Letters from a Saugatuck Pastor's Wife
My dear sister
Both yourpackages are recd for which very many thanks. These holidays are so overcrowdedthat I cannot write. Must fit James off to a wedding in a few moments.
Our wholeday tomorrow is promised in the country about 7 or 8 miles distant. Havealready worn the warm stockings out calling. They are quite large, but I thinkthey will answer. Shall wear them tomorrow. They are just right in length ofboth legs and feet. You know I have but a very small calf to my limb. Ten ortwelve stitches less at the top would be abundantly large. The feet and anklesalso a trifle smaller. These will do me more good than a thousand articles offinery.
We make twovisits tomorrow - one a wooden wedding - the other a birthday party. Childrenhave all been out of school a good deal through sickness. All pretty well nowexcepting Mabel. She is very feeble yet. Your aff. Mollie.
Saugatuck, Dec. 29, 1876
Dear sister Hattie:
The packagecontaining the pants came duly but I have been so overrun with work andexcitement during these holidays that I have not had a moments time toacknowledge them. James thinks they are decidedly a God send to him. He has thesmaller pair on now. With slight alterations to both they will do him so muchgood. His old common ones are patched to death, and ragged at that. Have beenwithout help during these Christmas toils and am still girl-less.
Cannot tellyou of Christmas till these labors are more nearly finished. We were all awayfrom home all day yesterday, about six miles in the country. Gracie wore hernew garnet
coloreddress (a Christmas present from Uncle Mills) which I hired made last week. Itis made with a polonaise trimmed with three rows of black velvet ribbon, blackvelvet buttons behind, small pockets in front. I think there is enough materialleft to make Mabel a nice dress by another winter.
My headaches so hard and it is time for the mail to close.
Affly Love sister, Mary P. Taylor
Saugatuck, Jan. 24, 1877
My dear sister Hattie,
Your mostvaluable package reached me safely Mon. forenoon. That was one of my sick days andI was in bed when it came I arose to try to get the warm dinner on for thechildren but when it was partly cooked had to leave the kitchen and give it up.To make matters more pleasant just as the clock struck 12 in came a gentlemanto be dined. I did not see him at all. Was so deathly sick at my stomach that Icould not hold up my head. All assisted and the dinner was dispatched and thechildren back again to school without tardiness. Three are fitted off to schooldaily. Mabel does not attend. She is far from well.
Your lettercame in the P.M. of Mon. also one from Lillie. The bell is ringing and I feelso hurried. James is gone and there is no one here to post this letter butWillie. The stockings are on my feet. They are a very nice fit, exactly rightin every particular if they do not shrink on being washed. I do not know aboutthe yarn in that particular. I do not need another pair two are quitesufficient, so do not trouble your dear heart about any more.
I am verysorry Mr. Mills' health is so poor. I wish he could have entire rest frombusiness for a long while. Business men have had a tremendous burden to carryfor the last few years and I do not wonder that they fail physically if notpecuniarily. Much love to all. Great body of snow. Willie can't wait.
Yours gratefully, Mollie
March 1, 1877
I sent youa postal this morn and a few wintergreen berries to "E. W." andyourself this P.M. The children thought as Uncle Mills was so fond ofwintergreen candies, perhaps he would like some of the berries themselves. Icannot go out to prayer meeting this eve. and have sent Anna in my place. I amtrying to patch up my health a little before the debilitating spring weatherarrives. I think I took too generous a dose of medicine last night. Thechildren have company down stairs.
When Jamesreturned from the office this P.M, he brought me your very welcome letter. Thestockings have not reached me yet but I presume they will come all right. Verymany thanks to both "E.W.," "Grandma Hess" and yourself.Maybe just a very few of the wintergreen berries would remind Grandma ofgirlish days. I feel truly grateful to her for all her kindness to us. Thesestockings have been an indescribable comfort to me this winter. I have beenunusually sensitive to cold for the past few months. My system has beenderanged ever since I had that tedious attack of bilious dysentery. I think ifI will persevere I can gradually work ofd some of the virus which seems toinjure my health. The striped stockings are now adding greatly to the comfortof my limbs.
