11-14 August 1918 Words from a Worried Mother




Many thanks to Coralee for providing me with artifacts throughout the years and especially for the stack of WWI-era letters that were delivered to me on 31 May 2019. They have provided countless hours of family history entertainment.

– Denise

While Floyd was in the middle of the Atlantic on his way to the war, his mother Gertrude was at home trying not to worry and trying to carry on with normal farm life. She really didn’t know his whereabouts, but guessed correctly that he was “on the deep blue.” Gertrude expressed her feelings and provided some news from home. It took her days to finish the letter, but eventually she got it in the mail.

Gertrude Phillips letter to Floyd, 11 August 1918.

Sun. 3. P.M. Aug. 11 – 1918

My Dear Floyd,

We are rather saddened here, my dear, feeling you must surely be on the deep blue as we have not heard from you since a week ago last Friday and, lad, we are beginning to realize our feelings are much different than when we were sure of you in U.S.A.

Where O where art thou dear? I think of you the last at nite and the first at morn. Rose stayed with Albert till last Tues nite making her a stay of 11 days. She was here Wed. eve a few minutes and I brot her home with me Fri. noon & she stayed till after dark. We are expecting her now any minute as she said she’d come between 3 and 4, and would bring a letter that Albert had sent us.

Gertrude Phillips letter to Floyd, 11 August 1918.

Rose and Albert were sweethearts. Like his younger brother Floyd, 28-year old Albert was in the army. He’d been assigned to a different company and it seems that his girl, Rose, had been to visit him in Kansas City.

During her visit she remarkt Albert wanted her to wear the dress she made for Lilly’s wedding when she brot his letter. She talkt about him lots in her nice way. Altogether it is very significant and father & I are anxiously and expectantly awaiting her. When she left here she turned to father & askt him direct if he was going to be home Sun. P.M. as she wanted to come and would bring a letter from A.

Albert’s average for 5 or 6 exams is 99. I think he has been enrolled as an expert mechanic and he has signed for light chauffeur work. Thinks possibly he may not reach front ranks. His school closes next Tues. and he has heard they move either to California or Texas, and also the boys might get a 10 days furlough before going across. Rose is certainly proud of her lad and is genuinely faithful to him. Says he is very popular among the people who entertain the boys in Kansas City.

I had a very urgent letter from Roy and Freda to come this summer but think it best to stay home as father wishes to stay but as short a time as possible and too there are other reasons.

Gertrude’s oldest son, Roy, was 29-years old and already married to Frieda by this time. They’d married back on 6 March 1911, had two kids already, and were living in Canada managing the Phillips farm there. Youngest son, 20-year old Charles, must have been in Canada too, planning to enlist in the Army the following spring.

Roy wrote he knew the big draw card would be that Chas. couldn’t leave there before Dec. & he was determined to enlist in the spring and I’d want to be with him. That is very true but I’ll make up to him when he does come home. I’ve been feeling rather poorly the last two weeks, have back set considerably. So that contents me much more.

I told A. if he wisht to write you a letter for us to mail to send it & wid do so thinking perhaps that way you might get it. You could do the same.

Albert and Floyd must have been very much on Gertrude’s mind. The lack of timely communication was probably frustrating for her.

Gertrude Phillips letter to Floyd, 11 August 1918.

That sweet package I was to send you was to be a lb. of comb honey & some biscuits, but couldn’t find a tin box for it, so I’ll feed it to you when you return from across. We have had a long spell of hot dry weather. All small ___ are losing most of their leaves and others are turning yellow. Arthur and Florence drove to Electric Park to day. Father and Arthur are planning to go to Canada very soon. I’ll keep my maid. Guy called up Gunsel Fri. who said he talkt with Northam a few days previous & N. said 4 of 5 thousand and Gunsel told him no.

Gertrude’s fourth son, 24-year old Arthur, was home in Illinois, courting his future wife, Florence. Gertrude referred to him as “A” a lot in this correspondence.

Am in hopes to hear more in a few days. Last Mon. the road was re-established part on Rush & part on us thence in 10 da. Labor adjustment – can be made and father wishes to wait for that. R. & E. are very bitter to us. Will hardly speak. Arthur went down for our book case Sat. & she wouldn’t let him have it.

Gertrude Phillips letter to Floyd, 11 August 1918.

Whoa! Family drama? Why was Guy’s 68-year old maternal Aunt Eliza and her husband, Uncle Rush bitter towards Guy and Gertrude? And was Guy’s sister-in-law Lillian Nelk Phillips helping or hurting by passing on the gossip? The rift isn’t explained but maybe was associated somehow with the road discussion. The conflict was causing a stir at the Phillips house.

