Inspiration can come from anything and everything around you. It can come from a person you know, a place you visit or an object that you see. But most of all, inspiration comes from inside of you. It is a spark in all of us that needs to be nurtured. Without inspiration, we wouldn't have the tool that has led to every great work of art, every great piece of music, every great clip of film, and every great architectural structure. Inspiration is a powerful tool and when used, the possibilities are endless.
"Letters of Love", my next series of artworks, will draw upon the inspiration I found in a dusty box of letters written between 1894 - 1928. Letters from my ancestors, written for 34 years, will take us back to a slice in time at the turn of the 19th century. It was a time when my Great Grandfather ( I think ?) was traveling America by steam-ship, train, and horse & carriage writing letters to the love of his life. Passed down for 3 generations, this box of Love & Memories sparked me "in the heart of my heart" and sent me on the path to new discoveries. It's true - the possibilites ARE endless!
First, some photos for visual reference.
Next, these are the first clues I've uncovered.
1. The letters date from 1894 – 1928 with several gaps in between.
2. My Gr Grandmother’s first name was Annie but I think my Gr Grandfather called her Fanny!
3. A lot went down in 1904 (107 letters found in this year).
4. I determined the couple were married on April 24, 1904 due to the name change on the envelopes postmarked 1905 and the first letter I just happened to read. (see photos & translation below.)
5. According “The National Society of the Daughters of The American Revolution” my Great Grandmother (Fanny or Annie), accepted in 1909, was a descendant of Dr. Cornelius Baldwin. Who in the world is that ? I don’t know, but apparently he hung out with George Washington, Lord Fairfax and Lafayette. Photo of DAR document reads as follows:
6. I found some pressed flowers in the old box. Far Out!
7. Saving the best for last, which oddly, was the first letter I read!
*see translation below*
Wytheville, VA. March 17, 1904
My own Dearest Fanny,
I have no news to tell, my sweetheart & am now regretting that I cannot be in Richmond to make that visit I had intended to make as this is about the time I expected to go & would probably have already told you goodbye, for just a minute, twice to-day, & have been expecting to do the same again tonight. All the same I look back on the last times I saw you as happiness enough & all that anyone can ask. Though I prefer anticipation to history.
I find it hard to realize that just about this time a month & 10 days hence I am to be married, & above all things to you, whom I have so long regarded as out of my reach. I feel proud every time anyone congratulates me or mentions our approaching “show” & wonder if men often care for & love their sweethearts as I do you, or admire them as much.
I know that your big hat is all right as everything else you ever wore & believe that you would look just as pretty to me in Calico as in your China silk.
I have heard it said that no man is any account for six months before & six months after he is married. So far I can see the truth of the saying as every day it is harder for me to do anything & business of any sort is a most uninteresting subject. Most of my thoughts are occupied by you, my darling, & every minute & every hour you seem dearer & better & prettier than I thought you before –
This letter I hope you won’t call silly. I never thought that I would write this kind but it’s all because I love you.