Helen Hunt Jackson 2-1-14 transcription
Helen Hunt Jackson Papers, Part 2, Ms 0156, Box 1, Folder 14, letters
from Jennie (Jane) Hitchcock to Ann S. Fiske, 1852-1873
Envelope is addressed:
Tuesday P.M. March 23, 1852
[The first paragraph of this letter has the phrase "God bless you Annie" written crosswise across it.]
My Dear Annie,
It is a week tonight since I received your letter, for which you have my hearty thanks.
It came as balm to my spirit, for I had spent an unlucky day, and when it was brought to me I was experiencing a variety of emotions in view of the past, none of which were very pleasant. I find that when I am miserable I can almost always trace the cause to some thing I have done or said, which I am sorry for. I often think of s-o-m-e- what you wrote me, once, a long time ago, "It makes not so much difference where we are, as what we are," and I try to let that thought guide my actions. But it is much easier to do things which have to be repented of, than those which we look back upon with pleasure.
The rain is pouring fast, but I see the clouds are beginning to break
away, and I think by the time of sunset, it will be bright weather, and
we shall begin to believe Spring is coming. Are you not glad to have Spring
come? I don't care when I am at home, what sort of weather it is, and
one season is as pleasant as another. But here, because the sun don't
often shine in my heart, I want to see it bright out of doors; and the
only reason why I like a rainy day is because I don't have to take the
two mile walk. On the whole I am much happier here than I was last term,
though I am not in quite as good health. After all Annie, I don't think
S. Hadley is the place for me. Perhaps I shall never be contented any
where. I always thought when I was at home, that I should like to go away.
I have been now and have seen the folly of it, and have every reason to
believe if I once get home again, I shall be wise enough to stay there.
You must come to school in Amherst. I think we can form a young ladies
Sem. on grand principles; one which shall combine every good quality,
without possessing any undesirable ones. And then you and I will be the
first to graduate, and we will be fully and finely prepared to go forth
into the world in any capacity.
You wanted me to be sure and answer all your questions, and I will. You ask if I will come back to S. Hadley next Fall provided you will come with me. I feel so very confident that you will [transcriber's note: I believe Jane left out the word "not" here] come, that I answer with all my heart, Yes. I would be willing to go almost any where for the sake of being with you, though it would require considerable courage to return here for another siege. I know you would never stay here a month. I don't mean to say bad things about the Sem. & you must not construe what I say, into any thing which I do not really mean. I should be delighted to take lessons in Oil Painting, and mean to, sometime. If I could believe I should ever do half, or the quarter part of what I have made my plans to do, I should hope to become quite an accomplished young lady.
Mary Snell is no more engaged to Mr. Chapin than I am, nor half so much. I wonder what that story originated in. I hear from Sue Gilbert through Emily and Vinnie only. She is happy where she is, and returns to A. next June.
Are you not almost unwilling to have Helen go on that journey without you? Let's go to Niagara together sometime, will you?
I have had a letter from Kate since she went to Paris since, but I am not yet by any means reconciled to the idea of her going away from us for always. The more I think of it, the less it pleases me. Annie, I want to get all my friends right around me, and keep them near me all the time, else I am not satisfied - and yet - here I am without any of my dear friends, except my room mate, whom I love very much. I think its a shame that you don't see John oftener now he is so near you. Probably he thinks your friendship will strengthen from long separations. We will have some good times next summer, (D.V.) though I trust we shall be more discreet than we were a year ago. On the sixth day of March I was nineteen years old. I shall be old enough to be a woman before I realize that I am anything but a little girl. Dr. Gridley died a few days after I wrote to you. But without any change in his feelings that I know of. Tis a sad thing to die with no hope beyond the tomb. One of my school mates is very sick & not expected to live but a short time. But she is ready to die.
Four weeks from Friday I have a vacation of two weeks. I am of course anticipating the time with a bounding heart - Now you will enjoy Helen Tuft's vacation. Much love to her. [one line of text missing - on edge of paper was not copied] wish there was. For I have more to-day. Good bye - Always, Your Jennie
Don't forget how I shall watch the girl who brings the letter. And don't let time nor absence lessen your love for me.
Your true friend Jennie.
