Jess & Bess

The oldest complete collection of letters to date, Jess M. Cook wrote to his sweetheart Bess exactly one hundred years ago during the period of history best known for World War I.


These letters are an incredible window in not only langauge and style for the early 20th century but infact for the courting styles of the period as well as Jess attempts to woo Bess thousands of miles away, brought together only by these letters.


This blog post talks about the visit to the house 100 years later, learning the story of twin sisters Bessie and Jessie Frankenfield and whatever became of Jess M. Cook 

November 18 1918
"The other fellows say he is looking great and still enjoying good health. If we get a chance father and myself are going to try and work our way over to where he is located as I would like very much to see the old boy himself."

Letters in full, follow link.
December 7 1918
"Well Bess do not be disappointed at the direction we take on our next trip. It will be to the place we kind-o-hoped it wouldn’t be. No doubts it will be a very interesting trip though and we will be proud to say we we went, still I have enough of Europe and before returning to the U.S."

Letters in full, follow link.
January 2 1919
"Mama amused me by sending me news thru you. She knows that your letters have been coming more regularly than hers was her reason in doing this."

Letters in full, follow link.
January 7 1919
"Tell Helen that the gum and Life Savers were real life savers and that I thank her sweetly. She may expect a letter from me soon. And my dear old friend Mabel was so good to me. Tell her the gold piece arrived and is appreciated more than words can express. I will keep it always so that I will never be broke again."

Letters in full, follow link.
February 11 1919
"Last night I went to the movies and saw my old lieut. On the screen. He is the one who had my casual co. and is now Capt. of Henderson’s section. It was old but good, I enjoyed it very much but have forgotten the name of the play. Something about “Patience”."

Letters in full, follow link.
February 21 1919
"As for Stanley’s early return I am afraid to say for they may be facing a great disappointment. I was over to to see the Company last night and things did not look right as when I left them. They were to leave today but are being held up and no one knows for how long. It was all caused by a few."

Letters in full, follow link.
March 7 1919
"Bess, I am a soldier out of luck. I have been very crass lately and have cause to be. You people are told that the soldiers over here are well satisfied. Have you little enough reason and common sense to believe it?"

Letters in full, follow link.
May 19 1919
"The men are surely going home fast. Perhaps our orders will come some day. I wonder if they really will or will we remain over here the rest of our days. "

Letters in full, follow link.
July 4 1919
"Every day I have to answer two hundred and fifty questions asked by my two hundred and fifty patients. They are just like so many children. Some say that the army makes me but from my observations it makes kids of out of men."

Letters in full, follow link.
July 9 1919
"Received good letters from Ima and mother. Had there been one from Bess it would have been complete. They were telling all about the memorial services at Sleepy Hollow. Now I guess it isn’t so sleepy after all eh!"

Letters in full, follow link.
August 1 1919
"Have not heard from you since my last letter. Received mail today which was only one letter from my big Bud. I hope to hear from you one more time before starting on that long journey towards home."

Letters in full, follow link.
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