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Personal Letters

"My great grandmother corresponded with a young girl in Bond County in 1865 and 1866. This girl's letters are so interesting. She mentions names of people, places, activities and events happening in those years. The "boys" she mentions are of course the ones returning from the Civil War." Mary Lens

October 22, 1865
Pleasant Mount
Bond County, Ill.

Miss Mollie C Miller - ever remembered sister as absent -

I now avail myself the opportunity of attempting to pen a few lines to you in order to answer your welcome and interesting letter which I received a few days ago. I am always happy to receive letters from my friends but yours was more gladly received than any I have got for some time as I had come to the conclusion that you had entirely forgotten us as you did not write for so long. I kept looking for a letter every mail from you but none came and I would often say to sister, And can it be that dear Mollie has forgotten us. But a few days ago there came a letter. On receiving it thinks I who can this be from, opened it as it was from friend Mollie that I had long been wishing to hear from. I assure you it was read with much pleasure and proved very interesting to us. Oh how happy we were to receive a few kind and affectionate words from you. As you know how pleasant and cheering it is to receive a few lines from an absent friend. Especially when from one that you esteem above others. How welcome are those epistles received from those we love and esteem. You cannot imagine the happiness your letter afforded me. I felt as though I had heard from a far distant sister and I hope you will not delay so long next time and let me hear from you oftener. Sister and I often talk about you and the good old times we have had together and we miss you in company when we go to meeting or Sabbath school. We see Mollie's seat is vacant. Can't you come back and join our happy number. Well Mollie, I have commenced this scrawl for the purpose of giving you all the news I can as I suppose it will interest you to hear the news soon from Bonds and hear from your friends back here as you seem to complain of not hearing from some of them but I doubt not but what you have some reason for complaining. We are all moderately well again although we have had quite a time of sickness this fall. Sister Malinda had the remittent fever. She was very sick but is now strong and hearty. I had the chills and fever. We were both down sick at once which was very hard on us but I have not had any chill for the last three weeks. I think I have got rid of them and feel glad of it. I feel much better and can eat till I nearly burst. Father is not well but is better today than he has been. Sickness prevails to a great extent throughout the neighborhood. I never saw it as sickly since we live here as it is this fall. There is scarcely a person but what is sick, has had their turn of being sick, but I hope that health will soon get better as cold weather is coming and I think that will improve the health. We have had very warm and pleasant weather so far. We have had two light frosts although they did not damage much. Crops are good and everything plenty even to the Ague - we have it plenty more than the bill calls for. Well fruit is not so pleasant especially apples is scarce. I fear we will not get any apple butter this year but never mind we'll spread our bread with lasses won't we Molly and eat when we've got it. Ha Ha Potatoes and sweet potatoes are very plenty. There is an abundance of wild grapes and hazel nuts. I wish you were here to go with us wouldn't we have a gay time going out grape and hazel nut hunting. We have put up about six gallons of grapes. We are going to have plenty of grape pies at the folks house this winter. Won't you come and help us eat them? Perhaps if you come and attend our family we will have some more cherry pie, ha Mollie. Do you recollect the cherry pie? You're right and I do and I shall not forget it soon. I wish we could all be together tonight as we were that night.

