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History Lives Here Text

Letters from a Saugatuck Pastor's Wife

Continued from Page 283


Saugatuck Nov. 22, 1875

My dear Hattie:


It seems like a very long time since I have written toyou as it is. I have tried to keep in close communication with Lillie as I wishher to keep up good cheer. You may have heard through Lillie [a sister who hadrecently visited them] that little Mabel has been drooping for some time pastand has recently been very sick, strongly threatened with a very stubborn formof Typhoid fever. We have worked over her by night and by day and she is nowconvalescing.. She is too feeble either to leave or to take with me so yourvery generous invitation cannot be accepted by us at present. If the health ofthe family will admit and we are all spared perhaps some of us can visit homein the latter part of winter or early spring.


I am so tired with anxiety and a very severe cold thatI can hardly think two thoughts consecutively. I have had no opportunity tothank you for your very many gifts. Pester - day I made a little flannelchemise for Mabel out of a soft remnant you sent. It is so nice on her littlewasted body. I think with extreme care she will rally now. I have colored blackthis fall and have several garments you sent me from Mr. Mill's wardrobe readyto be repaired. James has worn that fine coat you sent for common a great deal.It was a purple shade and in the sun faded badly, but now it looks nice again.The shoes you sent by Lillie are a great comfort to James. They are just rightand he wears them instead of slippers. Those seal brown stocking have been warnby me constantly since you sent them. They are a great comfort.


This reminds me of what you wrote respecting Mrs.Judd. She is extremely kind but I have the little girls stockings all plannedout and commenced. They can be made comfortable with the old ones nicely heeledand toed. I think the ample of yarn you sent would make beautiful stockings butthey can do without them this winter. If Mrs. Judd could knit me a pair insteadthey would be very acceptable.


We have so much Church and parish work to do thiswinter that I do not know where to begin. Every thing is so chaotic with thesestringent times. Our members are coming and going, constantly changing to seekemployment. One of our best young men was brought back in his coffin fromMackinac last week. He was a member of my S. S. class. Went there to work onthe new mills which are being transferred from this place to that point. [Thebig mill from Singaporehad just been moved to St. Ignace.]


This eve. we have a gathering to consult about thefuture. The night of the 7`h a large shingle mill was burned heretogether with several other buildings. This throws many more out of employment.these things are very hard. One cannot find a moment's rest. from busy planningand as busy work. The times press with great severity on this community and ourchurch work is very much crippled by them.


Lillie can explain these matters to you better than Ican. We cannot recover from the losses by those forest fires. Mr. Wallin, ourchief man, does not know "which way to turn" as the saying is. I feelvery sorry for him, he is such a noble man. It is sweet to feel that there is asuperintending Providencewho orders all these perplexities. All we can do is to do the best we can andleave all the results with God


yours aff



Saugatuck Dec. 7,1875

Dear sister Hattie,

I think Mrs. Leony and yourself must be engaged in an"irrepressible conflict" with either real or supposed indigence. I dowish that you two good ladies could be persuaded not to exhaust either yourbounty or your strength upon such censurable ingrates as we have many timesproved ourselves to be. I believe our sensible mother used to regard me assufficiently sensitive for all the ordinary friction of life. However since Ihave tried to carry as many burdens both private and pubic, I can perceive thatI am becoming apparently extremely callous, to the opinions of others whetherof praise or blame.


I am unusually tired tonight having been engaged allday in the poetic diversion of house cleaning which with me always possesses atleast one quality of "Alexandrine verse: since it "drags its slowlength along." Thereon "hangs a tale," if! only had the time toweave it.

James and I have an engagement in the country fortomorrow which will consume our whole day. In order to meet this, we must riseunusually early. Western pioneer life is one incessant whirl.


If you still feel it to be your duty to wearyourselves out in labors for us I will say that that articles you havementioned will be the most acceptable - much more so - than dresses.


I have no pattern for a shirt for James sufficiently accurateto send but will give you some measurements which will serve as a guide. Iwould rather prefer to have them open on the back, although this is immaterial.The band of the neck is 15 inches in length when finished so as to receive a 14'/2 inch collar. The sleeve is 211/z inches in lengthover the elbow. The wrist band is 9 in. in length and about 11/2 inwidth, perfectly plain, to rec. false cuffs of which he has an abundance. Theshoulder from the band in the neck to the top of the arm hole is 7 inches. Ithink the safer way would be to leave the shirts without the neck bands beingsure not to cut them too low.


