E. L. Beckwith to Grace Abbott, June 21, 1931

This letter was written to the U.S. Children’s Bureau. Bureau officials responded by enlisting a Boston investigator to gather whatever information existed about the man’s adoption. Further details can be found in Elizabeth A. Lee to Katharine F. Lenroot, August 6, 1931.

My dear Miss Abbott:—

I can not remember just what year I was born but I am told two dates one is the 15th of June 1899 and the other is the 8th 1894 but I think I can remember far back enough to feel that it must have been 1894. A Mr. and Mrs. Fred L. Beckwith, of Boston, Mass. was all the Mother and Father I knew of untill I returned from France where I won the HONORS of an American soldier.

I have never been told anything only that they were my Father and Mother. He left us in about April 1902 when my baby sister was three or four months old. then she, Mother, was very mean to me. She beat me, made me steal and never allowed me to go to school. I have had only three months school in all my life. At the age of about 13 she swore that I was older and put me in a factory to work then I went into Cramps Ship Building Works in Philadelphia, Pa., where we then lived and worked until about 18 years of age. then would have to work all week and then come home on Saturday at noon and wash and then spend my Sunday at the Iron ironing the wash for the week, and clean up the house. I dare not go out not even to Church. I can truthfully say that my Mother never Kissed me or put her arms about my neck as I have seen other boys Mothers do. She has blacked my eyes and beat me until I did not know anything and then put me in a dark room. she passed out about ten years ago I burried her and now I still say that up to that time she never kissed me or loved me a time in my life.

Now, Miss Abbott, I am human and maybe to much that way for I am still at 36 longing for MY REAL MOTHER TO JUST ONE TIME PUT HER ARMS ABOUT MY NECK AND KISS ME. She is still living and Mr. Beckwith in Boston, the man that made me think he was my Father will not tell me who or where SHE IS. NOW I ASK YOU WHAT HAVE I DID AS A CHILD TO BRING this on myself. I had nothing to do with my coming into the world but yet afor 36 long years I have lived all ALONE without a MOTHERS LOVE FOR HER SON, and GOD KNOWS I LOVE HER WHOEVER SHE AND WHATEVER SHE MAY CHANCE TO BE. SHE BROUGHT ME INTO THIS WORLD and I am an Ex-Salvation Army Officer and a male Nurse and I have been called out at nights to bring babies into the world and I think I know just a little bit of what a woman goes through to bring a son or daughter into the world.

Can you not see Miss Abbott, I am not trying to be unkind to you but GOD KNOWS MY HEART IN BEING EAT OUT WITH LONESOMENESS FOR A MOTHER LOVE. . . .

E. L. Beckwith, Capt.



Source: E. L. Beckwith to Grace Abbott, June 21, 1931, United States Children's Bureau Papers, Box 406, Folder 7332, National Archives II.

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