The following short letter appeared in the Milford Chronicle in the February 7, 1908 issue, during the period that David A. Conner was visiting his boyhood home in Frederica, Kent County. The writer – “G. W. A.” – is George W. Atkins, who Conner befriended years earlier, and who had been Conner’s substitute on more than one occasion when the latter was unable to write the weekly letter from Milton. When George’s daughter Mary E. M. Atkins died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1905, Conner wrote a moving eulogy for her which was published in the Milton News letter.
George W. Atkins confirms what was apparent but unstated by Conner himself: the correspondent was well liked by the people of Milton, and was not an armchair correspondent. He went out in the field — the Milton Times office, the post office, Welch’s drug store, and Wilson’s store–to gather the news and collect the many stories of Miltonians that he wrote about. The many anecdotes Conner wrote about his morning walks also left an impression on George and the other readers of the Milton News letter.
A Voice From Milton
How we miss our beloved correspondent, “D. A. C.” while he is making his annual visit to his early home at Frederica. The word has passed through the town of Milton that David will not return until March; and, several have voiced the thought, “how we miss Dave Conner.” He is missed at his old haunts: the Times office, at Wilson’s store, and the post office, and Welch’s drug store, where we daily rubbed up against him in argument of discussion of the happenings of the day; but we especially miss his newsy letters from the Chronicle from Milton. The loss of Talmage[i] was enough but the loss of D. A. C. from the weekly pages of the paper is the last straw, and we hope that his visit will be cut shorter than at March 1st. Come home D. A. C., Milton needs you. There is the stories of your walks too and from the camp meeting woods, and your recanters of historical events, the telling of which we sadly miss. I saw what you said about G. W. A., and old “Mack,” the big snow, etc. No Dave, I know better than to go to Frederica in January with you. You seem to just breed snow storms at Frederica in January, and this season proves it too. I can in imagination see you at Frederica just after your arrival, and with a group of old friends around as you say: “My friends, four and forty years ago in these very narrow and muddy streets a scene comes before me. I look and see myself as a Frederica boy, going up and down among you, peddling whortleberries. A full-fledged boy without a care or purpose in life; but look at me now after these many years flow—long tedious years of toil and besetments. I return to my boyhood home and fine I am the same D. A. C.—only that I have grown older, wiser, and better.” Yes, Dave, we miss you here in Milton for your personality as well as for your weekly letters, and hope to have you with us soon again.
G. W. A.
[i] Reverend Dr. Thomas De Witt Talmage (January 7, 1832 – April 12, 1902) was a preacher, clergyman and divine in the United States who held pastorates in the Reformed Church in America and Presbyterian Church. He was one of the most prominent religious leaders in the United States during the mid- to late-19th century, equaled as a pulpit orator perhaps only by Henry Ward Beecher. Each week he was said to have preached to audiences of 8,000 people, and for many years his sermons were published regularly in more than 3,000 journals, among them the Milford Chronicle, through which he was said to reach 25,000,000 readers. Source: Wikipedia