Before reading this article, I believe you would do well to read my first article on The Love Song of Mr. Thomas. It contains a lot of information that I do not intend to repeat.

This message is to let interested parties know that all letters Mr. Thomas wrote to his future wife, Kate Sutton, from June 1867 until their marriage in March 1869 are now in the possession of the State Historical Society of Missouri . Known as SHSMO, the society’s office is on the UMSL campus in the Thomas Jefferson Library, adjacent to the Mercantile Library.

What I hadn’t seen in my first message was the box the Thomases had used to store those letters. This is where they stayed for about 150 years. And what a box it is!

It is a large wooden cigar box. I’m guessing it’s Thomas’ mark but we have no way of knowing. As hard as it is for me to believe now, I myself have smoked cigars. Some of the boxes my cigars came in are still in the basement full of orphaned and useless hardware. But these are cheap cardboard boxes compared to William Lyman’s luxury wooden one.

I guess my cigars were pretty cheap too compared to his. Friends used to joke that if I were to roll one out, I could read the newspaper it was made from. I never tried. Arrested in 1980.

If you didn’t have time to take a look at my previous post, here’s what the collection of letters looks like. On the bottom row are the letters from 1867. The middle row has the letters from 1868 and the top row has the letters from 1869, the shorter because they were married in March.

This is the top of the box lid with Thomas’ handwritten note. You may be able to read it as well as I do, which isn’t very much. I can make out the date, December 1917, the year his wife Kate died. Thomas died in 1918.

The inside of the box lid.

This all-wooden box is at least twice the size of a regular cigar box.

The front of the box.

One of the ends.

There’s still a lot more to the Emma Beauvais Thomas Grumley collection that we haven’t seen. I will come back to this next post.

It is once again thanks to the generosity of Chrissie Hayes McConnell, a direct descendant of the Sutton/Thomas/Grumley families, that we can enjoy these historical gems.

Lately I remember a quote from Paul Newman. He said something like “there is absolutely nothing that gets better with age”. It works just as well if you put ac in front of that last word.

Stay warm. Wear your masks.

Doug Houser February 6, 2022


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