My Dear Annie;
I enclose these photographs of my Father & Mother for your acceptance, as I promised some time since I would do; or rather it was my brother's of which I spoke, but I take it for granted you will have the feeling, as I do, that one might not to go alone. I think Father's is as good as we could desire - as to the other, I can see abundant room for improvement, but it is only a copy of another photograph, & I must not complain.
I wrote to you immediately after hearing of Major Hunts death, and I have thought perhaps you never received the letter, because I was so hopeful of an early reply. Perhaps however I ought not to infer this, for I long since gave you to understand that I should never be surprised or offended at long intervals of silence on your part knowing as I do, how difficult it is for you to find time & opportunity for writing. I want you to know that I sympathize deeply with both Helen & yourself in your bereavement - and I do believe that I know how to sympathize with you, from the heart! A few evenings since I accidentally met at Prof. Snell's your Uncle Hooker, from Boston. He had been to Pelham, I believe, to assist in settling a minister, & came over here to spend the night. I was right glad to see him, because he was connected with you.
He told me he saw you occasionally, & that he believed you were well. He also said he had understood that Helen was now at your house.
By the way I should like to hear that gentleman preach. He looks to me as though he would be very interesting in the pulpit.
How are you prospering, my Dear, in your preparations for the coming winter? You don't know how disappointed I am that I could not have secured a good generous visit from you this autumn, for though I should love to see you just as well one day, or one season of the year, as another, I am afraid you would not have quite as pleasant a time in the winter.
Nevertheless, I shall not cease my earnest endearment in the good cause, till I actually see you within these doors, & you never need to inquire when it would be agreeable to us to see you, for you would always be most welcome. It is true Father is very feeble and I am trying to do everything in my power for his comfort and of course a good deal of my time is occupied with him, but as I go out very little, I do not fear but that there would be hours enough reserved for a real satisfactory, old-fashioned visit with you. I suppose that we shall all three of us unmarried daughters be at home through the winter, tho Emily is away now for a week or two. She does not propose leaving us permanently, for the present. It is possible that Emily & I may go down to Boston once during the winter to visit a friend of ours who resides on Mt. Vernon St., but this is uncertain. Perhaps you have hear that Prof. Clark is to be the representative to the Legislature from this district.
Please give my love to Helen. I hope she will come to Amherst soon. I am amused she would be to see Edward with his five noisy children about him. Mrs. Dr. Forest is still here, though I believe she goes to New Haven this week. She & Miss Olmstead have created quite a sensation in our quiet village - & Mrs. Grundy has made herself merry over them.
But I am principled against gossip - so I bid you a loving Good bye -
Ever your friend
My very dear friend,
I wish you happy new year, with all my heart, and trust this may really be the happiest year you have ever spent. I have within a few days been reading over a great many of my o/l/d/ letters from you, which has revived old associations, & if possible, rekindled my affection for you. It must seem rather odd to a busy, driving housekeeper like yourself that any body should have time for such an unpractical occupation. I presume to say you would never think of such a thing, or if you did, would never see the hour you could spare from more pressing duties to give to it. But though I am busy too, it is in a very different way. A great part of my time is spent in Father's room & while he lies on the bed & sleeps or sits in his easy chair to drowse or meditate, I can be doing something on my own account. He suffers a great deal during parts of the day but usually in the afternoon is quiet & sleepy. For the past week we have been more than ever anxious about him. Two or three doctors came in one day, & examined his case as thoroughly as possible - after which our Dr. Smith told us plainly he did not think Father could last more than a month longer; and besides that we ought now to be prepared for a sudden change, at any moment.
This came almost as heavily upon me as if I had not been thinking I was prepared for anything in his case. I don't believe I/ it is possible to be wholly fortified for such an event; though I have looked the truth in the face so long & prayed so earnestly for strength when the time should come. It is true that the doctors are a good deal puzzled by his symptoms, & I know that Dr. Smith is apt to tell the very worst so I cannot but take some courage from the fact, & hope still, that he may rally once more, & be comfortable.
But, under the present circumstances, I feel as if I ought not to ask you to come to Amherst this month, though I have been looking forward to your visit with so much pleasure.
