January 2021

The First Letters

Gay and Jake begin writing letters almost daily.

The First Letters

By Bobbi Spiker-Conley

The oldest “courting letter” found in the box was from Gay, dated April 18, 1905. Unfortunately, the first two pages were missing, but it was obvious from the rest of the letter that Gay’s attempts at writing it were frequently interrupted.

The missive began mid-sentence, “…visiting. I led the meeting. We had an awful good meeting. It was because they had such a good leader. There is a crowd of us going to Grove to an all day service next Sunday. I will close for tonight and finish tomorrow. Good-night.”

She resumed the next morning, “Here I am again today. I am awful lonesome.” But the next several sentences suggested she couldn’t remain so for long:

Goldie Ward was here this morning. She was talking of you. We are all getting ready to go to Sunday School. Coe’s beau was here awhile today, and she was gone. A Mr. Gabberts has just come.

I am going to finish my letter. I don’t care if the king comes.“ 

Apparently, she finally surrendered, “There is two or three dozen people here now. They are coming thick and fast. I will hafta close for this time.“ 

I doubt the king was among them.

Considering the number of people she had seen over the course of two days, I can’t imagine she was “awful lonesome.” Perhaps she was simply pining for Jake’s company.

And he for hers??? Jake replied:

Harrisville W.Va
April 19, 1905
Miss Gay Zinn
Holbrook, W.Va

Dear Gay, this evening finds me trying to answer your welcome letter which I received yesterday evening and was surely glad to hear from you and was very sorrow [sic] to hear that you had the headache last Sun.

I was very sad and lonely all day Sun. I went to S.S. [Sunday School] in the morning, to bed in the afternoon. If you had been here, I might have gone someplace. Ha. Ha.

Mr. Knight is here yet and we have got pretty well acquainted, and I like him first rate.

I saw Otley the other evening and she said she was mad because she did not get to go home.

I would like to see you and have a long talk with you for I have so many things to ask you. You must write and tell me what both of your beaus said about that Harrisville fellow (referring to himself.)

I expect you are getting tired of this foolishness and I will close for this time.

Yours as ever
Jake Spiker
Good night

Referenced in these Letters:

  • Goldie Ward– Goldie, aka Golda, is one of Lena Ward’s sisters (Lena was introduced in November.) They are daughters of Catherine Hall and Charles Ward.
  • Coe – short for Alco, is one of Gay’s sisters. Alco Zinn (pictured above) later married Ofa Bennett in 1914.
  • Mr. Gabberts – unknown at this time.
  •  Mr. Knight – Based on references in other letters to a Mr. Knight or Mr. Night, this MAY be Jerome Rufus Knight, father of Ada Knight.
  • Otley – Otley Stay Zinn (pictured at left,) is the daughter of Wesley Worthington “Wirt” Zinn and Jemima White.

To Jake’s inquiry about Gay’s other beaus, she replied that she and Charlie Debrular had “quit for good” (see November edition.) “I haven’t seen my other beau yet but hope I will before this time next week (presumably to “quit him for good” too.) She casually asked, “Who is your girl now,” then abruptly changed the subject.

In the letter dated April 24, 1905, Gay continued:

“I was out to my sister’s Sat. and Sun. and had a fine time. I can’t come back to town till after the 3rd Sun. in May. I think Otley is coming home then.

I have been having bushels of work to do since I came home, house cleaning is very fashionable but hard this time of year.

We had company every day last week. All came in to see me.

My niece is teasing me. Coe is playing on the organ and all the rest of us are quiet.

Well I must close for tonight, write soon and tell me what all is going on out in Harrisville.

Your friend,

At the end of his next reply Jake wrote, “I haven’t got any girl. I will wait ‘till you come back,” then signed it affectionately:

Yours forever, Jake.
PS – Take all mistakes for kisses

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Or go back to the very beginning of the series — turn to the November 2020 edition of the Spiker Family Gazette.