Friday, January 14, 2011

Hands and feet froze hard

I've been whining about the snow and cold this week when in fact we don't have that much snow and it hasn't been that cold. So it seemed like a good day to haul out this letter from Uncle Milt Clair, dated April 5, 1891, to his nephew, my grandfather, William Ambrose Miller. Uncle Milt came close to freezing during late March of 1891 and recorded a few of the details in the letter.

Milt (Robert Milton) was 24 when the letter was written and "batching it" on a farm near Elizabeth, Colorado --- southwest of Denver. My grandfather was 15 and living with his family in English Township, Lucas County. This photo of Milt was taken quite a few years later, when he was about 50. As you'll see, Milt was a creative speller.

Milt's father, James Wayne Clair, died three years after the letter was written --- on May 6, 1894 --- at the family farm in Twin Mound Township, Rooks County, Kansas (near Codell) and Milt went home. Two years later, on May 3, 1896, he married Hattie Collins and they settled down to farm in Rooks County where they lived until his death at Plainville on 1 April 1947 (Hattie died 2 February 1934). Milt and Hattie had one son, Lee. Milt and Hattie are buried in the family cemetery, Shiloh, near Codell.


Dear Nephew. I will try and wright you a few lines in answer to yours I received a few days ago. Willie, I was glad to hear from you. This leaves me well at present and I hope you are all the same.

I believe you said your Father was sick. I hope he is better by this time.

Well I can’t think of much to wright, but will try and say some thing that will interest you. I am a Batch and am Batchin. It is hard on a man to have to get up in the morning and make a fire, put on some potatoes and then go and feed the horses and come in and finish my

breakfast and wash the dishes and then finish the chores. I am milking 8 cows and feed 6 calves and such things as that takes up lots of time.

I have had 6 calves to die and one colt and one horse and one colt.

Well Willie I came near freezing the other morning last Wensday. Last Tusday evening I went to see a friend of mine and to the weding at her place and about 9 in the evening the wind commenced to blow and snow was 8 inches deep and I was light so I had to stay all night. There was 40 young people there. We had a good time you bet. We danced and plaid cards all night.

The wind and snow blowed so I couldn’t see any distance. I started home at six in the morning. I had 6 miles to go. I froze my face and my hands and feet froze hard. I had to cut the gloves of(f) of my hands and shoes of(f) and then went out in the snow and rubbed them until they was all right, but my face is all peeling, all my hands and feet are sore yet.

I got a letter from Alvin (his younger brother) yesterday. He is coming out here this spring. He will work for me if he comes. I also heard from home. They are all well I believe.

Well I will close for this time as I can’t think of any thing more to wright. Wright soon.


Ed said...

And to think I started off this morning with my heater not working and the temps inside my house down around 50 degrees. I got the heater running but not without a lot of complaining about how cold it was.

Thanks for the timely post and getting my head back on straight Frank.

Pamela said...

Wonderful to see the original letters and hear the voice of someone from long ago. It does put modern troubles into perspective.