WRW letter 8



Nov 5th

Dear Dorothy + Vic
Received your letter this morning and was very pleased.
I cant tell you just how much this loss has hurt me, their are no words to express my love for Woody and when I heard he was gone I wanted to die to If it wasn’t for Brenda I really think I would take my own life. Maybe you think that is an awful thing to say but life without him


just doesn’t have any meaning I prayed so much and so hard for his safe return. I just couldn’t believe God had done this to me I feel so lost and the pain is allmost unbearable and it gets worse with each day As yet I dont know many details about his death but I just hope he wasn’t blown to bits by one of the mines I do know that was what he was doing at the time. I got three letters from him the day I received the telegram his last written the 21st the day before he died
We shared a wonderful love a love few couples ever achieve I gave him every bit of love that I was capable of giving He had


all of me, and was my only love.
I will try to write again very soon and ell you more. Thank you so much for your nice letter
Brenda has two teeth, dark blue eyes + dark hair a perfect picture of her daddy
She weighs 18 lbs I will send you a picture next time


[My father, Victor, once told me Woody was blown up by a mine, but I don’t know whether ours or the enemy’s.]

Woody start page(previous) WRW letter 7 – next page (WRW letter 9)

WRW letter 6

22 November 1952

Dear Woody,
Not much news this week. David is writing is usual letter to Uncle Woody. Sorry he writes such a foreign language. Ann talks about as foreign as David writes. He’s intelligent though – after all look who his uncle is.

28 Nov. 1952

Don’t remember what delayed the completion of this letter previously. Today is day after Thanksgiving. It’s snowing beautifully. First time Vic + I have seen snow for 3 years + it’s beautiful. David’s first time to see show + he is in the hospital + can’t see it with us for first time. Guess our Thanksgiving can be for doctors, drugs, + hospitals. Wed. after


noon David woke up from nap with 103.6o temp. Took him to Dr. in evening after he had retained fever + indicated sore thoat + found he had bronchitis. Yesterday A.M. he woke up with 104o + kept going up + at 1:00 P.M. he had 105.2o. We called doctor + he said take him to hosp. By 7:30 last night his temp had gone down to 102o + he was sitting up talking + “reading” a book. Doctor thinks he will be able to come home tomorrow.
So this A.M. we don’t yet know what he thinks of the snow. From what we read + hear of Korea you probably have had enough of the old man winter already. We are just beginning to have some + love it.


[This letter, written on two sides of one sheet and never folded, was never finished nor placed in an envelope.]

Woody start page(previous) WRW letter 5 – next page (WRW letter 7)

WRW letter 5

15 November 1952

Dear Woody,
Guess our biggest problems at the moment consist of how to make our bed stay up. Every time we get in bed the slats fall out. Vic’s in the process of trying to tie it together someway. We took paint off an old bed someone gave us and sanded it down and are rubbing Shinola shoe polish on it for a finish. Meanwhile we are sleeping on the floor, but on springs and mattress – and how lucky we feel to even be sleeping on a floor. Rec’d your letter today and can’t help thinking about the officers having a better place to s— than you have to try to sleep.


Yesterday we sent your Christmas package and sent it via your old address and today rec’d letter with new address. Hope you receive the box O.K., but imagine it will be late.
David is writing his letter to Uncle Woody. He’s talking about the choo choo train and loco”motor” as he has named the locomotive.
Last night we were given free tickets to a football game and had our first real night out together since we left Sarasota. Beautiful night, the weather hasn’t been below 50o at night for a week + has been in the 50’s in daytime. Unusually warm weather for November. Colder than this in Florida when you were there in Nov. last year.
Ann is now in the hair-pulling stage. Her daddy is the luckiest one in he family now, it’s a long reach over his high forehead.
Now David is writing “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Easter” to you, and writing while riding his tricycle, so if you have trouble reading it


you’ll know why. Must get the little stinker ready for bed so will turn this over to Vic.
Back again. Vic said he’d finish the bed, I could finish this letter and he’d write later. Want to write to Mom, too, so will sign off now.

