Letter from Mary Carpenter, July 19, 1870

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Letters of Mary Carpenter
Minnesota Historical Society Manuscripts Collection P1487

Rochester, Minnesota

My dear cousin Laura,

It is not yet four o'clock A.M. and I am up before the rest are awake so will now fulfill my intention of writing to you. Please excuse pencil as our ink is poor, and I can write much easier this way under the circumstances. I wrote to Aunt Laura a short time since, but have been anxious to write again since the arrival of the box, a week ago last Friday. I "felt it in my bones" as old ladies say that it had got here so took the team and went down town towards night. Sure enough it came to hand that very afternoon. Cousin Leander expressed it through, and sent ten dollars to pay the expressage. It took $9.60 Frank said. I can scarcely express my pleasure and gratitude for all the nice things it contained for us as a family, and me personally.

[Page 2]

That great coat is so nice. My husband is very much pleased with it. You may know we appreciate it for it is the first one he has had for twelve years. He did not get one when he was married and has not been able to since. He thinks it will last him twenty years for a nice one. When he first put it on he walked around the room and said "folks won't know me now". It is quite a good fit and becoming. Everything you sent was "just the thing". That beautiful little lace hat is very becoming to me. I don't put my hair up behind to wear it though. I just curl it very full and let it all hang behind the lace strings or ties. It looks very nicely. The blue lace puts the finishing touches to with it & Aunt Laura's handsome handkerchief completes the whole. What a pretty white apron that is, it is just what I needed.

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And the winter cloak I had nothing of the kind. My cloaks I brought West with me were just all gone. It will be a great comfort. The brown dress is very pretty, also the French calico for Mamie. She is much pleased with her presents. The little white sack will be nice. Please tell Aunt Martha the pants were just what Georgie needed. I shall not make them till winter and then for best ones. They are very acceptable. The little stockings too are just the thing. The children appreciated the cornucopias from Aunt Laura and the little vase and pitcher, also the cakes of soap and whips from Aunt Martha. Tell them that Henry Lincoln uses his whip quite lustily for a little fellow sixteen months old. Tell Aunt Martha that the "little things" she sent were "just in time" and will doubtless be appreciated by little "Laura Sophia" or "Lorenzo Lowell" Carpenter it may be.

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We have decided on the name beforehand you see. The books were very acceptable and will be valued highly, both on account of their intrinsic merits and their authorship. I read "Three Little Sunbeams" aloud to the children. Mamie listened with close attention as she always does and said after the first story of the little girl who gave up the silk dress for her doll to make a hood "I know I never could have done that." When I told her that "Fanny Ann" was Aunt Martha herself, she was much surprised and pleased. Thought she waited for her dishes a good while, Mamie has a set I got her last Christmas, she has taken good care of them and very often sets the table and has China, like a grown person.

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I am much pleased with the old fashioned cup and saucer and shall value it highly as a relic. Please thank Aunt Laura for it from me. I like the dress cousin Lucy Brown sent me very much. If you are writing to her please tender my acknowledgment and thanks. George was saying the other day that the things in the box would be doubly valuable now. I shall tell you why. You already know that our farm is gone and we must leave here in Sept. We had about seventy-five acres in to grain, mostly oats. This was all our dependence except what little butter we could sell. The grain we expected would help clear our farming torts, reaper &c. and one horse from mortgage but last Thursday night this region was visited with a storm of wind, hail, thunder and lightning unprecedented in July.

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It utterly destroyed our crops, excepting potatoes. Everything is utterly cut off even the garden. So now we have not even wheat for our bread. Many families are in the same condition. Wherever the storm extended. We ought to be thankful we escaped with our lives. Our next neighbors, Mr. Hakkin's folks had their house all blown down and to pieces. They barely escaped with life. They were here one night. He is now building again. Their furniture was not injured as much as they feared but everything was drenched. Father and Mother were visiting them at the time. They came up the Thursday before and went home last Saturday. The storm was so severe it broke out as high as fifty or sixty window lights in private houses and many more in public buildings in town.

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All we can say is the Lord sent the storm or allowed it and we must trust Him to provide. Our prospects seemed dark enough before, now the map seems all blackened. He is powerful. He can provide for us and we must trust Him that He will. If I could only earn something how glad I would be. I have my hands full now but would try to do more if I could get it to do. We are all in good health which is cause for gratitude. My head and hand are tired writing but my heart is not. The kind remembrances from you all had greatly cheered us. May the Lord reward you for I never can. He has promised that "they shall in [illegible] love their reward". How I wish I could see you all! We have been more than ten years married.

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It is a long time. I would like your picture now & Aunt Martha's. Can't I have them? I have never yet had one taken since I came here, or would send mine. I am afraid we can't get the children's this year, now. What do you think Father found awaiting him when he got home Saturday. A nice long letter from Aunt Laura inclosing forty dollars. Thirty five from Mr. Taylor to Father & five from Mrs. Taylor to Mother. Wasn't that nice? Martha's bonnet is beautiful & she likes it very much. I too like milling work, [illegible] suits me better. I always do my own and would for others if situated conveniently. It is now daylight and I must do housework. With much love to all kind friends, Aunt Martha in particular, and hoping soon I hear from you, I am

Your affectionate cousin,
Mary E. L Carpenter