Category Archives: Letters

Amanuensis Monday – “So I’m Getting Old Now….”

Roy and Martha Anderson

Four years after Pearl Harbor, Martha (Roberg) Anderson mailed a birthday card to her cousin, my grandmother, Blanche (Wilson) Montgomery. Grandma would turn 37 ten days later.

[Postmarked Newman Grove, Nebraska, December 7, 1945; Addressed Mrs. Lawrence Montgomery, Marsing, Idaho. R.#1; 3c postage; birthday card; message written on back]

Dear Blanche. We all wish you a very Happy Birthday. How old are you now? I am 38 years old now. So I’m getting old now. Alfred is 40 years old. Roy is 40. I suppose your kiddies are looking for-ward to Xmas and Santa Claus. My kids are busy planning too. I been busy crocheting for Malinda. She isn’t a bit well. I suppose you heard about Olaf. I suppose she has wrote and told you. All her troubles. Poor Malinda. I sure feel sorry for her. Hope these few lines find you in the best of health. Write soon.

Your cousin
Martha

Martha Ingrid Roberg was born 31 May 1907 in Nebraska, the oldest daughter of Severin and Inga (Nelson) Roberg. One of ten children, she married Roy Anderson on 21 October 1925 and had two children of her own. One of Martha’s brothers was named Olaf, but I’m not sure if this cryptic reference is to him or not, as I can’t seem to identify Malinda or the troubles she was undergoing. Martha died 9 November 1996 and is buried in Newman Grove, Nebraska.

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Amanuensis Monday – The War News Is Sure Terrible

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Sometime in the early 1940s Grandma Blanche (Wilson) Montgomery wrote to her sister Mildred. The letter is partially lost now but somehow found its way back to Grandma in an envelope addressed to her mother, Sophie (Roberg) Wilson. This is the same envelope that contains a number of recipes from a “Mrs. Dickinson.” Grandma and Grandpa and their children were living in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, where Uncle Gene (Alwin Eugene, born in November 1940) was apparently doing his fair share of tumbling and falling. The letter is full of family news and inquiries but touches on the horrors of war. It was also baking day – what I wouldn’t give for Grandma’s bread recipe!

[no postmark, return address, or stamp] Addressed: Mrs. Sophie Wilson, Winner, S.D. 628

[two pages missing; remaining pages labeled “3.” and “4.”]

…radio. I’m sure glad you write for Mamma as I know its hard for her to write. Hope she doesn’t have to work as hard as she did last winter. Yesterday was Pearl’s little girl’s birthday wasent it. I wanted to send her something but I didn’t think of it in time.

Do you still have the girls at your house. Am glad Herman has a new job.

Where did Monte fall from read it in Maude’s card. Alwin has fallen a lot he has a sore eye most of the time lately. I don’t know what’s wrong. He must have hurt it.

Be sure and tell Mamma & Lester hello from us all. Glad Lester likes school so well. What subjects does he take?

The war news is sure terrible. Even thinking about it makes you shiver.

We would like to take a trip up to Denver. Do you know if Clara is still there? Esther didn’t say.

I am baking bread today so must close & get busy. Am afraid it’s too cold in here as I let the fire go down.

With Love & Best Wishes May God bless you all. Blanche, Lawrence & children.

P.S. No we haven’t seen any of Carrolls. There are lots of S.D. cars but 14 or 15 thousand people in Scottsbluff, You seldom see many you know.

[at top of page 4:] I canned around 200 qts so that helps some.

Amanuensis Monday – Jobs Are Scarce

Myrtle Mamie Bessie Elta Montgomery

Elta Freeman

It’s interesting to note themes that repeat themselves in family history over time. This can be seen in the two letters I selected to transcribe, more or less at random. Grandpa Montgomery received a letter from Elta Grace, the youngest of his four sisters, in late August 1941. Though the youngest of the four Montgomery girls, Elta was thirteen years older than Grandpa. Both were born in August; when Elta wrote to him Grandpa would have just turned 40; Elta 53. Elta, with her husband William Gladstone Freeman, was then living in Van Nuys, California, and had just returned from a trip to Fort Collins, Colorado. Grandpa and Elta’s father was living there with his new wife (another letter written by Charles William Montgomery in July 1941 mentions Elta’s upcoming visit).

