Dec 29, 1891
My Dear Mamma
I have just arrived at Salem on my return from my Washington Xmas trip, and although I am very tired and a little sleepy, having been riding on the train from 11:20 p.m. last night till 10 this morning. But this will not keep me from writing to you right away. In fact I had taken paper along with me to write to you on and let you know whether "all was quiet along the Potomac tonight", but some how or other I didn’t find the time. At the outset, however, I must say that I was no little disappointed at not receiving a letter from you on my return to-day. Now before I go any further into the details of my
trip, I want to ask you to write to me without delay. I am anxious to know how you all spent Xmas, where [etc.] I do hope you all enjoyed it. I certainly did. I was only sorry that I was not able to send any of you any presents, which I would very much have liked to have done. But I didn’t buy or send any one a single present, and consequently am glad that no one sent me one, for if they had I should have felt bad about it. As it is, I am completely “strapped” any way, and will have to renew my request for $10.00, which please send right away, as my house rent, washing & other expenses soon fall due. I have had my big trip now and from now on, I do not intend to spend any more money than is absolutely necessary. My trip cost me about $21.00 for everything. I think however I got my money’s worth. It was certainly a great treat to me. I got to Wash
at about 10 o’clock last Wednesday night having left Salem at about 12 o’clock that day. I did not know the schedule time before I left and consequently didn’t know exactly when to tell Davenport to meet me, so I guessed at it and told him about 12. Consequently he wasn’t to the train to meet me till that hour and I, of course, missed him. I put up at the [Huneerd?] House, a hotel nearby and next morning I wrote to him, and found him about 12 or 1 o’clock. We then went to his boarding house, where I put up and made my home during the rest of my stay in the city. He boards with another Clerk in the Treas. Dep't, who is also a N. Carolinian as is also his wife. They are as
close as set of people as I ever met and made me feel at home, saying that we were all N. Carolinians together. Mr. Ellsworth is about 30 years old and his young brother about 16 and his wife's sister of about the same age live with him. He also has a family of 4 children. They were very kind and congenial and my stay with them was pleasant indeed. I met quite a number of young N. Carolinians in Washington, some old ones too, among the latter Mr. Matheson of Taylorsville, Mrs. Esther’s brother in law, I believe. He has a position as door keeper in the House. The boys in Washington call him the “Colonel”. I was not at all disappointed in Washington. Indeed it far surpassed my expectations in grandeur and magnificence. It might be said that Washington is especially noted for 3 things, broad streets government buildings & bicycles of which latter there are over 20,000 in the city.
Women ride them just the same as men. I saw more than one riding a bicycle while I was there. The streets of Washington are so well adapted to bicycle riding; they are so smooth and level, paved with asphalt cement, and are smoother than a floor. They are kept very clean too, hands being at work cleaning them all the time, The residences of Washington are also very magnificent and grand. I reckon there is no city in the world so free from shabby dwellings. There are some magnificent mansions there sure. Jim Blaine owns one which he rents to a millionaire for $20,000 per year, while he himself lives in a cheaper one. Vice President Morton has a fine & beautiful residence but there are many
more equally as elegant & costly. Nearly all the buildings in the city, dwelling & business, are either of stone or of brick. For many years the authorities have not allowed a frame building to go up. No manufacturing or wholesale business Houses are allowed, it being contended that they would dirty up the town, damage the streets [ect.] & besides bringing a low class of people into the town, which they are striving to render as aristocratic as possible. It is the aim and purpose to make Washington an intellectual city, rather than a business, mechanical or commercial, and it is also desired to make it a seat of learning. Already quite a number of Universities are going up, chief of which is the Catholic University which it is expected will in a few years outstrip Yale & Harvard; and thus the government is building a library building there to cost 5 million dollars and it is ex-
pected that it will someday establish a National University. In religion the Catholics largely predominate, probably outnumbering all the rest put together. They have some very fine churches there. The Luther Memorial Church (Lutheran) is a fine building and has an excellent statue of Dr. Luther in front of it. Washington is a great place for statues. They are scattered all over the city and in nearly all the public buildings. They add a great deal to the beauty of things. There are hundreds of them in Washington, comprising nearly all the great men of our country. I visited the Washington monument and went up it. It rises 865 feet high the highest monument in the world.
I remarked when I got to the top of it that it was the nearest heaven I ever was. The view from it over the city is very good and gives one a fine bird’s eye view of it and also a quite correct idea of the size and situation of the city. The Nat. Capital was another place of interest which I was not long in hunting. The dome of the Capital is probably 350 or 400 ft high and being situated nearer the center of the city affords even a better view than the monument. The Capital is an immense building. I never conceived that it was half as large as it is. It is a grand structure entirely of stone. I visited the House of Rep. & the Senate Chambers – both places of great beauty. Many nice statues and paintings of illustrious statesmen adorn this building. It needs to be seen to be appreciated. I visited the Pension Dep't building & the dead letter office, and the Treasury
where I saw one vault which contained $92,850,000 in silver, the largest vault in the world. Another thing of great interest to me was the Bull Run panorama, a painting of that great battle, showing the position of the two armies and the battle as it occurred. And last but not least, I must mention the White House. I was in it Saturday and shook hands with His Majesty Benj. Harrison in the East Room parlor. It was the finest place I was ever in, I think. I will not attempt to describe it, though I can say it was mighty nice, sitting on chairs of silk, in a room covered with the finest velvet carpet and lighted with electric lights from
such fine glass chandeliers. Benj. Harrison is a fine looking fellow but very small, being only 5 ft. 5 in. in height. He seemed to be very pleasant and had a smile for all. Mrs. Harrison didn’t show herself. To get back to the interesting subject of buildings, I suppose the new State, War & Navy building is one of the finest in Washington. It has just recently been finished and cost $15,000,000. The Navy Yard, where they make warships & cannons, is a very interesting place. I think I visited nearly all the chief places of interest in Wash., including the National Museum, Smithsonian Institute, Medical Museum, and Cochran’s Art Gallery, one of the best things to be seen in the city. I attended several theaters and saw some good plays acted, and also went over to Baltimore on day and spent several hours. Baltimore is the most hustling business town I ever saw. There is all
the difference in the world between it and Washington. It was built for business while Wash. Was built for beauty & pleasure. The streets of Baltimore are very narrow & roughly paved with stone, suitable for heavy hauling. It is jamb full of whole sale house, manufacturers etc. and is very noisy and has no shade trees while Wash. is full of them. I think my trip did me a great deal of good every way, especially physically. I gained 5 or 6 lbs. while I was up there and now weigh 149 lbs., at least 5 lbs. more than I ever weighed before. There was one thing remarkable about Xmas celebrations, there wasn’t a single fire cracker or any fireworks fired in the city. They always fire
them on the 4th of July. Xmas was remarkably quiet. Well my letter is getting long and I am getting almost too cold to write as I have no fire in my room. If this letter appears dry and uninteresting please attribute it to that cause. Temperature has a heap to do with a man’s writing. If he is very cold he can’t work up the necessary feeling to make his letter what it should be. To write well, a fellow must be able to concentrate his thoughts on what he is doing & that alone. Well, let me hear from you real soon. When you send money, better send it by P.O. money order [?] Salem as a cheque would cost 15₵ to collect it. Charge money to me, of course. I will write to Blanche in a few days, I think. Love to you all. May you have a Merry New Year.
Your affectionate son,