1

Background Notes for Chatfeild Correspondence.

Feb. 1878 — Edith (1851-1934), Arthur (1854-1923), Joseph (1857-1880), Gertrude (1860-1884), and Theresa (1862-1947) Chatfeild traveled from Ipswich, England to Sycamore, IL — home of their uncle and cousin, both named John Chatfeild

1879 — Joseph bought land in Wall Lake, Iowa

March 16, 1880 — Edith Chatfeild married Gurdon H. Dennis (1831-1911)

July 23, 1880 — Joseph died in Sycamore of tuberculosis

January 13, 1881 — Edith's daughter Grace born

circa 1882 — Arthur returned to England, where he spent the rest of his life

January 22, 1882 — Theresa's son William (Willie) born

September 1882 — Gurdon, Edith, Grace, and Gertrude moved to a farm near Montezuma, Iowa

April 15, 1883 — Edith's son Robert born

August 19, 1884 — Gertrude died of tuberculosis

1886 — Edith and Gurdon returned to Sycamore, purchasing the Wyman Farm at what became Electric Park Corners

2

Letter from Joseph to Theresa.

April 24th 1879
Wall Lake, Sac Co. [Iowa]

Dear Theresa,
I fear that by what Arthur says, that you think I have neglected writing to you, well perhaps I have, but then I have had considerable to think about. I shall not forget your kindness in sending me that Birthday present, as it was a useful & very sensible present. Arthur tells me that you have bought an organ and if that is true, as I suppose it is, you ought to learn to play on well as an organ is an expensive instrument and without you learn to play well on it, there is not much profit in it, and besides I should like if I should ever see you again to hear you play a good tune. I suppose you fully intend to remain where you are now all summer?

I have got about nine acres of ground ploughed, all ready to plant corn, and am going to have a man come to work for me next week to plough up the prairie, just seventy acres, they say around here that I have got the best 80 acres anywhere on that road for two miles and I think it is as good as any, and I know two of the owners round me want $15 per acre for their land. There is not a hired girl to be had anywhere round here for five miles, they are all hired. I guess I shall not sow any flax on my land this year as I can not get any seed under what amounts to $2.40 per bushel and cannot afford to give that price & probably get 90c in the Fall it would not pay anyhow. Give my respects to John & Aunt and also my best love to Edith and Gerty. I am not feeling any worse than when I left Illinois but my cough bothers me a good deal. I am going to drive Arthur [to] the Depot this afternoon and he will most likely bring this as it come to you about as quick as by mail. And now I will say goodbye, with love
I remain
J. J. Chatfeild

P.S. Tell Gertie that Walrod has promised me the school in the next 80 to mine, next winter if I want to take and I am going to Sac City to try and get a certificate if I can. The exam will last about an hour & a half and an easy one at that. About 12 children & 25 Dollars per month.

3

Letter from Gertrude to Theresa.

(Sycamore, IL)
March 7, 1880 Sunday evening

My dear sister Free [Theresa],
I received your letter on Friday last, and was very glad to get it. I am glad you are having a real good time, and hope you will enjoy yourself very much. The roads are better than they been; we have had several thunderstorms and plenty of rain lately, how is it your way?

They are all well on the farm, and so is aunt, but uncle has been sick. Eddie has not been very well. Peter has hired out, so Cousin has to do all the chores.

Arthur would direct the envelope he did it before I knew, so I thought it did not matter about it. There are not any letters for you, so I could not send any could I? When are you coming home? I seem to miss you very much though I do not know why as I hardly ever see you.

It seems to me as if we had drifted far away from each other since we came to America. But though it often makes me sad to think of it, I like you more than ever, somehow you seemed like a twin sister to me, so much nearer than the rest.

I must say, dear girl, that you looked exceedingly nice in that new dress of yours.

My promotion examination is just coming on though I do not mind it in the least.

I wish you many many happy returns of your birth-day and many of them. I hope you may be happier in the coming year, than you have been in the past. Again I wish you joy on your birthday.

Please excuse this writing, as we have not a good pen in the house. John Woolsey is getting ready to move though he is sick.

I am going to a birthday party and am going to have a new dress, but shall have to hurry over it awfully quick, a grey I think trimed with violet satin would [be] pretty, and will last me through the summer as best dress will it not? I have one week to make it, and cannot stay away from school to do any of it.

I think I have written you a good long letter, and can think of nothing more to write at present. On Friday I went home with Cousin, stayed all night, and arrived at home a little while before supper on Saturday.