If Father should gain a little so that we could be relieved from present anxiety, I should immediately write for you to come, & I do most earnestly hope this may be the case.
My brother Charles came home on New-Years' day to stay till Tuesday. He has not been home before since last August, & you can imagine we are all very glad to see him. Shall I tell you what a splendid Christmas present his wife made him? It was a little boy, weighing ten pounds, bearing the name of Arthur Charles Hitchcock, and of course they are both very much pleased, & you know how to sympathize with them. Babies are getting to be such an old story in our family now, that we are comparatively indifferent to them. Among the nine grandchildren, only one has died, & that one was Kate's first little daughter, only a few hours old. I trust your children are all well. Tell me about Naimi - you know what a warning I gave you about him. I suppose by this time you have proved me a false prophet. Richie is probably grown out of my knowledge, to say nothing of Anne & Helen. How I do long to see you & yours! But my desire will not grow less by being unsatisfied, & some day (D.V.) the pleasure will be mine.
I send another shadow of myself. I don't know as you will like it any better than the first - the position is faulty, I am aware, but the features I think must be somewhat correct. Have you heard that old Judge Dickinson has gone? He was dressing himself one morning a few weeks since, & fell back upon the bed, & died, without a moment's warning.
My Dear Anne, I must bid you a loving Goodbye till I hear from you.
Ever yours, Jennie Hitchcock
My dear Annie,
I am delighted that you will come and see me, so soon.
Take the morning express train from Boston to Springfield, wh. starts at 8 o'clock (I think) stop at Palmer Depot, (to which place you must have your baggage checked,) and there inquire for the New London Northern train, which is simply a branch road from Palmer to Amherst - The train, I think starts very soon after you reach there, & comes straight here.
Or you can take the afternoon express train from Boston, which I think leaves there at 2.15 P.M. & comes right on in the same way, reaching Amherst early in the evening.
This is now the only direct route to Amherst from Boston, or at least it is the only one we take.
I will endeavor to be at the depot on the arrival of the noon train, Wednesday, & if I do not find you there, will go again in the evening, & so on till you come, if you are prevented from coming or not.
Yours in hope,
My Dear Anne,
I have been twice to Mr. Banfield's office since our return to the city three weeks since, to get some definite intelligence of you, and should have made more strenuous efforts if my time had not been so fully occupied. During vacation I heard, through Mrs. Tolman, of the advent of another little girl to your household, and hearing also that you were comfortable. I settled you down in a quiet corner to rest, after your laborious & anxious summer.
Now I am beginning to long to see you, or at least to hear from you, as I am not so fully absorbed in thoughts of houses, furniture & etc. as it has been necessary to be for the past few weeks. To make a long story short, we could [transcriber's note: I believe Jennie left out the word "not" here] find a house to rent, and as to being without a home, it was impossible to bring our minds to that, and so - we bought a new house on Brookline St. expecting to pay for it - little by little. By the time you will be able to come & see us, I trust it will look quite pleasant. At present it is but partially furnished, as I am waiting for what I shall have from Amherst, sometime this autumn. It is fortunate for me to have the old house to keep me in these hard times, & then I like the idea of bringing what I can of a pleasant past, here to my new home.
We spent our vacation in Amherst, & had a very pleasant time.
We shall give up the old house this fall, when the Sims returns from Europe.
As a proof that we have not forgotten you, please accept our cards. Mr. Putnams is not perfect, but as it goes better with mine than a vignette, I send it.
Love to Mr. Banfield & the children. What is the baby's name & and how soon can I be allowed to see her?
Truly your friend,
My very dear friend Annie,
I could hardly believe my eyes, as I read over your letter today & noticed that the date was Dec. 19. You close the letter with this sentence "Do not wait 3 months as I did before writing" - I do not seem to have improved much upon that do I? However I have faith that you will forgive me, & that we shall always be interested in each other's affairs, even if we don't write often. I shall try & do better in the future.
