Friday, March 16, 2012

Mary E Carlisle, 1 Nov 1862

Unpleasant News

Nov. 1st <1862>

Dear Mother

It is with a sad heart that I
now seat myself to inform you that we are
now left desolate. Our house, barn and all
(with many other buildings) was yesterday burned to
the ground. About two o'clock afternoon a fire broke
out in a shop. just a little south
of the sash factory, it was burned and Kelly's
shop Mrs. Dutton's house, Rea_den and Mead's
grocery. Ross and Bainton store. The grocery
and store joined Dutton's house. The old
brick store and all the buildings up to Miller's
shop. Dr Dodd's barn, Livery Stable paint
shop and Blacksmith shop. We thought the
whole town would burn the wind blew very
hard and we had no fire Engine. They teligr-
aphed to Niles for theirs, but in such confusion
that it could not be read when it got
there. A man was sent - finaly on horse back.
Some of our things were saved. one bed stead
three or four feather beds, and some bed clothes.
tables and chairs. no dishes or spoons. No one

page 2 (076)

was at home when the fire comenced. Tamerson
went to Mr. Dewey's a visiting and was taken
sick, but she had recovered so that when the
alarm came there she was able to come home
Pa was over the river digging potatoes. Fannie was
up to Aunt Julia's. Bell and myself were at
school. Fannie and the men suceeded in
getting most of the things out of the
front room and some out of the chamber.
but what is that towards housekeeping.
None of us but fannie have a chang of
under clothes some of our dresses were saved.
Aunt Julia had a conjestive
chill a few days ago she was very sick, but is
better now. Alonzo How was hurt while
digging sand a few days since and died last
night. his back was broken. Many folks are
sick. some of them in the country. Some
of the folks were so exhausted and frightened that it was
thought that they could not recover. in all about
twenty four buildings. Mrs. Dutton has nothing but
the clothes on her back. After her things were taken
out they were burned. Alexander says to his wife we are
poor now that is himself. It really seemed as though
the day of judgement had come. but we are preserved

page 3 (077)

we will rent a house for the present - I
think it will be the old cottage house
on the hill back of the parsonage.
You of core will use your own judgement
about coming home. It seems to me
if you can earn any thing there
you had better stay. The people are
very kind to us. they say that we shall
have a new house right - away. Mr Dewey
wants to employ Fannie in his office to
set type the terms were good. perhaps since
our trouble he will give more. we do not
know what to do. I wrote to uncle A.
I guess he will help us. write as soon as
you get this.

Mary E. Carlisle.

I have written previously about the Buchanan Fire of 1862.

For more see: Carlisle Family Letters

Carlisle, Mary E. (Buchanan, MI) to “Dear Mother”
[Hannah Glover Carlisle]. Letter. 1 November 1862. Digital Images 1-3.
Privately held by Charlotte Grabowski, Orlando, Florida. 2012.
[Carlisle Family, Box #1, Correspondence, 1862,
Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan. 2008.]


GrannyPam said...

A letter like this sure makes things real, doesn't it. As sad as this is, I can't help but think how lucky you were that they were saved and at the Library.

Jasia said...

What an amazing piece of history this letter is! Having been to Buchanan, it's not hard to imagine the town as she described it. Having lived through a house fire at my parent's house I can relate to her feeling of loss. She has an amazing survivor attitude.

Brenda Leyndyke said...

Charley, I think it is wonderful that you are transcribing these letters. It is a wonderful piece of history.

This letter makes one feel that it is happening now. The feelings are so well described.

Joan said...

What a heart-rendering letter. Brings to mind how common and devastating fires were in those days. The town near where my my grandmother and great grandmother grew up was nearly destroyed twice by wildfires that raced down the swale, causing death and destruction ---and yet the rebuilt and rebuilt again.