Saturday, July 18, 2015

Robert A Richardson Writes of Life on Vermont Farm in 1871


 In mid-October of 1871 Robert and Rosina (Healy) Richardson of Vermont, replied to a letter from their daughter and son in law, David and Rosina Jane (went by Jane) Stevens who were living in Iowa at the time.  The family had just heard about the great Chicago fire the week before and were all worried about the several extended family members who lived in Chicago or who had been traveling there recently. 
 Rosina penned a letter all consumed with family and concern about the fire.  Robert wrote his own missive to the children, all about local business, his and theirs.  He remarks that he was becoming deaf so maybe he had not heard about the fire, but more likely he had left worrying about that to his wife and was intent on letting them know what was happening in regards to the family fortunes on the farm and to what he had done with the check they had sent to him. 

 David and Jane owed Dr. Smith money for something – maybe property; maybe past medical care.  The letter doesn’t enlighten us. It sounds like Robert had an additional $5 of their money from the past and added it to whatever they were paying to make the funds go further. But the letter, written by the old farmer, gives a sense of life on a Vermont farm as winter was approaching. And I love how after his recitation, he also tossed in the cat (who no doubt was critical to the success of the farm, specialist in rodent control!).
Topsham Oct 15 1871
Dear Children – I want to see you very much but cannot today - how soon I cannot tell.  I am getting Deaf.  I want but little, the grain crop is light, the wheat crop is from 5-10 bushels from a bushel sowing, oats about the same, corn is light, potatoes is good. They are worth from 20 to 30 cents per bushel.  Corn is worth $1.00, oats 45 cents, wheat $1.50, hay $15 per ton.  There is no sale for that, but tho at any price there is 10 sellers to one buyer.  Cows $25, yearling $14 to 15 this year.  12 to 25 oxen, one third less than one year ago.  Sheep in good demand, wool is rising.  It is worth 60 cents per pound.  Business is dull, money is scarce, but we got enough to eat and we nought to complain. We shall get along some way if it is a hard one.  We raised 55 bushels of oats, 125 potatoes, 20 of corn, 25 tons of hay.  We have 30 sheep, one pig, 7 cattle, one horse, 30 hens, one cat. 
            David and Jane we received your check and went to town to Dr. Smith the next day last. [Paid] up the interest for two years, the interest and bonus amounted to one hundred, $114 19 cents. I had 5 dollars of your money and I paid it.  The interest is paid to last August. The bonus until next August the 20th. I think it is all right. 
                     I am your well-wisher
                                                        R. Richardson
 Robert A. Richardson.  This photo was taken on the occasion of his 80th birthday
 in 1885. He was born in Bath, New Hampshire January 8, 1805
and passed away on the 6th of April 1889. 
His signature from this letter above.
Above left are David and Jane Stevens.
Robert was the son of Robert Fletcher Richardson and Dorcas Hardy Richardson of Bath, New Hampshire.  His maternal grandfather Jesse Hardy, fought in the Revolutionary War under the command of Captain Gates.  His paternal grandfather, Zechariah Richardson former of Francestown, New Hampshire also fought in the Revolutionary War.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Weber Kids Have the Measles!

Bill, Mary, Robert and Carl in 1929, not quite two years after these events.

In 1927 my father, Robert, his sister Mary, and his two brothers, Bill (older) and Carl (younger) all had the measles during November.  My grandmother kept a record of the events for some reason and it is enlightening to read now.  I highlighted below the two best parts of the experience for them!  It looks like the kids had the "hard measles" rather than the "3 day" based on length of time and their aversion to light. 
Bill, Robert, Carl and Mary - around this time period.
Interesting that they were both suffering through the measles -- bad -- and getting electric wiring in their old 14 room farmhouse -- good -- at the same time.   This is a fun trip back in time.

October 30th
Robert ill in bed with earache and stomach.
October 31st
Started wiring for electric lights
November 1st
Mary brought home from school with headache
November 2nd
Billy in bed with headache
November 3rd
Had doctor for Robert. 
Billy & Mary went to school.
November 4th
Mary ill when she came home from school
November 5th
Billy and Mary “drooped” around all day. 
Mary started breaking out late at night.
November 6th
Mary broke out in measles Saturday and Sunday at night. 
Billy started breaking out Sunday afternoon.
November 7th
Billy started breaking out Sunday and Monday at night
November 11th
Rash practically all gone on Mary. 
Carl was very restless during night
November 12th
Carl had high fever during night.  Very quiet all day.
Billy and Mary up around house
November 13th
Robert had high fever during night.  Carl vomited after supper, coughs a great deal.
November 14th
Wire men came to finish wiring of house.
Carl not well – looked as if he were going to break out.
Men had doors open a great deal and day was cold.
Carl had several blotches on face by supper time.
November 15th
Kept Carl and Robert both in bed.
Men finished wiring and left
Carl broke out some of face and body.
November 16th
Carl pretty well broke out except feet and hands.
Robert also pretty well broken out. 
Carl can’t stand light.
November 17th
Both broken out pretty well all over. 
Don’t want any light.
Thurs, Fri, Sat
Nov 17, 18 & 19
Very restless and hard to care for. 
Don’t want me out of sight a minute. 
Can’t stand light, especially Carl. 
Robert had earache and passed blood in stools as he did after earache of Oct 30th tho not so much.
Sunday & Monday
Nov 20 & 21st
Felt pretty good and were hard to keep in bed.
I had a pretty good sleep Monday night, the first good sleep in weeks.
Rash pretty well gone 
November 22nd
They were dressed and played on the beds.
November 23rd
Billy and Mary went downstairs toward evening.
November 24th
We are all thankful to be able to eat Thanksgiving Dinner together.
November 25th
Herman’s Birthday and all getting along fine
December 1
All out of quarantine
December 3rd
All went to town. Got Billy suit ($11) at Schankes;
Robert overcoat ($6), cap ($1) and mittens ($.50) at Schankes; Carl mittens ($.50) at Schankes; and
Mary black oxford shoes at Doyles.  End of entry. 

