Letters from aSaugatuck Pastor's Wife
Saugatuck, Mon morn, Aug.[1877?]
It is very early. I can scarcely see thelines. Willie is eating his breakfast before it is ready for the remainder of thefamily. He is going down to Saugatuck to get another fruit ladder which Jamescould not secure late Sat. eve as the shop was closed. We have commencedshipping our first peaches "Early Heales." We are suffering from asevere drouth, no rain of any consequence since the fifth of July. the days andnights are very oppressive. James has been up, I do not know how long,finishing his wagon box so as to transport more baskets at a load. I wish wecould divide them with you.
Your last letter reached me Friday eveafter I had retired. At first I thought I better not open it until morningfearing I should pass another sleepless night. but how could I resist thetemptation. Imagine my utter amazement when I saw what it contained. I have notone moment's time to write about it. It seems like the "price ofblood" to me. Why not pass it over to Mother? I should much prefer it. Asit is here I will appropriate it immediately to meet some urgent bills. In thefirst place I must have a girl during these periods of such high pressure indomestic life. I cannot endure this strain much longer. Untold thanks for yourdisinterested kindness and self sacrificing love.
[The letter contained a draft for$130 to help the
This is "shipping day." Wehope soon to have a daily load at present only three times a week. This makesus so crowded as "Early Heales" are very unreliable especially insuch weather.
Much love to Mother,
SaugatuckNov. 1, 1877
Your postal reached me night before lastbut as no one could possibly come down from the farm yesterday I could notreply to it. It is almost a year since I have had any regular hired girl and Iam tired beyond description. Now I have the promise of one Friday night. I donot know anything about her, only that her husband is in Jackson Prison forstealing. I must have some body and will hope that she herself ishonest. I have never seen her.
Mother's post of Oct.15 came duly. A few days before I had dispatched a long letter to Mother andJames and I both said, we presumed it reached her by the very next mail aftershe had pasted hers. As I was so intensely busy this allayed my anxiety It isvery strange that this letter never reached her. In order to write it I aroseat three o'clock one Monday morn in peach shipping time. Anna was home fromschool that morn and I could write my letter, do baking for the children, drivedown to Saugatuck and the flour, before the first bell for school, get a loadof peach baskets at the factory, hurry home, assist in preparing the fruit formarket, get dinner, sew on the tarlatans, help load up &c in time for theboat. I have lived in a perfect whirl all the last year and I sometimes wonderwhether I am sane or not.
I have not told you that the childrenare all attending school in Saugatuck. They are in town from Mon. morn tillFriday night. We have taken two small rooms for them near our village gardens.The "upright" of the house was burned last April since which time ithas been vacant until we took the wing and fitted it up carelessly for thechildren. We have much to do before it will be ready for Winter.
One of our old neighbors has been inhere a long time. She always comes for a chat when she sees me come into thehouse. Now, the children are home from school.
I am expecting James every moment. Wemust hasten back home to get the supper for the hired man. James is here nearlydark, feels very frosty. Must attend to house plants home, green tomatoes&c
We both wish Mother to use the funds shehas for her own comfort. I would prefer to return all of the money you sent me.(the $130 drabs) to Mother just as soon as I can but if she will not take itthen I wish to pay back half of it to you, when we get returns from our onionswhich will not be until the last of Feb. or March.
Saugatuck, Nov. 27, 1877
Dear sister Hattie,
Mother's and your joint letter reachedus Sat. eve. I sent you a postal Sat. morn acknowledging the receipt of thewatch, spoons &c. We supposed the latter came from you, until the receptionof your letter, We will write to Mother Taylor at the very first moment,possible. This is Thanksgiving week which is always a hurried one. I wish I hadone moment of time now. Poor Mrs. Elks is at rest and we start in a few momentsto attend her funeral. The day is terrific - rain, sleet and such a howlingwind. This death makes both James and I much extra work. I presume I shall haveseveral letters to write in reference to it.
