"Thou Art My Last Love": The Courtship and
Remarriage of a Rural Texas Couple in 1892
MARILYN FERRIS MOTZ*
Dear Miss I hope you will pardon me for the liberty I have taken in writing
you this short letter I thought that I would have an opertunity of meeting you
again before leaving Shepherd and haveing a talk with you. The subject of
which I wish to talk to you about is a very serious one and one that is to be well
considdered and that the subject of matrimony ...
WITH THESE WORDS DAVID FAIN SUGGESTED TO JESSIE BLEDSOE,
a woman he barely knew, that they consider marrying one
The courtship letters of Jessie Bledsoe and David Fain express the
expectations and reservations a mature woman and man held as they
considered entering into their second and third marriages, respec-
tively, in 1892. Jessie was an itinerant dressmaker who lived temporar-
ily with her clients while she sewed and fitted their clothes, returning to
her parents' home between jobs. David was a farmer and part owner of
a cotton gin. Their letters reveal the pragmatic approach with which
the forty-four-year-old widower, left with eight children as well as a sis-
ter and a father to support, sought a wife, and the mixed emotions with
which the twenty-seven-year-old Jessie, either widowed or divorced
from her first husband, viewed the prospects of this second marriage.
Historians in recent years have devoted considerable attention to the
American family, and one new book, Ellen Rothman's Hands and Hearts,
*Marilyn Ferris Motz is an associate professor in the Department of Popular Culture
at Bowling Green State University. She is author of several books and articles on nineteenth-
century American women's letters, diaries, and material culture, including True Sisterhood:
Michigan Women and Their Kin, 1820- 1920 (1983), and is coeditor of Making the American Home -
Mzddle-Class Women and Domestic Material Culture, 1840-1940 (1988). She is currently preparing
a manuscript on the diaries of a husband and wife who lived in Missouri during the guerrilla
fighting in 1862.
'David Fain to Jessie Bledsoe, Aug. 28, 1892. All quotations from the correspondence retain
the original spelling, punctuation, and syntax. The full text of the letters appears in this issue
of the Quarterly.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/. Accessed July 12, 2014.