Tag: letters

Amanuensis Monday – The Moses Taylor Letters

In 1968, June Finten Everett transcribed some 57 letters written between 1842 and 1867 to her great-grandfather Moses Taylor in Michigan. The letters were written by various members of the family he had left behind in upstate New York. These copies were discovered by Arlene McAvoy in a file at the LDS Family History Center in Potsdam, New York; between 1997 and 1998 our cousin David Johnson connected with Arlene, and David shared his discovery with me.

Two of these letters were written by my great-great-great-great-grandfather, John Wilder Wilson. His second wife, Mary, was the sister of Moses Taylor (his unknown first wife was my 4G-grandmother). John Wilder was born February 22, 1807 in Louisville, New York. He married his first wife probably around 1830 and had two children: Charles (my 3G-grandfather) and Dana. After his first wife’s death he married Mary Eunice Taylor on April 20, 1839; she was born New Year’s Day 1818 in Louisville, the daughter of Elon and Cyrena (Carpenter) Taylor. Mary’s brothers Moses and Elias (who was married to John Wilder Wilson’s niece Sally) both moved to Michigan, and a series of letters traveled back and forth, including the two below written by John Wilder Wilson:

Massena, NY
Sept. the 20th, 1857

Respected Brother and Sister, After a long silence I now (take) my pen in hand to write a few lines to let you know that we are all well as usual at present. It is a long time since we have heard anything from you. I enquire of your folks often about you but I hear nothing. I was up to your Father’s last Sunday. They were all well there. They told me that Elias had been down (and) preached for them. He did not call on us so I can’t tell you much about them. Elen and wife made us a visit a month ago and David and wife and little girl made us a good visit about three weeks ago. They were all well then and doing very well. Emaline was the last I heard from her. We are on a farm on shares or rather (at any) rate we milk twelve cows on the place. The farm is hard and stoney. We do not raise much grain. We have a good deal of hay to cut to keep what stock we have and the meadows are rough, a good deal run out. We have of undivided stock 2 cows, 2 two years olds, 6 yearlings and 4 calves 30 sheep. I have a good mare 6 years old, 1 colt two years old and one sucking colt of my own and four hogs that are company stock and we have our two old cows that we took off from the island , but I shall have to sell some stock this fall to pay debts as we do not raise grain enough for our own use. We make considerable butter, but not enough to pay all expenses. But I am in hopes that in a year or two more that we shall get along better as our boys get up a little larger. They are very good boys to work and they help a good deal now. Our children (are) healthy and smart but poor John, he has fits and is very bad a good share of the time and is very troublesome to take care of. He fails a good deal for a year past. It’s not likely he will live long.

I must now tell you about our little fellow. He is about 7 months old now, smart and pretty healthy generally. We call him Frederick Elen. We have to be continued at home. We have so much to do, cows to milk and butter to attend to and the sick boy and baby and all. We can’t be gone overnight. We have not kept any hired help this summer. We all have to work pretty hard, but our children are growing and as long as we are all well I am none concerned but what we shall get along. And now I want you should write and tell me how you are getting along and how fast you are getting rich and what the chances are in your country for taking farms and what a man can do there with but little to do with for if the chances are pretty good I might be tempted to go there someday and try my luck in your country. I have not much news to write. It’s quite still times at present here. As to politics in this town we are most all republicans. As to religion I am just about as I used to be when you was here. I have not heard anything from our folks in Burlington this summer. If you see any of them tell them that we are all well and tell them to write to me and you just write a little about them for fear they won’t write right away. I suppose they are like me, they don’t get about writing very often. And give my compliments to Hosea and family and Harriet if she is there . I always remember the good visit we had when you and sister Taylor was there on the island with us. We do not hear from Samuel and Charlotte very often. If you do please mention it. Now please to write soon. Direct Massena village and I shall get it. So now bid you a good evening. I am, sir, yours respectfully

John W. Willson Mary Willson

Riverton, Mich
May 8, 1867

Brother Moses and Sister Dyantha,

I now sit down to write a few lines to you to let you know that we had not forgotten you. We are well as usual for us. We are growing old pretty fast and we feel the effects of old age pretty sensibly. Mary’s health has been very poor for a year past and mine has not been much better. We have been just able to keep about and do a little but we can’t do much.

