Letter from Mamie Carpenter to her mother Mary, July 8, 1885

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Letters of Mary Carpenter
Minnesota Historical Society Manuscripts Collection P1487

Reynolds, Dakota.
July 8, 1885.

My Dear Mother:

Your good long letter mailed on the "Fourth" received at school just before noon. I was expecting it, and had eaten part of my dinner at recess. The letter took my appetite away, so I did not eat any more dinner.

I think your invited company might have brought something however small on the occasion of a silver wedding. I shouldn't go anywhere on such an occasion without taking something. I would have liked some of that nice dinner.

On the "Fourth" Sarah and I picked strawberries in the forenoon and found about a quart. We had them for supper. In the evening we had some lemonade, and that was all that we had to remind us that it was the "glorious Fourth." What kind of a time did you have and how did the boys spend the day? {Henry went 30 miles to mill Mother} I wonder that Pa would let Henry go away so far alone to be gone so long. I would like very much to hear Frank whistle. I think he must be a genius anyway, isn't he?

I can't say I do keep the upper hand with my sewing. I have my dress nearly finished now, and haven't much of anything new to make; but have old dresses to fix over.

I doubt if Artie DeLand gets a wife like me, for I can hardly imagine a person like me wanting a husband such as I think he would make.

[Pages 3-4]

Tell Pa that all those who speak for me from now on are doomed to disappointment. If they didn't speak when the coast was clear (and much good might it have done them) they needn't expect to get a hearing now.

Yes, there is a good deal of time in the children of the family, but they do not understand music. They have been to singing school a little but not enough to learn much. Their musical instruments consist of three mouth organs, a flute, and a jew's-harp. Charlie can play on the mouth-organ, but not equal to Henry's performances.

I am glad your health is so good as it seems to be this summer. I hope Pa will be able to come to Dakota before long or he won't be able to get land near me. Father Hurd and Herbie came home today and Father is going out to the Turtle Mts. about July 20 or 21. He is going to find some land for me too; and I can go to Devil's Lake and file on it without the expense of a journey way out there. So I am afraid I can't get much money for you very soon. I depends on whether I can draw all my pay to the time I have taught. I will do the best I can, at any rate. How do the crops look down there? (They never were finer all over this great Northwest. I doubt if I could feel contented to live in Minnesota now. It seems to be so free here.

I must say good night now, as it is getting late and all the rest have gone to bed. Charley is not at home tonight.

[Pages 5-6]

At school. Thurs noon.

Mr. Burton has just been here visiting my school. I was not so much afraid of him as I was a year ago. His visit was short but pleasant. He said he would try to come again next term, and would stay longer.

I am not at all sure that I shall come home next winter. I shouldn't be surprised if I were out holding down a claim about that time. Father Hurd wants to spend the winter in the Turtle Mts. with his family and I couldn't have a better chance to take up land. Do you think I could? I wish Pa could come and take up his tree claim right now before harvest, though they say there is land which is not in market yet, but which is expected to come in this fall. It might be as well then. It would pay, I think, to take one of the teams and come up here then. Please do not think that I ever do really doubt Pa's love. I know he loves me but I would like very much to hear from him sometime. At least a message in your letter as he sometimes used to do. We can't bring him up over again, and if we could we might not succeed in making a better man altogether than he is now. I know Uncle Will longs for a wife and home, but he has so little faith in women that I am almost afraid that he never will get married. I don't know tho' but that he and Mattie Campbell may sometime make up their minds to marry unless she gets tired of waiting and takes up with someone else.

[Pages 7-8]

I hope they will be happy if they do. I doubt if I could be happy with Uncle Will, but I might if I loved him in that way. I wouldn't change Charlie for him for a husband, though he is more intellectual than C. and is a better speller. Charlie is not a good speller, but I hope he will be better sometime. He has had but little opportunity for learning. His father thinks that learning spoils boys for the farms. He thinks they are better off without much education. At least that is what he says. Herbie wants to go to school, though, and Charlie has no such ideas I am happy to say. He is looking forward to the pleasant evenings we will spend together studying in a home of our own.

Charlie says that six months ago he did not believe in Christianity and scorned the idea of there being any such thing as true love. He thought girls only pretended that they loved and would go where the money was. He almost died with the Red River fever & did not feel afraid—in fact he wanted to die. He says it puzzles him now how he could have felt so unconcerned in the face of death. He thinks it was God's way of calling him to be a christian, but he would not hear. He says I was the first one he would ever let talk to him on the subject of religion. He looks back now with sorrow, and astonishment on that time and his feelings then. I can't tell you how thankful I am for this change in his feelings. Surely God is leading us all the time in ways that we know not.

[Pages 9-10]

"Oh! That men would praise the Lord and thank him for his kindness to the children of new."

I have a strong principle against debt, and Charlie looks at it in the same light I do, so I hope we may never let it have a chance to drag us down as it has you and Pa.

How much more, does Pa want from me? I think there will be no difficulty in my getting all that is due me.

I haven't seen Charlie to give him your message, or rather to read you r letter to him so cannot send you a message from him, though I can imagine what he would say.

It seems to me that if you have a good crop this year you ought to get out of debt. How do your crops look, and are they headed out yet? Father Hurd has both wheat and oats headed out, but his is earlier than most that is around here.

Charlie will have Mr. Stearn's house plastered in about two weeks more, but he has another small job engaged, and has a chance to do another large one if he wishes. I think likely he will do it. Of course he is anxious to get ahead all he can; the worst of it is that he can't get any money till fall. And, like most folks, he needs some now.

I shall think I am doing pretty well if I get a claim this summer.

[Pages 11-12]

Friday morning

Charlie came home last night and I read him your letter. He said to tell you that he appreciates your advice and your letters, and that he will try to follow the advice. I know he will. I can go security for him on that score.

I too, am most thankful that I won't have any such troubles as Allie is having keeping house. I can't be too thankful for the training I have had in that line. I can see now, though I could not then, why all those trails and years of service were sent me. And I, who had marked out a very different course for myself in life, was fretting and [illegible] at my hard lot in life, and not knowing how beneficial it would be to me in after life. Mother says, "You are a good washer and ironer anyway." And that gave me pleasure. I think Allie will regret that she did not learn to do housework before she was married. It is harder for her than if she had not the children. That is something that I should not want to do myself, marry a widower. I surmise though, that I would if he loved me and I loved him. Still, I am glad that Charlie is not one, and that I am the first one he every really cared for. Good bye,

Your loving Mamie.

It is nearly school time so I can't fill out the spaces. Father went to see Grandma. He says she is a lady of the old school, a compliment of high order, I think, don't you?