8 July 1864

Liberty [Iowa]
July 8th, 1864

I am sitting at one side of the stand in the little old house were I have spent many pleasant evenings before. [my sister] Lydia is at my left hand writing a letter for me to Aunt Betsy to tell her of our welfare and happiness. [Your sister] Maggie is at my right telling you of all our exploits this week, I presume. Cousin Alice is opposite writing a tender epistle to David, I presume. I have finished a three days old letter to cousin Mary, [of] Zanesville, ¹ but the rest are not ready to quit. The boys have not the chores done so there is no chance for sleeping for awhile at least & I’ll keep my pen going too. I would like to talk to you too though I fear you will be overstocked with news when you get back from that expedition which is keeping us all in such anxious suspense.

I believe I send you about one letter a week but I am all the time thinking of something I would love to tell you & I can only do it with my pen you know. Oh Lot, how I wish you were only here. This world would be brim full of happiness to me then. ‘Tis a pleasant world. God has given me many good blessings of friends & best of all — your love. That is the joy of my life & when I am assured of your safety, I am content. But I have been very uneasy about you since I learned of your trip out. You only said you were “well enough” & not that you were well & I feared you were somewhat infected with some of the terrible sickness that is raging at Memphis. And in my imagination, I have seen you worn out, weary & sick, yet riding on through heat & dust & privations hard for a well man to bear. Yet I hope my fears are unfounded & I am sure I will know as soon as you have opportunity of sending in a message.

Morning, 10th

The girls decided as it was after ten we had better quit writing last night. ‘Tis a jolly set of girls we are this week sure. We were laughing & talking along with our writing last night & consequently I can see several awkward blunders on this sheet but you will overlook them.

‘Twas a very uneventful 4th [of July] we had. Yet, as I was in a good humor, I had a pleasant time enough — especially in the evening when I met Maggie for the first time since I came home. A & J went with her opposite the Job’s house where we found Becca & Jenkin’s & Horsey’s &c. &c. gathering fruit to send to the soldiers. That was a laudable employment for the 4th, was it not? I was almost sorry I could not have been with them all day. Then I might have gotten more. As it is, I have only the pleasure of sending one little can, that is, to John Porter by Mag’s recommendation. I knew nothing of him, you know. Only she told me he had no friends to send him good things. I hope you will get back by the time the box reaches Memphis all safe & sound with your objects accomplished. Have had no war news this week but hope that rapid & telling movements are being made toward finishing the contest.

Well, I have been making an arrangement for my fall employment which perhaps will surprise you some though you have known me long enough not to be astonished at anything I take a notion to do. I should get tired of doing nothing for the next three or four months until time for winter teaching so I am going to help Mag spin & weave. We brought some seventy pounds of roll which we are to work up on the shares. We girls are to have half of what we make of blankets flannel & ____ perhaps? We will have use for them someday. Now tell me what you think of the plan, will you? I think I shall enjoy it very much for I like that kind of work. If you don’t come home before we get through…

I must quit now & go over & see Aunt Jane. Have been here nearly a week & haven’t seen them yet. Dick [Jackman]  is going to take us to Pilot Grove tomorrow. Lydia has six weeks more to stay there.

Hoping & expecting every day to hear from my lover in the army. I remain, — Neal

¹ This may have been Mary Thompson (b. 1842), the daughter of Neal’s uncle, John Wesley Thompson (1811-1847) and Margaret S. Van Horne (1819-18xx) of Zanesville, Ohio.

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