Letter 1 -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
[Letterhead] Rev. E.M. Boring, Secretary Home for the Friendless,
Residence, 290 West Madison Street
Mrs. J. Grant, Matron Chicago Ill. Jan 4 186 7
911 Wabash Avenue
Dear Sister Caroline,
Your letter is just rec’d and read, and if I delay replying, it may be a long delay; so I sit down at my table a large pile of letters waiting, but this shall be the first answered.
I am truly glad to hear from you & all about <y>our people. Father is really infirm; how he must miss his early activities! I often wonder if it is not the same sort of paralysis that affects Father G. that has earlier shown itself in poor brother John: none of the family seem to have very good health. I am glad my husband can be a comfort to John in this time of his trial. How much he has to endure: You and I can well sympathize in this life separated from our husbands. It is not pleasant, not the way to live, but circumstances make it best. I look forward with hope knowing that the same necessity will not always exist. I am more than paid for all my toil & care, by the certainty of knowing that I am helping my husband & that by this means we are able to do as we wish at educating John. Mr. Grant often has said “Is it best to spend so much upon John, He will not make a better business man for it & may be that is all he is fitted for” &c -- &c – But I am hard to pursuade on that point, if God spares my health, he shall have a thorough education & I believe God will call him to do something for Him. I want him to be what he will make the most of a man at – a th<r>orough earnest Christian man. I expect him to be a Christian, to act upon the highest Christian principle in every thing, when J. wrote me he was going to teach, I wrote him that of course he will not think of beginning his life work without asking God’s blessing. He said he should do it, & does open his school with prayer every day – Isn’t that a thing to thank God for! I give thanks often as I am engaged in numerous cares here, & ask God to do yet more for him, to lead him upward to the intensest devotion in His cause. John’s geniality, and hearty good nature insures him friends always.
Eve. My love to father & Marcus, and all your family when you write to them – also to the friends whenever you see them. We are having a good deal of snow this winter, but not so blockaded by it as in your vicinity. It has been snowing fast all day and is yet (10 o’clock). How quiet these days & nights must be with you! They are so full of noise & bustle here, so hurried to get [thro?] with the meals, & all the work, so many calls to see to & entertain. I am thankful I can do. God give me strength to go on – with much love, I am your aff. sister
Abby [Abigail Cowles Grant]
Write often –
Letter 2 -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
Newburyport [Massachusetts], Feb 15, 1867
I thank you, dear Caroline, for your recent letter. It told me just what I wanted to know of your father, &c.
Mr. Phillips writes that his leg had opened & had discharged a good deal. Is this considered as an indication of a speedy change? Or, may it be the means of prolonging his life?
For five weeks past I have not been as well as for several weeks before. In this time I have once attended chh. half a day, & I am at meals, & in the family in the evening, & about the house more or less daily. Not ill, but ailing.
Will you write & tell me of your father’s present condition & of his prospects. In case of his decease, be sure to write at once. It was a great satisfaction to me to be present with you all in spirit at the last services before the laying away of the body of your mother.