Speaking ofthese reminds me corns. Have you any? I have had one ever since I taught inPhila. I thoughtlessly put on a pair of new walking shoes one very warm day andtook an almost endless "tramp" after my S. S. class. This was thebeginning of my "corn." I have tried a very simple remedy lately andthe soreness is nearly all gone. It is a French prescription. It is nothing butraw beef soaked thoroughly in vinegar and bound on at night. this has done minegreat good.
Willie isplaying a quickstep for the amusement of his friends and this together withfatigue bewilders me.
I thank youvery much for telling me so definitely about Lillie's health. Are the diarrheaand constipation new symptoms or has she been trouble with them for some time?Did she suffer with them while in Galva at all? I am very sorry to hear ofthese but I wish to know the worst, does she have any "night sweats"I think she had a low form of inward fever much of the time when she was here.I never noticed a well defined "hectic flush" but I did observe thatcool fruits were very agreeable to her. Did she lose much flesh after herreturn from Galva? I shall be very anxious to know how the spring atmosphereaffects her, although I dread to hear. Does she seem to suffer very much acutepain through her lungs? How does Mother feel about her? I should think herEastern physicians would greatly lament their fatal blunder respecting the seatof her difficulty. Does she attempt to sing often and how does the effort affecther?
Last autumnI though perhaps I could visit home this Spring but it hardly seems possiblenow. Our good Dutch boy Harm came back again to-day. He will attend to the farmwork and help a little about the wood here, until we know what we will do. Werode out to the farm and set him up in housekeeping there this P.M. This is thefirst time I have been there in many weeks. It was better for our man there toleave now, than to wait until the expiration of his year. Every thing here isvery chaotic since these pecuniary difficulties began to press so heavily uponthe nation. It seems many times almost impossible to keep all the departmentsof church work filled with workers. Still harder is it to keep the financeswhere they should be. Some of our best members have been laid aside by sicknessthis winter. We do not know how to spare them but God knows best. The restingtime never seems to come as long as one can possible hold up her head.
Do yousuffer as much as ever with your terrible headaches? I hope not. We are verysorry to hear of Uncle Mills difficulty with his eye so one by one life'sinfirmities creep upon us. Who could wish to linger as Grandma Chambers does -upon the borders of the "Promised Land?" Now I must stop and seekrepose. May your rest be refreshing. Mollie
Home July 17, 1877
Dear sister Lillie,
Your letterof July 1 reached us duly and your postal of the 12th last eve. It is now 11oc1. A.M. and I have left my row of weeding unfinished to drop you a line for theafternoon mail. I am altogether a fascinating personage to behold as I havejust generously greased my nose and face with camphor oil. My blood is veryimpure again as in the bustle of moving I have neglected my medicine. James isreclining n the couch, his comely phiz concealed from view by a newspaper. Annais getting the dinner. Harm is cutting the wheat by the barn while the childrenare watching the cattle and I suspect hunting for wintergreens to sent to AuntLill, Gracie and Mabel discovered some on the back part of the farm yesterday.Anna is going down to the Wallin neighborhood immediately after dinner to visita lady who is in very feeble health and who expects to leave town sometime thisweek.
We hope tohave the carpenters come here sometime next week and commence our addition toour house. James thinks we will try to extend the back part 16 feet by 20running it up 6 feet higher than the old part, thus furnishing us a littlechamber room when completed. We think this will not look very unsightly byputting a "hip roof' upon it, but as we are so much accustomed to the"composite" order of architecture, since our residence of 9 years inthe parsonage, we do not much fear aesthetic criticisms. We do not hope to doanything more with this year than to complete it sufficiently for storage. Ipresume there will be no door between it and the old part before late in theAutumn.
