Saturday, November 15, 2008

Camfield Family Letters

Being laid up, I've had plenty of time to work at transcribing letters. Because I started with The Wisner - Hall family letters the natural progression is to follow with the letters of the Camfield branch of the family.

As with the first batch of letters most were sent to my great-grandmother, Sarah Ann "Anna" Camfield Carlisle. I have already shared letters from Anna's friends Ella Jeffery and Sarah Binns Strauseight. There is some overlap in the Camfield and Carlisle letters after Anna's marraige and some of those letters I will include with this series as they seem relevent. There will be some more letters from friends and several from other family members, however the vast majority of the letters were written by Anna's mother, Sarah Ann Wisner Camfield.

Many of the letters are filled with gossip about neighbors and I've had some fun and frustration in trying to figure out who is who. Sarah Ann and her daughter-in-law Rose (my other maternal great-grandmother, yes the roots of my tree are tangled) didn't always see things the same and Anna heard both sides. Rose's letters were often painful for me and I need to write about her life and try to put some perspective on my feelings about her.

Many of Sarah's letters I found heartbreaking. Her life seemed incredibly lonely and was filled with hard work that seemed unending. I was frustrated with Anna for not doing more for her mother but then stopped to think about the fact that for the most part I was only reading one side of the conversation. Anna was living a good distance from her parents and as a married woman I'm certain that the needs and wishes of her husband had to come first. Perhaps she did try and get her parents to live closer to her by returning to Buchanan. I also found a bit of gossip in a letter written by Anna's daughter in 1960 that indicates that there may have been a bit of an estrangement between Sarah and Anna just after Anna's marriage. Perhaps I'll share that at some point in the future, right now I'm torn and unable to verify it. The letters I've read so far reveal very little about Anna's father, Mike, but there are tidbits to be found. Even through bad times and loneliness there was love.

The picture below is one of my favorites and the one that I keep handy as I work on the letters. I have no idea when or where it was taken but Sarah certainly doesn't look unhappy.

Sarah Ann Wisner Camfield

The letters that begin tomorrow are the very personal history of my ancestors and I am so very thankful to have them. I hope you will enjoy the history they preserve.


Becky Wiseman said...

Apple, I've really enjoyed reading your family's letters as they provide a glimpse into the past. Thank you for sharing them and I look forward to reading more of them!

Anonymous said...

Hello Apple! I'm catching up on my blog-reading and am so enjoying the story of how you photographed your family letters, and now, the transcriptions you have made. Aren't these peeks into the past fascinating? My project is similar to yours, but I have the letters in hand. I would love to know more about how your family correspondence ended up in the library...