Love + best of luck
to you Woody,
Vic, Dottie, David + Ann




Woody start page(previous) WRW letter 4 – next page (WRW letter 6)


WRW letter 4


7 November 1952
Friday P.M.

Dear Woodie,
We were very pleased to hear from you. Since we haven’t been too good about writing we needed a good reminder. Guess you like most to hear about David from us. He’s sitting here at the table with me writing a letter to Uncle Woodie, which I shall enclose. We have your picture on David’s dresser in our bedroom + he gets it and carries it around and talks to you a lot. He calls that little truck you gave him his “thank you Uncle Woodie, truck.” The dog he named “Elsa.” It’s his “thank you Uncle Woodie, dog.” Whenever he sees a picture of a man in any kind of uniform in a paper or magazine, it’s Uncle Woodie.
Hope you like the pictures. We’ll try to send some occaisionally. David talks all the time and says everything. His most recent achievement is a turkey gobble.


He love trains and knows which car is the “red caboose.” He’s writing about the turkey gobble-gobble right now to you. Ann sits up alone and has 3 teeth now. She’s a real little fatty too She’s about the same age David was when you first saw him, but doesn’t get around as much – too fat. She’s cute, though. Bet Brenda is a little cutie. Did she inherit her mother’s red hair?
A little about us in general. When we first got to Ohio, Vic made application at the banks and went to work at Lennox Furnace Co. machine shop – nights. Spent days looking for something days + keeping contact with banks. Got a day job in blueprint office at Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton (former Lima Locomotive Works) where they make cranes, shovels, etc. Vic loved the locale – trains, trains + more trains, but didn’t think much of the job. Too much time idle, not enough to keep busy. Finally the Metropolitan Bank of Lima came through with a job – almost $100.00 less per mo. but a secure job and more to Vic’s liking so he left B-L-H, and is now a teller in the Metropolitan Bank of Lima, Ohio. And we are all very happy! We rented an unfurnished 3 room apt. 2nd floor. Most of all we needed furniture and furniture we got. My folks, friends of family + neighbors came through with


everything but a refrigerator – So $2.00 down + $2.00 per week we got a 2 yr old refrig. We just started paying for the refrig. this week – got the interest + carrying charges paid now!
We have a couch, easy chair, 2 rocking chairs, coffee table, end table, library table, floor lamp, wall lamp, 2 table lamps, chest of drawers, bed, springs, mattress, dresser, dressing table, 2 book cases, 6 chairs, 2 high chairs, crib, gas range, kitchen cabinet, table, pictures, curtains, draperies, dishes, pans, and more stuff people just didn’t want or need any longer. Had 3 iron beds we sold for metal. Also got 2 old rugs. Not much to look at but keep floor warmer and quieter on people downstairs.
September + October were beautiful here. The weather has finally gotten to the “stay-cold” point. We had temperature in high 60’s even after the 1st couple of days in November.
Ann just made a fragrant odor in her britches that is escaping into the room so I’d better fix her up and let Vic finish this when he gets home.
Just think of the diaper changing you don’t have to do! Seriously it would be a pleasure compared to Korea, we know. We got to see “Ike” get elected to Presidency on television. Spent Sun. thru Wed. at my brothers house this week. While his wife was in Chicago we kept house for him + my nephew. They have a television set, so we didn’t only hear the acceptance, but saw it. Except for the mob – you almost felt


as if you were there.

Boy! We know it’s going to be cold over there — When I walk home from work I just thank God I’m in Lima – we wait for the day you get home — about rotation, maybe we can make a date to see you in Vermont next Sept. or Oct. — as you know Eisenhower is in – and that means every one of you guys will be home sooner than any of you dare hope.
Boy this guy is staying in Lima till they bury me. — Wonder how your family is and shall write before we mail this. Don’t hear much from Maine but then we don’t write much. Thought maybe if we move into a house next spring and you aren’t home we would get Dorothy + Brenda to come stay a few weeks — of course that visit would depend on what is doing at that time
Boy! I should tell you about my in-laws! Last Sunday Dot’s brother’s wife Dot, went to Chicago so we moved over to their house until Wed.
Well I spent my time watching the voting + results, of course Dot + I voted absentee ballot in Florida. Any way one afternoon Dot’s nephew – the other Dot’s boy wanted to play football, so I played football – my team consisted of one four year old and myself <-how old? – the other team was two 12 year olds — my team won 32 to 0 but me! Next day I’m like a 90 year old man at work couldn’t even stand up straight


