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History Lives Here Text

Letters from aSaugatuck Pastor's Wife

Continued from Page 275

Saugatuck May 5, 1875 Dear sister Hattie:

The letter and plants came safely night before last. They are all pottedand bottled according to the best of our ability. All look quite freshexcepting the heliotropes. With these choice plants which you have just sentand the few we have left we hope to posses again a valuable collection. We havepoor facilities for house plants and can only cultivate those which will bemost useful to us. We are eager for white blossoms as these are so much desiredfor funerals and weddings. The house plants of this village were nearly all destroyedduring the winter. The fine plants which you sent us before survived our disastroustrip to Grand Rapids."Duchess of Sutherland" "Salmon Queen" a variegatedfoliaged Abutilon is also doing well and a small Similax. Have you these twoplants? If not let me know. They survived the freezing.


The State Assn. meets at KalamazooMay 19 and I do so much want to attend but fear I cannot leave home. Jamesthinks we could see some things there and perhaps buy a very few. This bodydoes not come within our reach only once in six or seven years.


Now respecting theWinter - it has been one of unprecedented severity - cold very intense and oflong continuance. The Spring is very late. We have not touched house cleaningor flower garden. During the latter part of April we had a series of hardfreezing nights which has done much injury to winter grains. there is scarcelyany hope for peaches of any varieties. Such a Winter has not been known heresince the settlement of the country. Back from the lake many peach trees arethought to be killed. Ours look thrifty. We were obliged to shoot our farmhorse which I think was sick when I last wrote. We have arranged with our hiredman to use his horse this year and so save buying at present.

Business is very dull indeed. navigation has not yet fully opened. Wecannot predict what change this will make.


Our extra meetings lasted about five weeks. Seventeen united with theChurch a few weeks since, and twelve last Sab. The people seem to be doing allthat they can under their many discouragements. I have had no girl for aboutfive weeks and am worked down to a condition of extreme exhaustion. Have now ayoung German girl who has never worked out at all before. Last night I was sorestless that I scarcely slept an hour all night. What I am dying for is alittle quiet rest but it never comes and cannot be secured in these new towns.There are so many wheels to be kept revolving all the time.


Went out last eve. to hear the new bishop Rev. Dr. Gillespie. The Rectorof All Saints church is expected to return here soon. We are better pleasedwith this arrangement than to have a new man. We know just about how far hisinfluence will extend.


Have just been down stairs and find myself invited to a "ragbee." People think I can go to everything conceivable. I do morework at home than any Amazonian Our S. School is very vigorous. I have a classof young men from 12 to 15 in number. Some of our young members have alreadyleft the place seeking employment. We have heard somewhat of your Churchdifficulties. but are not itching for a call. Church contentions are mostdisastrous.


We feel anxious to learn of your financial prosperity. I would so like tohear that your dear husband is reducing the debt. on your delightful home.Debts in this place during present times are a heavy burden but we do not allowours to perplex our minds. We are trying to do the best that we can. Pioneerlife must blossom out in many directions. We wish to feel that this new placehas been improved by our living in it, in very many ways.

Your aff Mary P.Taylor


Saugatuck, May 15, 1875

My dear sister Hattie;

Your letter came day before yesterday. Do try to go with your dearhusband. Life is so feverish and hurried with most of us that we are apt to letthese seasons of change pass by unimproved. I am much hurried, have so manyparish duties to attend to this week and S. S. concert Sabbath eve to round outthe bundle of toils to its utmost capacity. I have a class of young men, notcultivated like eastern ones, but honest hard working fellows. all of the brainwork for such exercises of course, comes on me.


Do not feel at all well this Spring. Keep myself nearly drunk with quininein order to avoid the ague. Mabel's whooping cough clings to her withunflinching tenacity. Outdoor play in a balmy air, I think, will conquer it.


State Ass. at Kalamazoonext week Tuesday. I wish to go and will try to do so if l can hire a sewingwoman to come here Monday and help me on an infinite number of small jobs. Havesent her a note this morn.


We can supply you soon with same of the plants you have not. James thinksit will do just as well and better after we both return. Have not touchedhouse-cleaning or yard work. The latter but little. We must let all of thesethings wait until our return. Weather here very chilly. Spring extremelybackward. I suppose cousin Bennie is in Augustanear Clinton.How I would like to correspond with her but cannot.


