Personal Letters of Corra Harris

 

Preface

The following is a series of sixteen recently discovered, private letters written by Corra Harris to a close personal friend, Joy Akin of Bartow County. The letters reveal very private feelings and family matters that until this research have not been known to the general public. These letters were written between 1913 and 1925.  The recipient, Joy Akin was the wife of local attorney and state senator Paul Akin who also served as Corra Harris’ legal and financial advisor. The letter collection has been held in the law offices of Akin and Tate of Cartersville, Georgia and made available in 2017, to the Etowah Valley Historical Society (EVHS) for review and analysis.

These letters have been incorporated in a collegiate senior capstone project for Jordan Gentry at Kennesaw State University. The handwritten letters have been carefully reviewed and meticulously transcribed to capture precise words, punctuation, abbreviation and slang by Ms. Gentry and Mr. Joe F. Head, EVHS Vice President. Penmanship quality in some cases prohibited complete interpretation. The Capstone paper is also found on this web site and is entitled, “Corra Harris: Forgotten Contradictions.

The letters are presented here in chronological order for the convenience of interested parties, further research and historic value of this Georgia author.

 

Nov. 9th, 1913

 

My dear mistress Joy,

Has been a long day, and I have wished for you and Mr. Akin in the s. west brown room with the open companionable fire. I know you must have there today. Still I am doing very well here, only lonesome enough to be writing to you without any reason save the sense it brings of my own kind.

When I returned here, I found in some measure my old peace in the home life of the heaven and the earth upon these hills. I have been able again to feel as well as to see that I am (?) on them that the sun writes every day in shadows of the forest upon the earth- a mighty script changing and swinging to the rhythm of the branches above.

I am very busy cutting a road through the scarlet and the golden woods, making good great funeral pyres of those dead skeleton trees that lay like ghost everywhere. In the evening, I return home very tired feeling innocent and blessed, and the valley seems to lift and swing in the purpling gloom like a great wind-blown picture of sorrowful gray spaces filled with shucks of corn rimmed with forest like a frame.

You and Mr. Akin have been good to me. You have given me of yourselves, the sweetest alms, most blessed in this world. I love you. In these days upon the earth, I sometimes lose the witness of some great spirit, that confirmation of glory to come. It is as if I were about to die without dying. I am homesick for I know not what far beyond the realities of time will serve. I am a beggar there beneath the “gate of our pearl”. At such a time, I have found something every lasting and pertinent in you. You have comforted me in my deep confusion and steading my feet with your loving kindness. Do not think I shall ever forget.

I suppose I shall always be a beggar. I suppose I shall stand some days with wings forlorn upon the corners of the golden street of that celestial city not made with hands, asking stranger alms of the astonished redeemed who pass by. I’ll be homesick then for my own body tired of in corruption, tired of my endless harping upon harps, tired of the long dreary day in which there are no nights, no darkness for bed time prayers, wishing even that all prayers had not been granted. I suppose I’ll get tired of the saints and their everlasting goodness. I wish for a few pleasant transgressions for the bite of a sharpened tongue, for all the earth and all the humanness of which we become some weary here. And then mistress Joy, tell it not to your father who is so clear to me, but do you know then what I shall do? I sneak far out into the (?) of paradise look over the wall of gems and jasper foundations called down to Satan and ask him for “news from home”! I have no doubt that he’ll be better pasted than my better companions.

However, this is only dreaming, and there is no news to tell you except that the sand has come at last and we shall progress better with the work. I hope they will get the cabin finished before I leave. But it is a mere hope for the work has not gotten as fast could have gone if we had not had to wait so long for the sand.

I may come out of here any day now if I find the weather to be excellent to work outdoor in and if I find myself too much disturbed to do some writing which I am anxious to do.

