Rachel Jane Plank Brandow Letters

Rachel Jane Plank Brandow Hass"

Contributed by Karol Hughes

Most of the following letters were from Rachel Jane Plank Brandow Hass to her son and daughter-in-law in Tonica, IL. However, there are also letters from and to other family members. These other writers are all noted at the beginning of the appropriate letter. The letters were in the possession of Celia Brandow Barton, great-grandmother of the transcriber, and presently are in the possession of her other great-granddaughter, Lisa Barton Piecha. The letters have been edited to make them easier to read as very little punctuation and capitalization were used in the originals. Much of the spelling was left the way it was written.

Rachel Jane Plank and Charles E. Brandow were married in 1861. He died in 1864 leaving Rachel Jane with two very young sons, Howard and Frank. Howard migrated to La Salle Co, IL in 1881 and Frank followed later. Howard married Emma Nancy Ford in 1890 and they had two children, Celia Ella and Charles Elmer. Emma’s parents, Francis Ford and Celia Rosaline Allen, lived in Lexington, Greene Co. prior to their move to Illinois.

Rachel Jane married a second time to John Hass. After his death, in early 1898, Rachel Jane moved to Illinois to be with her sons.

I have added notes about the people mentioned in the letters and their family relationships. Keep in mind the family genealogy is a work in progress.

The first letter is a Ford family letter. Although the letter was written to ‘Emma’, from the date and contents I would say this letter was written to Celia Rosaline Allen Ford. One of her daughters, Lillie, died in 1890 at 4 years of age. I believe the letter was written by Homera Brandow Humphrey Hitchcock. Her mother was Merinda Ellen Stryker and Celia’s mother was Excy Stryker Allen. They were daughters of Peter B. Stryker and Mercy Rullifson. Emma and Mittie may have been some of those family nicknames that have nothing to do with a person’s real name. Homera’s father was Cornelius Brandow.

I’m still working on the family relationships of the Strykers and the Allens. It appears three Stryker siblings and three Allen siblings married: Jacob Stryker and Caroline Allen, perhaps the ‘Aunt Caroline’ mentioned in this letter; Hetty Ann Stryker and Jacob Allen; and Excy Stryker and Cornelius Allen.

Main and Roy were probably Peter Romaine Brandow, Homera’s brother, and his son Leroy. Rose was probably Rose Alice Gaylord, Homera’s sister. Blanche was the daughter of Homera and John R. Hitchcock. Andrew Baldwin was married to Charlotte Stryker, the daughter of Jacob and Caroline Stryker.

Minnie was Celia Rosaline’s eldest daughter.  She was born in Lexington, Greene Co. a few weeks before the family’s move to Illinois.

Note: smart means well.

Manorkill May 18th 1890
Sunday Afternoon

Dear Cousin

It is a long time since I received your letter & should have answered it soon after receiving it but have been so very busy. Rose & Main & Roy, that is Main’s boy, have all been sick. Rose was taken about the first of March. She had the grippe first & then typhoid fever & soon it has settle[d] in her left limb & foot. They are swollen nearly as large as two[?]. I have been there the best part of the time for six weeks or more. Main & Roy had typhoid fever but they are both smart now. Nearly every one around here had the grippe last winter.

We have been down home today. Pa & Ma are well as usual. Georgie is staying with them this summer. He went up to Sabbath school this morning & went up to E___ a little while. He said Rose was a little better today. He is agoing to have a birthday party the first of June. He will be 12 years old. He is making great s___ing on it. I wish your children could be here. Blanche says she don’t know what she will take him

They had a great fire in Gilboa two weeks ago last night. There was three dry goods stores, one hard ware store, 1 church, one hotel, cabinet & undertakers building, monitor office, telegraph office, harness shop, two blacksmiths shops & quite a number of dwelling houses. Andrew Baldwin lost some by the fire but the house where they lived did not burn. Pratt[?] Selleck’s grocery store burned also. They lived in the upper part of it. They saved some of their clothes & some furniture. We were down the next day. It looked terrible around there. Aunt Caroline said she could not look at the fire. We saw her in the street. She is quite smart. She was up to Pa’s last Winter & stayed a week. The house next to Uncle Sponzo’s [perhaps Alonzo] burned but they saved his, but a great deal of the furniture was destroyed.

            We are milking 25 cows so you can know we have plenty to do. We have just finished cleaning house last week. I have the same girl to work for me that I have had for two summers past. I guess we are going to have winter here all summer & we have so much rain it is almost impossible to get our crops in the ground.

We were very sorry to hear that your baby was dead for we can imagine how lonely it would be to part with our little ones. Has Ella returned to Streator yet? Write me about all the friends. Tell Minnie I will write to her by & by. As I did not receive her letter until after yours I thought I would have to write to you first. Her letter was missent.

Uncle Steve is not very smart. He has a bad sore on his life. It has been there nearly a year. He hires a man & woman & is running his farm this year. John has just laid his paper aside & picked up my letter to read. I guess he will think that I have written all the news & I guess I have. Blanche has gone to bed. She sleeps alone in her crib & thinks she is almost a woman now.

Well, Emma, as it is getting bed time I guess I will close. With love to all, Hoping to hear from [you] soon & promising to try to do better in the future, I remain your Cousin,

Mittie Hitchcock

Aunt Ann was Rachel Jane’s sister, Cornelia Ann Edgerly. Ann was William Edgerly’s second wife. Ina was their younger daughter, Grace Iantha. The ‘Gramma’ referred to in this letter was Eliza Vedder Plank, Rachel Jane’s mother. ‘Uncle George & Aunt Gusta’ were Charles Brandow’s brother and his wife, Augusta. Uncle Dr. John Vedder was a brother of Eliza Vedder Plank. He was still living in 1902 according to another letter. George Hass was the son of John Hass from his first marriage.