With love, I conclude and close my letter.
I am My dear sister,
Yours affectionately, Gertie

4

Letter from Gertrude to Theresa.

Envelope: Miss Theresa Chatfeild
Sycamore DeKalb County Illinois
Montezuma, Iowa October 5th, 1882

Dear Theresa,
We arrived here last Friday night about 9 o'clock, starting from Sycamore a little before six Thursday night. I was sick all the way from Courtland the cars rocked so it made us a little seasick we ate scarcely nothing. Edie vomitted once she ate some pears. Saturday we went about town a little, Sunday came & saw the place & Tuesday we came here to live. Yesterday we went to town to see the doctor as Gracie was so very sick, but she is getting better now, doctor called this morning she runs about again but does not eat anything only beef tea milk & crackers, her bowels are bad, sick like she was a year ago.

Charlie Austin was here today for a few minutes. Tis a splendid place all evergreens & ornamental trees round the door-yard but oh the house is filthy dreadful in fact we used a knife to scrape the dirt off the butery shelves before scouring we are white-washing & plastering. I never thought there were such dirty houses, it makes me so homesick I don't know what to do. I am nearly used up with work haven't ate anything for twenty-four hours. Please excuse writing it is too hard to see the lines. Write soon as I am so lonesome. I wouldn't be if we had a decent place to live in. Took us all one day to clean the pantry, another to clean their bedroom. The kitchen is a good sized room with four windows & two outside doors but not as large as our kitchen back there we haven't cleaned it yet. Send my letters and books please. How's your boy getting on? My photographs haven't come yet. I will send you one when they do. Send me your boy's picture. We didn't take a thing except a cracked lamp-glass which was brought by mistake.

The Spencers are awful nice people we stayed there. I wouldn't have thought of coming if I had known how long it took to come, every-one said we would come through in about 8 or 9 hours, we waited at Courtland 5 hours. I took off my shoes there & when I went to put them found I could not button them indeed could hardly bear them on, so had to take them off in the cars. My feet swelled so standing on them so much packing I was so tired when we had finished packing the car I didn't know what to do. I haven't slept hardly any since we moved from our house back there. Bought a new bedstead cost five dollars, going to buy a cow to-night I guess and some calves. Everybody thinks the big colt we bought of Rats folks is something wonderful. Lib thinks she is going to have the milk-leg. Mrs. Foster caught the fever

5

from Lib & is sick. Carrie is coming to live at Montezuma I think. Write all the news please. The well is only just outside the door, the stoves got quite rusty. Coming Gurd started a day before we did but we caught him up on the road. I am sick of moving so many things to do, & must get regular meals with hands. It has been damp & wet since we came until yesterday & since then it has [been] like summer so warm don't seem as if we wanted feather beds on, back there I almost froze nights but thought I wouldn't trouble to put my bed on but stand a few weeks longer. Please write soon if you can read this.

Gertrude

6

Letter from Gertrude to Theresa.

Envelope: Miss Theresa Chatfeild
Sycamore DeKalb County Illinois

Montezuma
Poweshiek County
Iowa
October 21st 1882

Dear Theresa
Received your letter a few days ago. Was glad to hear that your boy did not have the whooping-cough as you expected and that he is all right aint you going to send me a photograph of him or not?

Ours are not come yet, will send one as soon as they do. I do not know which Lib has a boy or girl. Byron's folks have a girl. Well we have finished cleaning house at last thank heaven, but as soon as the flies die off we shall have another coat of whitewash on the kitchen, so as to have it real clean for the winter. We are going to paint the kitchen, there five doors & four windows in it.

We have just finished putting in window lights & puttying the window, in the kitchen we have blue holland blinds I think they call them with spring rollers & upstairs long white curtains. We dried apples enough & canned tomatoes & pickled some cabages, made sweet pickles & are going to make some catsup haven't we done well? I got some lillies don't know wether I will be able to keep them alive through the winter. GurdI has bought two cows, a yearling & three calves, nine hogs, a stack of hay, oats & corn, some chickens, turkeys & a load of potatoes. We have got a new harness coming tomorrow, going to keep two teams at work right along. We have to break a colt next week. Nell has been sick, is nearly well again, were afraid lest she was seriously hurt, but think she will be all right again in a few days.

Have you seen the comet?

Gracie is well & so fat she did not have time to get poor while sick wants to eat all the time her cheeks puff right out.

