Anna Marcet Haldeman to Jane Addams, February 1916 (fragment)


Dearest Auntie:

I have thought of you so often since I said goodbye to you last saw you and time and time again planned to write you but life has been rushing me on so fast -- I have literally scarcely had time to breathe.

You remember I told you I had a Pinkerton man down here on a forgery case. Well, when I reached home I found he had located the man who had passed both checks -- one Orville [Terwillinger], alias Harry Robinson, alias, at a farm near Cedar Point. Terwillinger had been at the farm of a Mr Carpenter for two weeks more or less, this farm being located about six miles Mr. Frost's daily report to his clue [was] as follows "From the rural [page 2] corner I learned that Mr. Carpenter and his men for several days had been engaged in baling hay at Wilsons farm about three miles south of town and came to town for dinner at the hotel. At the hotel I learned that the party were still at Wilson's farm and would be at the hotel for dinner. We then drove to Wilson's and located and arrested Terwillinger taking him to Florence where he was placed in jail. Mr Carpenter said the boy is his nephew, Mrs Carpenter and the boys mother being sisters."

For some time Terwillinger denied any knowledge of the checks or of having been in Joplin but later acknowledged having just endorsed them. He denied having written them and said they had been given to him, but he would not tell the name of the party. [page 3]

[missing page(s)] "Yes'm" he answered.

And then, all of a sudden it all seemed so terrible to me, the thought of sending that boy up to the [penitentiary], that I [illegiblejust put my began to cry. I put my head down & cried hard without saying a word and presently I felt a hand on my shoulder. Orville had gotten up & patted it awkwardly.

"Please don't cry Miss Haldeman" he said gently "I know you got to do just what you are. I know'd I was doing wrong. I took know'd I was taking a [chance]."

"But Orville," I exclaimed "for so little. If it had been for a lot of money -- but for so little. Why your first check was for only -- Were you broke?"

"No'm" he said (quite simple [page 4] now in his manner -- "I wasn't broke!"

"Were you out of work?"

"No'm -- I can [always] get work."

"Then in heavens name" I exploded -- "what possessed you -- and what possessed you to do it the second time -- [illegible] You've got a good face -- I know boys -- and I like you -- There's something in you that rings true. Tell me the whole story."

For the moment I had [illegible] won him and he said "Well, I will. I'll tell you the whole blame thing" -- & quickly & jerkily, he explained that he had gone out west last summer, & worked in the harvest fields -- had come to "see things different" -- had joined "the gospel team" and had kept [page 5] steady & then he had come back to the camps -- Ed (Ed Macormack -- his half brother whose wife Dorothy was the one who I told you we were so sure forged the checks) -- Ed got him drunk and -- "oh, Miss Halderman," he broke off "I want to tell you everything but I can't -- honest I can't."

"Orville," I said, "Is Ed mean to Dorothy?"

"Oh, God, woman" the boy exclaimed "If you only knew."

"I suppose that's why she was afraid to be honest with me," I said.

"What?" he asked his face all ↑one↓ intense question.

And I told him of her talk with me, of what a fair chance I gave her -- how she held out -- & and we paid the [page 6] amount over again to them and how she still persisted she had had nothing to do with it.

"Orville," I said, "You know that you've got to serve some time -- ↑somewhere -- but↓ [illegible] if you [illegiblewon't tell us will tell me the whole thing straight ↑& things are as I think they are↓ I will go to Judge Curran, myself, & do all in my power to get him to send you both to the reform school -- instead of sending you to the penn. which he actually will do -- if you make things hard for otherwise. Lots worse things could happen to Dorothy. You think it over -- quietly -- you've had enough for today."

And I made [illegible] George send him back to the jail. The men at the bank insisted that if he wouldn't tell us, he [page 7] be held for all four counts -- 2 of altering forged instruments and 2 ↑as party to two↓ of forgery -- (a person who passes them is also party to the act.)

That night we had our usual dance -- and I kept thinking how easily it might have have been one of my own boys. A fine [business] for me -- to be sending a boy up instead of being helping to get him off -- still -- right was right. I couldn't sleep that night, nor the next, and Sunday I went to the jail, armed with some oranges to have another talk.

Aunt Jane, I found a disgraceful condition. That jail was built years ago when this was a rural county and was intended to [accommodate] eight prisoners. Into those eight cells we crowded over thirty prisoners [page 8] a little old fashioned stove did all the heating -- and most of the men were quite evidently cold. There were no books nor magazines -- & the broken ↑[illegible↓ lights bore testimony to the men's [illegible] and reaction from the bugs -- It was terrible. I exploded & the men that were in the corridor inside -- like this [drawing] all crowded around & poured out their opinions ↑& tales↓ ↑of insufficient bed-clothes etc. I promised them I would go to the commissioners the next day & I asked them if they would like to have me come & read to them the next Sunday. They said in no unemphatic terms that they would. Then I↓ had the sheriff take Orville out from this mess -- into a [separate] room where the watchman sleeps. He sat down on the edge of the [page 9]


"But I don't," I went on, "want to see you punished more than you deserve is absolutely necessary. I don't want to see any one punished more than is necessary. And I don't want to see you punished for four [illegible] things when you are only a have only [page 10]


"But I don't," I went on, "want to see you punished more than is absolutely necessary nor for what you didn't do. You know & I know that Dorothy wrote those checks (and) [missing page(s)]