Postmark JUL 20, 1907 (“Friday Evening, July 19, ’07”)

you are the only specimen in Nature’s Nursery

Oh my Darling, if I could only put my arms around you now, it might result disastrously for you. I came home tired all out or rather all tired out (in love so much I can’t talk straight) it was nearly 8 o’clock. It was so warm that the perspiration was running from my face and hands, but I dragged myself in, straight to the mantlepiece where all of your letters wait for me. It was dark and I fumbled around quite a while (there was no time you know to light a lamp) without finding it, but I could not give it up. I was tired dearie, and as I couldn’t have those dear arms, those dear fingers, or that dear lap to sooth me, I must have that letter to sooth me. I believe I should have hunted all night if I couldn’t find it before. You will probably say “well why didn’t that poor darling of mine ask where the letter was?” Well — your poor darling never asks or says a word to anyone about these letters. The first thing he does upon returning home is to go directly and get that precious letter, without taking off his hat or coat or even saying hullo to the others. Isn’t he strange. If it were not for those letters — ##@@**!!! I love you dear!!!

Merrymeeting Lake looking East, New Durham, N.H.

You took particular pains too get that letter here to-night didn’t you dear? Writing before you left for Merry Meeting Lake to go all day fishing.

You must have known, or something a mysterious something, told you that I would need a letter to-night. It cheered me so much, and rested me so much that I couldn’t wait until to-morrow morning to write, I had to sit right down and write now to-night. You are my dear, precious loving, sweet, thoughtful “water-lily” of the rarest and most beautiful type. You are the only specimen in Nature’s Nursery. Some flowers are beautiful, some flowers can think, some flowers can love, some can love and be loved, but not of them can be beautiful and can think, and can love, and be loved all at once but just you my own dear you. Oh darling if I could only put my tired head in your arms!! I want you, I love you I love you Oh I want and love you.

Flora Mason JonesChestersMotherPhoto
Chester’s mother, Nora Mason Jones

Mother just came in and said to me “you don’t have much to say to folks nowadays do you” and she said last night after she had asked me one million 4 hundred and 38 questions that it was a hard days work to get me to say anything. You see dearie sweetheart that it sort of locks my tongue when your gone — gone away off. I love you, dear. Come back, I can’t help but say “come back” all though I know you cannot come. I want you, love! I read your letter before supper and also while I was eating it. I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you, “a pair of soft arms at the journey’s end,” “a precious darling letter at the journey’s end” nowadays, a bright and cheerful fireplace at the journey’s end, a dear, sweet, pure, true darling Mabel at the journey’s end, and a dear sweet pure, true darling Mabel at the journey’s beginning, and all through the journey. I love you I love you, I love you. Put your arms around my head it is hurting. Make allowances for your crazy sweetheart lover for writing such letters, but he knows no better and cannot help it.

Love to you all from all of us. My love to you dear. I love you dear.


I love you dear.


(Love from me all to you all)

Anyway love, Chester


Postmark JUL 22, 1907 (“6:30 o’clock A.M.”)

dearie you see how wild I’m getting in this letter —

Precious Darling,

It is 6:30 o’clock A.M. Saturday — before breakfast of course — and it is a glorious morning. Ma just said to tell you that Mrs. Cummings sent her two beautiful bouquets of sweet peas, and that my Aunt Nora Mason — do you remember her? — (the one you liked so well when we all came up to your house and played bean bag and I chose you first on my side?) — has a little baby boy. It is certainly a great event.

Aunt Nora’s “little baby boy” Lawrence Edmund Mason

Your two letters came last night as I knew they would, and I thrilled and thrilled all over as I read them, — did you hear and feel my heart beating?

