My Dear Emmet

A letter from Annie Fellows Johnston to 14-year-old Emmet O'Neal, whose parents, Lydia and J.T. O'Neal owned a summer home, Olde Pine Tower in Pewee Valley and were personally acquainted with the author. The letter was written December 27, 1901 in Walton, New York. Emmet O'Neal was a childhood friend of the real Little Colonel, Hattie Cochran; roomed at Centre College with Albert Conrad Dick; and was the best man at their 1912 wedding. He grew up to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1934-1946 and as the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines from June 20, 1947, to January 20, 1949. Letter from the private collection of his daughter, Mary O'Neal.

Walton, New York 
December 27, 1901

My dear Emmett

You cannot imagine how surprised and pleased I was to receive your lovely Christmas remembrance. It is so dainty and sweet that I am glad to welcome it for its own sake, and more than delighted at the kindly thought that prompted you to send it. Thank you many times.

It had to follow me a long way for I am in Walton, N.Y. now, with John. It is a pretty little village high up in the spurs of the Catskills. It has the reputation of being extremely cold here, and the thermometer stands below zero a great part of the time.

But it is so beautiful that one does not mind the cold. The evergreens on the mountains are covered with snow till they look as if whole groves of Christmas trees were planted there and the sleigh bells jingle by all day long with such a jolly sound that I like it immensely. You would think that this part of the world was a huge frosted cake, if you could see the way Winter has iced it this morning. I suggests Whittier's "Snow bound" at every turn.

Although there were only two of us to celebrate, we had quite a festive Christmas. I have written so many letters these last two days that I have used up my paper and begun on John's, which accounts for the gorgeous color of this epistle. I didn't want to go down town until I had all my pile of letters ready to mail. The post office is a good mile away, and I have been going several times a day.

Give my best regards to your father and mother, and accept my earnest wishes that your new year may be a happy one. It ought to count for a great deal with you, just at your age and I am sure you will accomplish much before another twelvemonth rolls round. You see you have a better start than most boys, in that your ideals are high and your foundation well laid for a successful manhood. May you be a blessing to every one whom your life touches.

Sincerely yours, 
Annie Fellows Johnston