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.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ada Pulsifer Phillips Sweet 1860

She was finally born (see her mother's letter below) in Beaumont, Tex, on a plantation.  Orphaned by Civil War, her mother, Mary Phillips died within year she was born. Ada was raised  by the Granger family with sister Zulieka who was mother of my paternal grandmother.  Ada married her cousin, son of her mother's sister, Chauncey Sweet who became a well-to-do banker in Galveston.

Little Ada is mentioned in letters written by her mother Mary Phillips to her mother Mary Granger, or her mother-in-law, Mary Gainer.

This letter was written before Ada was born on Sept 15, 1860.  Her poor mother thought she had been pregnant since October of the past year, thus my grandmother believed that Ada Phillips was an 11 month baby.  (I have heard this usually means the first pregnancy was lost as another one began and the mother never knew because she continued with pregnancy.)

Addressed to her own mother, Mother Granger, who was living in Galveston at the time.  However she also calls her mother-in-law,"Mother," Mary Gainer, who was close enough to give pregnancy advice apparently.

Town Bluff, July 30th/60

My Dearest Mother

        Your dated July 12th I received this morning & most thankfully you may be sure for it is a long time since I heard from any of you.  I had begun to be considerable anxious for fear some member of the family were sick.  Now did you ever hear of anyone making such a mistake on their scheming as I have and still what else or how else would I judge the time for me to look for my confinement than when I last was sick and most surely it was the third week in September but I am now completely lost cannot tell only I am constantly expecting I suffer extremely from the heat.

(next page)

I have most wretchedly restless nights no little sea breeze but so oppressive it seems to take all my strength  the perspiration seems to pour from every pore.  I am in very good health otherwise.  William will write you as soon as I am through.  It is Zulie’s birthday and we had an extra dinner for her and sat the Lady up to the table for the first time.  She behaved very well.  I know you would be much amused could you see her ways and her back and forward!  She wiggles and swings like a girl sixteen.  Mother gave her a very pretty pink chamber tucked the shirt and she strutts (sic) well in it.  If a stranger comes in she directly comes to me and says Mama play she is never quiet but busy all the time scouring the house or sweeping, has a rag baby I made

(next page)

her which she named herself Lula and she shows up bread and feeds her with a perfect slight of hand and then gives her most awful whipping and gets her to sleep.  I think she is going to love a book for she will stand and listen just as long as you describe a picture and express her anger and sympathy on each subject.  Lucy would be in shakes of laughter all the time were she here  she is a perfect mimic must try to do all I do even in the sewing line  Mama I want to too, me, Mama and no peace till she has it.

        I have written this letter by spells you may find trouble to read it.  I have done my best, it tires me very much to write  I am much more clumsey than I was with Zulie.  Mother says I will go she is positive until the first week in September.

(next page)

        The weather is very dry and extremely hot.  The crops are all burnt up and if we make our bread it is all we expect now such a disappointment to Mother & myself as it will prevent our coming to see you.  I fear for there are so many to provide for and it will take ready cash to do it another year.  There are twenty six blacks and six whites still if we could get rain even now we should make enough as we planted late.  There is above us in other countys much poverty familieis soley dependent on their crops and cannot get anything to eat but milk.  I believe they are going to make some provision for such from. (sic) I see I must close write me soon again.  I am anxiously looking for Lizzies’ letter love to all,

                Yours affectionately,


(more written in margin of this last page)

Mother – William desires much Love to you all  I still find my piano good as ever  it __(?) so well.  Mother do not over exert yourself because you are in better health  try to get strong  I wish I could see you  I should be so glad quite old times


(undated letter without heading, written to her Mother-in-law, Mary Gainer, by Mary Granger Phillips.  Town Bluff is probably Beaumont, Texas.)

The children are quite well.  Zulie often talks of you all.  She is growing very fast and talks us nearly crazy.  Is very curious must know and understand every thing she hears and sees.  She is pretty, bad and smart and I am I regret to say entirely unable to control her never having seen ever  such a temper.  I often wonder how Lizzie would manage her, although Zulie has been much spoiled (--?--) everyone, she is very affectionate, child loves me dearly  but does not want to mind.  Ada is different more mild the sweetest and caring little thing will let you kiss her all day and not get mad.  Pa Gainer says Zulie is the worst child he ever saw and Ada the best now if they do not spoil her.  She began to walk a little past nine months it is so cunning to see her walking her hair curls and she goes round

(on back page)

jabbering to herself you all would eat her up.  I have not had a pair of shoes to fit her since those you sent and they are all worn out.  I have let her go barefooted this Summer on account of not being able to get any for her.  I do hope some goods will come to Town Bluff.  Zulie too wears anything for shoes.  I am very much troubled about getting everything.  There are no goods any near us.  I expect we shall see sights to get things to wear this Winter.  I think you will find a letter of winds if nothing else.  I will try to write often as I can.  I have on hand a monstrous pile of sewing though, but will answer all who write.  All desire Love keep a cheerful heart dear Mother. I think of you much and often.

        Your affectionate Daughter,


Notes: Pa (Samuel) Gainer is Ada Phillips grandfather,  step-father to her father, William Phillips, and Mr. Gainer has traveled from their home in Georgia to Texas, to have seen both granddaughters.  His words are being relayed to his wife, Mother Gainer, by Mary Granger Phillips.  Since the Grangers seem to live in Galveston within the next few years, they may have already moved there.

I will try to include more letters from this family as their birthdays come along.

Ada Phillips had Pulsifer as her middle name, after her mother's mother's maiden name, Lucy Pulsifer Granger. The Pulsifers had surveyed Beaumont, Texas, and donated central land for it's downtown.  

Ada Phillips grew up in the same household as her cousin and eventual husband...since she was a war orphan and lived with Aunts. She was 35 before she married. She and Chauncey Sweet had no children of their own, but in several census reports from Galveston, there are nieces and nephews listed in their household.

She lived a long life, dying at 71.  Her husband, who was five years younger than she was, remarried within the year, and moved to San Francisco.  He died there at age 82.

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