Well Mollie perhaps you did not hear of the results of our Sabbath school celebration. I will now try to tell you all about. It cam off on the 10th of Aug and we had one of the best times you ever seen, it's beat the fourth of July all hollow. There was four schools met in the grove north of Mulberry. Our school was the largest school there. There was 8 wagons in our delegation all well laden. When we got up to the grove we all marched round to the stand two abreast and then each school had to sing a piece of music and march away again after each school had sang. Speaking commenced by Rev. Mr. Wagner. He delivered a very good and eloquent speech. After he closed his remarks, we were call on to sing again and then had a short but very appropriate address from Rev. G. W. Hymes. Then sung another piece and even dismissed to eat dinner. The after was spent in singing, talking, laughing and doing just as we pleased. Some were roaming through the woodland bowers talking of their pleasant hours. There was ten persons composed our choir of which sister and I were both members. I served as alto singer. Although we sung five pieces I will give you the titles of them, The Land of Beulah, The Land of Peace, The Crown of Glory, The Children's Welcome and We are Coming Blessed Savior. You better believe it come pretty near dashing my modesty to rise on The stand and face such an assembly as that was but I did it with much dignity and style. And our school received the praise of all for doing the best singing. And it was said we had the nicest banner. We had it trimmed with cedar, asparagus and all kinds of nice flowers and red, white and blue ribbon. I tell you it looked gay when had it trimmed. The motto in the one side was, "In the Name of God." We set up our banner on the other "The Hamburg Sabbath School." The choir wore wreaths on their heads that is the ladies and we all wore rosettes made and white and blue. I will send you a part of my wreath and pieces of my rosette. Well I believe I have written all the movements of that day. I wish you could have been with us I tell you we had a delicious time. I went there for a good time and I had it. Oh is it needless to say that I had my right purported and could have had my left reinforced had I desired it. Isn't that fun, don't tell anybody. Friend Mollie we have been having some good times since you are gone for about three weeks and had singing two, three and four times a week after that had prayer meeting twice a week in Hamburg meeting our Sabbath School every Sunday.  There was something going on all the time to attract the attention of the young but there has been no Sabbath school for several Sundays on account of sickness and there is less meetings around. So times have been somewhat dull and dead like. But wait till health gets better and we will raise up the times again if we do have to get some soda to raise it. Ha Ha Well Mollie I suppose you will think me a mischief when you read this letter if you do you will not think wrong for such I am. The youngsters around here have got so mean and mischievous that Bond County can hardly hold some anymore. You know they were bad enough when you were here but I believe they are now ten times worse. Well such is the character of youngsters an I say enjoy yourself when you can. I think anyone's a fool that wouldn't, don't you? I have attended three apple outings this fall, had parties at tow of them but did not have girls enough to have a good time. Girls are rather scarce here but boys by the dozens. There is about three boys to one girl, some of the girls have got married, others left the place, surely you will have to come back to attend the parties this winter or we will not have girls enough. Won't you come? I am glad to hear you have some pretty boys up there but I want you to be careful not to fall in love too deep with your pretty Michigander for fear one might accidentally steal your heart so you could never bring it back to this place. Take good care of that fair veteran. I hive him my kind regards. I suppose you can.

