Lincoln, July 18th/58Dear Friend:
No, I do not think, nor have I ever thought, that you would try to influence me in my religious views, nor indeed any other—I have too much confidence in you to ever entertain such an idea. If it seemed any way strange for my parents to speak of it you will please attribute it to their anxiety for my happiness. Often I tell mother she worries herself too much about her children, that she takes trouble when there is no necessity of it. Her whole life and happiness seems wrapped up in her children. That is one reason why I would like to be near her if it was convenient and pleasant for you, but I would not for anything try to influence you to leave your place unless you would rather do so. You might not like this country and then I could never forgive myself for persuading you to move. I know I can be happy with you almost any place and wherever you are contented I will be.
Yes, I am young and fear I am too young to take so great a responsibility. No doubt you will find imperfections in me you do not think of now—but perhaps you will have more patience to bear with me than if you were two or three years younger than you are. I do not know how much older you are than me (would like to though). I will be 18 the 25th day of this month.
Some time next fall will suit me as well as any other if it does you, but if it was not that we live so far apart and see each other so seldom I would certainly be for postponing it until I was older and more experienced. As it is, I am always uneasy about you and if your letters do not come quite as soon as expected I cannot rest until they do come. Perhaps I am foolish to be so but cannot help it. I am telling you all my thoughts but think I have a right to now. Perhaps, you will not like to be troubled with them though.
I ought not to expect a letter once a week. You have been very punctual, more so indeed than I have been. When it is convenient, I would like to have one, but when it is not, do not trouble.
Of course I had my miniature taken for you. If my parents want one, they can have another taken any time. How often have I wished that I had always lived in one place, but I have never had any place that I could call home but a short time. The longest I ever lived in one place was Posey Co. and you know that was not very long.
Yesterday was a great day in Lincoln. Stephan A. Douglass, the democratic candidate for senator was to speak. He was there but he was so hoarse from speaking the night before that he did not address the crowd. Lincoln, his opponent was there also [see note 1]. Dan Rice’s show was there. They said it was the largest crowd ever collected in Lincoln. We have a shower nearly every day. I fear there will be a great amount of sickness here this summer and fall. It certainly has every appearance of a sickly season; I do hope we will escape this time as we had so much sickness last fall.
Most Truly yours,
I had forgotten to say that your religious views are known to me and if they were not it would make no difference. If you wish to write anything on the subject you can do so, I do not require it. You know what I said in relation to that matter when you were here, I want everyone to think just as they please on that and every other subject.
If more was conveyed than was intended by my parents’ letter, it was owing to the cause referred to before and not to any want of confidence in you.
July 28th, 1858Dear Friend:
Yours of the 18th was received yesterday and I was much pleased to get it so soon. I fear I have been hasty in wishing you to write every week. Perhaps it will trespass too much on your time and attention; if it does, do not fail to inform me as it will make no great difference if you do not write so often.
The rose you sent me is certainly faded but it still retains a portion of its fragrance and it makes me happy to think when we are separated you still remember me and send a flower now and then.
Please do not take the trouble to bring a dog along out here; of course, you know I was only joking about it.
I was truly pleased to learn your friends at home know of the arrangement between us. I thought perhaps they did, but did not know for certain. I thought it was not possible for you to be coming out here and no one suspicious there was something going on.
We are in the midst of our hay harvest now and your humble servant is engaged in the very delightful occupation of making “pizen things” [see note 2]. We have a shower every day or two so they do not make much progress. I think they will be done in a few days, and I will not be sorry.
I was much pleased with the description of your childhood in your last letter. It does seem you have such command of language, it is so easy for you to express your thoughts; your words flow along like water. It is not my gift, if gift it might be called. I often wish it was. Do not think this is said to flatter for it is not; it is just what I think. Perhaps I am too much given to saying what I think. Sometimes I fear I am.
You must not expect very long or interesting letters but I will promise to do better next time if I can. Hoping you received my other letters and miniature, I will close for the present.
Most Truly yours,
Lincoln, Ill. Aug. 1st 1858Dear Friend:
August 1st! How the weeks fly I hardly know where the summer has gone and it has passed so pleasantly, too. A letter once a week has been a great destroyer of time. I hardly get through thinking of the contents of one until another comes. I fear it is too pleasant to continue long.