[Postmarked Van Nuys, Calif., Aug. 27, 1941; Addressed Mr. Lawrence Montgomery, Scottsbluff, Nebr.  Box 675; 3¢ stamp; Return address label on back flap:  W. G. Freeman, 14108 Victory, Van Nuys, Calif.]

Van Nuys, Calif.
Aug. 27, 41

Dear Lawrence & All:

We got home from our trip O.K. Everyone was well. Sure would like to have met you at Ft. Collins. There is lots of work around here now, especially at the Airplane plants. I don’t know about the pay. Some men get jobs at once; others are not so fortunate. I don’t know why. Will & Clyde have the same jobs as when we first came here. Once thing: here you can work outside the year round. Hope you are all well as are we.

Love
Elta

Of Will and Elta’s seven children, only four survived to adulthood. The Clyde Elta mentions is her only surviving son, Clyde Samuel Freeman, born November 29, 1911 in Brownell, Kansas. Her youngest child had been another son, William Emmett, born in 1930 but dying a year later. Twins Nina and Tina were Elta’s firstborn; Nina lived only 12 days, dying October 14, 1907, and Tina lived only three months. The four surviving children fell between the twins and baby William:  Laura Fern (b. December 6, 1908); Clyde; Maurine L. (b. October 4, 1913); and Dorothy Willa (b. December 21, 1916).   William, Sr., would live less than five years after his wife wrote to her baby brother, dying April 11, 1946. Elta lived another ten years after her husband and died April 4, 1956 in Northridge, California. They are buried in Inglewood Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Another letter, this one unfinished, focuses similarly on employment and on travel though it was written some thirty years later. It was written by Grandma Montgomery to her mother in March 1972. The Emma Satree Grandma mentions was her best friend while growing up and was two years older than Grandma. A webpage containing history on the Bad Nation District No. 19 school lists both Emma and “the Carl Wilsons” as early pupils.

Caldwell
March 1972

Dear Mother & Grandma; 

Just a few lines, I am feeling much better now. Spring has come at last. The sun is shining and the birds are singing again & I see some bees out. 

Mike & Linda Lea moved to Eugene, Oregon. Guess they haven’t got a job yet, but I sure hope they get one soon. Jobs are so scarce. Lots of people out of work everywhere.  

Pearl wrote and said she plans on going to So. Dakota in June. Sure glad if she can. We are planning on going through Montana and see Emma Satree (Seiverts). I haven’t seen her for 36 years. Do you remember when Mrs. Satree, Emma & you came up to our place when we lived in Winner and I was sick in bed before Marvin was born. Mrs. Satree said You take care of her, Montgomery.

Sophie Roberg Wilson

Amanuensis Monday – Sister Irene

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On March 8, 1966, Dad’s sister Irene wrote him a letter from her home in Sacramento. Dad was in basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Irene was the second of Dad’s siblings, born Dorothy Irene on November 11, 1929 in Winner, South Dakota, the child of Grandpa Montgomery and his first wife, Antonia Marie Jelinek. Irene spent part of her high school years living with and helping out a family in Albany, Oregon. In August 1948 she married Vern Jenness, whom she later divorced.  In 1961 she married a second time, to a man coincidentally named Robert Montgomery.  That marriage ended as well, and then Aunt Irene married a final time on July 20, 1969 to Hugh Myers. Irene was also the second sibling lost, dying of cancer on August 24, 1985 at age 55.

[Postmarked Sacramento, Calif., March 9, 1966; Addressed Pvt. Theodore R. Montgomery, RH 19882937 2nd Training Brigade 2D Battalion Co. B, Fort Polk, Louisiana 71459; stamp torn; Return address label on back flap:  Irene Montgomery, 1731 ‘N’ St. Apt. 10, Sacramento, Calif. 95814; envelope and signature handwritten; remainder typed]

                                                            Sacramento, March 8, 1966

 Dear Ted,

            Received a letter from Mom, giving me your address. I am happy to hear that you will be coming home to get Linda. Where in Texas will you be stationed and for how long?