We expected to hear from you by Elias when he came back from the east but we did not and we were some disappointed not to. Now there appears to be some thing wrong with regard to matters between you and Elias for I can hardly credit some of his statements. Now has he any reason to make such statements or is it all an imaginary exaggeration? We have heard from him now we just want an explanation from you. For my part it don’t trouble me much but it troubles Mary a good deal for she cannot believe that Moses has got to be such a man nor I can’t nor don’t. I let him say what he is a mind to and let it pass at that. I think that he is partially deranged by times for he has had trouble enough to make a half a dozen men crazy if all is true that he tells. Now I want this to be confidential betwixt your family and mine. I don’t want him to know that I correspond with you at tall. I don’t want to offend him and let him forget his trouble if he can so we hear what he has to say without any contradiction and let him tell his storys as he has a mind to.

We have commenced farming a little, plowing and sowing wheat but the weather is cold and dry yet. My letter did not get sent to the post office and has laid over so I will try again. It is now the 5th of May and we have a fine rain yesterday and last night but the weather is quite cool yet but clear and pleasant.

Elias was here to see us yesterday. He comes when he is in the neighborhood and has time. He works around at little jobs of carpenter work when can get chances. He talks of buying a piece of land some where in our neighborhood but whether he will or not I don’t know. He is so unsteady that we can’t tell what he will do. Moses and his wife have got a young daughter born on March the 11th. They are all well. Margery and her man are getting along very well and Marrion lives with them. My boys are all at home now and will put in our crops and then they will go to work out until harvest. Alice is married and lives in about half a mile of us. So now I believe I have got about done for this time. We send you our respects, not forgetting Gustus and wife and Lula . So I remain yours as ever.

J. W. Wilson

John Wilder and Mary Wilson had six children together, including John, the son mentioned in John Wilder’s letter as having “fits.” The 1850 census does list John, Jr., as an “idiot.” Other sources indicate John’s fits “ruined him” and made him a “cripple.” Mary Taylor Wilson died June 1, 1882; as yet John Wilder’s death date and place are unknown. It’s also interesting to note that John Wilder’s eldest son Charles Wilson married Lucy Bridges Taylor about 1857 in Louisville. Lucy was born in Louisville in September 1834, the daughter of Loring and Caroline (Caryl) Taylor. Loring had been born in 1805 in Chester, Vermont; Mary Eunice Taylor’s father Elon was born in Massachusetts in 1792 but married Cyrena Carpenter in Readsboro, Vermont, in 1811 – could the two Taylor families be related by blood as well as by marriage?

Amanuensis Monday – Wilson Family Letters

A series of letters were written in February 1942 to Irene Wilson, Grandma Blanche (Wilson) Montgomery’s sister.  Irene was then 20 years old and living in DeSmet, South Dakota. Grandma Montgomery was 33 years old; she and Grandpa were raising 8 children in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, with a ninth (my dad) on the way.

[No postmark; Addressed Miss Irene Wilson, De Smet, S.D.; Return address Mr. & Mrs. L. Montgomery, [?] 675 Scottsbluff Neb.; several letters from various members of the family enclosed]

Scottsbluff, Neb. Feb. 18, 1942

Dear Sister Irene,

We rec’d your beautiful Valentine & letter. Thanks a lot. We love to hear from you. It’s surely been cold again. Everything in the house was froze up this morning. Course they don’t dare to report how cold it is. Glad you’re learning to knit. Florence was going to knit at school but they have to buy their own thread & needles & course it goes to Red Cross. I’d like to help them out but we have to look after ourselves first. Wish Clarence wouldn’t have to go. Course we never know. Slim had to register too last Sat. Do you know if they have a High School at Sioux Falls where they can take Nurse training, and do they have a dormitory. Florence wants to take Nurse training and I’d like to have her go to a good school as long as she’s spending the money. I thought of asking Rev. Webber but he’s sending his own girls here. Sure glad Mamma stays so well. Hope it won’t be too hard for her. I think it would be lots harder for her not to have the work tho. Too bad Maude was so sick hope she’s O.K. now. Soon time for Pearlie to go to the hospital. Glad she can. Course it’s hard to leave the children with some one else. I have a little box I want to send her. Well to-day is Sunday so I’ll try and finish this. Girls are all on the floor playing “Jacks” some game. It’s snowing out, but I believe it’s going to clear up. Hope so any how. I’ll be glad when Spring’s here. Deanna is reading the book Snow White & Seven dwarfs. She’s real studious. Wish I could see you all next summer, but we don’t plan any trips next summer as we have debts to pay. Hope some of you folks can come down and visit. Really I don’t know any news as I only go to town once a week for a few minutes. Hardly ever see any one we know. With love and Best Wishes for everything.

