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Helen Hunt Jackson 2-1-4 transcription

Helen Hunt Jackson Papers, Part 2, Ms 0156, Box 1, Folder 4, letters from HHJ to her cousin Ann Scholfield, 1873-81.
Transcribed by Gloria Helmuth, December 2002

Envelope addressed: Miss Ann Scholfield, 47 Pinckney St., Boston, Massachusetts.

written on envelope: Jan 11, 1873
[transcriber's note: I believe this to have been written in January 1874, not 1873]

Colorado Springs
Jan. 11th 1873

Dear Cousin Ann,

I was so glad to get your letter, and to know that Cousin Ellen is doing so well.

My sister-in-law is also improving; has walked across her room once or twice with a cane and one crutch.

It isn't such a hopeless thing after all to break one's hip is it; but give my love to Cousin Ellen and tell her not to break the other! -

Cousin Ann, can you get the Romance of the Harems, from Miss Harris? Or perhaps she has sent it home already. If so, I would be very glad of it. I want to write something founded on one of the stories in it. - It will come safely by mail; (at book rates of postage, remember) -. I have a great many books sent by mail, and they are not injured at all, if tied up in thick paper.

I am growing united to my new place - and find the discomforts on the whole lessening; I can't say though that I wouldn't be thankful for a "good square meal" of eastern food; as for fish and oysters, tears fill my eyes at the thought of them. I shall take to the sea as soon as I return - and even swallow the marine food raw, for aught I know, if the longing continues to increase. Except for eggs & oatmeal we should have no phosphorus in our brains! -

I wish you could see my little sitting room. It is as cozy a little den as I have ever had; - when I am in it I forget that I am at the foot of the Rocky Mts. - We are having snow today, and I am always so thankful for that; the warmer days which every body else delights in, I don't like. Yesterday I sat all day with open windows! Mercury at 70 degrees!! - Good bye - But love to all - Let me hear how the winter goes with you -

Ever lovingly


Enveloped addressed: Miss Ann Scholfield, 47 Pinckney St., Boston, Mass.

written on envelope: Dec. 11, 1873.

Colorado Springs
Dec. 11.

Dear Cousin Ann,

The postal card told you of my safe journey - & I should sooner have told you of the condition of things at the end of it, if I had been sure of staying here long enough to make it worth while! Wouldn't you have held up your hands in astonishment if I had appeared at your door again last week? I came within one of returning with Dr. Cate - last week. He staid a week here - & was so dismayed at some of the effects of this preternatural climate upon me, that he was almost ready to whisk me back again; but on the whole he advised me to stay and, try it a month - and I am glad I did, for I have gained very much since he left - and begin to feel that it will be here to stay all winter. The chief cause of our dismay, was - what do you think - Nose Cold! - which set in "like fury" before I had been six hours in Denver. It seems that catarrh is the great disgrace of this country. Nobody has thought it worth while to tell us of this. Almost all strangers coming here are instantly attacked with it - & have it from one to six months. As for the natives, it is apparently their chronic condition; in Denver the sidewalks & halls resounded with the unmistakable sounds of the deviled. - If I had known this, I should no more of thought of coming here, than of going out to the Provincetown Light House for the winter; - moreover the extreme dryness & warmth of the air made me feel weak & ill, like furnace heat when there is no water in the furnace. You can have no conception of the dryness, till you feel it. I boiled water over my spirit lamp the first few days to get moisture in my room - thermometer at 73 degrees with no fire & windows wide open! - However ten days ago came a light fall of snow - & what the people here call cold weather! - that is weather in which a tiny soft coal fire keeps my room so war that I sit half the time with one window open! - just the most delicious winter weather you can conceive of - and such sunshine. - they call it an unusually stormy cold winter thus far - & out of the eighteen days I have been here, there have only been two when the sun did not shine nearly all day! The show falls have been in the afternoon & night; - It is slowly absorbed into the ground and leaves no moisture; it seems like a miracle, to see the roads over the plains dry & dusty as in summer, & snow lying an inch deep on either side of them - You can study the snow crystals as you walk along, just as you would see a picture, the snow is so absolutely dry. - I cannot conceive of a more enchanting winter climate than this has been for ten days. But I defer my ultimate judgment, till I have tried the dry heat again. If the snow disappeared & the thermometer goes up to 68 degrees & 70 - and I still feel as well as now I shall stay. If it bring back the catarrh, & feverish ill feeling, I shall come home; for I am strong enough to take the journey with safety & [ ] & brave an Eastern winter [ ]. I gained every day on the journey & arrived in Denver Thursday night, far fresher than I set out! I go down to all my meals now - & can walk half a mile - my throat still feels badly at times - but has not been sore - and I feel great hopes of the old thing. -

Now for the drawbacks? - Well - 1st Dust! Poor Emma is so wretched over the dirt, that she cannot think of anything else. It is horrid & no mistake: it grimes you head to foot, in & out; such [ ], such flannel petticoats - such cuffs & collars - It seems of little use to put on fresh ones. I expect to become a confirmed slattern. As for dusting rooms, it is a waste of time. A sudden gust of wind will pour it in at every crevice & cover everything in one second.