In love to all yours wherever they may be,
Z.P. Banister [Zilpah Polly Grant Banister]
Mrs. Caroline Grant
Letter 3 -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
[attached envelope addressed to]
Mrs. Caroline Grant
Oberlin [Ohio], Feb. 25th 1867
Dear Aunt Caroline:
I did not think to have neglected answering your good letter so long. Housekeeping cares, new, and perplexing (sometimes), as you can imagine they would be to a beginner, together with the labor of getting regulated in our new home, must be my apology. Beside, I received news from Abbie [Abigail E. Grant Burr], which assured me that, for the present, she had no difficulty in deciding that it would not be wise for her to attempt to go on with study here. Another letter, which came last week, gives the cheering intelligence that she is much better—feels as well as before. I know not what is best in the case but am strongly inclined to think, as she expressed herself in a letter to Mr. Burr – part of which I had the privilege of hearing – that it will not be best for her to return to Oberlin to study, until her health is fully established. Has not the confinement of regular, student life proved too much for her <her> in every instance in which she has tried it? I thought it would be so much easier for her, here, than at Holyoke [Mount Holyoke Female Seminary] that she might get along without breaking down, but the result of the experiment, renders it questionable to my mind, whether she ought ever to try to go through a course of study. She has, already, a very fair education, and might so improve herself by reading and private study (as she is able to bear it) as to attain a higher degree of intellectual culture than half our graduates. If her health should continue to improve, what would you think of her taking a small school in the vicinity of Grinnell in order to test her strength? – If she bears it well, perhaps it might be safe to return here in the fall, and resume study. I am glad she has the disposition to do something for herself. If she is able I doubt not it would do her a great deal of good to earn something toward paying her own expenses. If I were in her place, I should be very doubtful about the expediency of expending now, what would be likely to take just so much from my final portion, or what I might otherwise have, upon my settlement in life. I know, by experience, what a satisfaction it is, to be able to help one’s husband in procuring a home and home comforts. If she had not a definite prospect of having a home of her own, before many years, perhaps I should not think of this; or if she had rigorous health, and could make the most of her time in study, with a prospect of being able to replace by her own earnings, either wholly or in part, the expenditures of her education, the case would be different. You will not understand by this, that I do not esteem the improvement of the mind, above every other temporal good; but, as I have often observed, time spent at school is not the only way of attaining this.
I cannot see how her absence for a time, from Oberlin, will at all affect her affairs with Mr. B. [Almon Burr] He is evidently deeply interested in Abbie, and judging from what I hear and see of him, is not a man likely to change his views hastily. He expressed himself to me, as decidedly of Abbie’s opinion that it would not do for her to try to study, at present.
Mother writes that it is a great comfort to her, to have Abbie with her. She makes herself very useful there, and is probably gaining somewhat in her knowledge and efficiency in domestic matters. Whether she thoroughly enjoys so secluded a life, I have no means of knowing. If she can be comfortable and happy there, I know she would be welcome to stay for any length of time.
I spoke of “housekeeping cares” when I commenced my letter. I believe I wrote you of our having rented part of a house (the first floor) for six months, dating from the 7th of Jan. when we moved here. By that time we think we may safely calculate upon the completion of our own house. I do my own domestic work, entirely, with the exception of part of the washing, and we enjoy being by ourselves, very much indeed, and I am becoming quite accustomed to my new responsibilities as housekeeper. I should like much to be able to get along without hired help, permanently, but there will be so much to do in getting ready to go into our new house, that I shall try to find a good strong girl when spring opens.
You have perhaps noticed in the papers accounts of the great religious interest here. It has been unusual, even for this place, and continues in all its power. Prayer meetings, twice a day, (in the afternoon and evening) have been kept up for months, beside the usual meetings of the week. The number of hopeful conversions among middle aged persons, men in business, engrossed in the world, and apparently entirely indifferent to the subject of religion, has been a source of great rejoicing.
You will be glad to know that I had a dear good letter from brother Thedie, last week expressing the hope that he had commenced a christian life. He was such an amiable, conscientious boy, before that this seemed the ‘one thing lacking’.
I have no special news from friends. Should be very glad to hear from Uncle John, but do not. Since I have been so busy, I have not been faithful to my correspondents, and consequently do not hear from them so often though my interest in all that concerns our friends and relatives is as great as ever.
If Giles were at home he would wish to join me in sending much love.
Your affectionate niece
Letter 4 -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
Norfolk [Connecticut], May 4, ‘67
Dear Cos Caroline,
I have concluded we shall probably want all the lard, you have to spare and write, that you may send all, at one time. I commenced school, on Wed. last. My school promises well and is pleasant, if teaching is my calling. the prospect is, that I shall fulfil my mission – but, I feel every day, the need of that ‘wisdom which cometh from above’, that I may do my work wisely, and well.
