Blogger Note: Larry Woods

Hi all!

I wanted to share with you that after the news story aired in Lancaster, Larry Woods, a retired teacher reached out to me.  He lives in Lancaster and has a blog of his own about different people and their lives.  He wrote a wonderful little article about this story and posted it on his blog along with a few pictures.  Thank you Larry!

March 30, 1908

Blogger Note: Hey there, hope everyone is doing well!  I’m doing alright.  I was hoping to add those additional letters to this collection, but unfortunately, I haven’t received any word from the woman who currently has them.  😦  So, I’m a little sad that part of their story will remain unfinished.  But anyways, here is the latest!  

March 30, 1908

Dear Graffis,

You see instead of waiting six weeks as I said I would I am just waiting one. I am sorry you have been so rushed, but that is how we are treated while going to school.

I just came home from Sunday School and it is almost time to go to church. I am having lots of company today. Two little boys, who I always take to and from Sunday School, were my first charges. Then a caller, a little boy who went to my school, spent an hour with me and now three little cousins are here and want me to take them to church. You see I have my hands full.

We are having beautiful days, so warm and balmy, Pussy Willows are rocking to and fro and I see some little flowers have raised their heads and are looking about; no matter where you go you see the resurrection of plant life.

I am reading “Freckles” and it is just the book for this time of the year. It describes plant and animal life in the swampy and wooded part of Indiana. It is one of the prettiest stories I have read since last summer. It is beautifully told, too. I could not resist the temptation to have own a copy of it. I know you would enjoy reading it.

I heard an excellent lecture by Earl Barnes on Social Impulses two weeks ago. Next week Mr. Powys lectures. I don’t know who about. I like him very much. He has an exceptionally large vocabulary and uses it well.

This whole week we have no school and I cannot say how glad I am. It will be such a relief not to have to go out for a whole week. I do not know when I was so ready to close school as I was Friday. My head was so tired that I simply could not think or do anything intelligently. I shall be quite ready to go back in a week I think. Do not think I am going to be idle all week. I intend our spring and summer sewing, read a little, and spend some time out of doors if the weather will permit.

Oh, I must tell you what a farmer I am. We have a rather large yard so I am making use of some of it. I planted onions, radishes and lettuce, sweet peas and nasturtiums last week. Didn’t I do real well? I am going to do more later.

The photograph of the basketball team you sent me is very good. I do not see how it could be better. I am very glad to have one and I thank you for it.

I received a letter from Mary Wednesday and she told me of her plan for the summer. It would be lovely if we could go to Nora from Omaha together but I must teach until the last Friday in June so of course we cannot. I think I shall spend several days in Chicago and then go to St. Paul and then to Eckman.

We had a very interesting talk by one of our Missionaries from Gunter, India, on his work there. He said in India one Missionary has charge of a whole county and succeeds in giving each congregation one sermon in two years.  Think of it! One preacher to thousands of persons! What would our ministers say to such a field. And the worst is that his station or house was fifteen miles from his nearest congregation and in another county!

His plea for a station in each county was strong. I hope they get it.

After working so hard you ought to rest a little during your vacation. You ask what should be done with one so careless as to forget to go to class. It all depends what you were doing that you should forget. You say you were in the library; and of course making good use of your time. In that case I think you ought to be excused and told not to get too much interested in what you are doing the next time.

I am afraid I am doing just what I told you not to do. I am getting so interested that I did not hear the clock strike ten and it is nearly eleven now and way past my regular bed time.

With best wishes and I hope you are not being overworked as you have been.

Very Sincerely,

Daisy Holzwarth

Blogger Note: I love the ending of this letter.  When you get so caught up in something that you barely realize the time.  To me, that is time well spent. Until next time!  Oh, I am also thinking of starting up a library section of this blogger to list all of books she has mentioned so far.  Thoughts?

February 19, 1908

Happy Sunday Night!  Or Monday Morning!  Or Monday Afternoon depending on where you are in the world.  I looked back at my previous posts and realized we got a bit out of order.  We are now officially in 1908 with this letter.   Hope everyone enjoys!

