Christmas Eve 1908

HARRIET’S BABY BOY ARRIVES AT LAST

After two days of hard labor, two doctors in attendance for the delivery, and an hour and a half of ether, Harriet and her baby lived. Thanks to the loving care of Mrs. May. Yet, there was still no letter from Mama…

I write to tell you the good long looked for news. Harriet’s baby boy has come and he is a fine big fellow, he weighs 10 ten pounds and looks like his Mama. She had a long hard labor from Dec 22 until Dec the 24th 11:30 P.M. It was a breach presentation and we had two Doctors. They were fine and had to do some hard work to save mother and child. When she was under the Ether and pains would come she would call for her mother.Mrs. May, letter to Harriet’s Aunt Thirza, December 25th, 1908.

Now don’t worry over your daughter, she is having as good care as if she was a Vanderbilt, nothing is left undone…I am very sorry Mrs. Means did not care to respond to my letter. She certainly is taking the hard view of Harriet’s family life. Give her my best wishes and tell her it’s not too late now to answer.Mrs. May, letter to Harriet’s father William. December 30th, 1908.

••••••

Dora wrote to Harriet once again just after Christmas, while she waited. The news came before she finished the letter.

Wed. 9 PM

102 Union St.

Brewer Dec 30th, 1908

My dear Harriet,

The package containing the doily came last Saturday – and I remailed it to Thirza Monday morning. I have not heard from her this week. You did well to make it. It is very pretty and I think they will be pleased with it. This A.M. I rec’d a letter from Otis written last evening. I said it did not seem possible he had been home four days and was back at work again. He came down last Thursday night – he and Ethel. They met your Uncle Jim and Frank D in Boston station on their return home from Brockton where they had been called by the sudden death of their brother Will. The Sunday before a letter came from Rachel and Tom. He was in East Machias over Sunday and asked me if he did not get home on the midnight train Sat. to forward his mail to Machias Monday which I did. This letter from Rachel said Will had had a cough since last summer but kept at work up to Fri. night expecting to go to the store as usual on Sat. morning when he had a headache was weak and tired – felt he must stop work for a while. Tom wrote Rachel by return mail Tuesday night – he got the telegram from Rachel saying Will passed away last night. He was in Cherryfield. He telephoned me to meet him at Brewer Station with his suitcases packed with his best clothes. It was a great shock to us all. Allie talked to Frank and he came in the morning. Allie and I met Tom at midnight and went to Bangor station and she stayed with Tom until the train left which was late leaving at 1:40 A.M. It was a bitter cold night to walk home. Brother Hall came over to the house to stay with Katherine and Donald, they a bed and asleep. Wednesday I was not good for much. Thursday the funeral was at 2 P.M. in Brockton at 27 Glenwood Ave. Isn’t it too bad? Tom and Frank got home in Washington County at 6 A.M. 

I had kept Katherine out of the sitting room until Tom got here so he could see her when she got her Christmas presents. She had lots of things. Her best things were a Willow Rocking chair – a black board and desk combined. Then she had a book from Tom, “The Letters of Jennie Allen to her friend Miss Musgrove” by Grace Donworth of Machias, a pretty purse (Thirza), handkerchieves (Elsie and Otis – a pretty stitch copied from your mother), white linen hand bag from Mrs. McF. And, Thirza sent Tom a book of poems by Fanny J Moon – Ella Gilson’s father, you remember. Otis spoke of you and how much he missed you and how hard they tried to enjoy themselves. He said he and Ethel sent you a white sack for the baby. He had not heard from you but when you are able to, I know he will be glad to hear from you. You know blood is thicker than water and there must naturally be a longing for you – and as they had not heard lately how you are he said his mother and father were worrying a good deal knowing what you have to go through. I forgot to say we planned a Christmas dinner – had invited Frank and family and Mr. and Mrs. McF – so we had them. They all said the turkey and fixings were fine. Just wish you could have been there too. Sunday night Tom left on 8 o’clock train for Brockton. Have not heard from him but may in the morning. What is to be done with Will’s stone? 

Thursday noon Dec 31st

How you have suffered. I am so relieved that you came through and have such a good woman to care for you. Mrs. May’s letter came this morning. I was all a tremble when I saw a strange hand writing for I knew the worst was over. And after I had read it twice through I laid down on the couch and had a good cry for joy. Now I hope I can settle down to work and not worry as I have – and I shall hope and pray you may recover in time, not too soon, and be strong and better than ever before. I can’t stop to write more but will write to Mrs. May soon. She has probably written in the same mail mine was sent in and your mother and father know that their child is living – such a large baby boy – and your husband too, I hope now to getting his much needed rest and will not over much get sick too. With love to you all from your affectionate Aunt Dora

Best wishes for a bright and Happy New Year. Lovingly, Aunt Dora

••••••

The last day of the year, the day that Dora finished her letter to Harriet, a letter arrived for William in Machias. He saw the familiar return address of his daughter and different hand writing. His hands shook as he opened the letter written on official stationary of the railroad.