Now for some fun but I fear my pen will have to laugh so much that I cannot write a legible letter. Well Mollie the boys has all got back home at last. Won't the girls have a gay time now? I have seen them all I believe except Camper he is sick and he came home sick and has been ever since but I heard the other day he was getting better. Poor Ed he has had a terrible trial he pretty near went the trip. Yes and I was Uncle Pap. God bless his soul he had been here three times he was here yesterday a week. We had quite an interesting conversation with him. How pleasant it is to have a friendly chat with one of those cheering ones and talk of good old times we had. Farah is quite talkative he is the same Uncle Pap as he always was. He wears a high cavalry hat with big feathers in it. I tell you he more than struts. He can get on the right side of the fair sex bully for him. He now calls himself the Old Man so you will know his name should I mention it hereafter in my letters. I saw W. Bones twice since home but I could not see any kissing done when we met. He does not show his pretty mug very often down in our parts. The rest of the boys is well so far and know they look a great deal better more than wheat they did before they left. Hamburg can afford five young men. I will give you their names: Joe Rench, Mark McCollum, James Butterworth, David Jackson and William Nickle. Bully for Hamburg. I say it is more than coming and don't you wish you were an inhabitant of the town. Edwardes has moved out of it and Bill Renches has moved there they live on the lower end of Maine Street. O yes the old tavern stands there as usual to accommodate travelers as they pass along. I did not get the Hamburg Daily today yet so I can't give any more Hamburg news more than the folks down there is nearly all sick. Mr. Nickles family is all sick except the old ma is well. Han is very sick and Hamm still waits on Han before she took sick he went there about eight nights a week and tow or three times between that. He just more than went it. I think it likely that couple will make a match some of these days I hope so at least. Henry Tomkins waits on Eliza Jackson, David Edwards waits on Molly McKean. I believe I have told you all about the youngsters I will now tell you of a few weddings. Mr. Dan Rysend is married to Mary Rench, Marion Iman to Miss Louisa Rench and Tom Pritchet to Mrs. Rachel Wessel. They got married about three weeks ago. I was not at these gay weddings. O yes I forgot to say something about the favor you asked of me. I will try and take good care Bone and Camper that is if they wish me to. Perhaps they will prefer someone else if so you will have to excuse me. And you wish me to kiss some of the boys for you that I can do with much pleasure. I have not had a chance to kiss any of them since I received your letter but wait till the next party if I don't make their sweet lips suffer so help me bob. I will kiss them for you and me both. I'll have quite a time of kissing. I think I can perform all such favors you can ask of me. Well I think it is high time I quit writing such nonsense and try and write some sense for my pen is getting so full of laugh and mischief that it grins its teeth at every word I say. Ha Ha Well Mollie don't you want to celebrate another fourth of July as we enjoyed ourselves so well that day I believe I don't had. I had enough of fun that day to last me awhile. O such a time as we had is ridiculous. There is to be a big dinner in Greenville the first day of November for the soldiers of Bond. A big time is anticipated but I fear it will turn out like the fourth it will be more gus about it then dinner. I don't know as I shall attend it. I must tell you that my brother Henry cam home the first week in August and then brother John and Henry were both at home for a month we had fine times while they were here. Their visit was very pleasant to us all. I think its so pleasant for a brother or sister to return home after being absent so long but brothers has both left returned to college to finish their courses of education. We felt quite lonely after their departure. Brother Henry preached two sermons while he was here. I wish you could have been here to went with me to church. We had a protracted meeting in Hamburg the first week in Sept. that was a very good meeting. I enjoyed it very well. It lasted three days and nights and then it rained one night so that broke it up or it would have continued longer. There were seven that joined meting that time they are as follows: Han Nickle and Rachel Lucinda, Mrs. Harriet Baits, Lib and Janey Pritchet and Moses Abbot. There was four preachers attended that meeting. I think we will have another protracted meeting after awhile when health gets better. The dunkards had their communion meeting the first Sunday in this month. I did not get to attend it as I was sick at that time. It was quite close to us it was in John Noffsinger's home. We could hear them preaching if we did not see them. I heard some say that it wasn't much of a meeting. The 154th boys just returned home this evening before the big meeting. Don't you wish you could have been here to see them all. The boys is complaining awful that there is not enough of girls here. How will we have to mend the matter. I suppose we will have to send up there for some of your girls and Sallie Gillan and Margret is going to leave our neighborhood. They are going to move up near Mulberry Grove on Mr. Bronses place. I shall be sorry to see them leave this place as we are good friends together. I saw Sallie last Thursday she was well and full of fun. I have not saw Mollie McKean several weeks so I cannot tell you anything about her. I must tell you of a few deaths which has occurred lately. Mr. Emil Roberts died about three weeks ago of chronic diarrhea. He was at home when he died. I did not get to see him when at home but I heard some say that he was the poorest mortal they ever say. Joseph Kesslier's wife is no more and Mrs. Sam McAdow died some weeks ago last Wednesday. Jacob Rench and one of his children was buried in one day. His disease I did not learn. There is two , three and four funerals here nearly every week. Well Mollie you wished me to send a photo of mine. I am sorry that I cannot give you one in this letter but I have not got any at all now but intend having some more taken as soon as I get to town. I will then send you one in the next letter but I don't want you to wait sending yours just send it as soon as you can for I would like very much to have it. The room in my album for you is waiting patiently to be filled up. I return my sincere thanks to you for that wintergreen you were so kind as to send me I think a great deal of it I shall keep in memory of you and that it came from Michigan. If you have any cranberries up there please send me a berry as I never saw one. Well I guess it is time for me to quit writing for fear I will weary your patience writing so much this time. When you write I want you to give me all the news you can think of as that will be very interesting to me. Malinda will answer your letter in a few days but perhaps it go a week. She could not answer just now. I remain your friend and well wishing Mollie B. Miller write soon. Excuse bad writing composition and overlook all mistakes I send my love and kind wishes to you. Brother John requested me to send his kind regards to tell you that I just received a beautiful bouquet and a present. O how nice it is and how proud I feel with it. I wish I could send it to you. Sister Malinda is fussing to take a pleasure ride horseback. It would be a good joke if she would tumble off the horse. Jake would have to help her on again. Ha Ha

Well this is Monday morning and as blue as blue John. Ha Ha Will I kiss two young men for you last eve but will not give names no I would not tell you for a cent but of course it was I and sister Johnneys. I will enclose the kisses in the corner of this sheet to be sure they are as sweet as sugar candy. ha Ha My Johnny sends his love and best respects to you please accept them. Well I suppose you will almost get sick reading this letter but now I quit and say it is no use for me to try to give you all the news this time. I have a haversack full to tell you if I had room so goodbye dear friend. Farewell and be happy and don't weary my patience by delaying.

