Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Josephine Scovell to Washington Tharpe Jan 24, 1861

Again, this is very faded and hard to read.

January the 21 1861
Dear cousin
I thought I would try the progress of my pen once more on paper although it is not vary much but perhaps you can be able to read what I do write. I recieved your kind letter last friday evening how it made my heart leap for joy when I read it. it always makes me so glad to recieve a letter that you ....[words illegible] I am enjoying good health and hope you the same. I am at school today we have a vary good school. we had a good spelling school last tuesday night. you had better believe I had a good time. I wish you had been here it is allmost my thought daily about what I will do first when you come if you only did know how well I would like to see you come. you would not stay away  that so you sayed that you did wish that I could be there to take a sley ride with you [illegible] it nearly makes cry to think we are sepperated so far from each other. I have had several sley rides since I wrote that last to you and have been at several parties and I am invited to three more. you said if you had been here at our spelling school we have had a good and to see that sweetheart of mine hug and kiss me he may do that with all ease imagined. I would like to see you and Ella preform such an opperation if you had been at our house you would have more than all of this started. there was three couple at our house. Ella was there and he was there on friday night a week ago we was out till twelve oclock.an than we spiced [?] till morning. it was last sunday night that all that caravan was at our house. I would like to come out to the Shell Rock and take that [illegible] set. I would like to know what his ...[rest of line illegible] Ella down at our house every night and we will take a dead set. you stated that you expected that me and Ella had our companions picked out for the future but I can tell you one truth. that we can not find one to suit us for life and some times that is a long time. Ella is waiting to see you. you will have to come and pop the marriage question yourself for I don't know to go at it. I think she is ready to emigrate all you will have to do is to come and stay at our house till you can fish around for a while. she is vary particular about keeping her house neat and clean. I think you could not do any better she can do all kinds of work. I told her all you said and she seemed to think it was all right. you said you expected that I would not tell one of my beaus name till my name was changed to his. I can tell you before that time. I have three and I will tell you how I do. I talk with John Burgess on saturday night and on sunday nights with Jackson Ganze and Charles Morrow. he is not Ellas brother. but I like John the best and he is the best looking. you need not think that I am going to get married any soon for there is one thing that will make me stand back for a good while. you wanted me to tell you when I was going to get married but that is so far ahead in the future that I can not tell. I expect you and Ella would make a handsome couple for waiters. I guess I will have you and she for my waiters if it is after you and she is joined in the bands of matrimony. tell milt that he might leave susanah long enough to come out and see the folks anyhow. if you don't come and see us when you go out to Michigan I don't know what I would do. I would go up to never come down. 

you was saying something about them miniatures. I am right in all the time I am writing till I have recieve yours so I could find out how to send it to you. don't be afraid that you will not get one in return that will all be safe and sound. I want to come out there so bad I don't know what to do. if I only that you would be certain to come I would ready and go home with you and stay awhile if would not have any objections and the way we would cut a splash would be a caution. I will tell you one thing Mr. Tharp that I have got so that I my heart my head in anything I care for what before boys but girls look out for smasher. well I must be in a [illegible] for I must say my grammar lesson. I can not think of any thing hardly only I want to see you so bad that I don't know what to do. it seems to me that I that I love you more than any of my other cousins.

this is on friday evening I and on sunday night and there is meeting and one of my beaus is to go home with com over and look in at window. there will a visiting. [several illegible words] to night the teachers name is Mister Sharp [?] they schollars are saying declamations and I must bring my letter to a close for the school will close vary soon. I have not got time to fill up all the paper [illegible line]

we are going to get up strong exibit. I would like for you to be here if you could. So no more at present.

write as soon as you can and come to 

From Josephine Scovell
To Washington Tharpe

Monday, August 30, 2010

Census data on the Scovells and Tharps

My amazing friend Rachel has dug through the census data from 1860. First, I was mis-reading Josephine's surname (I thought I might be)--it's Scovell. I will go back and change the previous posts. The rest of the information she gathered I will paste below. You're a peach, Rachel!
"There's a Josephine Scovell, age 17, listed with her family in Noblesville Township, Hamilton Co., IN in the 1860 census. Two households away is a Scott family with a 15-year-old daughter Lucy M.