If you go to Phila. do by all means call on Miss Bonney. When Ithink of that town and its occupants I feel as though I long to be aetherealizedand fly there as on the wings of the wind.


Much love to a11,adieu, Yours, Mary

Saugatuck July 27 [1875?]

Dear sister Hattie,

Your postal has been recd. Willie is temporarily unable to see well eno. towrite in consequence of a bee sting upon his eyelid. We are almost hurried todeath with home, Church & parish work. the sickly season has commencedamong small children and I have to fly from one scene to another with almostthe speed of the wind. James has just buried a poor Irishman who committedsuicide yesterday morn. Tomorrow a beautiful baby must be laid away and I mustmake the wreath &c &c A small orphan child nearby is very low withtyphoid fever. I have a young orphan Hollandgirl with me whose entire family save herself are dead. She belongs to ourchurch. Her mother died about seven weeks since.


The plants sentcame safely and part of them are doing nicely. Heliotropes will not live. I havea nice one bought at our out doors about two weeks since. I can not tell youabout these things. The children are so clamorous to get out to the farm as weare all here in the village yet. I am trying my best to shape things so as toleave here this week. The spring has been so backward that everything is muchlater than usual I shall finish saving the currants tomorrow if possible. Thepackage containing the collar, necktie & edging came safely and are verynice indeed. We are having so many festivals &c &c to make the endsmeet in the contingencies of the Church that I cannot find a breathing spell.Another one tomorrow eve if the weather will admit. James recd. a letter fromMiss Strong which he answered the first moment he could after it came. Our yearlyS. S. picnic passed off delightfully last week. Money matters here verystringent. About one third of our members absent from town to find work. Thismakes the burdens of the few remaining heavier than every before! We must notmurmur - these are things entirely beyond our control.

I seldom venture to use postal cards in this village. They are not verysafe. Female clerks at the P. Office inquisitive & gossiping - misconstruelanguage many times however guarded and ambiguous. Very many thanks & muchlove to all, Your aff sister Mary P. Taylor


Farm Mon. Morn Aug. 30 [1875]


Dear sister Hattie


I rode out to the farm late last eve. Willie will go down to Saugatuckwith the horse before breakfast. While he is dressing I will drop one word. Ihave been sick with bilious dysentery - but am now better. Been absent fromChurch and all duties for more than three weeks nearly all of Aug. I'm stillvery weak though slowly improving. My girl leaves on Saturday to go to Chicago to spend thewinter with her aunt. So this matter must be attended to. I am able to servesome for my family and am so hurried.

Love to all Good by You Mary


Mon morn. Sept. 16

Boy-like Willie forgot to mail this letter and left it in his best coatpocket.


Tues. noon

All unexpectedlythe thresher came to us. We only expected to have them for one meal, butinstead of that they were with us for three. This weather was so extremelysultry that they dared not hurry their horses. I came to town Wed. eve to makea promised visit or call on some sick ones, but instead of that was obliged togo to bed myself. My heath is very feeble indeed. I have the young orphan girlwith me of whom I may have written. Our four straw ticks are all in the boiler.I have churned this morn. School commenced this morn. Grace & Willie willnot begin until the weather changes. G. is not at all well. Willie & Mabelare quite strong for them. James is struggling to keep moving during thissultry weather. These days are always very hard on him. He is now making a collectionof fruit to send to the Pom. Soc. at Chicagofrom this section, this eve.

Our good Dutch boy commences harvesting the onions this week. The man onthe farm is trying to get a piece of new ground ready for winter wheat thisfall. So you see we are all very busy I should like much to go to Chicago to the meeting ofthe Am. Board next month if l had the strength. Presume I could see Olivethere. Home is the best place for sick ones, as I found out at Kalamazoo.


