Meeting Jefferson Davis – Old West Point

Born near the shores of Lake Ontario, in the small town of Hounsfield New York, noteworthy not only for its strategic naval position of Sackett’s Harbor in the War of 1812; it’s also the birthplace of Frances Roe’s patriotism. And what she called “Americanism.” It ran deep in her blood. For Roe, the fourth of July flag-waving, apple pie eating, Star Spangled Banner singing, and sleeve…

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Every Woman’s Little Book

Frances M. A. Roe’s childfree life on the frontier is a topic which remains profoundly silent in her letters unlike women diarists of her time.  We know about Hal, her beloved greyhound- his coat is brindled, dark brown and black, and fine as the softest satin, he’s swift, loving, and smart too. There’s Billie the pet squirrel, and the many…

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The Eden of the West

The Western frontier was the new Eden of the West for men and women escaping the civilized East. Just like the first settlers who ventured onto the shores of North America fleeing persecution in Europe, so too were the new settlers leaving behind the suffocating limitations of city life. Horace Greeley’s 1865 editorial encouraged the public and recent Civil War veterans to head West and…

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To tell the Truth; Research woes or is that Roes? Will the real Fayette W. Roe please stand up

Armed with my 2007 reprint of Army Letters from an Officer’s Wife 1871-1888, I began my quest in search of the elusive one-time author Frances M.A. Roe. I soon realized the reprint wasn’t an exact copy but an edited version of the rare 1909 edition. It excluded the dedication- “To My Comrade, FAYE”, 25 illustrations and Frances M.A. Roe’s famous frontispiece.  The rare photograph of…

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The Open Question Once More

The compelling undertow of Roe’s narrative is the unasked question, is she or is she not a feminist? Until now, the question hadn’t been asked nor contemplated by contemporary scholars even though newspapers and magazines were openly debating women’s rights at the time of Army Letters from an Officer’s Wife, 1871-1888 release.  Readers and writers fervently joined the discussion in The…

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To keep our faces toward Change

Determined to experience an extraordinary life, Frances Mack married her fellow comrade and adventurer Fayette W. Roe on August 19, 1871. The young and dashing second lieutenant had graduated from West Point in June 1871, and ordered to begin his army service at Fort Lyon, Colorado Territory.  Fayette was the only child of Rear Admiral Francis Asbury Roe and Eliza…

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Destiny is not a matter of Chance

Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, It is a thing to be achieved. William Jennings Bryan Frances Mack Roe’s resolute determination to live on the Army posts of the Western frontier was a matter of choice in a calculated decision to live an uncommon…

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A Life that had passed…

In October of 1909, at the age of sixty-five, Frances M. A. Roe’s Army letters from an Officer’s Wife is published by D. Appleton and Company. She prefaces the book with a short introduction- “Perhaps it is not necessary to say that the events mentioned in the letters are not imaginary-perhaps the letters tell that!  They are truthful accounts of…

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Dear Family,

 Army Letters from an Officer’s Wife, 1871 – 1888 simply states this a book of letters. Yet, I’ve wondered, is it really a compilation of letters or not? In the late 19th and early 20th century, many military wives published their personal journals with book entries similarly formatted like Army Letters… Today I came across very interesting news about Army Letters that gives credence to the background of  Frances…

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Life is either a daring Adventure or nothing

         Let Us Have Faith Security is mostly a superstition.  It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits…

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