Learn more about this love story tonight on KATU Channel 2 News! KATU read my story in The Daily News and came to my home where they interviewed me to find out more about the special story of Miss Millie and J. D. Wright’s romance. Here’s a link to the news segment:
If you enjoy this story or would like to suggest other “heartwarming or emotion-evoking true stories” for me to write, please comment on this blog. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Thursday, February 14, 2008
By Pat Nelson / For the Daily News, reprinted with permission
It was easy to follow the progression of their romance just by the way Mr. Wright closed his letters. In August of 1904, he signed “as ever your friend,“ but by November, he signed, “I close with all my love for you!”
When the two first started corresponding, Millie shared her uneasiness with her newfound feelings when she wrote: “I hardly know how to answer your letter as I fear I hardly know the sentiment of my own mind and you have asked for my mind exactly.”
Mr. Wright knew just how to win Miss Millie’s heart: “It is your true soul which I admire, your mind of pure thoughts.”
At one point in September, Mr. Wright seemed to question where he stood by signing the letter “I remain your true friend…? & lover.”
But soon, he knew he was gaining Miss Millie’s love when she wrote “Mr. Wright, my heart is wholly my own except what of it is yours. You have stolen a part of it. Can’t say when.”
He didn’t have to wait long for Millie to get in touch with her true feelings. Later in September she wrote: “Tonight I have a feeling towards you I have never felt for anyone else, a feeling I have never felt before, a feeling all so new, so strange, all so quick, so unexpected, and yet so sweet, so calm, I do not care to part with it. Is this the beginning of love?”
When Mr. Wright wasn’t writing flowery love notes, he also had a sense of humor. In one letter, he wrote about a lady who was keeping her eye on them: “If you had looked around some you would have known we were being watched for I could see her large eyes roll around like that of a cow when she hears the hay rattle.”
Once the two had agreed to marry, Mr. Wright relaxed his writing style a bit and added this post script that was less flowery than some of his writing and gave Miss Millie a peek at his evening routine: “I was so interested in this letter that I forgot to take my tobacco so I must sit up awhile longer and read the news.”
Millie may have thought at one point that Mr. Wright was getting a bit too comfortable with their relationship, and in her letter of Oct. 10, she wrote, “The reason I took my hand from you was not that it hurt me or that I was afraid of it for I am not afraid of it at all. I do not know just why I did, only I felt you had no right to try it and that you should not.”
All was forgiven by Halloween, though, when Millie wrote, “I am proud that I love you and that you love me. I am proud ‘twas you that won my love for I feel that the love you return is as pure and true as my own.”
With their marriage only two weeks away, Miss Millie wrote, “Mr. Wright, it is with a strange sweetness that I reflect on the time when we shall be as one.”
Miss Millie and Mr. Wright kept the love letters as a keepsake throughout their lives. Ted and Mary Ann St. Mars and I knew what we had to do.
Ted photocopied all of the letters, and stored the originals in a safe place. Then, we started searching the Internet for their family.
We finally located Jymie Carol Inmon, who had researched the family for 30 years. In January, the 1904 love letters left Woodland and traveled back to Texas where they will spend Valentine’s Day 2008 with Jymie Carol and her four children… second cousins four times removed to James David Wright.
The Daily News reporter Leila Summers added this sidebar:
Jymie Carol Hawley couldn’t believe her luck.
The long-lost love letters sent from Woodland last month provided Hawley, a Texas resident and family genealogist, with rare insight to lives of her distant ancestors J. D. Wright and Millie Pirtle.
“It was very exciting,” she said. “I just think it’s history, and it’s a (love) story.”
How these letters landed on the Oregon Coast remains a mystery, said Hawley, 50, in a phone interview. If Jim’s and Millie’s descendants moved to Oregon, the region could be a new place to search for other lines of the Wright family, she said.
“That’s one reason I’m trying to find the whereabouts of (their) children and grandchildren,” Hawley said. “Maybe the family moved to the West coast.”
Though Hawley herself is a distant relative to J. D. Wright, the Texas resident hopes the letters will someday rest with closer descendants of the couple, who’s eloquent writing whe’s grown to cherish.
“I plan to keep them forever unless I find a member of the family who’s in closer relation and they want them,” she said.
J. D. Wright (who went by “Jim”) is the fourth cousin, four-times removed from Hawley’s late husband.
Just before Pat Nelson contacted Hawley last fall, the Texas resident’s own research recovered a century-old family Bible…a great treasure in itself. Hearing from Nelson nearly put Hawley through the roof, she said.
“I was just thrilled,” she said.
Hawley hasn’t yet read all of Jim and Miss Millie’s letters, but she’s read many of them aloud to her grown children, many of whom are married.
“They’re all young and in love,” she said. They’ve enjoyed hearing the way “true feelings and thoughts” were put into romantic exchanges of yesteryear.