Grace sends a list of the geraniums now in bloom "Maid of Rent""Velvet Nosegay" Salmon Queen" "Innocence""Modesty" Duchess of Sutherland" Both of the "Opalis"bulbs are in bloom also an abundance of "Roman Ivy" raised from theseed you sent us. Several other geraniums are budded. We have a choice collectionof house plants which are much admired. Have heard nothing more fromAuburndale. If you can send the dress you speak of without too much expense, Ithink you better send it, as it is. I have a poor woman who is quite good nowat helping me and I have just settled with her, so I feel more free to open anew account. Our salary is raised this year by weekly offerings and althoughthe times are duller than I ever knew before any where, we manage to keep ourexpenses canceled as we go along, as far as it is possible. Our annuals aredoing very nicely this season. I wish to send out several baskets of flowersthis morn. It is too bad to have them wither unadmired.


Just lengthened one of Mabel's white dresses with the wide embroidery yousent me last winter. She wore it yesterday. Your apple blossoms are on Gracie'sleghorn hat. It is trimmed with the blue watered ribbon Aunt Lillie sent to me.I have a nice skirt for myself made of the remnants you sent. Took the gray forthe bottom and trimmed it with some of the brown Japanese silk remnant edgedwith black. It is very pretty. I made this before I went to Kalamazoo. I hope to use the other remnantsfor the children soon. I can sew some but cannot do heavy house work. ifeverything goes to decay. I have a jar of cauliflower to be finished today. Wehave no peaches this year.



Wednesday eve Sept. 22 [1875]

Dear sister Hattie,

Lillie's letter of Sep. 11th your postal of the 15thand now your letter of Sept. 21St are all before me on the study table.The first two have been here ever since their reception and I cannot tell youhow many times I have been really seated at the table to reply to them, whenthe imperative door bell, would jingle and I must descend, both literally andfiguratively. I cannot explain to you how intensely busy we all are. Anna theyoung orphan girl, is learning the dress maker's trade, and the lady with whomshe sews is very much hurried. This makes me a constant family of seven and nohelp. The weather is unseasonably cold and it seems as though all vegetablesmust be secured at once. I have some of the Autumn picking and canning done.The catsup was finished today. James & I took a long ride Monday to attenda funeral at Pier Cove and to accomplish many things while also seeking for agirl. This last was not a success as the girl had gone to Manlius before wereached her stopping place. The wind was extremely chilly but the ride alongthe lake shore was much enjoyed by us both. All the lake nymphs seemed to beout in the early morning with their white night caps on, Dutch lady fashion.the lake was wild, not a vessel to be seen. We did not reach home until ten oclack at night.


This P.M. we have been to a wedding. One of our young ladies goes to Racine to live. This hastaken nearly all my afternoon and you can imagine how the house work goes. Ihave been up so late nights recently to try to finish the work of the day thatI cannot keep awake. It seems when I sit down that I am asleep in spite ofmyself, but when I really retired I am too tired for rest; and so pass manywakeful hours. James is waiting for me to stop. The study is so cold and it isso late I must desist.


Friday morn: AgainI make an attempt towards acknowledging the nice hat, but Mrs. Titus appearsfor an errand and I must attend

to her. Back again. The mail will close. All I can say is that the hatreached us without much injury and is very pretty indeed. I think it will bebecoming. I will try to make good use of it for myself.


More geraniums are out. If I ever wade through these piles of work 1 willtry to write. the drawers I shall keep for myself. I think they will be verynice, very many thanks but do try to save your strength as much as possible.Weather more comfortable. Love to all very much of it


Your aff. Mary


Friday morn, Oct. 8 [1875] Dear sister Hattie,

The nice skirt came several days since and I can make very useful to me. Iam going out to the farm in a few moments to assist in gathering some applesfor pickling &c &c They ought to have been attended to several dayssince. The hired roan and the children are busy gathering in the onions whichare very nice. Harm goes with us today to cut the buckwheat out at the farm.


Rejoice with me. I have a girl again after this long interval of feeble healthand overwork. She came yesterday morn. She is engaged to work in the lumberwoods this winter but I shall be glad of two or three weeks assistance.


Our hired man's wife at the farm is expecting to be confined in a few days- and I must put a few things into her hands immediately. I hope towrite some letters the first of next week. Last week was the week of the fair.James took several premiums. Many of our geraniums are in bloom. Modesty is amost lovely blossom.


Very Many, many, many thanks for your unceasing kindness. Willis iscalling me. Hope yours dear husband's eye is well again.

Affly your Sister Mary


(To be continued-page 288)