This has been a busy, but a very pleasant year to me. Having become somewhat more acquainted with my neighbors, there is more to occupy the time, of course. Then I have had a great deal of company from out of town. We have not passed a week since the year commenced without some one. Mary& Emily were together with me nearly all winter, and that I enjoyed very much of course. Mary went out west after leaving me, and is now with Mrs. Stons in Cincinnati. If she is well & carries out her original plan she will visit Mr. & Mrs. Richard in Minnesota before returning - But she will not stay all summer I think. Emily is now with our cousins in S. Orange N.J. and will soon return to Edward's, where she will spend the summer. Perhaps she has called upon you before his. She said she would. I told her to write to you & direct to the care of Mr. Banfield at the Custom House, to find out your number for I only knew the name of the street. I hope she has been to see you - for that is just what I would like to do myself.
Since I have commenced telling you of the present circumstances of our family, perhaps I'd better go on & give the whole.
There is nothing specially new at Edwards. The children are growing like weeds, & the parents find they have enough to do to keep them all decently clothed & fed.
Edward & his wife & three of the children have been to see me this year, but my little namesake was not one of them. I want her to come & hope she will be the next one. Last week Charlie & his wife arrived in this country after an absence of one year in Europe. As they sailed for Boston I was luckily the first one to see them, & they came directly to my house where they spent two days. Of course there was much to say, & much to hear that was interesting all around.
Martha is expecting an addition to her family in one month from this time, & so they have hired half a house, ready furnished, in Andover, for the next five months. She is delighted with the prospect, but I looked at her with amazement, considering the circumstances, that she should just have come all the way from Rome! They have enjoyed the year very much, & feel as if it had been a benefit to them in a variety of ways. My husband & I are very much the same as when you left us - He finds his school pleasant, & I do not see that his duties wear upon him, although he has the charge of about 1700 children.
A few weeks since he received the appointment of deacon in our church, which, after some hesitation he decided to accept. [missing words] sober deacon [missing words] that the church really needed his services, so I gave up & have not yet regretted it.
Our church is not large, though the congregation is, & it needs the earnest labors of all its members. Mother has been moved to start a bible class among the ladies, and we have commenced together the study of the book of Isaiah, meeting on Monday afternoons from four to five in the library of the church. There are about twenty ladies, & we find it quite interesting & profitable.
I think of you as enjoying ever so much in Beecher's Church - & I presume it suits Mr. Banfield's ideas much better than the little one in W. Roxbury. By the way a lady by the name of Mrs. Moore, who recently went to live in W. R. & has a house near Mrs. Tolman's called on me yesterday, & she tells me that Mrs. Tolman is in a critical condition, & that Mr. Tolman's father told her he thought his son's wife was in consumption. It made me feel very sad to hear it, for she & Mr. Tolman have seemed as happy together, & have so much to live for. I shall try to go out to call upon her soon, for I haven't set my foot in the place since you left. I am glad you enjoy Brooklyn so much & do not wonder at it. Shall you be obliged to leave in the summer, on account of the children? My remembrances of Boston are very pleasant indeed, & I was there in the summer. Kate & I stopped at Mrs. Ford's for two or three days, & as Mr. Hopkins from Cincinnati came on with us, he invited me to go out to some evening entertainments with him, & I went. But - I noticed that Mrs. Ford in the course of conversation alluded to the fact of young ladies of her acquaintance not attending concerts with gentlemen unless they were [missing words] to whom they are engaged &c. I think it quite probable that it might have been more proper for me to have staid at home. But I had not been in the habit of being so particular in Cincinnati, or in Amherst, & so did not realize that it was anything out of the way. I can see now where it would have been more lady like to have staid at home.
I expect Mrs. Ford is fascinating. Everybody speaks of her thus. As to her husband, I [missing words]. I think he must be very healthy, but, I do wonder if he is happy, & what his religious belief is. If you ever find out do tell me.
I do not want to think that you & I shall drift away from each other, after keeping near together so long. But, I feel, the embarrassment of this long distance between us already.
I want to assure you that the time will never come when I shall cease to feel an interest in you & yours.[missing words] must become [xxx] with Mr. Banfield's sisters who are in this vicinity. One of them called on me, & I never returned her call, for I could not find out where she was. I have sometimes thought I would venture to call on your cousin Miss Martha Vinal, as a means of keeping a little nearer you. What a charm there is around the friends whom we loved when we were children! I found out the other day that my dressmaker had been the day before to Mrs. Dr. Burgesors in Dedham, & so my memory was at work bringing back old senses, in consequence. I wish some of the Burgesors would call on me - for of course I must wait to know that they desire to continue my acquaintance. I can't give up old friends, without something of a struggle. This Mrs. Moore, of whom I spoke told me that Mr. Laurie had been heard from, & had arrived in Cadiz - & that he hoped to walk across the continent & then I believe was going to Palestine & afterwards to close up, would visit his native Scotland - But perhaps you knew all this long ago.