           Do you ever hear from brother Gene? I wrote to him a couple of times, but I imagine he is busy and does write to the folks.

            Are you going to keep your house and rent it out, or sell it? It would be nice to be collecting that rent on it, but then there is the chance the tenants may not take good care of the house.

            I received a letter from Linda Lea last week with a picture of herself. It was very good. She certainly is a young lady and on the honor roll too. Of course that isn’t anything new, most of you were when you were going to school.

            I sing 1st Soprano in the St. John’s Choir in downtown Sacramento. I enjoy it very much. We are getting ready for Easter and of course we have special services for Lent—Wednesdays and Sundays. I have a music lesson on the organ every week. I am able to play some favorite songs, but I have to go to the church to practice, so I don’t practice as much as I would like to or should to progress more.

            We have been having beautiful weather here recently. A little crisp (which I like) but the sun is bright most of the time.

            It is Camellia time. They had the Camellia Show at the Memorial Auditorium Saturday and Sunday of this past week. Then next Saturday they have the parade.

            Will you by any chance be coming through Sacramento in your travels in the next few months? Would love to see you and I am sure Myrtle and children will be happy to see you also.

            I must say so long for now. Hope this letter finds you well and as cheerful as possible. 

                                                            Love

                                                            Your sister,

                                                                        Irene

Amanuensis Monday – May God Bless You

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On March 21, 1966 my paternal grandfather, Lawrence Theodore Montgomery, wrote to my dad, then in the Army at Fort Polk, Louisiana and approaching his 24th birthday. Grandpa’s letter cost 8 cents to send air mail to “Pvt. Theodore R. Montgomery, RA 19882937 2nd Train Brig., 2D Battalion Co. B., Fort Polk, Louisiana 71459.” Grandpa mentions Linda Jo (my mother, waiting in Idaho to join Dad once he was out of basic training), as well as four of his twelve children: Laura, the youngest; Linda Lea, then sixteen; Gene, about 18 months older than Dad; and Flo, Grandpa’s eldest, 38 years old and with seven children of her own.

Caldwell, Idaho
March 21, 1966

Dear Ted:

We ran into trouble trying to transfer the Studebaker to Gene. We must have a sales tax exemption signed and notarized by you or pay the sales tax on it for the full book price. Request that you get this form signed and your commanding officer can notarize it for you. Gene is planning on going to work right away and will need the car. He may go to work in Nampa.

Linda Jo said she missed your phone call yesterday. Gene said you were probably still in the field.

Gene, Laura, Mom and I went out to Flo’s yesterday all afternoon and evening. Linda Lea stayed home to study.

Spring is showing up here now the mountains are pretty white with snow but it is 45° here in the Valley. We are going to plan garden this week, if the moon is right.

Everyone is O.K. here now. Laura is home with a sore throat but not serious. Bob Baird left for San Diego yesterday morning. We plan on a birthday dinner for you and Laura at McGarvins about the 3rd of April or when it is most convenient for you.

Must close and get this off to you as soon as you get this back to us we can get a license on the car.

May God Bless You
Dad, Mom, Gene & Gals

Also included in the envelope is a letter from Aunt Laura, Dad’s handicapped youngest sister, then five days shy of her fifteenth birthday:

Dear Ted

I Miss you very much. Be glad when you come home. Maybe we can have a Birthday Party to-gether after you get home. Love Laura

Interestingly, the envelope also contains a self-addressed stamped envelope as well as the Idaho Sales Tax Vehicle Certificate Dad was supposed to have notarized and return. I know Uncle Gene ended up with the Studebaker somehow; Dad may have to explain that one.