   Good reminder of the childhood diseases that families faced simply because there were no vaccines for them yet available. The one drawback of the magnificent vaccines that we have is that rarely do people see what the disease looks like -- whooping cough, diphtheria, measles, mumps.
 Susan, the writer of these events, working on some task.

Friday, July 03, 2015

James and Annie (McIntyre) Vandervort Enjoy Golden Anniversary 100 Years Ago

150 years ago today my great-great grandparents got married, partly as a result of the Civil War.
Anna Mary's parents, David and Louisa (Huff) McIntyre were both born in Maine and married in Boston, Massachusetts.  After a three year whaling adventure, David joined the Navy and ended up on a ship that participated in the Mexican War.  When he got out of the Navy back in Massachusettes in 1849 he and his wife moved first to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and later to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. There they had two daughters and Anna was the eldest.  Her official name may have been Mary Anna, but everyone knew her as "Annie."

James was the next to the last of five children born from second marriage of both James Robert Vandervort and Mary Baker Moon.  Both of his parents were born and married in New York State. Before he was 10 years old his family  moved to Wisconsin and when he was 19 and living in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin the Civil War began.
James Baker Vandervort enlisted as a private in Co. B, 16th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers at Oconomowoc, Wisconsin on Oct. 18, 1861.   He looks SO young in this photo. At that time he was described as having gray eyes and brown hair, 5'7" tall and worked as a Farmer in Waukesha county. A typed and transcribed newspaper article (no attribution) said that he was discharged on Jan 4, 1864 at Treadbone [likely Redbone], Mississippi. He then reenlisted with Company A 16th Wisconsin Volunteers.  During his four years in the service, he apparently was involved in Siege of Cornish,MS; Bumpkin's Mills, GA, Chattahoochee River, GA, Siege of Atlanta, GA; Decatur, GA, Jonesboro, GA, Lovejoy's Station, GA, Siege of Savannah, GA; Pocatalico, SC; Whippy Swamp, SC; Orangeburg, SC; Columbia, SC; Bentonville, NC; Capture of Atlanta and March to the Sea.  The newspaper article  noted that when asked about his time in the War, he felt his most important service to the country was at the battles of Shiloh and Bald Knob and the capture of Atlanta. 

He was in the Civil War for most of it's duration and near the end came down with a fever (Yellow, Malaria, Dengue, Encephalitis?? -- no idea). He was hospitalized and ended up convalescing at the Swift Hospital facility associated with Fort Crawford at  Prairie du Chien. The Swift hospital was one of three hospitals in Wisconsin to care for wounded and ill Civil War soldiers. It opened in the fall of 1864 and closed September 1865. In the one year that soldier's convalesced there, the hospital served 1468 men from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.  There he somehow met Annie McIntyre.  We can only conjecture how that happened.  Did she work or volunteer at the medical clinic?  Did their local church send parishioners to visit soldiers and comfort them while away from home?  Did they have mutual friends who introduced them?  No way to answer those, but we do know that on July 3, 1865 they were married in Prairie du Chien. He was discharged from the service on July 29, 1865 in Madison, Wisconsin. James and Annie moved to LaGrange, Wisconsin where his extended family then resided.  They farmed there for 25 years and then moved a short ways to Tomah, Wisconsin. They had six children together, five of which lived to adulthood.  They include Sarah (Brown); Dora (Root), Charles, Earnest and Otis.   Their last child, Clinton, lived less than a year.  I was so glad when another family history buff shared the photo at the top of this entry because it included little Clinton.
Annie was described by their grandson Charles F. Vandervort, based on recollections of Annie's son
Ernest and Maude as a "lady with a good sense of humor, the kind with the twinkle in the eye."
On their 50th wedding anniversary they had a celebration at their home which was attended by their children and his Grand Army of the Republic Post and her Ladies Relief Corps members.  At 8:00 in the evening their pastor of the Methodist Church, Rev. Mr. Hoisington, performed a ceremony repeating their vows and joined in celebrating this wonderful milestone.  According to the newspaper article, Annie was attired in a gown of tan silk poplin and carried a bouquet of yellow roses.  Their porch and lawn were "decorated in the national colors" as befits a celebration of a wedding brought together because of his service to help save the Union and their 50th anniversary taking place on the Independence Day weekend.
 This later photo of their home in Tomah includes  from left to right Mary Anna McIntyre Vandervort, Kathryn Mae Vandervort, Ida Radloff Vandervort (2nd wife to Charles L Vandervort and stepmother to Kathryn), Charles Lorenzo Vandervort, Isaac Vandervort and James Baker Vandervort. I love these Italianate homes and particularly enjoy the personality added to the photo by the faithful dog and the horse and buggy.  Charles was my Great-Grandfather, Ida his second wife, and the young Kathryn was my wonderful maternal grandmother.