Pleasant Mound, Ills.
March 6, 1866

Miss Mollie C. Miller, esteemed friend

Having the Saturday work done and a few spare hours remain I will devote them to talking with you on paper. But O how happy I should be to once enjoy the personal appearance of you and have a chat together face to face. It would be much more preferable to me than writing. Mollie if I could see you I would have a three bushel sack full of news to tell you I assure you, we would not get lonesome for I have gas enough for anybody it often explodes into laughter ha ha ha. I received your letter about two weeks ago and was glad to hear from you as I had not had a letter from you for so long I had almost come to the conclusion you had forgotten me or perhaps some of those pretty boys up there had sheltered you beneath their wing. And since I received your last letter I think there is something of it but I cannot blame you for I say go it while we are young for when we get old we can't. I was happy to hear that you enjoy yourself so well it always affords me much pleasure to hear of persons enjoying life. Well may your cup of enjoyment always be full this life is all we have to live in this world why not enjoy it be gay and happy. Well Mollie I must tell you that I and sister Malinda took a visit to Ohio since I last wrote to you. We started here on the 7th of December and arrived at Gettysburg, Ohio on the 9th as that was our stopping place, I have two brothers living there. When we came to their shoe shop they did not know us, as we came so unexpected, to them. They knew nothing of our coming but O they were so glad to see us we were gladly received. We found our brothers, sisters and friends all well. Brothers John and Henry were not there when we came but as soon as they heard we was in there they came immediately to us, they were very glad to meet us there. Ah we had a pleasant time while we were gone. And attended a wedding while I was in there it was the marriage of one of my schoolmates. Mollie you better believe we had a big time there it was a glorious day for me it was a very large wedding there was about 40 persons attended it. They had a very nice set table. I never sat down to a nicer dinner than that was. I wish you could have been with me. Well I visited the school that I used to go to but did not meet many of my once schoolmates as a great many of them had got married and had families. Some were dead and gone, but those few that yet remained seemed to be glad to see me among them once more and they all wished that I could stay and go to school with them as I used to do. I would have been happy to have done so but could not. The old school room seemed as natural to me as ever it was a pleasant place to me. I loved to be within its walls and Oh I saw the playground where I and my playmates "sported" together a many a day. What a pleasant sight to me to behold the spot where many happy hours of my childhood days had been spent. I also paid a visit to my old home where we used to live. It looks very natural. I imagined I could see tow little girls sporting over the green hill like sister and I use to do but alas it was all imagination. The tow little sisters was not there as they was in days gone by. It was a pleasant scene to see once more my childhood happy home where many a pleasant day was spent.

Pleasant Mound
Bond County, Illinois

April 8th, 1866

Kind friend, Mollie being alone today and felling very lonesome I thought I would try and spend the time in trying to write to you in answer to a letter I received a long time since. Oh I am almost ashamed to write after delaying so long. Oh Mollie please excuse me this time and I will try and do better in the future. Well Mollie I scarcely know what to write to interest you we have very nice weather no it is warm like summer. Oh how happy I feel that Spring has returned. Oh I get out and take round the biggest kind you ought to see me you would think I was wild. Mollie I have got so mean and mischievous you would not know me anymore. I don't think but when we are young we ought to enjoy ourselves the best we can for when we get old we can't. Oh I have a gay time going to singing Mollie. We have singing here twice a week. I was to singing last night. I had a gay time. I come pretty near getting a fall. I tell you there was a young man there that took my eye. I don't know whether it was a fall I got or whether it was a sweet spell I had on me. I guess it was a sweet spell I had and often I get them. Ha Ha Ha Mollie we have some pretty good looking boys out here. There is more boys here than there was when you was here that I go for. Oh you ought to see him I tell you he is the one for me. Oh I must quit my nonsense it will never do. Now hurrah for something else what shall it be. You wrote to sister, Mollie, that you was married. Oh how that surprises me. I did not think that you would leave the single life so soon, but so it is young folks will marry and I don't blame them. The young folks around here is marrying very fast. Mollie I wish you much joy, happiness and prosperity and a long and happy life. I wish to thee that happy lot from care and sorrow free. That since thou hast become a wife thou mayest happy be. May Heaven crown and bless all your joys and fill you arms with girls and boys. Well I guess this will do for this time. Mollie you will have to excuse my letter this time for I have the headache so bad I can scarcely see to write. If you will answer this perhaps I can accommodate you with a more lengthy letter next time. Sister Mollie and Ann went to the Grove today to Quarterly Meeting, sister Nancy is very poorly she has the consumption. I was up to see her last week. Elene Taylor is staying with her now. Sister is living with us now her and her three children. I tell you our family is very large there is nine in the family now. The school Miss is boarding with us now it is Miss Violet Enloy. Mollie I am sorry I can't accommodate you with my photos in the letter but think I can in my next one. I intend going to town as soon as convenient. Then I will get them taken and send you one. I should be very happy to receive your photos and also your husband's photos if you would be so kind as to send it. I will close of this hoping to hear from you soon. May peace and happiness attend thy way is the wishes of your humble servant. Please excuse all mistakes write soon. Malinda B. Miller

