John Oscar and Susan Cornelia Jones Gougé Papers

Stewart Bell Jr. Archives Room
Handley Regional Library / Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society

John Oscar and Susan Cornelia Jones Gougé Papers, 1074 THL

SCOPE AND CONTENT: This collection consists largely of both manuscript and typescript correspondence between John Oscar Gougé and Susan Cornelia Gougé, née Jones. There are also letters from Susan’s mother, Gladys Moon Jones, copies of V-Mail, a few photographs, and news articles.
(5 boxes) Last updated 08/12.

BIOGRAPHICAL/HISTORICAL: John Gougé was born June 6, 1921 to John Oscar and Lucille Florence Schutt Gougé Miller. Susan (sometimes called Cornelia, Connie, or Sue) Jones was born April 18, 1924 to Harry Le Roy and Gladys Moon Jones. The couple met while they were at school at Gordon Junior High School and Western High School. During World War II, John served in the 11th Parachute Maintenance Company, and though he was mainly stationed domestically, such as in Fort Polk, Louisiana, and Los Angeles, he was also stationed in Japan at the end of the war. As they corresponded, Susan became very religious started going to college in the hopes of eventually becoming a missionary. She first attended the American University in Washington, D.C., and later restarted school at Louisiana College in Pineville, LA, and transferred to George Washington University in 1945. She received a degree in biology in 1948. John and Susan married in July 1943, despite many cautions against it by Susan’s parents. After the war, Susan, a professionally trained harpist, performed with the National Capital Harp Ensemble for a time. Later, in 1984, Susan received a degree in public health from the College of Norwich, after which she and John moved to Clayton House in the Shenandoah Valley. John died on March 13, 2003, and Susan on November 30, 2005. They are buried in Quantico National Cemetery in Prince William County, Virginia due to John’s affiliation with the TEC 5 U.S. Army.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Store’s Shiny Gold Harp Captured Woman’s Heart: County Woman Recalls Performing Days," The Winchester Star, October 22, 2003; "John O. Gougé," The Winchester Star, March 18, 2003; Ancestry.com – Social Security Death Index

CITE AS: John and Susan Gouge Collection #36, Stewart Bell Jr. Archives, Handley Regional Library, Winchester, VA, USA.

BOX 1 – Letters: January 1, 1939 - December 30, 1943 (includes but not limited to the following)

1939 (7 items)

1940 (3 items)

1941 (8 items)

September 25, 1941 – Of note is a letter written in broken English by a Bulgarian soldier, Ilcho Iliev, to Susan Jones. They have apparently corresponded before, and he is asking her to vouch for him as he applies to immigrate to the United States. As he gives some personal information for her to pass on to assure he isn’t dangerous, he wants to make it very clear that he is "Arier," not Jewish, because he has heard about "some limitation for Hebrew’s entrance in U.S.A."

1942 (15 items)

1943 January – July (33 items)

May 11, 1943 – A letter written entirely in French from a French soldier, Vigato Santo, who is serving in the "colonial artillery." He wishes to be pen friends with her, and claims he had gotten her address from a friend of hers that he was stationed with. He also expresses strong dislike of France’s "hereditary" enemies, the Germans. (Includes a rough translation into English)

July 27, 1943 – A letter from John to Susan, including two North Carolina health examination forms for marriage license applicants. John is making the arrangements for a military wedding where he is stationed at Camp Mackall, which includes talking to the chaplain. He has set the date for August 7.

July 28, 1943 – A letter from Susan’s mother, Gladys Moon Jones. Gladys is trying very hard to get her daughter to leave her school in Louisiana and, more importantly, break off her engagement with John. She is convinced that Susan still has feelings for an old friend (possibly an ex), Ted, and thinks that she’s only with John in a misguided effort to make Ted jealous and come running back to her. She also believes that it is not fair for John to ask Susan to marry him during the war ("No soldier who has any sense will ask a girl to marry him"), since there is always the chance of him not coming back mentally stable, if he comes back at all. While Gladys does like John, she does not think he is quite mature enough yet to be jumping into marriage. She even cites a young woman she works with, who had eloped with a soldier two years before and had become a nervous wreck. Gladys informs Susan that she will be writing to John to caution him against marriage as well, though she wishes to word that letter more mildly than she had with this one.

1943 August – December (45 items)

August 1, 1943 – A letter from Gladys Moon Jones to John. Gladys confesses to John her reservations about the upcoming marriage, saying that "it seems to have all the risks of a hysterical war marriage," and that while she knows that he is devoted to Susan, she worries that, based on Susan’s "record of impulsiveness" she might not feel so strongly about John. She also warns that Susan’s father has been very ill due to the stresses of his job with the Attorney General, and this sudden marriage might make things worse. Gladys also expresses concern over Susan’s hurry and her unwillingness to talk her decision over with her friends, thinking it may indicate a fear of risking her decision, as well as some ulterior motives. She adds, "I honestly would oppose her marriage with any other man at this time even more that I am opposing her marriage to you." She reassures that her doubts are all for the sake of his and Susan’s mutual happiness, and asks one final time to postpone the wedding, at least until a time when Susan’s father could attend.

