Monday, August 25, 2008

Bogg, 15 April 1868

A change of address, here--this letter begins "My Dear Cousin," so Marion Brown (age 24) has begun to write directly to Marion Glencross (now 15 years old). She adds a couple pages for uncle John Glencross too. In this letter, we get more of Marion Brown's medical treatment for headaches and impaired speech--"fly blisters" (painful blisters raised on the skin by applying the irritating extract of certain insects), and "a cord" in the back of her neck....?

Marion's brother James Brown has married Agnes Kerr, age 19, a resident of the Bogg. There's also commentary on how hard Aunt Agnes works, and how quickly Marion Glencross might lose her "Yankee talk" if she visited Scotland.

My Dear Cousin

I received your Kind letter in due time and was very glad to see by it that you and my uncle was both well for what a blessing it is to have good health and when we have not health we may say we have nothing for we can enjoy nothing and nothing is a pleasure to us in this world. I was so proud over your letter for since I could not speak when I get a letter it is just like talking to yourself it is a great mis the want of my voice but what a blessing it is I have always my reason but our heavenly Father is always kind to us and gives us poor sinful creatures far more than we deserve I can not but say that I have had a sore winter and is not much better yet for I have such a queer stupid head I can tell nobody what it is like the Doctor says it is the nerves that goes from the spine of my back to my Brain that causes my head to be so bad. I have had on a good many fly blisters on the back of my neck and I always get some relief with them the Dr. is going to put a cord in the back of my neck now he thinks it will do more good as the blisters but perhaps the good weather will do me good now for the weather has a great effect on people that is not very strong and it has been a very changeable spring here

now I must begin to give you the news and what is going on about the Bogg. first of all how queer it was that I got your letter that day that my Brother James was going to be married. he was married on the third of April to Agnes Agnes [sic] Kerr. Your Father would know her she came to William Halberts to be nursed and she always stayed with them and now she is married she is just ninteen but she has always been a very solid young woman for she has been at the Bogg with us for six years she came first to herd the cows and just stoped on till she got hired for the long term as the saying goes. so you see there is nothing but changes. we don't know who will be our summer man yet for James goes about as dumb as a stick and has never said a word whither he will stop with us or not but Mr. Kennedy takes a good intrest in Aunt for he says there will never a wife come to live here as long as Aunt can do it all.

Dear Marion you told me all about your stock of hens I think we will just have about the same number as you and a good many of them is laying and we have two breeding swine and some shots and we have eight cows calved and I think we will have plenty of hay this year. we have two pets and one of them has a lamb James is busy getting the garding selved this weekend we got our corn sowen last week so you see the work is fairly begun for another year and they are going to be plainting potatoes at Brandleys this week they are a good deal sooner with them this year. now I think I have told you the most of the things that is going on just now.---

Dear Marion you think you would not enjoy a visit to Scotland much because you don't know much about the language but I think you would soon give over the Yankee talk if you was here now although you have only wrote one letter to me I hope when you are begun you will continue on and not be very long in writting again and I will close to you at this time hopping this will find you in good health I will say goodbye with kind love from your affectionate cousin Marion Brown

Dear uncle

As the saying goes long looke for comes at last and we were all wearing very much to get a letter from you but Marion is a good writter now and she must just write in your stead for your hand will not be very steady for writting sometimes. I am to give you Aunts compliments and say that she was wearing so much to hear from you that she dreamed every night for a week about you before we got your letter and I have to tell you that she has made out with the cows and had a little over to begin with again. Dear uncle Aunt has a great deal of work to go through to keep all things right and is not very strong at times but she is wonderful to but if it was not her spirit that keeps her up I don't know how she would do at all. Uncle Joseph has been working at Brandleys all winter and is there yet and all his family is well. And uncle William is draining Mains just now and his wife and family is all well. All friends and acquaintances is well here as far as I know just now, and I will write to you as soon as I know who is to be our summers man for James is not like Me for he takes a long time before he can speak his mind but I just say what I think and has done with it so now I must stop for it is nearly past time and with kind love from us all I remain your affectionate niece Marion Brown

pleas write soon

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bogg, 21 August 1867

[Image: Studio carte of Marion Glencross (1852-1919), as a girl, in a long dark dress with darker hash-mark trim and hair that's parted in the middle and possibly cropped?]