Catskil Dec 14 1890

Dear Daughter,

I will try to answer your very welcome letter received the third. Glad to hear that you were all well. It found us the same. Glad for the Pictures. Think they are nice. Aunt Ann said the same, that they were nice, and wanted me to thank you and Howard for them for her to you. It is cold but no snow so you see we can’t sleighride; splended wheeling [skating?]. Gramma is not confined to her bed. She lies down through the day. Was out to see her Thursday past. She said to give her best wishes to you and Howard and Frank.

I hardly think I can come to help you tie that comfortable [comforter], but I think of coming visit if [for] nothing more than to help raise chickens and turkeys. Chickens are worth fourteen cts, turkey 16 to 18 cts per pound, butter 29 to 30 cts, egg thirty cts.

Remember me at your Christmas dinner. How I wish my self and John could be with you. We are invited to spend Christmas with Uncle George & Aunt Gusta. Brandows invited. Also invited out to Aunt Ann Edgerly’s, but will go to Uncle George’s. They invited us first. George Hass asked his Father & me over to Thanksgiving dinner. Uncle Dr John Vedder came up two weaks ago. Did not come to see me as he did not know the number and he is troubled with a very severe headache so he hurried back to Saugerties. He has these bad headaches once in seven or eight days. I think probably he will die in one of them spells yet as he is seventy three or four years old, so you see he is not able to stand many of them.

Tell Howard John A Foot sold his lumberyard to Ed Lampmen. Ina Edgerly has bin very sick. Is out of bed now. Does not go out yet.

I think your dress must be very pretty. H__ has a god choice. I think I will send you a piece of my dresses. John and myself atended Mrs Meach’s Daughter[‘s] wedding. He did not dare to took up. She was drest in a cream collord henryetta cloth, plain.

Last Thursday evening we had company to supper. What do you think, the spout came off of my teapot, but we had had our supper. You could not have cut it of any smoother. My little granddaughter [John’s family] said, “Granny, you will have to drink water.”

Well, I will have to close for you will not be able to read what I have all ready written. The Children on the street have me nearly wild. There are so many teams of horses going just as fast as they can, Children screaming. And I say no more. Tell Frank I will write to him in a few days. Write soon & often. Make the rest write, to.

This from your Mother R.J.H. to her Daughter Emma

Don’t fail to write.

Aunt Mary is probably Mary Brandow Underhill Raymond, Charles Brandow’s sister. Her second marriage was to Isaac Raymond. They lived in Tonica, IL. Ell Edgerly was Ellsworth Elmer Edgerly. He was the son of William Edgerly from his first marriage to Elizabeth Brandow, another sister of Charles. Eva Hopkins was the daughter of George Hopkins and Rachel Catherine Brandow, yet another sister of Charles. Ellsworth married Rachel Melinda Hopkins, his cousin, in 1892. The Hopkins family and Ell Edgerly lived in Granville, Putnam, Co. at the time of this letter. [Ell and Melinda lived in Iowa for several years.] Truman Brandow is not mentioned in these letters, but he was a brother of Charles, Elizabeth, Rachel, and Mary. He lived in Granville, too.

Viola Burget Sherman was a cousin to Rachel Jane. Viola’s parents were Jeremiah Burget and Maria Vedder.

Agnes was Ann Plank Edgerly’s elder daughter.

Catskill Feb 27 1891

Dear Daughter,

Emma, Excuse me for waiting so long before answering your very welcome letter. Would like to hear from you oftener than I do. What is the matter that Howard does not answer my letter? I have had no letter from him since Sept past. Why is it? Tell him to write & explain himself why it is. I know he does not like to write.

We are well. Hope this will find you the same as it leves us. I have not seen mother in a long time. Can’t say when I can go out. Was out to Violia Sherman’s on Monday past. Had a nice time.

Tell Howard Dave Duncan has softening of the Brain. Addison Beach went to feed his cow in the morning, the next day they found him frozen to death in the feed hose.

It is cold today. We have had quite a sever snow storm yesterday, but is clear and cold today. I have been making pillow cases, white shirts & so on. Collored carpet rags. I sopose you have your carpet woven, have your not. I do not think I will get mine ready until Fall. Have you got your quilt done? If so I think it must be nice.

Mother has fallen and hurt her side very bad. Aunt Ann & Agness was here Monday. I was not home but was told they had to wait to see the Dr so they came up to see me. Agness has not bin very well. She has a very bad cold. As it is very sickly, Ann is scared about her. A great many sudden deaths. She [Agness] said. the last I saw her she felt good, but she coughs quite a little.

Where is Frank? Tell him to write to me. I live on Main street one and the other grocerier.

Pedlar tramp are at the door so I do not know what I have written. So I do not blaim you for not writing oftener for I think you can scarcely read what I have already written.

Did Uncle I_c and Aunt Mary go out to Ioa [Iowa] last Fall visiting? Has Ell Edgerly bin out to see you yet? He said he would go and see you the following his return home. He said Eva Hopkins was in school at Chicago.

I often wish you and Howard and Frank could come home and see us. Think of you all very often. I dream of H and Frank. I thought Howard was gone and I could not find him. I am afraid Frank or himself is sick though I have not much faith in dreams. I would like to hear from Frank. Where & what he is going to do? Answer this letter soon as convenient. I want H & F to write as I am willing to read all and answer all the letters I get. Love to all. Good Bye.

This from mother Hass to Daughter Emma

            Write soon & often as you can.

