On this day 121 years ago - A letter from Louise Richards Ward Carson to her brother Allen Haughton Ward

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While I was living at my mother in laws house a few years back she told me (knowing of my great passion in doing genealogy) that she had a number of boxes I could go through and see if there was anything interesting in them. I cam across a gold mind of letters, some of which I would like to publish on occasion here.

The author of the following letter is Louise Richards Ward Carson, my husband's 2nd Great Grand Aunt. The person to whom she is writing is her brother and my husbands 2nd great grandfather, Allen Ward. Only a few letters from Louise can be found in the collection but she has a very elegant voice and hand. The following are people mentioned in the letter for whom I have been able to prove family connection: Fleet and George are Louise's brothers, Edith, Ward, and William are three of her children, Molly Whitmarsh is a cousin (who I have found notoriously mentioned in other family letters) and Louise and Mamie are her brother George's wife and daughter. The other names mentioned are friends or unknown (at present) relations.

Louise was a widow for most of her adult life. She was married 9 January 1868 to William Carson and he died just nine years later, leaving her with four children but a good amount of wealth to support them for a time.

Chillicothe Sep 23, 1894

My dearest Allen,

It is now over two months since I received your very welcome letter, but you must not think it is neglected because I have much answered it before. I have so much to attend to I find very little time to myself. The past two years misfortune seems to have fallen thick and fast upon me and it takes more courage than I can always command to keep my spine up. In the first place all my furniture I had packed in Cincinnati was burned up in the warehouse where they were packed and not a stick was saved. All my pictures, china glass, books, everything and the insurance was only four thousand dollars and I did not get even that as Fleet took it to invest for me and cast it in the stock exchange, I suppose, as he never would tell me where it went. He also has gotten my business affairs into such a tangle, I have been trying for a year and a half to see my way out and straighten things up, as he left me to get out of the difficulty as best I could. I have had to hire lawyers and start from the beginning just as if he were dead, as he won’t answer a letter or give me any information about a thing. Of course I make all kinds of excuses to outsiders, saying his business keeps him away and everything I can think of, but I believe he has just lost everything through carelessness or laziness and is ashamed to tell me so. The last time I heard from him he was in New York in some banking business.

We have been living at the Cottage on the Farm since last April a year ago trying to economize all we can. I had to take Ward out of school as I was not only afraid to be here without a man, but I could not afford to send him. Fortunately Edith was through and Will was doing so well at College. I was anxious to exert every nerve to keep him there until he was through - he has one more year and leaves us tomorrow for his Service year. We have all kept very well I am thankful to say. I spent two winters in New York, 92 and 93 and enjoyed it very much. I saw quite a great deal of Aunt Mathers? and her family. I enclose a letter received from cousin Mary yesterday, which will give you some news about them.

The Will she speaks of is her oldest son, who was married last November. We expect to spend the winter here at the Cottage and hope in another year to be able to have my affairs in some order. I get as I said, so discouraged sometimes and have a good cry and feel better and start anew but I know the good Lord will help me out in the end. It comes very hard for me to work so hard at my time of life doing the most of my own work but I must try and think it is all for the best. We take a great deal of fun too out of our makeshifts to put the best foot foremost and fix over our things to make them look like new. Edith looks after the Milk and makes enough butter for our own use and to sell some, while Ward had developed quite a talent for farming. He made a garden this summer, we had all the corn, potatoes, tomatoes and cabbages we use in the family besides lettuce, beets and onions. He is six feet two inches in height and weighs one hundred fifty six.

I am so sorry Allen dear I haven’t an old suit of clothes in the house. Ward is wearing Will's cast off muss and when he is through with them they are nothing but rags. Don’t say anything I have written you about Fleet to any of the children. I do not think it necessary to tell them anything to cause them to lose confidence in humanity and perhaps someday he will explain away things that look very queer now.

While I was in New York, Vaughn Darling dropped dead in one of the Houses there, from heart disease. Cousin Louis writes to me once in awhile, to let me know he is in the land of the living, but I am ashamed to say I never answer his letter. Papa writes at long intervals, but they are not very cheerful letters or not always complimentary to us children. I think there is some influence behind at work and should not be surprised if it was Molly Whitmarsh. You knew cousin Mary Kahn had lost her husband some years ago, she looks very much like the Silvers as does Eugene. George when I last heard from him was in some insurance business in New York, having had to resign from the army on account of ill health. His pay was not sufficient to keep them without his doing something. His daughter Mamie is a very sweet girl and some think pretty - Louise is just the same.

You knew Mrs. Hancock was dead I suppose. My how I wish you were here and I could have a good long chat with you, there are so many things I would like to talk over. In the past year, Dr. Carsen of Cin. Mr. Washington Carsen of Baltimore and Dr. Carsens Wife and brother have all died. The Dr. was supposed to be very well off but it was found he was living upon a thirty thousand dollar income from his practice, which left very little for his family when he was gone. He has a son who is a rising doctor and is to be married next Tuesday week, to a charming Cin. girl.

It must be delightful to have Louis such a fine musician and I am so glad you have such a nice family of children, they certainly are a great comfort. I hope you can send Bennie to high school I think an education is of so much importance. I received the picture of the two oldest boys and ought to have acknowledged it before but I know you will understand and it was not because I am not always interested in you and your family, but I think I will wait and write when I can have a long chat with you and before I know it the weeks have gone into months and they into years, but I will try and do better in the future. We all talk about you and keep you in our thoughts, but you must write to me and not wait for me, use a lead pencil if you find it more convenient, you know I do not mind. I sent you the New York papers when I was there sometimes, I suppose you received them. I often put aside a bundle but keep putting off sending them, but will if you would like to have them. Mr. Carsen’s nephews send me so many papers and magazines from the east and friends too, which we all enjoy reading and I can send them in, although they may be a little old in news. The children wonder who is to get such a long letter and as Will gives away so sad, feels I am taking some of his precious time away from him, so I will bring this lengthy letter to a close.We all send love to you and yours. You can return cousin Mary’s letter when you are through. If you should write to her I know she would enjoy hearing from you as she always asked after you. Good bye, write soon

Always your affectionate sister, Louise.