The aphorism that "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is perhaps especially poignant for long-distance couples waiting and hoping for reunion. More than 100 years ago, Homer Evans and Estelle Siglin were nearly 600 miles apart, waiting and dreaming of the day they could begin a future together. Throughout their separation, they wrote to one another of their daily routines, challenges, joys, and tender fondness for one another that finally resulted in reunion, marriage, and children.
Siglin and Evans met and became engaged while living and attending school in Iowa in the early years of the 20th century. After graduation, both Estelle and Homer filed homestead claims in Washington County, Colorado, near Akron. However, since Homer had secured work with a road crew in central Iowa, and Estelle's profession as a teacher gave her more flexibility in securing a position, they arranged to hold their claims in a slightly unusual fashion: Estelle moved to Colorado to work and hold the claims, while Homer stayed behind in Iowa to work and save up for a wedding and life together.
Siglin and Evans lived apart from each other from roughly 1908 to 1911, and throughout their separation they wrote to each other regularly. History Colorado's Siglin-Evans collection includes that correspondence, as well as photographs, postcards, Estelle's school books, and other family materials that document those years.
In their letters, they routinely address each other as "dearest sweetheart" or "my dear sweetheart," and each letter closes with a profession of love and devotion:
Sweetheart, don't worry. I shall always love you and shall gladly and trustfully risk my future with you if it be God's will to grant it. Your own loving Estelle (7/19/1910)
With a love that thinks of you and grows dearer day by day, I am your sweetheart and ever shall be. Homer (7/27/1910)
In addition to these tender sentiments, their letters cover much of the normal ins and outs of daily life. Homer tells of fishing excursions with coworkers, Estelle describes visits to friends nearby, and they both give accounts of parties and get-togethers in their respective towns. They share news back and forth, everything from wedding plans to weather reports. Nearly all of Homer's letters include not-so-subtle requests for more, longer letters from Estelle, gently teasing her for keeping him waiting and hoping for mail:
I was very glad to get your letter. I had planned for you to go to Mr. Wilson's from the celebration and then you would send me a letter Tue or Wed and two or three more during the week. Do I ask too much sometimes, especially so soon after the Fourth? (7/11/1910)
During her time in Washington County, Estelle experienced some unspecified health challenges, and occasionally in her letters she frets to Homer about whether she will be a burden to him once they are married:
Now, sweetheart, if you want to know what I meant, it is this. I have not been well all summer and sometimes I fear my condition is worse than I, myself, realize. I try not to worry and do not much, but you know I am very anxious to grow stronger. Unless I do our plans shall be materially altered. I know you would take good care of me and all that, but oh sweetheart, I love you too much to burden you. You deserve something better after all these years of waiting. I am just a little blue tonight so shall not try to write more....With a heart full of love for you, I am always and only your sweetheart, Estelle (7/16/1910)
He steadfastly reassures her that all will be well and he wouldn't change their plans for the world:
Now, sweetheart, I don't want anything better than you and am earnestly trusting that you will grow stronger every day....With an abundance of true love I am your sweetheart now and forever. Homer (7/20/1910)
Estelle Siglin and Homer Evans were married in Iowa on February 7, 1911. They returned to Colorado, where they remained until the early 1930s, at which point they returned to Iowa and lived in Des Moines until Estelle's death in 1943 and Homer's death in 1944. They are buried together at Woodward Cemetery in Dallas County, Iowa.
Their letters were carefully preserved by their family, and in 2001 Homer and Estelle's daughters donated the collection to History Colorado (then the Colorado Historical Society). In addition to the touching love story these letters document, they also provide a detailed firsthand account of homesteading on the Eastern Plains in the early 20th century, making them a multifaceted asset to History Colorado's archival collections.
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