"The 1860 census lists Milton (age 24) and Washington (age 28) Tharp in Bremer Co, Iowa. There's also a J. W. (age 27) in the household, which was headed by Jane Tharp, age 56. She was born in Kentucky but the "boys" were born in Indiana." (A later double-check revealed that Andrew Tharp, Jane's husband and Washington's father, was also listed in the 1860 census, age 56).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Josephine Scovell to Washington Tharp 31 March (no year)

This is is very badly faded. I think probably it was written before the previous letter. Sorry! When they don't have a full date sometimes I have to just guess about when they were sent.
Punctuation and paragraphing are largely editorial, as usual.

March the last day
Dear Cousin
I take my pen in hand fore the purpose of writing you a few lines to tell you how I am getting along in this county. I am pretty well, I thank you. how do you do? this is one of the prettiest sabbath mornings you ever saw and the old folks are all gone and we are going to have a stir off of shugar. I wish you were here to help us eat it. I thought I had answered your last letter but as I never recieved any answer I thought you never recieved my letter or I forgot to write but to save my life I could not tell wich. I have recieved so many letter this winter that I can not hardly keep the run of them. last week I got five and a valentine. I we have changed our time for sabath school at three oclock. last sunday evening Ella came here and our beaus came to and you had better believe we had a good time. well he has came and I must close for the morning.

It is evening now and I have been to school and I expect he will be back tonight. I don't know for certain as it is not his regular time. I would give anything amost in reason if you only would come out here and see us. I want you to come and see us once before you marry. I have not as much to write this time as I do for common. I do want you to beshure and come and see us this spring if you can. I would like to see you now. Ella has just gone. she would like to see you. just bundle up and come wont we have a good time. there will be no use of talking if we don't. I would like to know if Milton is married yet and I would to know if you was a going to mary. I think you might tell me. I never let any boddy see them only when you write to Ella. I tell our folks you are all well and so on. this is varry poorly written if you can not read it just sent it back.

This is easter sunday. there was 21 at dinner here today. you ought to have been here to just for the fun if nothiing else. you must beshure and write for I can not wait vary much longer. it is getting late and I must draw this scribbling to a close. I just can not think of any thing to say or wright. come and I can talk fast enough. write me a letter and then I can think of enough if it is nothing but foolishness.

When this you see
remember me
remember me when far away
remember me here I stay
remember while love is sweet
remember me till next we meet
so no more
write soon

From Josephine Scovell
to Washington Tharp

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Josephine Scovell to Washington Tharp 24 Dec 1860

I'm glad to report that "writing school" has been paying off for her.

December the 24th

Dear Cousin:

Once more I take my old pen in hand for the purpose of writing a few lines in answer to your kind letter that I recieved last Friday evening. I was glad to hear from you once more. it makes me so glad to hear how times is going on out on old shellrock. I want to see you worse than ever I did. I often think I would like to start right off and come and see you all I would if I had some person to come with me. it made me feel like I had lost some of my feather to think that you could not come out and see us this winter. I am at school to day and so is Ella. she is sorry to think that you can not come this winter but I can tell you what we can do we can write and tell our thoughts on paper and Ella thinks so to. She is sitting on the desk behind me and she is writing a letter to her Cousin . tomorrow is Christmas and our teacher is going to treat us he has got the canday now dont you wish you here to partisipate in our fun. I will quit for a while

Christmas Gift. today is Christmas day. O how I wish you were here today and we would go sleighriding to night we are going to have a Spelling School to night and we will have a fine time. you and that young man step over to night and after School he will have that hug he wanted to have. I would like to know what his name is and if he is good looking. tell him to send me a pretty finger ring in your letter or write himself when you do and you must send me one to for Christmas gift and I will keep them forever tell him so. I will bet he will think I am some punkin. it snowed like all sixty last night. the snow is four inches deep perhaps I will have a sleigh ride and a beau. talk about you shugar but if I dont have a hug it will be cousin and a kiss that will be sweeter than canday. you must be up to putting your arms around the lovely girls waist and saying some of your big words of love to them. that so, I would like to love drop you some night. you said you was going to send me your miniature. I am looking every day for it to come to town. I have got me a new plaid dress to have mine taken in and a set of ear drops and a breast pin and so has Ella. tell that young man to send his minature when you do if you have not sent yours yet.

