31 December 1863

Road Fork
December 31st 1863

Capt. L. Abraham
Dear Friend,

This is New Year’s eve. Rachell, Eveline & Cynthia and I are having watchmeeting — that is, we are still up though it is past eleven o’clock. We went to prayer meeting and now we are putting in the time writing. I have just finished a letter to [my sister] Lydia in answer to one just received with yours and another this evening. They write great news from Iowa lately. They say John Abraham is married to Maggie Sater. ¹ What do you think of that? For my part, I don’t believe a word of it. I needed to try to persuade him last winter that she was the girl for him but he did not appear to think so then at least. Hope it is so though.

I had quite a nice time Christmas. Had school, treated the scholars what candy they wanted to eat, and went to meeting at eleven o’clock, but my pleasure was in what one of my scholars brought me from the post office — seven letters all in a heap. Wasn’t that enough for one day. I’ll not get any tomorrow but I guess three today will do for I intend to go to Stafford & see [cousin] Alice if it don’t rain all day.

Rachel is twisting my hair up in papers. I ‘spect I’ll be handsome tomorrow. Come over & see me, won’t you  & we’ll have a chicken killed & a tater dog & have a fuss. Do you remember Kate’s curls at Permelias Dickey’s picnic two years ago? I’ll bet [your sister] Mag does. Mag spoke Jimmy the politician. Oh! how I would like to be in Iowa tonight with Lydia & Mag. Wouldn’t we have a gay old time if Lot was there too.

I can’t write much tonight for the girls keep up such a clatter. Rach has got my hair all twisted up at last and has tied my head up in a rag to keep them smooth.

2 minutes after twelve. New Years Gift. January 1st 1864. Thank fortune they are all gone to bed at last & now perhaps I can write. How dismally the storm howls round the old house & the rain comes down in torrents. ‘Twould be a bad night to be out on picket. I am very glad to hear of your good health. That is the one thing needful for a soldier.

Your argument in favor of love making is rather a queer one. I recon I’ll have to admit that it has some force though it appears to favor a spontaneous growth the result of frequent & social intercourse (my side of the question) fully as much as it does yours. We will not quarrel over that abstract question while we are so far apart. We’ll leave that to be settled some rainy Sunday when we’ve nothing else to talk about. After war is only among the things that have been & are not. ‘Tis enough for me at present to know that Lot loves me [and] that he thinks of me sometimes in the far off camp. That thought lightens all my cares, mingles a drop of sweetness in every cup of sorrow, [and] makes me feel contented & happy.

I am well situated & doing very well, [and] like my school & home as well as ever. School is growing some. Had forty scholars today.

Has it been settled yet about your officers & who are they all? I think if you are having such a fine time in camp, you might afford to write oftener to your friends as you have plenty of time. Quitting the novels was a good idea. What do you read now? Can you get a good variety of reading matter? Do you keep your journal yet? My big book that I got two years ago when we were at the teacher’s institute — you remember — is just about full. It has some rich things in it for me to look at once in awhile.

Good night. I am as ever your Neal.

¹ Neal was misinformed. Lot’s brother, John Abraham, did not marry Margaret (“Maggie”) R. Slater (1845-Bef1930). Maggie was the daughter of Thomas Slater (1801-1885) and Eleanor Pottenger (1806-1878). Maggie married Thomas J. Yount (1841-1900) in April 1875.

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