Back to Previous Page

History Lives Here Text

 

Letters from a Saugatuck Pastor's Wife

(Continued from Page 259)

Tue. morn. Jan. 13, 1874

Dear sisterHattie;

I haveretreated to the study, but have little hope of being uninterrupted for any lengthof time. How these intensely busy days speed on and wear our lives away. I amso tired of the unending bustle and hurry which so much business involves. Wehave been passing through great trials in our little church and Sabbath school.Our S. School was more reduced by sickness this summer than ever before, sincewe came here. First came the measles into almost every family. Before thechildren were strong again after recovering from this - bilious attacksprevailed followed in some cases by that tedious distressing disease - ague. Sowhen the winter approached we had much more exertion to make than we usually doto gather back the scattered members of the school. Many of the poorer onesneeded assistance to clothing. The money market is very stringent here thiswinter and we have been obliged to do so much with our own hands that we areall tired - in the extreme.

 

While we were so actively engagedin our preparations for Christmas the first heavy blow fell. The Saturday nightbefore Christmas Mrs. Wallin, our most active lady member by far, was attackedat midnight with congestion of the heart. It was with great difficulty that herlife was preserved. Mr. Wallin was absent in Chicago. Lizzie had just returned home fromOlivet to pass the holidays. Mon morn. about nine o'clock, their oldest son,Alfred, a very bright, manly boy, was drowned while skating. This was acrushing blow, to his poor mother. Lillie visited at Mr. Wallin's while here.He is the proprietor of the large steam tannery here. The firm has leatherstores in Chicago, SaltLake and San Francisco. Alfred was going into theoffice as book-keeper after the holidays, so that his uncle, Mr. Tanner, couldgo to Salt Lake. The day before Christmas we buriedour most promising boy with his agonized mother entirely prostrate, suffering

much excruciatingdistress from inflammation of the heart. We postponed our Christmas gatheringone evening and then with heavy hearts labored through it. It was Mr. Wallin'swish that we go on - and so we did. Mrs. Wallin lingered until New Year's mornwhen she too passed away. She has spent her whole married life in this placeand has done far more for the church than any other lady member. She was awoman of frail health but possessed of an untiring energy and greatbenevolence. She has left a great vacancy among us. I feel as though my humanprop was gone and I cannot see the result. Last week we observed the week ofprayer meetings solemn as eternity. We are going on. This week, last eve. 6 or7 of the tannery young friends rose in a body as desiring to follow Christ.Lizzie and Amelia, the hired girl among the number.

 

The youngpeople here are very frivolous caring for little else than pleasure. All thisis done under the pretext of working for Christ, to raise funds for thehandsome Episcopal Church which will be occupied in about two weeks. They keepup, one ceaseless round of promiscuous balls, masquerades, club dances &cand showy dress. Late hours and general frivolity prevail. The lumberinginterest, on this side, are mostly identified with Episcopacy. James and I takea quick but firm stand against this frivolity and diversions and these suicidalto both health, intellect and soul and are supported in our views by a part ofthe church. Some of our own members have rather loose convictions of dutyrespecting their children and we feel that vital Christianity in this placestands in great peril and no power but the Holy Spirit's vitalizing presence,coming down as in pentecostal times, can save these beloved young friends fromdestroying themselves. The thought is agonizing in the extreme. This littlechurch stands as a beacon in the midst of this great wilderness and if itslight be darkness, how great is that darkness. Pray for us. We feel ourselvesutterly powerless for such multifarious burdens and cares but we trust that"those that be for us" are more than those that be against.

Now I mightthink of other things. We have had our share of sickness. First in the Springthree cases of measles. Willie's recovery was not very thorough. We had justgone out to the farm for the long vacation, not settled yet when Ann, our hiredgirl was called home on account of sickness in her father's farm.. Our villagehired man had the bilious fever in strawberry time and while still weak fromits effects was obliged to leave us to take care of his father's family whowere all sick at once. This was before we went to the farm. Ann was gone nearlyfour weeks and I did without help. One week after her return she too came downwith the same fever. When she was feeble from this our farm man John and Willieboth took a little cold from damp clothing and came down the same day with thesame fever. I think I could not have kept up had it not been for the bracingair of the farm. Somehow we have waded through all of these things and findourselves alive, though jaded from hard work and sore trials.

