The series continues
A letter from Josiah
My mother found letters authored 129 years ago by my great, great grandfather, letters, in fact, partly responsible for the start of this blog. The author’s daughter is our malevolent matriarch.
Alfred Josiah “Si” Smith was his name and his family lived in Ironwood, Michigan. As a carpenter he worked on many local houses and businesses. He also built his home on North Street (now Evans. To see how I determined there was a North street in Ironwood, you can read about that in LETTER #5 and LETTER #6). The links take you to my other blog, Finding Merle, and links to letters 1-4 can be found on the SMITH surname page on this blog.
As with Letters 1-6, I type them here as written, with spaces between ideas or sentences, and each page as written appears as a paragraph here. I highlight in red interesting facts about their life which I discuss below.
Here are photos of the author and his parents, the recipients of these letters. Enjoy!
Since the top of page one ends with the end of page four, I’ll start with the true beginning of page one and add page four’s ending when I post page four.
Josiah answered Jan 15 Ironwood Mich Dec 27 1889
Dear Father & Mother
We recd your cabinets(1) last week & were very much pleased with them I think they are good with the exceptance of ma’s eyes, we were glad to hear that you had left the farm(2) for we all think it will be a good deal easier for you in town than on the farm especially in cold weather your letter found us all well and able to eat I have had work the most of the time so far & I guess probly I can get enough to do here so we can live & keep out of debt this winter Helen
has worked in a dress makers shop(3) here all the time since the last week in Aug till this week She has been at home so far but she has got to go to the shop again in the morning She gets $3 00 per week She stays at home one day in 2 weeks to do her washing She has 2 boarders all the time Rail Road men(4) so you see we don’t have much to do. Well we shall have to wish you all a Merry Christmas & a happy New year. Lews folks(5) were all here on christmas we had a big turkey & a big time we had a house full all day. at night
we went home with Lews folks & went to a christmas tree in the new Me E church in Hurley Christmas eve we had one here in the Presbeterean church so we attended 2 this year The children got quite a lot of presents & both of the boys got a new suit of cloth. We are having a nice winter up here only one cold day so far & I don’t think the thermometer has been much below zero here last week we had 2 fires here one night & one the next one house burnt all down & the other burnt the top story out of it it was a boarding house about 80
feet long it burnt a hole out of the middle about 40 feet long. There is only about 10 inches of snow only enough for sleighing Charly & Orah are going to school this winter & are dong nicely Orah stood 90 in her drawing class(6) next to the best in her room there was one boy that stood 95 she has only drawn one time before this she is real good at it it seems to be natural for her. We all have an invitation over to Lews ????? to eat oysters I think you & Seb (?)(7) are almost living together that makes it nice for you How is Downer(7) doing in the storm I supose he has let his place You did not tell us who you had let your place
What follows is the top of page one:
to. but this looks as though I must close for this time well love to all Helen & Si
What caught my eye
Notes and questions
- Received cabinets. Does this mean Charles and Maria bought cabinets for Josiah and Helen’s home and had them sent to Ironwood? Or, did Charles make them?
- Left the farm. This does give a narrowed time frame for when they moved from their farm.
- Not only did Helen work at home, she worked in a dress makers shop. Now we know the source of Orah’s fabulous sewing skills. In the 40s and 50s, Orah made dresses for her girls, Hazel, Bertha, and grandma Lalla in Tacoma.
- Two boarders all the time. That means they had seven mouths to feed.
- Lews folks. This refers to Lew Seeber, husband of Ida, Si’s sister.
- Orah stood 90 in her drawing class! My heavens! Orah could draw? I don’t think I’ve seen any work from her that may have been saved through the years. Sadly, the drawing gene was not passed down.
- Downer refers to Downer Hale, husband of Sylvia Smith, another of Si’s sisters. Could “Seb” be a nickname for Sylvia?
What caught your eye?
Filling in the pieces
I could easily comment on most everything Si wrote, but to keep this shorter, I hit just a few. If you can help fill in the pieces of the Smith family activities, please leave a comment.
Here is the letter from December 27, 1889.
Photo credit: Photo of Charles and Maria Smith ~ Daphne Purchase