Monday, July 22, 2013

#2 - My dear darling Bettie - Dec 25, 1902

Brick Haven, Alex Co., Va. 
Dec 25th 1902. 

My dear darling Bettie, 

I rec'd your very nice letter some time ago but have been sick & could not answer sooner. This is Xmas day & cousin Mary & Aunt Janie have gone to Mrs. Swift's to spend the day, but there is no pleasure for me Bettie except with my children, anywhere, or at any time. I enclose a letter to Jeannette, as she wrote in her last that she expected to be with you soon.

Please write me everything Bettie about yourself & Jeannette and just as soon as you receive this as I am so anxious to hear from you. Cousin Mary has a darling little baby. He is very smart & pretty. Cousin Johnny's health is very poor & is sick all the time. 

I can only write you a short letter this time Bettie as I have a number to write and will not have time again. So hoping to hear from you. 

I am as ever, Your devoted Mother 

 PS. please send me a stamp in your next Bettie if you have one.
My emotional response to this letter is sadness that Alice is not spending Christmas with her daughter Bettie, who was only 14 years old at the time. 

After some time of trying to figure out who cousin Mary & Aunt Janie were, I realized that Janie is Alice's sister Mary Jane Sandys (1846-1920). Aunt Janie never married. She was the eldest of 5 in the Sandys family and 12 years older than Alice. After Alice's death in late 1907, 3 of her daughters (Viola, Bettie, & Jeannette) ended up living with Aunt Janie in Washington, DC (per the 1910 US Federal Census).

I found Aunt Janie's obituary from the Washinton Post, and found the words quite beautiful and thought I'd share: 

SANDYS – After a brief illness, at 407 Fourth street northwest, MARY J. SANDYS, aged seventy years.
Her life was one of preeminent devotion to Christ, and her last end was triumphant.

O’ think, to step on shore, and that Heaven,
To clasp a hand and that God’s hand;
To breathe a breath and know it celestial,
To feel invigorated and know it immortality,Ob
To pass from the storm and strife into one unbroken calm,
To wake up and find it glory.

Edward M. Sandys was the 4th born Sandys child, born a year before Alice. He is referred to as "Uncle Eddie" in several of the forthcoming letters, and what I've found about his life is pretty interesting. I'll mention here, though, that he was a minister of the Free Methodist Church. 

When I was first studying these letters, I thought that cousin Mary was Aunt Janie's daughter, but it turns out that she was a niece, Mary Croxton Sanford Swift (1871-1951). She was the daughter of Rosalie Vashtie Sandys Sanford (1847-?). Rosalie was the 2nd born Sandys child, and a year younger than Janie. I haven't found much about her life, but will continue that research soon. Cousin Mary's father Ethwald Sanford was a wheelwright in Westmoreland, Montross, Virginia according to the 1870 US federal census. 

This letter refers to Aunt Janie & cousin Mary visiting Mrs. Swift, who I can safely assume is Mary's mother-in-law,  Mary Louise Ridgely Swift. 

Cousin Mary's darling little baby was John Clinton "Clinton" Swift (1902-1985), and he was at least the 3rd generation John Clinton Swift. 

Cousin Johnny is Mary's husband, John Clinton Swift (1867-1958). 

My 2nd cousin 5 times removed, Louis, is the great-grandson of Johnny & Mary Swift. We connected through, and he has posted some wonderful photos of his grandparents and great-grandparents on his family tree. 

This letter, as do the rest, leaves me wondering: Why, oh why... Why was Alice living apart from her young daughters? Was she visiting or living with Aunt Janie & the Swifts? 

Closing for now...