February 19, 1908

Dear Graffins,

It is only half past seven and I am ready for school. Since I never start until half past eight, I have time to write a little.

We have had sleighing for nearly a week but last Saturday the rain spoiled it. From Sunday until yesterday the days were as beautiful as an ideal spring day but this morning imagine my surprise to find the earth covered with snow and “Mother Goose is still shaking her feather bed.”

Our Missionary Society meets at a home which is near a big hill and I know we shall have a chance to come down on the hill on a sled. You do not know how much I enjoy sledding.  The more often I get a chance to go the better I like it.

Last Tuesday we had a “Valentine Social” and we cleared over fifty dollars. We have five hundred of the eight hundred we want to fresco our church. We got that in a year at Millersville.  A Charles Groff died July 17th of consumption. I saw it in the November Journal which I just received. Was that your friend? I am so sorry. But it seems there is no cure for that dreadful disease.

I am glad your school work is going smoothly. I should like to take a review of some branches but I must manufacture some time first. By the time I teach, read a little, sew a lot, there is not very much time left for anything else.

I have a camera. I got it in my senior year at Millersville. I love to work with it. I never developed my film but always printed and developed my pictures. It did give me so much pleasure. But I broke the spool holder and never had it repaired. I have some good and some very funny pictures. Sometimes I did not unwind enough of the film after taking a picture and I would then have two pictures in one.

I kept them all.  If you have an opportunity to study the science, you ought to do so. You say you have not found any person “altogether congenial” since you left Pennsylvania. Perhaps you found some person there. I heard about some good times you all had there. I do not think two people ever meet who are altogether congenial at first. In most cases they have led entirely different lives and after living together a short time the “corners” of both are worn away gradually and they soon are exactly suited to each other. I heard a very dear friend of mine say (she married a minister and very good man) “you must expect differences probably each day but you ought never let that day come to an end without having made it up.”

I feel the secret of harmony in a family lies right there. We allow too many slight injuries pass without making an effort to be forgiven. In our own home life my mother always made me feel that I ought to do so and I could never sleep if I tried to ignore what she had taught me about the matter. To this very day I always do it.

One thing that I feel to be absolutely necessary is that there must be ideals in common. I know a very prominent family here. the mother is the leader and hardest worker. The father does all he can to uphold and get as many saloons as possible. You know what the result is – worse discord could not be imagined.

I am glad Bertha received my note. I should have written long before I did. It is nice to know she did not say unpleasant things about me – but people do not say nice things to me. It always seems as if there were a mistake when I am told “some person said something nice about you.”

Saturday is Mother’s birthday and I am quite excited about it. I am planning a little surprise for her. Last Saturday I baked my first raised potato biscuits. They were very good and I did everything myself. This week I am going to set sponge for cinnamon buns (Friday evening).  Last Monday evening I heard a phonograph with a horn. It looks like a big music cabinet  and the music is much sweeter and songs more distinct than from the other.

Have you read the account in Jan. “Success” of Thomas Edison’s plan for building an entire house of concrete in about thirty-six hours? If his plans work out alright it certainly will be a wonderful invention.

I wish I had just a little of that man’s inventive power or rather ability to work out little things. I am supposed to teach the children to illustrate stories by cutting out of the paper the principal things in the story in such a way that the cuttings tell the whole story.  Today we did cut a tree, cherries and hatchet to represent the Cherry Tree story and a Lincoln cabin – but such cuttings!

Out of my thirty plants I have three left. Last week the weather was so cold they all froze over night.

I wish I could find out more about Washington’s early life. If you have won’t you please tell me where you found the material? I do not think the American people love Washington as much as they do Lincoln simply because we do not teach, or rather present, his life in the right way.

Isn’t this a rich, full month? So many great people have been given to this world this month. Longfellow, Lincoln, Lowell, Washington, Frances Willard, St. Valentine, Mendlessoln, etc.

I must stop now.  With best wishes,


Daisy Holzwarth

P.S. Answer when you have time, please. Hope it will not be three weeks until you find some.

Blogger Note:  Jealous of Thomas Edison? Opinions on Washington and Lincoln? A bit of life wisdom on flawed people and relationships?  This letter was a rich one!  Anyone you know “altogether congenial?”  Happy reading! 