Eliza Plank died October 1893. Lulu Plank was a daughter of Henry Martin Plank, Rachel Jane’s cousin. The grandson who died was from John Hass’s family; George was probably the father. Mary Lizzy was George’s daughter. Alfred Lorenzo and Edwin were sons of Abraham Vedder, brother of ‘Uncle Peter Vedder,’ ‘Uncle Dr. Vedder’ and Eliza Vedder Plank. ‘Girty’ is Gertrude, daughter of George and Augusta Brandow; ‘Little George’ and Frank, their sons. They had a third son named Charles. 

James Priest was married to Angeline Brandow.

 Catskill April 21st 1893

Dear Daughter,

             Emma, true it is along time since I have had a letter from you or yours, but do not think for one singal moment that I had for gotton you, but I have not at all times been able to write to you. Am better at present.

Was out to mother’s. She is helpless. Has to be lifted in and out of bed for over four months. She can use her hands but can’t walk. She had a shock of Paralacys the twelft of April 1892. It was of the throat so she cannot speak plain. Those who are not accustomed to hear her speak would not understand her. She sends her love to you and Howard and Frank. Says kiss baby for her and tell her it is Great Granmas kiss sent to her from Cauterskill

It snowed here the day after I was out to see mother. I think there was all of four inches of snow. The spring is very backward.

Aggie Edgerly and Frank Adsit were married Easter morning. Live in New York. Lula Plank and Frank Barker were married Apr fourthe. Live in Freck, Cattaraugus C. _ N.Y. Tell Howard, Sellick Smith is dead. He was in the afternoon buried and his sister died the morning after his funeral.

There are but very few doors that the messenger of death has not entered and left an aching void. The tenth of November our little grandson was taken with membrane croup. Died the twelft. Ten months old. We mis him very much, but our loss is His Eternal gain. I expect to meet him, if faithfull, on the other shore where we shall meet to part no more.

Mary Lizzy Hass have bin sick for three weaks, not any better yet. I fear it will be consumptions in the end. Lib Ryan is dead. Leves four small Children. Just Eleven months to a day be tween her and Will Ryan’s death. Mrs Ryan has Lib’s Children without the baby. That, Mrs. Bell has in charge. Lib was only twenty nine yrs.

            Uncle Peter Vedder died February the fourteenth, buried in Jefferson. He gave his wife seven hundred and fifty dollars or the use of one third of his real estate. Lorenzo gets three hundred dollars. Uncle Dr Vedder’s son, Charley, gets three hundred dollars. The rest of his real and personal property goes to Edwin Vedder.

Frank Overbaugh has bought Peter Martin’s place in Cauterskill. Moved on it first of April. George Akins has bought James Priest’s for twelve hundred dollars.

Sally Ann did not move on her place this spring. Stay where they are on the Saugerties road near John Post’s.

Aunt Augusta has bin quite sick. Was not able to go to see her. Better now. Am going to see her soon. Have not bin to see her since Girty went to work in Bridgeport Connecticut. Uncle George is night watch in the Ice house at the point yet. Little George and Frank are clerks in Boughton’s store. Frank is carryer boy.

Letter ends.

Unable to place Aunt Sally Ann Perry. Charles had a sister, Sarah Ann, but she married Abram Van Gorden.

 Catskill Feb 25, 1894

 Dear Son & Daughter,

It seems to me it is a long time since I have heard from you. You say you don’t owe me a letter. You owe me one when ever you can write to me. Always glad to hear from you & yours.

Is Howard cutting caps yet? It must be hard for you to do the chores, or does he help you? I sopose Frank does them when he is with you. Is he with you now? I am so glad Howard sold that black cow for I did not like her, she was no good. How is Fanny? Has she got all right? I was very sorry to hear the pigs had eat up three of your Ducks for they were so nice. Does your hens lay good now? Eggs are 22cts a dozen down here now. I hope they will be cheaper by Easter time

            Is Mr Boyl going to stay on his place this year or will he move away? I sopose farming work will soon begin.

            Granpa has done very little work this winter. He was coming acrots the River when he slipt and fell & crack one or two of his ribs. It seem with my own trouble I still had room for more, but [he] thinks he will go to work Tuesday, that is if nothing happens again. We have good Ice weather now. It has bin bad the fore part of the winter. Now from twelve to sixteen below zero but very little snow.

We have had a great long series of protratter [?] metings. A large number claim to have come out from the world & turned to Christ. I live to do his will but I have not bin able to go to any of their metings for the reason that the air hurts my face & so I was kept in doors.

Tell Howard & Frank that Aunt Sally Ann Perry is going to moove in her own house in Cauterskill first of April.

What become of the Dimon Drill company? Did they fall through the basket?

Emma I used the last of my Citron sauce yesterday. It was nice. Is yours all gone?

Did you have enough for Celia’s apron without pieceing it? If I could have went myself I would done different. I want to know who knit her other pair of stockings.

Emma, I want to hear from you often. Do not wait for turns. I wish I would get a letter every day and pass my time. I am lonesome.

Tell Celia Granma has her letter yet. Reads it often. She must write to Granma when mamma writes. If Granma & Granpa lives we will come out when Granma’s face gets well. The Dr wants me to stay in case it should break out again, yet he said he thought it would be all right

Uncle George Brandow looks very bad. Girty has had the irricipalas [?] in her face for two weaks. Better now. Little George & Frank work in Doties store. Charley goes to school.

           Emma, perhaps another year if we all live we will come out & be more help than now. If things go right as I hope & trust it will. We would come this spring only for the Dr. wants me to stay untill he does discharge me.

Howard must not have his hair cut so short on the top of his head again for he don’t look natural. I am sleepy. Granpa is on the lounge asleep and I will stop writing.

