Two letters from Great-great-grandma

These letters were written by my great great grandmother.1 They were postmarked at Piqua, Ohio. I will add some notes to help identify some of the people she mentions, or to explain a few terms which may now be unfamiliar. Although her handwriting was very firm and legible, her spelling was uniquely phonetic and there was a total lack of punctuation. I have supplied punctuation and correct spelling for ease of reading...

January 5, 1875

My dear children,

I am again seated for the purpose of answering. Thank you very much for your kindness. Hoping these few lines will find you both well.

I can hardly tell you how Pap's2 leg is. Sometimes for a day or two we think it is a little better and then it will take to aching and burning. It seems as though he cannot stand it and then it will bleed and run water for two or three days again. The doctor says it is such a hard disease to know what to do for it. The medicine that I have to send to the druggist for is somewhere near a dollar a week besides what the doctor leaves. He generally calls three or four times a week. He takes a great deal of care and attention but I have great reason to be thankful that I have been able to do the most for him. So far my health has been pretty good and it is a great blessing for I haven't time to think much about my pains and aches.

Lottie3 and Anna4 are at Sarah's5 most of their time. Annie goes to school every day. Sarah's health is about the same. The friends are all well in general. I had a letter from George6 last week. They were well. He sent me two dollars. Hattie Carey7 came over at Christmas. They were well. They sent me some butter and coffee and tea and a dollar. Pap is still very patient. He has to lay in bed nearly all the time for when he tries to sit up it hurts him so much worse. Brother Conover was here the other day. He wanted to know if I looked for you home soon. He told me if you came to tell you he had left an invitation for you to preach at Grace Church. Tell me when you write how you are prospering in your meetings and whether you have commenced your protracted meetings.8

Now you must both of you try and take all the care of your health you can. The weather is so changeable. You must excuse this letter for I have to write in such a hurry. I have to write to George a short letter this afternoon yet. Pap and your mother unite in sending our love to you both. From your affectionate mother to her everloved children, Samuel9 and Marie.10

Goodbye, loved ones. Write.

March 10, 1875

My dear children,

I am again seated for the purpose of answering your very kind letter. Was very sorry to hear of Marie's poor health. Hope she is better by this time. Was very glad to hear of your not having any colds this winter. Was also glad to hear of your having as good success as you did this winter. I think you have great reason not to be discouraged. I expect you have had as many or more join your churches there as both of our Methodist churches have in Piqua.

There has been no particular revival in Piqua that I have heard of but in the Colored church and they say they are having good meetings at the Brethren church. Now for my own part I haven't got to go to church since Pap's leg got so bad and that was in November and never went uptown but once since that time. You may judge whether Mother hasn't put over a lonely winter or not. I have done a great deal of hard work since that time, more than I ever expected to be able to do in that length of time. I have patched upwards of seven hundred socks and nursed and took care of Pap which was more care than to take care of a baby. When I think of it I do not know how I have ever got through this winter but Pap's leg is some better at the present so he can walk about a little but the humor11 is there still and I fear it will never be entirely well. He has to keep using medicine all the time to allay the aching.

I got a letter from George last week. Lizzie's12 health is very poor and I think Georgie is a little discouraged. He says there was two more doctors came near the place which takes a good deal of the practice that he can only make a living. This winter he sent me a dollar. I would not be surprised if we hear of his leaving there before long but he did not say anything about it. The church there does not suit him. He speaks well of their preacher. He says they have a good one. The Methodist society I guess is very small there.

We had a letter from Molly13 not long since. Isaac's14 health is poor yet. We had a letter from David's.15 They have been having such good meetings at their little church. There was a number joined. David and Sally16 both seem to be enjoying themselves with their meetings. The folks at James McConnell's17 have all got better. Newton18 has moved in one of Mr. Hethrington's houses and works for him. You don't say anything about coming home. I do wish if Marie's health got better you would come home both of you soon for we are so very lonesome. Tell us something about it when you write. Write soon and tell us the particulars. Lottie is down to Sarah's. Sarah is about the same.

Pap and Mother unite in sending our love to you both. From your affectionate mother to her everloved children Samuel and Maria. Write soon.

