Mary Newell visits grandma
When she visited her grandmother in 1850, Mary A. Newell had a lively
rural vacation: picking berries, playing school, taking the cows to
pasture. Her answer to a letter from her parents back in Boston,
Massachusetts, was carefully printed in pencil on two sides of a sheet of
paper folded in half.
I haven’t yet learned who Mary was. Her father probably was a clergyman or doctor;
the letter is addressed to “Doct. and MRS NEWELL.”
Mary seems to have been very young when she wrote the letter, and
probably had just learned to write. Her spelling is actually quite good,
though perhaps she had help with some words. She printed mostly in capital
letters, with the occasional unexpected swoop into lower-case. Capital “L”
and “I” seem to have given Mary some trouble: her “I” usually is a small “i”
made very tall; her “L” is a small “l” made likewise—though actually
resembling capital “I”. “T” is carefully drawn, with a loop at either end of
the cross-bar. “S”, however, in both sizes, is backward, as is the “J” in
The transcript here is presented as spelled and punctuated, though in
the interest of readability, I haven’t left it in capital letters.
Unfortunately, no transcript can reproduce the utter charm of Mary’s
Brookfield August 28 1850
My dear father and moter
i am very much obliged
to you for writing us such a long interesting letter. I am still very well
ane happy but should be glad to see you both.
i am glad to hear that pussy kitty and
the birds were well i hope you will not give the kitten away before we get
back Grandmas old puss caught a mouse this morning and gave it to little
white kitty, he growled over it before he ate him. They have got morning
glories and a lot of other flowers that we pick ane put into water.
last sunday afternoon Eliza kept school
for us and we had a fine time. i went
with James tuesday morning before six oclock to put the cows in the pasture
we went from there up to Mr langs and
i saw Emily in her night-gown My little
brood grows finely. i have had
lots of berries and i wish you both
could have some of them. we expect to go home in three weeks. Give my love
to Miss Eaton.
i send you both kisses and my best love.
Your affectionate daughter
Mary A. Newell