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Amanuensis Monday – Iran the Place Unknown

Sometime around 1942 Clarence Salmer Wilson wrote to his older sister Blanche (my grandmother) during his enlistment in the Army. He had been born August 29, 1915 in Wood, South Dakota, fifth child of Carl Ozro and Sophie Christine (Roberg) Wilson. He appears with his parents and siblings in Cody, South Dakota, in the 1920 census, and with his mother (now separated from his father) and siblings in Witten, South Dakota, in 1930. Clarence obtained an eighth grade education, and in 1940 appears as one of several laborers in the home of Paul and Jennie McDill in Riverside, South Dakota.

On December 9, 1945 in Wood, South Dakota, Clarence married Addie Peacock, who had been born in January 1924. Together they had three children: Lana Dell, Larry Dale, and Loren Carl Wilson. Clarence died July 29, 1992 in Irrigon, Oregon.

[no envelope; written on stationery with United States Army logo]

How are you Folks? Did you have the flue at your house very bad? We are still in the same old place. Have been stationed here a little over a year now. Have a fairly nice Hospital & everything is fixed up quite nice considering what we have to put up with being over here. Go the Shows & basket ball games right now & see a USO Show every once in a while also. We can’t complain to much after all. Have a chaplin here to so I go to Church as often as I can get away. I wish we could get this War over with so all we boys could come home. Won’t that be a wonderful day. I get so lonesome at times don’t hardly know what to do. I can’t think of any more to say so believe I will close. Happyness to all the Family & Gods blessings at all time. Love & kisses to all.

Brother Clarence.

P.S. Give my best regards to all the Family from me in Iran the place unknown ha.

Amanuensis Monday – The Moses Taylor Letters

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In 1968, June Finten Everett transcribed some 57 letters written between 1842 and 1867 to her great-grandfather Moses Taylor in Michigan. The letters were written by various members of the family he had left behind in upstate New York. These copies were discovered by Arlene McAvoy in a file at the LDS Family History Center in Potsdam, New York; between 1997 and 1998 our cousin David Johnson connected with Arlene, and David shared his discovery with me.

Two of these letters were written by my great-great-great-great-grandfather, John Wilder Wilson. His second wife, Mary, was the sister of Moses Taylor (his unknown first wife was my 4G-grandmother). John Wilder was born February 22, 1807 in Louisville, New York. He married his first wife probably around 1830 and had two children: Charles (my 3G-grandfather) and Dana. After his first wife’s death he married Mary Eunice Taylor on April 20, 1839; she was born New Year’s Day 1818 in Louisville, the daughter of Elon and Cyrena (Carpenter) Taylor. Mary’s brothers Moses and Elias (who was married to John Wilder Wilson’s niece Sally) both moved to Michigan, and a series of letters traveled back and forth, including the two below written by John Wilder Wilson:

Massena, NY
Sept. the 20th, 1857

Respected Brother and Sister, After a long silence I now (take) my pen in hand to write a few lines to let you know that we are all well as usual at present. It is a long time since we have heard anything from you. I enquire of your folks often about you but I hear nothing. I was up to your Father’s last Sunday. They were all well there. They told me that Elias had been down (and) preached for them. He did not call on us so I can’t tell you much about them. Elen and wife made us a visit a month ago and David and wife and little girl made us a good visit about three weeks ago. They were all well then and doing very well. Emaline was the last I heard from her. We are on a farm on shares or rather (at any) rate we milk twelve cows on the place. The farm is hard and stoney. We do not raise much grain. We have a good deal of hay to cut to keep what stock we have and the meadows are rough, a good deal run out. We have of undivided stock 2 cows, 2 two years olds, 6 yearlings and 4 calves 30 sheep. I have a good mare 6 years old, 1 colt two years old and one sucking colt of my own and four hogs that are company stock and we have our two old cows that we took off from the island , but I shall have to sell some stock this fall to pay debts as we do not raise grain enough for our own use. We make considerable butter, but not enough to pay all expenses. But I am in hopes that in a year or two more that we shall get along better as our boys get up a little larger. They are very good boys to work and they help a good deal now. Our children (are) healthy and smart but poor John, he has fits and is very bad a good share of the time and is very troublesome to take care of. He fails a good deal for a year past. It’s not likely he will live long.