Said she was tired and didn’t wish the confusion. We were all stirred up over it. A. told her we expected company Sun. but she told him she didn’t think the company would care if it wasn’t here.

She has been heard over the phone by Aunt Lil to talk to several terribly about father & me. She told Mrs. Wilsey Guy didn’t use to be so bad, he got his trickery and crookedness from that woman he lives with, she is so sly. I have felt crusht. Talk has been circulated for months I guess, last winter even that father and I didn’t get along. I guess it may have arisen from my being unable to go much of the time. I have my suspicions who some of the circulators are beside Aunt. E.

Gertrude Phillips letter to Floyd, 11 August 1918.

It is now Tues. P.M., still so dry and hot tho quite a stirring breeze to-day. I’ve been so very busy since Sun. Rose came staying till 9:30 & Father & I walkt with her far as Uncle Chas. You are expecting to now know results? Eh lad? All I better say I this letter is everything is yet very significant. We surely do love her. She is so wholesome and she surely talks much about her soldier.

Maybe Gertrude’s words were hinting that Albert and Rose got engaged? Gertrude and Guy seem to have embraced having Rose in their lives. “Uncle Chas.” was Guy’s brother, Charles Floyd Phillips who lived down the road.

Wed. P.M. 8. O’c’

Well, Floyd, I still am delinquent am I not? As time wears on am certain you are on the vast ocean. What are you looking at now I wonder? This 14th of Aug. I got a card from Albert to-day, stating he left Kansas City yesterday for San Antonio, Texas. We are so sorry as there was talk the boys might go there or Cal. & we were in hopes it was Cal. as its so very hot now in Texas. Father & A. are playing croquet. First game in weeks. At 6 they went for the bookcase & again she wouldn’t let them have it owing to flies. She called now for them to come.

Harry Keck’s house burned to the ground last nite from an oil stove.  Rose & I drove to town this P.M. We had a big rain last nite so to-nite it is quite cool. Had a card from Chas. Mon. written Sat. saying would cut oats Mon. or Tues. & wheat last of this week, no rust yet in sight. Father went to see about the road, yesterday – askt $1000 but came down to $750, goes again Friday

Gertrude Phillips letter to Floyd, 11 August 1918.

We three are invited to Hadley’s for Sat. supper & evening to visit with Chicago people.

We have our electric plant working with bulbs – expect fixtures any day. It is great to press a button and get light any time any where.

How we hunger for you boys return. Said last nite when they are all in Can. and there is a bumper crop one winter they must all be here & we’ll enjoy each other to the full.

Thurs. Morn – got home the bookcase. The punch bowl is in its place on buffet & looks fine. The marble pitcher on the other side. Am intending to try to find some drinking vessels of the same kind of ware. Sprinkling this morning. A. went at down with 60 doz. ears sweet corn to market.

Must close with worlds of love. Take good care of thyself.



Letter from Cousin Donald

Who is Who?

Guy and Gertrude Phillips Family

Floyd was the middle of the five sons of Gertrude Lovin Boyce and Guy Allison Phillips.

Family group sheet, Guy Allison Phillips and Gertrude Lovin Boyce.

Aunt Eliza and Uncle Rush

R & E were Uncle Rush and Aunt Eliza, Alfred Rush Vaughn and Eliza Hannah Brace. Eliza was a sister of Guy’s mom, Amelia A. Brace Phillips. This made Eliza Guy’s aunt and Floyd’s great-aunt.

Relationship chart, Floyd Boyce Phillips to Eliza Hannah Brace.

Aunt Lil

Aunt Lil was Lillian Emma Nelk, the wife of Guy’s brother Harold Everett Phillips.

Relationship chart, Floyd Boyce Phillips to Lillian Emma Nelk Phillips.

Uncle Chas.

Uncle Chas. was Charles Floyd Phillips, a younger brother of Guy.

Relationship chart, Floyd Boyce Phillips to Charles Floyd Phillips.


Floyd Boyce Phillips, “Journal” (Army, 1918-1919).” privately held by Denise Krueger, Rochester, MN, 2019.

“Mother” [Gertrude Lovin (Boyce) Phillips] (Illinois) to “Pvt. Floyd Boyce Phillips,”, letter, 11 August 1918; privately held by Denise Krueger, Rochester, MN, 2019.

The Phillips Family

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