Tell Mr. Akin that I have at last forced old Anthony to a settlement and I am relived to find that he has dealt fairly changing carefully little things, but for nothing that was not a fair debt. He is evidently hard pushed and has to scrap in every penny. I think I am right in locating the (?) was not in old Anthony who is only dull and hard, but in miss Emmie, who is literally not honest, she is so grasping. This is a (?) to me, for I should have had a horror of the man if (?) had proved a rascal.

But you will be glad to know that I have added a little log cabin with a stick and dirt chimney to my estate upon the hill so that I can be immediately independent of the Anthony’s so far as service as concerned. The thing is not yet built but it will be before the carpenters leave. And I have not mentioned it to here, where I think I see a growing complacence in the women over the notion that I shall be dependent upon them. They are acting mighty independent, which suits me, then I knew that they really decided to serve me, but they aimed to take me at an advantage make me feel they didn’t want to, that they were doing me a favor. I won’t be there to see their crestfallen faces when they see that cabin, but I wish I could be out in the bushes somewhere and watch them. I am getting interested and tickled at the dream, and I am satisfied that I do good work their next year. Also, that I shall have enough room to have company and to make sure that I shall have company before I go in any deeper. The unfriendliness of the people is scarcely believed. When I see you, I will tell you some accusing examples of it. But it does not frighten me as it would do if I was building that 8,000-dollar house and I’m getting fine copy for my valley papers.

What a letter. Pardon it! I got talking and said more than I realized. My love to you both.

 

Sincerely yours, Corra Harris

 

Jan. 10th, 1914

Dear Mrs. Joy,

I was very glad have your letter yesterday, and I am obliged for the butter. You could not sent a more welcomed gift to a friend in this neighborhood where all the cows have changed to pale (table?) inside, if (?) way judge by this kind of butter they produced.

As to the history article about Dr. Lovejoy for the Wesleyan, I am glad you and his other children went on to write it. I am grateful for the compliment and the confidence implied by this request, but I must tell you that if not a single one of you had worked me to do it, I should have written a memorial of him any how on my own account. I should have considered that my love for him, and his faithful affection for me since I was a child entitled me to this privilege.
And I should must certainly have done it for some paper if not for the Wesleyan. Now I will do it with more pleasure for us all for I do count myself as one of his children. I can tell you what a lost it has been to me here in the valley because I cannot carry out the happy place I had of having him here with me for long peaceful days. I shall need him here as long as I live. It hurts me that I never had him here. I wanted to wait until all was ready until I could make him perfectly comfortable. I want to see him laugh over this hill and to bless it with his presence. I sacrificed myself here as in many other instances because with the need of helping so many I never had the time to enjoy myself and to do the things that would have given me personally the greatest happiness, but many, many times since my return, I have seen him here; the way he would have looked at things and laughed. The way he would have been pleased at what others might have called foolishness, I always think of him as approving of me and loving me. I feel that I can never stray beyond that and his gentle, whimsical confidence in me.

So you count on me for the memorial, and I will ask for the dates, and we will talk about him a long, long happy time. I will love to do it, but I must get things a little straighter here clear the way for the sunlight in my own mind and heart before I undertake it. I cannot tell where I will do it, sometime before spring, or way early in the spring.

Now here is another thing. I want you and Mr. Akin and the children and Hattie to come out here next Saturday in the train that gets to Rydal at about 11 o’clock and stay with me until Sunday afternoon, when I shall get you to Rydal for the train that goes to Cartersville at 4:15 o’clock. I will send for you in Anthony’s old buck board if the roads are still too bad for the car. I am not ready by a jug full to really entertain company, but I will not make company of you, and you will pardon the disheveled condition of things. I have got a turkey in the coup waiting for you and he is literally for you. So do let me know at the earliest moment if you can come, and if you cannot this weekend write me exactly when. I am resolved to have no other guest until you come. There is a threat to take off the short dog [Check this out; maybe train?]. If that is done, it will complicate matters a bit. But ask Mr. Akins to find out about that, so we can plan accordingly, and I am asking you to come out at noon Saturday, because the right train to Rydal would put here too late for supper and for the babies to be out –even if it is on time, and it never is! The children can have a room with Hattie, if you want to stay in there with them which I think will be best.

