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These documents, which cover the years 1883-1884 and 1893-1898, consist primarily of letters from Theodore Westwood Miller (1875-1898), to his older sister, Mina Miller Edison. There are also letters addressed to his parents, Lewis and Mary Valinda Miller, and his sisters, Mary and Grace Miller. Most of the letters were written during the period 1893-1896 when Theodore and John were attending Yale University. Included are frequent references to visits and proposed visits with Mina at Glenmont, Yale, and elsewhere, as well as frequent references to Edith Edison (Thomas's first cousin and Mina's close friend) and to Mina's two young children Madeleine and Charles (whom Theodore calls the "kidlets"). Among the friends and classmates mentioned in the letters are Edward H. (Eddie) Brewer, who had attended St. Paul's School with Theodore and John; future architect Francke Huntington Bosworth; future banker Thatcher M. Brown; future flour manufacturer Franklin Muzzy Crosby; Llewellyn Park resident and Edison neighbor Graham Douglass; future oil magnate and philanthropist Edward Stephen (Ed) Harkness; and Herman Davis (Herm) Kountze and Luther Lathain (Lew) Kountze, sons of the founders of the Kountze Bros. banking firm.
Included in the letters from 1894 are references to a planned (and frequently postponed) visit by Mina Edison to her husband's mine in Ogden, New Jersey; the unsuccessful attempts by
Theodore and John to join the Yale Glee Club; a "coaching party" that they organized for the Yale-Princeton football game at which Mina served as chaperone; the brothers' interest in Mable and Edith Burke, the daughters of wealthy West Orange liquor dealer John Burke; and a chance encounter on the train with their brother Eddie, who would later serve with Theodore in the Rough Riders. Included in the letters from 1895 are references to Thomas Edison's peephole kinetoscope; Theodore's participation on the Yale crew team; the brothers' involvement in Promenade Week (a major social event attracting hundreds of visitors); the celebration of Theodore's twentieth birthday; and the marriage of Anna Gould, youngest daughter of financier Jay Gould, to the Count de Castellane.
The two letters from 1898 were written after Theodore's enlistment in the Rough Riders at the onset of the Spanish-American War. A letter from June 9 describes the crowded, dirty, and uncomfortable conditions aboard the USS Yucatan, which was anchored at Tampa Bay awaiting assignment. "The ship is absolutely jambed," he writes his father, "and we have to sleep any place we can find room right up against a cowboy nigger or any one that happens by." Theodore, who enlisted as a private, asks Lewis to use his influence with President McKinley to secure him a commission as an officer. "Roosevelt is a great friend of Mac., so would do anything that he thought would please the President." The second letter, addressed to his family, was written from Cuba on June 23one week before Theodore was mortally wounded during the assault on San Juan Hill. He describes the plan to capture Santiago by destroying its water supply, mentions his pride in being a Rough Rider, and expresses his hope that "I am not doing too selfish a thing by going off and am not causing you too much worry." The letter concludes with the assurance that he has "never felt better physically and mentally in my life."
Additional correspondence relating to Theodore's service in the Rough Riders, his death, the return of his body to the United States, and his funeral can be found in Miller, Theodore W. -- Death and Funeral. Courtesy of the Chautauqua Institution Archives, Oliver Archives Center