Went to town last week it was a rainy day so couldn't do anything with the team rained all the time [we] were there. Sunday we had company went to town twice that day just for a ride. Today Charlie his mother & father who have just come from the east were here. Wanted me to go & stay a week with them but I didn't feel like it. Am going down there tomorrow to stay over Sunday. George stayed here the beginning of this week.

7

Kitty Crisman was here two weeks ago. Last Monday week we washed two quilts & a carpet. The weather is nice & pleasant here rained every Sunday since we have been here.

Don't think I can write much as I have got a bad headache coming on. When you write, write a big long letter send enough news in it to pay for postage & send that account.

Did you read "no (?)" does it not turn out funny?

I don't think folks dress so rich here as they do back there the women I mean I haven't seen any Edie & I dress about as fine as anybody here. Have cleaned Gracie's cloak it looks like new. One good thing the well is only just outside the back door.

Amos goes to school every day he is high up, in the fourth room.

Now be sure & write soon & all the news. Don't you get lonesome back there ha, it seems so strange here.

With best love to yourself & babe.
I conclude
My dear Theresa
Yours affectionately Gertrude

What did you do with that red lace you knitted, haven't sowed any since I came here only to put clean lace in my sleeves tack on a button, or knitted any on my quilt.

8

Letter from Gertrude to Theresa.

Envelope: Miss Theresa Chatfeild
Sycamore DeKalb County Illinois
Montezuma, Poweshiek County [Iowa] November 3rd 1882

Dear Theresa
I sent you my picture as I promised you. I think Stine takes very sober pictures, he did of us all. I had to have mine taken over again, the day before we came away I happened to go in there & he said mine was spotted so I had to be taken just as I was. I don't think they are as good as the first one as I saw one of them.

I want you to make a yard of lace for Gracie's drawers; I send a piece like them if you have not any yarn to match, make it of red lace, like you were making when you came to fetch your machine. I don't think you will mind making it will you I told Edie you wouldn't I think it would be so much prettier than frills don't you. She is going to make 2 pair one yard is enough for both pair, you can send it in a letter. Oh Teresa Edie's birthday is nearly here. I don't know exactly when do you? I want you if you have any money to spare to buy a good gold pin for her, one costing about three dollars, or 3 1/2 & send it by mail right away as soon as you get this.

The reason is that I haven't any money just now but will pay you as soon as I get soon & I want to get a good one. I think I could get a better one there for the money than here as it is further east, though there are some awful large stores here. I will pay the expense of postage too. Edie didn't get red flannel for Gracie because we think the die rots it don't you? How is the baby getting on & you too? I must now conclude with love,
I am,
My dear Theresa,
Your affectionate sister
Gertrude Chatfeild

Letter from Edith and Gurdon H. Dennis to Theresa.

Dear Theresa
As I have not written to you before, thought I would write you a few lines, we are pretty well settled now the house was awful dirty; I tell you we were nearly homesick cleaning it, as it seemed we would never get done nearly all the windows were broken. We are going to paint the house inside and out, the inside we shall paint now but the outside we may leave till the spring as it is getting late in the year. I will send you one of Gracie's pictures, I think they are good ones. Have you heard

9

how Lib is now, we bought us a new safe not so large as our old one. There are four windows in the kitchen. I bought green curtains with spring rollers for them which cost 2.30 altogether. Carrie and Bob are here. I expect they will stay in town I wish they would not. I have dried half a bag of apples. ___?___ pickled me a small keg of cucumbers. I expect Gurd will buy me a sewing machine when he comes back as I cannot work without one, I may have to hire one now as I have lots of work. How is yourself and baby? We went to town today in 1 1/2 hours and I traded butter, and bought some other articles and then got back within that time so you may know we are not far from time. We have 2 cows 9 pigs 1 fat one which we are going to kill next week, 2 calves and 10 chickens which Billy Spencer gave us and 3 turkeys. Gurd says he will write a few lines if I will close so good bye.

Edith

Pal sis I will writ you a few lines to let you know how homesick I a[m] if you were here you would say we have got the pretyest you have seen for a long time I would like to you first rate I will come this winter I will write soon hope you are hapy

G. H. Dennis

10

Letter from Gertrude to Theresa.

Envelope: Miss Theresa Chatfeild
Sycamore DeKalb County Illinois
Postmark: Nov. 19 [1882]
Montezuma, Poweshiek County Iowa

My dear Theresa,
I have just received your letter about an hour ago, and was very very sorry to hear about your little babe being hurt; it was such a bad thing to happen to him, however you must hope for the best about the scar remaining, as he is very young it is more likely it will disappear than if he was older. I thought I would write right off as perhaps it would comfort you to know that someone was anxious about him. I hope it will not spoil his good looks.

