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History Lives Here Text

Lettersto a Great Lakes Sailor

(Continued from Page 211)


Chicago, Ill.,March 28, 1901 from brother, Will


I suppose youare hard at it this week, but I hope under a little more favorable circumstances than we were a year ago at this time. Do you rememberhow we used to go and dig up the snow so the sun could melt it?


Well George,if you can arrange matters so I can go with you & not make too much troublefor yourself why you can count on me for anything you want to. [George wasan officer on the Hives Lumber Co. boat Santa Maria] You know best what the work is and whetheror not I can fill the bill. I told the Governor today that I had made up mymind to leave; he asked me when? and I told himanywhere from the 1 ' to 15th of April. He said alright, they hatedto have me go as I had done a lot of good work, but he seemed to think I wasdoing the best thing to be done an I do myself.


As far asgoing down to Tonowanda to help you fit out. Sure Iwill. for if 1 am going at all I want to be there at thesend off. Well I guess I will close now. Remember if this is in any way goingto make things disagreeable for you, why never mind, for I will find somethingelse to do till I save up a little money. But if we can work together to betteradvantage, why I want do so.

Waiting farther developments



Douglas, Michigan May 20th 1901

from Mama


Dear George,


Your letter received we were allglad to hear from you. Jim McVea is home yet, butthey say he is working on Bryan'shome so he is not idle. Papa and I were up to Laketownyesterday, they feel pretty blue up there. There was a very heavy frost lastweek, and they think the small fruit is all killed and a good many peaches arebadly hurt. It is rather early yet to know for a certainty what the damage is.Jim says Alum Baugham has let his hired man go, and Jim thinks some of letting his go to. Our berriesdon't look as if they were injured any, but they may be. We have our corn allplanted at home. Sara's school is out Wednesday and Thursday. Papa is going tobegin his work on the place and keep at it till he finishes everything there.Otto says you have the best field of hay between here and Holland and your oats are looking fine.


The weather issomething awful, cold winds and rain almost every day. Ollie is down herefitting out. He began work last Saturday. I expect he will come tonight andstay here. The 2nd engineer has not come yet. Coxfordhas contracted to buy the Green place and Doud's placehere is sold too. Property in Douglas is beingpicked right up, there is not a vacant house inDouglas and people looking for houses to rent. Gill has not begun in thefactory yet so Will is still keeping count of the basket. He said that FredSpencer told him he was going to help him (Will) sell baskets this year. GeoPhelps went to every member of the school board and got them to let Pearl have theintermediate room so she is going to have the same room she had. There isnothing new about the Douglas school.


Fred Stoner isout of quarantine now. He said he was awful sorry he had to be kept athome as he had planned for you & him to go up the river in his boat. He washere the day after you left. Willie, Sarah and he were out on the boat a weekago yesterday.


Is C. Richardswith you and how does he get along? His mother told Papa he will not write toher & she was going to come here & see if you wrote anything from him.

Write as oftenas you can. Mamma


Douglas, July14, 1901

from Mama


I cashed yourorder but have not put it in the bank yet as I thought I had better wait tillyou sent more and then put it in all at once.


Tillie & Frank came down herfor the Fourth. The Saugatuck was in so Ollie came up too. Sarah & Willwent to Fennville in the morning, Leck and familywere up there too. Fred Stoner was going for Sara in the evening and he tookTillie & Frank up there with him, so all our folks were up there but you& Papa and myself. Papa has the hay cut and homefrom your place. There is between five and six tons of it, hay is very lightthis year all around here. Tylerhad in one hundred and got between forty & fifty tons where he generallygets one hundred and fifty. The oat crop is very light too - a good many areplowing their oats under. Papa & I are going up this afternoon to look atyours we were up there some time ago, Papa plowed around your pear trees buteverything is overgrown with ferns & brush in some places. The oats are tooshort and light to cut so there will not be many of them. The peaches in thisvicinity are all gone up with the awful cold weather in May and this terriblyhot and dry weather now. The prospects for any kind of crops here are very slimindeed. The corn is all drying and withering.


We hadfifty-seven cases of strawberries. They netted about fifty cents a case, the hot dry weather lessened the berry crop here aboutone half. We are not done with our currants yet but they are not bringing muchthough they are scarce too. If this dry hot weather lasts much longer I think everything will be ruined here as I see by the papers it is in Kansas.


