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, February 7, 2014

Old letters transcribed

Some historic letters that refer to
1. my great grandmother Zulieka Phillips Swasey
2. my grandmother's Uncle Chauncey Granger Sweet (see post about him yesterday HERE)
3. Uncle Chauncey Sweet's cousin Ada Phillips
4. their childhood during and after the Civil War in Texas.
And yes
5. mention of a piano owned by Zulieka and Ada Phillip's mother, Mary Granger Phillips.  So I am posting this under the theme (meme?) mentioned on Sepia Saturday this week, come over and see many more interesting stories HERE.

The following copies are transcribed below the photos.

Transcription of above copies of letter:

                Sabine Pass June 29, 1872
Dear Issy
        I am having a nice time all your cousins Aunt and Uncle are well.  Issy I will tell you something but you must not tell anyone that is if you have not walked a lone yet I want you to hurry up and walk.
        Minnie has got a Mockingbird & I expect you had it your would be playing with in and when there was no one looking you would eat the things out of its cage.
        You ough (sic) to see us play croquet we have a splendid time & have a little kitten to play with us & her name is Dolly

(page 2 of 2)
        Sister has learned Chauncey his keys on the piano. He also sends you a sweet kiss.
        Lucy says that she wants you to come over that she wants to see you.  I am sorry you have got the hoopin (sic) cough.

        We send love to all
                From  Ada

        (added in pencil) “now Mrs. C. G. Sweet”

Note: The author, Ada Pulsipher Phillips was born 9.15.1860, so she wrote this as an eleven year old. Her sister, Zulieka Granger Phillips, was born July 30, 1858, who is noted in this letter to have taught the piano to their cousin Chauncey G. Sweet b. 2.6.1865, whose sister Lucy A. Sweet was b. 1868.  And Ada, the young author, married Chauncey Sweet many years later.

I'm not sure yet who Issy might have been.  She didn't seem to live in the same home, but perhaps was in the same town, or maybe another one, but under whooping cough quaranteen.  

Ada and Zulieka Phillips mother was Mary Granger Phillips.  Her sister was Elizabeth Granger, Lizzie, in her frequent correspondence.    One such letter talked (pre Civil War) of receiving her piano in their home somewhere near Beaumont, Texas on Town Bluff.

 transcribed it reads:

Town Bluff June 10th, 1860
Dear Lizzie:
        It is some time since your last letter but I waited to write about the Piano knowing you would be deeply interested to hear about it.  It was obliged to stay at Weisse’s Store a few weeks as the river was so low the Boats could not come up this far and William was so busy with all the mules he could not spare them to go for it.  William fixed up last Tuesday a team and himself and a black boy started to bring. It arrived Wed. night and all hands White and Black sat up till midnight so great was the excitement.  It is a splendid Piano and no mistake most-beautiful tone & action. 

(envelope depicted here, addressed to other sister, Lucy, but letter is to Elizabeth ie. Lizzie)
(Upper left corner:) Town Bluf, TX M (…? obscured by stamp of Three Cents)
(Middle of envelope:) Mrs. Lucy E. Granger.

(letter continued page 2)
It is one of Gales made  Rose Wood with a beautiful inlade (sic) front carved music rack Iron (?) frame and carving all around the moulding (sic) but not quite seven octaves two pedals the shape of the Pedal is the hansomist (sic) I ever saw very large and shiney.  The tone is brilliant and clear not at all muffled.  It is splendid and you will say so far superior to Margrit Sweets I think I am almost beside myself I am so satisfied with the choice Mr. Hinsbly (?) has been very kind seems to have exerted himself to the ultermost (sic) and I could not have done as well myself.  The Stool cost twelve dollars and it is Rose W. too has a screw top and plane and plush very much larger and prettier every way than yours. It was packed with in the most manner closely sealed over all the seams on the

(back of envelope pictured here, nothing written on it)

(letter contined page 3)
outside and right pretty (written above in margin) picture
in the bottom of the box all framed with a view of house in which it was manufactured in N. J.  I have hung it up it is so pretty.  Oh! I do so want to have you see it and try it.  I would enclose the money if I had it for you to come.  You can imagine me just as happy as a being ever gets to be. I believe I feel just as I did when Father first bought one for me. Just think our Piano was the first ever in Sabine Pass  The first ever in Beaumont  and now the first ever in Town Bluff and is causing equally as much excitement about the county up here as it had elsewhere.  I find I am in need of much practice but every day gain what I have lost.  I play a heap having nothing else to do  and who would not with so elegant

(letter continued page 4)
an instrument to play upon in such perfect tune and order.  It is this I regret – the detention I soon shall have and I have only three months more  I get very tired sitting at the Piano but William is so good  rubs my back until I am rested at night which keeps me up.  Zulie is very much pleased  calls it the big baby and says here is the little baby pointing to herself – she talks very cunning you would laugh to hear her  sleeps by herself now in a nice trundle bed all ready now you see for the next.  I must close  I wrote to Lucy sometime since.  Write me soon.  Love to Mother and all.

        Yours with love,
(another hand writing now)
The Baby beats her mother talking.
                W. P.

(this letter was not written to her other sister, Lucy, but mentions that she had written her, so perhaps that is why the envelope was copied on the same sheet.  Lizzie was her sister Elizabeth Granger)

This was east Texas life on the frontier just before a war which changed everyone's lives from what they imagined their futures would be.

The baby that Mary was to deliver that September, 1860, was Ada Phillips, who wrote the first note above when she was 12.


Wendy said...

Wow -- excellent! I love the detailed description of the piano and its beautiful tone.

Postcardy said...

It was interesting to read about the piano in those old letters.

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

So much detail, I can almost see that piano...and what might have been the environment in their home at that time? I believe it was only a few rooms from other letters I've read.

Deb Gould said...

Old letters are just wonderful, aren't they? Such excitement over the piano...and I can imagine her absolute joy at getting it, being able to play!

La Nightingail said...

What a wonderful post through a letter written so proud & lovingly about a piano so waited for with such excitement! :)

Jo Featherston said...

What wonderful descriptive letters to have in the family,telling you so much about their daily lives, so that they are real characters, rather than just names and dates on a family tree.

Mike Brubaker said...

These are wonderful letters! I can imagine the excitement of when the piano arrived. The piano was still a very new instrument in 1850s-60s. It's likely it was a style called a square piano, though in fact it was flat rectangular box, which has the strings arranged in a horizontal iron frame side to side rather than the vertical frame of a modern upright. There was one at the Asheville Habitat store last year. It was made of rosewood and was a handsome piece of furniture but a horrible instrument. Very out of tune with sticky action, and a sound more tinkly like a harpsichord rather than the modern full piano sound.

Excellent work at transcribing. The handwriting is very slanted and unlike the cursive we see today.

Bob Scotney said...

What marvellous letters to have and especially for our piano theme. It's almost possible for us to 'see' the piano from the description they give.

Little Nell said...

What a treasure the letters areand it seems that piano was almost a work of art!

Boobook said...

What lovely letters. Mary is so enthusiastic.

Alan Burnett said...

A fine exercise in family history. How I wish my family members had written more and kept more.

Jackie van Bergen said...

How great to have so many letters and be able to work out who the people in them were!


Interesting to see that such an acquisition can create such a commotion, from its transport to the delight it brought daily.
Kind of you to be sharing these letters with us.