Love to you all RJH


Hattie was Emma’s sister. Not certain who Aunt Geanere was, but Emma had an Aunt with the name of Jeannette in the Allen family.

[crowded at top]

We have gone down stairs to live. Like it better than we did upstairs.

We have an imporded sparrow bird. His plumage is something grand. He chirps & wistles so you see he is no songster. [We} have him for his beauty.

Catskill Sept 9th 1894

Dear Son & Daughter,

I thought I would write you a few lines this morning. We are as well as usual. Wish you & yours enjoy the same blessing when these few imperfect lines reach you.

We had a little rain Wednesday night & also yesterday. How is the weather where you are, Emma? Write & tell me. We feel worried about you. Has the Fires reach any where near you? Father feels very uneasy about you. He thinks your are burned out. The fires have bin some thing terrible around here and all our surroundings both East & West, North & South. Have bin almost surounded by fire. The Wallkill Valley road was burned so the traines did not run. Do not know wether they run yet or not. Father has worried so much he has me near killed and I worried in my own mind so I did not sleep at all good. Now Emma, if you have had bad luck in any way, write. I think of your horses. They have died around here a great deal and all of their best horses died.

The dry weather has bin worse than was ever known around here by the oldes people. We wet our garden and it looks very good concidering the dry time. Very warm this morning. Think we will have more rain.

We have six stained windows in our M.E Church. One in memory of Henry & Sally Gaylord, one of Newton Keler, one in memory of Emmory M. Gage. They are nice.

I have a beutifull sofa pillow to work for Agness. She sent it three weaks ago, have not worked it yet. Will this weak if nothing happens.

            Did you get my last letter? I have written two, this is the third one. No answer yet. Did you have the Baby’s Pictures taken? It seems I can’t wait to get one. O Dear, how much I think of you & yours. It seems six year since we left you. Hope we will see each other soon again. Has Hattie come home? I have looked & looked. Have not seen her yet. Hope she won’t come home & not see me for we want to have her come so much. Emma, I believe I would walk 20 m to see you. How I wish you could come with Hattie. Kiss the children for Granma.

How is Frank? When have you seen him? How are all the Friend around there? Aunt Geanere sent her love to me. Tell her she has my best wishes and I think of her very often. Also remember the pleasant visit we had with her & family. Love to her.

Emma, I want you to write soon. Granpa is sure some thing is the matter. If it hant [?] the fire then he says some of you are sick & don’t write. If all is well write & get it off of your mind so I can write again. Ma Hass, Pa Hass

Kate Ham was Sarah Catherine, a daughter of William Edgerly by his first marriage to Elizabeth Brandow. She was married to William Ham. I believe Lotty (Charlotte), Ella, and Etta (Estella) were George Brandow’s daughters by his first marriage to Jane Pulver. George was in Bridgeport, Connecticut during the 1880 census and it is probable that his daughters settled there.

Ella Plank may be the wife of Jeremiah Plank. Jeremiah, Henry Martin (mentioned above) and perhaps Minna Plank (in this letter) were Rachel Jane’s cousins. Their father was Abram; Rachel Jane’s was Levi.

at the top – Catskill answer right away   if we come we come to stay

Sept 27 1894

Dear Son & Daughter,

Your letter came to hand Monday past. Glad to hear from you & glad indeed to get Elmer’s Picture. Think he is a very beautifull Child. I have his hair in my hair Book with yours & Celia[‘s], H & Fs.

Sorry to hear Howard had not been very well the past Summer but glad to hear he is better now. We are well as usual. The only & all trouble is hard times & no money. Father has lain idle 8 weeks & all of the gang that worked with him. Of all I think this is the worst Fall I ever saw in Catskill. No work. Streets full of Idle men, & will be so until after [the] election, and wages are reduced to half the value that they was before.

We took Elmer’s Picture out to Aunt Ann’s Tuesday. She thanks you for it. Thinks he is hansome & so is Celia. One is light & the other dark. I wish you & your Family could have come with the Picture. Every day seems a year as it passes by. I want to see you all so much.

            Father says he & I would come right out if you want us to, but I tell him we will have to get rid of our things. It won’t pay to move them. Father says if we can arrange matters we will be out & help husk corn. I think I beat him. He has his husking pin yet. He says he can do better now than he did last Fall. I laugh at him for I can do as much as he can. I do love to tease him. He says I shant come in the field at all; I must tend baby.

            Uncle William went up to Albany Tuesday to have an operation performed on his eyes. Giving all he had to Kate Ham, he now is in the soup & Aunt Ann is badly off.

Howard, Old Mr Roberts lost his wife three years ago & he was married last Sunday to a Mrs Hewart[?]. She being 52 yrs & he 76 yrs.

Last Friday to prisoners broke Jail. They caugh George Norton, but Kelly is gone. He is a desperate man. Three cases of rape against him. He filed his chains off with a corset steel, then he tied the chain with a thread. Five were chained down to the floor & when the sherf went in to see if all was right, Kelly push[ed] one of the prisoners against him pushing him down, and so two escaped.

Aunt Gusta & Girtie Brandow & Minna Plank were here last night & spent the evening. Had quite a pleasant time. Girtie is going to Bridgeport, Ct & N.Y. to spend two months with Lotty & Ella. Etta is not married yet. Aunt Ann was here & spent the day last Friday. We are going to have a stranger come upstairs to George Hasses & one to Ella Plank’s. One came to Mrs Bell’s last night that is in the adjoining yard. That makes her five sons and one daughter. Excuse all mistakes.

                                                From Ma Hass

O granma will answer Celia[‘s] letter. So glad she write to granma. Granma is coming to see her & her little brother & her little pony[?]. She must take good care of it till we come. From Granma to her little Celia

Believe Hattie was Celia Ford Brandow’s sister.

