Letter from Apr. 23, 1865

Letter to Jane Betts from Harriet Farley, April 23, 1865

  • Full Title

    Handwritten letter to Jane Betts from Harriet Farley, April 23, 1865

  • Description

    Handwritten letter to Jane (Young) Metcalf Betts from her aunt, Harriet Farley, in Burr Oak (St. Joseph County, Mich.), April 23, 1865. On the bottom of page one and top of page two, Harriet writes about the shocking news of Abraham Lincoln's death. She describes him as a "A father to his country, a tried friend of humanity". On Sunday, the local community marched from the Methodist church to the depot and had a public gathering with all three ministers present who spoke solemnly. She notes all town flags were draped in black. On Wednesday Elder Lamb gave a discourse at the Baptist house and Mrs. Wiltsie spoke at the schoolhouse. It is unclear if these last two speakers spoke of Lincoln or religious matters. This is a long (4 page) dense, chatty letter about marriages, deaths, family and local news unrelated to Lincoln. Jane (Young) Metcalf Betts and her husband 1) Taber Metcalf, later 2) William Betts, and her son, Irving Metcalf, lived in Burr Oak and Saint Joseph County, Michigan, as did her Aunt Harriet Farley. Irving served in Company D, 11th Michigan Infantry during the Civil War.

  • Transcription

    [Page One]
    Burr Oak [Mich.] Aprl 23, 1865
    Sabbath afternoon
    This is a cold, windy day
    alone by the fire side [crossed out] I have been to church, was at home
    by the fire side, thinking it a favorable time to[inserted] write somewhat
    to Jane & Wm & Evy [Jane, William Betts and Irving Metcalf], I Fancy to myself how you look
    there in your strange home. Have all the surroundings pictured
    out in my mind. I received your letter of the 20th and one
    from Phebe last week. She had not received yours at that time
    the 13th. I presume she has written before this time and given you
    the details of the singular disease which caused the death of
    your Uncle Cotton, a Carbuncle we know must be very distress-
    ing, but seldom proves fatal to life, Aunt Elesta writes
    that he was prostrate almost form the first attack. They had a
    serious time taking care of him 3 weeks. She says he was patient
    through it all. They were feeling anxious about Frank, had not
    heard from him since the last battle. I begin to think more about
    going to see my folks, but life and all earthly things are so
    uncertain we can know but little beyond the present.
    Now I would say something about the shocking event which has
    brought sorrow and mourning to so many hearts, but words seem
    to weak and insignificant to express our individual feelings
    and when we think of a nation bereaved of such a friend
    as Abraham Lincoln! A father to his country, a tried
    friend of humanity, we may only commune with our own
    hearts and be still. Yet there have been efforts made here
    as in other places to manifest the sincere love & great respect
    that is justly due to so noble a man as our late President.
    Last Sabbath an appointment was given out from the people to
    [Page Two]
    to meet at 3 o’clock at the Methodist church, from there
    they marched down to the depot grounds where some preparations
    had been made, the three ministers were present and each made
    a speech appropriate to the occasion, It was truly a solemn time.
    The old flag appeared impressive, draped in black on [inserted] almost every
    house was the emblem of mourning, - On Wednesday the Baptist
    house was crowded tho’ the rain prevented many from
    attending. Elder Lamb gave a discourse as well as he was
    capable of doing. In the evening Mrs. Wiltsie spoke at the
    schoolhouse on the same subject. She had lectured here
    the Friday before, and could not then say when she would
    come again. On Monday afternoon I received a letter from her
    stating that she would be here Wednesday evening, the time
    was short to get notice circulated, no school, so there seemed
    to be no chance to publish the appointment. A donation for
    Elder Douste was to come off that afternoon and evening.
    Under such circumstances we could not expect much-
    However, to our surprise, the house was crowded, more than
    could be seated, a very respectable and attentive audience.
    Even Mr. & Mrs. Phelps, some of the WIllises and many other
    Church members were there. I believe all were astonished.
