This letter was written by 36 year-old Mary Betha (Fernalld) Twichell (1826-1899), the wife of Philander Woodbury Twichell (1824-1896) of McDonough, Chenango County, New York.
Mary wrote the letter to her cousin, Thomas J. Rollins (1827-18xx) of Epping, Rockingham, New Hampshire. Thomas was the son of Jonathan Rollins (1799-1835) and Mary (“Polly”) Purington (b. 1797).
[Editors Note: The Smithsonian has a primitive painting of the Twichell family dating to about 1875. Family members are engaged in various activities which include playing the piano and playing with the cat. The family consists of Mr. & Mrs. Philander Woodbury Twichell, their seven daughters and a son-in-law. The Control No. is IAP 73262030. They have the surname spelled Twitchell.]
Addressed to Mr. Thomas J. Rollins, West Epping, Rockingham County, New Hampshire
McDonough, New York
June 16th 1861
I have been thinking about writing to you quite a while but have had something to hinder every Sunday, and I have so much to do weekdays that I cannot find time. I have been sick with my teeth ulcering. I had a real hard time. Miss Harriet came down to see me everyday. She was very kind to me.
I have not written so often as I should to you for I thought you would hear the news from this neighborhood occasionally, but I intend to write often enough so you will know we have not forgotten you.
I have a great deal of work to do this summer. Martha is gone this summer. She lives to Thomas’ now and I expect she will stay through the season. Some of the girls have to help their Father out of doors but [our eldest daughter] Lucinda who I must — and will — have to help in the house.
It has been a very backward spring. It has been cold and wet. It bothered people about getting in their crops in season. Things are backward now but I hope it will be a fruitful season. And I hope for an abundant harvest for the soldiers that are fighting for their country will want something to eat. It is stirring times now. People are mostly united about here but there is some that sympathize with the South — but they are counted as tories and rebels. They are pretty careful what they say out from home. We had a letter from Woodbury’s brother last night. He lives in Athol, Massachusetts. He says business has pretty much stopped in that place. He is making shell balls to be used in a rifled cannon. When they strike an object, they explode.
It is Sunday again and I have not finished my letter yet. I have had a good deal to do this last week. We have been braiding a few hats. We carried them to Oxford last week and got the children some clothes. Drew and his wife was here one day last week and Martha came home to go to Oxford with us and she is here now. Charles and his wife was here yesterday. When Drew came, he brought his fish net and they went a fishing and caught a large tin pail full of fish. How they would have enjoyed it if you had been here to go with them. I should think you and Woodbury would be good hands to drive them into the net. I expect Thomas and his wife tomorrow or next day. Father and Mother has not been here this spring yet. Rebecca Jane has not been here [since] you was here last fall. Don’t you think she is neighborly? But they have no horse to come with, you know.
I suppose you would like to hear from Harriet. She has been most sick with a cold but she is better now. She was down here last evening. I presume she would be very happy to see you, don’t you think? She will see you before two years — I think she will if life and health be spared. I should like to see you. I do not know but I should shake you out of your boots for coming most here once and not coming clear along. You will know what I mean.
I have written this in such a hurry I do not know as you can read it. I think of sending it down by Thomas to East German Post Office. Write a good long letter. Hurrah for the Union!
— Mary B. Twichell