Correspondence Archive of the Branson and Roberts Families of Washington DC
Washington DC and Virginia: 1873-1906. A collection of 17 letters belonging sent by members of the Branson and Roberts families of Washington, D.C. Includes four letters sent by Phillip H. Branson in the 1870s, one of which vividly describes his experiences as a postal worker in Washington. The rest of the letters date from the 1890s and early 1900s and were sent to Charles E. Roberts and his girlfriend/wife Mary "May" Branson (later Roberts), documenting trips to Virginia and periods of bereavement in Washington. Finally, the archive includes a letter documenting the experiences of a Spanish American war soldier in Richmond, Virginia. Overall in very good condition, minor toning to paper, chipping to envelopes. Includes the following:
1) Handwritten letter, 4pp, with envelope, dated October 19, 1898. Sent by Edward G. Evans from Richmond, Virginia, to Charles E. Roberts in Washington D.C. Records indicate that at the time, Corporal Edward G. Evans was serving with the Third Virginia Infantry, quartered at the Exchange and Ballard Hotels one month prior to disbanding. Evans writes about the trip over, army food ("the most that we have had had been only half cooked..."), a visit to the fort at Norfolk, and the state of his company: "our boys are all keeping quite straight now, but Moss Grinnel from the CH has the delirium tremens and is in the hospital I was on provost guard monday, but the only thing I had to do was sit around in the Murphy hotel. The idea is to keep the boys' order and arrest all found on the streets after taps...The penitentiary here is quarantined, so we are not allowed to visit it..."
2) Four handwritten letters by Phillip H. Branson from Washington D.C., two dated 1873, one dated 1875, and one dated 1897, generally a few pages each. The 1897 letter was sent to his daughter and discusses a sightseeing outing to the National Mall. The 1870s letters were sent to his wife while working in the city, telling her how much he missed her (apparently they were separated while we worked in the city) and discussing his comings and goings. By 1875 Branson has taken a job in the postal service, and his 1875 letter provides a detailed account of the life of a Washington D.C. postal carrier: "I then had to go out on another route, as the carriers are sick had to go far as P from 9th to 11th, then up as far as Q...it was raining steady all the time and I was pretty wet. I changed all my clothes made a fire and hung them up to dry...I had for dinner Beef Steak Stewed Tomatoes...
3) Seven letters sent by Charles Roberts in the late 1890s to his sweetheart and wife May Branson. Includes four letters from the Washington DC area (two postmarked Oakton, VA), three of which report on an 1895 period of bereavement spent with his family, including a detailed description of using a phone booth to call May. The fourth dates from 1897, recounting a stay with his family while May was in New Jersey, recounting a lavish dinner: "I was good & I ate so much that I could hardly navigate afterwards. Roast beef, mashed potatoes, lima beans, cucumbers..." There are also two letters sent from the Appalachian mountains in Virginia, west of Washington, in 1895, one from Snickersville, one from Valley View. He writes about the scenery and vistas of the small towns he visits, about a mile from the West Virginia line. Plus a letter sent while vacationing in upstate New York in 1903.
4) 5pp letter sent by Anne Branson in July 1906. A detailed account of the convalescence, death, and funeral of Charles Roberts and his grieving wife May, now widowed.
5) One letter signed by both May and Charles, dated 1897, sent from a resort in Waterford, VA, west of Washington DC, describing their trip: "we have had grand eating while here...The fare is $1.35, and the board $4.00 a week. We have been out-doors nearly all day." Toned.
6). One 4pp letter signed by May and Charles, sent in 1904 from Ocean City, Md. Provides a detailed, vivid accout of their stay in the resort towns, including a description of a boat race between "a 16-footer and an 18 footer, one from Chincoteague, the other from Watchaprague" and more.
7) One letter sent by May Bronson in 1897 to her parents, from Richmond, VA, briefly describing her visit to the city. Separations along folds.
8) A brief letter sent by a friend, and a partial letter, possibly by Charles Roberts. Item #5960