My husband often speaks of you, & when he does he says some flattering things. I know he did not like to give up seeing you occasionally.
We think we have some pretty good times together. I wish he was here now to send some message to you. Please send my love to your husband, & to each of the children. Thank you for the baby's picture. I see plainly that she is your child.
I don't want to say good bye for months, but could not complain if it were so. I know you will write when you can, & can't but hope we shall see you here before a great while. Mother wishes to be kindly remembered.
Ever your loving friend
Jennie E. Putnam
My dear Annie,
I did not reply to yours immediately, for though I had a general idea of Kate's opinion of Mrs. Linnell's as a boarding place, I felt as if I ought to write to her, & get an exact statement, which I accordingly did. (She is now boarding with her children, in Braintree, a "half an hour" out of Boston.)
She did not very much enjoy her summer at Mrs. L's. In the first place her rooms were too small for comfort, but this was no fault of Mrs. L's of course - She knew what they would be before she engaged the place. If you were only to be there a month, you could get along with that. The table was always comfortably supplied. Bread & butter good as far as she remembers.
But Kate thinks that Mrs. Linnell & her daughter are both very nervous.
Mrs. L. complaining & fault-finding behind her back, & constantly afraid she or her children would wear out or injure something.
They have an intense desire to make all the money they can out of their boarders, forgetting that everything used cannot be worn by that use.
The near vicinity of privy & pig-pen was a constant nuisance, so was the free range of the hens, defiling the path.
Kate does not wish to interfere with Mrs. Linnell's chance of getting some boarders, but since the question is asked her, she can but reply frankly. Your children are probably more orderly than hers, & Mrs. L. would probably not be so much annoyed by them. She was there a much longer time than you expect to be, so that perhaps you will not mind any of these things which troubled her. I hope you can go Amherst & revive old associations, & hope I shall see you there. I presume we shall visit the place in Aug. if but for a few days. Our plans are not wholly made, as yet, for vacation, but I am quite sure I shall be there, "providence permitting."
I called yesterday on Mrs. Ellis & found her in bed, looking very cheerful & pretty, but giving me such an account of herself as made me very anxious for her. She gave me your Brooklyn address, wh. I shall make use of, so I sent a letter to you some months since directed to the Custom House, which I judge your never received as you only inquired if I received yours of long ago. Yours came in the autumn, & I did not reply till spring. Brisk correspondence! We are all well, & wishing specially new in the general condition of the family.
Love to your husband and children.
Ever yours aff.ly
Jennie E. Putnam
My dear Anne,
I do not dare to look at the date of your last letter. Who would have thought I should be the one to allow such a fearfully long pause in our correspondence? Where the time has gone, I'm sure I cannot tell. Nothing very startling has taken place in my family during the last six months, that I recollect, to be my excuse. We are still in the house where you saw us last, & our number the same, with the exception of Mr. Hyde, the young lawyer. He has gone to keeping house for himself - & since you was introduced to him here, has come with [missing words]- a wife & a baby - as well. My sister Mary was out west all last spring & summer, & when she returned to Amherst in the autumn, was often sick with a fever, so that I went up & staid one week with her at Edward's. Just before Thanksgiving she was able to come to Boston, & has been with me ever since. She is perfectly well now, & in very good spirits, indeed quite fat & jolly. Going out west did her ever so much good.
Perhaps you may have heard that my brother Edward lost a little boy last summer. Little Harry, nineteen months old "went to be an angel" so the children say, & two weeks since a little girl was sent "from heaven" to comfort them. But you will appreciate the way that two or three of the children are in the midst of whopping cough, so the little thing will be [missing words] very early in life. This is their seventh child.
