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Paul Laurence Dunbar, primary sources, Black history, Black poets, prominent Ohioans


Full text of letter:

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Glencoe, Ill July 31st 94

Mr. Paul Dunbar

Dear young friend Paul. I am at a loss to know just what to say to you first as I have done so little writing for several weeks and I have so much to say to you. A very few words will explain you the cause of my long delay in answering what proved to me. Your very valuable, interesting, and, indeed gratifying letter written to, and received gladly, by me, several weeks ago at which home I was supposed to have been dangerously afflicted having been over worked by caring for my sick sister of whom I spoke when I wrote. I continued to grow worse and remained in almost helpless condition for several weeks but though the skilful instrumentality of Dr Cook

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I gradually began to improve and am now quite myself again but not well. I have not been to Quinn Chapel [AME Church] more than six times since my return from Canada and then only on special occasions and when I did go I was told by my acquaintances that I was greatly changed. Speaking of your letter and articles on colored elocutionists, your letter, allow me to say again, was gratifying in every way for it not only expressed sincere friendship (which I appreciate very much) but it informed me that you had not eaten any rille bread or at least but little and I said to myself, well I am glad Paul has been pretty busy and concluded that that just as soon as I felt well enough I would get around in your interest and help plan for and with you by way of helping you to locate some where near us who, I believe, are to yet be influential in your future prosperity.

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As for my part dear young man allow me to say that I have the most encouraging prospects in sight and if God spares my life I will soon be able, I hope, to test the prospects. I have been besieged on the right and left, so to speak, to arrange with some of the best talent musically, that we have, Madam Sehko and husband, not excluded, and we have already appropriated considerable money in this direction and propose to show our interesting in half of the Race and in the meantime I hope and propose to make some money. I, as you know, have no excuse to offer for my failure in pushing you forwards, except that of sickness or afflictions to which we are all exposed.

Mrs. Chandler and sisters and, indeed many wealthy friends often inquire after you and are still in-

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terested and have often asked me if you were not coming to Chicago again and I felt safe in saying, Oh yes. I want you to write and tell me just how you are getting on with your payments or are you still buying. I have a particular reason for asking. Tell me why you wish to go to college and also lt me know how many books you have on hand and what are the prospects of getting them printed. The most of the books you left with me are sold or engaged and, Paul, if I continue to get strong I can sell them by the dozen. Now, I know just what I am talking about. Don’t do any more hard work but try and get strong. We are, as you see, in the beautiful Village, Glencoe, and have come to spend the rest of the summer and it is just delightful here. We are occupying our own cottage four large rooms a great part

(Page 5) of the time we occupy the front yard as at present Annie is sitting under a shady tree I am sitting in a hammock writing to you Jessie Maud is lying asleep in the hammock and perfect ______quiet prevails. What a rest. I cooked for dinner new beets, potatoes, and steak. John, My husband spends the most of his time here. And my son and his wife come out often. How I wish you and your dear mother were here accept this as an invitation, come if you can.

Now regarding the article on Colored Elocutionists. In my opinion it was fine and my friends say regarding the article or sketch of my strange career that it is as perfect as if the author had known me for years and while I thought

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I scarcely united so much kind comment yet I really feel that no one could have done as well for me as you did and taking it as writing I feel highly complimented and am extremely obliged to you for the cut and article for it is valuable to me and will be more so perhaps in the future. Miss Chandler was so proud to see my cut in the paper and so were my friends and the members of my family were very proud of it. I will say more about it when I see you. I hope to have Janine [??] Hall and other young friends out here this summer if I keep well enough. Quinn Chapel is beautifully finished it is a credit to our Race. A lovely choir and large congregation

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Dr Towsend is a ground success in Chicago. I have not seen much of him since I came home but I hope to have him and family to spend a day or two in Glencoe. I received your letter yesterday containing your cut and testimonials. Your cut it fine could not be better and the testimonials of the highest order. And now dear boy I would like just here to cite you to these particular lines of James W. Riley’s letter which remind you to always feel that for any __ good Gods is the glory. Now as I write you are present affectionate son who by allowing God your wise tender father to take the lead of your journey through

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life will ere long prove a blessing not only to the Race but to a kind mother who is so anxious to see you submit to Gods will uncomplainingly knowing that he plans for us. Oh dear young friend I am so glad that I can testify to the truthfulness of this great promise by practical experience. I do not wish to be __ but I say to you look upwards and The Lord will provide. I have not said much about or to your dear mother for as I am aware of your devotion to her I feel that I am writing to you both. My love to her I will say more to her next time. Write again soon dont even feel that you are forgotten by me. Direct to Glencoe Ill. Your true friend

Mrs J R Butler


Primary Item Type

Personal Correspondence


This item is part of the Paul Laurence Dunbar House collection at Ohio History Connection, Columbus, Ohio. The collection contains items from 219 N. Summit St., Dayton, Ohio (later 219 N. Paul Laurence Dunbar St.), the home Dunbar purchased for his mother, Matilda J. Dunbar, in 1904. Paul Laurence Dunbar lived there until his death in 1906; Matilda lived there until her death in 1934. It is now the Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site, part of the National Park Service.


Paul Laurence Dunbar, primary sources, Black history, Black poets, prominent Ohioans