Letter from Mary Carpenter, March 4, 1888

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Letters of Mary Carpenter
Minnesota Historical Society Manuscripts Collection P1487

Larimore, March 4. 1888.

My dear Aunt Martha,

Your letter postmarked Feb. 24, & addressed to Mother is before me. It arrived, one day, last week. Perhaps you will be surprised to see that I am in Larimore. I am almost surprised myself that I have been in Dakota so long, for it was eight weeks yesterday since my arrival at Grand Forks, at Mamie's. I brought my baby, Frankie, with me & he is with Mamie now. I staid one week with Mamie at first & then came & spent two weeks with Mother & Will. Then I returned to Mamie's & had nearly finished my visit there & was expecting to start so as to reach home March 1, but Mother has taken sick & Will wrote for me to come on the next train, so I came here a week ago last Thursday.

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I had a letter from George saying I could prolong my visit a month longer if I desired as all was going well with them & they could spare me if I needed to stay. So it came all right for me to be with Mother awhile. I am very glad I could, for it is so hard for her to get suitable help & she is not able now to do her own work. I hope they will succeed in finding someone by the time I have to go home for she must not expose herself during the cold weather. She would be very glad to write to you, but she is not able to write at all. Her hand trembles too much to guide a pen & her eyes are at times very painful & she has to be very careful of them. She can use them very little indeed, which makes it very [illegible] for her, as it deprives her almost entirely of the privilege of reading. I have been sick since I came here & am not as well as usual, yet have not recovered my appetite & usual strength. I took severe cold on my way to the train from Mamie's & it settled in the bronchial tubes, causing a most aggravating and persistent cough.

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I doctored myself as usual but did not recover & had to stay in bed several days. Then Will called in Dr. Couty. He said I had considerable fever & inflammation of the bronchial tubes also congestion. He ordered a large hot flaxseed poultice applied to my chest, sent some capsules of quinine & morphine. Also a cough mixture. He soon had me on my feet again. Now I am taking "Kud's Sarsaparilla" & "Grafenbug Pills," I am getting better right along. Oh yes, I am using "Seth Arnold's Cough Killer" also. So Will had quite a hospital here, for awhile. It has been a long cold winter. The thermometer went as low as 58 below zero one day in Grand Forks. I have not suffered with the cold at all, as the houses, both here and at Mamie's, were well heated with two fires. The fires here do not go out from fall till spring. Will uses hard coal. They use wood at Mamie's. Mamie has a lovely baby boy. He runs all about& does not seem much like a baby. His name is Charles Herbert Hurd and they call him Herbie.

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He has fair complexion & blue eyes like his father but a mouth and chin like the Lowell's. Everyone of my children has a mouth & chin like me & I took it from my father. Aunt Heather Rhoades died on Christmas morning so Mother is the only left of her family as you are the only one left of yours. I sent the letters to Mother that you sent me & she received also another nice letter which I have read with great interest since I came, as it told so much about cousin Laura Gilbert & her family & I had heard nothing about her for years. Does she know I am now a Grandmother? By the way, is cousin Laura Brown married & where does she live? I have never heard. What a nice family John L. Brown has, hasn't he? I would love dearly to see them & their children. Where does cousin John Lowell live. I have seen the name John W. Lowell, and wondered if it were not he. I will write another sheet by and by as my hand & eyes are tired now. I do not use spectacles yet, but might soon begin to use them regularly I think. I use them occasionally but don't like them. Mother has some I use a little.

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Mother says she did not send the letter to me in which you wrote about cousin Laura Gilbert because she was hoping to reply to it & has not been able to. But I had enjoyed reading it now. I seems strange to see that you went down town to have tartar removed from your teeth "to preserve them" at your age. I am only forty seven and have only five teeth left, one on the upper jaw and four right in front on the lower. They don't amount to much in the business of mastication & they are not ornamental, but I have not been able to get any artificial ones as yet. I could not have made this journey if it had not been for Mamie. She provided the money for my passage. It cost her about 40 dollars. She was fearful if I did not come this winter I might never see Mother again. It is the longest visit I have ever made Mother & indeed I never was away from home more than a fortnight before, at a time, since my marriage nearly 29 years ago. But I have been somewhat homesick after all & shall be very glad to settle down at home again after my long absence.

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Frankie is anxious to see the other children again. Eddie Lange & Lucy & Willie have been to school quite regularly this winter & Lucy & Will have made rapid progress in their studies. I don't know how it has been with Ed. He was quite backward & I hope he has improved this time. They had an excellent teacher & the children were much attached to her. She is only eighteen, but has perfectly won the affection & allegiance of her scholars. How much good a really true hearted teacher can do in even one term? I hope our children can go to Miss Kyle again, but probably they will have her next summer in the same district & that will do our children no good for we expect to move to the Lockey farm in the spring & stay there till time to thresh next fall. Mother is better now than when I came here & if she has no pullback now, I hope to be able to go home before long. I think I do not owe you a letter do I?

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I never intend to be in debt that way if I can help it. How is Cousin Laura now? Tell her, please I would enjoy a letter from her. After I get home I will try to write especially to her, for, if I mistake not I do owe her a letter. I am getting anxious for spring to come in all her freshness, for I want to get a garden in & hope we may have fresh vegetables early.

We have three bronze turkeys now. George got them this winter & I hope we will succeed in raising a fine flock from them. There is a nice range for them at the other farm & plenty of grasshoppers for them, all summer long. I am writing this letter l particularly in Mother's place, as she is unable to write, so please reply to her & me too. To her here and to me in Marshall, as that is the part I expect to hail from ere many days. How I do wish I had a good picture of you, also of Aunt Laura. You know I had Aunt Lo picture stolen in my album so long ago, also the only one I had of my father.

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I will enclose the last letter I had from George Howard as you may be interested in it. I have great comfort in my children, you know how much comfort you take in your two so you can tell how much more I must take in my six and it is also a joy to think of the five waiting for us beyond the river "where the inhabitants never say 'I am sick," & the people who dwell there are forgiven their iniquity. How different from this world. Here we must always expect sickness, sorrow & death." Here is no rest. Now, dear Aunt Martha, perhaps you may be tired of wading through this long letter. If you are, or if you are not, now you have come to the place to step out on dry land again, first having taken plenty of love for yourself & children from Mother and Will also.

Your most aff. Niece,
Mary E. L. Carpenter