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Helen C. (Ella) Early to her brother Edward James Early & sister Margaret Mary C. Early, Missouri 1918

...here were eighteen of us received the habit and of course you know that Ella is now Sr. Mary James. Helen (Ella) Early. 1918


St. Joseph's Academy St. Louis, Mo.
May 17, 1918

My own dear Brother & Sis, -

Your letter and the baby's picture were here when I came off retreat, and to be sure I enjoyed hearing from you, as for that baby I could just hug him. Is he truly as big as he looks on his picture? Well I do wish you and Jesse were here to see the reception. The archbishop gave the sermon as for the priests, I never saw so many in any church. There were eighteen of us received the habit and of course you know that Ella is now Sr. Mary James although she also asked for John Ed. after her father and Brother, but when she got her mothers, sisters, brothers, uncles, etc. name instead of Sr. Cunazerndo, Nebuchbadanzer or Polycamp (How is the spelling?) she was quite grateful. As for these 18, you would not know to look at them which was the happiest but of course some of them get lonesome for their brothers but there is nothing else in all this world wanting. Isn't that grand! Mrs. Ford called up Arlene P. (Ella'a sister-in-law) She told her she heard from Jim since he was in France, that he was well and that he thought they would have to drill six mo. more in France. I was glad to hear that he was saved that long from the firing line. She also said Will (Ella's brother who was a physician)was getting lonely after his operation.

Mayme (Ella's sister Margaret) wrote and said she was coming here before she would go to France but she waited to find out when she had to go, and when word came she only had 24 hrs to leave in, so the last I heard of her she was in N.Y. I was wishing she would come across you. Ed, how do you like your work? Was it as good as you expected? I know we all expected quite a bit, but it is a great blessing just to remain in America. (Ella's brother Ed was subsequently sent to France during World War I and his pistol discharged in its holster while he was on horseback, the bullet penetrated his shin causing him to be returned to the states.) Remember me to Josephine M. If Jesse saw my sewing I think she would say I am improving although I might be the only one who thinks so. The yard is certainly a beautiful place to do it, everything so green, Oh no, not the person who does the sewing in it.

Well Ed, I must bring this most extraordinarily intelligent epistle [last three words underlined] to a close, hoping it will find you and your little family well and happy. Much, much love. (Ella) Str. M. James



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Notes: Submitter: John Early Andrews E- mail: jandrewsfam@juno.com

Notes: This is a letter from Helen C. "Ella" Early, born October 13, 1896 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, to her brother Edward James Early and her sister Margaret Mary C. Early. She was the youngest child whose mother died either at the time of her birth or shortly thereafter.

She became a nun of the St. Joseph Order at about the time her sister, Margaret Early left for China as a nurse and later spent several years in a Japanese prison camp in China. Her grandnephews, Bill and John Andrews, met her while they were studying at St. Louis University and while she was at St. Joseph's Convent in Bridgeton, Missouri.

Bill and John visited her as often as possible while they were in undergraduate school and found her to be a very happy, outgoing and humerous person. They had her over to their apartment for Chinese food the night before she died in February of 1970. It was snowy and the roads were icy on the way home. She became very melancholy and started talking about her father and childhood. She said that she was always afraid of men. Her father had placed her in an orphanage as an infant after her mother died. She said that her father would come to visit her, but that she was afraid of him as she was of all men.

Sister Mary James went to bed after Bill and John had returned her to the convent and was taken by ambulance shortly after midnight to St. Joseph Hospital in Bridgton.

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