TheSaugatuck came up to her dock today for the first time since she started out,we are having no service at all this year. I think that is one reason ourprices are so low, they say the boat does not get in till noon when the marketis done for that day    Love from all Mama


Douglas, July28, 1901

from brother Will


Dear George


Your letter received and was very gladto hear from you. I could not help but wonder where you were all through thisterrible weather we have been having. Last Sunday it was 106 degrees in theshade here and has not improved to any alarming extent since though we have hadseveral nice showers and it looks as though we might expect more. Till has beendown since last Saturday but expects to go home again tomorrow. Sue seems to bequite sick again. I do not know whether it is the same thing again or the warmweather but that has been enough to kill anyone.

The folks justsold the little calf to Fred Goodrich for $3.00. It was just two weeks old andthe butchers would not give that till it was five. The corn and potatoes herewill be almost a failure I guess and the peaches will be probably about half acrop.


We expect tofinish up everything in the factory this week and what I will do then I do notknow. Gerber says they will try and keep me under pay until Oct. 15 anyway asthey need a good watchman around the yards even when there is nothing doing.They have been paying me $11.00 per week since June 1st and I have not done asmuch physical work in that time as I would in one day last year. That is 10cents better a day than they were going to pay Gill. Gerber says they havenever made better packages or had things runs as satisfactorily as they havebeen in my department this year. Roger came poking his nose in the other dayand Gerber ordered him out. He said I was running that part and he wanted Rogerto understand it too.


I was a littleafraid Richards would turn out as he did as he never was any good before. I wassorry I did not think of it in time. Ab Williamswanted to go with you the worst kind of way, but he did not say any thing aboutit to me till the other day. He said when the factory shuts down he is going toChicago and tryand see if he can't ship with you. He is a good quiet steady fellow, minds hisown business and is not one of the familiar kind. Ibelieve he would make a good man for you.


I am sorry Idid not go with you but as things turned out it was a lucky thing I didn't forI have not been able to do anything with my left hand for over two months butit is now pretty near well and I guess I can use it before long as good as everI could, but it was pretty discouraging for a while. There was for over threeweeks that it was more than probable that I would have to lose my whole arm.


There has been butvery little doing here this summer. The resort business has hardly paidexpenses. The electric cars now run from Saugatuck to Grand Rapids.


Douglas, July30/01 from Mama


Dear George


I will try andwrite a few lines to you. I got your order all right and placed the money inthe bank in your name, but the interest is only three percent. Takken said that was all they had paid for a year past.Tillie put in $100 also and last fall she put some in too and she told me thatthe interest was only three 3%. I tried to make him give you four but he saidhe could not do it - you will have to let them know at the end of a year if youwish it still kept there or the interest will cease but you can withdraw itwhenever you wish. The terrible hot weather we have had has ruined our corn onyours and our place. Papa has mowed the oats but they are not brought home yet.The frost must have hurt them this spring as they were very thin, your catch ofclover was very good and even but the hot sun has burned it out in spots.However we have had a very good rain now and it may come up again. I have hadTill & Frank here for some ten days but she has gone home now and Sara hasgone with her. Till & I were up to Laketown lastweek. Jim happened to have his crops on heavy ground and things up there arelooking fine. They did real well with their strawberries and I guess they willhave quite a few peaches on their place but non on the Busman place. There isno news here, everything jogs along in the same oldway. Papa does not think we will have feed enough to last all winter though heis cutting and saving everything in the shape of fodder. I am not going toworry about it a worry will do no good though I would like to pay that notethis fall if I possibly could.


Ollie was uphere Sunday when Till was here, he looks real well. Sue is not well in fact shesays she has not been well since she was vaccinated last spring but I am inhopes she will be better when the weather gets colder.


There are notso many resorters here this year as there was lastbut then our boat service is simply awful. The Saugatuck trying to make dailytrips she comes and goes when she is a mind to.

Love from us all


Douglas, Mich. Aug 16, 1901

from brother, Will

Dear George


Your letterreceived and I was very glad to hear from you, but was sorry to hear that youwere feeling so bad. We have been having quite cool weather here and I was inhopes you would have it the same there. It is terrible dry and dusty herethough and every thing is sadly in need of rain.