Catskill 25th 1894

            Dear Son & Daughter, I received your welcome letter for such they are to me when ever I get one from you. Emma, I received your letter last evening. I also got your other letter but was not able to answer it. Am better. I was nearly wild with pain all over me so I could not write. Taken quite sudden.

Hattie came to see us the fifth of [Sept. scratched out]. Wanted her to stay over with us & she said she was & did go on the six[th] to Boston. Expect to hear from her soon. She said you sent with her a present for me. She forgot it.

Emma, we are coming if nothing happens as soon as we can get rid of our things. Can’t say just when. I never saw such a time in Catskill. So many Idle men & money is so hard to get hold of. One woman owed me for sewing & it seemed that I never would get my pay. It was over three months, so I just asked her for it. She said money was hard to get hold of. I laught & said it would be just as well for me to keep it after three months waiting for it. She is waiting to have more sewing done. I got it all the same. I think after [the] election perhaps we can sell some & some I am going to fetch out with us. Oh, Dear Child, how much I think of you & wish I was out with you. I could save you hiring a girl, but, Oh, the distance that lies between us. Father says he is coming if he lives. If he don’t husk corn this year if he lives he will try to help put it in the ground & husk another year. But we will see each other soon if all goes right.

Martin Plank is laid up with a sprained ancle. Michael Decker’s wife was taken sick three O’clock & died six in the evening. Neauralagy of the heart.

It is raining and the weather is warm. Emma, how I wish you see the Trees. They are just lovely. Uncle Dr Vedder was visiting us the secont of Oct. Hattie came the fifth of October. Andrew Beaunach is going to fetch Mrs [or Miss] Beaunach home Saturday of this week from the Asylyn. She is all right now, was there two years & seven months. I am expecting company, Phebe Allvoert. Have not seen her in thirty four years. In youth she was one of my chums.

Emma, hug & kiss the children for me & hug & kiss H B & F B for me & I will make it all right with you when I come.

Like to her from you. Write often as you can. I will write soon again.

                        Love to you, H & F & kiss C & E for me

Catskill July 21 1895

            Ever Dear & loved children

Well, but tired. Worry about you & yours. How do you get along? What did Celia say when she woke up & found Granma gone? Does Elmer look for Granpa yet? He speaks of you all, but most of the little ones. He dearly loves Elmer. Celia was so much help to him. He loves them both.

We had a little delay. The train ahead of us broke down. We waited after awhile, then back[ed] up & passed them. Conductor said we were one hour & fifty five minits be hind times. He said they would make up the time when we got in Buffalo. The conductor came to me & said change cars for west shore. Would have to wait till half past six, then [the] two oclock west shore express got in Catskill half past three in the after noon Saturday. Supper to George’s. Went to Aunt Ann’s. So lame she can hardly walk. Going to visit this week if I can.

The Knights of Pitheas are going to have a great time here Tuesday, Wednesday, Thurday, & Friday. Wed night grand Bycycle rides. Will go if I can.

Well, to day is Sunday. Perhaps Frank may be to your house. Think how I wish I could be out with you & spend the day with you. Is Howard got over his lameness or not? Had quite a time while waiting with Granpa.

Very dry & hot. Look[s] lik rain. Thunder & lightning neary all night. Very warm & close this morning. Quite & [an] exciting time. A lady pased and said the cow was in the creek drowning & scared us so. But it proved to be not true. She was in the bushes near the edge of the water.

            O, the flies nearly eat me up. Emma, excuse me for the time. I am so tired. Write soon & often [with] all the news. Ma Hass

I want you [to] kiss Celia & Elmer for granpa & three times for me; one for you, one for H, one for F.

            Write soon & often

            Ma Hass

Catskill Feb 2, 1896

Dear Husband and children, Your letter came in the office Sunday past but I did not get it. Just received. Will answer immediately. Hope Granpa is better. If he is not, write me right away & I will try to come. I have bin sick four weeks under Drs care. Don’t go out yet. Today & for three days past I have so much pain in my left side and up through my chest that I can hardly draw my breath. I had the Lagrip & cought something terrible, so if he is better I would rather not come until settled weather. If not, will come. Hate to come alone feeling so bad but the Lord will be my stay. Do write me right away. Did not sleep last night for I had so much pain & of course worring all into gather so I [am] worthless today. Am to Jerry’s. Write in care of Jerry Plank so perhaps they will carry it to the mill. Then I can get it right away.

Dear Husband, did George send you one of his pictures? Have not seen them in five weeks. Don’t think they know I have bin sick.

Aunt Ann was here a couple of times. Last Friday afternoon she tended a Funeral of a young man, Abe Simpkin. Married last July. Died with Typhoid, pneumonia, & spiral mineogitus. Mrs.[?] Kater is dead. Mrs. Avery has a mortgage of six thousand dollars. Addison Plank has a chattle mortgage amounting to twelve hundred. The heirs will not get much.

We have not much snow. It looks very cold out. Stormed most all day yesterday.

Answer right away. Anxious to hear.

From Ma

Message on right side is in German. John was born in Germany.

Catskill May 10th 1896

                        Dear Husband & children, I sopose you are looking & wondering to know why I did not come. I had another fall & hurt my back again. Then the winter Cholra set in so I had all I wanted to do to get up to my room. It has cost me a great deal of money up to this present time, but I thank God that I was able to go to see the Dr today & get another bottle of medicine. If I get no more pullbacks I expect to leave Catskill Monday, the first of June, but will write you again. It seams a long time since Granpa & I parted then thinking I would come in March, but, oh, what a stormy March. I had sick[ness] so I could look for disappointments all the time. Tell Granpa I will see you all soon, God helping me.