I must now tell you about our little fellow. He is about 7 months old now, smart and pretty healthy generally. We call him Frederick Elen. We have to be continued at home. We have so much to do, cows to milk and butter to attend to and the sick boy and baby and all. We can’t be gone overnight. We have not kept any hired help this summer. We all have to work pretty hard, but our children are growing and as long as we are all well I am none concerned but what we shall get along. And now I want you should write and tell me how you are getting along and how fast you are getting rich and what the chances are in your country for taking farms and what a man can do there with but little to do with for if the chances are pretty good I might be tempted to go there someday and try my luck in your country. I have not much news to write. It’s quite still times at present here. As to politics in this town we are most all republicans. As to religion I am just about as I used to be when you was here. I have not heard anything from our folks in Burlington this summer. If you see any of them tell them that we are all well and tell them to write to me and you just write a little about them for fear they won’t write right away. I suppose they are like me, they don’t get about writing very often. And give my compliments to Hosea and family and Harriet if she is there . I always remember the good visit we had when you and sister Taylor was there on the island with us. We do not hear from Samuel and Charlotte very often. If you do please mention it. Now please to write soon. Direct Massena village and I shall get it. So now bid you a good evening. I am, sir, yours respectfully

John W. Willson Mary Willson

Riverton, Mich
May 8, 1867

Brother Moses and Sister Dyantha,

I now sit down to write a few lines to you to let you know that we had not forgotten you. We are well as usual for us. We are growing old pretty fast and we feel the effects of old age pretty sensibly. Mary’s health has been very poor for a year past and mine has not been much better. We have been just able to keep about and do a little but we can’t do much.

We expected to hear from you by Elias when he came back from the east but we did not and we were some disappointed not to. Now there appears to be some thing wrong with regard to matters between you and Elias for I can hardly credit some of his statements. Now has he any reason to make such statements or is it all an imaginary exaggeration? We have heard from him now we just want an explanation from you. For my part it don’t trouble me much but it troubles Mary a good deal for she cannot believe that Moses has got to be such a man nor I can’t nor don’t. I let him say what he is a mind to and let it pass at that. I think that he is partially deranged by times for he has had trouble enough to make a half a dozen men crazy if all is true that he tells. Now I want this to be confidential betwixt your family and mine. I don’t want him to know that I correspond with you at tall. I don’t want to offend him and let him forget his trouble if he can so we hear what he has to say without any contradiction and let him tell his storys as he has a mind to.

We have commenced farming a little, plowing and sowing wheat but the weather is cold and dry yet. My letter did not get sent to the post office and has laid over so I will try again. It is now the 5th of May and we have a fine rain yesterday and last night but the weather is quite cool yet but clear and pleasant.

Elias was here to see us yesterday. He comes when he is in the neighborhood and has time. He works around at little jobs of carpenter work when can get chances. He talks of buying a piece of land some where in our neighborhood but whether he will or not I don’t know. He is so unsteady that we can’t tell what he will do. Moses and his wife have got a young daughter born on March the 11th. They are all well. Margery and her man are getting along very well and Marrion lives with them. My boys are all at home now and will put in our crops and then they will go to work out until harvest. Alice is married and lives in about half a mile of us. So now I believe I have got about done for this time. We send you our respects, not forgetting Gustus and wife and Lula . So I remain yours as ever.

J. W. Wilson

John Wilder and Mary Wilson had six children together, including John, the son mentioned in John Wilder’s letter as having “fits.” The 1850 census does list John, Jr., as an “idiot.” Other sources indicate John’s fits “ruined him” and made him a “cripple.” Mary Taylor Wilson died June 1, 1882; as yet John Wilder’s death date and place are unknown. It’s also interesting to note that John Wilder’s eldest son Charles Wilson married Lucy Bridges Taylor about 1857 in Louisville. Lucy was born in Louisville in September 1834, the daughter of Loring and Caroline (Caryl) Taylor. Loring had been born in 1805 in Chester, Vermont; Mary Eunice Taylor’s father Elon was born in Massachusetts in 1792 but married Cyrena Carpenter in Readsboro, Vermont, in 1811 – could the two Taylor families be related by blood as well as by marriage?