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Monday, March 12, 2012

For Better Not For Worse

Recap of the story thus far:

Alvah Burns was born in or around Marcellus, NY and moved west to Stockton, NY in his 30s or so in the mid-19th Century.

Alvah married Anna Mariah Link who was one of 10 Link children.  Anna was much younger than Alvah--bore him two children Lydia and George and then was widowed while they were still young.

Lydia was a great support to her mother and helped with all the chores.  George turned out to be troubled by alcohol so he was a bit sketchy in his early 20s disappearing for days on end.

Anna's youngest brother, Orlando, took his family and moved to Iowa in 1870.  It proved fatal to him and his wife so their children were spread out among relatives.  His youngest son Omer was adopted and raised by Anna.

In 1875, George married a young, local girl named Ella Hodges.  She grew up around George and probably he was her adolescent crush.  By 1880, George had to have a leg amputated after suffering knee problems for years.  Ella had already bore him two sons and was pregnant with their third.  Life carries on a few more years not obviously perturbed by much that we know about.  Ella has one last son for a total of 4 boys but then, like a pig through a hole in the fence, she sees her opening and makes a break for it. 

This second set of Burns' family letters are not consistently dated and therefore I likely don't have the chronology down correctly.  However, they begin about 4 or 5 years after the amputation. I think as we read them the angry ones come first when George is arguing that he deserves some answers and the boys need a moral mother.   As they proceed, George becomes resigned--basically "how do you want to handle this divorce?"  I think George is really devastated and I don't think he did Ella wrong.  I just think Ella was young when she married, had too many babies too quickly and then fell in love with another man.  She leaves George and her children because--well who knows, maybe because she never made a choice of her own before that day.  I think that makes for heartbreak on both sides. 

 Here begins the next set of letters relating to this family's life-altering events:

South Stockton
April 188?

Ella Burns what doe you want to doe.  I want you to tell me and tell me al and I will doe the same by you if you will talk confidential with me and let this end it for if we can come to some understanding it will bee better for you but if we can’t I shall let the law take its course with you and if we doe have a talk let it bee personal now you can’t blame me for what I have found out in regard to you for you tried to beat me and what I have done I have done and the square and had a perfect right to find you out and I know more than I have told but if worse comes to worse I shall show up every thing but as god as my witness I hate to doe it but I will not be lied up to you and you lieing the way you have been lieing but if you have made up your mind to live a good moral life hearafter let me know and it will bee better for you think where it will please you if I get a bill from you now if we talk this matter over let it bee personal you may say anything you want to and I won’t make any use of it if we come to a law suit if you will doe the same by me talk so both can understand each other and if we can come to any agreement you like your way and I will doe the same this is not for you to keep you will have to hand it back to me or bear.

Be kind if we are poor ye know how kindness smooths the roughest fortunes ye endure and how it sorrow soothes ye know you may receive relief yet sympathy not find then learn to sympathy with grief the poorest can be kind.  Be kind why should you not if faithful friends are few and if you seem to be forgot by thoes you once deemed true. Should you not sympathize with thoes to cold neglect consigned can ye not feel for others woes oh should you not be kind.  Be kind forget forgive the wrongs which ye received Oh strive in love with all to live this world ye soon must leave then cultivate a generous mind live peaceable with all mankind and thoes at death ye leave behind will bless your memory and be kind.

N.B.  his is for your own good and respect for our children not mine.

This next letter doesn't seem to go with the one above but it may because the one above obviously wasn't finished:

Ella i did not have room to write all i wanted to on that sheet you said you didn’t want me to show your letter to any one any letter you write to me no one shal see for i think our mater is our one and no bodys (elses?) write what you may and it will bee all rite you nead have no fear you doe rite.  Ella and may god rain blessings on your head for i love you dearer than life if you will do what is right i can’t write half what i want to but when i see you i can tell you lots if you will bee good to me i must close now for mark wants to write to you for i don’t want to get him to crying when he gets his mind made up to do any thing he wants to doe it rite of now write to me by return mail and may god bles you for it.  Geo Burns

belo is marks writing and i will sign his name for him


Mark Burns
Ella you have lifted a big load from my mind i did talk of coming down next monday but will not come til i hear from you.

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