Excuse my blotted paper & I can tell you all & better when I see you all. Will write you again before leaving. Tell no one I am coming.

                        Ma Hass

From Freddy Plank to Celia Brandow. Celia was Rachel Jane Plank’s granddaughter. Believe Freddy Plank was the son of Jeremiah Plank. Aunty would have been an honorary title unless there was another connection I have yet to find. Freddy was born June 1892 and Celia in 1891.

Catskill Dec 1896

            Friend Celia, I thought I would try and answer youre kind letter wich I received from you. I thought so much of it that I had it sleep wit me nights till it was wore out. I would like to see you very much. Tell anty Rachel that I have not had my pictures taken yet. I will close now for the time hopeing to here frome you a gain

From Freddy Plank

Envelope says ‘Granpas Hasses last message.’ He died Jan. 8, 1898.

Agnes’s baby was probably Frankie. Hattie Huss had a daughter, Lillian, and Frank and Mattie Ford had a daughter, Eva Glenn.

Catskill Oct 17 1897

Dear Children, I am well but very badly disappointed as expected Agness & baby home today. Did not come. William is going over tomorrow to see what is the matter. It has bin very warm August weather for the last week. The weather changed last night & today we have fire & doors & windows shut. Granpa is with me. He is quite feble. He can hardly lift his foot high enough to reach the step to get in the house. We have a plumb tree with not one leaf on it, yet it has five beautiful blows [blooms] that forms the bunch. It is lovely to look at. Granpa said it was a token of his death. The same blowed when Uncle Jake Vedder died & the same for mother.

I think you had better not unpack the boxes as your a going to move. It will save you so much work. The large box has my Dishes & glassware in it so be carefull as they are not packed on feathers as before. Nothing will take any hurt till spring.

You will hear from Ann anon [?]. She said she was going to write to you. We got [a] Postal yesterday saying [what] Uncle & Aunt & all wanted & said They was going to stay until Spring, but I think N.Y. will fetch them home. If not, they will hear from me & don’t you forget it. I have ten lbs grapes, spiced ten lbs cycle pears, pickled some greene tomatoes pickles, can quinces, caned tomatoes, caned some grapes. She caned the pears before she went away. I have packed two gars of butter. Will sell what I make now.

I do wish you, H & F & [the] little ones were here today with us. Granpa was so pleased with Elmer’s letter &, O, how bad he felt saying, “I will never see them again in this world. Yet I would like to see them all once more. Give my love & also my best wishes to them, & kiss & hug both the little ones for me telling them that is Granpa[‘s] kiss for his big man & also [to] his nice little girl from Granpa.” He says good bye. If he loses as he has for the last week, he won’t live to see Christmas.

Well, my Dear little Celia, you don’t know how pleased Granma was when I see your welcome letter & to hear you could read in the first reader. It won’t be very long when you will be able to write to Granma in stead of mama. Won’t that be nice? What did you think of Aunt Hattie’s little girl baby? I sopose you will have a better time when Aunt Matie comes with her little girl. She can run & play with you & Elmer. I wish I to could be there with you. Must write to Granma often. It will train you to write. You kiss Elmer for me & Elmer must kiss you to for Granma. Is Elmer my sweet neusence? Yet you was my lovey & you are that still.

                        From Granma to Celia & Elmer

                                    Good Bye

I would like to see you in your old home where you have lived so long & which seems so much like home to me. But I hope & trust it will be for your better interest & that you will do well, for surely you work hard enough to get along. I think Frank ought to go with Howard after the things for they won’t stand much garing [jarring] & it will be to much for Howard on account of that pain in his chest. I have often thought I would scribbl a few lines to Minie. Found no time yet, so this must satisfy her. Love to all. Write soon as you get the things.

Ma Hass

Three members of the Ford family died of Typhoid in 1899: Emma’s father, Francis Ford, and two brothers, Frank and Bert.

Eliza Plank’s brother, Isaac Vedder, died in 1887. Mary Elisabeth Peck was his wife.

Catskill June 22 1899

            Dear Daughter,

Emma, I am afraid to ask. Is your Dear mother & Dear Sister still living? I hope the Lord has spard them. I am so anxious to hear, yet I think it is the longest time I have ever experienced since you wrote me. I wrote to Frank & he did not answer. So I don’t sleep or take any rest at all worrying about you. Aunt Ann thinks you & Frank are sick if you can’t write. Let H write. I sopose he has his hands full, but I am so anxious to hear how is Hattie & Minnie & all what is left. Emma, if you or any of yours or Frank is sick with the fever do let me know, I am almost wild. Yet I know you have your hands full. I think you must have given out by this time. Hope you are well & able to do for those that are left. We all feel so sorry for you in your sad trials but we all have a cross to bear, so stem the storm, it won’t be long we will anchor by & by. I am out to Aunt Elisebeth’s now. Let me hear from you soon. It is supper time & I am going to help get supper. Answer right away.

            Direct your letter   Leeds in care of Mrs. Isaac Vedder, Box 64

Agnes’s birthday was September 3. The baby must have died young. It is not named on the 1910 census.

            Catskill  Sept 7 1899

Ever Dear Children,

I now sit down to talk with you a few minits. I came to Aunt Ann’s last Saturday to tend the feunerel of Will Johnston buried Sunday. Died with tumor of the stomach. Closed up the passage between stomache & bowels. Suffered very much.

All well as usual. Agness had a baby Boy born Sunday night on her twenty six[th] birthday. Frankie said to me, “Aunt Janie, puts baby in baby wagon in the yard so I can ride it in the yard.” He calls it a little doll.