 

I have been very anxious about youa11, especially about Mr. Mill's business. I hope you have not felt thedepressing effects of the panic, as much a we have here. In our generalbusiness relations we are but a suburb of Chicago.Still, I think we shall all weather the storm. I must speak about that hair. Icannot conscientiously send you a sample until I can send the money for it.This would not be right. I thank both you and Lillie for your kind, unceasinginterest in the matter, but cannot accept it as a gift from either of you. TheChristmas presents came nicely and are very acceptable. Something for my longneck is very useful to me. Indeed, I never find time for these tasteful things.Something that you have rather discarded answers my purpose just as well asnew. Gracie and Willie had each made a lamp mat for their Aunties, but Isuggested that they give them to Mr. Wallin's little boys as they were havingso much sorrow and they appreciate such tokens so much. Mr. Wallin's last workwas to secure a new ingrain carpet for our parlor, which was to have been slylyput down while we were at the church. It is a blessed thing to drop out of lifein the midst of so many labors for other but what a vacancy such Christiansleave. Mr. Wallin is a most excellent man. I never knew so active a businessman who was so devoted as a Christian at all times and seasons.

 

We had somesmall debts of several months standing which we must cancel before I send forthe hair. If our salary was paid promptly we should be relieved from manypecuniary embarrassments. The people do as well as they can, and we must notcomplain.

 

I have not beenout of town but thrice since I came back from Penn Yan. Once to Chicago, once to G.Rapids on Fire Relief work and once this summer to Allegan to get me some fineshoes. Cannot be fitted in this town. Again good-bye.

 

Saugatuck,March 7, 1874

 

Dear sisterHattie;

You will seefrom the accompanying letter that we have more business with Aunt Kate'sestate. We have sent the deed to Allegan with orders to have it forwarded toyou immediately. It is somewhat perplexing to have business done in so manystates. It seems very trying to have Dennis a burden on his mother's hands. Hevisited us once in Chelseaand James could have secured him an excellent situation with one of the membersof our church, but he wished to make money faster with less labor.

 

James has hiswrappings all on for the office. We are so hurried all of the time. I cannotfind a moment's rest. We have quite a sum to raise very soon on our churchinstrument. Times here are very stringent. No money in circulation. I am sotired of all these things that I find it very hard many times to keep up anykind of heart far any thing. Monopolies are the curse of these new lumberingvillages.

 

We had so much sickness lastsummer that I laid my rag carpet aside unfinished. Now I must get it ready. Ipaid the poor woman for weaving it beforehand and now she must have it beforethe great hurry of spring weaving. I have but a few more pounds of rags toprepare. Hope to feel in better health soon., Children as well as usual. Muchlove to all. Hastily yours, Mary P Taylor.

 

Farm, July 29,1874

 

Dear sisterHattie;

How I have longed during all theseintensely busy days to find a moment's time in which to write to you all, butit has seemed an impossibility. I cannot begin to describe how duties haveseemed to grow heavier and more numerous, far beyond my power either physicalor mental to perform. Now it is harvest time and the last load of winter wheatwill soon be placed upon the stack. James and the two hired men are hasteningfor fear of rain. I came up to the farm for our vacation Monday eve. Ann andGracie this morning. Today Will is at home alone or rather he is working in apeach basket factory. He is making the middle hoops. I do not know yet haw muchhe will earn per day. This is his first persistent attempt at earning money. Heseems quite energetic and selfdenying about it. Has been at work about tendays. We are all pretty well excepting Gracie. She commenced drooping beforeschool closed and ought to have been out here during all of July but we couldnot make arrangements to come one moment sooner than we have come. The Springwas very cold and backward. For about one month we had uninterrupted cold northwinds, extremely dry, while you were having copious rains. this made all farmand garden planting come very later. After planting time we had some fineshowers which were soon followed by a severe drouth. Last Sabbath morning wehad copious showers but the wind was so high, a regular tornado, that anindefinite amount of damage was done to both fences and buildings, fruit andforest trees. The tornado was not as destructive right along the lake as it wasin four miles back. The maples seemed to suffer more than any other foresttrees. Two of our large lovely ones in front are nearly ruined and others moreor less injured. Our injuries are slight however in comparison with our nextneighbor. Our buildings were not unroofed. One of the nicest square roofedbuildings in this vicinity was nicely unroofed while its occupants were in bed.they thought the chimney had blown down and arose to find the whole roof gone.I have not heard of any person's being injured during all of this fearfulstorm, which is a great mercy. Our Church building was not harmed at all whichseems almost a miracle. The trees and shrubs on the parsonage lot were muchinjured. We do not think the breaking down of the onion foliages will injurethe crop. Now as to the farm crops. Hay good and well secured--wheat very nicein quality and also in quantity we think for the character of the ground whichis new with many stumps. Potatoes are nice, though not as abundant as theywould have been with more rains. Spring wheat is yet to be cut, injuredsomewhat by the drouth. Corn late, but good. Part of it was injured by the cutworm and had to be planted over. The oats are yet to be cut. The carrots andparsnips are looking quite well. Our apple orchard was loaded last year, thisyear has but few and many of those are on the ground since the storm. Peachespromised before the storm about as they were last year. We have had no time tolook after them since the tornado. I think the crop will still be fair. We feelthat we have great reason for gratitude. We have been making some necessarychanges in our house, to adapt it to two families. We now have a small familyliving on the back porch, a man, wife and baby about 16 months old. We likethem very much. We had set out many fruit and evergreen trees upon the placethis spring many of which have survived the drouth. I can hardly give up theidea of a visit from you all this season. It seems too bad for you not to come.I feel very anxious about [sister] Lillie's health. It seems to me that thebest thing for her recovery would be to come right out here, via the lakes.Come and rest under the tees. If her health improved she could stay out here onthe farm with part of us until extreme cold weather. If she felt that she mustteach a little I doubt not we could secure her a situation for the winter termas assistant to the Principal. We have four teachers during the winter term.The board have employed a new Prin. a stranger, a young man graduating at Middlebury St. Hehas studied Theology one year and has come west for the benefit of his health.His throat has troubled him since he had an attack of diphtheria, east.

