February 19, 1954 letter to Ambrose & Matilda Brown from Julia Allen

February 19, 1854

To: Ambrose and Matilda Brown

From: Julia Allen

Mostly an account of their neighbor Jacob Brown’s suicide. His mother found him hanging in the barn. Rachel is herself again.

February 19th 1854

I now take my pen to try to write to you again Ambrose, and Matilda, and Henry.[1] I have not took a notion to right before and now there is strange things to write about. Jacob Brown[2] is dead. He hung himself yesterday in their Barn, in the stable by his Horse. His mother[3] found him first. He went out in the morning with some grain in a dish to feed the fowls and was gone so long that his mother went to see what was the matter and there she found him dead. She run in to Ben Millers room and Ben was off to work so his wife run over two Sids[4] and he was gone out to the ______ mills. Then she went to Grangers and he was gone too so she went to Van Slikes. They was some of them at home so she got some help at last. Albert Pratt[5] had started to come here after some straw. He met Ikey(?) Wilson somewhere along by Charles Carpenters. He told him to hurry along for there was a man hung in Browns Barn. When he got there Granger and Vanslike was there too. They thought it wasn’t best to take him down till they sent for a Coroner but Albert persuaded them to take him down and carry him in the house. The blood was runing out of his nose and mouth too I think he said. Albert said he never had such feelings in his life after they got him down. The wind come up off from his stomach. He said he couldn’t help but think that he was comeing to life again. He took his linen to hang himself with. Albert says that his feet wasn’t more than three inches from the floor. He says he could reached the manger just as well as not if he had tried. Jim was up there towards night. He says that the old lady is most crazy. She says she had warning enough but didn’t think of any danger. She said that he had been to the Barn the most of two days this last week when she knew that there wasn’t any thing for him to do. She asked him what he had been at. He told her he had been busy. Friday evening he took the Bible and began turning the leaves. He begun at the fore side and turned clear through the book. One day he went up stairs and whilst he was up there she heard him make a strange noise. She tried to look up by the stove pipe but she couldn’t see anything was the matter. He come down pretty soon after that didn’t say any thing about it. Father[6] and Jim went up there today. Daniel Grandin was Coroner. Albert was one of the jurymen and Jim was one. I didn’t hear who the others was. Merryman was the doctor. Jim & Albert come hear when they got through. Mary[7] asked what they made out. They sayed they had made out that it was self murder and that was all that could be made of it. Father said there was no use of all that expence for nothing either. They had got him laid out before they come away. He had on his Cap and gloves, and he had on his overshoes over his Boots. The doctor said that his neck wasn’t broke it was bent over to one side considerable. Jim says he looks very natural now. They found some writing in his pocket. It said that such money belonged to Reynolds at Pultneyville. They searched all over the Barn to try to some other writing or something else, but they couldn’t find any thing. Albert says that they didn’t look amongst the tin in his Cart but it is no ways likely that he would left any thing there. Ward says that he heard someone twiting him about the Chains up to the Ridge the other day to Election. He is to be buried Tuesday at ten oclock, the meeting at the Methodist house to the Ridge, 22nd and he is buried there by Parsonses. His Father was buried there by Wards School house. Granger told Father it was so wet there that they didn’t like to bury there any more. Jim was in here Monday evening. He says that writing was in his trunk up stairs and not in his pocket and it was wrote in this way. You will find so many dollars in such a purse that belongs to _____ Anman at Pultneyville. Randolph Reynolds partner, Jim didn’t remember his name. It seems now that Ben Millers wife tells that she seen Jake go in the Barn and fasten the door on the outside after him. About half past eight in the morning, and about nine oclock, she heard the horse a makeing such a fuss but she thought Jake was cleaning out the stable. They think that he had hung himself then, and the horse new something was wrong. She said the horse whinerd and made a terrible fuss, but she didn’t think of any danger then you now. And then Mrs. Brown went in the Barn to feed the fowls about eleven oclock and didn’t see any thing of him, then after noon she went to look for him and found him dead. She screamed so hard that Bens wife heard her. She helped her in the house, and then went to Sids and to Grangers. They was to home there and Minerva went to Van Slikes and told them. He must hung there about five hours Jim says. Olin says he must of done it to get rid of trouble, and he has certainly now I think.

