Helen Woodrow Bones to Jessie Woodrow Wilson Sayre




Helen Bones tells Jessie Wilson Sayre of her travels to Rome, Georgia for her father’s funeral and her time at Ellen Axson Wilson’s grave.


Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University




Darling Jessirite

This is the first minute I have had in which to write, except for the time I took to scribble your father and Edith each a note, since I saw you—a week ago last Saturday. I have been on the go pretty steadily ever since I left Philadelphia and when I have not been going I have been with people who had to be talked to. Everybody has been so sweet and lovely to me that I can't get over the wonder of it—what have I ever done to deserve such dear and wonderful friends!When I reached Edgefield Sunday noon I found everything had been thought of and attended to by my cousins there. I've never known such thoughtfulness and consideration—outside of those households, where it's a constant marvel to me. Both of my Nicholson cousins—both men, I mean—wanted to go to Rome with me—and I had a hard time persuading one of them to stay at home. My favorite cousin went with me. We had the funeral service at dear old Cedar Grove Sunday afternoon and then, at seven, started for Rome We reached there about noon on Monday and took Father straight to the cemetery. A crowd of his old friends was waiting at the station, and there again everybody was wonderful. I tell you, those Southern friends have mighty big, warm hearts!Our lot in the cemetery is only two lots away from yours and I sat beside your mother's grave while Father's grave was being filled. Hoover had sent, among other flowers, a quantity of those exquisite yellow roses that grow in the White House greenhouses and I put those on your mother's grave. The lot is very beautiful, shaded by the splendid tree on it, and Cousin Ellen's grave is kept covered with some sort of flowers, by her friends in Rome. The Terhunes told me that a day never passes without visitors going to it—often strangers from out of town. Mrs. Terhune says your mother's memory is revered by the people of the South, and that people all over that section, strangers and all, seem to feel her grave belongs to them. The day after Father's funeral, when I went to our lot, two strange men were sitting on the bench in your lot, and after theyI had gone and I had picked over the flowers on her grave, a man and a woman came up and they were still sitting there when Miss Susie and I left the cemetery.
The Rome people all asked about this family and especially about you, in whom they feel a special interest because of your visit there to their city.
I spent all of Tuesday there and a friend took me motoring. The country all about is too lovely for words just now—the woods a mass of dogwood and wild honeysuckle and wild crabapple blossoms, and the ground covered with big deep-blue violets! The town itself has changed a lot in the twenty years that have passed since I was last there. It was very interesting to look up the places I remembered, or thought I did. Some of them were scarcely recognizable among the new ones.
I left Wednesday morning and spent Wednesday afternoon in Atlanta with some cousins, then that night went down to Augusta. The train reached the city in the middle of the night, but I didn't have to get out of the sleeper till seven. I got my breakfast and then went out to “The Hill,” to see some more cousins. At one o'clock I went out to Edgefield, where I stayed until Sunday, yesterday, afternoon.
Nothing could have been more peaceful than the two days at Cedar Grove. It's the old house in which my great-grandfather Bones lived, on part of what was his plantation. The little lady who is the head of the family there, Mrs. Nicholson, is the last of my father's generation among the cousins, and she is one of the sweetest little old ladies I have ever known. She has taken care of Father for several years now and she has been heavenly kind to him; and he and she have had some beautiful days together, talking over old times. She will miss him sadly, and I imagine it wont be long before she follows him. They have been close friends since their childhood.
I got back to Washington this morning and among other letters found the enclosed from Nell. Please don't forget to return it, as I want to keep it.Ellen is well and I'm delighted to find she still knows me. She has a new trick—crinkling up her nose and making the most comical face.Your father seems well too. With loads of love to the Sayre family,

Your devoted,

Original Format






Bones, Helen Woodrow, “Helen Woodrow Bones to Jessie Woodrow Wilson Sayre,” 1916 April 24, WWP17533, Jessie Wilson Sayre Correspondence, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.