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History Lives Here Text

Letters from a Saugatuck Pastor'sWife

(Continued from Page 267)

Saugatuck, Nov. 10,1874 Dear Sister Hattie;

Your twoletters came together day before yesterday. I am glad the jam reached you ingood condition. I do not want you to give it all away. Reserve the most of itfor yourself and mother. I can sympathize with you in your fatigue andexcitement over these social gatherings which cost so much. I am gettingready for one here, Saturday P.M. and am trying to finish up my house cleaning.My house is so inconvenient that it is a hopeless task to try to keep thingtidy in the winter.

 

The ingraincarpet given me last winter would be in ruins if it should remain upon thefloor this winter. My new rag one is to save this - but it is not yet made. Ihave the stair carpet ready to put down today and trying to finish the rug toplace before the organ.

 

My bedroom isin a state of most appalling confusion as I have been patching for the lastweek and the remnants are in every direction upon the bare floor. I wish tomend the carpet and get it down today if possible. Christmas is almost upon uswith its hurries and excitements. But then, one thing at a time. There isnothing gained by carrying our burdens before hand.

 

Gracie has just returned from theP. 0. I find it will cost so little to send this dress as a sort of guide, thatI will send it in preference to the measurements. This was made over from thelining of an old wrapper of Grace's which accounts for the seams in front of waistand skirt. This fits her very nicely around the neck and shoulders. The sleevesare about an inch too short and the skirt about two inches too short. She is atall, slender child. When I make any new material for either of the girls Iturn the sleeves in at the top, a full inch or more and always have to let themdown the second season. Her plaid dress is made like this. The skirt trimmedwith velvet ribbon. When I make a skirt from new, I turn it down at the topsomewhat, and in this way make their nice dresses last two or three seasons. Icannot find time to make them many changes. I prefer substantial cloth andfewer changes.

Must stop nowand do a multitude of things. The day outside is lovely for a winter one. Wentout last Friday to gather mosses for Christmas. Do not meet with good successsince those terrific fires of three years since Affly Love, Mary

 

Saugatuck Nov. 20, 1874

Dear Sister Hattie:

Your mostvaluable package reached us safely last Sat. eve. The brown skirt will be veryuseful to me indeed and for a wonder is abundantly long. The black kid gloveshave been greatly needed these many months. I have worn nothing but Lislethreads for more than a year. I will try to be very choice of these. These aremany times when I need them much, to correspond with my other clothing.Neckties are always very acceptable. The children are much pleased with theirchromos. Papa has promised to frame them when he can find time. Theflannels will be used right away and the red flannel skirt, which is such a lovelycolor, will be made into garments for Mabel. The ribbon will find speedy use.They answer my purpose just as well as new, exactly. I have already worn thelace band and Gracie has the strip, in the neck of her school dress. The moneymarket is so stringent here that every one's face, both comfortable livers, andthose accustomed to abject poverty, looks sad and apprehensive. Of money therehas been scarcely any in circulation for the past year. Of course the Ministeris one of the first to feel the tremendous pressure of these times. Farm andgarden, by incessant toil, furnish us an abundance to eat; and the farm willprovide us with wood, but the difficult thing to be secured is the money to payour hired help. We are obliged to make our family cash expenses very low. Lastwinter we had a shoe bill for ourselves and hired help, running along untilSpring, which we could not pay in cash. I had no overshoes all winter, a thingI will never go without again. Gracie has a good new pair and if they are boughton credit and not yet paid for, I am not going to care. This is the wayeverybody does here. We do not intend to buy a cents worth of new clothing forour own family this winter, excepting our feet. This makes me an immense amountof patching and "altering over," but I can do it, if I can ever havemy hands free from heavy house-work.

 

We are in themidst of our house-cleaning - cleaned the cellar and the back shanty yesterday.After the cook stove is set up in its winter quarters, we can finish the bodyof the house in quite cold weather. There is so much work crowding upon me tobe done immediately that I do not know which to attempt, or which toneglect. I am very thankful that I can keep moving, although it is sometimes ata snail's pace.

 

Willie commencedschool again Monday. The school is alive with whopping cough. Mabel has not hadthis. I have a terrible dread of this disease after our winter's experiencewith it before.

