*Post written by Brady Bolinger, student assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.
I take the pleasure of writing you a few times, though I fear the liberty I have taken will not meet with your approbation, if not, I hope you will be kind enough to inform me of the fact. I think we are sufficiently acquainted with each other to consider ourselves friends at least, and as such it would be a great pleasure to me to correspond with you for I delight to correspond with those I love and respect. But if you think to grant this request would be doing injustice to your feelings, and would afford no pleasure for you, please forgive me for asking.
Miss Mary, should you grant this request it will be a source of engagement to me. Since our first acquaintance, I have constantly longed for. Though should the decision of your better judgement forbid your granting it, it will be my place to peaceably submit when informed of the fact which I hope you will do at the first opportunity.
Please write soon, so that I may not be kept in suspense. Will you do me the kind favor of keeping this a secret? Please excuse all imperfections.
Family photograph of the Peckinpaugh family: Henry, Mollie, Harry, and Flora Peckinpaugh, n.d. Source: University Archives and Special Collections (MSS 062-009)
Amongst my generation, a common sentiment looms over long-distance relationships. Even with the access to instant communication, most think that distance between partners is inevitably going to bring the relationship to a grinding halt. However, a collection of letters between a Miss Mary “Mollie” Emmick and Mr. Henry Peckinpaugh, found in the University of Southern Indiana Archives and Special Collections, follows the journey of a friendship separated by the American Civil War and fueled by desire.
Henry Peckinpaugh is an Indiana University Law graduate who spent most of his life in Albany, IN. In the early years of the American Civil War, Henry joined the Union, traveling all across the southern United States defending his country’s honor. Miss Emmick was a young woman that Henry knew prior to the war who he asked to be his personal correspondent.
Henry, in his first letter to Mollie, pleads to her asking that she would be willing to write letters back and forth. Throughout their time of correspondence, their relationship was not an easy one. One letter in particular from the collection reads that Henry had not heard from Mollie in quite some time, while he had written several times, which caused him to lose patience with her.
You can probably think of a time or two where this has happened to you and that is because communication is still a major factor in every relationship. It is this reason that I find this collection so inspiring. Despite being separated by huge distances, and an extremely small line of communication, Henry and Mollie were dedicated to each other, and were able to surpass their issues by focusing on what it would mean to finally close the distance that separated them for so long.