Word came from the tunnel the other day that there was a chance for me to work for two months, — one of the men was away on account of sickness and I could take his place. I didn’t dare to take it for only 2 months for fear of not having any job at all at the end of that time, and my vacation would be lost also. The engineer didn’t expect me to take it as I already had steady work but let me know of it as I was on the list. He said he would still keep me in mind. Mr. W. knows nothing about it and I shan’t tell him until I get ready to go. Neither have I said anything about vacation, but I am coming to Alton anyway — if I lose the job. Dearie, I have not made as many mistakes since I’ve been in the business as I have since you’ve been away. It is making me just about crazy — no joking. The mistakes do not count in my favor and it is useless to have much of a talk which such mistakes are going on. Oh dearie, dearie, come back come back now, come back for my sake — I feel so badly I don’t know anything — I love you dear. I am so crazy that I do things which work against me. If I could only put my head in your arms or your lap — nothing else will sooth me. I want nothing but you. — dearie you see how wild I’m getting in this letter, — don’t notice it, it is only a little spell — it comes when I get to thinking, or writing to you. I am not absolutely crazy yet so don’t be frightened, — I don’t want these letters to make you feel badly or to worry you. But I certainly feel terribly bad. It is a shame that you feel no better than you do — wait until I come. I love you dear I love you dear I love you dear I love you dear I want you to be my wife, dear. My “waterlily.” Some day all of these dreams will come true.

Before forgetting, Lloyd was more than delighted with the postal you sent and says “thank you.” Dearie will you please send me that letter (“hideous letter” as you called it) that you wrote and decided not to send? I want it and will not be satisfied until I see it. Please send it dearie, will you I want it. Oh I love you I am crazy foolish, brainless, I want you I want you I love you — come back to me and you shall never never never never never leave me again. Love to all — I love you dear, my “waterlily.”


Chester’s Aunt, Nora Mason

p.s. Perhaps I shall go down to see the Hatches, but I don’t know whether to hurt myself or not. I know they will see a change and tell all about it. I cannot hide my feelings at all. Oh I love you dear I want you, my “waterlily” my “waterlily.”

Postmark JUL 23, 1907 (“Tuesday, A.M.”)

I am a King in the Kingdom of Love

My Dear Precious Darling Sweetheart,

Why can’t I have you now now now, dearie I don’t know what to say, think or do, except to hold my arms out to you and say “come back to me dear,” you will never leave me again. No dearie I am not particular at all what kind of a room or place I have when there in Alton, — as long as I get there, where you are, it makes no difference where it is that my quarters are — in the barn, shed or no house at all. I want to be where you are, dear, and I’m coming. I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you dear. I want you to be my own dear precious wife.

Did you say darling that no one on earth was capable of loving the way I do? Oh dearie, dearie you will never leave me again — I will not let you. Well — I know one — just one — that is capable of loving as much as I — she is one that does not fall in love with everyone, her love is just as strong just as deep, just as true, just as pure and just as everlasting as the strongest, deepest, truest, purest and most everlasting. I am a King in the Kingdom of Love, my power is your Love, my glory is your Love, my strength is your Love, my love my fame my fortune — is your Love. What King is more powerful or more splendid, than the King whose dominions are your Love? whose entire possessions are your Love, the richest and grandest and most beautiful.

I glory in your love dear as you glory in mine. I love you I love you my own dear precious love. Yes I do want you to be my wife. Oh darling it is nearly time for my car now and I haven’t eaten my breakfast yet, but this letter must and will be written, breakfast or no breakfast, car or no car. I love you I love you I love you I love you.

Keith’s Theatre in Providence, R.I.

Elmer and I went to Keith’s last night, the play was very good but I want you I want you I want you I want to come and see those beautiful mountains, hills, rivers and lakes. berries and flowers, and enjoy them with you with you. I could enjoy anything with you and nothing without you. Your plans are all right, of course, how could they be anything but right. I want you, I love you. Will you be my wife dear? I want you to. I like to have you say you will be my wife as much as you like me to say I want you to be. Say it just as often dearie, I want you I want you I want you I want you I want you I want you I want you to be my wife.

I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you dear.


p.s. Love to all and to you dear.

p.p.s. I can’t bear to send a letter with any empty space in it. I want to fill it with love love love love love love love for you dear.

