Wednesday, May 18, 2016

If I could come home in reality as often as in my dreams, I should visit you pretty often, Kimber Letter 14

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. I treasure them and am grateful to the late Edna Raymond for giving me transcriptions.

In today’s letter, 3rd Great Grandaunt Sarah Bethia (Kimber) Mackney writes to her parents, Benjamin and Keziah Kimber, and sister Abigail in Orange County, New York from Troy, Pennsylvania Sept. 25, 1855. 3rd Great Grandaunt Jane Eliza (Kimber) and Uncle Moses Seely were Troy residents as well.

Grandaunt Sarah tells her family about the happenings of the people in her life, their crops and some pesky grubs. Uncle William Mackney is so busy working he hasn’t had time to begin building their house. The price of groceries is always a favorite topic for Aunt Sarah.

Despite her last sassy letter, Aunt Sarah’s writings echo disappointment. She’s discouraged by her poor health and writes:

   “I did not feel like writing and would think every day that tomorrow I shall feel better but I find that every tomorrow brings its own bad feeling”.

I know from Kimber Letter 12 Aunt Sarah had been trying electric shock treatments but doesn’t mention anything more about it.

She’s brokenhearted because she won’t be able to go home and see her folks. Uncle William asked her to wait until next summer because he doesn’t have any money to spare.

In a recent letter, Great Grandmother Keziah broached the subject of moving to Troy and asked for their thoughts. The Kimber Aunts would very much like to have Great Grandparents Benjamin and Keziah nearby. But neither Aunt Jane Seely nor Aunt Sarah has a place for them right now.

Uncle Moses Seely says he would welcome them if he can get a large farm with 2 houses. That’s all Aunt Jane needed to hear. She’s “at him every day” about it.