August 4, 1943 – A letter from Gladys Moon Jones to Susan and John. After complaining of the censors for telegrams, who made her cut phrases such as "love and best wishes," Gladys tells the couple that she has managed to prepare Susan’s father for the news of the upcoming wedding as best as she could. She hopes that her doubts will prove to be mistaken, and promises that she will not express any more doubts or "worried bits of advice" from then on.

BOX 2 – Letters from January 1 – December 30, 1944

1944 – January (16 items)

January 27, 1944 – letter from Susan to John. Susan has just enrolled in Louisiana College, for a semester fee of $215.48. She emphasizes that this is a Christian school (no dances, drinking, smoking, or gambling), and the local town of Alexandria is off-limits to students who live on campus.

January 28, 1944 – letter from John to Susan. John is not at all pleased about Susan starting college. For all that he has said that she could go if she wanted to, apparently he never thought she actually would. He had thought she was – and wanted her to be – the kind of wife that would follow him from post to post. His syntax indicates a very strong sense of betrayal from her decision.

1944 – February (50 items)

1944 – March (15 items)

March 7, 1944 – letter from Susan to John. After wishing him a happy 7-month anniversary, Susan tells John that she has been getting very high grades in her pre-med courses. Apparently, she had been doing so well that the Dean of Women had talked to her and told her that, if it keeps up for another couple of years, Susan would be recommended for a $1000 scholarship to Tulane University medical school.

March 8, 1944 – letter from Susan to John. Susan went to a lecture from a female chemist from the State Board of Health. The chemist spoke of some of the cases she had seen across Louisiana. In one particular instance, a family is trying to live on the husband’s "dollar-a-day," forcing the mother to feed their six children with a can of condensed milk and a little oatmeal and sugar-water every day, resulting in rickets. The chemist also brought up the point of how "our well-fed Army men" will react when they have to come home to see their families in such states as these. Susan closes the letter with news of a few cases of measles on campus, and her worry of catching them.

1944 – April-May (20 items)

April 14, 1944 – letter from Gladys to Susan. In the bulk of the letter, Gladys is applauding the fact that Susan is learning to put others’ happiness (namely John’s) before her own. However, she also cautions that she should not give in to everything all the time. "Women have to look far ahead, and keep a line between appeasing husbands and not spoiling them. Give in a lot and once in a while, after having given in a lot, stand up for your own rights."

May 3, 1944 – letter from Susan to John. John has been shipped off to the Pacific, and though he is still writing to her, his exact location remains secret. Susan commented that "they’re not doing the dumb stunt they did in the last war." Apparently in World War I, while the soldiers were instructed not to tell their families where they were, the postmark was still very clear. John’s letters aren’t postmarked at all; instead, they have the censor’s stamp. Susan also tells John that she is starting work in the Pineville charity hospital after school, and also adds "No, I still don’t know about our child. But I’ll let you know by the end of next week."

1944 – June (9 items)

June 4, 1944 – letter from Susan to John. Susan talks about her work in the hospital, and also mentions a promise from Gladys to leave them and their baby alone. Apparently, she had already started speaking with a Catholic priest about schools and "asylums" where they could take care of it while John’s away and Susan’s at college. However, there is a postscript dated June 6 that adds, "I guess I’ll send this on to you anyway, in spite of what happened to our baby. I love you, Johnny. Don’t cry honey – please."

June 10, 1944 – letter from Susan to John. Susan had gone to the doctor, and it was confirmed that they are not expecting a baby after three months of waiting. "This disappointment seems worse than all the others put together." She does want to try again, though.

June 27, 1944 – letter from Susan to John. Susan talks briefly of her shift at the hospital. "Tonight we had an emergency accident case in the hospital involving a Negro and I mentioned ‘the colored lady’ who brought the patient in. The heard nurse of surgery told me never to say ‘colored lady’ to her but to call them ‘Negro woman’ or ‘colored woman.’ Race prejudice – and we hope for world peace! What would Jesus do and say? Gosh! I want to fight for those people. Think of all the Paul Robesons and George Washington Carvers we are squelching down ‘in their place’!"

1944 – July (10 items)

July 9, 1944 – letter from Susan to John. Through her studies, Susan has become very interested in cancer and brain surgery. Cancer makes her particularly curious – she asks John if he thinks that there is a germ that may cause cancer, or if it may be something in the blood stream or nervous system, or anything else that makes the cellular arrangement go wrong. She also hypothesizes that it may just be something very simple that has not been seen or discovered yet. Susan also does not seem to think very much of non-Christian beliefs, such as Confucius and Buddha’s teachings ("Being good won’t save us if we are not followers of Him").

