Lipscomb man 33 years old. They had very high waters on Middle Fork.”
► Emery A Sisk died while attempting to ford Leading Creek (see clipping above.)
► Elijah Lipscomb drowned in the waters of Tom’s Fork while trying to rescue a chicken (left.)
25 Feb 1907 – Gay Zinn – ” Milt Taylor’s family have got the Dyptheria [sic] – 3 of the children have diedwith it. I had a slight chance for it.”
► Referring to Milton “Milt” G Taylor. The three children are 15-year-old Lawrence/Larence Taylor,
11-year-old William Jennings Bryan Taylor, and 9-year-old Thelma C Taylor.
Or go back to the very beginning of the series — turn to the November 2020 edition of the Spiker Family Gazette.