Mother is much as usual, not as feeble, as last spring, still, she suffers much from the weariness, always attendant weakness. Hope our dear uncle Grant, is more comfortable, than when I was with you.
How appropriate, and touching seems David’s petition, as we watch, day by day, these loved ones, so ‘compassed about with infirmities.’ ‘Cast me not off in the time of old age, forsake me not, when my strength faileth.’
Mr. Saml Shepard, is very feeble, suffering from an attack of hemorrhage of the lungs. I believe Dr. does not allow him, to speak loud, at all.
Emma Welch is to be married, on Wed. morning next, at 10 o’clock, in church.
Please say to Marcus, that our stove is very much improved by the new back, it is just right, a perfect fit, we are quite delighted, and bless him, every day, for his kindness.
The memory of my visit, with you all, is very pleasant to me. I am very very glad, and thank you kindly, that you arranged everything so nicely, for my trip to Winsted.
It was really a comfort, and I number it among the special mercies which I would fain gratefully acknowledge.
With kindest love to all,
I am yours truly,
Letter 5 -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
[in pencil: Abby E. Grant to Caroline Burr Grant]
June 10TH 1867
My dear Mother,
‘Tis a long time since I have heard from you, and I concluded that you must be very very busy. Have you a girl to help you? You ought not to do all the work alone. How is Grandpa now? And is your own health as good as it has been?
The peoinies are looking lovely now, and I enjoy very much “botanizing.” Phloxes, Larkspur and Spider Lillies grow wild and I presume that I shall find many others before I am through, familiar to us as garden flowers. I have purchased a new Gray’s Botany. You remember I used to want one there are so many flowers that are not in my old one that I couldn’t get along with it. I am pressing some, and intend to make a nice herbarium, which is to be a present to Mr. Burr [Almon Burr], he asked me to preserve some of the Iowa flora for him. So I am going to get as many specimens as I can.
The warm weather commenced a few days ago, and though it makes us all feel a great lack of energy, I hope that I am better than before it came, for during the cold wet weather in the spring, though I seemed to have no cold, yet I contracted a cough and I suffered a great deal with my left shoulder and some with my side. My shoulder was sore and pained me clear through, from the breast to the back, it made me grow weak and thin and I was beginning to be a little frightened, fearing that it might be something permanent for it clung to me so long, but when the warm weather came the cough left me immediately, and I have no pain except when I have been working or lifting a little too hard, so I think the danger is passed this time, though I am beginning to be almost discouraged about ever being very strong, for as soon as I begin to get up, my liver lungs or something sets up a disturbance and keeps me on pretty much the same level all the time. I have called to see the doctor a number of times but have never been able to find him at home, so have never been able to pay my bill, the last time that I was there I asked his wife to find out for me how much it was and I could pay her if the doctor wasn’t home
I mean to take my hat up this week and have it pressed over. I shall not try to get any new summer clothes here for every thing is so dear in Grinnell, and I am so far from town that I know nothing of the fashions. After considering all things, I have concluded that it would probably be best for me to return to Ohio before teaching, for unless there is a vast improvement in my health I am not going to be tough enough to stand teaching on these rough prairies in the winter time, nor to teach in one of the large hard [ward?].
I wrote to Father a while ago, and am going to continue writing occasionally, whether he answers or not. Family all send love. Please answer very soon.
Letter 6 -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
Newburyport [Massachusetts], Aug. 27, 1867
My dear Caroline & Marcus,
Your kindness, your faithfulness to your aged father & friend, have not been unnoticed by Him, who loved this suffering friend, better than any of us have the power to love. The great question as to a preparation for an exchange of worlds is doubtless occupying the minds of each of us. I make a few extracts from <th> a letter of a modern patriarch, who had passed more than half a century in the faithful service of God, & in great usefulness to man <(for more than half a century.)>
“When I attempt to think distinctly, of what my views & feelings shall be the moment of his death, I feel lost in the obscurity of the subject. I seem to dread the awful surprize that will burst upon my mind. But my only relief is, that the Great Shepherd, who accompanies his sheep thro’ the valley of the shadow of death, will be their guides afterwards, or will furnish them with a convoy of angels. We need not trouble ourselves about the particular circumstances of our future state of existence, if only we are found among the number of Christ’s sheep. For all his people he has provided suitable mansions in his Father’s house. Some will occupy much higher places than others; but if we are admitted into the very lowest, it will be enough.
