Friday, February 27, 2015

Letters As History: 1885

1885 Letter...a peek into the past!

Here is one of the envelopes  that I purchased at Packard's Stamps and Rocks some time back.  It was in my pile of very interesting envelopes . When I got home I realized that  it had a letter in it!  This was written in  a town a couple hours from where I live, Martinsville, VA.  It is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The sender is the wife of Mr. Wythe M. Peyton , Esq.  He , the receiver of this pencil written letter is an attorney -at- law, in Martinsville.  Evidently there was some outbreak of infectious disease that claimed an acquaintance's  (Mr. H) children .  Mrs. Peyton, evidently had been continuous contact via the mail by her remarks.  This reminds me of the scene in Jane Austen where Marianne is sending John Willoughby several letters a day in Bath.  

Interestingly, after expressing concern for Mr. Peyton's safety and interest in him returning home as soon as possible, she switches gears to the dress that is not trimmed properly and the missing basque!
Then all the domestic goings on...all in this simple letter!  What a peek into the daily, mundane life of a family in the 1880's.  

For the philately inclined...I loved seeing  these hand canceled stamps...Does anyone see anything else that I am missing?  





These dried flowers were found it the letter...over 130 years ago.

April 4th 1885



April 4th 1885
My dear Husband:

You can’t imagine my delight when I received your note yesterday evening but I can’t keep from feeling uneasy about you  knowing your great kindness to people who are in distress; Have you been to Mr H’s house?  And where  were his children buried?  I do feel  so sorry for the family but hope you will not expose yourself that you may without danger come to see us soon.  I hope you can come this evening if you think safe as Aunt A  has invited Annie Watkins who is at Mrs Matilda Penns to come here this evening where her sister Jennie will meet her.  Please accept many thanks for the things you sent me; but I could not wear my dress as Lucy forgot to send me the basque and the overshirt is trimmed entirely different from the model we selected and promised to trim exactly like it; please send or bring the basque this evening as tomorrow is Sunday.  The children are well and continue to wish you were here to enjoy the nice things.  Loulie was delighted to get her basket and send you many thanks for sending it.  Preston walked close to me just a minute ago and said “tell Pa  I am very much oblige to him for writing to you , but I want him to come to stay with us.”  Please excuse writing my pencil is so short.  I send  Miss Lucy A the measures for Loulie & Preston.  Aunt S sends many thanks for your messages and says you must come down when you think it is safe for the children.  (With truest love and kisses from Loulie, Preston & Your fond Wife)
G. W. Peyton


I hope you have enjoyed this letter as much as I have.  I am currently trying to reach the historian from Charlotte County Historical Society to see if they can tell me what infectious outbreak was occurring at this time.   Just a bit of detective work!

If you visit any antique stores, poke around in their envelope boxes, and ask them if they have any old letters.  We can learn much from the past.

Write Letters,
Write Often...someday someone might be blogging about your little letter a century later!

Lady Pamela



8 comments:

  1. I love letters like this. I like finding out about the people which makes the letter even more precious. Your Wythe Munford Peyton, Sr. was a memeber of the Sons of the American Revolution. Sadly he passed away just four years after he received this letter from his wife, Ellen Gertrude nee Williams.

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    1. Oh! Thank you Anna! I did do a search on the internet, but really came up empty-handed! Please share with me how you tracked this down! I am really interested! Good Job!!!

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  2. I'm a keen genealogist and found some information on a site called "Find-a-grave" where you can view the headstone of Mr. Peyton. The other information came from Ancestry.com Letters like the one you shared are treasures to genealogists, I have a translation of a letter to my 2nd great-grandfather from his sister in Germany and it's such a wonderful glimpse into their lives.

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  3. Old letters are the best treasures. I love collecting them, although, I don't have any this old.

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  4. Goodness! I just read this on Google+. I enjoy old letters. They reveal much about how we change culturally over time. People often mentioned the weather and economic circumstances in their letters. They were less informal too. My how we have changed. :)

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    1. I'm so glad that I am not the only one out there who enjoys peeking into the lives of others (even if they are strangers to me...) I find such a connection. They were real people with real problems...trying to deal with life, just as we do.

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