Saturday, June 25, 2011

Boss and Esther Talbott

After their marriage in November 1915, Boss and Esther made their home in Jeffress, Mecklenburg, Virginia.  Prior to their marriage, Boss lived and worked there on the family farm.  Letters addressed to Boss and Esther after their marriage indicate they lived in Jeffress during the early years of their marriage. 

Their first child Arthur Crafton Talbott was born 27 Nov 1916 in the Bluestone District of Mecklenburg County.  In a newsy letter to Esther dated 12 Dec 1916 from her long time friend Nannie Lee Farson, Nannie referred to Esther as having taken many trips during the past summer (i.e. the summer of 1916).  No indication of Esther’s destinations was given; however, I wonder where an expecting mother traveled to in 1916?  Perhaps to visit family?*
Few letters remain in Esther’s collection from 1916 to the early 1920’s.  During this time Boss and Esther added three more children to their family.  Virginia “Ruth” was born in Jeffress 21 May 1918.  Elma Lee and Garnet Rueben were born in the Black Walnut District of Halifax County (South Boston area) 15 Sep 1920 and 28 Jul 1922 respectively.  Life was busy and I expect left little time for letter writing.

By 1920 Boss and Esther were living near South Boston in the Black Walnut District of Halifax County, VA.  The 1920 census shows that the family lived with Boss’s father Joe Merritt on the South Boston and Black Walnut Road.  The census also indicates that Joe Merritt Talbott owned his farm.  Boss is listed under the same dwelling number, but is renting under a family unit number different than that of his father. (Boss’s brother Otey [Otis Major Talbott] is listed as renting under a different family unit number as well.) It appears that Otey, Boss and their families were living and farming on their parents’ farm.

In 1921 a letter from Rosa Talbott (Boss’s mother) to Esther and Boss, referred to the family’s upcoming move.  In a letter from Esther to her mother Hattie Richardson in Dec 1921, Esther reported that the family had moved and “nothing broke”.  Esther also reported that Aunt Bettie [Bettie Talbott Elliott] and Nannie [It is unclear which Nannie.] helped Esther and Boss with their move.  Later that day they took the children into town to see Santa Claus.  Given that Boss and Esther lived close to his parents as indicated by the 1920 census, I expect Boss and Esther were moving into their own home but still in the South Boston area.  Further research to determine if Boss bought his own farm is warranted.

Esther’s last letter was written Christmas 1922 to her mother.  There is some question whether this letter was ever sent. She described their day, and what the children received for Christmas.  The girls got a doll with hair to brush and Crafton got a cap pistol. Garnett was still a baby and was referenced in regards to “working on a bottle”.  Her letter gave the details of family’s life and interactions with the extended family. There was no indication that Esther was feeling unwell, but less than two weeks after this letter was written, Esther died from influenza.  She left behind Boss and four young children.  She was buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in South Boston, VA.

Boss never re-married after Esther’s death.  The family reports that Boss always stated that Esther was the one and only love of his life.  He raised his children with the help of his parents and extended family.  His mother-in-law helped as well by having the children visit with her at times.

I hope you have enjoyed the story of Esther from her courtship through marriage and motherhood.  Esther is no longer a mystery woman in my research.  She managed to tell her own story quite well.

* This letter was written a couple of weeks after the birth of Esther’s first child, my grandfather.  Interestingly, Nannie Lee does not refer to the birth or even pending birth of this child. Likely she had not heard about the baby’s birth as of yet.  Was it even proper in the 1910’s to refer to a pregnancy in a letter?


  1. Okay Lisa, this ending just isn't fair. How can I get on with my day with this in my mind? I loved Esther, and am so glad the letters and postcards survived, so you could share her story.
    I've enjoyed all previous posts and thank you for for those.

  2. I agree, Barbara. Life just wasn't fair for boss and Esther. I'm glad you enjoyed her story.


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