I want you to write soon and let me know how he is, now child you must not worry too much about him as remember most all children get hurt. I did send a piece of flannel it was a kind of blue like Gracie's drawers it does not matter about matching. I want you to make one yard as soon as you possibly can as it is getting cold here & Gracie will have wear them soon; I enclose another piece of flannel. What did you think of the photos. you did not say anything about them, I wish I had had your boy's picture before he was burnt, you must be careful about high chairs remember how many hurts Gracie got in hers. I suppose he can walk alone now. Last week was the first it was too cold to dry clothes on the grass here; Sunday & Monday was cold & frosty now it is mild again. Teresa I thought I had written plain enough to you that I meant to pay you for all expense you might have about the present I did not wish you to be any out of pocket not one cent. Edie birthday was 10 of Nov. I was so sorry I had nothing to give her, if I had been back at Sycamore I should have got trusted at Warren's until February here I am entirely unacquainted & of course I could not ask them to trust a stranger could I? Arthur writes me you have not written only once or twice since he left America, what is the reason don't you want to?

We have four cows now don't expect to have any more until spring, we lost our five colts got out of pasture couldn't find only three for quite a while almost despaired of finding the other two. Gurd offered rewards for them & the boys hunted high & low for miles couldn't hear a thing ablut them. After nearly a week one was brought back. The other is not yet found expect it will cost $30 or $40 to get him back. We are ploughing now expect to work two teams right along now. We are chopping wood now for sale; it seems so handy to have all the wood we want to burn right at the door. The coalmines are only two miles southwest of us, the brick-yard a quarter mile south of us.

11

Little Gracie got nearly killed yesterday. Edie was washing dishes after breakfast Gracie was on a chair at the table Edie took her down & told her play with the kittie. She got on the chair again & fell or slipped & did not cry held her breath walked to Edie & took hold of her dress Edie felt her tremble & turned to take her when she fell back white & stiff & cold Edie thought she was killed, but we gave her something took her to the door & put water on her head & she soon got all right again, it was only a little ways she fell but holding her breathe made her faint I suppose. She is well & quite a big girl such a rogue knows everything. Please excuse mistake & bad writing as I am tired, we get up before daylight, eat breakfast before the sun rises haven't done much sewing only altered my winter cloak since I have been here, haven't had any to do. I am not very well now have been quite sick all I could do to get my work done, I hurt myself reaching up cleaning doors & windows when we first came here & the other day Gracie jumped to Gurd across the table in front of me he thought he caught all her weight, but her two feet came down on my lap with part of her weight don't think I can ever get over it you know I was always bothered with weakness now it is almost a pain to live it troubles me day & night don't say anything about it to any one as it was an accident

Goodbye
[Gertrude]

What's the number of your post-box

Libs got a boy. My hair is growing long I cut it off again this morn; it is getting thicker too.

12

Letter from Gertrude to Theresa.

Envelope: Miss Theresa Chatfeild
Sycamore DeKalb County Illinois
(Postmark: Dec. 25, 1882)
Montezuma, Poweshiek County
December 22nd 1882

Dear Theresa
I received your letter a few days ago and thought the lace was very pretty and just right. I wish I could knit lace. I suppose you can make any kind now, you can send the rest when you make it to Edie.

Last Monday we had company; twelve sat down to supper. Charlie Austin's Father and Mother stayed here three days and two nights this week. I went to town yesterday it was muddy we stayed at Carrie's and took dinner she is living in Montezuma now. Is Dell Renerick's baby living now, has Sim taken it does her man feel bad I suppose Ida Porter does? Send me a mite of your boy's cloak, so I can see what it is like.

Has Clarinda's babe arrived yet how do they get along now what did she say because we came here to live. I bet she told lots of stuff. Austin's folks have a nice place and a large house, they want one of the boys to get married and work the farms so they can come and live in Montezuma. We do not take any Montezuma paper or any at all, if I can get hold of one anyway I will send it but any afraid I can't.

I haven't any money now but expect some in January and the very day I get it will send what I owe you I wish I could send it now as I guess you want it.

Monday is Christmas isn't it? I think if anyone ought to have a good time it is at Christmas don't you but I don't see any preparations for it in this house yet. I guess we will do just the same as any other day maybe wash as it is Monday. If I was mistress of a house I would have a high old time on Christmas wouldn't you but there I bet you would? She may cook up tomorrow but I don't know. [UNREADABLE SENTENCE WAS WRITTEN, THEN CROSSED OUT] some people don't care about having a good time do they I mean one we both know.