July 10, 1944 – letter from Susan to John. John had finally received the letter explaining that she wasn’t pregnant after all. Evidently, he had asked why she told him they were expecting before she was sure, for she explained that the doctor initially told her she could be sure, and had even computed the date and filled out the Army hospitalization papers. It wasn’t until "Nature came around" unexpectedly that she even suspected she may not be pregnant. John had also asked her if she had anything "done to [herself]"; she denied it vehemently.

1944 – September-December (20 items)

Labor Day, 1944 – letter from Gladys to Susan. Gladys talks of the local gossip, including how Ted (Susan’s old flame) ran off to marry an Irish waitress. His family has disinherited him because, among other reasons, she is Catholic. They are trying hard to stop the wedding. Gladys is predicting that the war will be over by the 15th of that September, based on the fact that Hitler has not been broadcasting to his people recently. She is of the opinion that, while the Germans shouldn’t be killed off after the war, America should not be too kind to them, either. Instead, she wants them to be put to work rebuilding the areas that they have destroyed.

December 15, 1944 – letter from Gladys to Susan. Gladys heard from an army officer that John’s group went to the Philippines. Local talk is pessimistic of an early peace, but a rotation plan to send back troops who have been overseas a long time is to start soon. Gladys adds, "My own private hunch is that Japan will give up suddenly after some big bombing, whereas Germany will hang on until the very last house."

BOX 3 – Letters from 1945

V-Mail 1945 (39 items)

1945 – January & February (13 items)

January 23, 1945 – letter from Gladys to Susan. Gladys is advising that Susan had better tell John the truth about her financial situation, i.e., that she has been getting a regular allowance from her parents in order to help pay for college and other expenses. She’s fairly certain that John will be angry, but thinks that it is better to tell him now than after the war. "Best time to handle problems is when they are in first stages. That’s why we are in a war. When Japan went into Manchukuo we did not see fit to object. Mussolini in Africa – Mussolini and Hitler in Spain – Hitler reoccupying the Rhine – all problems that if handled then would have stopped this war. And at Teheran when Churchill and Stalin and Roosevelt met they decided that the Polish question was premature and did not settle it then, and that question is splitting the Allies now."

February 15, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. Susan has heard rumors that the 11th division (John’s division) was shipping out, and is asking him if it is true. She also mentions attending a lecture from Ruth Bryan Owen, "America’s first woman diplomat," who spoke in favor of socialized medicine and a federation of nations.

1945 – March (24 items)

1945 – April (23 items)

April 12, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. Susan is discussing the death of President Roosevelt, and how deeply the shock is affecting everyone. Her first impulse, she claims, was to move back to Washington, D.C. and study international law in order to contribute in some way towards Roosevelt’s goal of a Federation of Nations. She also brings up President Wilson and how "he lived to see his dream rejected; at least Roosevelt died with the hope that his (and Wilson’s) would be brought to reality."

April 13, 1945 – letter from Gladys to John. Gladys has been living in Mexico City for the past month, and has just heard of Roosevelt’s death over the radio. She, like her daughter, expresses what a great shock it was. "And just when Berlin is about to fall. I think the Japs will get plenty discouraged after Germany gives up and now that Franco of Spain has broken with them. I hope it all ends soon." Gladys also advises to John that, while it is good that he has plans for home-making when he returns, it might be better to spend his savings on education. She recommends renting a room for the time being, saying that’s what she and her husband did when they were first married due to being in a similar situation.

April 13, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. There has been flooding in Pineville, LA, and while the levee there hasn’t broken yet, there have been breaks in neighboring towns. German POWs have been put to work sandbagging the levee. Susan also mentions John’s prediction of coming home by Christmas of ’46.

April 28, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. Though the letter mostly concerns a religious lecture that Susan attended, there is also discussion of the rumors coming from Europe over the radio. "One said that Hitler was dying; another that the German troops were directed to be under the command of individual generals because the central communications system had been destroyed; another that Mussolini had been taken prisoner at Milan and German generals ion Italy had surrendered and fighting ceased in the Lombardy and Piedmont region. Oh yes – and the most important that negotiations are on for the final unconditional surrender of Germany!!! (That just came on the radio – I was going to write that there was rumors, but now it’s official!!)"

1945 – May (24 items)

May 7, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. The newspapers are coming out saying that Germany has surrendered, although this is technically unofficial until the President makes the announcement the next day. Susan suspects that there still is "a long way to go to get to Tokyo."

May 8, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. VE Day is officially announced, and the students have all been let out of class, first to hear the President’s announcement on the radio, and secondly to celebrate the occasion.