I believe I do appear older than I am; almost all of my acquaintances tell me so, but I fear my actions make me seem younger than I really am. I grew up almost like a weed, so that at twelve years old many persons took me to be sixteen. I often used to wish I was small like other children of my age. I thought I appeared so green and awkward then and have not improved much yet. You talk and write as if you ought to be quite as old as you are but you look much younger [see note 3].
I thank you for the nice ring you sent me; it is very beautiful and I will wear it for your sake; indeed everything you have given yet is beautiful and in good taste. I feel that I am not deserving the regard you have for me, that I am not worthy of it. I hope you will never regret the step you have taken; that you will always think of me as you do now.
You wish to know what I would prefer your business to be as if it was my place to decide what it should be. When you were here you said you did not like farming. I certainly would not follow any occupation I did not like if I were you. It will be immaterial to me what your business is so it is honest and I know it will be for you would not engage in anything that was not. I do not know anything about your business or what would be the most pleasant for you to engage in. What ever will be suited to your feelings and disposition will be perfectly satisfactory to me; it can all be summed up in a few words, do as you please.
If our marriage is to take place next fall, I would some rather it would be near the 19 or 20 of September, though it makes no great difference to me and if that is sooner than would suit your convenience, you can let me know. It may be very important to you when it is and it is not at all to me. I only named that month because you said when you were here you intended coming then. You seem to wish me to name the time but I would much rather you would. I would like to know the time if it is convenient for you to tell me soon.
Yes, more is made of a profession than the subject deserves. I have been taught to believe that sincerety without profession is far preferable to profession without sincerety. Many who marry in their own church are far less happy than others who marry out of it.
I think your “industrious spells” last a long time. They are like mine, I am “industrious by spells” but those spells are almost all the time on me I see so much work to do that must be done; I am very seldom idle and I guess that is pretty much the way with you when you are at home. I believe I could get along very well without working very hard if I did not have it to do but I could not live perfectly idle.
If your thoughts are ever unpleasant to me they will be what they never have been yet. Sometimes I fear mine are not very pleasant to you, some of them at least. I will try and send you a flower some time if I can ever draw one I think is well enough. We have no flowers in our yard this year, it has been such a bad season the seeds all rotted in the ground.
I believe I cannot think of any more nonsense to write so I will close.
I remain most truly yours,
August 8th 1858Dearest Friend:
It is Sunday again; no doubt you will think I always write on Sunday. Your letters nearly always come on Saturday and that is my reason for writing on that day.
The weather is very warm; I think it is the hottest weather I ever knew. There has been no rain for four or five days and everything seems as if it would burn up or melt or something. I am writing in the woods about a quarter of a mile from the house, on a book seated on an old log and if it was not for the mosquitoes would have a nice time.
My health has been very good this summer or as good as it generally is. I never was very strong, as you know, and I regret that as much as anything else. Our family have all been well so far. My uncle’s family have had one case of chills but I believe they have cured it.
It does seem a long time since I saw you. How often I wish you were nearer so we could see each other now and then, but it is impossible to have everything as we wish. There is always something we would like to change, to have different, and the only way is to be patient and take things as they come but sometimes we are not content to do this.
If it is no trouble for you to write, it certainly is a great pleasure to me to receive your letters; indeed there is nothing could give me so much happiness (except your presence) as to receive a letter from you.
I do not think my letter of July 28th will be very interesting or entertaining as I was very busy at the time and wrote in a great hurry; I hardly know what I did write. I guess this will not be much better, but I will say as you did, will do better next time if I can.
Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain yours ever
Lincoln, Ill. Aug. 15, 1858Dear Friend:
It does seem that I ought to have something to write after receiving such a cheering letter as yours of Aug. 8. It is so pleasant to receive such long letters I wish they were all that long, but I ought not to expect it as I do not write such often.
I do think farming the most independent calling in the world; I enjoy it the most. I do love a quiet retired life. True, it requires a great amount of hard labor, there is no occupation but what requires labor of the head or hands, though it does make more work for the women than any other business I believe, but if you conclude to be a farmer, I will try to do my part as well as I can. Of all things, I love to live in the country away from the hurry and bustle of a town or city. I have tried both and would always prefer the country.
