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Lettersto a Great Lakes Sailor

Continued from Page 195)


Douglas, August 30, 1902

from sister, Sara


My dearest Bossy,


This is the last day of August andI am in rather a different place than I was on the first. [Sara had been aguest on George 's boat] Please don't feel too much elated over this letterfor it is the last one I am going to write you before I get an answer to someof them.


Billy [a brother, more oftencalled Will] and Ruth took their dinner and went over to the lake about9.30 this morning and I have not seen them since or probably won't until night.Ruth goes away tomorrow night and it will be a good thing for Bill when she isgone. She just keeps it planned all the time where they are going eveningsuntil he is just completely worn out.


He was sick and had to stay homeThursday. Deacon Weed basket factory owner] came up to see him about itand told us to send for Dr. Walker and the Company would stand the expense theexpense, so Will went over there and Dr. said it was catarrh and overwork.


I was up to Fennville and stayedover a few days. I helped Sue move to Richmond.It seems awful funny to think they are not at Fennville any more. I am afraidif they have to stay there very long Sue will get rather discouraged but Ithink the change will do her good. They rented their house to Prof. L. I.Martin at $10 per month and Ray gets about $10 more a month at Richmond so they probably will get out ofdebt this year.


Mamma went over to see Sutton about themortgage & he won't accept the money now. He says the interest on his moneyis all he has to live on and he has no where else he can place the money justnow. So Mamma put the $50 in the bank as directed. Sutton is almost a completeinvalid. He can only walk a very little and his daughter Ethel has been sicknearly all summer with a low form of the typhoid malaria. [Warner P. Suttonhad worked for the U.S.Consular Service of the U. S and been an international lawyer. He retired tohis home on Pleasant Street,Saugatuck, after the Spanish-American War.]


Till and Iwere up to McVea's last Wednesday after noon. Sam is getting so he can walk alittle now. He doesn't look so very bad expect that he is rather pale. [Samhad been injured in a fall.]


Well, my labors begin againtomorrow. I can't say that I am sorry, neither am I particularly pleased. But Ialways dread the first week or two and when they are over, I'll be content togo on.

Your loving sister,



Douglas, September 8, 1902

from brother, Will


Dear George,

I suppose you think it queer why Ido not write to you but I have been so busy that I hardly find time to turnaround. I had surely intended to write to you at the Soo, but Ruth had beenintending to go every night for four nights and every night we would go to theboat and either the boat would be so crowded or it would be so stormy she couldnot go. I kept putting it off that way till it was so late I asked Ruth towrite to you for me.


My but it has been stormy herenearly all summer, if it has been as windy on the lake I don't see how you havedone anything at all. The boats here are not making any pretence of runningregular, but come and go just bout when they please.


There are an awful lot of peachessouth of here this summer, last Friday we sold 53,000 climax baskets, 1300better than they ever sold in one day before. They have lots of baskets on handbut they can't get teams enough to draw then and every one is howling forbaskets. Uncle is only going to have a few peaches and I guess the folks are notgoing to have very many but I do not know for nearly all I hear is grumble,grumble, grumble. I tell you I am so sick of it at times that I would be gladto go anywhere or do anything to get away from it.

In regard to sailing this fall itis just this way. I thought if l got done in the factory anywhere from the 1stto 12th of October that I might be able to earn $50 or $75 on thelake, but in talking it over with Weed he says my present job will last tillOct 20 any way, and then they will put me at some thing else as long as thefactory runs, which will be until it freezes up. You see I have the whole oftheir sales and shipping business to tend to, and if l left them now they wouldhardly know which way to turn.


I was sick one day and Weed was uphere before 8 o'clock and said I must send for [Doctor) Walker rightaway and they would stand the expense. Then when I wanted to buy that place Ionly had $200 and they advanced me $300 without even a note for it so you seethey have treated me pretty square. I am getting $12.50 a week, and all aroundit looks as though it would be best for me to stay with them, but I would haveliked very well to have made a couple of trips with you.


It is too bad youare having such a time with your crew, but what you wrote about the Saugatuckboys does not surprise me any. That was one reason why I never like to see youtake any of them too well. But I guess as to men in general it is about animpossibility to get good ones anywhere at any price. We have been running boutfive short all summer and those we have got are not good for anything. Goodbyefor this time.