 

Faithfully your, Corra Harris

 

Sept. 25th, 1914

U.S.M.S “St. Paul”

Dear Mrs. Joy,

My boat is on the shore. My (?) is on the sea.

But before I go, dear Joy, here’s a double health to thee…with appropriate apologies to the shade of Byrer, and with the same health also for Mr. Akins. Thanks you for attending to the commission. Everyone has been so kind, I am loving with my state room literally (?) with flowers from my editors. Hug and kiss you, be good to Faith for me if (?) things (?), which I do not expect.

 

With love, Corra Harris

 

June 9th 1916

Hotel Seymour

New York

Dear Mrs. Joy

I cannot tell you how grateful I am that you went to Faith while she was ill, and wrote me of her condition. Harry, aside from his sullen attitude to me, I suspect was afraid to write, because he knew Faith would not want me to know of her illness. I am sure it was the fall she got sometime here ago.

Dr. Gains is away on two-week vacation, so I cannot meet her in Nashville until after the 24th. But I am sure she will at last listen to reason and go to a doctor. Thank you for the later wire. I had one from Harvey too. You need not mention it, in fact, please don’t mention to anyone, but I think I will drop down into the valley before the end another week although my child has been so ill no one here urged me to come, but I am coming!

I will see you then and tell you of many things here. I have just sold an article in the (Declaration?) of the Saturday Evening Post. I have worked very hard since I have been here, and I plan not to work very much for the next month.

It is after one o’clock, I have been writing since 8 so I will say goodnight and go to bed.

Bless your dear heart for being so good to poor little (?) lossed Faith. Give my love to Mr. Akin, and be sure that I love you more than ever for your sweet kindness.

 

Affectionately, Corra Harris

 

July 28th, 1916

Rydal, GA

Dear Mrs. Joy,

This is just a little note to say that Faith arrived safely Sunday and that she seems to be doing nicely. She is patience and cheerful and has a good appetite and what more could you ask of an invalid. My own heart goes out to you and to Mr. Akins with love and appreciation. You have done everything, and all touches my deepest gratitude.

I went to write I long letter, but I can’t without crying or saying things I ought not to say. I can only send you my deepest love.

 

Faithfully yours, Corra Harris

 

Nov. 14th, 1916

Dear Mrs. Joy,

I have just finished the in closed memorial to Dr. Lovejoy. I pushed up the date, but in fact I was living (?) (?) in Nov. 18th last year.

This is too hastily done, but I plan to do it here and I have put my heart in it, but there have been so many interruptions. And in the revisions, I fear I may have left something for example I believe in changing part of the copy I left out the date of his marriage. There is someone downstairs waiting to see me, so I haven’t time to make sure. But read it over and put in what I failed to put in. I want you to see it and tell me if it is exactly what you want. It is not as good as my hearts loving memory of him, and I will make any changes you want. If it is all right, please get it typewritten for me. I will then send it to the advocate, but if there are any changed you think of, tell me when I see you and I will make them.

 

With much love, Corra Harris

 

March 20th, 1920

“In the Valley”

Dear Mrs. Joy,

You and Mr. Akin were so good to remember my birthday and what a blessing the roads permitted you to come out! I was so intolerable lonely last year. There was such a happy stir in that day, not because it was my birthday, but because Faith was coming to spend it with me.

She came just at night, she made such a sweet fuss over the table. The first red flowers were blooming in the burning bush, and I found some white blossoms. I made some good boutonniere banquets for peace cards. We had wine to drink my health.  I put the gold braided cloth in the living room table. I lit all the candles and the lamps. We were every gay. John was here. Faith wished that she must kiss me fifty times, one for each year of my life. She made such a sweetness of that until bed time, coming over and kissing me, keeping count, then presently coming to kiss off some more of that account, until at last, she only has only one left which she gave me so tenderly which she bade me good night.

