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History Lives Here Text

Letters from a SaugatuckPastor's Wife

(Continued from Page 354)


Sabbath P.M. July 25, 1880 Dear sister Hattie,

I have just finished reading the two notices you sent me respecting thePresbyterian Church. Such histories are intensely interesting, exciting veryconflicting emotions. If my whole married life has not been spent in labors forfeeble churches perhaps I could feel differently. I tender you all my mostsincere congratulations, hoping that your magnificent temple may be accepted ofthe Lord. But the end is not yet. How few realize through what stress andstrain such structures rise. Can either pastor or people rebound from suchover-exertion to conduct the worship of such a temple with that vigor andheartiness which seems necessary to complete success


Our Churchat Saugatuck is undergoing repairs and there was no service there today. Thisleft me at liberty to go with James to his appointment. The congregation wasgood for these exhausting harvest days. It is purely a rural congregation. Iwas delighted with the serene beauty of the landscape as viewed from the schoolhouse windows. Can it be God's will that a church of our order can add anyelements of good to that community? Is this effort to be permanent or merelytransient? Is there real room for a vigorous organization there? These arevital questions. As for myself I feel so worn that I hardly know how to performthe small Church duties which I now attempt. Indeed the ride today was betterthan I feared as I was fighting off a sick head ache all the morning. One thingis certain, this charge is not of James' seeking, whatever may come of it. Itis too far from home for a pastoral labor. The country has its snares each sectionpeculiar to itself. There is one organ in this school house. I could not helpthinking of our almost silent one and of Gracie's deft fingers so far away. Ihope she may develop into a strong cultured and unselfish womanhood. Here thereis a broad field for the exercise of every species of feminine talent. Anna isbecoming very self-reliant in various ways. In this luxurious age girls must betaught self-­abnegation, both by precept and by example. A busy week opensbefore us. "Help" is very scarce and work crowds.

Tues morn.7:30 o'clock It is quite early as you see. Flora is harnessedto go to Saugatuck. I have been out in the blackberry patch. This is our firstpicking. I have ten quarts of enormous berries to send to town. ' We had twelveto tea last night and eleven to breakfast this morn. Mr. Dunton and anassistant are painting the barn as far as it is finished. The sheep shearer ishere. We hope to get the sheep relieved of their warm ulsters before Christmas.It has been impossible to get this done sooner. We have a little rain almostevery night. This keeps the wool damp. I hope to have better facilities forfarm work after a while. When Gracie goes to Prattsburgh I hope she will take acooling drink from the ancestral well of the old homestead and look down intoits depths. I suppose Grandpa Porter superintended its construction. I shouldlove to spend a few days roaming around familiar haunts. When I was last thereI saw but few changes in comparison with the new western towns. Now I must stopand attend to many things. Your aff Mary


[Fall 1880]


{The opening part of the letteris missing)


I should have sent these recipes immediately on the reception of yourletter but we could not remember where we found them. finally I happened tothink that Jacob was living with us then and that we might have found the onewe used in his book. James was at Saugatuck yesterday and found one of thebooks in the drug store from which he copied it.


I am verystupid today, have not been to church or S. S. in a long time. I gladly availmyself of every opportunity I can secure whether suitable or unsuitable forabsolute rest. I am very sorry that Mr. Mills and yourself suffer from suchlong continued ill health. Have any of your friends had any experience in theuse of "Compound Oxygen?" I saw this remedy advertised in the S. S.Times and sent for the treatise respecting it just the day before our horsedied so suddenly. This supply for two months costs fifteen dollars. It seemslike an exorbitant price. I have never had much faith in making the stomachsuch a receptacle of multifarious drugs. Perhaps this treatment might help you.It does not seem as though it could injure you.


Anna returned from ChicagoTuesday morn. She enjoyed her visit very much but came home tired out with somuch sight seeing. She has not been as well as usual this summer. She hasengaged to teach school for six months in the "brown school house" onthe town line 3 '/2 miles from here. She will commence her school one week fromtomorrow. I now have a "raw Dutch girl," Herbert's sister. She cannotstay but a few weeks perhaps three or four at the longest. I am going to slipout of all the work I can. I have a bottle of "Horsford's AcidPhosphate," which I procured from Chicago.This is $1.00 a bottle. I am saving this until the rush of fall work is over alittle when I can give it a better trial. If I were you I would live as quietlyas possible. Your own ill health as well as that of your husband is sufficientexcuse for your withdrawal from society.