I have often resolved to begin to make special preparation for an ascent so certain & so near, but I find I can do nothing towards it by my own exertions. Dying grace is commonly reserved for a dying hour. The best preparation is to be found watching, & actively engaged in our Master’s service. In thinking what will make death easy, it has occurred to me, that a lively faith is all that we need. To have a humble, confident trust in Christ, will bear us up, however the waves of Jordan may swell around us. Let us not torment ourselves with unnecessary fears & scruples. We must trust entirely to the mercy of God, & the merit of Christ & if we do so sincerely, we shall be safe.”
At the time of exchanging worlds, perhaps your father had no distinct consciousness of leaving this state of being, no consciousness of dying. What must have been his emotions on waking in the likeness of the man Christ Jesus, our Almighty Savior: on first seeing Jesus as he is in his glorified state, conscious of sympathy with him of union with God, of being accepted in the Beloved, of assurance of having communion with Father, Son, & Holy Ghost forever, & of serving & glorifying our Creator, Redeemer & sanctifyer as long as they & he shall exist. Must not this be a heaven worth living for, worth dying for? Unto Him that loved us, & washed us from our sins in his own blood be glory & dominions for ever & ever, Amen,
In tender sympathy, Z.P.B. [Zilpah Polly Grant Banister]
Letter 7 -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
[Envelope addressed to]
Mrs. Caroline Grant
Oberlin, O. [Ohio] Sep. 17th 1867
Dear Aunt Caroline:
Thank you very much for writing so particularly of Grandpa’s last hours. I had expected to hear of his death from what you wrote to Abbie [Abigail E. Grant Burr] while she was still with us. We have indeed great reason to take comfort in thinking of him as now at rest from all the burdens of life – Still engaged in the service of the master he loved but without pain or sorrow or weariness. I little thought when I visited Colebrook with aunt [Gertie?] in ’61 that it would be the last time that I should ever see my grandparents. I have often regretted that Mr. Shurtleff and I did not go to see them when we were at Newark directly after we were married. But though I shall never see them again in this life, I feel sure that I shall meet them in an eternal home if I am myself, faithful.
You speak of mother’s lameness. Thedie writes that she commenced to be troubled soon after Abbie left, and that she had some ill turns which she thought were worse than any in past years, but that she is better now. She had at that time (Sep. 6th) a good girl, who had been with her about two months. Thedie has resumed his studies at the College, and I think Philander’s work has taken him away from home much of the summer so that I <hope> trust she has not been overburdened with labor or care.
We moved into our new house Aug. 30th It is not quite finished, but we make ourselves very comfortable without all the rooms, and are very happy in the prospect of having so nice a home which we may call our own. – Brother Edward was married in the Presbyterian Church in Lincoln on the 1st inst. and reached Oberlin with his bride the following Wednesday. They stayed until the next Monday. I liked my new sister Hannah, quite well. They seem very much devoted to each other, and full of enthusiasm and enterprise in view of their prospects.
Sister Lavinia expects to visit Ohio this month – is perhaps now in Jefferson, She may remain in the state until the latter part of next month. I intend to send mother some fruit &c. by her, and your package if you send one, might go at the same time.