More about in-laws – Dot’s youngest sister and her husband are regular cowboy fans — they drive up from thier town, 30 miles every Saturday night and park thier two kids 3 + 4 – at our place so they can go to jamborees — consequently we can’t get out – they come after thier kids between 1 – 6 AM! One day they didn’t come after them until the next night so we took them to church — then there is Dot’s oldest sister, they don’t have any kids but when they think I’m out of work early there they are – waiting for me and usually it’s painting or lugging something Dot does thier laundry and I’ve been mowing the grass
Then there is school – the American Institute of Banking has a course in Commercial law so am taking it; of course the very nights I’m going to study is when Dot’s Relatives come to call —. Then every so often the bank has some kind of a meeting – at night – take next week for example – Monday night a meeting – Tuesday is supposed to be a holiday, but what happens now the relatives find out. So I work Tuesday Wednesday night is school night Thursday is supposed to be a night off but you wait, somebody’ll show up — Friday night study – Sat night baby-sit. Sunday – Collapse -!


It’s not just the wife’s relatives even her old school friends Sat. afternoon I usually get home by two P.M. and there they are lined up at the door waiting so I can roof a house or push a car or lug a boat – anything Woodbury’ll do
Move over brother here ah come sure nuff!
Will write again later — boy wait till I’m somebody’s relative!
Nuff for now — could you use a few Dirty old Fifty dollar bills heh! heh! Love from
Vic, Dottie, David, + Ann
P.S. If you weren’t one of them I’d tell you about my in-laws. Ha!



[NOTES: “Mom’s hangout,” Hotel Pieroni, refers to Vic and Woody’s (Wesley’s) mom, Clarice Woodbury, who lived in Portland but evidently spent a lot of time in Boston. Dorothy, who started this letter is Victor’s wife, Dorothy Miller Woodbury, also referred to as Dot. Dorothy and Brenda, mentioned together, are Woody’s wife (Dorothy Rutledge Woodbury!) and daughter, not to be confused with Vic and Woody’s sister, Dorothy Woodbury Kinney, (who is not mentioned in this letter. Whew!) The in-law who went to Chicago is Dorothy Miller – maiden name unknown, wife of Dot’s brother, Dan Miller. The in-laws who dropped their kids off on weekends are Roy Hume and Dot’s younger sister, Glenna Miller Hume, and their kids are Georgia and Janet. And the other in-laws mentioned are Charlie Bay and Dot’s older sister, Irene Miller Bay.]

Woody start page(previous) WRW letter 3 – next page (WRW letter 5)

WRW letter 3


9:10 P.M.
5 Nov. 52
No. Korea.

Hi Pal;
Letters are pretty hard to write up here. When I write the folks I have to smooth things over so they wont worry. That leaves me practly nothing to write about.
I don’t feel that is necsrary with you however. I’ll just tell you facts and you can keep them to yourself.
The second day I got in Korea I got a good look at the things that are realy happening here.
The train that brought me to the front stoped right beside a Hospital train. I watched them putting wounded men on the train. The ambulances were bringing the men down faster than they could


get them onto the train. It was a sight that made me so sick I had to turn away and vomit.
Right now I’m in a fairly safe place. Our own artilery is behind us firing over our heads into enemy lines and the enemy are on the other side of the hill throwing artilry and mortar back at them. You can see how cozy that makes us. The other night we had quite a shower here. (artilery that is I was told that 160 rounds hit us between 7 PM and Midnight. You can bet your sweet ass I didn’t bother to count them. I just hugged Terra Ferma and hoped like hell, It continued until morning but not quite as bad. Not a sole was hurt by


all reports though. A sargent here that had 35 points steped on an enemy mine and went home quartermaster style. It was realy to bad, he had just a week until he would have rotated. Another guy came into our outfit the outfit and lasted only 5 hrs. Mortar got him square in the face. His helmet looked like a sive.
A lutenent got schratnel right in the groin. From what I was told it tore his privats right out. That is realy a pity I think I’d rather have my head shot off than my nuts.
We are a lot better off than those No. Koreans though. Our planes and artilery are strafing