We had allbeen down on the school grounds playing tennis to night and had just startedhome when a runaway team passed us. It was one of Heath's livery teams and washitched to a fine new surrey. Well I took after it and caught it just as itpassed Phelp's drug store. Young Stoner then got inand we drove back as far as Plummers but as we didnot find the people who had lost it we took it home. They had just telephoneddown from Pier Cove that the team had run away from there and to be on the lookout for it. Doc was very profuse in his thanks but he never offered us a sou for our trouble but we had a good ride out of it anyway.


The Twin Citynine play a game of ball at Douglas with the Grand Rapids nine tomorrow and a big timethey expect to have. They have fixed up the public square in nice shape, builta big grand stand, fenced it all in, and they have a game every Saturday.


Yes, George,if you can arrange it so I can go with you I will meet you any time you want meto. I would like very much to put in till about Oct 15th or Nov 1st.Then if possible 1 want to go to Lake Forrest.I had quite a talk with Gerber today and he said they had intended to let FredSpencer go as soon as I was done with my other job and put me on in his place.But I would not do that so had intended to quit anyway. I will work up untilyou send for me if you want me to come so I will not have any time. I do notknow how well I will be able to do the work but will do the best I can for you.



Douglas, Sept, 1st, 1901

from Mama.


Dear George,

I will try andwrite you a few lines. We received your letter and money order all right. Willwent just as soon as he got your telegram so I suppose he is with you by thistime though we have heard nothing from him. Papa had gone looking for the boatwhen we left. He came back while I was gone without the boat, he stayed allnight with a man by the name of Inman and they started by day light but couldsee nothing of the boat. Friday we got a letter from Inman saying he had theboat but wanted two dollars for his trouble in getting it. We had paid him 50cents before. This Inman's father raised Joe Lewis amthey are great chums. I think Lewis put him up to this as Joe is up theregetting out wood. Inman said if we wanted to he would send the boat down withLewis. Fine times when we have to pay for getting back stolen property.Wonderful Sheriff Leland is, isn't he? Lewis is up the river now and he maybring the boat back or he may not. I don't know what he will do, but I tell youdon't know where we will get the money to pay for it. It'soutgo here all the time and not one cent income.


We picked ourpeach crop, four baskets in all and sold them to Winnie McDonald for ten cent:a basket in all forty cents. We will have to try another year and put in smallfruits and vegetables on the home place and sell to resorters. We can do so Ithink to advantage. We will certainly have to do some such thing or starve.


I suppose Will hadtold you all the news so I need not write them. Nothing new has happened sincehe left. Fred Stoner and his folks went to Chicago to stay Saturday night. He has soldhis boat. Sam Reid the blacksmith is going to take care of their horse andexcepting for a short time in summer that will be the last of them here untilthe old man gives up railroading. Then he will live here I guess. Till is herenow, she has been helping Leck in peachingfor two weeks but is going home next Tuesday. Sarah's school will beginto-morrow. She is taking some medicine Dr. Brunson gives her and 1 think it is helping her. I hope she will get fleshy, she will certainly look stronger... Love from usall,




from sister Sue


Dear George,


I was terriblesick for five or six weeks and didn't do anything. Guess it was at the sametime you felt the worst. I had to give up eating everything but warm milk andtoast and then I got better and have made up for it by eating all the timesince. I've gained eight pounds in two weeks.


I've beencanning all kinds of fruit, plums & pears & tomatoes & pickledpeaches, so you'll have to figure on coming & helping eat them next winter.


Chan. Richardswas here one night & was telling us that you & he got along alright buthe guessed the old man got a little sore on him. He said it was time he came homeand aggravated the soil for a while.


I guess Leck and Jim are making all kinds of money. Peaches areselling all the way from 25 to 40 cents a little basket. There's onlyabout half as many going in as there was last year though. Potatoes are a dollara bushel. Every other year this time they're 25 cents. So you see the farmer is"it" this year.


Well, I'll have to stop and go and start dinner. Goingto have sweet potatoes. Do you remember when we used to roast them on astick over a fire under the hill. I hope you'll getbetter now since it is getting cooler.



To Billy:


How are you coming and have yougot over being seasick yet and how much longer are you going to sail this fall.I've got two pretty roomers this year, got four altogether. It's too bad youcouldn't be here to help entertain them. The Douglasnine has beat the Fennville for the last twoSaturdays. They only had two of their own players though, the rest were theblue labels. There was a big crowd went down to the game at Douglasyesterday but I couldn't go.