[Ruth Williams wrote George atWill's request on September S, 1902 and described her problems with passage to Chicago]


I have been bidding everybody I see goodbyefor nearly a week now, and don't know when I shall get off. It has been sostormy. Monday night the boat did not go - until six o'clock the next morning -so she didn't get back in time to make her Tuesday night trip. Last night shedidn't try it at a11. So here I am. If I can't go from here tonight I shallhave to go by rail. Bill says he doesn't see how they are going to get rid ofme until they ship me or express me. But if things don't change for the betterpretty soon I shall be expressing myself- and that in a truly shocking manner.


Douglas, September 22, '02

from sister Sara

My beloved Bony:


In my imagination I can see yougrow six inches taller ... when you get this letter. But never mind sometime I'llget even with you for not even sending me one measly little tender line.


Please don't think I'm gettinghigh toned or aristocratic or anything like that when I use this kind ofstationary but the Dominie presented me with it and I don't know any better wayto use it, do you? Poor Dominie! He's gone and isn't coming back. Of course Iam wearing "Widdy's weeds" ["widow's weeds " i.e.mourning clothes, said it jest, the Methodist minister had been courting Sara] (notsand burrs) and shedding tears daily.


Jim and Leck lost that littleblack horse of theirs, Dick, last week with colic. Jim feels awful bad aboutit. I am outside in front writing this and the mosquitoes are nearly eating me.Till and Frank came down Saturday and intend to stay a while, in fact I guessuntil the boat lays up.


Uncle has been on another one ofhis terrible sprees and Auntie has been quite sick. I went over to Dr. Walker'sFriday night and got some medicine and then Saturday I went up and cleaned thehouse and stayed nearly all day. I was up there twice yesterday and they weremuch better. Uncle was gloriously drunk. He'd say, "Damned nice girl,Sara, I like you, I do." and the next minute he'd tell me to go home andtake Auntie along or he'd kill us both. Ha, Ha, such is life.

Goodbye, Yourloving



Douglas, Sept. 28, 1902

from brother, Will


Dear George,

We have been having awful weather here forthe past week. It has rained five days out of six and blew a gale the rest ofthe time and today it is cold and blowing like sixty. Peaches are now

just about in their rush andthousands of baskets have gone on the ground in the last few days. I picked 3baskets of fruit off my young trees on the hills this morning. The factoryexpects to run about six weeks longer but they will be at least 3 5 men shortin the morning as a great many are going to work in the sugar beet factory. Weare out of every kind of basket now except Climax and the rush has been something terrible, they even come and stay over night so as to be the first in themorning, and to satisfy them all and that at the same time is not a very easything to do. I have been working early and late for over two months and whennight comes I am nearly ready to drop.


The folks had the Co. surveyor downhere awhile ago to run the north line of this place and he gave them three rodsmore land on Renters Prop and I took the fence down after dark and the nextmorning got a man and they moved it to the surveyors line. Rockwell was downthe same day and said he had received word from A. Campbell that the neighborswere trespassing on his land and he had come to see about it. He said he hadwritten to Carrol (those Chicagopeople) to begin suit at once. Pop asked him if he knew what he was talkingabout and he said he did not. Then pop told him if he didn't shut his mouth hewould do it for him so he wouldn't open it again for two months. We have heardnothing more from it.


You must be havingan awful time of it this season. It has been nothing but stones, storms, stormsall summer. I often wonder you managed to make any time at all, but instead youseem to be going right along. I do hope you won't have to run very late thisfall for it seems as if you had had it hard enough all ready to make up forfall weather. Write if you have time



Douglas, Sept 28, 1902

from Mama

I will try and write you a few lines. Iwould write oftener but my right hand is almost useless now. I can not hold apen so will have to write with pencil.

Papa and I go up to the place everyday and pick peaches. We have finished your earlier ones, (they nettedtwenty-five dollars, Papa paid $2.00 for 100 peach and six apple trees. he gotthem at a discount leaving you $23) and there are some late ones left. OurPeninsular [peaches] ripened this last week and with this weather onehalf of them are on the ground and a dead loss to us. Your prices ranged from12 to 16 cents a basket. Ours are bringing 18 cents, but such is life.


Papa's health is very poor, hecertainly will have to give up working so hard or it will kill him. Till andFrank are here helping us with the work and I hope they will stay till we aredone with the peaches. It looks as if we are going to have quite a few applesthis winter.