Willie is a tall boy - twelve years of age, with quitelong arms. I'd make his shirts similar to his Father's in every respectexcepting in size. I could also finish the necks of his together with thebutton holes in the bosoms of a11. Unbleached muslin is abundantly good. Iwould much prefer it. I never wear "tight drawers" as the best Chicago physicianscondemn them. Under garments which would fit Lillie would fit me - if made alittle longer in every respect. Gracie needs chemise, more than Mabel, as thelatter takes those which Gracie outgrows. Gracie is a tall child I O years ofage. I put all of our winter drawers in band at the bottom.


James and Willie both have good new drawers, just madelast week. Yesterday P. M. we devoted to gathering mosses for the S. SchoolChristmas gathering. A rain has taken the frost out of the ground. I will sendyou a specimen of the kind of moss we found in a wild ravine three miles away.have never found this before since the great fires.


I will send patterns of Gracie's and Mabel's drawers.The first notches from the top are for the side slits. The second is the lengthof the bottom band. The third is half the length of the top band. I make twoslits at the top of Mabel's and only one at the top of Gracie's. These notchesare all for the finished size. We all have an abundance of under shirts eithermade or cut out. I did some of the work when recovering from my sickness in theSummer. If Lillie could make Mabel a pair of wristlets to match the blue dressyou sent her last winter, I would be much pleased. I have promised her these. Iam yawning at a frightful rate. An aff. Goodby -



Saugatuck, Dec. 31, 1875

Dear Sister Hattie,


Two or three days since I sent you a shabby lookingenvelope containing Gracie's first attempt at crocheting. She calls it a"wash rag" and it is designed for Uncle Mills. We hurried it off inhot haste so as it have it reach you by New Years if possible, so as it beingthe year with a clean face. Today I send a similar package to Mother,containing a purple and white necktie which was sent to me more than a yearsince. Perhaps she may make some use of it. The elastics are Gracie's secondattempt at knitting - these also for mother. They are just finished. When yousee Mother, if you will, explain to her about these. I shall be much obliged.


We are all invited out to Plummerville to a New Year'sdinner tomorrow. One of our members lives there. She was Willie's first teacherin school and I think perhaps his best. It is a tedious ride to get there. Ithas just commenced raining hard. The frost is all out of the ground. Mr. Droverof Plummerville is an infidel, I suppose, but thinks very much of James and isalways contriving to get him out there. They wished us to go tonight, it is aride of 6 or 7 miles. We will try to go in the early morn, if possible.


Your letter and the little `runaway' came safely thelast eve. The picture is almost an exact likeness of little Minnie Breuckman ofthis village. I think we will hang it in her bedroom. There are several of themin this village. Mrs. Wallin had one in her bedroom when she was living. I amvery much obliged to you for this. We will call it Auntie's New Year's presentto all the children.


I have just finished washing some clothes I coloredblack yesterday. I am going to get something in readiness for the silk skirtalso for the gray one you sent before. The brown one you sent me last winter Ihave worn very much, It is my best winter's rig. When these hurried holidaysare over I will try to write more. The Auburndale barrel contained a few goodarticles with much that was of but very little value to me. Do not say anythingabout this. It was very kind of them.

Yesterday P.M. we went to dear little "Leoggie'sgrave and trimmed up the pines and transplanted some Arbutus and a few spraysof "fanning pine." These are hard to find since the fires. Gracie wassick and could not go. Willie and Mabel picked these wintergreen berries forUncle Mills. I will drop them in the letter.


Goodby Mollie

(A Note from James)


Saugatuck, Mich. Feb. 1,1876

My Dear Sister Hattie:


Your very amiable letter of Jan. 28 came to hand this A.M. I am sorry that you have had occasion to be troubled about so many things.You must remember that "we are all poor critters" and ourshortcomings are, perhaps, greater or more numerous than our virtues; hence wemight conscientiously plead guilty to almost any thing except willful murder.