I am going back to Aunt Elisebeth[‘s] Sat. for a short time. Emma, I don’t know just when I will start to come west. Aunt Ann says I shant come as long as she lives. I think she will come with me if nothing happens. Aunt Elisebeth is telling me I must stay & live with her. I said my Children is the place for me, bound by the ties of nature. Dear, very dear, to me. So you see I am between two straits. I expect to be with you & all on H’s birthday, that is if you want me to come this Fall. You know when I come I come to stay. I will take my trunk down to Catskill from Auntie’s so it will be close to the Depot. I don’t know just how I can come. The West shore was sold. It now belongs to the Central, but I think I can get through on the west shore all right. If not, will come on Central. Hope you & family are well. & how is Frank & also your mother & all that are left & Mina & her family? Kiss H & F & C & E for granma & who will kiss mama for granny? Celia & Elmer I sopose.

Will Johnston was buried in Jefferson. The pall bearers were United Labor & Odd Fellows. Forty United Labor & fifty Odd Fellow met the procession at the upper Iron Bridge & so on to the grave. White Dove united Emblem, odd fellows green sprig.

Expect to hear from you soon. Will get one more letter I think will be all, but it won’t be written with lead pencil I asure you. Aunt Ann has gone to Agga’s to wash to day

Love to all

Let me hear from you soon.

Direct Mrs I Vedder Leeds box 64

As I will be there till 23 of Sept.

Rachel Jane eventually moved to Tonica, IL to live with Howard, but apparently made extended visits back to Catskill.

Agnes’s baby would have been Ethel Kellerhouse. Minis Plank was another son of Abram. He was an attorney in New York City.

I believe ‘Aunt Sarah Platt’ was the wife of Platt Ford, a brother of Francis. He married Sarah L. Newton whose family also came from Greene Co. Mrs. Huss and Mrs. Grant were Ford family in-laws and other people mentioned in the second paragraph are also members of the Ford family. 

Catskill  May 16 1902

Ever Dear Children,

I am alone so sat down to talk by way of pen & ink which is short conversations. Oh, if we were to gather how our Tongues would clatter.

Well how is H, F, Elmer, yourself & Celia. Are you all better & well again? Tell Celia I wish I had a piece of her pie, the first she baked. Well, Emma, you did not tell me what came between Ira & Hattie. & how is Mrs. Huss? Is her leg sore yet? & Mrs. Grant also? Now I was sorry to hear such news about Ella. Hope she will get better soon. Your mother has her share of trouble. We all have our share of that. How often I think of Mable when we were to Maggie’s. What a good time we had. I sopose Dorathy talks every thing. How is Minie & all the rest? Has Aunt Sarah Platt got smart again? I feel better than I have done in a long time. I am taking Dones Teidney pills. My back is all right. My feet are my greatest trouble.

We have had frost & quite thick Ice. Bill Lee’s wife is dead. Four Feunerels yesterday, the fourth of May.

I went out to Aunt Ann’s. As I came in the gateway she came in the back door. They have had a lot of chickens stolen. Uncle William would say to me last winter all the chickens are here to eat when I feed them. Anna says they are stole at night [when] they [William and Ann] are all here. One day she came from Catskill, met & [an] Indian woman & a collored woman. Soon as they saw her they stood still. The squaw had on a long cape. She had two chickens & lot of eggs. Ann got a serch warnt, [but] could find nothing. They say she conceals it outside. He [William] could sell his chickens for twelve cts a pound, but he won’t do it. She said to me that day he gave the place to Kate he owes John Posson fourteen dollars or more for chicken feed. She said she won’t pay it. She said she did not think she could keep house another winter. She has not bin well since she was sick in Michigan. She talked about your coming down this fall. I said you dident [?] speak favorable. She sat a minit & said will I be disapointed in that? & we all will be disapointed but ma & myself know you will come unless sickness prevents. If you want to see the East come while she is in her old home.

She thinks Ina will be married this fall. Aunt Ann has not seen Agga’s baby yet. The 30[th] of this month it will be eight months. It will walk & talk, so she says, before she sees it. Can’t go untill Ina can come & stay so she can go. Don’t know when she can come but where there is a way [sic] will there is a way. Uncle Bill [William?] was afraid the place would be sold last spring. He told Ina it would go till next spring. Emm, keep this freemason secret. You H, F, & no more. She would kill me a little bit if she knew it. What she don’t know don’t hurt her

[Crowded at top of second page.}

Do you blame me to be homesick? Tell Howard Minis Plank came to see me Sunday. The first thing he wanted [was] H-adress. If he writes H must answer it. He wants to see both the boys so bad.


Write soon.

Catskill  May 28th 1902 

Dear Children, Wednesday

Will now tell you why I did not send my letter. Just finished the letter when I got the word Uncle Dr. Vedder was very low & Aunt Eliza had a council of Drs & they said they had no hopes as he is in his 84 (?) yr. So held on untill further notice. Aunt had some hope of betterness Sat. He is the last one from my mother’s side. All dead from my Father’s side.

Aunt Ann told Uncle William last week she did not think she would keep house another winter. Thinks she must do it all. He did not go to the barn last winter in seven weeks.

Last week Will Conine was up on the mountain & encountered quite a snow storm. The shad & herring fishing is poor. Last Sunday Aunt Ann had herring for dinner. We all of us wished for you all. If it was not so far we would send you some. If F[rank] was here he & I would go up to the dam & fish. They cach herring up there. A boy caugh forty eight yesterday. Had some for dinner. They was nice.

 I am with Mrs. Saulsbury for a short time. She has a millinary shop on Main St so I came to please her. J. B. Saulsbury, Tomson St., No 18.