1 Mary Hannah (Winans) Carey (1806-1882) was born in New Jersey and moved to Ohio as a child. She was known as Hannah, which is how her tombstone is inscribed and how she is listed in census records.
2 Benjamin Clark Carey (1801-1877) was also born in New Jersey. He worked as a stonemason. He and Hannah Winans were married 15 Sep 1825 in Miami county, Ohio.
3 Charlotte Ann Carey (1841-1914), was Hannah's daughter. She was married first to William Clark Enyart, who was killed in battle during the Civil War. At the time this letter was written, Charlotte was married to Nelson Armacost. The 1880 U. S. Census lists Hannah Carey as living with Nelson and Charlotte, Anna (see next), and her son Isaac, in Piqua.
4 Anna Cora Enyart (1861-1916) was Charlotte's daughter. I have a letter from her (Mrs. Ward Hunter) to Ira Winans dated 1911 with a lot of family history information in it.
5 Sarah Jane (Carey) McConnell (1828-1879), Hannah's daughter. Ben and Hannah lived very close to the McConnells for a number of years. In the 1850, 1860 and 1870 censuses, their records appear within a page or two of Sarah's.
6 Dr. George Augustus Eddy Carey (1833-1910), Hannah's son, who served as a surgeon in the Union Army during the Civil War. He lived in the Cincinnati area for awhile and eventually moved to Indianapolis, where he and his family were enumerated in the 1880 and 1910 censuses. It's likely George's two middle names were given to him in honor of the Rev. Augustus Eddy, an inspirational Methodist preacher and minister of the Piqua Methodist church in 1827-1828.
7 This may refer to Hannah's granddaughter, Harriett Bell Carey (1862-1936) who was David and Sally Carey's daughter. She would have been twelve years old at the time this letter was written. David and Sally aren't mentioned elsewhere in this first letter, so perhaps little Hattie made the trip by herself, bringing a gift from her parents.
8 I learned from a retired Methodist minister that the term "protracted meetings" was once used to mean a series of revival or evangelistic services held over a period of several days. In the summer, they would often be tent meetings, but since this was wintertime, it is possible she was referring to evening meetings at her son's church. A biography of an early Methodist evangelist, Phoebe Palmer, mentions that "the protracted meeting was a well established practice in Methodism by Palmer's time. These had been introduced by revivalist Charles G. Finney. The protracted meeting did everything the camp meeting was supposed to do except the atmosphere was more 'urbanized.'"
9 Rev. Samuel Winans Carey (1831-1917), Hannah's son and the recipient of this letter, was living in Springboro, Warren County, Ohio, at the time. He was a Methodist minister. My grandfather, Samuel Winans Carey (1879-1959), was named for him and may have been given the letters by his uncle as keepsakes.
10 Meriah (or Maria or Marie) (Baine) Carey, was the wife of the Rev. Samuel Carey. They were married in 1858. She died Oct 1875. Samuel later married Rebecca Austin (1836?-1918).
11 I at first thought she meant tumor, but see definition of humor in Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary -- "a normal functioning bodily semi-fluid or fluid (as the blood or lymph), or a secretion (as a hormone) that is an excitant of activity".
12 Elizabeth or Eliza (James) Carey (1833-1909), George's wife.
13 Could "Molly" be the wife of Isaac Carey, who is mentioned next? There is a record of an Isaac Carey and a Mary Isabel Whitsit who were married in Champaign county, Ohio in 1858 who are mentioned in Warren Carey's notes.
14 Isaac Stewart Carey (1836-1910), Hannah's son. He was living with the Armacosts when the 1880 census was taken. Could his wife have died by then?
15 David Clark Carey (1838-1921), Hannah's son and my great grandfather. He served in the Union Army also.
16 Sarah Jane (Perry) Carey (1841-1914), my great grandmother. She and David were married in 1861. In about 1867 they moved to Champaign county, Ohio.
17 James Boyd McConnell (1825-1888) married Hannah's daughter Sarah.
18 Newton Mears (1840-1924) married James and Sarah McConnell's daughter Ida (1848-1920).

Hannah and Benjamin had two other children, Mary who died in childhood, and William Frazee Carey (1844-????) who is said to have enlisted during the Civil War and stayed in the Army, and was supposedly killed by Indians. The Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System lists three soldiers named "William F. Carey" who were in Ohio units. They were in the 12th, 23rd and 118th Regiments. We have no evidence as to the truth of this family legend.

This page was last updated 16 Sep 2011.