and bombing hell out of them 24 hrs. a day. So far the only planes I’ve seen are our own. Theyed sure play hell if they ever struck back.
There is a guard fifty machine gun mounted on the hill right over my head. Right now he is pounding his guts out.
I’ve heard so dam much of this blasting that it doesn’t even bother me now. I can sleep right through the worst of it now.
I guess our outfit will be on line until about May. If I can keep my ass in one peace that long I’ll realy be lucky. This place can realy raise heck with a guys nerves.
Once in a while we go out into no mans land and take up mines. The last time we


went out one of our owne companys dam near opened fire on us. They mistook us for Reds and we nearly got the shaft.
Things could be a lot better here, but I suppose they could be worse too. Just be thankful your not here.
Well I guess thats about it as far as activity is concerned. As you can see life here is very dull.
This’ll kill you. A lot of guys here are sleeping in tents and us that do have bunkers aren’t much better off. the bunkers are to weak to stand very much pounding if we got zeroed in. Soooo What are we


doing about it?? Why of course! Were building a Latrine for the officers. We are using the best logs we can get and reinforcing it with plenty of sand bags and stones. And to top that off it has a stove and electric lights. Thats what I call looking after your men. What do you think of it?
I’ve got to close this letter and write my Dotty. Love to Dot, Davy and Ann.

Your Brat Brother

P.S. Take care of that
job. Work is plentyful here.



Woody start page(previous) WRW letter 2 – next page (WRW letter 4)

WRW letter 2

21 Oct 52
15:15 hrs
U.S.N.S. Black

Hi Pal; (S.H.)
Hows tricks. Life aint useing me so good these days these days as you’ve probably herd by now. I am in route to Korea. This ship is due to dock in inchon Korea Thursday noon. Thats just a few miles below the 38th parallell. I am assigned to the 40th Inf. Division. Better known as the california National guard. They are located between White Horse and Iron Horse Mt. I understand. I presume you’ve heard of those.
Boy am I lucky! Just think in another week I’ll


be getting combat pay. Thats an extra $45. a month. Thats supposed to be a joke you can plosuly see what this army has done to my sence of humor.
I haven’t heard from you since my Daughter was born. But I went up to see Al. Thayer while I was on leave and he let me read a letter you wrote him. I’m very glad to hear you have got another good job. I hope you don’t get any nutty ideas this time. You aint getting any yonger and you’ve got a lot of responsibility. Look whoes talking. I guess right now I’m as close to the bottom as a man could ever get.
I expect to be in Korea from 9 mos. to a year. That is if I’m lucky. It don’t seem fair. With all the single men there are going to europ but who am I to say. I’ll just have to stick to the old saying, “Not for me to reason why, but for me to do or die.”
I’ll give you a little dope on the past few mos. and you can guess the rest.
First I spent a very plesant leave with Dotty and brenda. Then I flew to Oakland California. Mom flew as far


as boston with me. It was her first time up but she was so busy talking she didn’t even know it. You know our mom. Always got to get in a last word.
Well I crossed the states in 18 hrs to the tune of $157.00 and began my processing in Camp Stoneman. That took 14 days. Then I was put on the “General W. M. Black U.S.N.S.” and I pulled 14 days of K.P. between Frisco and Yokohama. At Yokohama I boarded a train that took 4 hrs. to travel 35 miles. The latest thing in Japanese rail development. I was in “Camp Drake” just 48 hrs. Thats 14½ miles west of Tokyo. Then I returned to the black for another 3½ days of sea life. Now I have captured the honor of duty as Latrine Sargent.
Right now we are in the “Japan Sea”. We will probably inter the yellow sea sometime tonight.
I guess my daughter will be about davids size when I see her again. I hope shes as cute. Wish I could see him now.
I am sitting on deck now It is a butiful day. I imagin


it will be a lot colder tomorrow at this time.
Here in the orent we don’t pull any K.P. and very few detales. at Camp Drake the Japs do it all and I understand it is all done by South Koreans in Korea. That don’t hurt my feelings any.
While we were at Camp Drake we turned in all our outter cloths and got combat dress. now the O.D. pants and shirts are for every day instead of class A. They have all been impregnated against the lice and desease carrying ticks that we will contact over here. After all the needels I’ve had stuck into me I should be emuned to everything including women and eating.
Speeking of women you should see the sluts theyve got in Japan. Some of these guys are nuts about them. I can’t see it. They say after I’ve been here a couple months I’ll change my tune, but I know better. They just haven’t got the wife I’ve got. as long as shes wiating it’ll take maney a year to change my tune.
This damn deck gets pretty hard sitting. Don’t know why they haven’t got 3 or 4 thousand deck chairs.


