Dear Grandmothers Lydia and Molly,
Today is the 150th anniversary of Theodore William Clarke's death. I imagine it was several weeks before your received the letters from John Gillespie, written from the "Headquarter 1st Nebraska, Van Buren, Mo." informing you or your son's and brother's passing.
I'm sure you would be pleased to know that the letters Theodore "Trit" wrote home to you both have been carefully preserved by your descendants. I received them about twenty-five years ago from my grandfather, Charles Newton Cone. The letters were carefully tied with faded blue ribbon, some still in their envelopes. They are a lasting testament to how much Trit meant to you both.
The date of the last letter (I have) that Trit wrote to you was December 8th, 1862 from the
"Camp of 1st Neb, Patterson, Mo." He is writing a quick note before going to bed after a busy day because "We are to march in the morning for the land of Dixie." He goes on to explain his duties which have him delivering orders from Brigade Headquarters to the various regiments. He does not know their destination but imagines that it will be Little Rock, Arkansas. He seemed full of confidence that the Union forces would continue to beat the rebels.
Though I only know Trit from his letters, I feel as if I can somewhat appreciate your loss. Each time I read the forty+ letters that I have, I am impressed by his tender concern for his little sister Molly and his Mother. I want you to know that I have been searching for more information about him. Unfortunately, over the years, there have been some mistakes made in official records. Some list him as William Theodore Clarke and others as Theodore William Clark. It is also somewhat complicated by another William Clark in the Regiment.
The letters written you by Capt. Thomas Majors and Sgt. John Gillespie are addressed from Van Buren, Missouri. I have visited Van Buren, looking for Theodore's final resting place. I was not successful, but hope to continue the search later this year.
There are so many questions I know you could answer for me about why Theodore left Michigan, the circumstances and dates of his birth. I can only estimate from census records that he was born about 1838. I want you to know that I will be dedicating some time and effort during this 150th anniversary year of his death to find some more information about Trit and his life. If I can not located his grave, I think I will have his name added to or a headstone erected in White Lake, Michigan with his grandparents. I hope you will approve.
P. S. I should add my relationship to Trit so today's family can relate....
Cecily, daughter of Charles Newton Cone, Jr., son of Charles Newton Cone, son of Frederick and Helen Brown Newton Cone, daughter of Charles Shepard Newton and his wife Mary Elizabeth Clarke, daughter of Lydia Hornell Clarke, mother of Theodore William Clarke.