I do not wonder that you have many anxious thoughts about Abbie. It must be hard for you to have your only daughter so far away. You inquire about her health. I should not think her by any means an invalid, though it is hard to form a judgment in regards to the matter. because under the <impulse> influence of excitement she will do and endure so much more than she is able to, ordinarily. She is not strong -- not able to endure hard work. I noticed one day when she did some washing for herself (my girl did her regular washing) she seemed quite tired out. I thought it might be because she was not accustomed to that kind of exercise. She often walked downtown and back (1/2 mile each way) without appearing at all fatigued. She also devoted herself to sewing with great patience and constancy and without complaining of weariness. Some of the work would have been quite perplexing to me for instance the making over of two old dresses and cutting a new one. – I told her one day that for me such work required more patience than teaching school. She seems to have a great dislike for teaching. I tell her that if she could simply teach without having the care of a school I think she would like it. I was pleased to hear that uncle John thought he should want her. It seemed to me that would be just the place for her. I should prize the privileges I should there enjoy and a home in his family so much. It would be my judgment that such a situation would afford greater opportunity for general improvement than the routine of school life. I believe Mr. Burr [Almon Burr] opposes the idea of her teaching anywhere.
It is pleasant to see him so tender of Abbie but it seems to me that he is unnecessarily so. His oldest sister two years younger than Abbie, improve[s?] the winter vacations in teaching district schools, and he himself (if I judge rightly) has earned his spending money, until quite lately, in a similar manner. For several terms past he has had some classes in the institution for which he is paid at the rate of .30 an hour. He will probably be able to find a situation which will pay him better during the winter, but I can hardly see how he could afford to pay Abbie’s expenses, at school, in addition to his own. I should dislike to accept such an offer, if I were in Abbie’s place. It probably would result pleasantly in this case, but I can but think of the case of a lady I well know who accepted a similar offer, for one term, and the match was soon after broken off by her lover. Of course in regard to this question, as well as the others of which you will, I do not expect you to receive my judgment as decisive. I can only tell how it seems to me. I always do that, candidly, where my opinion is asked, even though it may be likely to offend some one.
We see no reason to change our opinion in regard to Mr. Burr. We like his general characteristics, and think him a very promising young man. But we think his attachment for Abbie leads him into some extremes. He’s young you know, only a few months older than Abbie, and this is, I suppose, his “first love”. Some extravagance in the manifestation of his feelings seems quite pardonable. He seems to want to place her on a plane quite above the ordinary lot of mortals – keep her free, as far as may be, from either mental or physical labors and yet have her enjoy all the advantages which such labor procures at the expense of <others> himself or others. This does not seem selfish in him because he evidently does not seem to think Abbie is able to burden herself with any serious responsibility. She is the only person in the world who can convince him to the contrary, and this, I presume she can do, only by experiment.
I can but guess that his desire to have A. study more is due in great part to the pleasure he would enjoy in having her near him. I hardly believe he would particularly enjoy having her attend school away from Oberlin, though I may be mistaken in regard to that. To speak plainly, I am quite doubtful whether Abbie would be much benefitted by continuing her studies here. There would be so many things to distract her mind – calls from Mr. B. <and> the company of so many lively acquaintances &c. – though from all that I could see, I should not judge that the state of her health <would> is, at present, such as to be a serious objection to her studying or teaching.
I have written a long letter, and must now close to attend to domestic duties. I still have my girl with me, a part of the time, and [Eltie Lenrant?], a neice of Mr. Shurtleff’s helps me some hours each day, but enough remains to be done to keep me busy most of the time. But I am well, now, and enjoy my cares. Please give my love to all at the “old homestead”. If any of them come this way I hope you will admonish them to stop at Oberlin.
Your very affectionate niece
Mary B. Shurtleff
Letter 8 -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
Wednesday Morn Oct. 2,
My dear Mrs. Grant,
The enclosed precious letters, I return by this day’s mail. We have read them over & over. How deeply sympahising; how comforting they are. We thank your Aunt for the perusal, we thank you dear Mrs. Grant, & for the accompanying note also.
I fully supposed they were returned almost immediately by my Father, but last evening they were found.