There will be a dance in Montezuma Christmas night. It seems to me you don't do anything else only pick geese. We had half of a beef; we have eaten it half up it keeps frozen so we have it fresh all the time, she is going to make some mincemeat some time.

I have had a bad time with diarrhoea again it isn't any better yet the change of climate makes it suppose the water here is

13

awful good. We have the prettiest place round here for miles, I haven't been homesick once and ain't going to be but I was so sick of the dirt. I never saw such a dirty house as we had to clean but there it is all done now.

Has Mr. Helson sold his farm are they going to live in Dakota [?] or only visit there. So Lib Foster didn't come home with her mother as she expected to as she was sick or the babe was I don't know which. This was Amos'es last day at school. Tuesday a boy was thrown from a horse and almost instantly killed in Montezuma.

It rained here nearly all this week, tomorrow I have to finish ironing. I wonder Harvey don't write?

I don't know of any more to write so wish you a merry Christmas & a happy new year I remain
My dear sister
Yours affectionately
Gertrude

We can get lamp chimneys for 5 x 3 cents in Dresden think of that, here in Montezuma we should have to pay 10 x 15 cents apiece. Dresden is about a large as Playford but things are cheap there some cheaper than in Sycamore. Well it is Saturday bright & fine 10 o'clock got churning done & beds made most all of my work done, but we have to cook & bake bread & mop yet, she is cooking some for Christmas. I wonder what you are doing. I don't think we will go anywhere Christmas or New Years but can't tell yet.

Well Theresa here it is Christmas morning snow nearly 1/2 a foot deep it snowed all Christmas eve and is snowing now. Grade is such a rogue takes things and hides them, we aint having anything different this Christmas and no presents as we can't afford it this time. It is not very cold here I guess the snow will soon melt. You must excuse such bad letters the writing I mean because Grade always bothers me so; keeps pushing my elbow and takes hold of my pen so anybody can't write decent. Wish you was here this morning. Edie has made Gracie a new dress out of that silver grey alpaca skirt she had and trimmed it with brown silk it looks very pretty, she has worn out the one you made her it washed up so it was too short so we took the ruffles off and let the hem down. She is going to make her a everyday dress of that waterproof cloak she has it will be warm and thick. She has made her some flannel skirts, aprons, trimmed her cloak with velvet & is going to make her some drawers this week and an everyday cloak. I don't know what else to write so guess I will stop. Oh why don't you send my books I have been anxiously looking for them they are the last for this year.

Gertrude

14

Letter from Gertrude to Theresa.

Montezuma, Iowa
February 15th 1883

Dear Theresa,
I send three dollars by Gurdon to pay you as I have no change. I would have sent it before but he talked of coming to Sycamore before, but somehow did not get started.

I send you a silver cup and hope it is what you will like. I could not think of anything else to send you as I knew you had everything else for your birthday.

I bought a muff and boa the price was nine & a half dollars but I got them for seven and a quarter dollars; they are good ones I tell you.

What are they wearing in Sycamore round their necks I want to know, as I am going to have my picture taken I want to wear something that looks real nice. I haven't knitted on my quilt since I have been here.

We had a thunderstorm tonight, it is thawing here, I have a bad cold so has little Gracie.

We went to town today, yesterday we had company, Monday we went visiting stayed all day and had a [lose?] old time.

Well what is the reason you don't write? So Lib & Jim are going to live in Sycamore instead of going back to Kansas. The [Lobs?] are coming back to Sycamore, they are homesick and she acts so queer. Don't you think Arthur's pictures are [boy?] and real stylish too. I did not expect he would take so good a photograph, ain't you going to send one [of] your boy's?

I hear Fred Foster is going to Kansas in place of Jim.

I would have sent you something else but I did not know what you would like.

If Gurdon forgets to pay you the three dollars you be sure and ask him for it. I shan't ask you to send me your boy's picture any more.

We are going to paint next week I expect. Edie most got her quilt done now.

Gertrude

15

Letter from Gertrude to Theresa.

Montezuma, Iowa
July 24th 1883

My dear Theresa,
Received your letter yesterday and was rather surprised at hearing from you as I thought perhaps you went upon Carrie's plan and wrote to almost strangers before you thought of writing to relation. Did she say she was mad at Martha and what for? The baby [Edith's son Robert, born April 15, 1883] weighs eighteen pounds and is getting nicer looking every day; by the time he is a year old he will be a very good looking boy; if he were not quite so fat he would be good looking now he changes every day for the better; he is not very well now his teeth trouble him.