Well brother I can’t think of much more to say so guess I’ll nock this shit off. Maby I’ll do better when I hear from you. You’d better write and often. You know how valuable mail is when your this far away from home. I may be to far away now but if you don’t write I’ll kick your dambed ass all the way back to Florida when I get home. Ha! Ha! Mad Cow: Dam! This army. Say Hi to Dot, David, and Ann, and seriously Vic, be greatful your not here. Your a Rich Man.

Your Brat Brother Woody.


Woody start page(previous) WRW letter 1 – next page (WRW letter 3)

WRW letter 1

4:30 PM.
17 August

Hi Folks, Hows tricks;

I’m the Proudest Pappy you know right now. Mom and Baby are doing fine, Papa still hates the dambed army. Right now I’m just lying around waiting for my orders. I expect to get orders to go to Korea Monday or Tuesday. I didn’t know whether I’ll get a leave or not but I sure hope so. I’d hate to spend a year over there without seeing my wife and baby. Dot and her folks say Brenda looks like me. They also think shes very cute so I’m not worryed. She can’t be both. There just trying to make me feel good.
As for me I have no idea what she looks like. I only saw her once and then she looked just like a baby. The only diffrence between her and other babys I could see was that she hasn’t got much nose. Gyped I’d say.
The call just came for chow Gotta go get some of that havenly slop now. (Joke Ha! Ha!
I’ll send you a card when I find out where I’m going. Take care now and say Hello to David for me.

Yours Hapless

Woody start pagenext page (WRW letter 2)

A Card

In the late 1960s, as a high school student and stamp collector in Farmington, Maine, I paid a fellow member of the local stamp club $15 for a shoebox full of “covers.”  A cover is the entire card or envelope to which a collectable stamp is affixed.  The box contained several dozen, perhaps a hundred or more, miscellaneous pieces of mail, if not all then most of them from about 1860 to 1920 and most of them local to the Farmington area.  Since my siblings and I, through our father, are descended from several families of Farmington’s early settlers, this box inevitably contained items originally mailed to some of those ancestors or side-branches of the family tree.

After my father’s mother and grandmother both died early in 1969, the last of his ancestors, I was given a comparable packet of old letters and cards from the same era because I was the stamp collector in the family.  When I went away to college and then the Army, these items all ended up in one pile.  Much of my personal stuff was stored in a shed that burned in my absence.  Strangely, my stamp collection was not stored in there.

While I have long since abandoned collecting individual U.S. stamps, I did keep those philatelic covers.  I still have the curious piece of Civil War history shown here and transcribed below so it can be read.  (There are a few more interesting pieces from the Civil War and earlier.  As time permits, I will scan, transcribe, and share those as well.)


One side of this piece is addressed to E. S. Butler.  (Ephraim Sherman Butler, farmer, 1805-1878, married Caroline Knowlton in 1830, an earlier branch of whose family gave rise to Knowlton, McLeary, & Co.  Caroline’s brother, Jason Knowlton, is my great-great-great-grandfather.)   The other side, A CARD, contains this single, strange paragraph:


An article having recently appeared in the “Farmington Chronicle” supposed to refer in part to myself, and the said article containing false and libelous statements and innuendoes, I hereby denounce the Editors L. N. Prescott and J. S. Swift as SLANDERERS AND LIARS.  I cannot condescend to bandy personalities with these vulgar libelers who have a press at their control (which I have not) ; and I believe their characters to be so well known that nothing they can say will be sufficient to put me on the defensive in this community.  I warn the public against the abovementioned scurrilous journal.
September, 15, 1864  CLIFFORD BELCHER

I obained this piece of paper when it was already over 100 years old and have owned it for nearly 50 more years before learning anything about its author.  On the now-ubiquitous internet I found A HISTORY OF FARMINGTON, FRANKLIN COUNTY, MAINE, FROM THE EARLIEST EXPLORATIONS TO THE PRESENT TIME, 1776-1885. BY FRANCIS GOULD BUTLER, MEMBER OF THE MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY. Published FARMINGTON: PRESS OF KNOWLTON, McLEARY, AND CO. 1885.  (All quoted passages below are taken verbatim from this book.)  Now I know much more about Clifford Belcher as well as the likely circumstances of his tirade against the newspaper.