December 30, 1907

Blogger Note:  A special treat for you all for your patience.  Posting 2 letters tonight!

December 30, 1907

Dear Graffins,

I just feel as if I had been in a cyclone; just had a discussion about temperance with one who is not at all in sympathy with the movement. I am not nearly so radical as I used to be but when I hear all sorts of mean things said about the movement, I cannot remain quiet.

I want to thank you for being so thoughtful and sending me those references. I shall refer to them often. I have put them in my Bible where I shall see it every day and also use it for a marker. How did you know I was interested in just what you sent me? When I was a child I had a Canadian twenty-five cent bill but I lost it. I assure you I shall not lose this one. I am too glad to have it not to take the best of care of it. How can I thank you for the check for so many good things? I hope you will receive just as much of the world’s store of good things (for this life, the coming year and all subsequent years) you wish me to have and more if possible.

Well, Christmas again is past and day after tomorrow, I take up my daily tasks for another seven months. We have had a happy time. My brothers have never been so good to me before (especially my big brother). Santa, too, was good. He left me more than my share of good things. One thing he left me that I cannot fully appreciate and that is a very, very bad cold in the head.

I hope you have had a happy Christmas. You know you were to since you could be home. I must stop now. I want to write to Mary. Maybe you should not have had a letter from me. This is the third one I have written and no reply. But I shall have to give you what you deserve some future time.

I sincerely hope the coming year will bring you health, happiness and all the good things possible.

Thanking you again for all you have given me.


Daisy Holzwarth

December 17, 1907

Blogger Note:  I haven’t disappeared!  Just been busy.  But that is no excuse because you all have been so patiently waiting.  Here you go!

December 17, 1907

Dear Graffins,

I do not think i am very kind in writing. I think it was a little selfish. Don’t  you?

Too bad you have no skating just at present. I hope you will soon have some. I think i feel toward my picture of Christ in the Temple at twelve years of age, as you do about your skates. Of course I could not do as the little boy with the boots so I did the next best thing; hung it right beside my bed.

Well, don’t you feel like rebelling about working on Christmas day. Now there is one consolation, when you have your vegetable garden and poultry farm, you need not work on Christmas day. I expect to work all day but it will be doing that which I prefer  doing to all other work. We shall have twelve in the family all during the holidays.

This is going to be a strenuous week. Yesterday after school, I ironed until supper time. After supper I baked about two hundred and fifty spice drops. After supper this evening, I mixed enough dough for about two hundred sand tarts which I must bake tonight yet, just as soon as I finish this letter. I persuaded the boys to shell the peanuts.

On Sunday I started to read the “Ruling Passion” by Henry Van Dyke. Have you read it? I did not find time to read any since but I enjoyed very much what I have read.

I have not heard from Mary since what I told you about some time ago. I answered her letter fully five or six weeks ago. I have not heard from Nora since before she was sick. I hope they write to you soon. I can excuse them for neglecting me but  they should treat you much better.

I hope you will be transferred back to the states. It is so far away where you are now. What are you studying? It used to be very hard very often for me to concentrate my thoughts in my studies. But I had to do my studying at night and my mind used to be tired. I guess you are like other little boys, restless because Santa is coming soon. I wish he were gone because my little boys and girls are worse than restless. They are full of everything but work. You deserve a great deal of credit for making yourself study when it was so hard. If I have accused you of what you are not guilty, I hope you will forgive me.

My curiosity has been aroused to the utmost. Every person around here has a secret to whisper to some person. Today mother told me to meet her at one of the stores. I came a little earlier than she expected me and she was in the act of making a purchase, but as soon as she saw me she countermanded the order. What am I to infer? When I say anything to her about it her eyes just twinkle and she talks of something else.

No, I am not good. Every person is constantly telling me how naughty and terrible I am. So maybe Santa visited me early to try to make me repent. But I don’t see how I can be very good here. They tease and play so many tricks on me.

I have not made any plans for the summer expect a trip to Niagra Falls which will only take a week. If you go to the Pacific Coast you will have a grand trip. I wonder if I shall ever get there. I want to go bad enough. I hope to go as soon as I can get some person who wants to go. For to take a trip like that would not be pleasant without company.