    The discourse was splendid. Some said she had her subject
    well studied. She solicited bid for the poor soldiers, took
    over twelve dollars, and nine dollars on Friday evening before.
    Now it occurs to my mind I must tell you of another death.
    Isaac Toll’s wife. The gay and musical woman has passed
    from earth to the spirit world.
    [Page Three]
    It is getting late in the evening. I shall not be
    able to finish my letter tonight. My eyes are quite weak.
    They were very sore when my cold was so bad, my health
    is pretty good again, my ear has come to its hearing again.
    Carrie has been over to see me since I commenced writing she
    is very kind and attentive since you left. So is Mrs. Cross
    and all the folks. I shall not seem any time to be lonesome.
    Monday morning [sidewise in the margin]
    Mrs. Ward has bought a cow. I have all the milk that I need, and
    Saturday Carrie churned, got a fine roll of butter. They intend to
    sell the milk in future. Last week was a busy time with me
    had visitors withal, Old Mrs. Vance from Branson staid [sic] with
    me 3 nights, had the Gates one day, came in the morning, and
    Mrs. Perry part of two days, staid [sic] over night, but not with me. I find
    it rather difficult to get up a meal of vituals [sic] in order in my little
    cluttered room, but make out to get along somehow, went over to
    Ward’s to bake bread and pies. Thursday I got time to see some on
    my dress, for the first since you left. Friday did a large wash-
    ing (for me). Saturday finished the dress. It looks nicely, so the
    ladies say, and I think so too. – Now withal[sic] the excitement and
    doings that transpired last week Sarah Jane was married to
    Dorsey. The wedding came off Thursday morning, and they
    started on the cars, for a wedding tour, like other folks.-
    Minta & the Col. Made quite a spread. They invited Mr. & Mrs.
    Schmidt Mr. & Mrs. Parker and their daughter Mrs. Sutton,
    Mr. & Mrs. McDonald, Elder Douste and lady of course, Ell Crane
    and his lady were appointed to wait on the bridal pair, stood up
    with them & etc. Kena was invited. She says everything was very
    nice indeed. But there seems to prevail a general feeling of p8ity for the
    Thoughtless girl.
    [Page Four]
    I don’t think of much more to write just now.
    I read your letter to Father & Mother Betts. They seemed
    to feel some better about you. I was not surprised
    that you had rather a bad time of it at first, expected it
    would be so. We were glad to hear that Evy’s eyes are well.
    When I heard they were sore thought probably it would
    result to the benefit of his general health as I think mine
    did, tho’ I pitied him and you too. I heard from you
    so often the time did not seem long since you wrote
    to me, write when you can conveniently. Father Betts
    talks of sending a bottle of ink, because you write with a
    pencil every time. Charles was at home yet tho’ I heard
    the children don’t mind this cough much, I believe it is
    not the regular whooping cough. Now I think of a little
    more to tell you tho’ not very interesting. George McMellin
    was married [sic] week ago last Sunday to Mrs. Livermore’s daughter
    Also Mrs. James ‘ daughter to Jake Whitman. Thus we hear of
    deaths and mariages[a-inserted, sic]. Yet the world moves on in its course.
    We think that Kena has got into the element that
    suits her pretty well at last. She appears quite like a woman.
    Has plenty of work, employs 3 women besides herself C and C.
    Mary Ann Weaver got hurt badly by falling, was not able to do
    anything the last I heard from her. It is now about 10 0’clock.
    Have not had my breakfast yet. You will think it is time
    for me to stop writing I hope. Wm. Will try to be more care-
    ful of his health, and not work himself all up, be more patient.
    I want to say to Everett He better get a few
    more hens, if he can. I want to hear something
    about Mrs. Leathrop next time you write. Harriet Farley

  • Source

    Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, Doris L. King Family Papers, 1822-1877

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  • Cite this Item

    Harriet Farley. "Handwritten letter to Jane Betts from Harriet Farley, April 23, 1865". Remembering Lincoln. Web. Accessed August 23, 2019. https://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/node/850