In keeping with the holiday theme this week, here is another excerpt of a letter mentioning Christmas from Mary Howard to her sister Sarah.
Bridgeport January 2nd 1870
….I should like to know how all your little ones, and big ones too, are getting along and how you enjoyed the holidays. We had a very pleasant time here. Edward came home on Christmas morning and stayed three days – much to our satisfaction. We had a letter the day before saying he was not coming, so we invited half a dozen neighbors to help eat the turkey – which we would not have done, if we had known he was coming. It would be so much pleasanter to have him all to ourselves. In the evening we had a grand display of fire works (quite astonishing considering the size of the building) caused by the burning of the dining saloon, just across the platform from the passenger depot, which was saved with difficulty. Fortunately, it was a calm night and no further damage was done – except to toll house, which when it caught fire, was pushed over into the river to save the bridge. Edward appears well satisfied with his situation, and likes Columbus better than any place he has ever lived in.
December 20, 1868 – Mary Affleck writes about 6 weeks after her sister Sarah’s visit:
I think Harriet is rather more cheerful than she was when you were here, and appears to take considerable interest in proposing an entertainment to be given in the church to the children of the Sabbath School, on Christmas Eve, and Johnnie has been very busy stringing popcorn to ornament the Christmas tree. This morning I heard him anxiously inquire if five days would be long, his mother having told him there were just five days till Christmas. He is expecting Santa Claus to bring him a drum, and I have no doubt the days will seem long enough to him, I suppose your little folks are also anticipating a happy time, and hope they may not be disappointed…
Harriet’s lack of cheer is not explained, but may have been partly from the death of her daughter Mary Howard Patterson a few years earlier. I wonder if she had also been hoping for another child during this period. “Johnnie: (or John Gladstone Patterson) was born in in 1862 and she did not have her younger son George Edward until 1870.
To continue the Christmas theme, this excerpt is from a letter Mary Howard Affleck wrote to her sister Sarah Howard Forrer on January 20, 1866.
Harriet has not been here since Christmas. Mary Howard stayed with us several weeks and would willingly have remained longer if her mother, who has no girl, had not needed her at home. I should be glad to keep her all the time if her mother could spare her. She is a very good child, bright and intelligent, and reminds me of Elizabeth Pierce when she was a child. She reads a great deal and understands what she reads, has nearly finished the “Rollo books,” (fourteen in number) which are now hers – the same I gave to Howard and Edward for a Christmas gift several years ago, and with which Howard was so delighted that he read the whole of them to me in less than a week. He used to read a great deal to me, and appeared to enjoy it as much as I did. None of the other children liked to read aloud, and I have missed those pleasant readings sadly
When transcribing these letters, I have enjoyed Mary Affleck’s writings about her namesake granddaughter with some feeling of dreadful anticipation. Before reading these letters all I knew was that Harriet Affleck had a daughter who died young. Sadly, this letter is the last I have found that mentions Mary Howard Patterson.
Monday, Dec 23, 1861 – From Camp Lyon
Civil War Soldier Howard G. Affleck wrote to his sister, Harriet:
I have been thinking all along that I would be permitted to spend the holidays with the “loved ones at home” but owing to the changes in my prospects I suppose I will have to forego that pleasure and make the best of it out here. All the boys in our tent are invited down to Columbus to a Christmas dinner at Nick Allender’s cousins. If it is possible to get out of camp, we will all accept the invitation, and I understand that the Capt designs taking the whole company down on that day. So you see that we will likely have a good dinner – as good perhaps as we would get at home; but then there will be that constant wandering of our thoughts to old Bridgeport, to keep us from enjoying ourselves as we would in the midst of the happy family circle there. But I have made up my mind to bear these things as a philosopher and soldier should. I wish you all “a merry Christmas and a happy New Year”, and hope you will not pain me by thinking, even for a moment, of refusing this small offering* which I send as a token of brotherly affections. ….Write soon
A Christmas Gift
From her brother Howard
*A ten dollar gold piece