He too is very sorry & says it was his forgetfulness. He is usually well, & going to N.Y. City this beautiful morning. He desires his love & sympathies. I regretted so much that I could not go with him on that day of Aug. 27, but a meeting you know claimed our attention & we had company besides, & Louise was away. We passed you the other day in Winsted, but did not recognize you in time to stop our horse. I know how lonely, & still, & desolate, you must find your house, still.
But O how much you have done for the comfort of that household.
We have been hoping to see Rev. Mr. Grant. Wish he could remain in Colebrook.
Again we thank you for these letters & all your favors.
In true sympathy & love,
Catherine M. Carrington
Letter 9 -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
Rev. E.M. Boring, Secretary Mrs. J. Grant, Matron Residence, 290 West Madison St. 911 Wabash Avenue
Home for the Friendless,
Chicago, Oct. 7, 1867
My dear sister C.
This is Mond. morn & our breakfast & prayers are over, and before I begin the labors of the week, I want to talk with you a little. I think of you often, & know you must feel intensely lonsome at times, for I do here, & it is only because I am so driven by cares, and activities here that I can endure my heart’s loneliness at times. What is best, not what we please, seems to be the way we have to look at things.
I have not heard that you have decided anything about your future yet, suppose it is hard to know the best way, tho’ I think it will open to you.
It must be very lonesome at the old dear house now. Mother & Father gone, your heart must ever be glad that you could do so much for them, & then you did it so kindly! we all thank God for you kind spirit to our beloved parents, and thank you for so faithfully & continuously ministering to their wants.
I hear weekly from John. He told me of his nice silver napkin ring given him by his aunt Caroline. He seems to be getting along well. I am so glad he can room at Mr. Baldwin’s, for I think Mrs. B. w’d know if he was sick.
Our future, i.e. my husband’s & mine together are known only to God. – May He direct.
From three weeks after my return, I was so weak that at times I feared I w’d have to give up this work, but am feeling pretty well now, tho’ my head is not always clear.
We were all frightened by waking with a bright light pouring into our windows, & the cry of fire, & 4 engines planted at various points around. It was a number of buildings, 1 ½ blocks to our rear. Had th e wind blown from the west, nothing could have saved all between us & it, & we too should have probably been burned. It is my first sight of a near fire, & I do not want a nearer.
The man who has lost his all, is our carpenter, and has been so kind to us, that we feel an unusual sympathy for him. he was not insured; his fine valuable [pet?] house was burned up. 4 sets of harness, all his tools, every thing.
I cannot write longer but meant to tell you how pleasant the remembrance of my visit with you is. I am so glad to have been there at the time I was.
Do write to me, soon as you can all about your husband & children. Give my love to them & to brother Marcus & to accept much love for yourself, from your aff. sister
Abby. [Abigail Cowles Grant]
[attached envelope addressed:]
Mrs. Caroline Grant
Letter 10 -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
Nov. 11th 1867
My Dear Mrs. Grant
Mother and myself were both very pleasantly surprised by your welcome letter; and as mother is not very well able to write, she desired me to reply in her name. Mother has often spoken to me of you, especially since dear Abbie [Abigail E. Grant Burr]& I have been so intimate. She often expresses the wish that she might see you and renew an acquaintance which was ever pleasant to her.
Mother’s health is quite poor; for two years or more she has been suffering from a complication of diseases which seem to shift localities; At first in her lungs & throat what the doctor calls chronic tuberculation of the spine & muscles. Now confined entirely to the spine (producing curvature below the shoulder) & the muscles about the shoulder.
She suffers great pain, and is often so weak as to require the aid of a staff.
Our dear Abbie left us about four weeks ago, was feeling pretty comfortable for her. She did consult our physician while here, though <not> he did not make a very thorough investigation of her case, as she did not request it. He thought her system very much deranged in consequence of the irregularity of her monthly periods, or rather their frequency. He gave her some medicine which he claims to be a sure cure in all difficulties of that nature, saying that he thought all her other bad feelings dependent in a great measure upon that. I do not know the result of that medicine. He did not examine her lungs at all. I think with mother, that it would well for her to consult some reliable physician about them. If Abbie will be careful this winter, I think she has a school and boarding place, where she will be comfortable, and enjoy herself; though all her friends here were opposed to her teaching at all. We hope she will not suffer in health from her labor this winter.