Thus was my fifty birthday celebrated. It was the beginning of Faith’s last visit here. She went back to Atlanta the next afternoon, then returned suddenly the following Sunday, because Harry would be out of town. She was with me then until the latter part of the next week. I never saw her again until I went to her on the 22nd of April when she lay upon her bed never to rise again.

On this year’s birthday, I had only a card from Libbie and your gift. The mails were delayed and I received letters from the family and a remembrance from Harry the next day.

I worked hard all that day to keep from thinking. Late in the afternoon, I went back to the house and dressed myself in memory of Faith, who would have wished me to look well on such an occasion. Harry had built a roaring fire in the living room. Poor old Aunt Mary had furbished up what she imagined as gala dinner. I spent the evening in there until very late, not weeping, because that would have disturbed Faith. But looking over “(?)”, a college annual that she edited while she was a senior at Goucher. Then I read all the poems of Alfred Noyes that she use to read to me. Then I sat and thought just of Faith, comforting myself with every picture I could recall of her from the beginning, and all them were so sweet. Surely, Faith had faults, but I cannot recall one. And there with no references to creeds, I said my prayers just to Faith that God would keep her eyes holden lest she should see her mother, remember and be grieved. That God would keep her warm, I have such a horror of Faith being cold, and make her day one of light, and give her flowers and little good things to do, which she loved so to do. I ask nothing for myself, but to live and remember Faith.

You were good to send the things I asked of you so promptly. I hope Effie’s train will come in on time, but if it does not, Mr. Akin will not mind seeing that someone brings her out. Harvey/ Harry will call him this afternoon over the phone about the chuffer’s license.

I send you both my love. Come out as soon as you possibly can. I should be so heavenly glad to see you anytime.

 

Affectionately Yours, Corra Harris

 

March 3rd, 1921

Dear Mrs. Joy,

I found your letter here when I returned from Rockmart yesterday.

I was very much disappointed that you could not come out last weekend, so sorry you were ill. To tell the truth, if I had received your letter mentioning Mr. Akin’s birthday before I called you to know if you were coming out the next day, I would not have allowed you to come. A party always exhaust the mistress of the house and quite unconsciously I had set a date which must have been inconvenient for you to fill.

I was so glad to learn from your letter that you are well again.

I had an engagement to go see sis Hope who has not been well. I went Sunday. But did not come home until Tuesday. This was the day the income tax man was to be in Cartersville and I wanted to make as sure as possible about my taxes this time. I spent an hour at the bank after dinner, getting my checks and the record of deposits for this business. I did not get into Rockmart until noon on the train, and I was too rushed to call you. I shall have to come back later in the week, but doubt if I shall be able to spend the night. But I hope to make you a little call if I can. I miss the Akins far more than you can possibly miss me. But I hope when the roads and weather are better, we shall be able to see more of each other. I have just begun another story today. I send you all my love.

 

Affectionately, Corra Harris

 

August 26th, 1921

Grove Park Inn
Asheville, NC

Dear Mrs. Joy,

The letter you wrote me while I was in Nashville reached me the day I left for this place, having been forwarded after some delay from Nashville. Every day I thought I would write to you, but when I first came here, I was ill, simple too weak and dizzy to do anything. Then after I began to improve, I began to work. This left me so exhausted that each day I put off writing until the next.

I am really better now, but I cannot boast. The troubles return upon the slightest exertion. I did not begin to improve until I called in an Osteopath. Certain nerves leading to the brain were greatly enflamed he told me. In any case, my head is less congested and I feel better.

This is the loveliest place I ever saw, and I have been treated with so much tenderness, consideration, and fed in admiration that you may expect to see me a typical authoress, stuck up, inflated by my own impertinence, and thoroughly unbearable. The only thing that sours me at all is working seven hours a day! That keeps me reasonable depleted and humbled!

