This letter was written by Tabitha (Bancroft) Beaman (1784-1858), the daughter of Kendall Bancroft (1750-1806) and Susannah Ewers (1750-1837). She married John Beaman (1778-1823).
Tabitha wrote the letter to her eldest daughter, Elmina (Beaman) Putnam (1805-1880), who married Nathan B. Putnam (1803-1864) in 1829.
The second half of the letter was written by Susan B. Hunter (b. 1831), the daughter of Tabitha’s second oldest daughter, Evelyn (Beaman) Hunter (1807-1891) who was married to David Hunter.
Addressed to Mrs. Elmina Putnam, Fredonia, New York
[Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts]
April 11th 1847
I have taken my pen to write but what shall I say I can hardy realize. I have a child by the name of Elmina Beaman ____ long years since I saw you, We have rec’d a letter from you and 2 a few weeks since that has relieved my anxiety about you. The long letter you directed to Addison, we have never seen. He has written to us a number of times desiring to know what had become of you. We have enclosed your letter and sent it to him. You say your babe shall look as it did when you last saw me but my dear child, the heart rending pines I have passed through since I last saw you, I fear will take away almost all that seems like Mother. I have had 3 turns of being sick for a number of months. Each time I have been moved about from one place to another with a feeble body and broken heart, finding no resting place but a few months at a time. Through the kindness of Warren, I have now a comfortable home although I feel nowhere at home. I feel like a stranger in a strange land and have ever since my dear A. left me. My health fails me every year and I am daily troubled with infirmities that are hard to bear but I manage to keep about and take care of myself.
You wished me to tell you something about my place. It is not safe. Waren thinks he shall sell it at auction this spring. If he does, it must go verry low but we can sell it no other way. I have rented it this two years past and shall receive perhaps between $30 and 40 dollars which is all the interest I have rec’d for more than 5 years. I have done all in my power but it has been impossible in my feeble state to support myself & have borrowed $50 dollars of W. B. Warren has let me have about $60 between $40 and $50. It has helped me to a few dollars — I do not know how much. Without this help that I have rec’d from my boys, I know not what I should have done.
Well, my dear daughter, I suppose you will think I have dwelt on the dark side long enough. But to tell you the truth concerning our circumstances, I must go a little further. E. and your Uncle B. visited H. about 5 weeks since. They found all verry low. She has been confined to her bed ever since last August. He mother is with her now. They found H. in pretty good spirits, glad to see them, and very grateful for the little token of remembrance his cousins sent him. Addison has sent him a suit of clothes. Warren helps him all he can. I wanted to help him some way and I sent for little Susan to come and stay with me awhile. She has been with me 5 weeks. I do not think I can keep her much longer for it is as much as I can do to take care of myself. Your Aunt Polly is with Caroline. She has been with her through the winter. She has been sick. I do not know how she is now. I believe I have answered all your questions. I have made crooked work. I am tired and must rest. I will add a few more words and then leave you for the present.
I should be glad to see you and your family once more in this life but I think more of meeting my children in the other world where we can live together in peace, love each other with a pure love, and be satisfied. If you should not see me again in this life, you may think that I am with my loved ones in heaven, for there my treasure and heart is. When I trust in the Lord, I find peace.
Let us know what time you intend to visit us. I do long to have you live near us. Farewell, your affectionate Mother
Don’t be troubled about anything I have written. I know it is on the dark side, but there always is a light side if we can bring our minds to it.
Dear Aunt, Grandmother has left this for Mother & I to finish. It was a great pleasure to me to receive such a good long letter from Ellen. I believe it was the first one she ever wrote me. I think she is a very pretty writer as well as a good composer. You cannot think how delighted I was to hear that you were so decided about coming here this summer. It seems as though I can hardly wait until you get here. Wonder if you will look just as you used to.
We have a minister who exchanges with [Rev.] Mr. [James Hervey] Merrill occasionally. It is a Mr. Cook from Amherst & almost everyone whom I have heard say anything about him acknowledges that he looks very much like uncle Nathan. You say that Nathan is tall & slim – just as I had imagined. I do really wish he would come on here and be beau for me. I have often wished I could have an older brother as Ellen has to wait upon me about, but if Nathan will come on here, I presume it will do as well. Isabella & Augusta Bardwell visited here Friday in the afternoon. We think they are very pretty girls. Isabella spoke of Ellen. Said she should be very glad to see her.
I must ask you if you have had any maple sugar. We have all been down to uncle B’s once except Grandmother but she had a lump sent her. We had fine times, I assure you. I have forgotten whether I have written you anything about Willard’s and Mary Ann’s affairs or not. I think Mary appears to be contented with an old maid’s lot but Willard, I guess, thinks he should prefer the married state for he is paying his respects to a girl in Long Meadow. She is a niece of Mr. Chandler’s. He became acquainted with her when she was teaching here last summer. We think by the motion that he will be married next fall. He is firing off the chambers as fast as he can. I have written to uncle [John] Emery [Beaman] about it but hope it will not set him in a fuge. Mrs. Franklin has moved to Amherst for awhile. She is going to take boarders. _____ and Mary Ann board with her and work in the factory. Sarah is learning the sailor’s trade down in town.
Mather Paynel’s wife has another little son. They have 3 boys and 1 girl now. Mrs. Tuttle has another little one and one of her daughters Mary Hane. I want to see little Herbert and Emma. I hope E. looks as sissy did. You must talk to them about us before you come so they will almost know us when they get here. I thought in the spring some of teaching this summer but I thought if you should visit us, that I could not enjoy so well.
Now, don’t let uncle cheat you again if he cannot come. Tell him you can come alone. I wish you could all come. Tell Ellen I shall send her a good long letter with all the news. I am afraid I shall be a little short dried up old maid. I do not grow but a very little now. [My sister] Frances is just as large as I am. Every way we look more alike as we grow older. We want you should be sure to write us when we may expect you & how you are coming. Now do not disappoint us again. – Susan [Hunter]