A Sourland Mountain Love Story
In 2021, Somerset County resident Bill Miller discovered two letters in his attic. Written in 1921, the fragile documents revealed a century-old love story from the area’s past.
A Pennington man named Garland H. Fields addressed the letters to Emeline Gillette, a young lady he was courting. They described Garland’s strong feelings for Emeline, and his disappointment when his car broke down one evening when he was driving to see her. Garland hoped that Emeline would save a kiss for him when they finally saw each other again. At some point, Emeline put the letters under her floorboards for safekeeping, where Bill Miller would find them 100 years later.
Read the full transcripts of Garland's letters to Emeline below:
Above: Bill Miller (right) delivers the letters to Garland Fields Jr. (left), the letter writer's son, in February 2022.
Letter from Garland H. Fields to Emeline Gillette
Mailed March 3, 1921
My Dearest Emeline —
You can never know with what trepidation I opened that last little missive from you, or in what a rush of feeling I read those dear lines.
My joy is indescribable.
The little letter has been perused so many times that it is becoming actually worn out.
I really believe in those last few lines you wrote me, that you are [...] of me.
I am very sorry that we live so far apart, so that we can not see each other more often. But it may be for the best, if I lived any closer, you may get tired of looking at me, because I would be at your side always.
I hope I may see you soon and can explain more of this to you. I trust there will be a letter at the office for me when I mail this one, from you.
I am awaiting your Reply
I am very truly yours
Garland H. Fields
Letter from Garland H. Fields to Emeline Gillettee
Mailed June 27, 1921
My Dearest friend —
I suppose you think I have forsaken you, but I haven’t. I thought surely I would see you yesterday but it was impossible for me to get there. I was coming down Wednesday night but I broke my car, and had to leave it in Hopewell and take the trolley back to Glenmore. It is very lonesome for me here now. I thought of you every minute yesterday. I hope you will still think of me, and remember I am still a true friend to you.
I received your dear letter Thursday, was very glad to hear from you, and that you injoyed reading my letter. I’ve never wrote so much in my life to any one, before I met you, and now I just want to write all the time. I wrote a letter last thursday morning to you, but I mist the mail man, and I received yours and read it, and then I read mine I had wrote. And it didn’t sound right so I didn’t send it. I was going to write another Sunday and send it. But Willie stayed home that day, and so I didn’t get a chance. Was very sorry because I knew you was looking for an answer.
I am going to spend all my time writing to you this morning, before the mail carrier comes.
I suppose you were home yesterday and today. Did you miss me just a little bit? I know this was the bluest Sunday I have ever spent. I would of came down sunday, but I didn’t know how the trains run on Central RR sundays.
I don’t know when I will get my car, so I can’t promise when I will be down. But I suppose you will still trust me as a good friend to you even if we can’t see each other more often.
Now Emeline you must write me a long letter and tell me all the news down that way and please write more often, because I like to hear from you. And you are the only one I am receiving mail from.
I feel that you are the only friend I have in the world, and that is because I know you are a true friend.
You said in your letter to come when I could, if you didn’t give orders for me not to come at all. I hope that will never happen. But still such a thing could happen. You told me one night that you didn’t want another fellow. So I may be all right. But [...] you have never showed that you have much love for me. I know you are funny at times. But I have looked over it always, haven’t I? I love you and mean to do what’s right with you.
And trust every thing will come out all right some day. I hope you will write to me a nice long sweet letter now, I know you can, and by me not seeing you for a whole week, it will give you more time to think of me, and what a good fellow I have been.
I suppose you will go to Somerville today. When I have been down to see you, you have often told me you were tired, and I laughed at you. And now I know what it is every night. We have supper eight and nine o’clock every night, and soon as I get supper I hike to bed. I know it isn’t good for me but, I am to blue to stay up. I am alright until night comes, and then I get thinking of my dear friend at South Branch, you. I used to tease her when she wanted to knit and I didn’t want her to. And I would put the yarn in my pocket, and then she would say I just want to finish this one row out, and I would give it back to her, and she would keep right on knitting if I didn’t stop her.
And how I used to beg her for a kiss, and she making out she didn’t want to kiss me because she was tired. I often laugh to myself. What patience a mother must have with a child. I hope you will incourage by saying you have a nice warm kiss for me when you see me again.
I must close now with all my love to you, hoping to see you soon.
I am as ever
P.S. It is after ten o’clock now and I haven’t done anything yet, and Mr Lane just told me Willia were coming home at noon so now you know I’ve got to work some to show my lost time.