Postmark JUL 24, 1907 (“Wed A.M. July 24, ’07.”)

your picture nearly got broken I crushed it so desperately in the act of kissing it

My Darling Sweetheart, my own Precious Darling, Oh dearie, dearie, dearie dearie dearie dearie dearie dearie, if I could only put my head in your arms, if I could only put my head in your lap, Dearie, dearie, dearie. I want to cry dearie, I want to cry but cannot, my heart is too full. If I could only feel the touch of your dear fingers, if I could only feel those dear lips, if I could only hear your voice saying and look into those eyes, if I could only put my head in your arms, it would start the tears, and I could cry in your arms dear, cry in your arms dear and let out all my pent up feelings, I am bursting. I want you I want you I want you I want you I want you I want you I want you! Oh, I love you dear, my dearie. You will never leave me again darling. Yes dear, your picture nearly got broken I crushed it so desperately this morning in the act of kissing it, it is unsafe for me to handle it, — the letters have their share of kisses also.

Mabel graduated from Hillsdale College in Michigan, 1903

I went up to Mr. Cummings last night, to get those Hillsdale papers, but there was no one at home. The hammock was in the piazza dear, and I could not help but go and sit down in it. It made me feel terribly, — come back dear come back come back come back — it seemed as if all my strength went straight out of me (and I have lots of strength) it felt strange to be left so weak. I didn’t want to sit down in the first place but I couldn’t help it. Oh dearie I want you I love you!!!!! 

I sat there for several minutes, then stretched myself out in it — imagining or trying to imagine that I was waiting for you to come out, — I kept imagining that I heard the screen door creak and your step on the piazza floor as you finaly came out to sit with me in the hammock. It nearly made me crazy. Then I got up and walked around the house — all quiet and still and terrible — and came back to sit down once more in the hammock — to wait for you dear. (David was nowhere in sight.) When I come, I want to be with you steadily, night and day. I want you to get strong dearie, I want you to always be strong. I want you to be my wife dear. Couldn’t you send a letter, a long, (-and yet short-) one like the one you wrote Sunday every day? I could keep turning over new sheets forever of the letters you write. No, certainly not, there were never two people that loved each other more or half as much as we, they may have thought so. Dearie you are every bit just as much of a wonderful a woman as you say I am for a man. I would not be so desperately in love with you if you were not. That is a sure proof. I love you dear, I want you dear, I want you to be my wife, dear.

It is only a short time to wait, but it seems long, and I don’t know how I will get along. I am not getting along at all. I love you dear, my “waterlily.”

Love to all, I love you dear.


p.s. Ah for those arms, those fingers, those eyes, those lips, that lap. You will have your hands full when I get there. I love you my darling!!!

Postmark JUL 25, 1907 (“Wed.”)

I will say it 114 times if necessary

I haven’t eaten my breakfast yet or even washed my face and hands + it is about time for my car now, but I love you and this letter must be written.

Precious Love, Darling Sweetheart, My {priceless wonderful} treasure.

Do you imagine dearie, that it did me any good last night to come home and find two letters waiting for me, and they were both from sweetheart — you!! Oh those letters — darling were ever letters like our (your and mine dearie) written before? Such love letters. No one else could write such letters as you, letters that will make one’s heart nearly jump from its place, or make it feel as tho’ it had stopped altogether, and or make it have both feelings at once? No! No! Such deep love. The effect of those letters is not so perceptible at first, but it gradually grows, and deepens, and takes hold with tremendous  force and finally I am overcome with such a terrible longing and yearning for you dear that !!!!###***??? That is the kind of love that you and I want, and must have, isn’t it, my precious darling? — a love that takes hold not to let go, one that does not come one moment and leave the next, a love that always grows and ever deepens, becomes stronger a boundless, unending, everlasting and tremendously powerful love. Love like ours.

Get strong as quick as you can won’t you dear. If I were only there, I would be strong for you. I am coming dearie before long, I am coming. Will you please forgive me dearie, but I entirely forgot about that music, my state of mind was such, last Sunday, that it didn’t remember anything but Mabel, Mabel, Mabel, Mabel. I will think of it next Sunday.