Grade can sew buttons on nicely already she talks considerable, we are going to let her hair grow long now. We have made her white dress and she has worn it some. Edie sowed on pieces of embroidery to keep her sash in place it is fashionable here now, it is a good way too. Edie made baby a white bonnet like the one I bought Gracie; it looks nicer with red ribbon on it, he has been in short clothes a long time.

We have eight & ten sit down to meals every day. We have had sweet corn here; and ripe tomatoes and pumpkin pies here.

I get my washing all done by ten Monday; put out the white clothes at eight and through by ten. I get done ironing by ten Tuesday, but we get up real early. In about two weeks they will be ready to burn another kiln of brick.

Gurdon went to Grinnel last week. The cattle broke into Jane's garden and eat and trampled everything; she cried like everything in one day she picked 850 worm off her cabbage it was too bad after she had taken such pains and worked so. Have you heard from Arthur. I haven't for a long time I wonder why he don't write. The glory vines have been to the top of the windows a long time, at last I got some flowers to grow in those beds they are just coming into blossom now.

I hear Carrie has been talking awful mean about us. I am going to make her prove it, the first thing she knows she is going to hear from me. They say it is the only way to stop her telling such lies if she only tell the truth I wouldn't care but to make up all sorts of things to tell about anybody is too much of a good thing, she is jealous and the meanest person I ever know. Did you tell her about that lie you said she told Charlie. I wouldn't speak to her if I was you. Oh George got kicked by a horse and is sick he had the doctor.

We have been haying and harvesting you went away just in time to escape work, next week after you went we began working hard and it has continued ever since. Will was real sick two days

16

couldn't do anything only lay down. We are going to make pickles now, blackberries did not amount to anything this year.

I am going to make me a suit of fine underwear have got the cloth and embroidery am going to get this ready made trimming if I can find any to suit me; to save time and trouble. Collin's folks are going away. Lambe's wife is coming down in a week or two.

What are they wearing in Sycamore now for wedding dresses. We found your overshoes & Willie's pin, the one he wore the day before he went you forgot it. Is Maine[?] mad too. I wonder Carrie durst tell such awful lies about folks; I dare not even if I wished to for fear I get into trouble let alone telling the lies, anyway I never tried to take poison.

It is very late so I close and go to bed excuse mistakes I hurry as we have to work fearful hard & I don't get much time to rest as we have breakfast at 6 & sometimes before. Mrs. Hope has been down real often.

G. C. [Gertrude Chatfeild]

Please write soon & write the __?__

They are building in Monta real fast now.

17

Letter from Gertrude to Theresa.

Monte. March 30th [1884]

Dear Theresa
I will now answer your letter which I received long ago, but there was good reason why I did not do so before. I don't suppose it makes any difference to you weather I am dead or alive; being as you never write to inquire how I am but I have had the lung fever and have been at death's door, and even now the doctor says it is ___?___ with good care that I may get well; he comes every few days although now I am able to sit up in the afternoon. I am yet so weak as to be hardly able to walk about being as I cannot eat much although I have everything to choose from eggs, milk, beef, oranges, lemonade, pear preserves, chocolate, lemondrops, & lots of other things; & anything I fancy.

For two weeks I hardly stirred out of bed & when the fever quit I could not stand up, they sat up with me some nights they said. I told you we wouldn't have any more fire upstairs this winter, well it has hardly been out day or night for a month. Doctor ordered the fire to be kept all night long so they kept it up. I have been downstairs now a little while everyday for the past week in the afternoon. I was to stay right in my room but I can't now. I have stayed up here for a month right along. He talks as if I would not get well till next summer. The baby was real sick last week is some better now; he is cutting more teeth; he can kiss & whistle & call the kitty already. Gracie says most everything & talks right along about some things. Gracie says Willie go up town with his Mamma go away away off & then makes a noise like the cars she knows which way he went, is always telling us something about him, if you say where's Willie, she runs to the window & looks out to see if he is coming. I don't know if you will be able to read this or not, but I can't write better; my hand trembles so & I am tired.

Have you got a canary for me yet? It is real warm here now.

Gertrude

I tried to write a letter when I had the fever; before the doctor first came & I couldn't make head or tail of it so gave it up.

18

Letter from Gertrude to Theresa.