You are coming down if nothing happens. See her in her old home. She was going to have pictures taken but [continues crowded at top of first side] so thin her hair comes out. So she said she would be bald yet in time. Now answer my letters & I will answer the children’s letters. How is Frank? Is Elmer better? Have you got your girl who is the hired man’s name? Hope Ella is better.  Ma

The following two letters were together, but they look like parts of two different letters. They are written on different paper and the sentence doesn’t continue from first to second page.

Letter from Cornelia Ann Plank Edgerly in Catskill to Celia Brandow in Tonica, IL. Celia’s father, Howard Brandow, died October 1912. Cornelia Ann’s daughters were Ina (Grace Iantha) and Agnes Josephine. Ina was married to Abram Hack. Agnes was married, first, to Frank Adsit, and, second, to Frank Kellerhouse.

 Catskill, July 22, 1912

Dear niece & all

Excuse me for not answering before. I have been sick. I caught a cold & it settled on the bowels. I suffered such pain. Am over that now but my back will never be any better. & my leg swells much more. Then such very hot wheather. So long & the worst drought in 12 years. Evry thing is dryed up, but hay & rye is good. Yesterday we had a little rain. Caught water enough to wash. You remember how near the house the road went. Well the dust was terable & smoke from the a__oes.

How is it out there & how is your Father? We all are so anxious wishing for improvement. Do you get along all right with the work? Milk is so scarce here, 7c quart; meat, 30 & 35c; salt pork, 15c per pound; eggs, 30c.

Ina & Abe have had tonsaleitus. Celia, I never had so good a chance to come west as this summer, as I have rented my land & garden to Frank Overbaugh. No apples…

‘Aunt Nancy’ was probably Nancy Plank Vedder. Nancy was the widow of Abraham Vedder, brother of Eliza Vedder Plank. Not certain who Addie was, perhaps a granddaughter.

…is old jim alive yet? The wind blows a gale this morning. By night dry as ever.

Aunt Nancy is so deaf we have to write on paper to her. Have not see her since last Dec. I do not go much any more. Have not seen her & Addie since before they went west. Wish I could see you once more. Is your ma well this summer? They intend to commence to repair Kate Ham’s house today. Partially destroyed by fire, oil stove.

            Cold here this morning. Well I will close & get my breakfast. Eat all alone

            All come to see me. & how is Frank? Tell him I send love to him if he does not write to me. Love & best wishes to your pa,.Celia. Do write often so I can hear.

                                    Aunt Ann

Letter from Agnes Edgerly to Emma Nancy Ford Brandow. Frankie was her son from her first marriage to Frank Adsit and Ethel from her marriage to Frank Kellerhouse.

Sent from Schodack Landing

                        Renns Co. NY

                        Feb. 23, 1913

            Dear Cousin Emma-

                        I will now try & answer your letter & Postals, which I am allways pleased to get, but must confess am very slack about answering. I realy do not know what to say to you Emma, only that you have my deepest sympathy as I to have passed through the same thing. And only those who have passed through such sorrow can realize what a loss it is to loose a good husband. But God had a greater need for them than we had. It does seem very hard to us but God does all things for the best & we must look at it in that way.

            We have had a very few real winter days & last night we had a hard thunder shower, & tonight every thing is froze up & it is getting colder all the time. Frank has only worked 5 days on the ice yet but may go again in the morning, Then we[‘ll] have to get up early, but I don’t mind that for he gets up & get[s] the breakfast, puts up his dinner & then calls me to eat with him. Frank certainly is a good man in every way even though he is firm, & that I knew before I married him. We have all had colds & Frankie did not get over his as he ought. He lost 7 pounds in two weeks but now he has a great apetite & weighs 171 pounds, & I weigh the same. That is the heaviest I ever weighed. Still I have Bronchial trouble all the time & take medicine 3 times a day. Ethel is quite tall this winter but is thin. She is getting along fine in school & loves to go. Has only lost 1 day this term so far. She wants to be a teacher.

I was to Catskill last week & Ina is quite some better. She has heart trouble Dr. says. Still she works and walks to the village. Ina is looking good for all she has gone through in the last year. She is heart broken over her little girl. She was a lovely baby. Frank & Ethel have gone to Church. Frankie stayed home with me. How is Frank [back to top of first page] & what is he doing & where is he? Remember me to Elmer & Celia.

Well, I must close for they have come home from church & it is bed time so will say good night.

            Write soon,


Our love to you all.

Envelope says: From Aunt Ann Edgerly. Wrote Sept. 15, 1915. Died Sept. 17, 1915. Age 75 yrs 9 mo 1 da.

                        Catskill Sept. 15, 1915

Dear Celia.

After a long time I will try to answer your very unexpected letter, but a very welcome one. I was so glad to hear from you & the lovely picture of your boy. Thanks. Take good care of him & may God spare him to you. Ina has 3 fine children. One girl, Cornelia; she is lovely.

Celia, I am verry miserable. Have not laid in bed at night in a long time. Sit in a big chair. Do not sleep any. My feet & legs are swelled large but but from dropsy come purple spots on my feet & they have got sores, very painful. Legs are drawen up. Can’t walk a step. Creep on hands & knees. Can’t be cured. Dr [has come] every day now [for] 5 weeks. Can’t live long.

Very hot here. Breathing short. Hired [a] woman since January 7, but [she] can’t stay. Can’t stand it, 72 years old. Do not know what I will do.

            Got a letter from your ma. Not able to answer it. Tell her I can’t stand on my feet at all, fall. I will try again to finish it. This will be the last from Aunt Ann. Think of me kindly when I am gone. I have a nice home, love my children, but the Lord’s will must be done. Love to you all & to Frank.

            Goodby, Aunt Ann

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