I value athorough domestic education so very highly that I should be perfectly satisfiedto have Grace discontinue all of her studies excepting her music, and take athorough drill in culinary arts from Mary in your kitchen. I do not care whataccomplish­ments a young girl may possess. She must also have enough knowledgeof common domestic affairs to be herself a competent mistress of a modest home.There are several sad examples of incompetency in this respect among myacquaintances here. In this way Grace might gradually learn to be of somepractical use in your family and relieve Mary and yourself of some of yourcares. She was so very delicate for so many years that I favored outdooremployments rather than indoor ones out of school hours. If she develops into ahealthy girl I think it will be due to this, to some extent. I am not ambitiousto have her aim at becoming brilliant in society. I like to have her learn todo useful labors in the best possible manner. In this way let her lot in lifebe high or lowly she will be prepared to be useful and respected.


I had very hard work to drag through my daily duties when Ana was gone.The weather was intensely warm and damp and it seemed as though everythingwould spoil in the cellar. The very ground outdoors was covered in spotsmornings with a sort of fine mould. By the utmost vigilance and incessant workI saved most of our stores of caned fruit &c &c Mabel was a great helpto me.


I hope your head and dear Uncle Mills throat

are better. Goodbye   Mollie


Lake ridge Nov. 17 [1880]

My dear sister,

Your letter,also Gracie's reached us last evening. As usual my note must be short for lackof time. We are in the midst of our second job of butchering. James tookHerbert home yesterday. He will remain there until after New Years. LastSabbath eve we attended the wedding of Miss Emily Gill. One week from today wemust attend another that of Hein TeRoller and Nellie Augustine. We recd. ourwritten invitations last eve. Anna is invited to the reception in Holland Fridayeve, Dec. 26. I am so busy I do not know what to leave undone. I am anxious tohave a dress made over for her, for the occasion, if it can be accomplished.Anna's school is for six months. Some one drives out for her 31/2miles every Friday afternoon and carries her back Monday morning. Willie andMabel both drive to school every day. Willie keeps his horse in Henry Bird'sbarn (formerly Mr. Upson's). Some of these matters will interest Grace morethan yourself. Providentially a young girl has come to me. She is onlyseventeen but can do something. She has been here five days.


Have you recd a letter respecting our photographs? These unexpectedweddings give us a little money to spend and we would very much like them. Thisis a poor place for shopping for such classes. When we were in Allegan their"holiday goods" had either not arrived or were not"opened." James taxes are paid, also Herbert. "Pay as wetrade" is our motto at the stores. I have had Selina Chadbourne make threehoods for the family and also make over the velvet hat for me which was onceAunt Lillie's. I attended church and S. S. last Sabbath for the first time inmany weeks. If there is sleighing Christmas we shall have company here fromAllegan i.e. they expect to come. I am sorry you are both such sufferers fromphysical infirmities. I wish to write you a letter about many things but cannotuntil after these overcrowded holidays. I wish I could have some leisure forletter writing. Give much love to all. We think Anna is succeeding well in herteaching. I wish to have her save her money carefully for the purpose ofhelping on her school education. The weather here is cold and stormy. Have hada very rainy autumn. Now it is snowing. Carl came up here last evening in acutter.


When we finish the building work we must block up the cook stove andmove it into the dining room. This ought to be crowded into this week. TellGracie I thank her very much for her present of the "turkey fund."Willie is ready for school and I must attend to some other things.

Goodbye Your Mary


Dining room Dec. 7, 1880

Dear sister Hattie:

It ismorning twilight and the children will soon be starting off from school. Ithough I could secure a few moments for writing last eve but I churned instead.We are having a very tedious storm. It commenced Saturday night and still keepsup its boisterousness. It does not snow very much, but what snow there is seemspossessed by a spirit of unrest. So you can imagine that you are in a blindingstorm most of the time. The dedication of the new Baptist church in Ganges bmiles distant has been postponed at least once in consequence of the weatherthis winter. We recd. word that it was to be dedicated last Sat. and we hadplanned to go to it as a family. Sat. morn. was so boisterous we decided toleave Mabel at home to keep the house warm. Then Willie announced that he couldnot go because he could not get the morning chores done in time to start. Hehad them all to do as the hired man was away and his papa's finger was so verysore. So James, Anna and I started out in the buggy. We rode along thelakeshore, the waves dashing wildly, the sharp sand cutting our faces likelittle knives. The storm continued to increase and when we reached Mr. Cummins'Anna's boarding place we dropped her off and returned home. James said he wouldnot have Flora stand out in such a fierce gale. In the afternoon James' fingerwas much worse. He has suffered with it very much. There has been a bump ofinflamed flesh on it as large as an enormous hickory nut. Yesterday the"core" came out and he rested better last night then for severalprevious nights.

We are aware that Christmas is approaching. I cannot get one moment'stime for work with reference to it.


The winter has sent in with great vigor. We were one or two weeksbehind hand in our preparations for it. We are delighted that we crowded thebutchering in as we did. The cookstove is still in the "new part." Wehave a new hired man whom we like very much thus far.


My clothes are standing in the tubs, been there since Saturday. How isyour deafness? Mine increased very perceptibly. I cannot hear much of thecommon household conversation. I think it comes partly from aggressive fatigue.


Much love toall M.

Thurs. morn. April 20, 1882

Dear sister Hattie,

Your long and very kind letter reached me in due time, as also Gracie'slast. I have done very little writing lately as I have felt so miserable. Icould not do a thing that could be neglected. Saturday morn James and I wentdown to Saugatuck to attend to some matters relative to the closing of theInstitute and also to consult a physician. I went for this purpose on electionday but found no one in his office. On Saturday we dined at Mr. Sailor's andMrs. S. advised me to consult Dr. Mather, a young physician who has been inSaug. more than a year and who has met with excellent success. We had a longtalk with him about my difficulties and he gave me medicine which I am tryingto take faithfully. He thinks he can help me somewhat. I felt better yesterdaythan I have felt before in many days and rested more quietly last night. Ishall see him again as soon as I can conveniently go down. I talked with himabout Gracie's return and he said that he would try to help me so as to haveher remain until the close of her school year. I very much disliked to break inupon her studies when she is doing so well. If we can check this profuseperspiration and I can gain a little strength, I hope to keep up a whilelonger. My urinary difficulty is a little better. Drafts on me reduce any strength very fast.


Mr. Sailor [the new pastor] dined here yesterday. The House clique areworking against them and a meeting is called for tonight to consider thesituation. James will attend. This will keep him out late again. That cliqueseem bound to have some disturbance with every minister. I endured theexcitement of discussing this matter yesterday better than I had feared. Were Iable I would ride over with James and spend the evening with her. I think sheis much more fond of society than I am. if l feel strong enough I will try togo, but I'll not attend the meeting. The House family do very little towardsthe support of a minister but have a great deal of responsibility in lookingafter all of his shortcomings.

What are another's faults to me

I've not a vulture's bill

To pick at every flaw I see

And make it wider still.

It is enough for me to know

I've follies of my own.

And on my heart the care bestow

And let my friends alone.


As it is almost time for Mabel to start for school I shall not havetime to write to Grace, as I had intended. I perceive a great improvement inher letters in various ways. We had a long letter from Anna Tues. night. Mostof the students have found boarding places in the village since the loss of theHall. It will be rebuilt immediately. Two little girls have called for Mabel.Yesterday was her birthday. Her papa gave her a new S. S. School singing book.Let Grace go to school and I will try to keep up.

Love to all Mollie


Mary Taylor died November 19,1896 of "remittant fever" and the Rev. James Taylor on October 1,1903.


Willie studied horticulture andwas head of the Plant Bureau for the U. S Department of Agriculture inWashington, D. C. before his death in 1949.


Grace graduated from the PennYan Academy in 1884 and then the Philadelphia School of Cookery. She was laterassistant principal of the Baltimore Cookery School before returning to theSaugatuck area to take over Lakeridge Farm following the death of her father.She died July 28, 1931.


Mabel was a teacher and laterworked in the Civil Service examining division at Washington D. C. She died ofpneumonia during a visit to her sister November S, 1930.


All are buried in Riverside Cemetery, Saugatuck.The house and most of the farm buildings were razed during the 1990s.