Charity Chain Letter. Missouri widow. Send dime, two
copies. US, 1895.
May 11., 1895.
Rev., L. O. Dawson.
My dear former pastor,
There is a poor widow lady living in
Marshall, Mo. who has seven children all dependent on her for support -
except one, and she has a heavy mortgage on her home which will soon be
foreclosed useless lifted, which will leave her and her helpless family
without a roof to shelter them. She is struggling so hard to make an honest
living. That we have concluded to start this chain for her benefit in which
you are asked to kindly lend your aid. Knowing that you are always willing
to do all you can to help the worthy poor and this is so small a thing that
we ask only involving the expenditure of ten cts (.10) - and the writing
of two letters and it is in such a good cause that I am sure God will bless
you. What we ask this that you make two exact copies of this letter changing
the date and signing your name. Send these to two of your friends whom you
think will take enough interest in it to be sure to do what you ask giving
them as wide a circulation as possible. Put the next highest number at the
head of your letters numbering them both the same. Return this letter with
ten cts (10) wrapped carefully in paper to Mrs. W. H. Lawless, Marshall,
Saline Co., Mo., Box 790. Sending the names and addresses of the two friends
to whom you have written and they in return are asked to do the same. Any
one not wishing to do this is asked to return this letter to Mrs. Lawless
that she may know the chain is broken. Although this may seem a small thing
to do yet any one breaking this chain will involve serious loss to the
enterprise. The person receiving 30 will please return without making any
copies as this will end the chain.
Yours, Docia H. Buchanan
May 11, 1895
This was started by one of my best friends in Mo. and I do hope you will
We have such a nice garden all kind of beans and corn, And I am raising
a nice lot of chickens. We are preparing for you and your little family so
you must not disappoint us. I don't believe I can stand it much longer,
If you don't come and see us. You need not be alarmed if you see some old
weary worn traveler walking in with few "biled rags" tied up in a
red bandanner. For I am getting desperate.
We have a splendid Sunday School at Belle. They have a singing Master now,
and they sing with their might. I can hardly keep my pace as it should
be. Yet I feel so sorry for them. The teacher knows just about as much
about singing and has as much tune in him as I have in me. And you well
know I could not carry a tune in a tin bucket with a top on it. I do wish
you could be here next Thursday we are going to give grandpa a birthday dinner.
All of his children grand children and great grand children are to meet at
his home and each one will take something for the dinner. We all met with
him last May and he enjoyed it so much and it seemed as if he grew younger
and has been so proud of it. That we are going to give him a big blow out
this time. If you could be here and help tell yarns it would be complete.
We fully expected to have Mr. Sowers but he will not be here.
Well I know I must stop. I have the other letter to the chain to write and
get them off this afternoon. Mamma papa and this[?] boy join me in love to Miss Maggie, Andrew L.,
Mother D and a large share for yourself. Write to us sometime.
Handwritten on unruled
9 1/2 x 7 7/8 paper (landscape format), as is accompanying letter. No envelope.
Paragraphs preserved. Original chain letter has 80 lines, formatted on quarter
pages. Periods after sentences supplied by DWV. Uncertain on "biled rags"
- perhaps colloquial for "boiled rags." Ebay lot 2265084986 "Buy it Now"
for $6. Offered by Thomas P. Turner. Entered by DWV on 8/27/04. A William
H. Lawless was born in 1862 according to a descendant in Marshall. But no
family tradition of the chain letter, or even of the widow's plight, remains.
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