Love, Blanche & all.

Scottsbluff, Nebr. Box 675 Febr. 22, 1942

Dear Aunt Irene,

I can’t write much because Irene and Myrtle have told most of the news.
I go to Confirmation School every Saturday afternoon starting 1:00 and lasting till 4:00. I expect to get confirmed, but its going to be so early this year—Palm Sunday and I won’t hardly have time to get my clothes. Grandma Wilson offered to fix a dress for me and then I’ll have to get shoes, but that won’t be so bad. I’m getting along just fine in school, the best subject I like is “Math.” I’ve gotten five A’s on my report card in Math. I got one A in English. The rest of my grades were b’s but I haven’t gotten any c’s so far and I don’t want any. Irene, Myrtle and Morris get to eat hot lunches at school but Daddy and I have to take lunch and Marvin comes home on a new bus and eats dinner at home. Did you know that Maxine Crabtree and John Jelinek plan to get married about in May if he isn’t called to the army. Her school is out in ten weeks. We’ve got 12 more weeks. I wish I was older so I could be taking nurse training, I want to be a nurse in the future. Must Close—

With Love Your Niece—Florence Montgomery

Scottsbluff, Neb. February 22, 1942

Dear Aunt Irene,

How are you now days? I am getting along just fine. I am in the sixth grade. I like it just fine. My teacher’s name is Mr. Naylor. In the morning I have Mrs. Hills. In the afternoon we have Mr. Naylor. I get (A’s) in Spelling on my report card all the time. I take clarinet lessons. I take 1 lesson every Wednesday. I like them just fine. It has been quite cold in our country. We are going to have a blizzard, that was the report over the radio. It snowed almost all day yesterday. We went to Sunday School this morning, we got our new books for March. We live 2 miles straight out of Scottsbluff and 1 ½ mile north on the west side of the road. We have six rooms in our house counting the front porch, and a quite a big cellar. Geney is 15 months old. He can walk and talk a little. He sure is naughty. He crawls all over mamma when she writes letters. Deanna is 2 years old. May 11th she will be 3. Billy is 4 years old. Marvin is 6, Morris, is 8, Myrtle is 9, Morris is almost as big as Myrtle ¼ in. smaller about. I am 12, and Florence is 14. Marvin is in the Kindergarten. Morris is in the second grade. Florence the eighth. We eat at the school house (turn over) […] they serve hot lunches there. We only have to pay 5c a day 25c a week. The lunches are really good. Friday we had potato soup, bread, cookies, apples. How many valentines did you get on St. Valentine’s day. I got 12. Today is George Washington’s birthday. Did you celebrate it any? We didn’t. At School I wrote a biography about Geney and when the teacher read it to the class, they all said it was the best one, so I got the best grade. I had to write another one today for Miss Cook. I have to take it to her tomorrow. See she teaches for Mr. Naylor a few days and then he teaches again. Miss Cook is going to be in Miss Johnson’s room tomorrow morning, and I have to give it to her. Well I am getting tired. I’ll have to stop writing and say – (Goodbye).

With best wishes

Your Niece Irene Montgomery
[written in a heart:] You’re my Valentine To Aunt Irene
P.S. This is your Valentine if you didn’t get very many.

We didn’t send you a Valentine but we will try next year. Geney is swinging on the table now.

Box 675 Scottsbluff, Neb. Feb. 22, 1942

Dear Aunt Irene,

We haven’t heard from you for so long I thought I’d write to you. The weather is so cold. The report for tomorrow is a blizzard. I hope it isn’t that cold up there. We like our new home just fine. The bus comes past our house, but we have to walk down the road quite far. We’re on the bus before the sun is up. I like school just fine. I am in the third grade. I am sending you an English paper of mine. I have new glasses. I sure can see lots better. They make everything bigger. I wonder how Monte is now, Geney has sixteen teeth, big blue eyes, and ringlets all over his head, he can walk and almost talk he can say Myrtle already. Don’t tell Lester but Mama said he looks a lot like him. I haven’t written to Grandma since I came home, it seems like a long time but I get so tired at night that I can’t write any letters. I guess I haven’t written to you for a long time. We took Peggy home. She plays with the little kids. I interrupt the paragraph to tell you Geney is dancing on the table. Now I will go on. We took a picture of Peggy and Marvin last summer. I’ll have to close now as paper is scarce.

