Mysterious 1920s letters found in East Dallas house

This unopened envelope from 1927 was found in a Cameron Avenue home in East Dallas.
This unopened envelope from 1927 was found in a Cameron Avenue home in East Dallas.

Who doesn’t love a good mystery?

Lakewood Realtor Lee Lamont has stumbled into one, and is hoping that spreading the word will help find a resolution.

It all started last week when Lamont began construction on a rental property he purchased on Cameron Avenue in East Dallas. When he pulled back the carpet, he found a weathered envelope that had never been opened.

Postmarked in 1927 from Tulsa, Oklahoma, the letter was addressed in looping cursive letters to Mrs. Emma Brown Sanders of Ivanhoe, Texas, care of J.P. Windle. It was sent from John G. Sanders of Gunter, Texas, a town near the Oklahoma border, which explains the Tulsa postmark.

The letter, penned on May 27, 1927, from a husband to his wife, whom he calls Brown, details the couple’s work with their church, along with his love for his wife and new baby, John Sanwin Sanders. “Brown, please go off to yourself as soon as you can and get on your knees and pray god to forgive us all, the brethren here and you and me and those there, that we may do the Lord’s will, and that the work may be blessed,” it reads. Later it finishes with, “I love you Brown. I love you Sanwin.”

What’s odd is that the house was built in 1947, meaning the letter was held in someone’s possession, unopened, for at least two decades before making it to the Lakewood home.

“I’m not a history buff, but I’m intrigued to return this letter to the rightful owner,” Lamont says, adding that he’s hoping to find the family’s heirs. That’s when he reached out to the Advocate, and we were happy to help.

We got digging and found a John G. Sanders, born “about 1890” is listed in the 1940 Texas State Census. He was 50 at the time, while his wife, Emma Brown Sanders, was 37 (born 1903) and their son, John Sanwin Sanders, was 14 (born 1926). They lived in Fannin Texas on Lamasco Road, and John Sanders lists his occupation as minister. On Dec. 11, 1969, the Bonham Daily Favorite, a newspaper covering Fannin County, included an obituary for John. G. Sanders that read, “His wife, Mrs. Emma Sanders, preceded him in death June 6, 1969. Survivors include a son, John Sanders of Dallas.”

Lamont, meanwhile, went back to the house and kept digging. His work yielded a collection of seven more letters, all mailed between members of the Sanders family as well as a Mr. J.P. Windle, who appears to be the father of Emma Brown Sanders. The letters, which span from 1924 to 1929, are exactly what you would expect, detailing news of loved ones’ lives, discussion about their business and church activities, and loving expressions of affection.

“Honey, today is the day for you to come, do hope you will, but if you don’t come today, come when you can,” Emma Brown Sanders wrote to her “dear husband” in an April 2, 1925 letter.

Clearly, anyone would want these family treasures and Lamont is hoping to reunite these pieces of history with the rightful heirs. If you believe these letters belong to your family, contact me at echarrier@advocatemag.com.

 

Page one of the May 27, 1927 letter from John G. Sanders in Gunter, Texas, to his wife, Emma Brown Sanders, in Ivanhoe, Texas.
Page one of the May 27, 1927 letter from John G. Sanders in Gunter, Texas, to his wife, Emma Brown Sanders, in Ivanhoe, Texas.

 

Page two of the May 27, 1927 letter from John G. Sanders in Gunter, Texas, to his wife, Emma Brown Sanders, in Ivanhoe, Texas.
Page two of the May 27, 1927 letter from John G. Sanders in Gunter, Texas, to his wife, Emma Brown Sanders, in Ivanhoe, Texas.
Page three of the May 27, 1927 letter from John G. Sanders in Gunter, Texas, to his wife, Emma Brown Sanders, in Ivanhoe, Texas.
Page three of the May 27, 1927 letter from John G. Sanders in Gunter, Texas, to his wife, Emma Brown Sanders, in Ivanhoe, Texas.

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