Tell your mother if it will help her any by my saying that I am sorry she is sick, that I will say it 114 times if necessary. Mother says she will go and see Mr. Cummings this week and sends her love to you all. Oh there isn’t room or I can’t stop to tell “news,” it makes me get nervous and impatient, I must say I love you and talk about love, all about it. Try and not get tired of it dearie, but I am so full of love that it must come out, love for you my very extremely valuable (priceless) treasure. Come right back darling, I can’t wait. You went fishing alone and I was working away in the office. That is preposterous whatever that is. I want you, I need you, I love love love love (let me put my arms around you and kiss you kiss you, kiss you) love love love love love love you dear.  It is one continuous train of love, around and around and around.


p.s. My aunt Emma came last night and I went to a stock-holder meeting with her, but you you you were not there. She returns home this morning. I want you. I want you.

As a voice major, Mabel performed “These are they” at Hillsdale College

Postmark JUL 26, 1907 (“Wed. Eve.”)

you wouldn’t have been safe in my arms dear

My precious darling, my “Waterlily.”

Old Home Week 1907

Why dearie are you not here nowOld Home Week and all these festivities. I am not enjoying it at all, it makes me crazy.

It is all mockery to me and when I come dearie I hope your folks won’t ask me much about what was going on here for I cannot tell them. — I cannot get interested, enthused or anything. I do nothing but long for you dear. It is a mighty hard job to “brace up” without you being here — right here to help me. I love you dear!!

You were desperate weren’t you when you wrote Sunday’s letter and it made me desperate more than ever.

“What Cheer”

I don’t know what to do. I have been thinking some of taking Civil Service examinations. If it is pleasant Sunday I think I shall take a walk on Smith’s Hill and see what kind of places there are. Oh dearie, why can’t you come to, I could see twice as much and even then be looking at you all the time. I love you dear I love you dear I love you dear I love you dear. I want you my dear to get so that you can go through “the last” without depending entirely upon me — not that you cannot depend upon me dearie — My God No!! — I will stand by you dear through it all, I will not leave you an instant, I will hold you up, I will cheer you, I will carry you through safely and yes — I will make you. But I want you to feel that way, feel as though it were impossible to fail. I will carry you through dear — you cannot help yourself. When we first talked of having our “wedding” in August, mother said she didn’t want it in August — she doesn’t like that month, any month but that — is her verdict. However you set any day dearie that you want. We will never know how we can get along until we try, and we know that we cannot get along this way much longer. With your teaching and my salary we may get along at light housekeeping. I am willing to try and so are you, — my own precious darling. Oh I want to see you, hold you look at you, talk it all over with you — I can talk so much better. Dearie, for Heavens sakes what did you think of such a stern letter as I wrote yesterday? Or didn’t you call it stern. I guess you will think I am the inconsistent one, the “fickle” one. No dearie, I try to be a wise judge, and make no mistakes especially where you are concerned my “waterlily.” The effort to keep myself calm, steady and in check while I wrote that letter nearly put me out of my head, I wanted to yell, I wanted you. You wouldn’t have been safe in my arms dear. Oh my God my God my God I love you dear.  My “waterlily.”


p.s. I cannot bear to think of leading you into any hardships dearie, but we must do something. Light housekeeping is the only way out. I love you. I want you to be my wife. I shall never want anyone else to be my wife. Yes dear I must have you. We will make the try at light housekeeping anything to be together — “a pair of soft arms at the journey’s end” — it is too much for me. Yes dear set the day set the day. Oh I love you I love you I must have you.

Munsey’s Magazine Volume XXXV, April to September, 1906

Postmark JUL 27, 1907 (“Saturday A.M.”)

(changed pens)


It is after 7 o’clock and I’ve had no breakfast — just got up, but I must say something to you before eating or before going to work you dearie come first every time. I love you!!!! I dreamt last night that I was getting ready to go to Alton. Is there any train that gets there earlier or later than 7? I would like to get there as early as possible — you know. Dearie my head is aching badly this morning and I want you I want you, I want you, I want you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you!! The weather is terribly hot here. We have our house nearly all painted and the shingles stained. Elmer is doing it. Oh darling, precious I love you I love you I love you I love you (changed pens) I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you. Put your arms around my neck! kiss me! Let me put my arms around you dear, let me kiss you. I love you dear I love you dear. Rub my head with those dear fingers. I love you dear.