Brooklyn is a name I have had on my lips very often during the last two or three months, & expect to feel it on my pen a good many times in the future. It seemed pleasant to us [xx] Stons should come [xxxx], & we certainly could not have chosen a pleasanter place than the one Providence has sent him to. I hope now that Mrs. Stons can find out what it is to have a home where she can stay the year-round, if she chooses.
I hope, Annie, that you will soon go to see her, if you have not already been, for I know she would be glad to see you. They live at 87 First Place, a half an hours' ride in street cars from Fulton Ferry - I can scarcely realize how very easy it should be for me to see them all. And then Charlie has a house in Newark N.J. where dwell his family, consisting of wife & baby, and at present, "Aunt Emily." This last mentioned individual informed me that she hoped to call upon you soon. I wonder if she will describe the call to me in her next letter.
So much for the Hitchcocks. You see I take it for granted you still retain an interest in us all.
I made two attempts during the autumn to see your husbands sister, Mrs. Ellis, but she was out both times I called. I understand she does not live in the city now, so I have no hope of seeing her. I did want to hear her describe her almost miraculous cure. Mr. & Mrs. Ellis both attended Mr. Webb's church during the autumn, but I have my doubts whether they knew that we sat in the opposite gallery, the room is so [missing word] & the light coming in only obtained [from] glass windows.
I presume you read in papers of Dr. Webb's sailing for Europe in consequence [remainder of the letter is too faint to make out]
Jennie E. Putnam
My dear Annie;
I would not have believed I could neglect you so long. But Time is a cheat, & is constantly robbing us of some of our treasures, besides. I should have written you in the autumn, but was somehow deluded into believing that you were coming to Boston before Thanksgiving, & that I should see you. I think Mrs. Ellis told me so - whether you ever came, or not, is still a mystery to me. I only know that I did not see you. I thought I could write with so much more satisfaction after one look into your eyes. But I will not let this year expire before tell you that I am still faithfully yours, and m-y- f-a-i-t-h- c-o-n-t-i-n-u-e-s s-t-r-o-n-g- I do believe that, come what may, the attachment we formed in childhood will last.
I hear of you occasionally through mutual friends. Mary is with me this winter, and she tells me that she called at your house last summer, ut found you away, on a S.S. picnic, I believe. Of course all your friends have heard of the allusion which Mr. Beecher made to you & your family, at the Alumni Meeting in Amherst. Fanny & Laura Emerson made me a little visit, in the autumn, and mentioned it to me then.
I know you must enjoy a great deal in your connection with that church, & I congratulate you on being there.
We have not been to Brooklyn yet since the Stons family came; it is a pleasure we look forward to, but are constantly putting it off, for one reason, and another. Mrs. Stons does not find much time to write letters to me, & I am sure I cannot complain, altho' the fact causes me grief, for her hands & her heart are full.
Mary is in good health & spirits, & we have very pleasant time together this winter. As to our "house & home" it has not changed very essentially since you saw it. My family contains the same, my husband & I, & our two children, Mother & Bessie Capen, and most of the time a friend to occupy the "open room."
Our pastor, Dr. Webb, has recently returned from Europe, and we are enjoying him very much.
My husband is a deacon, as I think I told you before, & Mother is a leader of two bible-classes, one for married ladies, & one for young girls. Ours is on Monday afternoon, & is quite prosperous & interesting. As for my self, I do not think you would find me very much changed in my personal appearance. There are beginning to be visible some threads of silver among my locks, caused partly, I suppose, by the weight of years, partly by sorrow - not so much my own as that of my friends. I do not have many cares and troubles of my own, but my brothers & sisters are constantly "passing under the rod." My husband's Mother & I still continue to perform our household labors, with the exception of the ironing, wh. we decided was the most burdensome department, & have resigned it to a daughter of Erin. I am also hurried by being made a "manager" of my Sewing Circle, - this give me considerable extra employment, but it is all right, for I am one of that convenient class in society with "no encumbrances,"
I "keep house" as thoroughly as I can "under the circumstances;" find a little time to read - but not many hours to spend in idleness.
How much I would give to look in upon you, as you commence a winter's day. Do you make the duster fly as rapidly as you did in W. Roxbury? There must be one item in your Brooklyn list of duties, which did not take very much time here, & that is ceremonious calls - I take it for granted you find it necessary to attend to them, altho' I do not myself, but a very little.
