Friday, March 20, 2009

Adoption in the 19th century

Washington, VT, Dec. 11, 1916

My Dear Niece,

I think I ought to write a few lines to send in Robert’s letter. Do you know that when I think of you it is always as the little girl that came by to visit me with Sister Jane. I can see you now as you were then and some of your talk is as fresh as it was the day you were here, and right here I will take the liberty to say that I think your mother done the best thing she could do for you when she gave you to Sister Jane. I could not see at that time how a mother could give away a daughter, but later I could see an over ruling power in the transaction.

You were in the hands of God and he knew best what was for your future good. He never makes a mistake.

I am so glad that you were a faithful daughter, and cared so tenderly for Sister Jane in her last trying days.
May God bless and keep you ever near him is the wish of your
Aunt Rosetta

This letter has a special place in my heart. Great-great aunt Rosetta (wife of Robert Fletcher Richardson II) does not know about "positive adoption language," but she does echo my heart that God does know what He is doing in directing our lives even when things don't always make sense. Since my daughters are adopted, I believe too that God had a plan for them when they came my way and that it was for good for them and even more for me (us).

Ella Jane, born Julia Eldora, the name she had until she was six years old was born to Mary Elizabeth Richardson and Evi Welch on June 18, 1861. Evi only lived a few months beyond Julia's birth. He may have been a wonderful person or not, but he impacted our family in a dramatic if short way. Either his grave is no longer marked, or he was moved to a different cemetery in Vermont, so we can't pay our respects in person. When Julia was six yearsold, Mary and her second husband, Martin Dexter, allowed their childless sister and brother-in-law to adopt Julia who then became the Ella Jane that was known and loved by so many. The picture above was said to have been taken the day of the adoption.

I have love enough for both Mary Elizabeth, my birth great-great grandmother and for Rosina Jane, my adoptive great-great grandmother. I've stood at both of their graves, in West Topsham, VT and Kendall, Wisconsin respectively, and I thank them both for the part they have played in my life. Ella Jane would not have been the person she was without both of them and without all three of the father's that played a role in her life -- her birth father Evi, her step-father, Martin (who held her in his arms all night before they went to court the next day (so they say)), and David who raised her along with Jane.

I look forward to meeting all of them someday at the restoration of all things.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Soldier's Day at Camp Logan, Texas

What a treat to discover someone's photos of Camp Logan on the internet (linked here, but not copied). I'm not exactly sure how it works, but the upload from the internet worked fine on blogger. Always such an education! So I have no idea who the person is in the postcard, but since Uncle George did the same kind of job I thought it was a perfect image to go along with his description!

Camp Logan, February 11 – ‘18

Dear Ones All:
Just a line to let you know that I’m still alive and enjoy your daily letters even tho I am bad about answering. I usually receive the letters about every other or every 3rd day, from two to four in a bunch. But I enjoy them just as much anyway. Didn’t get any today, so will spend the time I would usually spend reading it in writing one to you.* Right there I was interrupted and didn’t get a chance to start over until this P.M. (the 12th). Just got thru reading 3 letters from the noon’s mail so I will hurry and answer the two from you folks with this.

Went to a show over on “The Street” with Andy last night. Expect to go up town to-nite if nothing serious occurs to change my plans. Wish you could have enjoyed? the pleasant little ride I took Sat nite. The Major was “Field Officer of the Day” and so I had to get out the horses for us to go over to Div. Headquarters for orders and the field officer’s banner. This at 5 P.M. It had rained all the afternoon (just a drizzly, hang to it kind of storm). It is only about 1/6 mile to Headquarters but we had to ride over just the same. Then I stood in the rain and shivered (I had on a slicker but of course my feet were soaked and my hands cold) for about half an hr. before the “Field Officer” going off duty rode up with his orderly and the flag. Then we orderlies had to wait while our respective Major’s got their orders and the old one was relieved. So it was about six P.M. when I rode back to the corral and rubbed off the horses, bedded them down and blanketed them. By that time the corral was flooded, water up to my shoe tops in many places. At eight P.M. out we went to make the rounds of the camp and didn’t get in until 9:30. By that time I was wet and tired enough to go to bed. Sunday morning I got up at 6:30 and worked on horses and equipment till we went out for the rounds at 9:00. Rode until 12:00 then put up the horses in our corral, ate my dinner, sat down for perhaps 15 min. then out again getting ready to leave at 2: 00. Back in at 3:45 and fed and bedded my horses (also cleaned them what I could for the 3rd time that day.) Then out again at 4:40 to go to Headquarters to deliver the reports and banner to the succeeding field officer. Got back and horses put away just in time for mess at 5:30. So I went from 6:30 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. and only sat down 3 times (one of those time for dinner). That of course except sitting in the saddle. And of course had to carry the banner or flag wherever we rode, tho a stirrup boot holds the weight of the pole so it isn’t so bad. There, I guess that is a pretty good outline without saying anything I shouldn’t, tho I doubt if there is anything to be at all secretive about in the duties of the “Field Officer.” Was pretty near all in when the siege was over. But haven’t rode since, tho must take the horses out for a run this P.M. Went to gas school yesterday morning. Probably will have to go again to-morrow. Now I better close and get to work or I’ll lose my job.

Oh, yes. I have signed an allotment home to you folks (I think it will go to mother but I’m not sure.) If you ever need any of it why use it, and what you don’t need put in the F & Merchant’s Bank for me on my savings acct. That much for when we go across if we do. But while I am on this side I will ask you to forward $10 or $15 every month when you receive it as I will only receive $3.50 per month now on this side. But we had to make the allotment arrangements the other day and I thot best to arrange it now for the way I wanted it if we go across, and then I’d know for sure everything was working as it should while I was over there. You see, I could have refused to allot any while in this country and then when we went across they would have held out all but about $7.50 and saved in Wash D.C. for me at 4% till I returned.

But you couldn’t get any of it to use if you did need it that way. And in case I should get croaked you might not know how much I had coming and it would be hard to get, I was afraid. So soon after next pay day you should receive $15.00 of my pay and if in the opinion of the officials you are at all dependent or need it the Government may add five or ten. If they do, don’t think you are robbing them as lots that need it less than you are receiving it, tho I made no special plea for it. If the checks for farm produce, etc. keep you going all right, as I hope they will from now on, you may forward me the whole $15, but if you are at all pinched hold out $5.00 and use it. Just how bad are the finances anyway? And don’t forget if I do go over in the early part of the summer, to use all of it if you need it, and bank it for me only if you have plenty. Until then I can use at least $10 of it a month if you can spare it.

You see we get an increase in pay for foreign service and as they claim we can only have $7.50 per month over there, I’ll be O.K. when we go over. I wonder if we ever really will? Just now my pay is disposed of as follows.

$5 per month for Liberty Bond.
$6.50 “ “ “ $10,000 insurance
$15 “ “ “ allotment
$3.50 “ “ in cash
$30.00 Total pay

Now I really must close. Hope I’ve made this clear, but fear it is pretty hazy to one trying to read it.
Love and love again to all
George S. Sherwood

Should the owner of this photo not like it linked here on this blog, please let me know and I'll delete! It's at