I came across one of the oldest letters in my collection, postmarked October 20, 1885. I recognized the recipient, Lemuel Coll Jr., as one of the many Coll residents of the area in Morpeth’s early history. I knew they were distant relatives. I did a quick search on the internet and found a record here. Lemuel Coll Jr. was born around 1863, making him about 22 in October 1885. He married Charity Kimmerly on November 26, 1884. I see that they had a daughter, also named Charity, just a few months after this letter was written on March 8, 1886. I wonder how Charity, who identifies herself as Chattie here, was feeling, being about four months pregnant?
A little more research has unturned a tragic stone: Charity was my great grandmother–Mary Kimmerly’s–sister. Tragically, I’ve now found a death record that indicates Charity passed away on March 11, 1886, three days after giving birth. Her tiny daughter passed away five days later, on March 16, 1886. How sad that this loving pair had such a short life together, and unfortunately this sort of story was quite common in the 19th century.
Lemuel Coll Jr.
Chatham Oct. 20Th
I now seat myself to write you to let you know how I got here. I arrived safely and went to Uncle Johns but I did not stay there that night. I went down to the shop to get Andy to go up to the station after the things and he told me he was going to have oysters for supper so I thought I would make tracks over there. Mat and I were out to Church on Sunday night there is an evangelist holding meetings in their church and he is the nicest singer…
I believe I ever heard for a gentleman “barring yourself.” Well dear did the girls go home with you if they did you must have had a pleasant time. I was over to see Mary yesterday and stayed all night. She thinks I am just as mean as I can be for not bringing you along. I told her I didn’t believe she was glad a bit to see me. I have not seen Barrett yet but Mat and I are going over this morning to see him about going. Well pet you would not go ducking yesterday for it was so rainy and I want you to take such good care of yourself and not take any fresh cold for I would never forgive myself for coming for I know your folks would blame me and think I should not have come. Well pet how are you getting along did you have a share of the ducks on Sunday I suppose you don’t stay home at all. Em Lee told one that the girls never went out of the house fair day after all their fuss. Has Mary came yet. I have a visit engaged for every day this week and am having a splendid time but could enjoy myself better if you were with me for I am always thinking about you. Do you think you will come out on Saturday if you don’t I wish you would send me 3$ by Friday I am thinking of buying something but I may change my mind but I would like the money …
….and pet I want you to write anyway and tell me if your coming or not if you do not come I will go home on Saturday to Ridgetown on the afternoon train. I bought a new dress yesterday it cost me a dollar. Well dear I don’t think I have anything more to write but you must answer it and send it in care of Andy.
Well goodbye my own dear boy. From your little wife, Chattie