We certainly did nor intend to put you on the rack, byany unnecessary delay in acknowledging your kindness and the favors of theLadles in Penn Yan. Most assuredly we have a very high appreciation of all whocontributed so cheerfully to increase our comforts. We could not however verywell acknowledge the barrel before it came into our possession and as it wastwo full weeks on the road there was room for anxiety; hence Mary stole a fewmoments from time otherwise devoted to the sick & dying & sent a lineby the first mail after its arrival. But as she had no help in the kitchen andas we are not yet so etherialized as to live without eating, she found it quiteimpossible to say all that ought to be said at that moment.


She has since written to Mrs. Bruen, Pres. of yourSociety, which I hope will be a sufficient recognition of the many favors wehave received outside of our family friends. To them we are always in debt& I suppose always will be.


The general health of this place has been good for theyear past, but then the aged and the infirm are always failing & fallingaway - Mary has no help now but Anna Henjes - an orphan girl who works for herboard and goes to school.


We have had a very mild winter thus far, but it is nowcolder with a northwest wind & some snow. Mary and Mabel both have hardcolds & are nearly sick, yet one is in the kitchen and the other at school.


You my express my - our - special regards toMiss Belknap for the blocks in the bedquilt that came from her hands. Also toMrs. Long for the over-coat. This will save my better one many drenchings inbad weather & then take many thanks - very many to yourself and Broth. E.W. for the numberless favors we have had from year to year. For further explanations- come out & see us. We would like a visit for you all With much love yourstruly




Saugatuck March 3, 1876

Dear sister Hattie;


Your letters - edging - postal car &c &c haveall been recd. We have been going through with so much excitement for the 1sttwo or three weeks and I have had so much company that I am almost ready togive up through excessive fatigue. Yesterday I drove about fifteen miles aftera girl to Diamond Springs and back. Secured her and reach home about nineo'clock last eve. We are having the first sleighing of the winter, but the snowwill be nearly all gone by night. The lumbermen are working day and night. Ivisited a lumber camp yesterday. So perplexing a winter for lumbermen has neverbeen known before in this region. This open winter has thrown many members ofour church out of employment and the families of some are almost famishing forthe necessities of life. These things however have their compensations. Thewinter has been most favorable for the very poor in cities. It would seem thatGod is teaching all classes of persons throughout the commonwealth to walk byfaith and not by sight. Everything seems so chaotic that no one knows how toplan. The population of these lumbering towns is always very fluctuating. Itseems almost impossible to built up a steadfast Church in such a community.


If Lillie could only look at these denominationalpeculiarities as I do, of how little consequence would her own preference on afew points appear. I can fully realize how trying her course has been to Mr.Mills and yourself. Just at this time when your ladies have done so much forus. I do not know as either of us are to blame for this. I wish she could havewaited a few weeks at least. We ought to have expected this result long ago.Baptists the world over have a persistent habit in this direction. I think theyare so taught to magnify their notions about baptism that they are not awarehow the unconscious influence which they exert upon others many times appears.I do not care to have my children know anything of their Aunt Lillie's coursein this direction. It will do them no good. When they are older they can betterunderstand these influences. Aunt Lithe has always been associated withyourself, our dear sainted parents - and the whole Porter pedigree. Poor child,it is amusing to hear her talk of being unbiased. I do not wish to have anywords with her at all upon the subject. It is amazing to me how Christians candelight in pushing with their denominational horns. You know Mother delightedto argue this subject as if it were vital to the soul's salvation. May the Lordshield my children from this element of discord.


The ferns and the letter to Lillie about them weremailed on the same day that I sent the letter to the ladies, but I presume theydid not leave this office until Monday. Lillie has been over Bald-head and Ithought she could describe it to them in an interesting way. I think I alsocopied a beautiful poem to be read to the ladies if she chose, called the "PetrifiedFern." I did not know whether she ever read nor repeated this to eithermother or Lillie since it will do no good whatever and promote ill-will. I amfor peace and harmony. Will try to return the letters to you soon. Now I amgoing to mill before the snow all melts -- and attend to a variety of errands.


Your aff Mary

(To be continued-page 296)