I recently finished transcribing a whole series of family letters from my Frasier side of the family. Now I’m turning my attention to a collection of letters on the Pearson and Brodd side of the family. I will be transcribing about twenty original letters that cover a period from 1901 through 1925. I will be posting only the transcribed information, but I’m scanning as I go. Please contact me if you would like copies of the digital images.
I will supplement the transcription with any relevant photos and background information that I have available to me.
Ready? Here we go!
This first letter is from Lena Pearson to her brother, Peter William (or P.W.). Lena is 19 years old and is living at home on the Chapman Precinct family farm near Weston, Nebraska. P.W. is 23 years old and is living in Laramie where he works for the Union Pacific Railroad. P.W. Pearson is my great-grandfather.
It seems like P.W. and Lena have a pretty close relationship and are comfortable teasing each other about their love lives. Lena is communicating with Clara (P.W.’s soon-to-be-wife) through back channels and is demanding more details from her brother.
The letter stationery has a Swedish poem on it:
Fröjd och glädje, frid och lycka
Uti rikligaste mått,
Må din lefnads bana smycka!
Har du bättre önskan fått
Which translates (word-by-word as per translate.google.com, )
Delight and joy, peace and happiness
In abundant dimensions,
May your life’s path adorn!
Do you desire better received?
Now the text of the letter:
March 21, 1901
I will drop you a few lines to answer your last letter. We are all quite well except a little cold. The weather is pretty cold to-day, it snowed and stormed yesterday but it is clear and nice tonight again and I hope it will stay that way for a long while. I hate cold weather, it is so unpleasant.
How is yourself and every thing out there? Concerning the people I spoke of last I wrote, you did not answer me on. I know all about it now. It was Mr. Johnson’s at Laramie, Miss Clara told me that you was there for dinner Christmas. They are rich and good people. You did not carry the greeting to them as I asked you to do. You said you went to church after and I don’t wonder a bit about it. You said you pretty near come in trouble. I don’t see what that could be, did the girl go back on you? Or did she sue you! You need not think that Mr. David comes and sees me, he is so afraid of the girls that he hides when they look at him. I have no fellow all the boys is afraid of me because I look so cross. And I know who it is that said that David was my fellow, and that is the only one that said it. She just made that up herself. You say I don’t answer your questions but that is the other way. I asked you so many of you but don’t answer me. I asked you so many times how much wages you get but you never answered me and also who your good friends are that are so good to you.
I spose you have heard that we have bought 160 acres more land in Swedeburg about 2 miles from church. We bought it of Joseph Schefer. We paid $7100 for it and we paid $4600 spot cash and we have 2500 mortgage on it. Now is the time for you to help pay debt. It is a lovely place I tell you, it contains 200 peach trees, 100 cherries, 90 apricots, apples, all went apples. There is about 6 or 7 hundred fruits trees with all and big nice buildings and plenty water and close to town. We rented it away to because it was rented when we bought it so we let the renter stay there. We have all we can do with this here at home.
You asked about old faithfull Dick. He is getting pretty old but he is the same old snike as before. There is none so good as himself. He can boss the rest yet. And you spok also of our favorite Sallie. She was in a bad shape when you wrote last. We had the doctor for her that day I received your letter. We stayed up 3 nights and did not sleep a bit but she is all right now again. She is a beauty. All our horses are all good looking. All but Jack, he is as black as ever. Well I do not know any more new to write now. Oscar and Fritz are hauling hogs and corn nowadays. Tomorrow they are going to town with corn and mail this letter.
as your sister
Miss L. M. Persson
and wish you a good time and good and pretty girl
Miss Clara is a beauty
Here are a few notes and comments:
- This letter was written about seven months before P.W. and Clara’s wedding, but it sounds like they are not yet engaged.
- Lena has heard from Clara that he had Christmas dinner with the J.W. Johnson family, Clara’s uncle. It’s pretty clear that even though P.W. and Clara are seeing each other in Laramie, they had to have known each other when both were living back in Nebraska.
- P.W. has been teasing Lena about her fellow “Mr. David”. She denies it, but notice that she later marries a man named David Peterson!
- There is good detail in this letter about the purchase of the farm in Stocking Precinct. Carl Oscar later bought this farm from his dad and I understand it is still in the family. She hints that he needs to help pay off the debt – this foreshadows P.W.’s return to Nebraska a few years later.
- Lots of information about their horses – Dick, Sallie and Jack. I wonder if those are the three horses that are front and center in the photo? I’ve estimated the date of the photo as 1895. Everyone’s in it except P.W. – the man standing with Lydia is (I think) Christian’s nephew, John Pearson.
- Notice that she signs with her last name as “Persson” – this would be the correct Swedish spelling of the name.
- After all the teasing, she wishes her brother well and compliments him about Clara.