I have been going to writing school to the best teacher. he was a young man his name was JC Mendenall. I will tell you what one of my beaus name is after a while. I pitty you for the bad luck you have had for it is a heavy loss for a young man in love so deep as you and Ella is. She is in good hopes yet. I think you had better bring a two hoss wagon for I want to go home with you and Ella and see the beas [?] dance. I will tell the truth for once. I asked her if she would go and she said she would for ther was nothing like home. Ella said you must send her a presant some time. it is after recess and we have got our treat. we have had a time of it so funny.

you said you wanted to know who each Johns girl married. Sarah Jane marr[i]ed Abraham Burten and one that is rich. Nathans girl is not married yet and no hopes of it that I know of. I get a letter from Amand every once in a while. the last one she said that they was all well. tell uncle Andrew that Jacob Parkhurst was out a little while back and they was all well and all the rest as far as he knew of. there is going to be a wedding next Sunday in our neighborhood. there was one last Thursday is [read “it”] was Sarah Ann haworth and Charles Scott and next Sunday Cinthia Takins and Lawson McCod but don’t get discouraged at that. There is plenty more left. tell Milton to beshure and come and that before long if it is so he can for I would be glad to see any of your folks. tell him he need not think that he must never write any more because he is married. it would please me vary much for to recieve a letter from him and his wife. tell Milton to write a letter to me befor he starts to come so I can have so I can have a shangahi on to fry a turkey on to boil a pig on to roast and churn...

[damage to page; bottom right quarter is cut off]

the weather is vary nice and not vary cold. I can not say that I have much more to write of importance but mischief and that is about. I will bet you will think so. this ink has been frozen and is vary pale. in conclusion I will say that I want you to come if you can. there is not vary much sickness. so no more at presant.

Write soon and tell me all the news remaining your cousin
From Josephine Scovell
to Washington Tharp Farewell

Monday, August 23, 2010

Josephine Sewell (?) to Milton Tharp 7 May 1859

I suspect Milton is Washington's brother, since he's mentioned in this letter. "Aunt Jane" would be their mother. This letter is a little hard to follow, and she's not kidding at the end when she says her pen was bad.


