Friday, February 26, 2016


The Kimber Letters are writings exchanged between the Kimber sisters and their mother, Keziah (Bennett) Kimber. The letters found their way to the sister’s descendants. They’ve been saved and shared among us for over 150 years. I treasure them and am grateful to the late Edna Raymond for giving me transcriptions.

It is with much pleasure that I set down this afternoon to wright you a letter” begins Jane Eliza Kimber’s letter to her mother, father and sister Abigail back home in Orange County, New York. Keziah and Benjamin Kimber must have found comfort in her words. During the last nine months Jane Eliza and her husband, Moses Seely, endured difficult times. In November of 1854 their home burned to the ground, and they lost nearly all their belongings (see Letter 6). Hardship turned to heartbreak the following month when Jane and Moses’ baby boy Willie Emit passed (Letter 9).

Moses and Jane Eliza left Orange County and moved to Troy, Bradford Co., Pennsylvania around spring 1855. I’m certain Jane Eliza’s sister, Sarah Bethia, and husband William Mackney were happy to have the Seely family join them in Troy.

As I read Jane’s letter, I heard enthusiasm in her words describing her peas and beans, Isabel’s schooling, the wheat fields and even the price of potatoes, butter and milk. She’s hoping her brother-in-law, Erastus Elston, will visit and bring one of the Kimber’s with him. Sister Phebe Decker owes her a letter.

Jane Eliza has news she didn’t tell but I’ll share. She was expecting a baby. Six months after this letter was written, a baby girl, Sarah Alice Seely, joined the family in January 1856.

Transcription Letter 11

July 25th.  1855

Dear Parents and Sister

It is with much pleasure that I set down this
afternoon to wright you a letter    you think    no
doubt   that   I have forgotten you but I have not
and now I would say to you that we are all well
and doing as well as we can    we received your
letter the 17 and was glad to hear from you    it
done  like seeing you and talking to you Mother
you wanted us to write if we wanted you to dry
us some currents    we should like to have some
if they are not all gone when this reaches you
as we have not any here    we havent any fruits
here but one plumb tree    our garden looks very
good what there is of it    it is very small so
we do not have much of a variety    we have had
no potatoes but soon will    we have had peas and
beans    Mr. Dobbins sowed a lot of peas a little
way from the house and they told us to go and
get what we wanted and I tell you that we have
almost fatten on them    Mother Isabel goes to
school now    she likes to go and learns very
fast    she reads in her AB  abs she says that
she is going to write grandma a letter some day
   she has good health and grown very fast    we
have had a sight of rain here and are still
haveing    they have commenced to get there
harvest around here but O Mother if you could se
the wheat fields around here it would do your
eyes good to look at them    there is a lot of
forty acers in it all wheat   I think it will make
some man sweat to get that   it looks as if
might be lowed than it is flour is selling at
eleven dollars a barrel here and young potatoes
at one dollar a bushel    we have to pay eighteen
pence a pound for butter    three cents a quart
for milk    that dont seem like going to our    own
milk pan and butter tray    I tell you I think if
we can get a farm we shall go on one another
year    we shall build our house and rent it out
   we can make as much at that as any thing for
rents is so high here in Troy    O if I could
come home once in a while it would do me so much
good    Mother you said in the leter that you
sent to me that Erastus talks of coming out here
after haying
tell him to come and if he does come some one of
you must come with him for I do want to see you
so bad    now tell him if he comes to write what
time he will come    I dont know whether I shall
come out this fal or not    I will if I can
Mother you must tell me if Mr. P. comes to our
house yet   if he does it is time they put a
match to it and struck it of and come and see us
  I dont know as I have got much more to wright
at this time    I would like to know what has
becom of Phebe    I writ them a letter two or
three months ago but I have not heard from them
since    I am a going to write her a nother and
se if she will answer it    O Mother if I could
se you I could talk a week night and day    but I
must close for this time    give my respect to
all that ask after me and my love to Father
Mother and Sister and ever remain your
affectionate Daughter and Sister until Death
so no more
Wright soon

Good by

Jane Eliza Seely

Still life with peas and plums
Painted by Mateusz Tokarski circa 1795
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Great Grandmother Catherine Sells Grandpa’s Whiskey Stills

4th Great Grandmother Catherine (Thomas) Snyder became a widow Oct. 16, 1822 when her husband Martin Snyder died in Augusta County, Virginia.

Martin mapped out Catherine’s financial future in his will. See my post, I, Martin Snyder, of the County of Augusta and State of Virginia Make my Last Will and Testament for details. Grandfather’s executor, Joseph Brown, presented an inventory and accounts in Augusta County Court 1825, 1827 and 1836.

The 1836 accounting proved interesting and yes, that’s how I know Grandmother sold the whiskey stills Grandfather left her. You can see from the image below, she sold the stills along with ‘sundry tools and farming utensils’ for $104.78 on April 29, 1829.

I first noticed the stills in Martin Snyder’s inventory and wrote an earlier blog post Found Great Grandfather’s Whiskey Stash in the Estate Inventory. The Snyder’s kept the stills running after Martin’s death and Grandmother Catherine made some cash for herself selling whiskey.

Executor Joseph Brown noted the estate received a legacy owed 4th Great Grandfather Martin from his father’s estate. 5th Great Grandfather Michael Snyder died before Martin, but Great Grandfather Michael stipulated Martin’s $200 legacy would be honored only after the death of Michael Snyder’s wife. She must have died around April 1829. Great Grandfather Martin only expected $200, but the family received more--$515.02.

Grandfather wanted his 740 acre plantation sold 4 years after he died. His plan was that his 7 sons would get their legacies from the sale proceeds. This isn’t what happened.

Let me give you a little background. Martin purchased the land from Rev. William Wilson and his wife Elizabeth May 23, 1814 for 1,750 Pounds (Deed Book 39, pages 119-122).  The 740 acre tract didn’t sell for $7,000 as Grandfather hoped in his will. Two of his sons bought portions of their father’s land. Michael Snyder purchased 320 acres for $1,900 and brother John Snyder claimed 245 acres at a selling price of $1,470 Oct. 24, 1833.  A third grantee, Jacob Showalter, acquired 175 acres for $1,050 the same day (Deed Book 55, pages 265-268). Years later Martin and Catherine’s daughter, Sarah Snyder, married Jacob Showalter’s son Nimrod. The sales brought $4,447.40 to the Martin Snyder estate.

Joseph Brown attended to notes and bills as needed. During the years Great Grandmother Catherine received money for her support.

By August 23, 1836, the obligations on the land were met, and it was time for Martin’s sons to receive their legacies; John, Michael, David, Jacob, Martin, Joseph and Adam Snyder each got $615.34 ½ cents.

1836 Accounting of Martin Snyder's Estate

Partial Image from Accounting of Martin Snyder’s Estate
Augusta Co., VA Will Book 21, page 157
Family History Center, Microfilm #30323, Item 2
My ancestry
4th Great Grandfather Martin Snyder and wife Catherine Thomas
3rd Great Grandfather Adam Snyder and wife Hannah Hull
2nd Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Snyder and husband Joseph H. Clemmer
Great Grandfather James Clyde Clemmer and Ella Virginia White
Grandmother Lucy Leora Clemmer and James McFall Joseph
My Father