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Marshall, July 7. 1886.
My dear Aunt Martha,
Your nice letter and cousin Laura's were gladly received, and I thought I would answer immediately but have been unavoidably hindered. There are eight of us and no one to help me but Lucy. She has been in poor health (stomach trouble) ever since she had the diptheria last winter. She went to school three weeks but has been obliged to say at home ever since. She is much better now but not strong. She is nearly as tall as I am, & was only ten last winter. I have not felt well this summer either, consequently the work drags and I don't feel much like writing letters. George's sister and her children stayed with us till late in Dec.
Then she got so feeble she felt very anxious to get home and see the rest of her family once more. We carried her to the train on a bed and she went in care of a neighbor, who was going that way. He kindly accompanied her all the way home, and staid with them till after her funeral for she lived only three days after she got home. She was a good christian so the exchange was a blessed one for her, but a great loss for her family. She left Eddie, her twelve year old boy with us. And that is one thing that wears on me, for he is a hard boy to manage, and doesn't like to mind (won't if he can help it) also he had learned many wrong things by being with [illegible] boys in the streets of St. Paul as his mother has been an invalid for years. It will soon be harvest time and we hope he will have enough to do to keep him out of mischief then. He has been going to school for three months. He is not at all truthful and will take what doesn't belong to him and persist in denying it.
No one of my children ever caused me such trouble. I sometimes think it will shorten my life. One of our beautiful [illegible] of two year old mare colts, Dollie, got terribly cut on the barbed wire pasture fence, July 2. The horse doctor thinks he will save her, but she is very badly hurt. Geo has had to spend most of his time on her since it happened. Our oldest boys, George & Henry made a cover of green trees over a farm wagon thus forming a portable stand that could easily follow the crowd, and spent their day and evening on The Fourth, (which was celebrated here on the Third) in selling ice cream, lemonade, peanuts, candy, oranges, apples, firecrackers &c. They earned fifteen dollars. I made the ice cream and they froze it. We could get no freezer so they froze it in milk cans, in a large tub. It was the first time I had made any but it was good, and they have sold more if they had had it. Crops are not very promising for we have too much dry weather.
Our folks put in 400 acres, more than half of it rented land, and if we had good crops and decent prices it would be a great help. Geo. bought another farm last fall but it is eight miles from here and makes lots of extra travel. They have staid there a week at a time while ploughing and putting in crops, and I had to cook enough to last a week at a time. It is a good farm of 160 acres and he gets it by paying the crops as raises them, reserving enough for seed each year and feed for the teams he uses while there. He gives two thousand & fifty dollars for the place. There is a mortgage of six hundred and fifty which he takes and pays the interest every six months, l0 per cent. The interest on the rest of the place is 7 per cent. Geo. thinks this will be better than renting so much land as he will have the farm after a few years. But it all looks to me like hard work and poor pay. We have been hoping for too many years. Our oldest boy will be twenty one next Oct. and he won't be here any longer to help. I am so sorry for your fall down stairs & hope you are improving all the time.
My time is limited, and I must write the rest of my letter to cousin Laura. How I would love to see you all! When I write again I hope to have time to write a fuller letter.
With very much love your aff Niece,
Mary E. L Carpenter.
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