With love, Myrtle

Dear Aunt Irene

[various scribbles]
With love Deanna
[on the back:] Dear Aunt Irene;
[more various scribbles]

Amanuensis Monday – Lovingly Your Sis

On September 1, 1936, Mary Edna (Mamie) Montgomery wrote a letter to her youngest brother, my grandfather Lawrence. Mamie was 16 years older than her baby brother. The second child in the family, Mamie was now the eldest remaining sibling as her older sister Myrtle had passed away 5 years earlier. Another sibling, Bessie (next after Mamie) had passed away nine months earlier. Mamie was born October 3, 1885 in Mansfield, Illinois, and married Harley H. Kimble on November 30, 1905 in Fort Collins, Colorado. After Harley’s death Mamie would marry Ted Harrison Finn; Mamie herself died August 31, 1969 in Fresno, California.

Years earlier, in 1905, a photograph of the four Montgomery sisters was taken:

[Postmarked Bakersfield, Calif., September 1, 1936; Addressed Mr. Lawrence Montgomery, Battle Mt. Sanitarium – Ward 1, Hot Springs, South Dakota; stamp missing; Return address label on back flap: M. Kimble, 2827 K St., Bakersfield, Calif.; written on decorative folded stationery with cut-out “K”]

Bakersfield Calif.
Sept. 1st 36

Dear brother & family: Glad to hear from you but sorry Lawrence is sick, hope he is almost O.K. by now.

Alltho it has been an un-usually hot summer. We have all kept pretty well. My husband has worked all the time.
My boy Alfred who is 20 now is in the Army at Schofield Barracks, Honolulu. He reminds me of you boys, especially like Ward. He has been in 2 yrs. he is a Corporal.

Did you get a bonus?

As you know sister Bessie passed on in January. Helen came home in Feb. from Manilla it takes 20 to 30 days to make the trip.
Her husband came in April had a 6 mo. vacation with pay after 6 yrs work in the Ford Auto Co.  They have been living at Santa Monica. She was here 2 wks. at first. They go back Sept 15th.

Because Bessie did not have a will it takes 6 mo to settle everything So Helen won’t get her money till after she goes back to Manilla.
Lawrence do you remember pushing her in the go cart and upsetting her at Pierce Colo? and Auntie rather Bessie got so upset. Helen grew up quite tall 5 ft. 7 in. and rather dark like her father.

But she married a blond and has blond children. 

I hear Dad is working at the factory again. Sure glad he is able to.

I got an Easy Ironer last week. Sure like it fine. I have a Kelvinator refrigerator and an Electric Washing machine too.
I help my youngest daughter Rozella with her washings and ironings as she has 3 babies real close together. The youngest only 2 mo old.

Well write again. I like to hear from you.

Lovingly Your Sis
2827 K St.

The Battle Mountain Sanitarium where Grandpa was apparently recuperating opened in 1907 and is now a National Historic Landmark. It was a soldiers’ home but the only one focused on temporary rather than long-term medical needs.

The Helen mentioned in Mamie’s letter was (as can be deduced) Bessie’s daughter, Helen Boyland. She was born about 1907-1908 in Colorado, but I don’t have much additional information on her at this point.  I do have one severely damaged photo depicting Helen and her dark hair.

Small World, Genealogy-Style

Genealogical “small world” moments are always fun.  There was the day when I discovered that my soon-to-be sister-in-law was also my ninth cousin once removed. Then the moment when I found that my second cousin four times removed and her husband had been keepers of the Little Sable Lighthouse Mom and I had visited in Michigan three years earlier (you can read my earlier blog post about that discovery).

In trying to decide what to write about next, I dug out a letter from Charles Montgomery, my great-grandfather, whose census history I covered on Saturday. It’s one of those documents I had not yet explored for all its genealogical significance (aside: I really need to get organized) – obviously, since it contained previously-unknown marriage information for Charles and his second wife Lyle:

[Postmarked Fort Collins, Colorado, July 16, 1941; Addressed Mr. & Mrs. L C Montgomery, Scotts Bluff Neb. Box 675; Return address Mr. & Mrs. C W Montgomery, 231 Walnut St.; 3c postage]

                                                                        Ft Collins July 17, 41

Mr & Mrs L C Montgomery,
            Dear Children

I got your card this p.m. and sure was glad to hear from you, i am real well. What do you work at in Scottsbluff. Elta was here last winter sure was glad to see her. My wife meet her. i was married March 27 at Kimbell Nebr we get alone OK.
     Elta wrote they were coming here on there vacation. We just have a small apartment but like it, hope to hear from you soon igen.