We areobliged to anticipate the funds we hope to rec from the peaches in order tocommence this now, so we must be as careful about expenses as possible. Thentoo some kind of good cellar is a necessity so we all work at whatever lightfarm work we can do this saving our money to be applied where neither our skillor strength can avail. The children take hold of the lighter departments oftoil with but little grumbling. I try to mingle as much frolic with the hardtoil as I can and by working with them myself occasionally, the drudgery isperformed quite merrily.
One weekago today Luman, Van and Jessie Wallin spent with us. The children were all intheir farm attire helping their papa weed the beets. They all seemed to enjoytheir rustic holiday to the full. Jessie, you remember is the quiet child ofThomas Wallin's whom you met in
Without ourhome the prospect is delightful, within it is very disorderly but we hope forbetter times after the visit of the carpenters. The children are quiteinterested in poultry raising and we hope to have some tender chickens tomasticate this autumn. We have one gobbler, a most majestic personage and threehen turkeys with five little turkeys. Mabel makes some very odd speeches aboutthese farm residents. The old gobbler was inclined to be very cross to thelittle girls, but Mabel has conquered him with the horse whip. Her hen would persistin eating gravel and she thought she would teach her better by using the sameimplement. I tried to explain to her why the gravel was necessary for the hen."O yes," she replied. "The little stones are her knife andfork." The yellowness of her nose is disappearing and I think her coughingis not as apparent.
The littlegirls are going down to Saugatuck with Anna to pick the raspberries in thegarden there. Our onions there look very nicely indeed. We have a few flowersin boxes in front of our house. The verses you sent are very beautiful. I havesent them to Mrs. Wallin. She has been quite ill with a miscarriage.
I am sorrythese wintergreens are so old. This sassafras grew on the ridge back of thepeach orchard. It reminds me of our dear mother. I used to gather its tenderstalks and extract their pith to make a mucilage for her of which she was fond.
Dear Sister Lull:
I have beenlooking for time to write & invite you out here this summer. We should bevery glad to have you come and enjoy our Lake Ridge Farm House. It will do yougood and us too. Mary & the children will be there. You had better come& stay a year with us & recruit your health before teaching any more.We have wheat & corn & potatoes and a general assortment of vegetables& hence we can keep you as long as you are pleased to share our humblehome.
Thisclimate has proved beneficial to so many suffering from pulmonary irritationthat we are very anxious to have you come & try it. You need not fear theague, especially out on the lakeshore. It does not trouble those who livethere. If you come by the lakes send us a line & we will request the veryobliging clerk on the Huron to look after you on your arrival at
No, do notsay no to this invitation, but come on immediately. Mary is writing at mytable and I am on one corner, so that my penmanship is scarcely intelligible.
Dear Sister Lillie:
Now we areout here again and James has passed this over for me to finish while he puts upsome hooks for our convenience. We are very much in earnest about your coming herewithout delay. This is a lovely day with such a fresh breeze perhaps alittle damaging to Grecian curls but invigorating to delicate lungs. You canpractice horsemanship with the children if you come, Grace Greenwood fashion orwe can get you a side saddle.
I do notwant you to come to work yourself to death over our wardrobe but to put yourown in a nice order as you choose and have a general long period of rest. Thisfarm ink does not work well!) I hope you will conclude to start just as soon asyou can. If you come on the lakes you must be well provided with under flannelsand warm outside socks. Shoes are the worse thing for me to find here. Youbetter purchase what you will need for a year in Penn Yan. Be sure to bringsome coarse ones for beach rambling among the pebbles and boulders. Bring yourmusic along.
If Papa canfind the mats which Gracie and Willie made for their aunties he will send them.They were finished long ago. Gracie made the looser one for Aunt Lillie, Williethe other for Aunt Hattie. The worsteds are from my old assortment which hasbeen much culled over. I must refer you to my scrawl to Hattie for particularsrespecting us all.
Yours tillwe meet in Michigan Mollie