HANDWRITTEN LETTER COLLECTION - SPOONER FAMILY RI, CT 1860-1898 CIVIL WAR MENTIONS
A collection of just under 100 handwritten letters written between 1860 to 1898. Many of the letters are still folded within the small envelopes that they were sent in. Some have had their stamps cut out, and some letters are without envelopes and there are some empty envelopes. Most of the letters are written to Eliza A. Peckham (later Eliza Spooner) in Middletown, Rhode Island and are from her cousin, Julia, in Lebanon, Connecticut. There are also letters to John H. Spooner from his uncle, S.C. Spooner. The letters discuss family news such as marriages and births, the war, fashions, and daily life. The collection includes two brown leather-bound ledger books measuring 4 x 5” and 4 x 6” which contain financial records from 1896 to 1898. Inside the front cover of one of the books it says “Spooner Bros. Account Book”. There is also some ephemera, including a part of a card game. I have not read all of the letters, but enough to get a sense of what is happening. Some of the writing overlaps, which can make it more difficult to decipher, though they are legible.
Examples of letters:
Letter from Julia to her cousin (March 22, 1862)
I suppose you think it is about time that I answered your letter, and told you the news! Well; Ettie has a boy, a week-old tomorrow. He was born Sunday the 16th, and is a bright little fellow, he weighed 9 pounds. She is getting along nicely - was disappointed because it wasn’t a girl, and so we all were, but we must take things as they come you know. I have been up there twice, took care of it Monday night, they sent for me. And Sunday P. came home, and took me back with him, it snowed like guns, all the way. Nathanial is pleased enough, he has to go in and look at it every spare minute! It looks more like him than her I think, though it is difficult to tell, it’s so young. It has very dark hair, dark eyes, and a high forehead, and a regular Barker hand. They call it Charles Sweet for the Doct. Mary Gager has a little girl 3 weeks old, she got along wonderfully, goes from one room to the other, and is real smart. Mrs. Gager thinks she will be better for it. The baby seems to be well, it is quite pretty and a none-such as well as Ettie’s. Becky is very much pleased with it. I wish you could hear Judson and Nath talk together about their babies, such remarkable children you never heard of! N. has just been home and got some milk, he isn’t very well today had the cholic last night. I don’t feel very bright myself for we took in a deranged man to lodge, which made me so nervous I couldn’t sleep. He ran away from the Almshouse in Norwich, and it rained so hard we couldn’t turn him away. He was still and seemed perfectly harmless, but I couldn’t help being afraid of him, he talked so strangely and acted so foolish. I think you are quite ingenious to make frames without any showing, I guess Mr. Lyman ain’t mistaken in his opinion of you after all; he inquired after you the other day. We talk of winding up our societies with an Oyster supper; only 13 met with us, it was very bad travelling, and is now, awful muddy. I am glad that George has recovered from his sickness. Our last news from War were, that Newberg was taken by our men and 100 killed, and 400 wounded and missing. I presume George wasn’t there as it was the Burnside expedition. I can imagine how very anxious you must feel about him. Aunt Cynthia wrote that they were very anxious to hear from Edward, he had been gone 3 weeks when May wrote her. She says they are going to move to Smithfield near Benedict Rackham. I presume it will be pleasant for both family and a much better place than where they have been living.
Did Patience get my letter before she went home? Tell her to answer very soon, my love to her, and a kiss for Ettie. Albert’s cough is better than when you were here, he don’t take anything though. Mother is in the other room writing, she sends love. Charles Zilley is down to Newport - has he been out to see you? I heard you had been over to Compton. Write soon and tell me what is going on in good old Middletown. My love to all, especially to Mother. I am glad her throat is better. If I need those shirt buttons, before you do, I will send for them, but “old maids never get married,” you know. Albert says so. Has David Smith proposed yet? Look out and not lose him!
My love to all, both great and small.
Letter from Patience to Eliza (December 14, 1862)
I seat myself to write you a few lines & send you a copy of Lee’s letter which I received Friday evening, & glad was I to receive it for it had been a week of great anxiety to us & no doubt it had been to you. We heard Saturday Dec. 6th that thy had marching orders & had started the Monday before but where they did not know. According to Lee’s letter they had a tuff time half fed and suffering with the cold. It is bad not to give them enough to eat & march them at the rate they did. & then when they get to the end of there, march to expect to be called right into battle when they are all [illegible] out. If Lee lives through all this, I think we can believe what he used to tell us before he went away that he is tuff. It seems sometimes as if I shall fly out there where they are & carry them comforts, but that is impossible.
It seems by his letter that they had not received the box or the letter that I sent some money in to him, but I think they will get them when they get settled again at least I hope they may for they need the things bad enough. Sis is well & keeps in motion as much as ever. I asked her what I should tell Aunt Eliza for her she said tell her that Eliza Jo Billie & [illegible] are all at mamma Peck’s house she sends a kiss. Have you had a letter from George yet? If you have let me know what he wrote. I see by the papers that an expedition has started from Hilton Head. Perhaps that is the reason you have not received any letters from there. Write soon & write all the particulars I am well. Write as often as you can to Lee for he wants to hear from home often and it will serve to make the time pass away. I must close or I shall have more than a letter full when I get Lee’s written. Come over when you can. Remember me to all.
Love to all. Good bye from,
Letter from Eliza A. Spooner to her husband (March 7th, c. 1864)
My Dear Husband,
I received your kind letter last Tuesday and was very glad to hear from you. We are quite well. It is very cold today the ground is covered with snow and the wind is blowing quite hard I am glad to sit by the stove. It is good sleighing and has been nearly all the time I have been up here. I suppose that you feel quite lonesome today I should like to step in and see you. If nothing happens, I shall be at home before a great while. I have nearly made up all my visits. We are invited up to Cousin Nathaniel’s tomorrow. Crawford and his Wife are here on a visit - they are going have a family party. Cousin Ettie wants me to stay longer and make her a good visit but I tell her that tomorrow visit will have to answer for this time. Cousin Crawford was sent for yesterday someone was very sick so he had to go home. They expect him in the morning. I am glad that you can have the mill so soon I hope that it will be so that we can move when I get home for I want to get to housekeeping. Frankie is the same little chatterbox and full of mischief. every one that ever saw you says that he looks just like his father. Cousin Julia had the girls over here yesterday we had quite a nice time. it snowed nearly all day but they did not stop for that I guess that you would laugh to see Frankie he has got an old book in a chair with a piece of ivory for a pen so he runs to my ink stand. And says (I write papa) I suppose you see that I have cut of some of the paper I did not write it to suit me so I cut it of. Edwin Brown’s brother’s son was buried last Wednesday, and the friends all went to the grave in sleighs the coffin was in a large sleigh I never saw that before. There were as many as ten or a dozen. [illegible] Weaver has had his auction. They said that he sold his farm for 3000 dollars and other things to come up to nearly 5000 in all. They say that he owes about 1000 so that will leave him nearly four thousand. he is going to move to Newport. Willie wrote that Aunt Sally was out to Mothers I am glad that she went there to be company for her. You may expect me home next Thursday. March the 11th if the weather permits if not the next fair day. I shall expect to see you down to Mothers Joel is going to write for one of the boys to meet me at the boat. So I will not write any more this time but tell you the rest when I come. I close with much love. Receive this from
your Wife Eliza A. Spooner.