Love from us all, Mamma


Douglas, Dec. 4, 1902

from brother, Will


Dear George,

I would give a good deal to knowwhere you are tonight. We have been watching the papers steady for three orfour days but the last we can find of you, you are at Lily Pond. The paper hasbeen just full of wrecks and awful gales on the lakes lately. Last night itsaid "that great fears were had for the safety of the Wilhelm and barges,but I see by tonight's paper that they are in Marquette. I wish you were out of it for thisfall. If you were having Hell last trip, it must be Hell and repeat this one.


We had quite a good deal of snow here Thanksgiving, but it went awayand we had a few very warm days, but it is awful cold here now. The wind issoutheast and freezing like sixty. We have been putting on siding on the eastend of the mill, about sixteen or eighteen feet from the ground all day andnearly froze to death. I don't know just how much longer we will be there butit looks now as though we would not be done much short of two weeks at the ratewe are going. I think quite likely I will stay here this winter, had thoughtsome of going to G. R. but I talked it over with Weed and he advised me to stayhere. He figures now on putting in a lumber wood and coal yard in the springproving there is any move made toward starting the harbor. The way he talked hewould furnish the money and I would run the business in my name (and we wouldgo halves in the profits). We have not figured the thing out exactly yet, onlytalked it over on the way to Glenn one day, and he went to Colorado the next day and won't be backbefore Dec. 10th. I have been reading law in the evening and allfall and would like to put in a couple or three months on it this winter if lcan.


The work at the factory has been goneon so long I expect that unless we have a fine December I am afraid I will notbe able to clear any land (but want to if there is any show at all). I have notmuch time to find out much about the houses in Douglasyet, all that I have found have been pretty high but I think likely I willstrike something before long. I hear that Chas Powers place is to be taken on a$1900 mortgage. The house alone would cost nearly $2500 besides 20 acres ofland. I am going to find out more.


Barber &Hancock have bought the remainder of BallHead [Baldhead?] part belongingto Saugatuck for $2,000. G & M Hauke has bought out the Commercial Record.Sadie Dempster was married in Chicagolast week to a fellow named McCormick.


Douglas, December 14, 1902

from Mama

Dear George,

We were all very glad to hear fromyou. We watched the papers every day after you had gone through the Soo but sawnothing of you until we saw your arrival in Chicago Then we were all greatly relieved forwe thought you were safe. I am very sorry you got your face frozen. I hope youare better now.


Willie got through in the factorytoil Wednesday and Thursday he commenced building our chicken house. It isgoing to be a Dandy (if you will excuse slang) and I expect the biddies will beproud of their new hotel.


I am glad you got through your fearfulexperience so well as you did but I prayed constantly for you and I have greatfaith in prayer. I will be fifty-five years to-morrow and nothing has evershaken my faith in God though I have had as much or more trouble than usuallyfalls to the lot of mortals, but I did not start out to preach so I will writeyou something else.


I understand that Jim McVea is tobe married to Carne Docking tomorrow. Will McVea said he was to have been homeyesterday. I do not know whether he came or not. I suppose you know that JimMcVea was 2nd mate on the Wilhilm. It seems your 2nd mateBrown can do all the talking for you. Jim Campbell says they call him WindyBrown. Love from us all Mama


NewRichmond,December 20, 1902

from sister,Sue

Dear George,

I'm sorry you won't be home forChristmas. We won't be able to go home either. Ray can't get away and can't getanyone to come to this deserted hole and work for him. That's the advantage of workingwhere's there's no night man.


I should say we would like to haveyou come and make us a visit providing you can stand the surroundings. It isn'tmuch better than a shanty - - our abode here, and it's quite cozy inside. Breakit to Bob [George 's financee, Barbara) gently so she'll stand the shockwhen she sees it and tell her to put on the shortest skirt she has. There's nosuch thing as sidewalks in New Richmond.


Ray said to tell you we'd furnishyou a refrigerator car with plenty of ventilation, for sleeping. We're just afew feet from the track, you know. the two switch lights are our street lampsand the track is our sidewalk to the office.


Ray is up in the freight houseshelling walnuts to keep from going to sleep. Well I'll have to stop and shakeup the fire or freeze to death.

Lovingly yours Sue



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