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History Lives Here Text

Letters from a Saugatuck Pastor's Wife

 

(Continued from Page 343)

Thurs. P. M.May 27, 1880

Dear Sister Hattie:

 

I have unexpectedly had a few momentsof leisure this P.M. which I have improved by copying coz. Isaac's letter. Wehave all worked very hard to get ready for several friends whom we wereexpecting today, but they will not come until tomorrow. I regret this as I wasintending to have Mabel come home this noon to entertain the 10 year old Hatchgirl from Illinois.Tomorrow Mabel is to be examined and I cannot afford to keep her out forcompany. but if the day is pleasant the little girls can entertain themselvesuntil Mabel comes home. Last night she came home bringing between two and threedozen pollywogs in her dinner pail. They are in a safe place for examination.They are odd looking creature with their turtle shaped bodies and their long,spear like tails. some of them are very small indeed. We proposed to her to putthem in our own ditch but she objects fearing that they may float away.

 

Interrupted. Mr. and Mrs. Firman havejust been here for a short business call. She brought her dear little boy babyalong. It is now almost time for tea. It has been a cool day and my strengthhas not failed me as much as it often does.

 

Tell Graciethat Mr. Mason came here this morn. on a sad errand. His little Jennie is dead.She died this morn at five o'clock. Her mother died last autumn. He wishesJames to attend the funeral. She was his oldest child and only daughter. The familyare very poor. We had a Chicagobook seller here to dinner. I hope you will have Grace help you all that shecan during these busy housecleaning days. She must know how to work. I do hopeyou will try to prevent such a dangerous sickness as you had last summer inconsequence of over exertion. It seems as though you ought not to be perfectlyoverrun with company at the dedications. I hope your church will be acceptablein every way. I hope it will not be too expensive or too large for the needs ofthe congregation. How about the debt? I hope it is not large. I suppose I mustsoon stop as I have promised to help James re-fit his larger curculio traptonight. It has to be done out-doors as it is too large to get into the house.We shall value our barn very much for such things, as well as for ordinary barnpurposes. We hope Mr. Brown can come soon to build the wall. Farm work does notmove very rapidly as we have so many rains. In doors we try to make all of ourwork bend to the farm business. There are many "chores" to do afterthe main labors of the day are finished. Hugh and Lammie are both good boys andWillie works like an old man. I am anxious to get his chamber, so that he canoccupy it with all of his boyish treasures. if l can possibly I wish to have itfinished so that it can be lathed this summer.

I suppose you have returned from Elmira ere this. I hopeyou have secured your long sought monument. You will feel better satisfied whendear Lillie's grave is marked in a becoming and permanent way. You will notfeel it is necessary to keep it ornamented with fresh flowers at the expense ofyour slender strength.

 

Friday morn- I helped James put his trap in order last eve. and as it was cool and still,we paired the early cherry trees near the house. I am learning to detect thesly enemies. They roll themselves up into an irregular shape and look and feellike a crumb of bark. I found one walking about. They are very deceptive intheir habits. They first attack the early fruit. It is now after breakfast. Ihave been assisting James this morn. when it is windy we cannot manage the trapas it is so unwieldy. We are visiting the Early Hale varieties. I cannot writebut a few moments as when the sun is up nicely the curculio fly. We sweep offthe trap into a dust pan and burn up its contents. We expect our company thisP. M. Tomorrow P.M. we must attend Jennie's funeral so our days are very fullof duties. We are more and more delighted with our pleasant house in spite ofall its discouragements and tails.

 

Willie isspending every odd moment tinkering up something in the frame of the new barn.We mistrust that it is a boat of some sort. We are very much annoyed by rats.One of Anna's cunning little ducks disappeared night before last. We think oldrats made a dainty meal of him. Last night his lordship was served with a steeltrap and we mistrust that his midnight lunch was his own leg, and the trap wasdragged under the platform some distance. When we get the new part clear ofboxes and barrels we hope to have a general rat and mice warfare. The air isvery fresh and nice this morn. I think the curculio trappers will be obliged totake a noonday nap, as it is too fatiguing to try to keep moving during such along day. James says the new orchard is full of sets. The strawberries haveblossomed abundantly. The choicer kinds were badly winter killed as the weatherwas so open. The Wilsonis the staunch old reliable. Mabel is getting ready for school.

Monday noonan agent for some sort of fire extinguisher and tree and garden pump tookdinner with us. His implement was very nice. We think it would just suit UncleMills and ourselves. James is going to investigate the matter a little, moresoon. Have you anything of the kind? Was Uncle Mills' barn painted, if so whatcolor? Our structure is already insured. Our house agent came along and Jamesthought best to have the business done at once. We feel quite exposed tolightning. Several trees have been struck along this shore this spring. Capt.Reid is erecting a patent windmill for a water drawer. This will ornament thislakeshore.

 

Much love to all, your Mollie

July 4, 1880

Dear sister Hattle;

 

I will dashright into business and tell you of the "paradise currant." I knowlittle of it excepting that it is a house plant quite ornamental, bearingclusters of red berries in the winter resembling currants. Mrs. Henry Bird gaveit to us. It came from her brother-in-law who resides in Ill. and is very fond of rare plants. Ithink it never grows more than a foot high. Ours is either dead or nearly sofrom want of care, I presume. There is little use for me to attempt to do muchwith flowers of any kind while we are situated just as we are at present. Thereare too many kinds of stock that have access to the house to have many plantssafe. Our horses are all very tame and I almost think they could be calledright into the house. I have been so much accustomed to little vexations ofthis kind that they do not annoy me as they once did. Then too you know all thefowls have the entire range of the grounds around the house.

