Tag Archives: Mary Morgan

Jesse Morgan Letter from Wooster “Let You Know I am Alive” June 1847

In April 1847, my great-great grandfather, Jesse Morgan dashed off a very short letter from Wooster Ohio to my great-great grandmother Mary. Mary was in Killbuck, just 25 miles away.

Letter with address

Jesse to Mary 1847 Wooster postmark

Detective Work

The Wooster postmark, impossible to read here, is barely visible in the photocopy and the original, but the postmark, on the back of the folded letter, was an important clue. The rushed letter does not state his location at the top as usual, just that he is “on his way East.”

See that blob of black that looks like an ink mark below the bottom fold? The wax used to seal the letter shut made that mark.

Itinerary

In this second letter of 1847, (you can read the April 1847 letter here) Jesse is once again in Wooster Ohio, just about 25 miles from home.  So close by today’s transportation standards, but more than a day’s journey for Jesse. It is possible he is passing through Wooster on his way  from Indiana, where he was headed when we last heard from him. He might be on his way back to New York state, where he winds up in August.

It is frustrating to try to figure out his schedule from these few letters. Obviously we do not have all the letters. And all of the letters that Mary wrote to him disappeared.  For instance, what am I to make of the fact that his letter to her at the end of April directed her to write to him at Akron, Ohio, but he opens this late June letter by thanking her for a letter he received at Cleveland, Ohio? It sounds like he might have been home between the April and June letters, and yet given the slowness of travel and the true snail’s pace of snail mail, it doesn’t seem possible that he traveled from Detroit to Ft. Wayne to Akron to Killbuck and then set off again somewhere that took him to Cleveland, and then back tracking or in a loop to Wooster Ohio.

The Entire Letter

June 27th 1847 (Sent from Wooster)
Dear Wife

I recd your letter at Cleveland and was glad to hear that you was enjoying tolerable health. My health is good excepting I have been afflicted of late with the piles but I am some better owing I suppose to riding.
I have tolerable good luck so far but nothing extraordinary. I am now on my way East and as soon as I sell out I am coming home.
I have now [no] time to write particulars so you must excuse this short letter.
While I was writing who should come in but John D. Hopkins. I would rather give a five dollar bill than to have seen him but guess he will keep dark.
Except [sic] of these few lines with my best respect. They will let you know that I am alive.

And your truly affectionate husband.

Jesse Morgan

Mary Morgan

Letter from Jesse

Letter from Jesse to Mary Morgan on June 27, 1847

Mary Reads the Letter

My, Jesse was really in a rush when he wrote this letter.  At least he wanted Mary to know he was alive, and engaged in the usual “how are you I am fine” convention. However, he gives us later readers a little too much information about his own health, don’t you agree?

Mary might have noticed that Jesse, for the first time in the saved letters, did not mention  little Harriet, my great-grandmother. She would now be just a month short of her 5th birthday. He also does not mention his four children from his first marriage. One of them (Malvinia) is definitely living with Mary, and one other may have been. But then, he has not mentioned them in any of his other letters either. Why does he seem to ignore these other children?

I am digging into what happened to his four children–Charles, Carlos, Louise/Louisa and Malvinia.

Mary would have known who John D. Hopkins was, and why Jesse was so appalled when he ran into him.  Later in this series, I will talk about the secondary characters in Jesse’s drama, and try to uncover more about John D. Hopkins. But for now, I just know that he was a farmer in Holmes County. A portrait of Hopkins posted on line by one of his descendants  looks a little scary. However, I have not discovered why Jesse was upset about seeing him in Wooster.

It was just a year before this letter that Jesse warned Mary not to tell everything to Mrs. Woods. That happened in Wooster, also. Although Mary might have understood this need for secrecy, it provides a fascinating puzzle for descendants reading their mail.

Jesse is vague about where he is going (East) and when he will be returning (when I sell out). That  may be to foil anyone who might be reading over his shoulder as he writes in a common room of an Inn or boarding house. Or may just be his usual excessive caution.  Is there something about being in Wooster that should be kept secret? Or is it the whole business of being a wandering horse trader that he wants to keep hidden?

Coming Next

In Jesse’s next letter to Mary, he becomes uncharacteristically pessimistic and even despondent.  Is he ready to throw in the towel?

