Letter from Mary Carpenter, April 24, 1871

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Letters of Mary Carpenter
Minnesota Historical Society Manuscripts Collection P1487

Rochester, Minn. Apr 24. 1871

Dear Cousin Laura,

Your pleasant letter of Mar. 2nd deserved an earlier reply. I was glad the spring like weather made you feel like writing. The leaves, so prettily arranged, were very acceptable. I think I recognize several old acquaintances among them "creeping Jennie" "Solomon's Seal", "Princess pine." The others I do not know by name. We have none of them in Minn., at least I have never seen any of them. The woods are not near enough for me to get to them, however I used to enjoy such rambles as you describe when I lived East, very much. Early in Spring, we had a few days which corresponded with those you spoke of but, on the whole, spring is backward and grass is slow in coming, and I have put off answering letters till my heart should be in better tune and my mind in the mood for writing.

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I see so much to discourage, and so little to encourage that I would fain keep all my thoughts to myself, instead of committing them to paper. My letter must necessarily be short this time for this is every bit of paper I have and I can't get more just at present. We have cause for gratitude that we are all in good health, excepting perhaps myself. I am not sick, but feel languid and with little spring or interest. I sat for a photograph the other day, the first time since I came to Minn. The artist gave me a proof but I did not have any finished for all of my friends are quite disappointed with it, say it is not me not the right expression &c. Geo says I don't look like that one in age.

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I don't know whether I shall try again or not. Mother says I look fifty years old in it. I've a mind to send it to you, they all recommend it so highly, and when I get some that are better, send another. George is putting in his seed, but his team was necessarily kept so short all winter that they are really not fit to work. I hope they will not give out entirely and they can have a chance to pick grass & get [illegible] after the crop is in. It takes a long time to recover from the effects of that terrible devastating hailstorm of last summer. Eggs sell in town now for ten cents a dozen, and I heard lately, that butter was down to sixteen cents a pound, not very encouraging for farmers. We have not been to church for two Sabbaths.

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I miss it so much when I can't go. Our team is not able to go now so far, & the roads are in poor condition. I have not seen Mother for some time. I miss that too. So you see I am writing quite a complaining letter. Perhaps your answer may cheer me up for I am sure your last one did. I hope we will sometime be settled on a farm of our own and have things in better trim. How I would enjoy a musical instrument. We have always hoped to have one. Please tell Aunt Laura I will answer her last letter when I get some paper. Tell her too that if a man takes a homestead and lives on it five years it is his, no one can jump his claim. He must have his family with him, this is all that is required to hold it. This is a meager, poor letter but I'll try to do better next time. My heart turns with much affection to all of my dear friends. Please give my special love to Aunt Laura & Martha. Remember me to cousin Lowell & accept a large share for yourself.

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I suppose Geo would hardly like to have me send what he calls a poor picture & so does Mother. You can take it as a "natural curiosity," but not as a cousin,
M.E.L. Carpenter

Here are a couple of wild spring flowers Campanulas from little Mamie. She just brought them in.