A Letter From “Out of the Woodwork”

Margery Obenchain letter, 1904

Margery Obenchain letter, 1904

Retired WKU chemistry professor Don Slocum recently discovered several pieces of paper in a clump behind the siding he pulled off his back porch during a renovation of his Chestnut Street home.  He assembled the torn and stained pieces and sent a photocopy to WKU’s Special Collections Library to see if we were interested in adding it to our manuscripts collection.  Indeed we were!  The pieces comprised a complete letter written in August 1904 to “Alice,” possibly a former occupant of the house, by 16-year-old Margery Obenchain.  Margery lived a few blocks away but was writing from Sulphur Springs, Missouri, near the end of a summer trip that had culminated in a visit to the St. Louis World’s Fair.  “I have had a most glorious time,” she declared.  During her visits to family and friends, she had enjoyed the company of several young men, one of whom she described as “one of the handsomest, most brilliant men I have ever met.”  Concluding that, “as a rule, Northern boys are an improvement on Southern boys,” Margery had nevertheless enjoyed all her summer socializing, and promised to tell Alice more when she returned home.  A finding aid and typescript of Margery’s letter can be downloaded here.

The Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections has even more on Margery, the Obenchain family, and related families the Calverts and Youngloves.  Margery’s father, William A. Obenchain, was the longtime president of Ogden College and her mother, Lida Calvert Obenchain, was a dedicated woman suffragist and successful writer of fiction under the pen name “Eliza Calvert Hall.”  A finding aid for the Calvert-Obenchain-Younglove collection can be downloaded here.

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