Archive for June, 2008

McKinley Postcards #6

Sunday, June 1st, 2008






Mary and Tina write Aunt Mary and Cousin Emma 1869

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

Before 1869

Dear Emma

I commenced to write a letter to you three of four times, but could not make out to finish it so I thought I would try once more and see if I would meet with any better success.

We have been so busy and have had so much company lately. that it seems as if I should never get a chance to write unless I did it on Sunday and I don’t like to write letters on the Sabbath, but will try and not write nonsense though [I] rarely write anything else, for when one has such a nonsensical nature as I have, it comes perfectly natural for them not only to talk nonsense, but also write in a nonsensical style.

In your last letter you warned me not to think you were getting sentimental or that you were flattering me that you have been longing for the summer to come in the hopes that I would also come with it. But you must not call me your dear Tina for I am not dear to anyone neither have I got a sweet voice. You don’t know how ugly I have grown, how harsh my voice is nor how horribly homely I am, why, my eyes are larger than any owls and how changed from their original color gray to a greenish hue, my nose is twice its natural size and covered with pimples, while my hair retains its mouse colored tint. I think seriously of sending in an application to Barnum requesting him to place me among his natural curiosities. I think I would be the greatest show among them. I give you this description of myself that you may not be alarmed at me should I come up this summer. But I have no more time to write, excuse this nonsense and answer as soon as you can. Mother sends her love to all and says tell Grandmother if she comes up this summer it will be to see her. Ever yours,



New York Sunday 24, 1869

[to Aunt Mary]

This is the first opportunity I have had for writing since I received your letter and I have a great mind not to answer it at all after what you said about my not wanting to see you. and about paying us for what we have done for you, etc, etc. I think you ought to be ashamed of yourself to talk so. I think there are quite as many obligations on our side as yours so we will drop the subject.

I will send you the pattern of my waist and also a sleeve pattern. I should make it plain waist to button up in front and put the trimming on the waist in the form of a little round cape, let it run over the shoulder and down quite low in the front and back and I would make the skirt past to ? cape the ground. They do not make the walking dresses as short as they did at first.

Net has gone up to Paterson and I am advising you the best that I can. You did not tell me whether you were going to trim the skirt or not. They make most of the walking dresses with two skirts. If some of them are made with one skirt trimmed with a bias flounce of the same as the dress and bound with the same. 

If Maria is coming to New York, I will fix her skirt for her after she gets here or any thing else I can do for her I will do with pleasure. I am curious myself to know where she is going. I think you might have told me. Tell her for me that a rich man has not come along yet. I am afraid I shall have to marry a poor man after all as they seem to be the only kind that are at all “loveable” or else she will have to marry the rich man and take me to live with her.

Yes, I agree with you in thinking that Net…I can dance for joy that we are still free. I am glad that dear little Ida was pleased with her doll, but I am afraid that name will take all the curl out of its hair. Tell her I will bring it a new dress for its name when I come. Ida has named her doll Addie. You did not tell me how Aunt Mary liked her doll…

I shall expect to hear the next time you write. I hope you will excuse this wretched writing for I have written in a great hurry. How I wish I could see you all and have a good chat. We will make up for lost time when we do meet. Do write again soon and often. Give my love to one and all and believe me with much love your affectionate niece,



Sep 20, 1869

Dear cousin Emma,

I suppose you think I am about the meanest person that ever chanced to claim relationship with you in neglecting to write to you as I have done. But Emma cannot help it if you do and what is more I shall not try for I have really been so busy since I came home that I haven’t even had a chance to take a peek in any of my interesting books much less find time for writing. Last Sunday I thought surely I would write to you, but being kept awake all Saturday night by a monstrous big hail I should like to tell you where it is, but don’t think it would look very well written. 

You of course may readily imagine that I was in most any kind of a mood, but an amiable one and of course had I attempted to write would have written such a cross all natured letter that you would have wondered what could have happened to so completely have disturbed your most amiable cousin’s temper.

Well how are you all getting along with out me, with my sage counsel and advice, Don’t you miss me terribly, if not more so? I should just like to take in a peep in at you all tonight and see what you are all about.

I like housekeeping thus far and I wish you were here to see how admirably I get along. Ranny’s mother and sister have been around twice to see me and Em, you would nearly die a laughing to hear Ranny tell them what a splendid cook I am when I haven’t hardly cooked anything but beef steak since I commenced to keep house, just as if my fool coun’t cook that good. 

He is so afraid I will do too much that he follows me every step I take about the house, to see what I am about. Oh you would laugh I know if you were here and I wish you were. It has been terrible warm here today and I will be glad now when the warm weather is over for it is having a very bad effect upon me. I am getting to be fearfully lazy.

How is it with you are you…Have you got a school yet to teach or have you given it up. You seem almost as inquisitive as some of my relations are and I want you to be sure and answer all of my questions when you write. Em can’t you come back with your Father when he goes home?

I wish you would give my love to your mother and remember me to Tommy and his Mother. Ranny sends his regards to him and wants him to come and see him when he comes to NY write soon and

believe me truly your loving cousin.


note: Justina married Randolph Laing. Ranny must be his nickname.