At least she will have a very careful guardian in Mr. Burr. Speaking of him let me say that he is one man among a thousand, a man of rare abilities and, better than all a warm hearted earnest, honest and loving Christian. Just the one for our Abbie, in my humble opinion. I always grow enthusiastic when I speak his praise, and still I feel that no one can say too much.
I have been offered a situation in the Union School at Wellington, 8 miles south of Oberlin. Think I shall accept it; if so, I shall be near enough to see Abbie occasionally during the winter. I cannot tell you within the limits of one short letter how very dear Abbie’s friendship has been to me from the last renewal of our acquaintance at Oberlin. I value it as above price.
Mother says “if you come to Ohio do not fail to come and see us” Hoping that our opinions in regard to our dear one’s health may allay anxiety in your mind I am, dear Mrs. Grant
Most respectfully your
Alice M. Leonard
Letter 11 -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
[Attached envelope addressed to]
Mrs. Daniel Grant
Mill Brook <Colebrook>
So. Hadley Mass. [South Hadley, Massachusetts]
Nov. 23. 1867
We are writing to the Graduates of the Seminary, and others who have enjoyed its benefits, upon a subject in which we are confident you will all be interested. For a long time we have felt that it would greatly promote both the health and comfort of our family to have our <family> halls warmed in some way. –
Physicians have said that it was perhaps the greatest disadvantage of our residence here that we are obliged so often to pass from warm rooms through the cold halls. –
We have realized the evil of it and hoped it might be remedied, but have at last concluded we must move in the matter ourselves, and interest our friends and the friends of education generally to aid us in the accomplishment of our wishes. As the seminary was built by contributions we think now that it has so many friends we may confidently expect that for any such needed improvement they will gladly render us assistance.
Our desire is to have the halls and public rooms heated by steam. –
We have had the building carefully examined by those who have practical knowledge in the matter, and they say the plan is entirely feasible and can be carried into effect immediately, if the necessary means are procured, so that we may enjoy warm halls this winter. On introducing steam into the halls care would be taken to have the pipes large, and so arranged that branch pipes may be added to heat all the rooms when we shall have sufficient means to do this, but as it will cost $10,000 to have the whole building heated in this way, we can only hope for a part of it this winter.
The present members of the school are deeply interested in the project, and are writing letters to different friends whom they think they can influence. Some have been quite successful already in their appeals, others feel confident of success in presenting the subject during vacation.
If you feel inclined to aid us in this good cause, we should be very happy to receive a contribution from you, and if you know others <to be> interested in the Seminary who might assist us we should be very grateful to you for speaking or writing to them on the subject. – Even small contributions will be gladly received.
We are aware the sum to be raised is a large one, but if all our friends will respond to our invitation, we think we shall receive it.
We wish to have the money if possible by the beginning of next term Dec. 12th in order that the work may be accomplished at once. –
Any contributions may be sent to me at the Seminary. –
Yours Very Truly
By Ida Derby
Letter 12 -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
Oberlin, O. [Ohio] Nov. 26th ‘67
Dear Aunt Caroline:
Not a day has passed since the reception of your last letter that I have not inwardly bewailed the press of duties which seem to crowd every moment of time, and render it almost impossible to give any attention to absent friends. You know it is something to clean and put in order a large house, and if you ever moved into an unfinished house where you were having the rubbish of the carpenters and masons constantly tracked into your furnished rooms, you can have some idea of what we have had to do and endure this fall. Add to this the labor of canning several bushels of different kinds of fruit, the entertainment of some company nearly all the time since we came here, and the effort to dispose of some of the sewing which <has> accumulated during my long confinement last summer, and you will not wonder, I think, at my being very busy.
