L-F Ltr 31 JAN 1873

Lexington January 31st


You will allow me the privilege of age my dear Gertrude thus to address you & tell you that I was very much pleased to receive your letter & am sorry that the cause that elicited it should have annoyed you in any way. I am much accustomed to receive petitions for autographs & always willing to gratify them when I think they proceed from respect for the originals those of Genl Washington are now very scarce as a large trunk of his letters & papers buried here during the late war were most of them entirely destroyed The few that were saved I put away carefully for my children indeed my father left them by will to my eldest son Custis. And I should not have been able to accede to Mr. Laroni = s (?) request. Had not I met with this one among some other papers that I was examining - I was very glad to be (Page 2) able to gratify him as he seemed so earnest in the matter & he will be able to repay the obligation if he considers it such by writing with you or any other friends who may be interested in the South in aiding me in the efforts I have been making for several years past to raise funds to build a Church in memory of Genl Lee, our congregation here is so poor & weak & so far all our efforts only succeeded in raising 13 thousand dols, with that we pulled down the old building & commenced a new one of grey stone which abounds in this county & is very beautiful, but have got only the basement story up & that part cost 9 thousand of our funds so that we feel anxious & uneasy about the next summers work & have even thought of sending circulars through the country for 1 dollar subscriptions but that is at best very slow & uncertain so I thought in writing to some of our friends I would mention (Page 3) our great need help & even a small sum from many of them would aid us materially. A Memorial church for Genl Lee should not be left unfinished for want of a few thousand dollars. If you are willing to represent the matter among your friends I shall be so much indebted to you & any sum you may collect you can send in a cheque to me payable to my order any known Bank in New York can be cashed here - Since last summer when I saw you, our society commencing with my collections at the Springs from the kindness of so many there made nearly a thousand dollars, & I have been working very hard all the winter. It has been terribly severe, & I have so far kept at home by snow & ice but as soon as the navigation is open I shall go down & make a visit to my son who lives below Richmond My daughter Agnes has been near (Page 4) there for some time helping her youngest brother Robert who lost his sweet young wife last Autumn arrange his house which was built for her, Mildred = s foot is much better tho she still limps a little & preferred remaining at home until she gets quite well. She sends her love to you all & says she hopes you have not forgotten Mrs Haxall & that the little girls must learn some new songs to sing for her. I hope to get to the Hot next summer & shall be so glad to meet you all there. We have been muched cheered lately with the hope of having a R Road(?) to this place commenced as soon as the season opens then you can all come here & see the new church which can soon be completed if we have the requisite funds. You will think I fear I am taking a great liberty in asking this of a young girl a comparative stranger, but if the task is not agreeable to you must not hesitate to decline (Page 5) I enclose a few lines to Mr Laroni which you can deliver or not as you judge best Your mother could advise you in the matter & remember I do not expect a great --?-- but as the A Lands form the Mountains A Moments make the years. @ So we hope more from the number of our contributions than the size of each - I forgot to mention that our Washingtons were destroyed by the damp during the long time they were under ground I almost wept as I had to commit to the names papers that had been cherished for nearly a century, those that remained were defaced & stained. I have written you a long letter & inquire by you if you & your mother think it best you should not comply with my wishes

I shall be perfectly content for I know by experience how unpleasant it is to ask for money even for so holy a purpose. Our loves to your Mother & kisses to the children

Faithfully yrs Mary Custis Lee

Envelope addressed to:

Miss Gertrude Deutsch

No 139 W. 44 Street

New York City