Envelope: Theresa Chatfeild
Sycamore DeKalb County Illinois
(Postmark: APR [?] 1884)
Montezuma Poweshiek Co. Iowa

Dear Theresa
Received your letter yesterday. All I can say is if you have written 7 or 8 times to me or Edie, we have not received them. I have only heard from you once which I answered. I didn't expect you would write to me it would have been no good anyway as I could not have answered them. Mr. Stewart said he should think you might have known how ill I was by the number of letters he posted addressed to you, anyway it don't matter. I neither know nor care how the folks here are. I have all I can do to take care of myself. I can sit up some part of the day now the doctor stopped the pains & now they have gone to my head causing fever in the brain. If I get worse I shall cablegram for Arthur. The doctor said Friday he hoped he could stop it before it got worse. When my head comes on bad I am very stupid knowing not much as yet it does not stay bed all the time but comes & goes. Arthur said he was going to send me the money to have Joe's grave done up. I told I would write you & to send it to you as you were the proper person to see to it being right in Sycamore. He said he would send it are you willing to see about it? I have been very anxious for a long time to have it seen to it will be much off my mind to know it is no longer neglected. Some say I won't live to see the trees leave out because I can't eat much as I can't get my strength back. The doctor says with good care I may get well in the summer. The baby is cutting more teeth & is nearly well though a little fretful. Have Coles got a girl or boy? You had better send the bird this week as they won't go to town hardly any after then Because they will commence sowing oats & have a hired hand the brick-yard will commence next week too & Gurd says he won't leave his work for anything or anybody. I suppose you hate to part with it? It is very warm here no mind we have put the screen doors up keep flies out they are troublesome. I forget how much money I gave you but if [you] will tell me what I owe you & what the freight & your trouble amount to I will send the money. What is the name? You had better send it to Gurd so he can get it. If you can arrange it so that it can arrive at Monte before Saturday I should be glad as he takes [Mage?] up in the afternoon & could not bring anything back with him you know.

Gertrude

19

Letter from Gertrude to Theresa.

Montezuma, Iowa Sunday

Dear Theresa
Received bird all safe but the foot of the cage was a little crushed; however it is all right now. I was dreadfully afraid he would catch cold; as it was a damp rainy day when Gurd brought him home; the poor little bird was so hungry and dry his water bottle had slipped down into the sack & his food was nearly all in the sack too.

He is sitting on the table beside me now; he sang a little today, the babies are most crazy over him, the baby holds out his hands and cried for him & last night Gracie sat on the bed watching the bird as he stood on the machine asleep and would not lie down they think he is just right. I am well pleased with bird and cage; enclosed find $1.00 which I should like to hear that you had received by return post. My throat is very bad haven't slept any for a week till last night. Sometimes I think it will never be much better it has been bad so long & makes me throw up all my food.

Gertie

I said to R. Carr is not that a nice present when the bird came, so they think its a present, it isn't my fault

Letter from Gurdon H. Dennis to Theresa.

April the 14th, 1884

Pal sister Theresa as I am in a hurey I wil write a few lines in Gerty letter. My health has been quite since you left. I had to cal on the doctor I think he is doing me good he said I have got some trouble about the heart. I havent been able to do mutch [Bert?] has come and comenced fixing the yard I sold my land sent the dead they were to send the money and mortgage and notes ten days ago. They have not come yet I am some afraid Gertrude has got a verey bad cough we are afraid she is going into the consumtion. Robert stands up and pushes the chares around Gracey is __?__ how is Wiley

I will write again soon. My arm is so laime I cant hardley write Edith is not very well I am affraid she will half to work to harde. This summer Littletons boy and Shook boy and old Romans boy is in jail for stealing they got out the other day but they caught them again Amos is farming he is doing well I havent seen Bone yet James Grears wife is about dead She was an Austain girl Fremonts foalks lost both of their children Baby 6 hours old how is all the foalks thare hope you are well & good
By Ever true
G H Dennis

20

Letter from Gertrude to Theresa.

Monte. Iowa May 22, 1884

Dear Theresa
My bird has turned out to be a female canary and not a singer as you said. I was so vexed when I looked in the cage and saw that it had laid an egg that I could have cried. She don't sing at all now, as females are worth nothing. I should think the folks were you bought it would give you the money back; or anyway most of it; as they cheated you.

If they don't give you the money back then I cannot buy a singer here, as I cannot afford to spend any more on birds and this one is no good as she doezn't sing, we thought for 2 or 3 weeks back by her actions she was a female, she wants to build a nest.