I do hope you have had a pleasant summer, and that I may see more of you when I come home. I do not know when that will be, but probably sometime soon. Tell Mr. Akin I met Judge Butler here who remembers him well and Judge Akin pleasantly. I have met so many delightful people, so of them distinguished and literally hundreds of people from Atlanta. I will (tell) you about everything when I see you.

I had a letter from Jane (?) after I came here, but I lost it, put it into the waste basket by mistake. She told me of her marriage, and I would have written to her if I had not lost her address. But tell her she will just have to marry him, because I have brought her wedding present. I hope I can accept her invitation to be at the wedding. But this is doubtful, for I have many endorsements offered to me to spend the rest of the year here. I shall go home for a while in September and then probably return here, where it is so easy to work without interruptions, where the evening can be spent so pleasantly. I send you and Mr. Akin and the children my love.

 

Affectionately, Corra Harris

 

June 9th, 1923

Dear Mrs. Joy

You will be glad to know that the serial has come through with flying colors. But we have not yet found a name for it. Mr. Larimer wired me this morning suggesting “Corra Harris” by Corra Harris. I wired back that I flinched at the presumption of such a title. I am to spend Monday night with the Larimer’s and we will there settle this question of the title.

Today I weathered (?) to send you a few French novels and a very pretty volume of “La Vie en fleur” which is supposed to be Anatole France’s own young life. The other three are novels, new ones, I do not recommend them except that one of them at least got Balzan Prize this year.

I thought you might like them to while away your time this summer. They were lent from (?) today, parcel post ensured, and I do hope they reach you before you leave for your vacation. I also hope I shall see you before you leave, but this is doubtful. Being away from home and feeling very much the need of rest and change. I am taking more time about getting back than I can really afford. I am seeing nothing much of people, but having my usual (?) at the theaters. If you come through New York, do see “So this is London”. I have just come from the two hours over the interpretation of London. “The fool” is also good, (?) very serious, and Joul Carrel is wonderful in “Romeo and Juliet”. If I do not see you before you go, be sure of my good wishes that you may have a happy summer and that little Warren will come back strong and pink. Heaven knows he has the pep of life enough. It is the keen sword of his spirit that keeps him so (?). Faith was much like him at the same age only she had her boils and risings behind her ears. Don’t worry. I have a great wish to comfort and reassure you about him. It is always in my heart to do something to for you, but not by way of return for your great consideration and help to (?) Faith’s death, but because it is so easy to love on that account.

I send my love to all of you.

 

Faithfully yours, Corra Harris

 

Jan 2nd 1924

Dear Mrs. Joy,

I was sorry to miss you when I called one day during the holidays. I wanted to tell you I appreciated the little remembrances, such a dainty Kerchief!

I spent a Christmas so quiet it was fuller than usual of memories and silence. No one here except Wallace who came out one day to take some pictures for “My Book and Heart”. After several weeks of pain and depression, I came down the last three days of the old year with one of my attacks, by yesterday however, (?) able to be in the study to begin the new year properly at work, which for me has been the one excitement against pain, grief, anxiety, and loneliness.

Mrs. Jackson of Nashville sent me a lovely guest book. I grieve that I did not have it years ago when some who are gone now might have written their names in it.

Now, however, I hope yours, like (Abou Ben Adhem?), will bad all the rest.

I wish for you and your household enough joy, all peace, and the courage of life for the coming year.

 

Faithfully yours, Corra Harris

 

Jun 24th, 1924

Dear Mrs. Joy,

I had your letter as I was coming into Atlanta Sunday morning. Thank you so much for your kind messages about my father. And please remember me gratefully to Mr. Akin for sending me brother’s phone message about him.

I found him desperately ill with hemorrhaging from the bowels. He is still only about half conscious, and we do not know if he will make it, but we notice some slight improvement today.