The barnprogresses very slowly. It is impossible to secure the requisite help to hastenmatters. The roof-boards are party on. The clover is partly cut and James isvery anxious to get the barn in condition to store the hay and save thestacking. There are so many hindrances and unexpected delays. James is awayfrequently on his various duties. Friday we were both away six miles distant toattend a council called to recognize the new church organized there last April.It is purely a country church. We did not reach home until 11;30 P.M. I can notendure such late hours and long rides in the scorching sun.

 

Today James has administered theordinance of baptism by immersion for the first time. Senator N. W. Lewis wasimmersed in the lake at Pier Cove. James said it all passed off pleasantly andsatisfactorily a far as he knew. I do not know how long James will feel it tobe his duty to preach to the new organization. It seems as though he is almostworked to death. this problem of over-work is a great enigma to me. Does theLord demand such super human exertions of us all? For myself I should be quitewilling to nestle in Sleepy Hollow for an indefinite period.

 

Tomorrowthe "4th" is to be celebrated in Saugatuck in a veryimposing way if the posters are to be relied upon. There will be re-enacted theusual scramble for dimes by the various organizations of the town as well as bysundry private individuals, both adults and boys. Of course the Cong. Churchthrough its two Societies, young and old, and the W.C.T.U. must be represented.I confess to a great distaste for these methods of earning money. They aresuicidal to the health and nerves of those who play the "laboringoar." Mabel has made a jelly cake for the "No Names." This meansthe variety of young folks. Anna has made two chocolate cakes - one for herselfto carry and one for Martha. Mabel staid down after S. S. today, as shewished to attend the S. S. concert in the evening. It is to be both floral andpatriotic. We have not done anything for this concert. It seems as though wehave no strength for it. I still help my S. S. class. I cannot see my way clearto give it up just yet.

Now about that letter of Coz. Isaacs. Icannot find any such letter. I cannot give any very thorough search until wecan have the barn as a place for storing grains and the things that belong inbarns. I keep just as few things in the new part as I can on account of therats and mice which we cannot exterminate. I expect to be in a clutter themost of the summer. In the parsonage we had a study. Now we have so many papersand pamphlets &c coming in all the time that I feel utterly discouraged.James has so many public duties that his mail matter is heavy. I cannot tellwhich things are of value and which not, so there is a great chaos. I will tryto find the letter when I can and if I can. We havebeen in great disorder in this respects and many others since we came to thefarm and part of the time while we lived in the parsonage. I am very anxious tohave something done towards getting Willie's room partitioned off this summerif possible. Now he sleeps in Mabel's play room. Mabel sleeps on the couch inthe parlor.

 

Lammy andHugh occupy the bed-room off from the dining room. Willie has been tumbledaround all of his life. I think he would be very systematic in many things ifhe had the opportunity. It seems as though I had worked hard enough to bringabout different results but God knows I have not the strength of an Amazon. Ihope Grace will acquire habits of order that will remain by her through life. Ioften think of the pleasant chamber which I occupied when a girl and its twonice presses. Then I knew where to put my hands on everything in the house. Nowthe chores are done and we must look over the S. S. lesson. Mollie '

 

[postmark July 22, 1880]

Enclosure, poem "Over theBridge"

 

Dear sister Hattie:

 

This little poem has been in my writingdesk since before Lillie died. I took my pen one Sab. afternoon to copy it forher - -when I thought of the poor paralyzed Mrs. Ellis so friendless and Ispent my stolen moments in writing to her instead of Lillie. As it was dearLillie had already crossed the bridge and her precious body was waiting forinterment.

 

It does not seem hardly right for me tospend any of my precious moments of the Sabbath in writing letters. For somereason I feel very tired when the Sabbath closes. I must rest a little afterdinner or I am sure to suffer with one of my frantic head aches. It is now timeto study our S. S. lesson for next Sabbath. Lately, we do not do this asthoroughly as we did in the long winter evenings. James is so tired. Today hehas been to Ganges to preach to the neworganization there. He went on horseback. It is very fatiguing after his hardweekly work. He must do as he feels right about this matter.

 

Mr. Sailorof Allegan preached for us again. This is his third consecutive Sabbath here. Ithink the Church will probably engage him. Have I told you that Susan Ann Prattis dead? She died very suddenly of heart disease last Winter. I know littleelse about her. If. Mr. Sailor moves here I presume can learn more particulars.Now I must stop.

Tuesday morn James hasjust announced that Hugh is harnessing the horse with which he will go toSaugatuck for lumber. We are intensely busy. there is so much to do. I do notknow where to begin. We have two carpenters here putting the siding on thebarn. It is very hard for us in the house to have such a large family and somuch fruit to market at the same time. We have tried in every way to have thisbarn built before the strawberries ripened but could not succeed. Berries hereripened earlier than usual this Spring. Yesterday we shipped 8 crates ofcherries in town.

 

The horses are here. We recd. yourletter last night. We are very much delighted with Gracie's success. I thinkshe must have studied hard, to merit this paper. I find I am getting veryhungry to see the child, but I know she is far better cared for by you than shecould possibly be by us. I think her dress will be very pretty. Hope you cansecure a blue which will not fade. Some are so pretty yet so unsubstantial inthe sun. I copy this letter, send back the original. I thought I had returnedthem all. I have looked a little for the one you speak of but cannot find it. Ido not despair. I am sorry you have so much trouble with those bugs. We too arevery much annoyed by several pests.

 

James is getting on the wagon. Willie'sboat is launched. It has not yet been christened.

Affy your humble servant Moll

 

(To beContinued-page 363)