Bulletin Briefs

Articles from current or past bulletins are included here for the enjoyment of our members and potential members.

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Joseph Benjamin and Ada Dickerson wedding

A Love Letter to Ada

 by Barbara Bass

This letter has a unique history attached to it. As the editor of the Bulletin I was shown a letterhead (by local resident Tom Shepherd) for a business in South Boston from the late-1800s. Thinking it was worthy of being placed in the quarterly, I asked to borrow it.  However, after scanning I noticed writing of the front and back that appeared to be part of a letter written in 1899. The text was fascinating so I asked Mr. Shepherd if he had the entire letter and if so, could I borrow it. The letter in its entirety is below. It was written in 1889 by Joseph Benjamin “Ben” Dickerson* to his future wife Ada Jeffress Terry**. Following their marriage they lived to North Main Street, South Boston to live in what is known today as the Willingham House (see photo below).

Dear Ada

Letter to hand and noted.

July 25, 1899

Was real glad to hear from you and know that you are haveing such a nice time. I am sorry that [I] can’t be with you all (Jane and Miss B B). I mean most especially, but for the others I know that I would like them very much indeed for they are your cousins and of course would love them a little bit through force of habit. If you please don’t get stuck on all the boys around there for I want you to think of me some times for I am still loveing you as much as ever and I am sure that I can’t tell how much that is unless I could see you for I am sure that [my] pen can’t tell the limit. I only hope to have the pleasure to tell you some day. The girl that I love so much. The one that I think of all the time. Ada will you promise me that you will be mine if you will only do that I can be contented. If not I’ll get desperate and you know that I don’t want [to] get that way. I am only looking to the future when you will return if you make that as soon as possible it will relieve me verry verry much indeed. How long are you going [to] stay. It seems like you have been away a month already and it has only been little over [a] week. I will try and give a little history of what has been done in this desolate old place since your departure. There was

a lawn party last Friday night (the 21) was verry small crowd. I went but am sure that [I] didn’t enjoy it much as there was no one there that I cared for. I only went to pass the time away.

The Baptist church was to have had one tonight but the rain caused a postponement. It will be Friday (the 28) night instead. I wish so much that you w[ere] here to go that is if you would condescend to go with me it would give me the greatest pleasure that this world affords. Give Miss B. B. and all the rest of them my love and tell them that [I] will write to them next time. Tell them that if could see them [I] could tell em so much more than can write for I can’t begin to tell how much I love those sweet little angels. I am the same old seven & six to you that I have all ways been and will continue so as long as there is breath in this old body of mine. I expect to go to Richmond Aug the 7 don’t know how long [I] will stay that depends on when you are going [to] return and I hope that will be soon not wishing you any harm at all.

By the way you ask me how Miss Sal Pat & Rosa w[ere] getting on. I was in to see Miss Rosa yesterday and she looked verry blue said she was going to take a leave soon. I haven’t seen Miss Sal Pat since you left it doesn’t look like the same old place it use to be when you were here. There is all ways some thing missing and that is your sweet smiling face. Say won’t you send me one of your photos— I want one real bad and I will send you one of mine that is [if] you will except it. Albert was real glad to hear from Miss Bess and he is going to reply at once if not sooner. We wish very much indeed that [he] could come down but he has a date for this Sunday and I am afraid to come by my lonesome.

Tell me the next time your write when you are comeing home and don’t make it so long not more than couple weeks. I wrote a little piece to show you the Limit of my love for you as I couldn’t see the girl that I think so much of as I reckon you will get worried with this fruzzle—will close for this time. Write as soon as you receive this and a long letter from your fond lover

Loves Limit

I’d swear for you

I’d tear for you The Lord knows what I’d bear for you. I’d lie for you I’d sigh for you I’d drink the Dan River dry for you. I’d cuss for you I’d fuss for you I’d smash an omnibus for you. I’d weep for you I’d leap for you I’d go without sleep for you. I’d ght for you I’d lite for you I’d shoot for you I’d loot for you A rival who comes I’d sue for you. I’d kneel for you I’d steal for you Such is the woe I feel for you. I’d slide for you I’d glide for you I’d swim against the tide for you. I’d try for you I’d cry for you But, me—if I could only die for you.

P. S. Excuse paper and all mistakes

J. B. Dickerson Box 106 So. Boston Va.
S. B. Va July 23, 1899

* Joseph Benjamin Dickerson (1878-1941) is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in South Boston. Their daughter Eleanor Van Train has a scholarship named in her honor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

** Ada Terry Dickerson (1880- 1948) is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery. Her father was Sgt. John David Terry of Halifax County who served in the Virginia Infantry Regiment Company K, 14th Regiment (The Dan River Rifles) from 1861-1865. He is buried at the Confederate Monument in Oak Ridge Cemetery.


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Willingham House
North Main Street, South Boston, VA
Circa 1899, South Boston Historic District