"NOTHING IS SETTLED EXCEPT I AM TO BE MARRIED IN A CHURCH": FASCINATING SIGNED AUTOGRAPH LETTER, CIRCA 1909, WRITTEN BY GEORGE PATTON TO HIS FATHER, DISCUSSING AN IMPROMPTU PARTY AT WEST POINT, DIFFICULTIES WITH THE CHAPLAIN, AND PLANS FOR HIS UPCOMING MARRIAGE
PATTON, George S. Autograph letter signed. [West Point, New York], circa 1909. Single sheet of paper, measuring 10 by 6-1/2 inches unfolded, pp. 3. $4200.
Wonderful signed autograph letter from George Patton to his father, updating him at events at West Point (including a rowdy but sober party), mentioning difficulties with the Chaplain at the church, and offering vague details of his planned wedding to Beatrice Ayer.
The letter, written entirely in Patton's hand at West Point circa 1909 (likely the year before Patton's wedding), reads in full: "Dear Papa: Your picture is fine. One of the best pictures I have ever seen of any one. I have just gotten back from the damndest time you ever saw. I was invited to dinner at some bachelors. When I got there two very pretty maids. I thought I had seen them before but could not be sure. Three of them waited on us at table and we tipped them coppers and had quite a lively time. Then afterwards we danced and sang and ate candy and cake. It turned out that two of them were visitors and the third was the wife of an officer. They heard that these two bachelor Sts. Cameron and —- were going to have the children as we are called to dinner so they came out and proposed this part of the entertainment. To say the least it was lively but there was no drinking. I went to church this morning but there was none. In fact the chaplain here now takes his duties rather easily. The other day a soldier died but the chaplain went to town and the officer of the day had to bury him. Nothing of interest has happened since my last letter. Beat is on a driving trip in Virginia and will be at Natural Bridge. I told her she ought to go to Lexington so perhaps she will. I guess I will live in bachelor quarters for a good while yet. At least nothing is settled except that I am to be married in a church and not at night. I even selected the church a nice small one at Pride's. Who can say? Mr Deloro is engaged. With lots of love your devoted son George S Patton Jr." (punctuation added).
This letter was written to Patton's father, with whom he frequently corresponded. George S. Patton, Sr., a graduate of VMI, was a prominent attorney as well as the first mayor of the newly incorporated city of San Marino, California. As referenced in the letter, George Patton was a devout Episcopalian and weekly churchgoer throughout his life. Fascinated by other religions (including non-Western ones) and prayerful in his personal life, Patton nevertheless had strict expectations for any service he personally attended—namely, that sermons not take more than ten minutes. Thus, his frustration with the chaplain in question may have had as much to do with time-wasting as it did with missing an opportunity for religious observance. The letter also mentions "Beat," Patton's eventual wife Beatrice Ayer, daughter of a Boston industrialist. The pair were married in 1910 in Ayer's local church, in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts, a town neighboring Prides Crossing (referred to as "Pride's" by Patton).
Very nearly fine condition.