•••••••

Form 2551

SOUTHERN PACIFIC COMPANY

Office of Agent

Portland, Oregon Dec 25, 1908

Mr. W. G. Means

Dear Friend: – 

At last I can write you the good news that you are grandpa to a fine big ten pound boy. He was born last night at 11:30 P.M. Harriet was a very very sick girl being sick since the 22nd at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon until last night. I never left her and gave her every care as if she was my own. We had two Doctors and she was under Ether for nearly one hour and half. It was such a large child and had to be taken with instruments. She had to have eight stitches taken. Now I am telling you this just as I would want to know if I was far from my dear girl at a time like this. A trained nurse will be here to relieve me for a time until I get rest but I will take care of her and do all as I told you I would some time ago. Mr. J. and Harriet are both delighted with the baby and Harriet says to tell you it looks just like Otis her brother. She was very fond of the little remembrances she received from her brother and sister. I will write you often while she is in bed to let you know how she is doing. 

With lots of love from her to you all. I remain ever wishing you all a Merry Xmas and Happy New Year. I will write to her Aunt Dora today.

Your friend,

Mrs. J.L. May

564 Union Ave N.

Portland, Oregon

••••••

The same day, a letter arrived for Harriet’s Aunt Dora, for Mrs. May knew that Dora had been in constant contact with her niece. She must have a word to say.

•••••••

Form 2551

SOUTHERN PACIFIC COMPANY

Office of Agent

Portland, Oregon Dec 25, 1908

Mrs. T. S. Dennison

Dear Friend: –

I write to tell you the good long looked for news. Harriet’s baby boy has come and he is a fine big fellow, he weighs 10 ten pounds and looks like his Mama. She had a long hard labor from Dec 22 until Dec the 24th 11:30 P.M. It was a breach presentation and we had two Doctors. They were fine and had to do some hard work to save mother and child. She had to have eight stitches but unless something unforeseen sets in I think she will get along nicely. When she was under the Ether and pains would come she would call for her mother. She is having good care as if she were my own. I want to tell you that your dear good letters and little remembrances have helped her wonderfully and I am so glad you have been so thoughtful, among strangers and in her condition it has been very hard at times. We all make mistakes and do foolish things many times during a life time but when we do we all get punished in some way and what’s the sense of holding grudges. Life is too short to let anything come in and break the sweetest and most sacred tie a Mother’s love. I hope through your influence you will get Mrs. Means to look at Harriet’s little love match in a different light than she does now. Mr. Johnson is far from being rich, but he has good habits and he is so good and kind to Harriet and he works as hard as if he were an old man. There’s more more things in this world than being peeved. Well, dear friend, I feel as if I know you so I just write as if we were old friends. I wrote to Mr. Means as he always answers my letters. 

Wishing you and your a Happy New Year. I am Your Friend.

Mrs. J.L. May

564 Union Ave N.

Portland, Oregon

Excuse this but I am so very tired. I Have been up with Harriet since the 22nd and will stay till she is well as can help them save this much for the Doctor bills will be quite high. 

William received a second letter from Mrs. May the following week.

••••••

Form 2551

SOUTHERN PACIFIC COMPANY

Office of Agent

Portland, Oregon Dec 30, 1908

Dear Friend: – 

Your letter to your daughter was received this A.M. and the enclosed $ found her getting along as well as could be expected after having such a very hard time. She will have to be in bed two weeks longer on account of so many stitches being taken. The baby is doing fine and he is such a fine baby. He has lovely large eyes and they are blue. I have not been home for over a week and I have hardly left them for a min. I sleep in a lounge in the room with baby and Mama so I can tend them. Baby has had a cold and not rested very good nights so far but now he will have plenty to eat. I think he will be better by New Years. They have named him Warren Gordon Johnson. I think the name very pretty. Now don’t worry over your daughter, she is having as good care as if she was a Vanderbilt, nothing is left undone. As a rule at my home has a big time at Xmas but this year I was down here and my children did not have any Xmas but we will celebrate later. I will try and stay the time she is in bed and a few days after she is up. She is extremely weak and I think your letter helped her as she has not cryed since she read it. All the time she was under the Ether she called for her mother. I am very sorry Mrs. Means did not care to respond to my letter. She certainly is taking the hard view of Harriet’s family life. Give her my best wishes and tell her it’s not too late now to answer. 

Wishing you a Happy New Year and thanking you from your daughter for the present. I am Your Friend.

