Monday, November 9, 2015

Oven Fire Destroys Moses and Jane Seely’s Home, Kimber Letter 6

3rd Great Grandaunt Jane (Kimber) and Granduncle Moses Seely wrote to 3rd Great Grandaunt Sarah B. (Kimber) and Granduncle William T. Mackney November 8, 1854. Jane and Sarah were sisters—daughters of Benjamin and Keziah (Bennett) Kimber. Sarah and Wm. T. Mackney lived in Troy, Pennsylvania when Jane and Moses sent this letter from Wawayanda, Orange Co., New York.

Letter 6 contains a letter from Jane and another from Moses. Jane tells Sarah and William “tuesday our house caught fire from the oven and all burned down”. She writes that Mrs. Horton got most of her things out “below stairs” and “upstairs we nor they got nothing”. The house must have been home to several families.

Moses wasn’t home when the fire started. The household items Grandaunt Jane saved included a table, bedstead, two beds, 4 pillows, 4 chairs, and a rocking chair. The Seely children, Susan Isabell and Willy Emit, were unharmed.

Neighbors took up a collection and raised $300 for Moses and Jane. Community members provided quilts, comforters, sheets, pillow cases, table cloths, clothes for the children, a dress and a skirt. Jane admits how thankful is that all their lives were spared.

Great Grandaunt shares her concerns about her sister Julia Anna (Kimber) Elston. 3rd Great Grandaunt Julia’s doctor hopes she’ll survive another year. Another Kimber sister, Great Grandaunt Abigail, was caring for her.

Sister Phebe (Kimber) Decker visited Jane. Jane and Moses’ baby boy Willy Emit had been sick. Three year old Isabel was healthy and well.

In Moses’ letter he shares how he learned about the fire at his house. By the time he arrived home, 200 people were there.

Transcription Letter 6:

November the 8, 1854

Dear Brother and Sister

I set down this evening with calmness of mind to
write a few lines to let you know how we are
getting along in the first place   I would say we
are all well and doing as well as we can   I
think I hear you saying who dont they wright
well I will tell you the reasons why we have not
   Moses came home from your house a friday
evening and a tuesday our house caught fire from
the oven and all burned down   we did ny get
anything out but one table and one bedstead and
two beds and four pillows, four chairs    I got
my rocking chair our and some few other things
Moses was not at home at the time    if he had
been I think we would got more out    Mrs. Horton
got most of her things out below  stairs but
upstairs we nor they got nothing    they all
think it was a good thing that Moses was not
there for he might have got burned or hurt but I
think like the old woman it was all for the best
   our loss was rather hard for us at first but
the neighbors have been very kind to us and have
made it part to us    they say they have got
three hundred dollars made up in money and they
have given us a good many things    I have had
ten quilts give to me and three comforters, ten
sheets, six pare of pillow cases, one dress, one
skirt, two table cloths and besides the children
clothes    I think they have all done what they
could and I feel so thankful to think that our
lives and our health is spared to us but Sarah
we are around yet and keeping house in the
little red house and we live to home there and
keep a pig    I would like to have you all come
and see us    Charles has commenced to build
another house    Charles and Mrs. Horton takes
it very cool    Mary your likeness has gone with
the rest of the things    I feel awful bad about
that for mothers sake    we thought it looked so
much like you but I must drop this subject and
tell you about the rest of the folks    we were
up to see Julia Anna last Sunday    she has been
very low    they did not think that she could
stand it but a short time but she is a little
better now    but I dont believe she will get
well    the doctor says she may live along a year
but she will never be well    she is very poor
Abigail is with her now    mother went and stayed
three days with her    and then Abby is going
back and stay with her until she is better or
worse    Johns family are all well    Phebe has
been here today    Mose and John went to election
and Moses has gone again tonight   I have to
stay alone all the time night and day    O Sarah
and Mary I do want to see you but it will be
only a short time if we all live before we shall
se one another   Sarah we have got a little
clock we can put in our pocket when we come out
there    Willy Emit has got so he can walk all
around by a chair    he has been quite sick with
his teeth and his neck swelled very badly but he
is better now   Isabel is well    she talks
about you most all the time    she says she is
coming to Troy to see Aunt Sarah and Mary
Sunday evening   I have heard from Julia Anna
today and she is getting worse all the time
she is confined to her bed nearly all the time
I should not be surprised to hear of her death
in a weeks time but O sister it will be solem
news to hear that another one of our number is
taken from us    but if the Lord calls her to him
from the family its all right and we must give
her up    it will be a short time at the longest
before we shall have to travel the same journey
but I hope we shall all be prepared to meet her
in that happy place where there will be no more
parting losses or crosses    Sister do not take
it hard for it is nothing but trouble in this
world    I must close my letter for this time.

Dear Brother and Sister
I promist to wright, to you as soon as I got home
but you must excuse me for circumstances alters
cases    I got to port Jervis friday morning
stayed there till kniqht    when I got home I
found my folks well    Satturday mather came to
see us    a Monday i went and took her home    I
enquired all along the road for some feathers
but could not find any so I went down through
Samem and then I whent to Erastus and staid all
night and in the morning started home    i
enquired all along the road for feathers but
heard on none and as i got along by James
Singleton they told me my house was a fire    I
run old bob from there home    I was over 200
folks there    the hous and wood shed all burnt
down    I had not a bit of corn left nor potatoes
   i was to Middletown last night    i found some
feathers 4/6 lb.    if you have not got, them yet
whrite and I will send them down to you    when
i come home it looked hard to see all my things
burnt up    Mr. Whindfield came to me and told me
was a going to get up a paper and gow around    i
told him i rather not and the next morning they
started one    Charles 10    Windield 5    they have
whent all round   they have all give me
something   $300.00    I soppose i have got a
winter job a drawing boards and timber so no
more    but remain your Borther and Sister now
and forever
Moses and Jane E. Seely
to William T. and Sarah B. Mackney

Notes by Seely Descendant Winifred Drake Ridell:
[Willy Emit was b. 10 Feb. 1854  d. 1 Dec. 1854
about a month after the fire.]
[Julia Anna was a sister to Jane and wife of
Erastus Elston, she d. 1 Apr. 1855]
[Phebe was a sister, wife of John N. Decker]
[The Mackneys were then located in Troy, Pa.]

SOURCE: Edna Raymond, a past Town of Minisink historian, gave me typed transcripts of the letters exchanged between the Kimber sisters and their parents. This letter is 6 of 31.

It was many years ago when I visited Edna and learned of the letters. Edna has since passed away. I believe Edna told me a couple from Illinois visited the Minisink Town Hall and brought the original Kimber letters. The Kimber descendant allowed Edna to photocopy the letters in his/her presence. Edna worked quickly. In those days copy machines were slow and the quality left much to be desired. Edna spent many hours studying and transcribing the letters as the ‘old time’ handwriting was especially difficult to read.

To read earlier Kimber Letters click on the label 'Kimber Letters' at the bottom of this post.


  1. Wow, what a blessing to have the letters to really know some of the details. It is so inspiring to see how people are able to pick up after a tragedy like that and put their life back together. I also love seeing the goodness of those around them who sacrificed their own possessions and money to help them. Oh if only more letters were saved--how I would love to know the inside details of some of the events in my own ancestor's lives.

  2. Michelle, I consider myself lucky to have the Kimber letters. I feel like I know these Kimber ladies.