Update about blog

Come on over to my other blog, Alchemy of Clay and Living in Black Mountain NC, where the scenery and my ceramic arts life are combined. I've moved some personal blog posts, (as well as those that are about my ancestors) back here.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Before the war started - 1856 Texas

Of course tensions were high.  Wars don't start in a vacuum.  The Civil War had lots of things leading up to it.  I don't know most of them.

I will look at what my ancestors were saying in their correspondence however.

It is of note that Lizzie is the younger sister of Mary Granger Phillips, her name being Elizabeth Granger at the time of these letters.  It is even more precious when I know what will become of Mary, and how her children will go to her sisters, Lucy and Lizzie to grow up in their care.  My grandmother's mother was one of those children.

As noted before, I make comments in the document within parentheses and in italics.
(First look at photos of the original documents, then my transcriptions, then my "other notes")

(Note on layout, one page folded, with writing starting on right front fold, going inside for 2nd and 3rd pages, then back to front left for 4th page, then along margins, MaryPhillipsEliz24Sept1856.001 and 002)

                                        Beaumont Sept 24, 1856
Dear Lizzie
        You must excuse a short note this week as I cannot write more.  Willie (her husband William Phillips) wished me to write you a few lines for him as he thinks  he can better explain why you may not teach, he says the gist of the matter is this you are going to marry and you wish to teach but Mr. Reed does not, so you are waiting for him if he says marry good bye to school.
(next page of letter)
Now he says you need not deny it – for you know it is true.  I saw Helen all the Coulda (?) family called upon me yesterday Mrs. Catilda (?) is getting Helen ready to come.  Mrs. Louck (?) is about to go to housekeeping.  Mr. H. is building down below Mrs. Lewis’s (?) thing and are delighted at the idea.
        I wonder if it is  cold at the Pass (Sabine Pass, Texas) as here .  I am sitting by the stove this morning.  Mornings have been so cold I sit in the house now I think the room looks so pretty since changing the furniture I have taken out the (scratched out 2 letters) Bowl & Pitcher 
(next page of letter)
and put the table under the glass with several little things upon it.  The beaureau (sic) is where the table stood and the bed in the farther corner of the room my little table I have recovered with the same having a plenty.  Mr. P  is making a much larger one.   I see no prospect for us to come down until Christmas so have become quite reconciled to wait.
        I am much obliged for the dish.  I do find it very convenient nearly every meal I use it.  I have potatoes and they keep nice and warm in it.  Noah and his wife I have not

(next page of letter)
seen as yet.  I called upon them and they upon me but always miss each other.  Her family are bitter as ever she went to church and her brother never spoke to her but she said she did not care a darn.
        I have hardly been out since you left.  I am sewing. Just made a shirt entire yesterday for (General?)
        Mrs. W. Harring (?) has fiterd (?) some business and has been in two or three times she is making her a black silk dress off the piece your apron was bought – how does it wear?  I am looking this week to hear from Mother.
        Your, Mary

(then to margins of letter)
Love to Lucy  I suppose she is too busy with Mr. (Bendley?) to write unless I write her.
I don’t expect to be able to play one tune.  When I come home the piano will be so bad  Cannot you get it tuned I tell you this winter will ruin it if you do not.

Elizabeth (Lizzie) Granger later married Sidney Sweet, and their other sister Lucy Granger married Agustus Wakeley, who was the clerk of Galveston County.

From the jumps of information in Census records, I am able to piece together that these families continued moving, having originally lived in Massachusetts, then Sabine Pass, Texas.  From there Mary Granger Phillips and her husband William apparently moved to Beaumont, and started a plantation nearby.  In later letters she talks about the cotton crops.
And the Granger unmarried daughters moved to Galveston, where later they married.  Their brother George also lived there, as well as their parents, who later moved to Tyler, Texas.

All this was before oil was discovered which basically raped the landscape of any beauty that Beaumont might have had. Oil was discovered at nearby Spindletop on 10 January 1901. So remaining landmarks are few and far between.  

(I'm sending this post to Sepia Saturday this week, because without this black gold, automobiles would not have existed.  Now isn't that a thought!)

Wikipedia has a good article about the history of Beaumont, Texas, mentioning Joseph Pulsifer, whose sister Lucy was married to George Tyler Granger (as mentioned in my post here.) and was the mother of Mary, Lucy, George and Elizabeth who are involved in these letters that I'm transcribing

I will post more information about the Pulsifer family later.  And as I do more research into early Texas history, I'll share what I learn too, for those of you who don't yet know about it's short time as a republic and so on.  My ancestors were some of the brave pioneers who worked through some years of extraordinary changes there.


Joan said...

Really enjoyed your post. The letters were great, as was the explanation. Then it also helped that I have at least a small connection with the area. For several years my elder daughter and her children lived in the area around Beaumont. He husband was a captain for an oil tanker that was based in the area. All of the tankers were named for local rivers like the Sabine. Also my grandchildren swam for the Spindletop Swim Team. And all that oil fueled my McPherson's propensity for driving long distances.

sorry about rambling on and on here. Really enjoyed the post.

Wendy said...

Barb, what great letters! A real insight into the times.

And what a clever tie-in with the theme.

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Thanks Joan and Wendy:
The reply to each comment button is somehow disconnected on this blog, so I'll blend my reply to you both together.
I do love reading your blogs on Sepia Saturday. Thanks so much for looking at mine and making your comments.
I have so much to write still...heavens, will I ever get done? Do you ever feel like that?
See you here in the ethernet... Barb

Brett Payne said...

Yes, oil has a lot to answer for, doesn't it.

Boobook said...

That stupid rule about a woman having to give up teaching if she married. So much talent lost. You did well to decipher so much of the letter.

Alex Daw said...

Wow! How lucky are you to have these letters. Priceless.

Alan Burnett said...

Always a pleasure to read posts as interesting as this. Letters lays provide uncheck a unique insight into an age don't they.

Little Nell said...

What interesting letters; they must have been difficult to transcribe as that's quite an awkward style of handwriting. "Goodbye school" is a bit abrupt isn't i? As a teacher I've always thought it sad that a woman could not teach if she was married.

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Actually by the time I was in high school, I learned that a woman had better have something to fall back on besides a husband to take care of her the rest of her life. That was exactly 100 years after this letter was written. (Teaching, nursing or secretarial skills were all that were promoted in the 1950s.)

Rosie said...

Postcards or letters sure did depict the kind of live lived back then with all its "rules and regulations". The art of writing is lost now, some young people do not even know how to do cursive writing anymore, shame...

As for oil drilling, they are trying to do "fracking" here in Eastern Canada, people don't want it as it will interfere with the water table...but it will probably go through anyway as did the oil rigs.....

Bob Scotney said...

Letters from 1856 have done well to survive. They tell such an interesting story that is really a bit of social history.