Continuing our correspondence from the 19th century, today's post features a vernacular letter from sister Nell dated July 17th, 1878, writing to "my dear Douglas" (proving reader Maiz's guess about the identity of "Uncle Doug" in a previous post from his Parisian nephew to be correct) and continuing to round out the many branches of this diverse family tree!
New York July 17th, 1878
My Dear Douglas
I ought to have written you before this, for your letters are so rare that I like to reply to them immediately. Will not neglect you again. Trust you are well & happy & that you will write me as often as you can for our thoughts are with you very often. I believe in my last letter I wrote you that Ned Lincoln’s father was very ill. He died on the 6th of June, was buried from Boston a week later. I went with the children to South Egremont, Mass. where they usually spend the summer – a charming place among the Berkshire Hills. I enjoyed myself there very much. The children behaved very well & we had some pleasant walks & drives. I remained three weeks, when their Aunt Josie Lathrop joined them I returned to No. 55 W. 37th Street a week since and shall remain here until the 6th or 8th of August when we look for the Lincoln’s return from Europe.
Kate has been with father on 14th St. for once a week so I haven’t seen her often. She & Em started today for (Dighton?) to be absent two weeks. She – (Kate) – will return to Ills. about the first of September. She looks well & seems cheerful. Had a delightful visit in Detroit where she received a great deal of attention. Kate passed a few days with George at Plainfield & will visit them again when she returns from D. We have had a fortnight of very hot weather, but it is now cool & comfortable. I read that the heat has been intense in St. Louis & other western cities may be dying of sunstroke. You must be very careful not to expose your self, aren’t you most ready to quit your Robinson Crusoe life and return to civilization? You are getting to be a regular hermit. Our relatives here are as well. Father as usual has Kate and I spent Monday in Elizabeth with Mr. & Mrs. Smith all well & apparently happy. They inquired for you. Aunt Nancy you know has been to (Gayette?) & made a pleasant visit. She seems to be recovering her youth. Did I tell you that our friend George (Hinton?) was traveling in Europe. He is such a fine young man.
I am quite alone in the house with the two girls but amuse myself with sewing reading visiting and do not feel at all afraid. In three weeks we expect Mr. L will be here after that I may take a little trip to Norwich, Conn. Whre Mrs. Earl & Fanny are keeping house. Perhaps until you hear from me again you had better direct to father’s address 239 W. 14th St. I will however keep you informed as to my whereabouts. Hoping that you are well & prosperous and that you will write very soon.
To put things in perspective, 1878 is the year that Thomas Edison first patented the phonograph, Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, was born and Gilbert and Sullivan's "HMS Pinafore" had its premiere in London. It is interesting to consider Nell's somewhat prosaic letter to her brother in this context, an almost pre-mass-entertainment age of quieter pleasures.