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.”

letters s and t, Mary-style 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 “James.”

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 handwriting.

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

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