I send my best wishes and kind regards to your husband and wish him a long and happy life, goodbye for this time.

Remember me to all who ask
For friends it is an easy task
And if you see in after years
These lines my hand has written here
Oh then dear Mollie condescend
And think that Time is your friend.

Pleasant Mound, Illinois
April 27th, 1866

Mrs. Mollie C. Bewly, Respected Friend

I am happy to enjoy the opportunity of a few leisure minutes in which to speak to you in answer to your kind and condescending letter which reached its destination a few weeks since. I was happy indeed to receive a letter from you. I am always glad to hear a few words occasionally from far distant friends whom I love and esteem and feel an interest in their welfare, but your letter contained some very surprising news to me that you had changed your pretty name. I was not aware that you intended to leave single blessedness so soon and enter into the happy state of matrimony. I was glad to hear that you enjoy your present state so well Mollie. I wish you would have told me some more of the beauties and comforts of married life as I have never had an opportunity of even having a peep at the glorious state of matrimony, it must surely be a kind of a hidden state that but few find it but I think you must have such a place in Mich. I do wonder if I could find it were I there. Well Mollie I will agree with you in thinking that it is pleasant. Ha Ha Well you spoke in the commencement of your letter that you felt lonely and lonesome. I did not think you would ever get lonesome having a mate to spend your house with. Why it seems to me that your time would pass so swiftly and sweetly away that you would scarce observe the fleeting moments as they fly. Well Mollie you have entered upon a new life in the season when all nature seems to spring into new life and now a good wish for you. May your life open into loveliness and beauty as does all nature in the springtime, may it bloom as the sweetly budding rose, its fragrance be love, contentment and happiness. May these never wither and fade away as does the rose but let them forever be with you as you travel hand in hand through the paths of life. I hope no trouble or sorrow will ever mar your happiness and enjoyment. May your life in happiness be spent attended by God's rich blessings given that when on earth you're called to part. Together may you meet in Heaven. I was much pleased with those pieces of your dress, you did not tell me which was your wedding dress but I took the dove colored to be it. I thank you for sending it as I would not have been pleased if you had not sent it. I think it very nice.

We are all moderately well except myself. I don't feel very well. I am suffering with a severe cold. Hope and wish this may find you enjoying good health. The weather is very warm and pleasant. Everything is growing nice. We have got our garden all made and we have lettuce large enough to use, how nice everything does look and grow behold the beautiful flowers that adorn earth's beauties. They have sprung forth in rich hues. We have some very nice flowers in bloom. I wish you could see them. I will send you a specimen of some one, a bleeding heart (a flower), a flowering almond and verbena. If you were here I would give you a nice bouquet to put in your parlor. The fruit trees is in full bloom. Oh how beautiful they appear. The cherry, plum and pear trees just look like a snow ball but the way the wind blows today the trees will soon be robbed of their blooming but then will come the golden fruits if nothing happens it. The forest trees will soon be robed in green. How pleasant to take a walk in the woods and see the little flowers peeping forth among the green grapes and listen to the merry songs of the birds as if to gladden and welcome the return of spring.

Submitted Nov 2013 by Mary Lens

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