Gracie justpassed the window astride old Dollie's back. Grace Greenwood fashion. Mabel'seyes shine with a lovely lustre. She has just come in from the harvest fieldfor "a little dinner" about 4 P.M. I hope I have a little moreleisure soon now. The heavy Spring work of soap making, house cleaning twohouses &c is nearly done. The strawberries are secured - sold $57.00. Thegreen onion trade is about closed, have sold over $50.00 of these. The Churchis cleaned. the Church organ paid for. The insurance money raised. The sexton'sbill settled. So one can breath easier over these matters.

 

For a timethis season we have been without a propeller to Chicago but now we have a sidewheel Steamer,a large nice boat they say - the Huron. If Lillie could come via the lakes wewould try to have her come from Chicagohere without perplexity to her. If James could not meet her, he could providean escort. if her health failed instead of improving we would send her back.Many persons with delicate lungs are much benefited by a change to a biliousclimate. I have recd. several letters from you containing dainty neck rufflesfor which rec. my sincere thanks. My neck has been supplied from this sourcefor a long time. Gracie's little leghorn hat is trimmed with the blue neckribbon Aunt Lillie sent me.

 

We have somany devices for Church purposes this Spring and early Summer that I cannotfind one moment's time for the pen. And the festival the last of this week andthe S. S. picnic next week, if things are favorable.

 

One thing has greatly rejoiced mein your letter. You do not speak of business as being depressed. The"times" here for the lat nine months have been extremely"hard." There is always a tendency to depression during the winterbut with the opening of navigation business revives and money flows morefreely. This year it has been otherwise. The lumber market has been depressedduring the entire season. The largest firms here do not pay any money to theirworkmen and this makes collection almost impossible. Our people have strugglednobly to pay us our salary as promptly as they could but in spite of all theirefforts there is still something back. The deficiency is now mostly on the Douglas side. We work very hard indeed and our garden isliquidating our store bills quite rapidly. So despite the pressure of the"times" we feel quite hopeful. When the Spring opened things lookedvery dark to us. We try to turn our cash out to our hired help, as far as wecan. I think, unless some great pecuniary calamity should overtake us that wewill come out very well at the end of the year. I have anxiety about you duringall these troubled times. I do hope that you may live to see your nice home allpaid for.

I havepromised to write some letters for James he is so busy and what will he saywhen he finds I have not touched them. He will say, "Well, I am so gladyou have written to Hattie, but Wife, the other letters must be writtenyou know." Lillie must not stay away from us because she thinks the"times" are stringent. No, no, we have a great abundance ofvegetables and fruit &c. We have 2 cows so she need not fear starvation

 

One thing Imust not forget to mention. I am by no means "enciente" as you surmised.Perhaps you were deceived by my rejoicing over Lillie's wrapper. I had a nicebag of dried peaches prepared on purpose to send you, but after waiting allwinter to get money enough together to pay the expressage - with many regrets Iturned them over to the merchant this spring - on our grocery bill. I neverremember being so troubled to get money as we have been for the past fewmonths. This has made our Church work very hard. Give much love to all from usall, M

 

(To beContinued-page272)