2nd Food! - no worse than I expected - but pretty poor; - a wonderful variety considering the place; I'll send you a bill of fare in this letter & you will think I must be unsufferable to complain; but you haven't tasted of any of the things! Two good plain well cooked articles would be worth the whole. However, Emma makes my gruel & my gem cakes, & cocoa, & I get on very well when I have an appetite; but when I haven't, I sigh for Parkers. -

There are the two drawbacks - the rooms do very well - & there are half a dozen remarkably pleasant people here - I should consider myself lucky in any Hotel at home to have as pleasant table talk as we have at our meals here; - there are no people of real culture - or interest in books especially - but they are perfectly well bred & bright, chiefly Philadelphians of really high positions socially, - who have come out here for health or fortune.

Now - the mountains! I can't write about them. I doubt if I can attempt it, they are sublime. The whole scenery is so unique, so unlike anything else I ever saw that I feel myself a stranger to it even now. It will be weeks before I shall know it. It is grander than anything I have see except the Yosemite & Gastein. - I would like to write about it if I dared! -

I told you on the postal card what a comfort your cakes & the cocoa & beef tea were. I lived on the remains of my luncheon basket the day I staid in Denver, where there was not a mouthful of food I could swallow! If this Hotel had been as bad I should have turned back the next day! - Emma proved a capital traveler - & enjoyed the journey exceedingly; - she has been homesick enough here - but is getting more used to it. It is very very lonely for her. I do not wonder - Everybody is either above or below her. - Now I have written a long letter all about myself - Do write me one all about your household - I hope Cousin Ellen is on her crutches by this time - Molly is - & writes quite gaily of hobbling about her room. Goodbye - my best love to you all - & thanks over & over for all your kindness to me while I was ill. I shall not forget it. Ever lovingly,


Address. Colorado Springs Hotel. Colorado Springs. Colorado. -

Envelope addressed: Miss Ann Scholfield, 47 Pinckney St., Boston, Mass.
Postmarked: NEWPORT FEB 24
written on envelope: June 16, 1874

Col. Springs.
June 16. 1874

Dear Cousin Ann.

How the weeks have slipped away without my writing to you! But to tell the truth, the last six or eight, I have been writing till I knew whether I should write asking you to send me my trunk of summer clothes, or whether I should write to say I was coming back to the East! I have been two months trying to make up my mind to stay here all summer; not that it is such a hard thing to do, to spend a summer in Colorado! But I had planned, you know, to come home in July - & I do want to see all my friends so much, that it is a bitter disappointment to me to give it up; but I am persuaded that it is wisest for me to stay here. I am very well indeed - & look better - some friends who came here from N. York last week say, than I ever did in my life - but still my throat is weak; - and occasional returns of the old burning, remind me that I am still wedded to an enemy. - If I should happen to run into an epidemic of sore throat or scarlet fever anywhere, as I did last year, I should come down again as I did then, I very much fear. And the dread of suffering as I suffered last summer keeps me here. I would not mind so much the staying all summers, - if I did not have an awful misgiving that in the autumn I shall not dare to encounter a N.E. winter - & so that it will result in my staying the year! However sufficient to the day is the evil thereof - I have made up my mind that my present wisest cause is to stay; & I shall settle down now, for the summer & make the best of it. You would think that was not the right word if you could look into my little sitting room & see the flowers (ten bouquets of one sort & another!) & if you could look out in these mountains with snow on the tops, & the foothills green as velvet. Winter was beautiful here, but summer is simply divine. - These sandy plains are bright with flowers - as many as thirty or forty kinds in bloom now. Even in the streets, - almost under the horses feet. They are blossoming - purple, blue, & Yellows; seven different kinds of
of [sic] Vetches just in front of this hotel! It is like a flower garden everywhere. -

Last week, I had a great surprise & pleasure. I had set out with some friends for a four days trip into the mountains, & at the station in Denver, I met Prof. & Mrs. Botta, & Mr. Charles Butten of New York, just arrived from the east, setting out for the very same trip we were taking - & intending to surprise me here txhxex afterward; - Was not that a coincidence considering that they had crossed a continent! They returned with us to the Springs & staid two days - & are so enchanted with the place, & climate, that they are going to buy lots here - & I really think may build. - just for a summer house. That is the destined future of Colorado. There can be no doubt of it; it is to be the great Sanitarium, & pleasure ground of the country; - the Newport of the West! Asthmatics must come here. It is sure cure for that, bad throat & lung troubles, are almost invariably helped if not cured. I believe half the people in this town are one lunged! -