Mrs. J.L. May

Nine days after her baby was born, Harriet wrote to her father, the last letter sent from Oregon. The doctors had discovered the reason for Harriet’s “weakness” that beset her since she was a child. She had a severe heart murmur. Harriet and Zeke desperately wanted to go home. They were homesick. Scared. Harriet had been determined to have the baby on their own, unable to face her mother. But, nothing would stand in their way now.

••••••

Form 2551

SOUTHERN PACIFIC COMPANY

Office of Agent

Portland, Oregon Jan 2nd, 1909

My dear Father: – 

I have been looking for a letter from some of you at home all the week but you may have written and I will hope to hear soon.

First I must tell you the baby has a dimple in the right cheek just like mine and when he laughs he looks exactly like Otis. He grows like everything but it takes all my time to care for him, beside Zeke helps me too all he can. He is sound asleep now and looks so plump in the face I only wish you could see him. I am all alone tonight as Zeke went to work again at 7 P.M. as the days go by I think more of coming East and oh! if I only had wings it wouldn’t take long tonight for me to see you and Mama. Since my illness – not being strong – it seems to me I have been more homesick than ever and Zeke is just as homesick as I am. You see we have had such hard luck here that I don’t want to stay any longer than I can help it and if we only had money enough, the baby, Zeke and I would light out tomorrow. 

It is like this Papa. Zeke worries all the time about me because I am not strong and am practically alone so much that he knows I cannot be happy out here away from you all. And we think more of each other – if such a thing were possible – and Zeke wants to do what is best for me and for both of us in the end. I know he would do anything to make things easy for me but you see this past year has taught us both more than we could have been told in ten yrs. of advice and experience. It has been a great thing for us. Zeke and I have decided to come back to Maine as soon as possible for it certainly seems the wisest course. Zeke’s Father has written him that he will do anything he can to help him and if he wants to go into a business of some kind he would sell out his property there in Machias. We have tho’t of Penn Longfellow’s coal business. Has anyone taken it yet? Surely that ought to make a good living if properly conducted and $1000.00 ought to cover the expenses at the start. You see a man who always works for somebody else never gets ahead and Zeke says he will not waste the best part of his life doing that way. Couldn’t you think up some business that would make a living for us? Of course Zeke would be willing to go to Bangor or Portland if there is nothing at home and perhaps with his Father’s help he might go in some business and the baby and I could stay home with you (for Zeke would want to pay board for me. that is if you would take it) until he got started. 

There is no one I have met here that I care anything about and I would give more to be able to run in and see Gram and Aunt Thirza and be home with Mama than all this West put together. I have felt this way ever since I got here but I wasn’t going to hurt the baby’s disposition by mourning all the time about it. I kept cheerful but Zeke knows and realizes what I have gone through with and we can see it will cost us no more to live in Maine than here. And anyway Zeke ought to be able to do as well as he has here in the past few mos. He knows we are indebted to you for what furniture we have here and we will never forget your kindness and hope after we get back it will not be long before it can be paid back. We figured up today what it would cost to come home and with selling out what we have here we find would have $150.00, enough for our tickets first class, but would need $50.00 more to be sure and have enough for meals, birth etc. Could you possibly loan Zeke $50.00 with interest so I could come home right away? You see it has scared us by seeing what the Drs. charged when I was sick and if the baby or I was sick again it would be far cheaper in Maine than here. This building is going to be sold in a month or so, the owner came and informed me today, which means we have to move soon and I want to move only the once if I am going to Maine in a short time. Zeke is paying up my bills so we can leave here as soon as I hear from you as to your advice and approval and if you could loan us $50.00. I know, so does Zeke, what it means to ask you and how we wish there was some other way but I know I can get well far quicker by being home than being so far away and worrying all the time. I don’t get anytime to write anyone since Baby came for when eve. comes I am ready to go to bed as soon as I get everything done for the night. The baby is very healthy and by having Zeke help me I think we could manage to keep him well – alright – on such a long trip. The cars are nice and warm and there are few changes to be made. I do hope you can write us something encouraging that Zeke can do there for I am desperately homesick and want to come as soon as I can. Zeke plans to stop off at Portland, Me. to see if at the Depot they have any railroad work for him and I thought I could come home or stop and see Aunt Dora for a few days and rest up then Zeke could join me there. I only wish a month from tonight I would be home. They are cutting down forces at the freight office and Zeke may be out of work any day now. Well! I must stop as it’s long past my bedtime and I’m very tired. The baby seems pretty heavy when I have to handle him a lot but he is so sweet, I love him more than I can tell you. Goodnight Father dear and may this find you well and happy. Don’t mention to anyone we think of coming back yet. Much love to all from Zeke and I.  

Your aff. Daughter, 

Harriet

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