Thanks for reading, and please sent me a note if you recognize any of the names mentioned here.  Also, I would be delighted if you would pass this blog’s link on to anyone who might be interested in following the stories here.

 

Sew ‘n Sew: Three Generations of Sewing

Sewing Things

3 Generations sewing things and my mother as a little girl.

Actually, counting my mother and me, I’m talking about FIVE generations, but I’m showing you some pictures of sewing tools and accessories belonging to and used by three generations– my grand-mother, Vera Stout Anderson; my great-grandmother, Harriet Morgan Stout; and my great-great grandmother, Mary Bassett Morgan.

When I introduced this blog, I said that I most often thought of my ancestors in the  kitchen. However, I have realized that the women have other things in common.  Until the present younger generation, every woman had a sewing basket and sewing was an almost daily activity.

One day, I noticed an unassuming little basket sitting on a shelf, and wasn’t sure where it had come from.

An old sewing basket

The sewing basket

When I opened it, I noticed a note in my Grandmother’s hand and I immediately thought the basket belonged to my great-grandmother Harriett Stout. I wrote Stout beside grandma’s note. Then I realized I was wrong. I should have written MORGAN.  If this belonged to my grandmother’s grandmother, (Harriette Bassett Platt Morgan (1810-1890) it was older than I had thought. So please excuse my error. (I’ve fixed it, but didn’t re-photograph)

Mary Morgan's sewing basket

Mary Morgan’s sewing basket with note in my Grandmother Vera’s handwriting, and my erroneous addition.

Inside the basket was a red tie–you can see the top of it with a buttonhole to attach to a blouse button with a note that says Harriett’s.  But what really fascinated me was a handmade “book” to hold pins and needles.  Bits of fabric, cut with pinking shears, were sewn together to hold the tools of sewing. Some of the “pages” are edged with embroidery floss to prevent fraying. The outside bottom is hard (perhaps aged leather), and the top is brown velvet.

I have shown Great-grandmother’s pin cushion before, but here is the little work of art with a workaday purpose.

Hattie Stout's pin cushion.

Great Grandma Hattie Stout’s pin cushion, used by grandma and mother as well.

So much for needles and pins. What about thread? According to this site, wooden spools were used starting in the 1820s, but at first you had to bring back the empty spool to have it refilled. With the tiny size of great-great grandma’s basket, I’m guessing that she was still using hanks of thread rather than spools. I’m also guessing that those little holes on the “shelf” of the pin cushion could have held spindles to support spools of thread.

When I was a little girl, I loved to go through my grandmother Vera’s button collection. It was not a collection in  the sense of museum-quality things. It was just a repository for spare buttons that accumulate in every house.  I wish I knew how old this painted tin chest is.  It obviously has been around a long time.

Vera Anderson tin box

Vera Anderson tin box with teaspoon to show size.

Vera Anderson tin box

Vera Anderson tin box open

Vera Anderson box

Beat up back and top of Vera’s tin box.

If only that box could talk! What a lot of history it has seen!

I learned to sew by hand, and then by a treadle- operated table-type sewing machine that my grandmother owned. This is a similar machine from a Singer instruction manual. in the late 1800s. Wish that sewing machine had not disappeared in the mists of time.

Table Treadle Sewing Machine

Singer.Model27.TreadleTable Model from instruction book. Public domain.

I do have another vintage sewing machine. My mother had one of the very early electric Singer portables, bought in the 1920s. I still have it, and one day I’ll get it out of the storeroom and show that to you, too.

For more information on sewing notions of the 1800s, this collectors website has a little of everything. (Be sure to check the individual notions listed in the side column for more information.) And as a person who used to sew my own clothes, I found this article on period sewing fascinating. Little did I know that seams were on the outside until the early mid 1800s.

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has A Story suggested doing posts on heirlooms in a discussion in the Genealogy Bloggers Facebook group and wrote Now Where Did I Put That? Several bloggers have taken her up on the challenge to write about their heirlooms and we hope more will follow our lead.

Other bloggers doing Family Heirloom stories:

You can discover more Heirlooms at Ancestors in Aprons, by entering “Heirloom” in the search box on the right.