It will suit me just as well to start away from home at that time as to wait longer; I can be ready then just as easy as to get ready afterwards. I shall not feel that I am leaving home never to see it again. I know I shall see my friends all again, so I would just as soon go then as any other time. I shall certainly have the wedding private; that is, there will be no one here except what it will be necessary to have, if it suits you so I mean. I never did like to see a crowd at such places and as there is no one in this country will know anything about it there will be no feelings hurt.
I do not know much about politics and would like to know less. I do not read political papers but hear it talked enough. Father and Uncle Louis are continually on that subject and no other, until I get so tired of it I wish to never hear of it again. I believe they are what are called Douglass Democrats. Uncle is very much interested at this time about getting a man in Lincoln elected sheriff, a particular friend of his. He spoke in Mt. Pulaski yesterday; in fact he does nothing but electioneer all the time. (Uncle, I mean). [See note 4.]
It is not any trouble for me to write now. I am happy to have the chance to write every week. Whenever I get so busy I cannot write, will let you know.
I was much amused at your description of Bob Murphy. I expect he is a live curiosity. Such customers are generally hard to get rid of.
It certainly is a great curse to be a worshipper of gold. I see so much of that here, everyone is for himself. They think of nothing but money. Several girls I have become acquainted with, whose fathers are what the world calls wealthy, cannot write a letter fit to be seen and can hardly spell their own name. I often think of the old man’s advice to his daughter; he says “be sure an never marry a poor man but remember the poorest man in the world is one who has money and nothing else.”
This is a very pleasant day, there is wind enough to make everybody feel pleasant and cheerful. How I do love such summer days, I could almost wish them to last always. I am positively ashamed of the letter I wrote last Sunday, it was such hot weather I could not write or think or hardly get my breath, but it is much cooler now and I do not think we will have any more such intensely hot weather this season, hope not anyhow.
You cannot imagine how much happiness it gave me to know that your friends were pleased with your arrangement. They know so little about me I feared they would think you had made a poor choice. I cannot tell what they will think when they are better acquainted, but I sincerely hope they may never have cause to think different.
Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain
Mirinda PiperJohn Andrews
Aug. 22, 1858Dearest Friend:
Another week has rolled around, is gone never to be recalled. Nor would I recall it if I could. Not that the week was fraught with sorrow or regret, for it was certainly very pleasant. The anticipation of anything is said to be more pleasant than the reality, but I cannot think so in this case. I have no doubt but that we will be much happier when our hopes are realized than we are now. Yes, I also have trembled when I have thought what may happen in the intervening weeks, for I know how many unseen dangers may lurk in our path, how many secret enemies we may have that we are not aware of. But there is one thing that you may know, come what will, you possess my undivided affections, that there is no other one in the world that I would be willing to have occupy the place you are about to in relation to me, and I firmly believe I am regarded by you in the same light, and therefore nothing could make me think you had changed in your feelings, but your own words.
I do not know how it will seem not to expect a letter but I guess it will be all right after awhile. I shall always preserve your letters with jealous care as the most precious mementoes. I can repeat nearly all of them in my own mind, I have read and reread them so much. I intend to keep them as long as there is any of the paper that is not worn out. I shall not regret the nonreception of a letter so very much for I have always thought a visit was far better than a letter and of course, when I am always with you, will not care about them.
Please tell me what day you will be here and be sure and give yourself plenty of time, for if you do not come as soon as you say you will, I will be uneasy for fear something has happened to you. The chills are very prevalent here now and it is the very kind of weather for the ague, very cool nights and hot sun in the day time.
I cannot think of anything more to write just now, so I will close for the present.
Most truly yours,
September 2, 1858Dearest Friend:
You will be disappointed at not receiving this at the usual time, but if you have not caught the chills I have. When your last letter came I was quite sick but I am most well now. that is my excuse for not writing sooner. I did think the 19th would be the most convenient time for our wedding but owing to some reasons that I can better explain when you come, have concluded to have it on Tuesday the 21st and we can start on the next day, Wednesday, and as you know about how long it will take to get there, you can make your arrangements to suit. I do not know of any place on the route that I wish to stop at on the way. Don’t be uneasy about me; I am nearly well, but as I am not strong yet, they will not let me write any more than is just necessary. I shall await your coming with anxiety.
