Pidgeon’s ¹ [near Salem, Iowa]
January 31st 1865
My “lover in the Army”
One week ago today I suppose you left Louisville & for the present our talking must be done with pen still. How thankful I am that we have that great comfort left us while so many are denied the privilege of communicating with the loved ones at home & are kept in prison horrid with pestilence & death. Though we may be disappointed, let us try to bear it cheerfully & be Oh so grateful for the assurance, often given, that each is well & faithful still to love & duty. And Oh Lot, don’t be anxious or uneasy or unhappy on my account. I’ll do well enough. I’m sure I didn’t intend to give you the impression that I am discontented or unhappy more than I have been. Indeed I am not.
For the past year I have enjoyed more true happiness than in any year of my life for the great void in my soul has been filled with your dear love! Once Lot, when I knelt & prayed God to give me peace, ’twas all I asked. He has given it & has made me so happy. For this I will be thankful & patiently wait for the rest of the blessing which I feel sure will come in time. Yes, ’twill not be very long — a few months or a year or two at farthest — till I shall have you with me. Shall feel the guardianship of Lot’s love always hovering over me & his care to shield me from the adverse winds of fortune which now at times toss me about uncomfortably.
You know it is not my nature to be gloomy & brood over troubles. Suspense is ten times worse than realities & to tell the truth, I can hardly be said to have been in my right mind since New Years. ‘Tis not worth while to describe it for you have experienced the same feeling. But since I read your letter of the 22d yesterday morning & realized that the week is gone in which I should have seen you, I have made up my mind that it is not to be & to be contented. I can do it, Lot, & so can you for we have both tried it often. You know Lot that I shall never have reached the goal of earthly happiness until I am your wife, loved & cherished & living for you, & I certainly would not put off the happy day one moment when it seems right & proper. It might be better for us to be married but ’tis not convenient now to say the least. If ’twas for a home or some one to keep me in victuals & clothes that I wished to marry, I might be glad to take the comforts & have my husband “Out in the Cold” but you know me better than that. My friends generally I believe think — & some don’t hesitate to say so — that I am rather foolish for not having married long ago if I could. But I’m not anxious to gratify them until we get ready. What I ought to say, I don’t really know.
You have now gone with your regiment to Mississippi. There you say you can get a leave of absence, but ’twill take a good deal of time to travel so far. You can’t possibly get here in time for John’s wedding though if they could have known it in time they would have waited for you. And as to “our own” there is no more cause for hurry as I can see them there has been in the last three years,
I am teaching & will be for the next five weeks. When that is done, something else will happen as it always does & I fill up the odd moments with work which may add comfort to our future. I suppose ‘twould be a great satisfaction to [my sister] Lydia & [cousin] Alice if you could come & we could be married within the next seven weeks as they expect to start for Ohio at the end of that time. But I suppose they’ll stand it till they come back of they can’t help themselves.
Supper’s ready & I must close. Ever remaining truly, your — Neal¹ While teaching school among the quakers in or near Salem, Henry County, Iowa, Neal apparently resided with the Pidgeon family whose farm was located a little south of Salem. Isaac Marion Pidgeon (1793-1876) and his wife Phoebe Kester (1799-1872) had 11 children, though at least three had died and several had married before Neal boarded with them in 1865. The Pidgeon’s were from North Carolina and came to Iowa Territory in the mid 1830s.