The Butler and Knowlton families in the Farmington area were so intertwined and intermarried between 1776-1885, the period covered by this book, that they could have assumed the combined name, Butknowlerton.

This book lists four men going by the name Clifford Belcher, (strangely unrelated to the Butknowlertons and thus not my relative either), one of whom would be the author of A CARD.  One Clifford died in 1773.  Another Clifford was born in 1778 and died in 1832.  Then there is “Clifford, b. March 23, 1819 graduated at Harvard College in 1837.  He was a successful lawyer in New Orleans, La., until impaired health compelled him to relinquish his profession.  He d. in Boston, Dec. 25, 1879, leaving a large estate ; unmd.”  This Clifford Belcher was alive at the right time, but evidently never came near Farmington but is only mentioned in the genealogy section.

Under “early traders” the book lists Clifford Belcher (1778-1832) among merchants at Backus Corner (no specific year).  Then there is this about the same person: “Clifford Belcher in 1804 began trade in general merchandise, at the upper part of the Center Village, where the greater portion of the business of the place was then transacted.  His store was situated just below Joseph Titcomb’s.  He was a shrewd and sagacious merchant, actively engaged in business until near the time of his death.”  This Clifford Belcher is grandfather of the author of A CARD.  He had a brother, Hiram Belcher, about whom more later.  Clifford (1778-1832) had a son, Samuel Belcher, born in 1814, who became a lawyer in his younger years and who served as Speaker of the House in the Maine legislature in 1849-1850.  And it is Samuel Belcher’s son who is the author of A CARD.

The next paragraph is merely to provide the apparent origin of the given name, Clifford, which appears so often among the several generations of Belcher’s:

“Of the twelve children of Josiah and Ranis Belcher, the eighth was Edward, who was born Jan. 19, 1669.  In late life he purchased an estate at Stoughton and removed there, and died March 16, 1745.  His widow survived him until March 5, 1752.  Clifford Belcher, the youngest of the six children of Edward and Mary (Clifford) Belcher, married June 24, 1740, Mehitable, daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Clap) Bird, and granddaughter of John and Elizabeth (Williams) Bird of Dorchester.  He owned a large estate in ancient Stoughton, where he resided until his death, April 26, 1773.  His wife was born Dec. 8, 1706, and died Feb. 20, 1779.” [This Clifford Belcher, namesake of the others mentioned above, was given his mother’s maiden name.]

Which brings us to the Clifford of A CARD.  There are these two helpful statements in the book, both referring to the same man:

1) “S. Clifford Belcher – Captain Co. G, 16th Infantry.  Mustered in Aug. 14, 1862.  Promoted major.  Wounded at Fredericksburg and at the Wilderness, Va.  Served two years, one month.”  Note that time frame.  Two years, one month from the date he mustered would be September 14, 1864.  Now note the date on A CARD: September 15, 1864.

