by Brady Odom
Valentine’s Day is the one day a year completely dedicated to the expression of romantic love. A candlelit dinner, flowers and chocolate, sometimes it is as simple as cuddling on the couch to watch a movie (probably based on a Nicolas Sparks book).
Not all couples get to celebrate the day of love with one of these special dates. Long distance relationships add a whole new level of complexity to Valentine’s Day romance. Those who have to keep the romance alive from afar are dependent on pictures, videos, and especially words to express their affections to the ones they love.
In 1858, words were especially important for long distance romance. One of the most prominent figures in Texas History (who happened to be fairly prominent in Baylor’s history as well) exemplified this idea. Tucked away in the Central Libraries Special Collections is a beautiful fine press volume titled A Valentine in a Rough Winter: A Newly Discovered Letter from Sam Houston to his wife, February 14, 1858. Created by John Holmes Jenkins III, this book highlights a facsimile of a letter from Sam Houston to his wife, Margaret Lea Houston, written on Valentine’s Day 1858.
In the book, Jenkins provides the backstory of Houston’s political struggles leading up to the letter to Margaret Lea. She was pregnant with their seventh child and Houston longed to be home with her and their family in the midst of growing frustration with the political situation he found himself in at Washington. Houston shares his frustrations with Margaret Lea in the letter; as well as some general advice about how to treat a coughing fit. What stands out most about the letter, though, is Houston’s expression of love.
What captures the essence of Valentine’s Day at Baylor University better than a long distance letter from Sam Houston to his wife which reads in part:
“I look with boundless desire to be with you. My desire arises from a disposition to enjoy your society, when the evening will steal upon us and a portion of the world’s cares will be shut out...”
The Central Libraries Special Collections staff wish you a very happy Valentine’s Day. If you’d like to read more about this letter (Hughes Oversize F390 H83325x), please visit our website www.baylor.edu/lib/centrallib/index.php?id=97560 and set up an appointment.
If you are interested in a digital kind of love, check out out Megan Martinsen's blog here.
Many thanks to Brady Odom for this post. Brady is our Special Collections Assistant and Baylor graduate (BA'15)! Sic 'em!