Letter from Mary Carpenter, December 17, 1883

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Letters of Mary Carpenter
Minnesota Historical Society Manuscripts Collection P1487

Marshall, Dec. 17. 1883.

My dear Aunt Martha,

I must write you one more letter in 1883 though, as usual, other cares & duties crowd upon me at all points. But I am up at four A.M. and I can call the time my own for a couple of hours yet. Generally, I am obliged to stay in bed till daylight (much to my disgust for I hate to relinquish my only undisturbed time.) on account of not burning out wood unnecessarily, for we have no more than enough to last about two months, & the prospect is we must burn flax straw after it is gone. But it is quite mild today and I can get along with a very little till daylight. Having wood at all is a great improvement on last year. Sister Ethel Lange, Mr. Carpenter's only sister from St. Paul and her two children, Eddie aged eleven, and Paul aged five, are here for a long visit.

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Her health is exceedingly poor & she came hoping it might be benefited by the change & country air and diet. They have been here three months now and she is talking of going home soon. The Dr's had given up curing her, but George hoped she might be. At first, for several weeks she did not gain at all. Then, while taking "Kords's Sasaparilla" in a short time, she gained eleven & a half pounds, which was encouraging. About three weeks ago her stomach began troubling her again, her cough grew worse, and she got so she could not digest anything she ate. Then George confined her to a cream diet, as the last resort, and now, for several days she is able to sit up again, but has to be very limited in her bill of fare, eating nothing but cream, toasted bread, or a baked apple. It's less than three weeks since when the two older boys went away to Owatonna to the academy.

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I had ten in the family to cook for &c, &c. so you must imagine I had plenty to do. There are eight of us now, and Lucy has not been well at all for awhile so it all rested on my shoulders. But they are broad and have not failed me yet, tho' I get very tired sometimes & long for quiet especially since cold weather came on and the children are obliged to be in the house. Has mother written to you lately and have you heard of Mamie's marriage? She was engaged last June to Mr. C. J. Hurd, the son of the family where she boarded for six months while teaching school. They thought (or rather U thought for he did not want to delay) that they would not be married under two years but they finally concluded to go to housekeeping this fall, so they were married Nov. 5 and went immediately to housekeeping. They made no wedding, but went quietly to Grand Forks, 15 miles away, and were married by Mr. Davis, the Baptist minister where they claimed Mother Hurd had a nice supper for their reception and several friends to welcome them.

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There was a bride's cake and a "groom's cake" four stories high. The next day they commenced housekeeping. Mamie's husband lives for the winter on Mr. Powers place & gets one hundred dollars for taking care of the stock on the place. The house is roomy and comfortable & they have plenty of furniture to commence with. Mamie has a good sewing machine & a hundred dollar organ of her own earning, and she provided the dry goods and dishes for commencing. They had three hundred dollars of their own coming between them. He is only six months older than Mamie & they seem to be perfectly satisfied and happy. He is a mason by trade & will take a farm also as he understands farming being a farmer's son. He worked at his trade at good wages while the weather was warm enough. I will enclose her last letter, also one I had from Mother some time ago, as I know you will like to read them.

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I guess I must allow myself half a sheet more. I did not know I was so near the end of the paper till I found myself right here.

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I wrote to cousin Nell Lowell since my last letter to you, but have received no response. Our crops did not turn out so well as we expected this year and there was so much that had to be put over last year, that must be paid this that it made us very short of money, but (as usual) we live in hopes for another year. If we owned the land instead of renting so much we would be very comfortable. We had 260 acres into crops last year. Now the plowing has been well done up this fall & we hope for a good crop next fall. The boys, George and Henry, are boarding themselves this winter & like it very well. I intend to send them a box for Christmas with a chicken stuffed, ready for baking, bread, cake & pie baked, &c. Geo. says he will keep Eddie here, when his mother goes home to ease their burden some. They have five children, all boys but the eldest, Stella, who is sixteen, and Mr. Lange is a carpenter by trade.

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They are all right when he has work, but this winter he can get none & their rent is $10 dollars a month. He had to mortgage his tools for her passage money here. Mamie will pay half the return fare, Georgie, one dollar towards it & Pa, the rest. And, after she goes home it will be hard for her to get what she needs for comfort, the remainder of the winter. But she is afraid to stay because she may be snowbound, and if she gets worse, she would not be able to part. Did you ever get my letter enclosing Mamie's picture? Will you ever send me your picture & I have none of dear Aunt Laura either. Well my paper is exhausted again and I must take up other duties. With abundance of love to cousins Lowell, Laura and yourself, I am

Most affly your Niece,
Mary E. L. Carpenter

Please let me hear from you soon.