Monday, July 14, 2008

Bogg, 25 July 1866

This week's letter is written on black-edged stationery, which nearly always means a letter reporting a death in the family. Marion, age 23, still in bed, is writing about the death of her uncle James Glencross (1824-1866), brother of her letter's intended reader, John Glencross in Pennsylvania. James was heading the household at the Bogg, and doing the outside work before he fell ill from a "belling throat" (badly infected throat and ear)*, and died from "congestion of the Brain." This untimely death required some family rearrangements--another uncle, Joseph, will come stay a while to work and head the Bogg household as well as of his own family.

This is a six-sided letter, and I've inserted minimal paragraph breaks where they seemed necessary (Marion rarely breaks up her writing with punctuation, let alone paragraph breaks, but a little spacing does help in the reading).

*A bealing throat is mentioned in this 1827 letter by Thomas Carlyle; there's also a passage in Amelia E. Barr's 1886 novel The Bow of Orange Ribbon, where a character is mentioned "making a plaster for black Tom's bealing finger." The word "bealing" was noted in use in Appalachia as recently as the 1920s, used for the same meaning Marion uses it here (see Carey Woofter, "Dialect Words and Phrases from West-Central West Virginia," American Speech 2(8)(May 1927): 347-367).

Dear uncle I take the pen to write you A few lines to let you know how we are getting on and I have sad news to tell you this time but as God sees fit we ought to be willing to submit to his will for he knows what is best for us for I had little thought that the first letter I was to write to you was to inform you of uncle James's Death for although he was not very strong we little expected we was to lose him so "soon"

he was not very strong the whole Spring and he took A bad cold about two months since and he was just getting A little better when he took A belling throat and after that he had congestion of the Brain which is A very dangerous trouble and the Docters said it proceeded from A sore ear he has had for A long time he was confined to his bed for three weeks and I think the most of his pain was past before he took the bed for he never complained of any thing scarcly after he took the bed but one great blessing we ought to be thankful for that he was sensible to the last but it is A sore trial for we never was left without A head before and he was like A father to every one of us and I was to give you Aunt Nanies compliments and say she losed one head and now another but she thinks this is the worst and it will be the worst for us all and we are very lonly for he had always A cheerie word to every one.

I may let you know how things is to go on for me A while we had Mr. Kennedy over on Monday and he thinks it is best for Aunt Nanie to go on with the cheeses till Martinmas and uncle Joseph is to come to stop with us and look after the cows and out door things for we could not get on without A man to stay in the house with us and he is not very strong he was away in the North draining an he came home to the funeral and he is not fairly railed yet uncle Joseph family is all well just no and so is uncle Williams we had him here two weeks the time uncle James was ill, as for myself I am still confined to bed but I think I am A little stronger than I was in the winter all the rest here is wonderful and the busy time is commenced and when one has plenty of work it helps to keep up the mind they commenced the hay today and we have George White and my Brother James to mow it this year again and they will be very busy for A while all friends and acquatinces is well as far as I know but we dont know how soon A chance may come

give my kind regards to Marion and I hope by this time She is quite strong again for we heard she had been very ill since you last wrote kind regards to yourself and all inquiring friends pleas write soon and let us know how you are both getting on and I will add no more remaining your affectionate niece Marion Brown

now uncle uncle James had A line in the Bank and uncle Joseph says you have to send home word what claim you have and if the money is lifted you will look to him and not the Bank for your share of it and you must write soon and let him know yours, MB

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