2) “Samuel Clifford Belcher, b. March 20, 1839, entered Bowdoin College at the age of fourteen, and graduated in course with the class of 1857.  After his graduation he served for three years as preceptor of Foxcroft Academy, which position he resigned in 1860 to enter the office of Hon. Nehemiah Abbott of Belfast as a student at law.  The following year he was admitted to the Franklin County Bar.  Soon after the outbreak of the Rebellion, Mr. Belcher enlisted in the United States Service, and June 4, 1862, was commissioned captain of Company G, 16th Regiment of Maine Volunteers, immediately leaving for the front.  This regiment was among the most gallant among the Maine regiments.  It took part in the battle of Fredericksburg, where Captain Belcher was slightly wounded; it also served in the Chancellorsville campaign, and at Gettysburg.  To this regiment at Gettysburg was assigned the perilous task of covering the retreat of the First Corps, upon the first day of the battle.  It heroically held the position, from which two regiments had been previously driven, until every man but forty was killed or taken prisoner.  It was while performing this duty that the regiment cut its battle-flag in pieces and distributed it among the men, that it might not be captured by the enemy.  This famous order was given by Capt. Belcher.  Capt. Belcher commanded the left wing of the regiment, and with his comrades was taken prisoner of war.  While the prisoners were marching to Libby Prison, Captain Belcher made his escape, and by clever stratagem gained the Union lines.  His regiment being captured, he was assigned as aid-de-camp to Gen. Heintzelman of the department at Washington.  The following autumn he joined the soldiers at the front, and entered the ‘Wilderness’ campaign.  On the 8th of May, 1864, he received a bullet in the head, which pierced the skull and rested upon the brain.  After seventeen days the ball was extracted, but Capt. Belcher was not sufficiently recovered to rejoin his company before the cessation of hostilities.  Gov. Cony commissioned him major June 1, 1864.  Upon recovering his health, Major Belcher resumed the practice of law at Farmington, and has remained actively engaged in his profession up to the present time.  In 1876, and again in 1878, he was nominated by the Democrats of the Second District as Representative to Congress.  He was appointed by Gov. Garcelon upon his staff, as inspector-general, with the rank of brigadier-general, a position he held during Gov. Garcelon’s administration.  He md., Jan. 19, 1869, Ella Olive (b. Sept. 17, 1845), daughter of Spaulding and Sarah (Rich) Smith of Wilton, 1 child : Fannie Spaulding, b. Nov. 27, 1869.”

Elsewhere, the book lists the office of Samuel Belcher and S. Clifford Belcher, (father and son), among Farmington’s active law practices as of January 1, 1885, the year of its publication.

On or about his date of discharge, then, September 15, 1864, the twice-wounded Clifford Belcher caused to be printed some quantity of these little 5” x 8” papers with a paragraph centered on one side, each of which he then folded into thirds and addressed to each of several friends (how many?).  What article had been printed in the Farmington Chronicle prior to his discharge, do you suppose, that so offended him and what false and libelous statements and innuendoes had it contained?  Perhaps an archive of the newspaper exists somewhere, which can provide further enlightenment.

One can suppose that, while Captain-made-Major Belcher was recovering from his wounds, the newspaper printed something which impugned his character for allowing his regiment to be captured, or it may have cast some doubt upon the “clever strategems” by which Captain Belcher had made his escape from capture, or it may even have objected to his promotion to Major after it was clear that he would not return to his unit.  The history, above, states awkwardly that Capt. Belcher was “not sufficiently recovered to rejoin his company before the cessation of hostilities.”  And yet hostilities did not cease until the Confederate Army’s surrender, seven months after Belcher’s discharge from service.  (He served “two years, one month” but the last four months were spent under medical care and not actively serving; actual time in the field and related duties, one year, nine months.)

One might also suppose that his peculiar promotion to the rank of Major, barely a year and a half into a military career, might have taken place only because Governor Samuel Cony, upon graduating college, had studied law under then-state-representative, later U.S. congressman Hiram Belcher (1847-1849), a great uncle of Captain Clifford Belcher.  While governor of Maine, how better for Samuel Cony, Hiram’s protégé, to shore up his political career than to stay in the good graces of so illustrious a family as the Belchers?  What better reason for Captain-Major S. Clifford Belcher to be promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in 1879 or 1880 while serving as inspector-general during a later governor’s administration?  (And this took place right after his unsuccessful run for Congress.)

It is not the purpose of this article to impugn the Civil War service of a Union officer who survived a bullet lodged in his head, but merely to research available resources in order to obtain a background on this curious historical document in my possession.  Upon reading A CARD once more, I suspect that Major Clifford Belcher did not pursue legal action against the paper.  He does call it libel, which if proven, can have serious consequences.  The tone of it, however, suggests that he distributed his own public response and did not further “condescend to bandy personalities” with the editors.

The 2¢ stamp, by the way, is Scott catalog #73, which collectors call a Black Jack, (Andrew Jackson), and on a cover such as this, if brought to auction, can be expected to bring many times the price I paid for a box of old mail fifty years earlier.  With the provenance provided perhaps it would sell for substantially more.  It is not, however, for sale.