He is at brother’s house. I got a splendid nurse and everything possible is being done. I cannot tell how long I shall be here, but so long as he needs me. It is a comfort to feel that he is tremendously comforted to have me. I was up by 6 this morning and at my desk until 12. There I dressed, had my lunch, and went to be with papa until 10 tonight. A strenuous day this hot weather, but it frightens and touches me to see how pitifully and helpless and woefully my father is-so old, not so very sure he is not in the way. I see how it is so plainly to be old. There is no (?) room in the world for the aged or their childish (ways?) or their afflictions.

My hope now is to get out of here Friday in time to drop in on your party for a few minutes on my way home. It was so kind of you to ask me. And I do so want to come, but it will all depend of course upon papa’s condition.

I do hope you are well and happy. As I pass along, it just comforts me that somebody, anybody is a little happy, animated making their cheerful smiles and living. You deserve all of yours.

 

Affectionately yours, Corra Harris

 

Nov. 10th, 1924

Dear Mrs. Joy,

Your note asking me into tea and to meet Ms. Mary Helm’s will come to late today for me to arrange to come. I am grateful to you for think of me and I shall like to meet Mrs. Marriot, but we are planning, and I am just starting my third installment of the serial, I just finished one today of two hundred and 65 pages. So what with all this and being a little shattered by my experiences and anxieties for papa, I am not equal to the trip into town yet.

Please give my excuses and make kind allowances for me yourself.

 

Faithfully yours, Corra Harris

 

Dec 6th, 1924

Dear Mrs. Joy,

Your letter note came in the luncheon cloth. I was sorry to miss you that day,-don’t worry about Katherine. She is young and limber. This is why her muscles and (?) give so, she is growing so fast. I have no idea any serious damage is done, a torn tendon is anguish. She isn’t suffering that much. I saw Franky McCarry suffer with one without knowing what was the matter. She finally got well of the thing without ever having her ankle bandaged and it was not until long afterwards that the doctors discovered what had been the trouble.

I do hope that Mr. Akin will come through his operation alright and I feel he will. Some doctor will get my tonsils yet. I wish they had been out these 20 years. So I am glad Mr. Akin is getting his out.

I am in no very happy condition myself, or you would have had this letter sooner. I have been in bed since I was in Cartersville Monday. Sitting up in my room, but not able to get out. Trying to finish my serial, and scared to death, but I came down with some sickness before I finished.

I do hope the (bagarre- fight) proves a fortune adventure. I send you my love.

 

Faithfully yours, Corra Harris

 

Jun 11th,1925

Dear Mrs. Akin,

The lovely little cup and platter have come as a grateful change. I have fell ill again and reduced to a lignite dirt. Rather than a larger cup Betsy brings my broth into a pitcher and poor it into this little cup. Thank you for remembering me kindly.

If I had no range and no gas, I should certainly not allow a guest to invade my home, I am therefore the more grateful to you all for this pleasant day I had with you last Sunday, and should never have suspected your culinary difficulties if you had not mention them.

I am writing Mr. Holt tonight. As soon as I hear something definite from him, I will let you know.

I am bringing the girls and general Robert E. Lee in tomorrow afternoon to see peter pan, but we shall make every close connection with the picture and feeding times for the stock out here. So I am dropping you this note to thank you for everything and to assure you of my good wishes always.

 

Faithfully yours, Corra Harris

 

Dec 28th, 1925

My Dear Mrs. Joy,

How good of you to remember me with such a pretty gift! Thank you for it. I do hope you have had a happy Christmas and that the new year will bring you peace and the desire of your heart.

My own holiday was unexpectly brighten when john and Edith came late in the afternoon of Christmas eve.

So many friends have been kind to me that it would have been ungrateful to feel lonely. Though I missed Faith, her dear grace and presences as we miss a light that shine upon our path long ago.

I was so pleased to see you looking well and prettier than in years when I came home. I do hope the coming year brings you strength and happiness.

 

Faithfully yours, Corra Harris

 

Corra Harris Personal Letters, 1913 – 1925 Transcriptions – Jordan Gentry