 

One think Imust mention before I forget it again. If you do not call for that lace on myhat, which you lent me, I fear it will be worn out. It has been on a hat for mein some shape or other every since.

 

We have triedseveral times to have Mabel's picture taken to send to you, without being ableto secure it. Yesterday was a lovely day and James spoiled his forenoon in theattempt. The artist's chemicals would not work. It is snowing fast now and whenwe can get out of town for it is uncertain.

 

Our hired man is clearing up newgrounds in the back part of the farm for spring wheat, if possible. the lowground is better for general crops, and the front, high ground for peaches andgrapes. James has a most indomitable will and a quick tireless energy whichreally surprises me, many times. None others are worth a straw in these pioneertowns. We cannot either one of us foretell the future of this church. The wayseems very dark many times. A feeble church cannot battle against every thingfor a long series of years. The Episcopal minister is East begging his churchfor the third trip. How one can squander the Lord's money uponsuch an ornate building is strange to me. They have a dance at the hall tonightfor it.

Saugatuck Feb. 27 1875

Dear sister Hattie,

I can scarcely tell you howhurried I feel this Sat. morn but I must drop you a few words to let you knowthat all the articles you have sent have reached us safely. I can hardlyrealize what are the events which have transpired within the past few weeks.Mabel has the whooping cough as we feared and has become very much emaciatedwith it, though we hope she is now recovering slowly. This has disturbed ournightly repose very much indeed, so that I feel more dead than alive much ofthe time. Three weeks ago last Tues. James and I arose very early and drove to Grand Rapids about 43 milesdistant reaching there at 1 o'clock P.M. We did not intend to stay longer thanover night, but the weather changed in the night and in the morn. a mostterrific storm was raging. All of the roads and R. Roads were blocked up and itwas impossible for us to reach home until Sat. P.M. 2 o'clock. When we reachedhome little Mabel was much worse than when we left as she had so much fever,Almost all of our choice plants were in ruins. Three of the Geraniums you tooso much pains to send us show some signs of returning life. Before we went awaywe took the precaution to move them away from the window into the center of theroom but my girl is such a sleepy head that when left to herself she wouldretire early and sleep late and so the work of destruction went on in spite ofall our precautions. Some of there geraniums were all in bud when we left, Butwe must not murmur. We had the Dr. as soon as we came home and he succeeded inbreaking up Mabel's fever. A week ago last Tues. Mr. Williams the H. In. Agentcame here and has been with us every since holding nightly meetings, all ofwhich I have attended. He has stopped with us all of the time and we like himvery much indeed. There is some deep feeling on the subject of religion but ourown members are, many of them, unable to attend on account of these fearfulcolds which are so prostrating. I have had one of these for nearly three weeksand it seems as though my head is literally becoming addled. Gracie looks likea ghost but keeps around. Last Saturday she met with a misfortune and broke alarge corner from one of her permanent front teeth. I regret it very much, butcannot help it. We have a great many mercies. A little boy in town has lost oneof his eyes -- and my children's teeth are of far less consequence than that.

We are not having any water of anykind this winter and melt either snow or ice from the river for every thing.This increases our work very much. I must change girls soon as I cannot getalong with such help. I cannot find one moment of leisure.

I am afraid you will call this ablue letter. I do not feel blue but half sick and no place for rest. We are sosleepy when we stop exercising that it seems as though we could sleep anywhere.We have attended four funerals since Mr. Williams came here besides having onewedding in our parlor.

Let us hear from you as often aspossible. We wish to go out and make a few calls this P.M. if possible. thethermometer has run very low here, about 22 degrees below zero twice. Thismorn, eight below. Must stop,

your aff Mary

Saugatuck March 11 [1875)

Your letter to Gracie reached uslast Saturday, also the package containing the chemise and sun bonnet. Ourmeetings still continue nearly every afternoon and every evening and I cannotdescribe how full I am of labors and anxieties. many are seeking and findingthe Savior and this is not the time to indulge in much rejoicing, when theharvest is so white and the laborers so few. I have so much company and suchmaimed help in the house that I feel ready to drop down every moment throughentire exhaustion. Since Mr, Williams came James and I have attended 7funerals. Hitherto I have been to every meeting. I have a class of young menabout a dozen in number and I am trying to reach them more perfectly, by littlenotes as they are so widely scattered.

