Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Helen Carroll
PORTALES—Dr. Donald Elder III admits he's a sentimental guy. In addition to being a professor in the
department of History, department chair, noon-time basketball player,and sportsbroadcaster extraordinaire at Eastern New Mexico University,Elder is an author.
Hismost recent book, "Love Amid the Turmoil: the Civil War Letters ofWilliam and Mary Vermilion," was cited in a recent issue of the Washington Postin an article titled "Sighed and Sealed: Unlocking the Secrets of theLove Letter." In this article, writer Kristin Henderson cites Dr.Elder's book as a means of displaying the art of love letters writtenthrough the
ages. The bookitself is inclusive of the most complete set of love letters writtenduring the Civil War era. Henderson chose two excerpts to share withreaders from the book; letters that show a sweet and tender side ofWilliam and Mary Vermilion.
Eldersays he was motivated to write the book in part because of who thecharacters were. He says he loves her (Mary's) letters because "shewas obviously a well-educated woman. Her letters are filled withliterary references, and she was a keen observer of the times she livedin...she and William both were true abolitionists."
Elderadmits he is a romantic at heart. "It's great to see some things neverchange. A good romantic set of letters makes everyone sentimental."
Elderis busy at work on his next book. It is based on Mary Vermilion'sexperiences in Iowa from 1855 to 1870. Included will be 31 letters toher husband in 1870 while he served in the Iowa Senate, as well asparts of some of her Civil War letters not included in "Love Amid theTurmoil."