Some say raise some, in the first place my health is too poor to bother, & then I don't understand nothing abouta it.

I don't blame you any but I would like them folks to give the money back as I can't afford to lose $1.50. You see what you can do about it and write me.

A new doctor is coming to see me today; my old doctor has said given me up as he saw I knew his medicines didn't do any good & I told him so. I know as well as anybody I am near the consumption & would have it anyway if I fooled with him any longer.

I am going to have a hammock to be in outdoors as I cannot walk about much. I am so disappointed about the bird you know well I must quit now.

Gertie

21

Letter from Gertrude to Theresa.

Monte, Iowa June 9th, 1884

Dear Theresa,
Received your letter yesterday & Edith got your card too. I was glad the woman gave the money back. The bird laid 2 eggs & last week G. H. Dennis hung the cage outdoors low down; so the cat sprang up & unfastened the springs & out flew birdie, so as yet I have not got another one. 7 miles away I can get a singer. It does not pay to see to a bird that don't sing I would rather let it go than give it away, but I couldn't raise any because of the trouble, being too much for me, you can have no idea how weak & ill I am no one ever seeing me so before. I can do nothing only sit around & lay down, a hammock came home yesterday for me, my pulse is 114 was 124 should be 74 or 75 so you see how warm days affected me; for the past 6 weeks I have slept on a _____ bed with only the sheet over me & have to get up several times each night & fan to keep cool. All the rest have their feather beds on & comfortables on. Folks think I look dreadful bad & white I cannot sit in a chair without a cushion I am so thin now. The new doctor is doing me some good, he is splendid, a new doctor set up lately. There is no doubt Tribbett didn't care & was going to let me die, he was doctoring me wrong. In fact folks didn't think I get well & I never thought I be writing to you now. Now there is a chance & if this doctor cannot help one he will have that honesty to say so; but I am a triffle easier now. Some I have had to sit up & some I had to lie on pillows & quilts raised very high at the head to keep me from chocking. For 4 months I have had to sleep on the right side it is very tender almost raw sometimes it gets numb all over from being on it so much, but now I can lie on by back sometimes so as to rest the side. It seems so lonesome without a bird. I had some strawberries last week. I stayed at home Decoration Day & visited with the doctor; but it is no good of you talking about work & going anywhere to me as you must know it is an impossibility when I am nearly dead. They have tried to get a girl; Edie is getting poor doing so much. R. Cass says it was not him that told the lies about me & says he is willing to go with me to the folks & fight it out, but then he knows I cannot go any way. I am about sure it wasn't W. Thorn as he was always a friend to me though I didn't agree with him about things. This doctor will not allow one to be troubled or annoyed about it any more, as in a few minutes it would undone the good he has done & then he would give me up. I am sorry if I judged Carr wrong; but that is what was told to me several times; but there's no doubt it was made up at 2 houses not far here to injure me which I shall never set foot in again if I can help it, do you blame me? No doubt they thought it would come out & laid it on the boys & made me think hard of them & be unfriendly too; oh it was wicked anyway whoever told it to suffer for lies. We have had a thunderstorm it __?__. No the frost didn't hurt anything here.

22

Well I must conclude now if you make this scrible you have this or [none?] at all as I tremble so & can't write any better any more it is hard work to write at all as it tires me so.

Gertrude

I am glad you and Willie keep well its one of God's greatest blessing to be thankful for; my feet swell so at times that I can keep no decent shoes on. Joe's grave must look nice now.

23

Letter from Gertrude to Theresa.

Montezuma Iowa
July 18th 1884

Dear Theresa
Perhaps you think I don't want to answer your last letter but I was not able to. I am now so weak that I cannot sit up much. I lie on the lounge most of the time & am not able to use the hammock at all, I scarcely ever wear any shoes any more, they say I am better but so weak & will get no stronger till cool weather. I get so tired of everything & long for change of food & reading & everything. It is with a sad heart that I write. Edie was taken real ill Sunday noon we thought she would die right then, it was terrible, two doctors were with her 3 hours; she soon was better has to keep still all she can, yesterday she had a sick-head-ache, but in the night Gurd came and said she was ill again but he had brought her through it; & today she is somewhat better though weak & tired. What we will do I know not. My birdie is a splendid singer; he is brown with deep yellow brest, does not eat anything only seeds & grasses & egg. Gurd is sick & so is the baby.

Arthur is married

Gertie

[NOTE: Gertrude Chatfeild died one month after this letter was written]