Letter 14

Troy, Bradford County, Pa.  Sept the 25th 1855

Dear Parents and Sister

I take my pen this morning to try to write a few
line to you, i expect you are looking every day
and wondering why you do not get a letter.  I
am ashamed to say that we have neglected it, not
through forgetfulness but because we did not sit
right down and write    we have talked about it
every day.   Jane and Mary have been having
rather more to do than usual    Lewis Marsh is
here laying the celler walls    he had got
through with Moses and now he is at ours and
they have him to do for   and I have put it off
because I did not feel like writing and would
think every day that tomorrow I shall feel
better but I find that every tomorrow brings its
own bad feeling,  my health is about the same
as it was when I wrote you last    I have not
been feeling quite as well for a week past   my
side has been worse, but I suppose it is
overdoing that caused it    using my arm to much.
   William and Mary are at work as usual and Moses
family also, we received your letter nearly
three weeks ago and were so glad to hear that
you were all enjoying your usual health and I
feel this letter may find you all well    it is
generally healthy around here and has been the
season though one of our neighbors little boys
is laying quite sick now with the bilous fever.
Elizabeth Van Etten has got a young son born
last Sunday,  Jane was there    she is very smart
indeed    there has been more babys born in and
around Troy since we lived here than I could
begin to enumerate    it is a fruitful place
especially for that kind of production    we had
a frost the 18th but Buckwheat and corn was
generally out of the way of it   Potatoes are
rotting very bad around here    some have lost
their entire crop    our do not rot very bad yet
   William says they are to mean to rot    they are
not a very good potato for table use but still
they are a good deal better than none and have a
strong taste   Potatoes were so scarce last
Spring that we couldent get hold of any good
seed to plant, we have some very nice turnips
and we should have had an abundance of cabbage
and squashes if the grubs had not cut them off
William and Moses tried hard to save their
cabbage    thay had planted three or four times,
but it was all of no use    the grubs cut them
all off    they just turned the sod over in the
spring and planted right on it and the grubs had
a fair chance to work, but next season it will
be nice if we all live the sod will be rotted
and it will be like a garden    the ground is so
rich and mellow.   William has not commenced
framing his house yet    he has so much to do
that he dont know how to spend time to do his
own work    he work night and day almost, if he
continues to work as he has this summer he will
soon wear himself out    i dont like to see him
work so hard but he feels as if he must do it
O I think if I had my health to work too we
might get it done without his working so hard
but I have little hopes that I shall ever have
it any better therefor    I must not murmer or
complain for my Heavenly Father knows what is
for my best good.   Nearly everything is on a rise
here except flour    that is lower since harvest
   butter is 20 cents a pound    William bought a
whole firkin last week    it is ordinary butter
but not as good as we got last faIl for winter
use.   Milk in 4 cents a quart, and groceries I
never knew so high    common brown sugar that we
paid 6 cents a pound for last fall we now have
to pay 4 cents for and syrup is 6 Shillings a
gallon,   this is the third morning since I
commenced my letter and I will try to finish it
today if nothing happens    the first day I wrote
until I got so tired I had to quit and yesterday
there was a carriage sent after me to go a
visiting and so of course I had to go and had a
very nice time    Jane was invited also but could
not go for she had to stay home to bake pumkin
pies here and Mary, one of our neighbors moved
away yesterday, and she gave us a whole pail of
milk and we thought we would improve our chance
to have some pies    they are the first that we
have had    we have very nice pumkins but no milk
   I used to often dream last winter of being
home    a fool gut I thought I was so tired when
I got there that I could not talk    If I could
come home in reality as often as I come in my
dreams I should visit you pretty often    I had
flattered myself considerable that I should
visit you this fall but I dont expect now that I
can    I don’t hardly think that I could stand the
journey and William thinks I had better wait
until next summer   he thinks I would feel
better able to come and he could better afford
to let me come as he is building he will need
every amount of money that he can get    I want
to come very much but I will have to give it
up and hope it is all for the best    I expect you
will feel a little disappointed but I think I
can come next summer if we all live and you dont
come out here    I wish some of you could come
out at the time of the fair which will open next
Monday at Elmira    You could come very cheap
the fare would only be $4 and 25 cents from Port
Jervis to Elmira and return    the tickets last
good for a week    I expect Moses will be out
this fall sometime after his horse and wagon and
if he does he will come and see you.    Mother
you wished us all to write first what we though
about your moving out here and whether we
thought it would be for your best    I can say
that we all would like to have you here very
much but whether it would be the best thing for
you to move here we hardly know what to say    if
you was situated here just  as you are there
without the expense of moving and rents were
reasonable    here you would do well here as there
but you never could pay the enormous rents they
ask here    William says if he was only able he
would put up another house on his lot and he
would have you out here right strait along but
it is impossible for him to do it at present
our wills are good enough if we only had the
means    Moses dont think now that he will build
his house this year    he thinks of trying to get
a farm    Jane nor him either dont like this way
of living    he says if he can get a large farm
with two houses on it he would like to have you
come and live in one of them    there is now and
then such a farm to be got if only he can have
the good fortune to get one    farms are quite
plenty to rent and I dont think there will be
any difficulty about his getting one if he only
looks out in time    he has not looked around any
at all yet for one but Jane is at him every day
   he will be able to know something more about it
when he comes out if he comes    I hope there
will be some plan fixed so that you can come and
live near for I know you must feel very lonely
there    we think a great deal about you but we
will all keep good courage and hope for the best
but I think I shall have to bring my letter to
close for I am getting very tired    I think if
Erastus could come out this fall he could find
farms here to suit him first rate either to buy
or rent    Abby you wrote that the medicine
helped you    I wish you could have it to take
all the time    I think very likely if the Dr
could see you that he could help you very much
I have not been taking much medicine for three
or four weeks past    I take a little occasionly
when I feel the worst    the Dr kept telling me
this sumner that he thought I would yet have my
health so that I could work and I flattered
myself a good deal but I dont know why I did for
I dont think that I shall ever have such more
strength than I have got now and that is but
small    if I could have a new constitution I
might have hoped but that of course I cannot
have    Abby I am knitting me a tidy for my
rocking chair if I ever get it done    I get
along rather slow with it    it is very tiresom
work for me    I am going to work Mary and myself
a lace collar as soon as I get my tidy done
Mother we have got a few flowers and they remains
me of home every day    the large double mary
golds and small ones and double ones china
asters    three or four different colors but I
expect the frost will soon spoil their beauty
we covered them up the other frost we had and
saved them    I have so much to say I dont know
where to stop but I must stop    how I wanted to
see you all    write to me as soon as you can
no more but I remain your affectionate Daughter
until death    good bye

William and Sarah B. Mackney to Benjamin and
Keziah and Abby L. Kimber

Wild Astors, 1889
Dennis Miller Bunker


  1. Old letters are so wonderful and give us such a wonderful glimpse into individual's lives. It is so sad that the days of letter writing are gone.

    1. Yes, I agree Michelle. I feel fortunate to have the Kimber Letters. The Aunts are not strangers to me anymore.