Josephine to Milton Tharp
Noblesville, Ind May the 7th 1859
Dear Cousin  Dear cousin
I take my Pen in hand to inform you that I am well at this time and hope that these few lines may find you enjoying the same State of health   the weather is vary fine and spring is comming on and everything looks beautiful all the fruit trees are all in full bloom I am so glad to see all of this for I want some apples to eat so bad   do come out to see us this fall and I will save you some choice apples just as many as you can eat in a month.  you stated that you could have come to Westfield for one dollar  O how foolish you were for not coming, without a great chance you never will see the old homested on them feet.  O how I would like to see you and talk and laugh to gather once more   O what a pleasure it would be
I have the most good thing to tell you but I will not tell vary many of them in this letter it would be to funny   this is Friday and I am by my self and there is nobody to bother me just come over [Sunday?] night   You see I am a going to meeting sunday evening at three o Clock and than he is a going to come home with me he is the prettiest young man this side of iowa  would you not like to be here O yes I Know you would.
did you know that Martha White was here yet one? she is waiting for you I know she is and she had a [quilting?] a few weeks a go and I was there we had quite a funny time. I have had her talk about you a great many times. we have meeting twice and some times three times ever[y] sabbath .  tell aunt Jane that mother had got so she can go a visiting she is gone to day tell Mary that I want her to write me a letter I have not from her but once since she moved away. I have sent word to her severeal times and she has never sent me one word. tell her to write me a letter and than I will answer it right away I just know she might--yes and there is washington he has not writ one word to me for a three years. I want him to see if he can send me a few lines anyhow I want to here from him and know how he is getting along through life I know he is not married yet. it has been so long since I got a letter from James that I nearly forgot witch wrote last.  I begin to think that him and washington had forgot me entirely.  Well now Milton I would like to come to Iowa and see how you are getting along to see all of the nice prairies. I know it is nice when they are all in full bloom.
well I believe I have not mutch more to write. I wish you could have been here last winter we had the most best selling [?] schools one about once a week. And the best of it was the last day we had the best time I ever saw for the last day of school we had the gratest exibition it lasted till about midnight and than we did not get half through. every body was there Young and old little and big. Zigabo [?] Cary was one school Teacher Last winter and he taught a very large school and a good one to. Our spring school commenced last Monday I will not get to go any I ought to go to for I missed all of my Winter school all but five or six weeks. O teacher thee first day said that the one that left off lead in...
[handwriting changes]
Mr. Tharp
Although you are a stranger to to me Although it looks very foolish I thought as Josophine has has stept out of the house I would write a few lines just for bedevelment so I will tell you who Josephines lover is. first I will discribe him well he is very good looking and rich and thats all I know about him his name I cant tell so no more. M Scott
[handwriting changes back]
...the spelling class the most times that he would make them a presant of a nice book. I recieved Seven and after I left school than some of the schollars said that now I would not get the book but they was mistaken for there was not any one that got three tickets but I kept it a secret how many I did get myself and when the last day came thee teacher asked me how many I had got myself.  I told him I had seven well he told the schollars that I had gained the book he gave me a vary nice book and it was a usefull one to.  That is Sunday morning and I am by my self again all others left have gone to chruch but I am a going this evening. you have not forgot that I told you about that was a going to happen. this You may answer this young ladys few lines. I can not write mutch more for my pen is so bad I told you over on the other side that I was by my self but she came in after I had commenced my letter. I do not expect you can read this for this is the worst pen I ever saw.
So no more at present write soon your affectionate cousin from Ann Josephine Sewell
they have got to calling me ann out hear and I go by that name
To Milton Tharpe
So good bye do not forget me Milton.

What's all this about?

I am going to use this blog to transcribe the letters and documents preserved in my family for generations since the 1850s. There are hundreds of these documents, and they give a fascinating picture of daily life in (mostly) the nineteenth century. Since the two people most involved in preserving these letters, Mary White Tharp and Anna McPeak Thorpe were women, they also give a glimpse of women's lives in the decades covered. Mostly I am doing this so family members can read the letters, but anyone else interested in this kind of cultural history or in local history might also enjoy reading these.

I may footnote some of these as I transcribe them, or just put in links to web sites on (for instance) the WCTU or Doane College. I hope very much that some family members who remember hearing about some of our writers will chime in in the comments with stories or clarifications. Please correct me! I'm going to be guessing sometimes at relationships between correspondents.

I'm going to try to post 2-3 letters per week, maybe more maybe less when the semester is ending. At this rate it will take 2-3 years to finish all the letters.

I am apparently better at reading Anglo-Saxon handwriting from the Middle Ages than I am at some of these scripts. If anyone suspects I got something wrong, tell me. I'll let you know if I'm completely guessing at a word by putting it in square brackets with a question mark; if it is illegible due to damage I'll put in asterisks. I am transcribing these, which means I'm not editing. Spelling and grammar is all original. I'm going to add some punctuation to a few letters as needed, though. Cousin Josephine knew not the full stop, or even a comma.

I have moderated the comments because we'd be overrun with spam otherwise. This is not going to be used to filter anything any real reader has to say on here, just to keep the Viagra ads off.

That's about it for house-keeping stuff. Enjoy!