23rd The first day of February Father bought two Calves of a Pulman, and Cal and Major drove them home. Father went to Tomas Harbertsons and got Ruth Fuller and her boy to work for us. We got my bed down that evening for me to sleep in after thist a spell. Thursday Ruth ironed after we got the work done up. I went to kniting whilst. After dinner she was sick and went to bed. She didn’t get up to eat any supper. Friday she got up and dressed Mother.[8] We made pies in the morning. Jim was drawing out wood for us and Father broke through the ice. He had to come in and put on dry cloths. Mary come down in the afternoon. Saraetta[9] & Frank pieced bedquilt. They made some noise when they played. Ruth begun a bedquilt for me pieced in sawteeth. It is out of Mothers dark calico dress, and my light one, that one that was so darnd mean about hooking up, you know, Till.[10] Saturday we got the work done pretty quick. Ruth put some pockets in a couple of aprons for Mother. I finished the other stocking of Fathers. Pauline and Sarah come here about eleven oclock, staid till after supper and then we went up to Jims and staid all night Sunday when Moll got her work done up we went down there all of us. Ruth didn’t fetch her things when she come. We told her we was most sorry that we spoke to her about comeing now Mother had got so smart. She said that needn’t make any odds. She said she didn’t see as she could stay unless she could get a place for her girl, so I believe they concluded for Moll to take Laurie and Ruth to work here, or try it a spell. After we eat in the afternoon Jim and Moll and I and Sarahetta went and took Pauline and Sarah home. It snowed. Monday they went down after Laurie, and Ruths things. Afternoon Borodail and Tindle Calhoun was here to borrow money. I don’t know how much they got. Tuesday we washed. Ruth seen to the dinner she baked beans. Father went to the Ridge. He got a letter from Sarah. They was as usual. She was very sentimental about things. Wednesday Ruth cut out some shirts for Cal. She said she would make them, but she had got so much to fix for Laurie to get her ready to go to Jims. I told her I would make them, so I asked Mother if I could go to Jims. She said yes. Just then father come in. He said Mary told me to tell you to come up there and stay all night so I put out. Thursday Jim and Father went down to Blosses, and Father bought a new milch cow. They brought the calf home and then killed it. That was _____ Friday I helped Moll iron and she fried some cakes. We got dinner early and then we went down home and I fixd(?) up and we stopt for Pauline and then we went to Phebes a visiting after so long a time. Pheb she took care of Jeddy[11] whilst we went a trading. I bought a Deloine dress one and ten a yard and some cloth for a quilt border, and a money purse, and some darning needles. Moll she got some notions. Dan says that they shall come to see you when they get out west. Pheb says if they board next summer she shall come and stay a week with you. They are a comeing to Otsego in the County of Alegan. Jim come after us. In the evening we made to visit to Parsonses. When I got home there was two little girls in my bed so I had to go in the north bed room to sleep. I didn’t get warm till morning. Saturday I didn’t get up till they had got most done eating. The girls was basket pedlers. I didn’t do much of the work. I finished Cals shirts. Laura hemed the flaps to one. Mother was real smart Sunday. Sid and Sammy[12] was here and eat with us. He don’t talk one word yet. Moll and Jim was here in the evening. Laura went home with them to live a spell. Monday Ruth washed. I have got cold a real old he one. Father went to the Ridge. He got some hard soap, and some Pictens. Mother is catching cold. Cal went to school. Frank he plays horse as much as ever Henry did, and talks more. I heard father tell him he would give him a dollar if he wouldn’t talk so much. John was in here. He said he was going to start for the west tuesday. He is a going to take Cape.[13] I thought he needn’t fret himself about Cape. I wondered Till if you would tell him what you said you would. Moll said no, I hoped yes. Tuesday we had fowls. Ruth made a Potpie and baked bread. I didn’t do anything but make the beds, then I to mending fathers jacket. Our colds no better very fast. Ruth is another Dr. Fuller. She said I must make a sling so i made a half a glass full and asked her if it was right. Now go long to bed she says and I’ll fix some. So she made ever so much more red hot. Wednesday I didn’t help do any of the house work. I worked on my dress shirt some. Jim and Father went to some kind of election. Moll come here. Laura went to school. Mother is hoarse. Thursday I didn’t do much. Ruth does the work firstrate. If it wasn’t for her boy we couldn’t have any one that would do better. Friday she ironed. I didn’t iron but a few things and we had a big wash. Mr Crum drove a steer here and father give him fourteen dollars for him. Ruth cut out my dress and worked some on it. Mother is some better. They have got a new medicine to Pultneyville. It is called Chloride de Calcium, or water from the Artesian well Canada. It is found in the solid rock 550 feet. Ruth is takeing it for the salt rheum. It cures every thing. She has us take it every time she does. She says if I take it it will cure them spells. I tell her it won’t. Well she says your to blame if you don’t try it, so I spose I must. Saturday we churned three pounds and a half of butter. Sid started to go to mill and fetched your letter. I read it loud. There says I now i guess i shall go out there a great deal. Oh, Father says I _____ for a chance for you to go the other day. Where says I. With Dan and Pheb, he said. They was a going to start the first of May, and he thought it would be a good time to come in the spring. I seen through him. He thought I would be ready to come back in the fall. He didn’t say it though. He took Mother up to Jims, and then he took Ruth down to her Fathers. She was a going there to make a visit the next day after father went after her to Toms. He took the Acordien down to Albert Todd to tune up right. He lives there by his Fathers. Father went to Higginses and got me some worsted for to work the roses to my quilt, and to Renyolds and got a bottle of that water. It was a dollar a bottle, quart bottles. We take one spoonfull of the water and put in one quart of pure water, take three times a day. It is as strong as salts. Then Moll says, it tastes bad. Sunday Molls folks was here. Olin was here a spell. He had been to Joy to see a patient. Father and Jim was up to Browns you know. Monday I didn’t work I was lazy. Tuesday father and Jim went to the funerel. There was a great many there more than could get in the house. Father seen Tom Herbertson. He wanted to know if we would spare Ruth till next week. His wife had the measles and they her to do the work. He told him yes. It seems he went after her mother the same day that she went home. He found Ruth there and took her so she won’t get that visit made yet. We have still times this week. Wednesday Sid bought 22 bushels of wheat of Father give 2 dollars a bushel. He is haveing it floured I believe. Thursday Charley Boradaile was here after some oats. Olin rode as far as the gate and then he went to see his patient. Mother asked how his patient was. He was comfortable. And there was the fish pedlar here. He took a chops and he let us have three dozen perch. What a trade. And Balch was here to see if he could get a load of straw, and bert Wells was here after straw. All come at once. Friday, when I got the ironing done I went up to Molls to have her show me a little about my dress. I found her on the bed about sick with a cold. Laura was ironing. Moll got up and combed my hair and by that time I had a bit of the desperit suss (?) and had to go to bed too so I didn’t do one stitch of work. Moll said she wasn’t a going to work so we poped corn and had quite a time. Saturday, Balch came after his load of straw and Jim drawed a load for Albert. Jim said that they didn’t have a mouthfull of fodder hardly besides the straw he took. Charley went to Joy and found your letter for us, But his father got home before he did. He says that he wrote to you after he bought Calf went home to make a visit so father and Mother and me was alone. I milked the new cow. Sunday, Jim and Moll and I went to Johns to see the folks. Rachel said she was sorry when John told that he had bought but she says she will try and make the best of it. John says you was real homesick Till, but you mustn’t be. Father says that I had better come out with Johns folks when they move and comfort up Tildy a little. Now if you think it will comfort you any I’ll come, But I think it will be poor comfort, yes I do.

