Can I tell you again how much I love living at my grandpa's house, with easy access to all his family history stuff? It is awesome! But, either he gave away his last copy of the John Reeve history that he wrote, or it is currently misplaced in the house somewhere, so I hadn't read this one. My mom has a copy that she let me borrow, and I just started flipping through it tonight.
I of course immediately went to the chapter about his courtship and marriage to Mary Lyman. There is this introduction that my grandpa, Grant Reeve, wrote to this chapter. I loved this intro, and I wanted to say, "Me too!" to several of the things he said. When he says he was transported back in time and could feel the heartache, doubts, fears and joys of John and Mary by reading these letters, I have to say I felt the same way.
At the end of the intro, he says that these letters are precious to him. I agree with that too. They are precious. They are a glimpse into the life of these two people, who lived 100 years ago, yet were faced with some of the same trials and experiences that we have today. They are a tangible thing that these ancestors actually touched, and wrote, pouring out their feelings to each other.
I truly believe that we can learn so much from our ancestors. I have loved learning more about these two amazing people in my family history. I hope you have too.
Introduction to Chapter 4 – John Reeve and Mary Lyman, John Reeve History
Written by Grant Lyman Reeve, 1987
I have treated with reverence the thirty eight letters used in the writing of this chapter in John Reeve’s life. Many times in the past I have tried to read them and write portions of them in a story of this romance. But they seemed so sacred and so sad and so private that I have never been able to get through them until this past year as I have tried to write the story of John Reeve. They screamed at me to write somewhat of a day to day sequence of events. This I have tried to do as seen through the eyes of John Reeve.
Many anxieties I have felt as I’ve gone through them and written and re-written my synopsis of them. I have felt actually transported back in time and it seemed to me felt the heartache, doubts, fears and joys that these letters reveal.
John Reeve wrote 20 letters. Mary wrote sixteen letters to John. Then A.A. Hinckley and Mary exchanged letters between them for the other two.
This romance was complicated by the fact that John received two letters at a time in three instances. But he did not receive the two “Richfield letters” until after all vital decisions had been made. This made it appear to John that he got far fewer letters than he wrote.
From a hand-writing point of view, Mary’s letters seemed to reveal a highly emotional, disturbed girl who didn’t want to be second best. Who was scared almost out of her wits at the prospect of trying to take on this ready-made family with their hearts broken at the loss of their wife and mother. No girl at any age wants to be “second”, particularly in marriage. This showed. A person deeply hurt in the game of love is mighty skeptical at any subsequent love attempts. This showed. Not until after the marriage did Mary’s hand-writing as well as the sentence structure improve.
John on the other hand wrote clearly, correctly, concisely, convincingly. He was hurt. He needed help. Once convinced that Mary was the answer to his prayers and his sweetheart, Emma’s wishes, he would do all in his power to bring this marriage about.
They met each other face to face on only three occasions prior to their marriage: Once in Salt Lake for two or three times (days) which was pleasant; Once in Hinckley which was a total disaster; and then on the sixteenth of May just prior to the marriage.
This marriage was brought about by love letters – John’s. However, it would never have taken place if both partners to this agreement had not been totally convinced that their marriage was approved and appointed of GOD. John needed this assurance so that this second marriage would in no way reflect upon his love for his beloved Emma, and he needed the comfort that this was best for his motherless children. Mary needed it to convince herself that John really did want her as a wife and not as an interim housekeeper. She needed it to show herself that being the “second” wife was her God-ordained role and that it did not mean that she was second best.
Additionally these letters indicated that John wanted to marry Mary before she changed her mind. Mary on the other hand seemed content to take her time in the hope that this might take place.
These letters with their type-written transcriptions as I see them are in my possession. They are precious to me.