New Years 1856

Half of the day was spent trying to decipher ONE letter from Jane Stoughton ( great great gran) to her sisters at 4 Hales Cottage

Exhibit A:

Does it look like a puzzle to you?  My eyes still ache!   I remember one university professor explaining this strange use of paper (paleography) as a means of conservation-paper was expensive at this time so people would write in the other direction to save paper- it certainly was not to save the eye!  What did the letter say?  I’m glad you asked  (it only took me 5 hours and many breaks to uncover.)

Here it is- What were they doing in 1856 for Christmas and New Years in Napanee?

Napanee January 2nd 1856

My dear sister

I was truly sorry to hear of your illness particularly at this happy season- but I hope you are now better and that you will all keep well please God- I am happy to say we are all well and I cannot call to mind when I spent a pleasanter New Year – everyone seemed happy and Robert is so very kind to me and affectionate that it seems the Almighty is too good to me- For  the fun of the thing I hung up my stocking and made Robert hang up his and next morning lo and behold! There was a very pretty worked muslin habit shirt collar and sleeves to match in it with  a pair of baby’s boots-

Gifts for Christmas

with a little  sugar cupid inside a little sugar box –

sugar box

Robert got a pair of new braces and gloves- you will say what children will go to — all children that day-Yesterday  New Years day I received 20 visitors – you will wonder at this  but 3 or 4  of them I never knew before- brought by those we did know- George L…is here just now-His  —-  Town Hall is just about  completed and  they are talking of passing? Assembly to be  …..- The children are well-Francy(12)  is out with her aunty and I hope to go out next week for a few days with Louis and Mary(10)- They got some  tiny books which Robert had put away since he was last in Kingston- I have a beautiful  Martin Victorian _ WHAT IS THIS???

which Robert ordered for me from Montreal – I am afraid to tell you the price- but it was in our drawer- it cost $32- The children went down the street today shopping with their father and  Poll? Had a sixpence Liz (7) had a threepenny bit- which they said they were going to spend for grandmama- I laughed when Poll ? showed me her two little toy books in sense as she said grandmamma was very fond of poetry but  I will send them to her to make her laugh at their New Years gift- Miss  Liz lost hers on the  way home- Louis (4) brought back a pair of long boots which his papa got him and he was so proud he could scarcely walk when he tried them on- Robert is  at a meeting to —— They are all Election mad just now.  I suppose you heard that Henry is to offer  Inisself ? a candidate for Sheffield  when he was down here last week with Chris Robbins just for  —- and advised him to office. I am not altogether sure that he will though.   I never saw Henry behave so well as he did last week- We had the Darys and Miss J’s two brothers and Mrs Lander , the parson was in Kingston with Chris  and Henry and James  to an after supper  on Thursday evening- Henry and Mr Dary kept us laughing the whole evening- I must now close with most affectionate love to dear marnmma(grandmother)  yourself  and dear Mary  and  must soon to hear from you- and with love from Robert the children to you all

Yours affectionate sister

Jane Stoughton


A note about the letter- Jane Stoughton is writing to her two spinster sisters- and laying the domestic bliss on quite a bit.  Helen- not yet born until 1863, is my great great gran who bought Hales Cottage 2.  Liz, who is mentioned in this letter, and is seven, will die in two years-I’m not certain of what.

One thing I had not realized is how long most of these women who were married- and both spouses didn’t die- were constant baby makers for the span of their fertile life- almost 20+ years.  In most cases brothers and sisters were grown up and married before some brothers and sisters were born.  I know it happens today- but doing this family research has only made this fact more apparent.

A much older Mary Esson- d. 1880

Jane Anne Stoughton- daughter of Maria Hagerman, had six long living children in the span of twenty years.   In 1856 she has been married for about 12+ years- she still sounds happy!

Happy New Year!

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