Back to the letters. This week, a long one--seven sides (the eighth is a short note from uncle Joseph Glencross to his brother). Again, I've added some paragraph breaks.

In this one, Marion is more explicit about her impairments than in any of the other letters I've transcribed here so far. She describes recent and long-lasting interruptions in her mobility, vision, and speech; at the time of this letter's writing, she hadn't been able to speak in about four months. She says she often thinks "we are the better of a crook in our lot." She also points out that it would be "a very different thing" if she lost her reason instead of her voice (which is perhaps her way of assuring the reader that she hasn't lost the former). We get more physical description of Aunt Agnes Scott here, too: she's "failing" and thin, "turning very small about the shoulders," but with a stubborn spirit and obviously very hard-working.

More news of the livestock and the neighbors who are leaving for America or getting married. Aunt will send some blankets and books over with David Williamson. And we get mention of "Marion's carte"--a photo of young Marion Glencross, age 15--it might be the photo I've attached to this post, above left. (That's definitely Marion Glencross as a girl, but maybe there was another young-Marion photo now lost?)

My Dear Uncle I have been longer then I expected in writting to you but I hope when this reaches you it will find you and Marion both in good health for what can we enjoy if we have not health and nothing in this world is a pleasure to us but we are the better of a crook in our lot some times or we would be apt to forget what we realy are.

Many a time I have thought that since I was close confined to the house, but I am very thankful to be able to say that I am a little stronger for when I wrote last although I am not able to go without a hold of some thing yet it is a great change from being close confined to bed and I would have written sooner but I have had very sore eyes for a long time but I am thankful I can see a little better this week for I felt very lonely when I could neither speak nor see have not could speak a word since April but amidst all our sufferings we have mercies too for it would have been a very different thing both for myself and everyone connected with me if it had been my reason instead of my voice

now I think I have given you a long account of myself and I will tell you about Aunt next she is wonderful healthy but I know a difference of her this summer she is failing she is turning very small about the shoulders now but she has such a spirit she will go through where many a one twice her weight would stick. And I was to tell you from her that she has got clear off for last year and she will let you know as soon as she can how she stands with the cows this year and she has five pigs and four shots and she is going to have them all away as soon as she can and she has one away this week that was 18 stones and she has two breeders and it will not be long till we have a lot of pigs again and that is an account of the swine and I think the cows has done very well as far as this year is gone. and they are going on with the hay if it keeps good weather they will son have done and I think all the rest of the things is going on as useal but there is a great want for although I have my brother here he is just like nobody beside my uncle but never ??ed with him before and that makes me feel the difference more.

Aunt has some things she would like very well if she could get them over to you there is some of uncles books and some other things and she has a pair of blue and white checked blankets she would like Marion to get them, David Williamson is talking about going away and if he goes we will get them with him, uncle Joseph has been speaking about writting but may be he will talk a long time befor he begins but he has been very well this hay time and he has got another addition to his family in July it is a daughter this time and her name is Agnes and all the rest of his family is well and uncle William's family is well but his wife had a still born son about three weeks since but she is wonderful well again and going about. there is not much new here just now but James Young of Knockenhair is going to be married to one Agnes Broadfoot she has been serving with him for seven years and she is only 26 and he is above sixty the folk says. I am very proud over Marion's carte she is a stout looking girl and she will can help you with your household work now and Aunt joins with me in kind love to you both and if you don't write yourself Marion has to write and let us know how you are getting on and I will say goodbye hopping this will find you both in good health as it leaves us all in a moderate state at present from your affectionate niece Marion Brown

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Greetings from San Francisco

This is a photo (taken by Susan Burch) from the presentation given by Iain Hutchison and myself about Marion Brown, today at the Disability History Conference in San Francisco. See that big grey box on the table between us? That's the box of letters from Sanquhar. In front of us, on the table, there are photos in frames, a small Bible from Scotland, two of the books we've put Marion's story into, and other goodies. The session went well--we had audience participation and some animated conversation in the comments time (especially about what medical historians should or should not ask of such stories).