                                                                         Lot of Love to you and yours,
                                                                                 Dad & Lyle.

            231 Walnut St
                   Ft Collins

As another aside – it’s intriguing that Lawrence’s own father addressed the envelope to “L. C. Montgomery” – there has always been uncertainly about whether Grandpa’s middle name was Theodore or Conklin.

Fast-forward 71 years from Charles and Lyle’s wedding, and Mom and I are making a cross-country trek to my 20-year high school reunion. In search of small mom-and-pop motels, we found one in – where else?  Kimball, Nebraska. We felt a little uncertain about this particular reservation because I made it over the phone and wasn’t sure everything was confirmed.  But obviously our visit was meant to be!

Amanuensis Monday – Letter from John Ward Montgomery

Grandpa Montgomery was the youngest of seven children.  Four daughters were born first (Myrtle, Mamie, Bessie, and Elta), then three sons (Walter, Ward, and Lawrence). Grandpa’s closest sibling in age, John Ward Montgomery, was born October 9, 1899 in Holdrege, Nebraska.  By 1910 Ward (then age 10) was living in Rotate, Kansas, a “servant” in the household of Ernest Grigson. Ward enlisted in the Marine Corps at Mare Island in April 1917, and in the 1920 census he is found living in Los Angeles. Ward married Katherine Wagner in about 1928 and by 1930 he is living in Lincoln Park, Michigan with his wife (age 23) and daughter Eleanor (age 13 months). Ward is working as a machine operator in a luggage factory.  Ward’s wife died in 1939 age age 31. The 1940 census finds Ward still living in Lincoln Park and now working as a receiving clerk in the luggage factory.  Older daughter Eleanor Jean has been joined by Ruth Corinne.  Ward will eventually die in Allen Park, Michigan, on February 2, 1981 and be buried in Ferndale Cemetery.

In 1936, Ward wrote the following letter to my grandfather Lawrence:

Postmarked October [20?] 1936, Detroit, Michigan; Addressed Mr. Lawrence T. Montgomery, Ardmore, South Dakota; Return address 1211 Park St., Lincoln Park, Mich.; Stamped in corner: Buy U.S. Savings Bonds Ask Your Postmaster

Lincoln Park Mich.
Oct. 19, 1936

Dear Brother Lawrence & Family:

I received your letter some time ago, and was sure glad to hear that you are getting along better. I hope it won’t be long until you are able to work again. I had a letter from Sister Mamie not long ago. Her address is 2827 “K” St. Bakersfield Calif. I also heard from Walter. His address is Lewisburg Penna. I am going to Drive over and see him the first time I can get a few days off from work. Lewisburg is a small town about 125 miles this side of Philadelphia or about 460 miles from here. – About a 10 hour drive. I haven’t seen Walter since we were both in the Marine Corps at Mare Island California in April 1917, that’s over 20 years ago—Ha—we must be getting old. I don’t know how soon I’ll be able to get away tho. as we are very busy at the Factory now. I hardly ever get thru work till 6:30 or 7 o’clock in the evening. I work by the month tho, so don’t get any extra pay for the long hours, but I won’t have any trouble getting a day off when we are not so busy. I wish I could get out to see you too. Perhaps I can when I take my vacation next year.

What are you doing for a living now, farming? Sometimes I wish I could get away from the City and on a farm. Of course I make more in town, but living is so high that it takes all I make to pay the bills.

Walter tells me that he has been married 12 years now, but has no children. He is running a Restaurant and BeerGarden in Lewisburg, but lives about 8 miles out in the country from there. He said he was coming over to see me sometime. We are 8 miles from Downtown Detroit, but it’s business district all the way. Town’s are so close to-gether here it’s hard to tell which one you are in.

Well I hope you are all fixed up and feeling fine by now. How are the wife and children—

Write to me again soon—
As ever,
Your brother

1211 Park St.
Lincoln Park, Mich.