Of course you have been distressed by the newspaper comments on Mr. Banfield's cause in regard to the Sanborn [Certificates?]. I do not believe he intended to do anything wrong. I think he had been made a Scape Goat all along. But oh, how I do wish he had resigned before it all happened. I have not heard from Annie since he resigned. It will be a great sorrow to her to have to leave Washington. - She has had a very bad winter, as you of course know. Poor little Kitty is learning early how to bear sickness. -

Now dear Cousin Ann. - since I am to stay here all summer, I must have the few summer clothes I possess, which are in that small, cloth-covered trunk; - but there are two troublesome things I am going to ask you to do for me, besides the forwarding it; - one is to open the big truck, & see if there are any white dresses or skirts in that - & if so to put them into the little one. My impression is that I put one thin white dress, & my white [ ] skirt into that. - The other is - to take off the square collar of the white pique polonaise, & just buy me a yard of pique like it. - I must alter the sleeves before I can wear it. - Don't rip the collar - just slash it off with the scissors. I shall not wear it any more in that way.

I am so sorry to give you this trouble - but as I have said so many times to you - I'd do as much for you. The worst of it is, I never have a chance to! - Fortunately I have thought it was almost reason enough for being married again, so as to have a home of my own & reciprocate a little of the kindness which has been heaped on me by all my friends. -

I hope you see the Independent. I have been writing a great deal this winter - for that, & for the Christian Union - working hard to get out of debt - & have already done so; - almost earned my living, for five months! Isn't that something to have done?

Emma has gone to San Francisco, went last week. Good soul as she was, I must say, it is an unspeakable relief to have her off my hands -

I hope Cousin Ellen is by this time quite strong. Molly is walking with a cane still. - but is able now to live alone as she did before her accident. - & is talking of going to Europe! -

Goodbye - very very much love to Cousin Ellen & Adeline & to you -

Ever affectionately & gratefully -

Helen. -

P.S. Address this trunk to Col. Springs Hotel. Col. Springs. Col. - & please take a receipt from the Expressman, mentioning value $300. -

Envelope addressed: Miss Scholfield, 47 Pinckney St., Boston, Mass.
written on envelope: July 9, 1874

Col. Springs
July 9, 1874

Dear Cousin Ann,

The trunk came through safely, and luckily the key to my big trunk opened it.

Many thanks for the trouble. The pique matched nicely; but I believe I shall not have to use it after all, for a whole breadth has to come out of the Polonaise. I have two women at work putting my things in order - and I am suffering for them, in this extreme heat, I assure you. I hanker after Bethlehem or Princeton, and am about sorry I decided to stay.

We have not had a drop of rain for five weeks, & the mercury has been between eighty & ninety half the time! - They all say it is a most exceptional summer! I never went anywhere yet, where I did not find exceptional weather.

I have a letter from Annie today which takes my breath away. Of course she has written the same news to you - that they are going to San Francisco! I am glad on the whole, for I think the climate will suit Annie better than any eastern city except Washington - & it will be a great opening for Everett in a business point of view, if he gets law business in San Francisco.

But dear me - we shall never see them -; to cross a continent is what very few people can do - & she with her family can't do it at all; she seems perfectly delighted with the change. You will see them all before they go - but I doubt very much if I do. I think it extremely doubtful if I return to the East this autumn. One more winter here, could make my recovery from throat troubles much more sure I think; and I have grown to love my life here very much.

I hope you see the Independent. Two of my Colorado papers have been printed - three more are written. There will be ten or twelve in all I think; - and the volume of Bits of Travel at home will come out next winter. - Give my best love to Cousin Ellen and Adeline - I hope Cousin Ellen is well - XXX content; she has done better than Molly who still suffers severely and cannot walk without a cane. Goodbye -



Envelope addressed: Miss Ann S. Scholfield, 47 Pinckney St., City.
Postmarked: BOSTON MASS. NOV 2 3 P.M.
written on envelope: Nov 2, 1881 - 4

Dear Cousin Ann -

I am sure you will half cringe. - sorry as you will be - to hear that I arrived here Monday morning - only to be shut straight up in my room with a heavy bronchial cold. - It is really ludicrous the way I topple over here in the Parker House -

I dare say I shall "happen in" here, at the very last & die in one of their beds. -

I suppose of course you don't get out in this bad weather - but when you do, come in & see me - & if Annie feels like making me a few "iron clads" I'll be grateful, for I'm already sick to death of this saw dust-y baker's bread here -

- I came only for one week & expected to spend most of my time in the Libraries, looking up all there is here on the subject of the old Missions in S. California - but I don't believe I'll get out of this room for three or four days yet - by the way my pipes sound - I enclose a nice note from Annie Davenport which has news you'll be glad to hear -

Lovingly ever -


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