Now in regard to Abbie’s [Abigail E. Grant Burr] health, I think I can say what may relieve you. So far as I can observe, I should think her to be in as good health as I ever knew her. I do not recollect having heard her cough at all since she came back from Iowa. She is able to read aloud for quite a length of time, without fatigue – a thing which I have not been able to do for years, and yet I have no idea that my lungs are at all diseased. Your letter was the first intimation I had had of a difficulty there. She has not complained of the other difficulties you speak of, except the pain about the shoulders. With the exception of two or three days, when there were special reasons for her feeling poorly, she has been about, appearing as lively and well as any of us. After receiving your letters I questioned her about her feelings and she admitted having all the troubles of which you speak, but said she was getting better all the time, and thought it quite unnessary to consult a physician, I told her she ought to write you what she thought, and I hope you have been already relieved, at least in great measure, of your anxieties.
I suppose she was quite sick for a time at Thompson, but she attributes her illness, in great part, to over exertion in taking care of Alice. – She left us yesterday morning to begin her school, and if <her school> it proves as pleasant as was represented, and her boarding place what she expects, I apprehend no difficulty for her. I know she was quite sick for a time in Grinnell. But the Dr. told her that the trouble arose from disease of the liver. I do not believe the trouble in her lungs can be owing to settled disease there. I think it must be sympathetic as her former physician thought.
I do not think Abbie need to return to Conn. on account of her health, but there are some other reasons why it seems a pity that she cannot be with you. If all goes as we expect it will probably not be much over a year before she will be settled in life and obliged to assume the new duties of the mistress of a household. These duties, it seems to me, will be very difficult and perplexing to her, unless she <has> gains considerable more experience in them, than she now possesses. What she does, she does well, but she lacks the ability to dispatch work and, I think, now finds it about all she knows how to do, to take care of her own clothes.
Then again it hardly seems to me that one or two terms more study here would be of any particular advantage to her. To be frank, during the two terms she has already spent here, according to the testimony of her teachers, she has not gained very much in scholarship. It could hardly be expected, that one who had so many calls, and so many distracting influences, would be very devoted to study. Should she attempt study again, she will be similarly situated, if Mr. Burr [Almon Burr] is here. After she came back here, from Thompson, he called upon her on an average, once a day, often staying several hours. If I were in her place I think I should not attempt to study, but should want to be getting ready to keep house. It will take her a great while to make up every thing she needs. I have found that by sad experience, you know, house keeping goods were so expensive for some time before I was married, that it <was> seemed poor economy to buy them, until they were cheaper. It is not so now, and it would probably be a great gain if she had them all ready for her when she comes to want them.
You need not feel at all troubled about Abbie’s having been burdensome to us. I feel that I owe you such a debt of gratitude for your kindness to mother, that I am glad of the opportunity to repay it, to some extent, to Abbie. I feel deeply interested to have every thing done for her, which will be “for her best good”, as you say, and have long felt that it was my duty to say what I have with regard to her longer stay in school here. Mr. Shurtleff has told me again and again that I ought to write you how it was.
Please give my love to Uncle Marcus, and accept a double portion for yourself. Do not think that I shall always be so negligent about answering your letters. Our house is just about done now, and when it is once in order I expect to have some leisure.
Mary B. S.
Letter 13 -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
Friday Dec. 13, 1867
My dear Caroline,
If you should have come into my room anytime since Sept. 24, you might see in a jelly glass on my mantle shelf just around the projecting right hand corner a bit of that Southern Wood which you sent. It has my privilege to change the water often, tho this is not required daily. No other person has done it. Every touch of it, & almost every look at it has bro’t the giver pleasantly before me. The larger part of it I gave to Mrs. Gilton that she might plant it for future growth.
What an unspeakable comfort it is, to be sure that Jesus knows us thoroughly, & knows all our trials in all their peculiarities; & that his grace is sufficient for us.
In love to you & each of your own, I remain your friend & aunt
Z. P. Barrister [Zilpah Polly Grant Banister]
Mrs. Caroline Grant