“Love and War” – Life and Times of a Country Doctor (Episode 1)

Winnsboro, Louisiana

April 28, 1898

Dear Clara,

     How do you feel since the entertainment.  I am a little sick but not much.  It rained some here yesterday.  I happened to be at the train and soon all of the school folks came in.   They all looked happy and gay.  I went down town yesterday eve and a young man proposed that he would treat to a milk shake if I would resign my claim down your way & I took him up in great shape as I came to the conclusion that I didn’t stand much show any way when it came to reality.  Rumors have begun to spread considerably.  Some folks have found out that I really like you a great deal & I have heard lately that you try to flirt with every boy who comes your way & lay plans to meet them at different places.  Now this doesn’t seem to me the thing to do.  Though I have confidence enough in you to allow you anything that you wish to do.

Cicero Louis Guice graduated from the University of Louisville Medical School in 1888 and he had recently arrived in town as the “new” Dr. Guice.  Coincidentally, the old doctor that he would practice alongside was also Dr. Guice, but there was no relation between them — at least not any of which they knew.

In the letter I don’t think he was serious when he accused Clara of being a flirt, but he really did want to make sure she knew that he liked her.  He was thirty-six and had not yet been married.   She was twenty-three.

On the same day that he wrote the  letter above,  he wrote another letter to her about a more serious matter:

Dear Girl,

         I am very sad to day on one account.  I have enlisted in the 4th Louisiana Regiment to go out and serve my and your country, which act I know you will applaud, and have no idea when I shall return.  I believe you love me some, but I hardly think I have your whole heart in my keeping.   Which is a very sad thought to me.   The sound of war is ringing through our beautiful land, and when the Bugle calls to arms, I am ready to take my part of the National honor and hold up for free men free institutions and liberty in general to all mankind.

I shall await your sweet reply, and march through the sunny land of the far south with your last farewell folded next my heart.  I feel that you will soon forget me.  I am as ever yours hoping and waiting for your immediate reply.     Cicero

The Spanish-American War had interrupted this budding romance, at least for the foreseeable future.   Tensions had been building between the two countries for quite some time and finally war was declared on April 25, 1898.  The declaration was pronounced after the sinking of the Battleship Maine off the coast of Cuba in February of that year. The war ended within the year with the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898.

I have not found official records showing that Cicero actually served in the war, but he was gone for a while as noted in this letter:

Winnsboro, La.

July 1898

Dear Clara,

      I suppose you know that I have been gone for near a month, hence no reply to your highly appreciated letter.

      Dr. Guice got my letter of the 12th and put it away and to day Kate accidentally found it where her father had put it away.  He also went away while I was gone and has not returned yet.   Yes I am sick and have been for a long time went to Natchez, Monroe, and Ruston was sick the whole time and feeling better now.  My Clara, I am not mad with you and it has only been accidental I did not answer you last and get this and Now that I’m at home & probably can travel will come to see my pet soon.  Go on to school & be a sweet girl and let me hear from you soon.  I will tell you all about my trip when I see you again.  I am so nervous & weak I can scarcely write so you see I presumed and will wait to hear more reports & find out what the people want or some of them any way.  Now I shall talk like you did to me.  You must be very certain about liking me & don’t make any mistake.  I thought if we loved each other the thing to do would be to marry sometime soon, but you do act funny to me some way.  I will come down some time in the near future.  We have been having a nice time bike riding these moon light nights.  I see Willie Frazier has new wheels, seems to be a very nice one.  I think Katie, Effie, Landis and myself will go to Ruston to the Chautauqua* in July.

                  Regards to family,                      C.L. Guice

Clockwise from top left: Lucy Prickett, Lil Guice, Clara Bryan Guice, C.L. Guice, and Cicero Louis Guice.

In the following year, Cicero and Clara would marry and he would continue as the doctor in Winnsboro for many years.  Anecdotes of his life as the local doctor are recorded in the diary of Alanson Wood Moore – a local politician and recorder of town history.  Some of these stories will be related in future posts on this blog.

Cicero Louis Guice and Clara Bryan are my great-grandparents.   He is the son of Elbert Hampton Guice and Angeline Jones whose story is told in the post, “A Pile of Cotton and a Lighted Pine Knot.” Seated between his parents in the photo to the right is my grandfather C.L. Guice, who is written about in the post, “Poor boy, he had just got ready to live…“.  Clara’s brother is “Joe,” in the posts entitled, “1941.”

*Chautauqua Assemblies



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