I remain yours as ever,
[Ernest wrote to his children:] They were married on September 21st, and they went at once to Farmersville, Indiana, to live for a time. But the farm there was sold the following winter to be turned over to the buyer, March 1, 1859. So they went to Lincoln to visit for a week and your grandfather then went to DuBois to build them a house. Your grandmother remained with her parents for three weeks. In the meantime, she wrote as follows to her husband at DuBois, Illinois.
Lincoln, Ill. March 15, 1859My Dear Husband:
Perhaps you will not be looking for a letter from me so soon, but I want to hear from you so bad I could not help writing. I hope I shall receive a letter from you soon. I felt very bad and lonely the night you left but I slept tolerably well. I have nothing to write to you but to tell you how bad I want to see you and you know that anyhow.
I do hope you had a pleasant trip. How I wished I could go with you. I know it will not be very long till I see you again but will seem very long to me. I count every day until it is time to go to you. Do write to me very often and tell me how you are getting along with your work. I hope you will have pleasant weather for it.
Tell me whether you have heard anything from the sick folks [see note 5] and whether they have started for Wisconsin yet. I am quite well now. If you get a stove before I come I would some rather you would not get a very small one, but you can do just as you think best about it.
I am your loving wife,
At the end of three weeks, your grandmother could stand it no longer and went to DuBois.
Seventy years later.
April 8, ’28.Dear Ernest:
Your letter rec’d this morning. I was pleased to hear that you already had new clothes, for knew that if you took that trip East this summer, you would need them. The joke was on me, for I wrote the same request to Harry, and he informed me that he had just got them. Was glad to hear that Fred can pay for his home, for although he probably will be owing you and his mother-in-law on it sometime, it will be safe, and there will be no danger of a foreclosure if he should have some bad luck.
It is fine that you are to have a partner, for at your age you should get out of the office more. Also, that your business has increased to that extent that it can support two families. Harry is pleased too. I hope it will work out all right, that you will like the man, and that he will attract business.
Betty is pleased about her one hundred, said she would put it in the bank. She said, “But Grandma, why did you not get you some new furniture with the money?” I told her that I did not want any, have no callers now, but relatives. Have outlived all my old friends and the younger people don’t like to talk to deaf folks, when there are plenty to talk to who can hear. Do not think can possibly live much longer, for am much weaker than a year ago, and there is no use leaving a lot of furniture no one will want. My old stuff can be burned or given to the Salvation Army if they will take it. This is not gloomy, shall be glad to go. Do not want to live to be as old as Chauncey Depew. [See note 6.]
Monday 9thI rather looked for you and Vinnie to drive out yesterday and make us a call. Looked for you for two Sundays before, now shall quit looking and likely you will come. The weather was disagreeable yesterday, with some snow on the ground, but this morning is fine with snow mostly gone. Last evening, Mamie walked over here with Harry, and I was so glad to know that she could. The girls came over. Ted and Betty were here and we had a pleasant time. Charles brought the Ford over, and took his mother home. He will go back to Madison tomorrow. Was glad to hear that Helen’s family are well again. Betty’s children started to school this morning. The whole family went to church three times yesterday.
Love to you both,
One week later we laid her to rest.
1. The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 were still a month away at this time. Abraham Lincoln had challenged Stephen A. Douglas for one of the Illinois U.S. Senate seats. They debated each other seven times from August through October. Lincoln lost the election, but the debates gained him national prominence, eventually leading to his election to the United States presidency.
2. “pizen things”: A pun in common use at the time: “pies and things” for the harvesters to eat.
3. John was nine years older than Mirinda.
4. Louis Dillworth Norton was her uncle. He and his wife, Loucinda, had at that time five children. Two baby daughters had died. They lived in Lincoln, Illinois, where Louis was a practicing attorney.
5. The sick folks were John’s mother, Elizabeth Andrews, and her foster daughter, Ellen Hall, who both had typhoid fever. They recovered all right and moved to Wisconsin to be with John’s brother, Seth.
6. Chauncey Depew was a railroad attorney and then a U.S. Senator from New York. He died just short of his 94th birthday on 5 April 1928.
Family Notes: In her final letter, Mirinda mentions her sons Ernest and Harry, their wives Vinnie and Mamie, and Ernest’s son Fred. She mentions her granddaughter Betty, the daughter of her deceased son Charles. Betty’s husband was Ted. She mentions Charles, who was Harry’s son, going to law school. She also mentions Helen, Ernest’s daughter.