As is my custom for many years, each Christmas season I share a story that I have written just for you. I hope you will enjoy this one.
A LETTER FROM MARY
Christmas would soon be coming and Elizabeth wasn’t particularly cheerful this year. Her only daughter had married ten months ago. Oh, this was a joyous time for the family; Mary had looked so beautiful, absolutely radiant in her homespun dress. Elizabeth and her husband John approved whole heartedly of their daughter’s marriage. Joseph was a fine young man from a good family; hard working and totally devoted to their daughter. He was from good stock as it was said and no one had anything bad to say about him.
But, Joseph and Mary didn’t tell her parents, or his in fact, that he had his heart set on moving to Missouri. Why he’d heard that the land there was cheap and good for raising crops. His friends had told him many tales of being able to stake out a large acreage for close to nothing and Joseph got the wanderlust. So, Joseph and Mary rode off in Joseph’s big wagon with all the things they possessed in the world. Oh, it wasn’t much; a handmade table and some dishware, a few pots and pans, Mary’s quilts, their milk cow, the family dog and some chickens. But, they were young and nothing seemed impossible to them.
Thus, Christmas time 1810 just couldn’t raise Elizabeth’s spirits. All she could think of was her only daughter in a foreign land facing who knows what dangers. Every week when John came back from town, she eagerly asked if there was a letter from Mary. It took mails so long to get through; the Missouri Territory was almost unsettled where they were going and the postal office many miles away. Stage coaches didn’t run all the time and each time John shook his head “no”, Elizabeth’s heart sunk.
But this week, John was all smiles as he ran to the door of the cabin waving a letter from Mary. He burst through the door, pulling off his hat and boots with one hand and handing the letter to his wife with the other. Both pulled up their chairs close to the fireplace; John had ridden long and hard from town; a 20 mile trail through timbers and across streams.
With trembling hands, Elizabeth unfolded the paper and began to read.
John and Elizabeth Johnson Beaver Creek, KY
Dear Mama and Papa,
I’m sure you’ll be surprized to here from your doter. I’ve been meanin to rite earlier but Joseph and I have been so buzy. Joseph is a helpin me with my writin as Im not so good at it. The boys got all the educatin. We made the trip safely with just a few adventures. We didn’t see any Injuns at all and the wilde beasts staid back from the campfires at nite. We’re plain thankful that the wether held with no big rains since we had to cross a lot a cricks. Joseph got rite to work when we got here to Mizzuri. He met a few other fellows from Kentucky and they helped him build us a lovely cabin rite off. Mama and Papa you shuld see it. Thar is a big room with even a winder. I took one of my quilts and hung it over the winder so when its cold it keeps the weather out. There is a big fireplace at one end just like yours. I hung my big cookin pot on the hook. The table we brot with us looks truly nice. Joseph is a building sum chairs as ours fell right off the wagon when we crost the crick and washed away before we could grab em. Henry maid us a bed too; he took sum good strait bords and made the top and bottom and the sides then he started stringin ropes back and forth across those side bords. We made ourselves a mattress from goos feathers Joseph was able to trade for too of his chikens. Joseph even made our cabin really tall, it has a loft up above for when we start havin chillen of our own.
Joseph works mitey hard. He had most of the fields plowed up befor the wether turned cold. We got ourselves sum food put up for the winter, the rest we had to buy from the generl store. Next year Ill be a cannin up a storm. Our chikens are layin eggs; the cow gives us plenty of milk. Bowser, that silly mutt of a dog luvs to run in the timber, and hes a doggone good watch dog too. He barks if he heers any wild critters in the woods or if an Injun mite be sneakin around. We also have a cat she just walked up one day while Joseph was milkin Bessie and she decided to stay.
Im missin you both a lot and hope that soon you can pay us a visit. The trails are well traveled now and wuldnt take you more than a few weeks. I cant wate to see you becaus Joseph and I have a truly big surprise for you. And Im just achin to tell you so I am. Im in the motherly way Mama and Papa! Yes, Joseph and I are fixin to have a babe. It wont be too long now as the babe is kickin up a storm! He is due on December 25th. I met a sweet older woman who lives about 5 miles away who is a midwife. She’s comin tomorow and will stay with us until the baby is born. I jest no its goin to be a boy he’s so redy to be borne. Joseph and I are so happy and we will rase him rite just like you rased me and Joseph folks rased him.
Plese come and see us and if Josephs folks can come too we’ll have ourselves a wonderful time. You can take turns bouncin the babe on your nees.
Plese rite me when you have time and tell me all the news from hom. Tell us how the crops did this year; have you gone to any singings? How are my grandmama and grandpapa?
I promis to rite more often and I love you. I am your daughter, Mary.’
Later: Yes, baby Jacob made his appearance right on schedule and is now a scrapping young man. As the years passed, Joseph and Mary had ten more children, all fine looking and well behaved.
Elizabeth and John did get to make one trip to Missouri to see their daughter; the farthest trip they’d ever made. However, Elizabeth came down ill after returning home with consumption and she is buried on the farm place. John never remarried; he worked still on the farm at Beaver Creek. So Mary and Joseph packed their belongings once again and moved back to Kentucky. They lived on John’s farm and took care of him until he joined his beloved Elizabeth in the family cemetery. Joseph built another cabin with help from neighbors and friends and it looked just like the cabin Mary loved in Missouri. If you look closely, you’ll see one of Mary’s quilts, now a little ragged and worn, keeping the cold winds and rains out.
Merry Christmas from Sandi.
© Copyright 8 Dec 2011, Sandra K. Gorin