I've been spending some time while at home for Christmas organizing a number of family papers, and one caught my eye that I thought I'd share. This is from William Brooks (my maternal great-great-great-grandfather) to Ann Eliza Mortimer. He's writing from the farm he had purchased a few years prior (which my uncle still operates as a dairy farm) near South New Berlin, NY, to Ann in Cincinnatus. I've included a photo of the first page of the letter, and an unedited transcription. Beneath the transcription is, as they say, "the rest of the story."
Wednesday Eve Dec. 18/.61
My Dear Ann,
I salute you forty miles away. It is with deep regret that the prospects are so unfair for me to be with you next sunday ne,r to be separated. I have not had any news from you no answer from my letter last week so as to get your advice or council. I think it will be impossible for me to come as soon as we arranged it, and I will give you some of the reasons. 1st I am afraid to start in a waggon this time of year, for fear of getting snowed up, if we should get forty or fifty miles from home, it may snow in one night so that I could not get the waggon home in all winter, without a great deal of trouble.
2nd my cows gives considerable of milk, & I dont want to stop milking as long as the weather is open.
3d I have not butchered my hogs yet & I dont want to, till the weather is colder so as to keep the meat fresh.
4th Prince is lame (your pony you know) ha ha [these circled with dotted lines]. I dont know what the matter is but I hope he will get well in a few days. I cant come out there without him (that so) 5th. It is an excellent time to work, as the old saying is, I want to make hay while the sun shines. My dear, be of good cheer. hope on hope ever. all is well that ends well. and I hope and trust all will be well. I know you will be disappointed, and provoked, & even mad, and I shan,t blame you a bit. I was in such a hurry, so impatient, and now you are ready first. I have been very uneasy and watched the clouds for the last two weeks and dont see any more signs of snow than there was last July. every o'[?] body is in a fever for sleighing. Now I will say to you. have evry thing all ready for the first sleighing. or we may come before, I will keep you posted by writing often. Jane is with me now, after an absence of nine days what do you think of that! in this land where women is so plenty and no boys. The young folks around here has all been down to the Donation tonight, they are just going past home now 10. O.clock. Mr Amsden has traded his house and shop for a farm in Pittsfield about three miles from New Berlin nice farm 133 acres keep 20 cows. Mrs Amsden is quite well she thinks of naming her baby Anna.
I have had an application tonight to board a young lady for her work and go to school this winter a girl in our neighborhood. What do you think about it, I did not say much to her nor I shan,t, till I see and hear from you. Jane & I are going to write a letter to England she has wrote hers tonight Mother is going to send her likeness in it to Aunt Martha. Mother was here to day & made a good visit drove her own horse. We had some Oysters tonight I got a keg supposed to be spoiled, but proved to be good, we feasted I can tell you. All that was lacking as Ann E Mortimer of Cincinnatus. Bless her little heart. May it never be grieved.
Please write long & often I shall be happy to hear from you evry day.
Believe me ever true and faithful
Yours With Love
So, what happened? Well, it snowed! William and Ann were married just eight days after this letter was written, on 26 December 1861. And thankfully the oysters did prove to be good, or that might have been an early end to things.
And now, back to the organizing. Happy Holidays to you all!