May 12, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. John’s division, the 11th Airborne, has been in the newsreels. Apparently the reel is shown both before and after the movie, for Susan mentions that she "sat through two more hours of Walt Disney’s ‘Three Caballeros’ waiting to see that newsreel again." She thinks she may have seen John in it, but she couldn’t quite make out his face quickly enough.

May 29, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. The heroes of Iwo Jima are going to lead a parade on Memorial Day. Susan predicts a large crowd for "those men who raised the flag on Mount Suribachi." She doubts she will go, though, due to her night-shift sleeping schedule.

1945 – June (24 items)

1945 – July (22 items)

July 13, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. John has been fighting over in Aparri, though his division has been transferred back to Manila by this point. Susan comments on how "the censor surely is letting things go through these days."

July 26, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. Susan wonders what will come of the surrender terms America gave Japan that day. John has been saying that he doesn’t think he’ll get back home until the summer of ’46.

1945 – August (28 items)

August 6, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. Susan is very excited about the possibilities of the atomic bomb, or more specifically atomic energy. "We’ll be able to run a car for a year on a little piece of fuel the size of a bean!" She also wonders what was used instead of cyclotron to release the atomic energy in the atomic bomb.

August 7, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. With the advent of the atomic bomb, Susan thinks that "Japan ought to be giving up soon," and hopes it will be before September.

August 8, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. Susan mentions how Russia has declared war on Japan. She also shares with John her mother’s thoughts on America’s future after the bomb. "Mom says we’re heading for socialism whether we like it or not because with atomic power, governmental control of heating (atomic) systems, atomic fuel and hence travel facilities, etc. will be inevitable and necessary, because no private enterpriser will be able to finance atomic power or production, and also it has such capabilities that not even a national control will be adequate. We’ve been arguing the question up and down because I don’t see why an international control of atomic power would necessarily mean the end of individuality, democracy, etc. But she maintains that our political and economical systems are way behind our technological advances. Maybe so."

August 14, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. Victory in Japan has finally arrived, though for Susan it hasn’t quite sunk in yet, due to "sticking beside a radio for the last three days." She worries that John may end up being part of the occupation forces, but still hopes he’ll be able to be discharged and return home soon.

August 24, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. John is indeed part of the occupying forces for Japan, and is to parachute down there the following day. Susan continues to ask for his opinion on whether she should go back to Louisiana College, or if she should transfer to George Washington University so that she’ll be right in Washington, D.C. when he finally comes home.

1945 – September (27 items)

September 17, 1945 – letter from Gladys to John. Gladys talks about the GI Bill and how it will help John and her son Tenley get through college, though she mentions that Tenely won’t get as much from it as John since John served longer. She believes that John will likely get a scholarship for grad school as well, since "the government is interested in getting the best men the most educated." She also talks about the beginnings of the Russian-American scientific rivalry. "The Americans are afraid the Russians will get ahead along that line. I think the Russians are pretty far ahead now in many ways. We must be friendly with them and Russia and the U.S. can keep the peace of the world and also keep up with the new technological era."

September 27, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. Susan is getting ready to start the new school year at George Washington University. She has become increasingly agitated by the lack of letters from John, whom she hasn’t heard from in over five weeks (August 19). She can’t understand what would delay any letters, as censorship had ended with the war.

Duplicate of certificate of entitlement for Cpl. John O. Gougé; permission to retain or mail 1 Japanese Rifle – cal. 85, and 1 Japanese bayonet.

1945 – October & November (26 items)

October 1, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. Susan has finally received a letter from her husband. Although she is relieved to hear from him again, she alluded to a problem with his legs, which worries her, and she asks him if he has told her everything about them or if he is trying to cover up how serious a problem it may be.

October 23, 1945 – letter from Susan to John. Susan and John have been disagreeing over how the course of their future should go. John wants to start a family immediately, while Susan wants to put off having a child until they both have finished school. She does not think that they would be able to afford a child, particularly in an expensive location like D.C., at a pre-graduate level of income. John had brought up again the old accusation that she had purposely lost the baby she was pregnant with back in 1944. Susan, offended as well as hurt, continues to deny this claim.

BOX 4 – Letters from 1946, 1948, and 1952

1946 (7 items)

October 1, 1946 – letter from Isabelle to Susan. Isabelle, a friend of Susan’s, is writing to congratulate her on her new baby boy. She asks if Susan is going to go straight back to school, or if she is going to rest for a term

1948 (6 items)

1952 (2 items)

School Notes (3 items)

Composition book by Susan Jones, 1937-1938, manuscript

News Articles (3 items)

Religious Pamphlets (8 items)

Undated letters, + 1913 (18 items)

Stewart Bell Jr. Archives Room
Handley Regional Library
Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society

P.O. Box 58, Winchester, VA 22604
(540) 662-9041, fax (540) 722-4769
archives@hrl.lib.state.va.us (e-mail)
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