Now for business. First, furs. I stillhave all of the fur which ever came from Penn Yan. The mink muff you sent mehas been very useful. Indeed I have used it so much that the lining needsrepairing. Lillie's Siberian squirrels are still presentable when I can relinethe muff. I wish to repair these for Anna. They are good enough for her, or forany one else. Gracie had a Christmaspresent of a muff and victorine several winters since. They are good enough forseveral seasons when I get the muff relined. Mrs. 4. R. Johnson gave these toher new from the store. Mabel has a cute little muff, white with black spots.This was sent to her in a missionary box, that brought the nice things I gaveto Lillie. This box also brought me a large mink victorine quite large almost acape. It is exactly like the muff you sent me, one would suppose they were oneset. This is in good order.
So you see we are well provided for whenI can secure time to repair the linings of most of them. I should think motherbetter by all means keep her own set and second best. Then she will be wellprovided for --- cape or boa - just as she prefers. I do not wish to put suchexpensive things on Anna. It requires much judgment to take such a girl andmake her what you wish. She must be brought up with simple habits in dress.
I cannot feel willing to take the $400now. Can we let the matter rest inthis way. If our onions sell reasonably well we shall not need it. Ifthey do not, then it might be a great relief to us to have a part of whatMother proposes in the spring. Let her keep all of her funds together for thepresent.
very affly your Mary
Sat morn 11.30.1877
My dear sister Hattie:
Your last welcome letter reached me Wed.eve. James brought it to me on his return from the funeral of one of our oldmembers who resided in
I do not censure youin the least for not writing oftener. I have known for many years the utterimpossibility of doing what I wished to do in this way. The urgency of thedemand does not seem to furnish the opportunity. Sabbath is a day of incessanttoil to me. I still retain my class of young men and cannot appear before themwithout a somewhat thorough preparation. Since coming to the farm we do not tryto go down evenings with any regularity.
James has just made a very excitingannouncement. He has discovered the old Guinea hen sitting on sixteeneggs. She has secreted herself among some weeds on the ridge back of the peach orchard.She has chosen a very romantic place with the lake in full view.
Last Thursday while we were all eating avery early breakfast, James uttered a wild cry of extreme surprise. A large foxwas running over the ridge with a nice top-knot chicken in his mouth. Heescaped, but the poor chick was found nearly dead in the grass. This explainsthe mysterious disappearance of two of the children's little young turkeyssince I last wrote. This seems quite vexation. The old fox refuses to betrapped. Willie has secured a woodchuck so he begins to feel a boyish ambitionto become a trapper and has some wonderful tale of heroic exploits to write forthe Youth's Companion.
This is a day of showers. James finishedstacking the rye last night - the wheat is all out in the field yet exceptingtwo loads. Our bags are all collected and washed, preparatory to mending. Wewish to have the threshing done as soon as possible on many accounts.
We feel that we have very many mercies.We are all able to perform our allotted tasks most of the time. Gracie isdrooping today but I think it is nothing serious. Harm endures the harvest workbetter than we feared.
I hope your new business plans may provesatisfactory and give you both much relief from over exertion. You are all inmy thoughts continually. It seems as though I must be in Penn Yan with mybeloved Lillie -- but haw can I be spared from home?
We have sold a village lot, but haveonly recd. $25.00 on it as yet and that in an order. Money is so hard tosecure. We hope to secure some money from our peaches. We are trying to settleup our little bills just as rapidly as possible and I do not see how we can doany more.
I am by no means unmindful of all yoursevere trials. I hope you may all be sustained. I am very sorry Lillie isobliged to suffer so severely. How mysterious are God's ways. James is ready togo down to Saugatuck after a load of lumber. He is in great haste. He must alsogo to see Mrs. Ellis the poor paralytic.
My dear sister Hattie;
Your postal and the barrel which yousent for me bath reached us on the same day - yesterday. I did not understandfrom your letter sent about that time that the barrel had been sentconsequently felt no uneasiness. As navigation across to
We have no mezzotints of the size ofwhich you speak. We have two very nice small pictures of you both, which havelong been framed. We have also a larger picture of Lillie framed. Our picturesare all still nailed up in a box. This larger one was taken in a dress ofeither Aunt Julia's or Mary Steverts. She has on a nice sharp pointed lacecollar, if I remember.
If the arctics for the little girls are notpurchased will you please get Gracie's a size larger than we directed before.The shoemaker made her new shoes too small. He is now to make her a pair Ladiessize no. 2.
Do not send all of Penn Yan to us. Icannot tell you how hurried we are. James is waiting. I hope to write moresoon.
James has whitewashed the parlor thismorning.
Affy yours, Mary