Yes, if you go to the coast you will stay up there in Seattle. Won’t you? You must take a vacation and have a good, good time. On Saturday my big brother “Billy Boy” comes home. Is that not a name to give a brother? But I like it much better than Will. And he lets me call him whatever I wish  to. He is going to stay a week.

If I do not soon stop soon there will be no time for any work.

Now please have as good a time as you can Christmas. Do not work too hard. I hope Santa will be very good to you.

With best wishes.


Daisy Holzwarth

January 6, 1908

At school

January 6, 1908

Dear Graffins,

What a good boy you were to help Mary with the house cleaning. There are not many boys who will do so much for their sister. I am sorry to hear Mary worked so hard that she was not all herself when finished. I am not glad I was not there. If I had been I could have helped her and she would have had less to do.

Quite a calamity befell me last week. I had a troublesome wisdom tooth and I decided to have it extracted. It took two dentists nearly twenty minutes instead of three to get it out. I thought I should go mad. Such torture! Within less than two hours after it was out my face was twice its normal size. My tongue and jaw became stiff and I could not talk or swallow (a calamity for me indeed!). Mother cried all night; she was afraid of lock-jaw. I used Arnica and Laudanum to kill the pain and I think I must have swallowed and inhaled enough of the stuff to nearly kill me. Of course I could not go to school last week. It is getting better now, but the sympathetic nerves make all my other teeth ache.

I am glad your prospects for a permanent position are better than you thought at first. I hope you shall be able to stay in Omaha. I know from experience how much it adds to life to be home.

I am glad you suffered no other injuries, but your dignity, by falling while skating. That is more easily gotten over (very often) than other injuries.

Yes, I read The Doctor twice. I, too, think it is the best book Ralph Connor wrote. But I enjoyed other books immensely. I started to read “The Shepard Psalm “by Meyers and “Friendship” by Emerson. Both were Christmas gifts.

Now I think you look only at the dark side of Homesteading. Nothing need be only a struggle without enjoyment. I know it must be hard work but I feel sure lots of pleasures can be found by doing it. Probably they would not occur so frequently as in the City but all the sweeter and more enjoyable for not being an every day occurrence. I think I can sympathize with Mary in her enthusiasm for I am wild about it. My mother loses most of her patience with me when I talk about it. But that I am sorry to say does not make me think differently.

I have not received the letter I wrote to you addressed to Brandon. Of course if I get it and you want it I shall mail it to you.

We have had no sleighing lately and I do not think much if any skating. The weather is very mild. Yesterday was rather cold but today is beautiful. I did not go home to dinner. Mother promised to send it. But it is one o’clock and not here yet. If it does not soon come I shall have to do without.

I know Bonnie will be happy after she has graduated. I am glad Bertha likes her position. I received a beautiful Christmas card and Greeting from her. It made me very happy to know she had not forgotten me.

I must stop now my dinner has come and is is soon time for the bell. Best wishes.


Daisy Holzwarth

Blogger Note: A warm welcome to all the new visitors and followers this blog has gained since the news story aired!  I hope you enjoy the blog!  Feel free to comment and be part of the story.  There are some great readers here!  I included some references below from throughout the story.  Daisy mentions some drugs and a particular author below.

I can just picture her scribbling this note in her schoolhouse while the kids are out playing at lunch.  Can you see it?  Anyone else cringing reading about the wisdom teeth?  

I’m back to regular updates so you will see more soon!  I’ll also be starting another section on this blog dedicated to the real life research and pictures that I and others (thank you for all who have contributed already!) have found.  Stay tuned and happy reading!

Arnica – was a toxic herb used for blood clots, swelling and pain

Laudanum – it is an extremely bitter opium that includes morphine and codeine. Used as a painkiller.  In the early 20th century, you could get this without a prescription until it was found to be very addictive.

Ralph Connor (legal name was Rev. Dr. Charles William Gordon) – wrote The Doctor in 1906. He was a Canadian novelist and church leader.  He sold more than 5 million copies of his various books and some of his books are still in print today.  He passed away in 1937.