Monday, Sid and Sammy was here. They come to fetch the bags home. He says that wheat isn’t but 14 shillings a bushel now so father hit the nail on the head once. Cal come home this forenoon. Jim is drawing logs to mill. It rained and snowed a little so that it made a crust, and they can slip around with sleighs a little, but we haven’t had any sleighing this winter. Father hurt his foot some today. A stick fell on it. Tuesday, Mother is some sick at her stomach she says. Ben Atwater was here after some oats for Boradaile. Moll is here this afternoon. Sid said yesterday that Doc and Jane Granger started for the west last week. Father said if we had knew it I could went with them then so it seems that he wants me to go the first chance. Till, you wrote that Ambrose said you and Henry might come next fall. Now if you will come and stay all winter if mother lives till then I will come with Johns folks or else with Dan and Pheb and stay till you can come. Ruth hasn’t got back here yet.

Julia Allen

Tuesday evening. I was going to try to finish this letter. We are all as well as common except Colds. Jim has got a lame wrist, but it is geting better. Jedy is not as fleshy as he was in the summer. We weighed him this afternoon and he weighs 19 pounds. Now Matilda I thank you a great many times for them things. Sarahetta makes a great fuss about sleeping with Laurie. She says that she breathes at her, and Laurie wakes her and tells stories for her, and yet she does not like to sleep with her. Johns folks are all pleased about going to the west. Father says he thinks Rachel is not verry well pleased. Rachel laughs at John some about giving more for his land in Michigan than he got for this here. And now about Uncle Stephens[14] folks. We have heard often enough, but have all forgotten whear it is. Matilda Julia is in a great quandary about going west. She says she does not feel right about going and leaving Mother. If there should any thing happen she should never forgive herself for leaving and I tell her to go. Perhaps it will be for the best. I think they would be glad to have some good help when she gets back.

Goodbye

Mary M Calkins

[1] Ambrose and Matilda’s son, Henry Brown

[2] According to the 1850 Census records, Jacob Brown was a neighbor of Matilda’s and Julia’s brother, Sidney

[3] Mercy Brown

[4] Julia’s brother, Sidney Allen

[5] Husband of Emily LeRoy (daughter of Julia’s aunt, Phebe Pearsall and Stephen LeRoy)

[6] Jedediah Allen

[7] Julia’s sister, Mary (Allen) Calkins

[8] Mary (Pearsall) Allen

[9] Sarahetta Calkins, daughter of Julia’s sister, Mary (Allen) Calkins

[10] Nickname for Matilda

[11] Mary’s son, Jedediah Calkins

[12] Sidney Allen’s son

[13] Ambrose and Matilda’s dog, Caper; see footnote #17 from December 1, 1853 letter

[14] Stephen LeRoy, husband of Phoebe Pearsall, who was Julia’s aunt

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