In regard to the bonnets, you mustwait a few days. Mrs. Putnam took tea here last night and I tried to have herfit the pattern to the little girls but she did not succeed to hersatisfaction. I cannot attend to these matters now. My hired girl had the lastpiece of her toe nail extracted night before last. She is very poor help for mein such a time as this - but faithful and very kind.

The bonnet you sent is very neatindeed, but much too large for me every way. My thin face is lost in it. Ithink 1 will return it to you when I can attend to it. If I can get goodpatterns for Gracie and Mabel I will send them. They will not want anythingvery large, especially Mabel. She will run bareheaded rather than be lost in alarge bonnet.

My neighbor has a little son, bornduring the night and I must get in there this morn. It is storming wildlyagain. One of our farm horses has been very sick for about 10 days. It seemsentirely useless to work over it any longer. James told the hired man to shootit this morn. This is a great loss to us in these fearful times but we will tryto manage in some way. Henry and his wife or sister are seeking Christ. Theyattend the evening meetings all that they can., Pray for us. Your aff Mary

Saugatuck May 5, 1875

Dear sister Hattie:

The letter and plants came safelynight before last. They are all potted and bottled according to the best of ourability. All look quite fresh excepting the heliotropes. With these choiceplants which you have just sent and the few we have left we hope to possesagain a valuable collection. We have poor facilities for house plants and canonly cultivate those which will be most useful to us. We are eager for whiteblossoms as these are so much desired for funerals and weddings. The houseplants of this village were nearly all destroyed during the winter. The fineplants which you sent us before survived our disastrous trip to Grand Rapids."Duchess of Sutherland" "Salmon Queen" a variegatedfoliaged Abutilon is also doing well and a small, thrifty Similax. Have youthese two plants? If not let me know. They survived the freezing.

The State Ass.meets at KalamazooMay 19 and I do so much want to attend but fear I cannot leave home. Jamesthinks we could see some things there and perhaps buy a very few. This bodydoes not come within our reach only once in six or seven years.

 

Now respectingthe Winter - it has been one of unprecedented severity - cold very intense andof long continuance. The Spring is very late. We have not touched housecleaning or flower garden. During the latter part of April we had a series ofhard freezing nights which has done much injury to winter grains. there isscarcely any hope for peaches of any varieties. Such a Winter has not been knownhere since the settlement of the country. Back from the lake many peach treesare thought to be killed. Ours look thrifty. We were obliged to shoot our farmhorse which I think was sick when I last wrote. We have arranged with our hiredman to use his horse this year and so save buying at present.

 

Business isvery dull indeed. navigation has not yet fully opened. We cannot predict whatchange this will make.

 

Our extra meetings lasted aboutfive weeks. Seventeen unified with the Church a few weeks since, and twelvelast Sab. The people seem to be doing all that they can under their manydiscouragements.

 

I have had nogirl for about five weeks and am worked down to a condition of extremeexhaustion. Have now a young German girl who has never worked out at allbefore. Last night I was so restless that I scarcely slept an hour all night.What I am dying for is a little quiet rest but it never comes and cannot besecured in these new towns. There are so many wheels to be kept revolving allthe time.

 

Went out last eveto hear the new bishop Rev. Dr. Gillespie. The Rector of All Saints church isexpected to return here soon. We are better pleased with this arrangement thanto have a new man. We know just about how far his influence will extend.

 

Have just beendown stairs and find myself invited to a "rag bee." People think Ican go to everything conceivable. I do more work at home than anyAmazonian

 

Our S. Schoolis very vigorous. I have a class of young men from 12 to 15 in number. Some ofour young members have already left the place seeking employment. We have heardsomewhat of your Church difficulties. but are not itching for a call. Churchcontentions are most disastrous.

 

We feelanxious to learn of your financial prosperity. I would so like to her that yourdear husband is reducing the debt. on your delightful home. Debts in this placeduring present times are a heavy burden but we do not allow ours to perplex ourminds. We are trying to do the best that we can. Pioneer life must blossom outin many directions. We wish to feel that this new place has been unproved byour living in it, in very many ways.

Your aff MaryP. Taylor

 

(To beContinued-page 280)