1849: Marietta White to Charlotte (White) Keith

This entertaining letter was written by Marietta White (b. 1825) and her sister Sophie H. White (b. 1815) — two unmarried daughters of Sophia (Hodges) White (1783-1867) and Isaac White (1783-1856), a farmer in Mansfield, Bristol Co., Massachusetts. They wrote the letter to their sister Charlotte (1817-1854) who married Lewis Keith (1822-1859) in 1847 and moved to North Bridgewater, Plymouth Co., Massachusetts. Lewis was the son of Bela Keith (1793-1867) and Mary Kingman (1799-1868).

At the time this letter was written, Charlotte was pregnant with her first child which explains the concern by her sisters for her ability to do her house chores. The soon-to-be born child’s name was Lyman E. Keith (b. 1849). Sophie mentions the little girl “Isabel” in her letter. Clara Isabel Reed was the 5 year-old daughter of another sister, Clarissa White (1812-1847), who married Henry Gooding Reed, a pewter and silversmith, in 1842 and lived in nearby Taunton, Massachusetts.

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TRANSCRIPTION

Addressed to Mrs. Lewis Keith, N. Bridgewater

Mansfield [Massachusetts]
Feb. 2, 1849

Dear Sister,

We have waited in vain for a letter from you & I have come to the conclusion to wait no longer. I set myself down with my portfolio in lap, inkstand in chair, feet on the stove hearth, stockings a scorching, dress folded up, apples a stewing, ma’am a stirring um, father at the barn, Sophia in the parlor, Mary Ann Williams there also. Isabel likewise, snow a falling, clock a squeaking, & my pen a scratching to you this Friday morning.

I’ll try to rake over my memory & pick up all the events, major & minor, which have transpired since your return & spread them out before you in the most attractive form.

Just one week ago this night we received a visit from William, Edgar, Clara, Ellen, James D., Fred, Eveliana, Charlotte, Henry, Isabel, Sophia, Lizzy. We had a warning of the visit a few days previous in a letter from Henry so you see we were all prepared for them. They arrived a little past five, took tea, laughed & played as usual, sung, played on Elijah’s melodeon (which I had borrowed for the occasion) &c &c. & returned about nine. Our Copeland cousins were all here. We had quite a nice time, not so noisy as they used to be. I wished you were here, many others expressed the same.

Last Wednesday afternoon & evening, the Ladies’ Sewing Society met here. We had the parlor chuck full in the evening – about thirty, I think. In the afternoon, we had as man as could sit down to the table – about fifteen. Mr. & Mrs. Blake were present. Precious few gentlemen [were here] – Homer Skinner, John Rogers, Adoniram Skinner, Henry Williams, Herman Hall, Deacon [Otis] Allen, & our cousins were all. We had a first rate sociable time. The fun of it all was that we had no work. The Society’s basket was not sent. Mrs. Joseph [Skinner] Corey (who had it last) promised to send it to Mr. Blake’s, but she didn’t do it, & as for going away up to her house after it – we didn’t do it. We reckon that they are a little mad up in that neighborhood because none of our neighborhood went when the Society met there & we say let them be mad & keep the basket as long as they want it. We had a piece of cloth for overhauls which Aunt Nancy cut out & set us to work, besides some fancy work, so after we got to work we accomplished considerable.

Sophia & I called on the Schenck’s on Tuesday. We like them first rate. Elisabeth Allen says it is no consequence at all about that article. It can’t be of use to her this winter.

Shepard Clapp’s wife is at Mr. Clapp’s. Mr. Swift & his 3 boys called on Wednesday. We have been to look at our new tenement. O, dear, how little we shall grow. I don’t wnder Abby is small. Mrs. White says we can have her chamber any time. When you & Lewis come, we shall put you in there, that is large & good.

Mother says tell Charlotte she must write all about how she is getting along – whether you do your work easily &c &c. I guess that we shall try to come over & bring Mother toward the last of the month & let her stay a little while. You must not depend upon it. She thinks she should only be in the way, but I think she would be some comfort to you.

Mary Ann has been here since the Society met. Laura quite smart just now. She has been sick twice or three times since you was here. In haste, as usual, — Mariet

Dear Sister,

We are all out of patience waiting to hear from you. We want to hear just how you are getting along. Mariet declares she will go over this month. You must write whether you are anxious about it or not. Isabel is here now. Father promised to carry her home if Henry would let her stay. He will carray her home he first good day. She is a beauty, grown hansome this winter. She wants to go to Bridgewater before she goes back. I wish she could but that is impossible. I wonder what time you get up now? We get up awful late. You must write particulars. I am in a big hurry to day just as I always am. I wish I would get out of a hurry once. We have company to day so good bye. – Sophia

FOOTNOTES
  • Homer Skinner (1806-1879) of Mansfield, MA., married Catherine W. Bliss in 1833.
  • Possibly the Samuel B. Schenck family, who started a machine shop in Mansfield, MA., about 1846.
  • John Rogers was the founder of the hat business in Mansfield, MA. In 1835, he started the business in his home. About 1846 or 1848, he built the shop on Park Street, then called Roger’s Lane.
  • Herman Hall was a school teacher in Mansfield, MA.
  • Deacon Otis Allen was born in 1784 in Mansfield, MA.
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