Chester mentions his brother Elmer in a few letters. Here’s Elmer, age unknown.

Postmark AUG 12, 1907 (“Mond. A.M. before breakfast, 1907.”)

— the music is the atmosphere in which my love moves

My Darling darling darling darling dearie,

There is but very little time for me to write this morning, as it is 7 o’clock now. but will say all I can. We (the Hopedale folks) all went to the band concert yesterday P.M. + evening. and it was fine. They had a tenor soloist from New York, that sang splendidly. I would give a great deal if I had such a voice. He sang “Dreaming.” — he was dreaming of his sweetheart and dearie it made me dream — of you you. It was a beautiful piece. And then Bowen R. Church played a solo — “Nearer My God to Thee,” with the prettiest accompaniment nearly, that I ever heard. It made me catch and hold my breath, and it seemed to me that I must have you.


It always makes me want to have you in my arms, it always inspires the deepest and strongest feelings. It seemed as if I would break, I did not feel as tho’ I were actually on the band stand listening to beautiful music but as tho’ I were somewhere, I do not know where, it could not be described, but somewhere where everything was perfect, splendid, glorious, where love, deep pure and strong, was the only sentiment. Oh dearie dearie dearie dearie dearie, I love you I love you, it is you it is you you you that makes me feel like this, — the music is the atmosphere in which my love moves, it arouses my feelings, it inspires me, but at the bottom, it is all my love for you dearie, — my “waterlily” — that carries me off “somewhere” where everything is perfect. I love you dear I love you I love you.

Yes dearie, I will be there Thursday noon time, rain or shine. Now a few questions. Do I buy round trip tickets from Providence — or from Boston. if I buy round trip tickets do I say anything about the special rates to Alton Bay? I see by the time table you sent that I was confused in the order of stations. I tho’t Loon Cove came after Alton, but it is all straight now. You will have to find out whether the train stops at the Cove also won’t you? I want to be sure + get off where you are waiting…

Well dearie there isn’t time to write more, I love you and will be kissing you 4 days from now. I love you. My “waterlily.”


This would have been Chester’s train station in Providence, R.I.

Epilogue OCT 16, 1907

On October 16, 1907, nine weeks after the last posted letter and ten days before his 23rd birthday, Chester Daniel Jones took Mabel Claire Ledlie to be his lawfully wedded wife. They were married 59 years.

Chester’s letters span one chapter of their courtship in 1907, in which a family vacation separated the young lovers. Mabel’s replies are lost to history.

The photos and visuals in this blog were researched 111 years later.

Chester and Mabel had one child, Ledlie Prescott Jones, born August 16, 1911 in Suffern, New York. Ledlie never married. His World War II enlistment card indicates he was single with no children and had completed two years of high school; occupation: photographer. He died December 14, 1999 in Brunswick, Maine.

Chester was born October 26, 1884 in Hopedale, Massachusetts, the oldest of four boys. His parents were Walter Bailey Jones and Flora Ethel (Mason) Jones; brothers Lloyd, Bertram and Elmer.

Mabel’s information is scarce, and less certain. She was born March 13 or 28, 1882 in Illinois. Her parents were James Russell Ledlie and Caroline (Johnson) Ledlie, and she had an older sister, Mary Gertrude.

Mabel died in 1966; she was 84 years old. Chester died five years later, at the age of 86. Chester, Mabel and Ledlie are buried at Riverside Cemetery in Yarmouth, Maine.

Chester Daniel Jones age 9
Chester, age 9
Chester’s WWI draft card has him living in Kings County, New York with blue eyes, light brown hair, medium height and medium build. Occupation: mechanical design engineer, Western Electric Co.
Mason family photo circa 1900. Chester stands fifth from the right.


Many thanks to Jim for inspiration, encouragement, and a very good eye; to Debbie for keen editorial advice; to Charlie for expert technical assistance, and to Susan and Eva, flea market companions beyond compare. 

Special thanks to Kim, Chester’s cousin twice removed, for family photos and insights. And to Linda Borg at The Providence Journal:

Chester’s letters will be donated to the

Cranston Historical Society