It was from the Stinsons’ that seven-year-old Ima wrote one of her first letters to her father. It was the first of many: the Hoggs were a letter-writing family. When Sallie and the children visited the grandparents, when J.S. Hogg traveled on business, when the children went off to school, letters flew back and forth. In December 1889 Ima and her mother and Mike and Tom were visiting the grandparents while Ima’s father and Will stayed in Austin. Ima decided to write a letter:
Dec. 5, 1889
last morning we had to hav a light it was so dark. I scribele on the other side of the paper. Don’t look on the other side papa. Come to Aunts wedding the 15. Ant Jennie is reading a book tonight. I went to Effie and I picked 4 pounds of cotton. I weigh 51 pounds today. Mike weighed 33 pounds to day,
something is a matter with Aunt Lizzies heart.
Mamma is working on a craz work.
I wood like to know what you and Brother are doing.
“Effie” was most likely one of Colonel Stinson’s tenants. He had 14 houses of sharecrop tenants on his 4,000-acre spread. Ima’s mother was doing “crazy work,” the needlecraft art of sewing odd bits of fabric together and then attaching them to a backing to make a crazy quilt.
“Aunt Lizzie” was Colonel Stinson’s widowed sister. Ima remembered her as “quite thin and old,” but “merry.” Whatever was wrong with her heart, two years after this letter Aunt Lizzie was well enough to spend a summer in Austin, helping to look after the Hogg boys while Ima and Sallie traveled.
On December 8, Ima’s father wrote to her:
My Dear Ima—
I have received your two nice letters, and felt so proud of them. Willie is now writing to his Mama and I undertake the task to you. He and I have dressed up and will go to church directly. He has a new hat and looks very nice in his new suit. I think I will go to your Aunt Lillie’s wedding. Kiss Mama, Mike and Tom, and all the kinfolks for me. All well.
When her father was away, Ima missed him. She scratched out a terse note to him one February day while she was at school:
“Where are you at now? Write soon.”
When Ima and her mother traveled in the summertime, Ima did not neglect to write letters home to Austin:
July 23, 1890
I want to see you so bad. I am home sick to see you all. How are you all. Are you all well? Tom I guess is bat [bad] as ever. I have 15 c. of my money.
You must write soon.
I must cose [close]
So good by
Give love to all
July 26, 1890
I wrote to you and I forgot to male it. How is Mike and Tom? I love to here [hear] they are all well.
I gess you kno Miss Dasy. She is [illegible] me some new pieces and paper rosies and lots of pretty things.
Brownie is sick with slow fever Doctor Blunt says.
Give love to all and give a 1000 kisses to all in the family.
Kisses were abundant in the Hogg family. Ima remembered that “Each morning when we awoke and every evening when we went to bed, Father gave us a warm kiss on the cheek. This habit lasted all our lives.” [i]
Few families have ever been as close.