Friday, June 10, 2011

The Courtship of Esther, Part 6

Boss (Bossy) Henry Talbott

Boss Henry "Bossy" Talbott

Today you will meet Esther's final suitor and my great grandfather, Boss Henry Talbott.  (Bossy to his family and friends.) I find his story the hardest to write, perhaps because I know it the best.  His letters and postcards seem to show a man who was different than the rest.  His words were not flowery or eloquent. He did not proclaim his love on the front of a postcard for all to see.  I suppose he was more quiet in his declarations, less "out there" in today's terminology. His letters and postcards proved to be the most difficult of all to read.  He spelled his words phonetically and his handwriting was not the best.  Bossy also tended to write in pencil (a dull pencil!), and the passage of 90+ years has not been kind to the writing.  Regardless, his feelings came through the grammatical mistakes and poor penmanship.  He wrote more letters than postcards.  Perhaps he had more to share with Esther than could fit on a postcard.  Perhaps it was the privacy of the sealed envelope he preferred.

Dear.......Yours rec just a few days ago and was very glad to heare frome you and to heare that you were enjoying your self just fine.........

Boss Talbott's signature
 Above is the first page of a six page letter Boss sent to Esther in May of 1914.  I believe this may have been one of the earliest letters of this type he sent to her.  It was not unusual in his letters for Boss to address Esther as simply "Dear".  I find that rather, well, endearing. 

Unlike many of her other suitors, Bossy was not a "city boy".  He grew up in Mecklenburg and Halifax Counties,Va.  He was the son of a farmer Joseph M. Talbott and his wife Rosa Bowen. (His real name was Johnnie Hodies Talbott.  No one is quite sure why he changed his name or when. He was using the name Boss as of 1914.) Bossy was their second child born 15 Dec 1886.  He was a farmer and worked on the family farm until he was able to have his own. Even then he lived next door to his parents.

How did Bossy and Esther meet?

I have no direct evidence of their first meeting.  I can only put together the clues taken the letters of Esther, her mother Hattie, her cousins and the federal census records to come up with possibilities.  In Nov 1912, Esther's father Daniel T Richardson died.  In the January of 1913, letters between Esther and her friend Nannie Lee Farson indicate that Esther's mother Harriet moved the family to News Ferry, Halifax, VA.  Census records for 1910 and 1920 show Harriet's brothers (and Esther's uncles) C. R. Elliott and John Elliott were in the same vacinity of Halifax County. (C. R. died in 1915.)  It appears that Harriet moved her children and herself to be closer to her family. 

If one backs up in the census records to 1900, C. R. Elliott and his family including his son William F Elliott was living next door to the family of Joseph M Talbott including his son Bossy (Johnnie).  It can also be noted that C. R.'s wife Bettie was Bossy's sister Sarah Elizabeth "Bettie" Talbott.   Obviously the Talbotts and Elliotts had close family ties from the time Boss and Esther were very small children. Possibly Esther and Boss met as children or as young teens while visiting relatives or attending a community event.  It is impossible to know for sure.

How they met is perhaps not as important as the fact they did meet and a courtship took place.  A letter to Esther from her sister Katie alluded to the fact that Esther and Boss initially kept their engagement a secret!  No reason was given and the wedding was itself not a suprise.  I do think the Esther and Boss's wedding broke a few young men's hearts!

The story of Esther's courtship is complete, but her story is not.  A new chapter is starting, and I hope you will continue to follow Esther's story in coming posts.


  1. Lisa, I'm sorry to see this series end because they were so much fun to look forward to. Still, all good things must come to an end. Thank you for sharing part of Esther's story and I look forward to learning about her marriage and family.

  2. Barbara, Thanks for your kind words! Watch for more of Esther's story in the coming weeks. I just couldn't let her story end yet.

  3. I was wondering what kind of suitor would be the winner! Sounds like your great-grandmother went for substance over style.


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