Ancestral family letters can tell us about everyday life during the time period when they were written. After my father and I scanned the box of letters that my great-grandmother Carrie Terry Warner wrote from 1880-1910 I transcribbed them all. (See previous blogs – Carrie’s Letters posted 11/25/2015 and Carrie’s Letters Christmas 1896 posted 1/1/2016) Once transcribbed I put them into a book format program and decided to put side bars to explain some terms. etc. that might come up. I would often think while transcribing about the audience that would read them in book format. Would my son or niece and nephews reading them know what certain old time terms were? I want the letters to be easily read by others. Well, as I began to edit my transcriptions my curiosity also kicked in. Who was Uncle Albert or Mrs. Griffing and Mrs. Tuthill of New Suffolk? Why was she talking about them? What was the train depot robbery? Or the ‘Office’ that she talked about? Thus began, now about 5 years later, a quest to determine as much as I can about people and the about the events from 1880-1910.
Growing up on the East Coast and later working there as a Teacher we enjoyed those occassional snow days. Here is an except from a letter my great-grandmother Carrie wrote to her sister Ella Terry Billard on 15 December 1904 (Thursday), Baiting Hollow, NY.
“School is out here for the week. Miss S. went home yesterday. She boards up to Mrs. G. B. Wells and this snow has made it impossible for her to get back and forth and her sister is married Sunday, so she wanted to go home and John did not say her nay. Think it will be as profitable for the children to have school a week when they can attend. Terry and Wesley missed two days but went off this morning again.”
John was Carrie’s husband John B. Warner. Her son Terry was 16 years old and son Wesley was 14 years old. I am fairly certain that Miss S. is Miss Agnes B. Shipman from Southold, NY who was listed as a School Teacher in the 1900 census. I believe Mrs. G. B. Wells was Susan F. Wells the wife of George B. Wells of Baiting Hollow, NY.
I also go back to the local newspapers that are now, thankfully, digitized and available for all to read. I also like to see how close my great-grandmother’s account compares to the local newspaper. I found the following article in the County Review dated 23 December 1904:
“ Baiting Hollow There has been no school since Dec. 19, when the roads were in such a condition it was impossible for the teacher to come. The following Wednesday Miss Shipman went home to attend the wedding of her sister and has not returned.”
Unfortunately, the newspaper from Southold, NY is missing the editions for this time period to find the wedding announcement for Miss Shipman’s sister either Ida or Mary, I belive. I hope you agree that adding the additional pieces of information to the letters makes them a bit more interesting. If you have any information to add or share, please, let me know.
Enjoy the journey, Debby