Sunday, November 24, 2013

#5 - My Own Darling Children - January 29, 1903

Brick Haven
Jan 29, 1903

My own darling children,

I received your very welcome letters & was delighted to hear from you & to know that you are well. We are all sick with colds & cousin Mary has been very sick, but is better again. Bettie please send me brother's address when you write again, he never writes to me & I am so anxious to hear from him & to know how he is getting along. Bettie please burn my letters as soon as you read them. I never feel like writing any more & am ashamed for anyone to see my letters. I have been sick ever since summer & am now very weak & nervous, but I think I will be better soon.

I am going to send Cousin Mary's picture, but you must not mention it in your letters for she does not want me to send it & would not like it, but I just think it is cute. The baby is much prettier than this picture. He is very interesting.

You have both improved a great deal in your writing.

Try to do the best you can children & God will do the rest & answer our prayers some day. He has seen best to separate us for a while.

Good bye darling ones. Pray often for help & comfort & all things will work around for our good some day. Write again soon to your devoted Mother.

Boy, am I thankful that Bettie didn't burn her mother's letters! 

This letter leads me to believe that Bettie & Jeannette are together at least. I wish I had more of the envelopes from the letters. I'm assuming that the girls are still in Belfast, NY just 20 days after Alice wrote to Bettie there (see the blog post that includes letter #3). I still don't know who they were living with at that time - maybe Uncle Eddie. The living situations will unfold some more in the coming letters, but never become entirely clear. 

Wouldn't it be fun to see the photo of Mary & the baby? I need to go through all of the photos I have in Viola's collection to see if there is anything that looks like it could be of Mary & baby Clinton Swift... 

Here is one photo that I think could definitely be of Mary Swift. I have seen a photo of Mary later in life (I posted it on a previous entry), which was added to by Mary's great-grandson, and so this one compares very favorably, and seems to be a photo of Mary in her younger years. It's just a hunch though. 
How sad it must've been for Alice to spend so much time with her niece Mary & great-nephew Clinton and not be able to see her own children... It really does bother me, and I wish I knew the reason & the outcome...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

#4 - Brick Haven - January 13th, 1903

Brick Haven
Jan 13th, 1903

My dear darling Jeannette,

I have wanted to answer your letter before, but have so much writing to do. I have not had an opportunity sooner. I wrote to Bettie last week & hope to get an answer soon. I am miserable when I do not hear from my children regular, so please write often Jeannette.
I rec’d a letter from Vi for Xmas & a nice collar but have not answered her letter yet. I do not have much time to write, besides I have been sick. It is very cold out here & the houses are cold, but it will not be long before we will be in a home of our own to do as we please.
I have written to Bro. twice since hearing from him. Now I do not know where to write.
I will send you a picture of Cousin Mary & her Baby. She is ashamed of it, but I think it is cute don’t you?

I will have to close now, Jeannette, as Cousin Mary is waiting for me to take the baby. Write soon if not sooner to your devoted Mother.

Page 2

This is one of Alice's letters that doesn't seem to have a lot of substance. It leaves me wondering several things. Where is Jeannette at this point, and who is she staying with? She is 11 years old. 

Alice seems frustrated when she says "we will be in a home of our own to do as we please." I wonder what her living situation is like with the Swifts. Are they kind to her? Do they treat her like "poor old Aunt Alice?" Alice, by the way, was only 44 when she wrote these letters. 

What kind of illness plagues Alice throughout these letters? Was it something that contributed to her death 4 years later?

I like the way Alice refers to her son Dare as "Bro", and her daughter Viola as "Vi" in many of the letters. This gives me a sense that the Marmadukes didn't relate to each other as differently as my family does today, with nicknames & all.