I long to hear about your husband and children - Probably the latter are rapidly growing out of my knowledge. Please give my best love to all, & wish them a "happy new year" from Aunt Jennie Putnam, & Uncle Putnam. I have been interested lately in dressing a doll to send to my little namesake in Amherst for a Christmas present, & Edward writes me that nothing terrestrial could have got so near her heart.
If I remember rightly, you have an Aunt living somewhere on Beacon Hill, of I knew just where, I think I should venture to call upon her for the sake of talking about you, with somebody who has always known you. Do you cherish your former interest in matters at the "Hut"? I really feel as if I did not deserve a letter from you very soon, but if mine should come a day when you have an hour to devote to a deed of such benevolence, don't forget me, for I am sure I shall not treat your next good letter as I have done the last.
My husband, Mother & Mary all send their best love, & a "Happy New Year." to you & yours.
Remember me particularly to Mr. Banfield.
Every your loving friend
Jennie E. Putnam
My Dear Annie,
I am quite sure you wrote me last & that it was a good while ago. Today I must tell you that I am not so unmindful as I seem. I have followed you, in thought, & have prayed that God would give the requisite strength for guiding your household, & keep you in perfect peace, because trusting in Him. I know hands & heart have both been full but I guess you have thoughts of me occasionally. I called on "Cousin Ann", after Christmas, & heard the latest intelligence, saw pictures of some of your children, & a tidy on yarn canvass, which Annie had made for her.
I was somewhat tempted a few weeks since to go on to Washington with Mr. & Mrs. Hyde. They were gong to "see what they could see" & wanted me to accompany them. But I could not quite make up my mind to leave my husband at home, teaching school, while I was spending his money at the Capitol - & so I staid at home too. One of the greatest attractions in the idea of going, was, of course, that I should see you there. When shall we meet again? I wonder if it would be possible for you to go to Bethlehem - I suppose not, though because there are too many children to take such a long journey with. I remember Helen spoke of wishing to have you there, & I thought how pleasant it would be to see you, if I went again, next summer.
The winter has passed without bringing anything startlingly new or interesting into our lives. I saw Emily pleasantly settled down , in November, in the New Bedford parsonage, & thus far everything has conspired to bring contentment & happiness into the new home. Mr. Terry's health is first-rate, he seems to be doing a good work there, in making up the church to an appreciation of things temporal as well as spiritual. Sister Mary is visiting there now. She is nicely, & is all engaged in the pursuit of Botany. Edward has been here this winter, but he came more to see the Doctor than me, I am sorry to say. Poor fellow! He has had a hard time of it, sick all the autumn. Baby Johnnie in the habit of having fits - wife expecting to be confined again in April - & &c, &c, &c...
My husband says I am the only one in my family who does not undergo the discipline of trial & affliction, & he can only account for it by supposing that I am not worth being made better.
Well, I am resigned to my lot thus far, any way. We are trying to be better Christians, but the world has great power. Our church is quite raked up, I think, & Dr. Webb preaches faithful gospel sermons.
I do want to hear from you - I write so few letters, that can be called letters - I have forgotten how. The scrawls I send my brothers & sisters do not deserve the name. But I am always your loving
Boston May 14th [Wednesday] 1873.
My Dear Anne:
I see before me a quiet hour, with no one near, and I am moved to spend at least a half of it with you. A little circumstance happened yesterday which I very much regretted. I had promised to go out of town with my husband & sister Mary, & just as we were to step into the carriage, Miss Ann Schofield appeared to make me a call. I could not put off my engagement, so I had to let her go, without even sitting down. But tomorrow, or next day, I shall go and see her without fail, & try and atone for my unfortunate conduct. For weeks past I have had that on my mind, that I would run away from duty, if it must be so, & have a chat with her about you, & other friends. I have called twice on Mrs. Sanford. She has called here twice - but I have not yet spoken with Mr. S. or even seen him except at church. My husband was honored with an invitation to his Reception at the "Commonwealth" at week or two since; but, as there were so many there, of course he didn't say much to him. I do think Mrs. Sanford is one of the loveliest and most attractive ladies in the world. I must try and see her once more & find out if there is any hope of you two meeting again at the Orient! I hope you will, for it would be splendid for both. I believe Mrs. Stons has not decided where she shall spend her summer vacation, or had not when I heard last, a week or two since.
As for us, a cottage is being built on the rocks, at the tip end of Cape Ann, supposed to be a shelter for this family through July, Aug. & perhaps Sept. The place is Pigeon Cove, a part of Rockport, Mass. The railroad does not run within two or three miles of the cove this year, but we expect it will soon. I think we shall enjoy it very much. Do come there sometime & see us. I shall want all my friends to come, one or two at a time, because it will be a novelty for a year or two. I thank you heartily for every letter you give me: amid so many cares, & so much to absorb your thoughts. I am interested in every word about your dear children, & always shall be. Perhaps after we go "over the river" there will be time & opportunity for us all to meet, and enjoy each other's society.
Mary has been with me two months, but is going back to Hanover this week. She is nicely, has improved a good deal, in many ways since we left Amherst. Edward's family are all in Bridgeport Ct. spending two or three months, (all except Eddie) while the carpenters & masons are at work, altering & repairing the house in various ways. Edward is much invigorated by his absence from home.
Emily & Mrs. Terry are both in good health now. We do not expect to see them for another year, at least. I know Emily will have some longing for the hills of it, England, & I expect myself to pine a little for Bethlehem by & by. I wonder if your sister Helen is to go there again this year. We had a present of some "elegant" maple-syrup from Mr. Wilder, the other day.
Luckily for me, I believe I can make myself happy any where in the country, either by the mountains, or the sea. I want very much to hear how your two children are prospering away from house, & whether they return to the same places another year.
Now Dear Annie, whenever you think of me, know that I am loving you just the same as every, & always deeply interested in what concerns you & yours - & still hoping that our two paths in life may cross not far ahead. I am Always yours -
Jennie H. Putnam.
Return address is:
[on back of photograph]
Vocan Bluff Cottage
Aug 16 [Saturday]. 1873.
My Dear Anne,
The little notice in the Boston Journal a day or two since of an accident to one of your daughters, has caused me to be with you in spirit very often. I should be so glad if I could hear more about it - to know if the dear child is all safe now. Whatever the case may now be, I know it has been a time of serious thought in your household ever since it - just of what might have been.
Write as soon as duties will permit & tell me that & more too.
Somebody has told me that Mr. Banfield was to build a house in Wolfboro, and I judge from what you wrote about not wishing to keep house in the summer that I was mis-informed. I do not wonder that with such a family as yours, it should seem a burden, and that you positively need the entire change of occupation, but it is very different with me - I said to Mother this very morning, that keeping this little cottage in running order was the poetry of house-work. Everything is as convenient & cozy as can be, and I like it - better & better. There are eight cottages on this point, all put up within two or three years, & quite a little community of quiet people, all (old [xxx] perhaps). We meet every Sunday evening for a neighborhood prayer meeting, having enough Methodists among us to do a good deal of singing & enough warm Christian hearts to make it a very pleasant and profitable gathering. It was held at Ocean Bluff Cottage last evening, & our parlor was well filled. Tomorrow I shall look for Edward's wife & one of his children, who are coming to stop a few days. Then there are from ten to fifteen other friends who are invited to come sometime during the month of Aug. whom we hope to see. I wish I could add your name to the list, for I so long to see you once more. We cannot yet decide whether to remain here after school commences Sept. 1. It will be rather too much car-riding for G.B.P to go in & out of the city every day especially as he will have to be late to school in the morning after hurrying across the city, still it can be done & perhaps it will be. My husband has had a stable limit and takes care of Nell himself, which is somewhat laborious, I presume. But he thrives and is in better health and spirits than ever before, the last year's heart-aches all put to flight.
Tues Aug 19 - A letter just now from "Sister [xxx]" at Greely Hotel Waterville N.H. written in an enthusiastic strain. There never was such an air to breathe, such [xxx] to roam through, & such trout to eat as there! & I have no doubt it is all true. I should love to go there [several lines of unreadable text]
From your loving
Jennie E. Putnam
maintained by Special Collections; last revised, 2-2008, jr