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Friday, February 24, 2012

Coming Home

Buffalo Sunday Mar 7

Well Ell we expect to start for home with George Tuesday 9th.  May not come direct home if Geo is to tired will stop at Uncle Lymans until he is rested. Expect us the first of the week. Monday morning.   Not feeling quite as well but think will start tomorrow.  Will arrive at moons afternoon train.  Get Frank Wakeman to come to Moon tuesday.

W.  Fenner
Send up immediately

Lydia B. Losee

Thoughts:  It seems Lydia, probably John, and her mother at the very least are part of George's escort home.  Two months after he loses his leg George is starting his journey home.   Moon's was the local train depot on the Dunkirk Allegany Valley and Pittsburgh Railroad. Uncle Lyman was one of Anna's younger brothers.

Was this the same as Moon's Depot?  postcard found here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Talking Plain

George is getting frustrated stuck in Buffalo and depending on Ella back at home.

February 24

Ella i am going to talk plain talk it seems as the the way you rote you did not intend to get any one to doe the chores well you get frank wakeman to tend to the horses if you can i will pay him for his trouble when i can mak the money now bi god if you don’t hear to what i say you can go to hel if you cant get frank Wakeman get frank Hodge or some one else i wont have you round the horses i dont now what your father thought of leaving the horses for you to tend to that is all mind what i say from

Geo Burns

page 2

Ella tel Wall Fenner that i got a rgesterd leter of him was 25 dollars in it many thanks. 

Omer can tell him or mart.  Omer there is lots of rats here if you was here you could catch anuf for a good soup.  Ella i want who ever tends to the horses to lead them all to water 2 a day so they can have exercise now remember what i have said all through this leter and you will please your ugly Husband when a paper comes send it don’t wait for two paper to send.  if it comes Saturday Send it monday.

(off to the side in the margin maybe written by Anna)

george has to put his stub in a sling when he stands up make one of his scarf.


Thoughts:  I really feel badly for George.  How frustrating to be recuperating miles from home and dependent on others to keep his farm going.  There's no telephone, certainly no e-mail and there was the standard day's delay on each part of the conversation.  He is so angry with Ella on the first page and then casually changes his tone even being sweet with a message about rats to Omer.  When he calls himself ugly is it because he was rough at the start or because he feels ugly now?  I find everyone very matter of fact about the leg amputation.  No one really mentions it except George when he was worried about a boil and even in this letter it literally is an aside.  What sort of physical therapy is he undergoing?  How is he preparing to return to his life?  What professional support is he getting.  You just get on with it, oh and make a sling for his stub with his scarf.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lydia's Letter

"G-d any one that says cream is good in tea is a d---d liar"

As Frank Wakeman said in his letter published yesterday, Lydia is now at George's house.  She is married but has no children of her own that I can find.  Her husband has gone off to get flour from Cassadaga while she has come to look after Ella, the boys and George and Lydia's cousin/adopted brother, Omer (story to come).  Anna appears to still be up in Buffalo nursing her son.  I think this is such a lovely letter.  It is full of such detail and funny anecdotes.  I am finding this set of letters more informative of life than a year's worth of Allen's diaries.  Obviously, Allen's diaries are nearest to my heart but this is the depth of expression I always wished for from him. 


Sunday February 8th / 80
South Stockton

Mother & Brother,

I am now at your house staid to D. Mallory’s until last tuesday when I went home with John Wednesday.  John went up to Cassadaga after flour as I rode on a load of hay down to Drakes.  Thursday we went over to see Uncle Frank he has lost his appetite and can’t sit up only a few minutes at a time they don’t think he will live a great while but he may don’t appear to have any particular disease only all worn out and old age.  Aunt Pam had to tell about Johns father when he came home drunk once he took his tea and went to the cream jar and put sour cream in his tea then drank some and said G-d any one that says cream is good in tea is a d---d liar.

Ell and John have both got postal cards from you - I guess none of the plank have frose yet.  Alvah wants to go out and do the chores.  I asked him what chores and he said Dans chores but of course wont let him he says if old Dan kicks he will whip him.  Alvah just told Ell to call Georgie Doctor.  Ell says has Judge been down there?  Clara told her he talked of going to Buffalo but he may not go.  Some one said Andrew Frank called in to see you.  You can sit up by this time I presume and I know if you can it seems good.  Twill rest you even if cant sit up long at a time .  For supper to day we had warmed up potatoes, sweet apple meat + dumplings worked together, indian pancake + fried cake.

Frank Shaw had to tell over all his old stories among the rest how George used to say Hank want to ra.  Suppose you thought then you could throw him just as much as I thought I had smashed father all in when I was a little girl.  Uncle Lime says he remembers of being here once and father laid down on the floor and I got on his stomach and jumped on him where father drawed himself in just as much as he could and told me I had smashed him and I felt terrible bad and took hold of his clothes and tried to pull him all out plump again.  When I got here they were all doing well children tough and feeling nice Alvah says Aunt John going to sleep with me but when night came he would sleep with Omer or Ell so let him seep with Omer and Ell, baby and I slept together.  Dogs are all right.  Frank got trump today.  Tis was real peasant to day.  I have had that root pulled out of my mouth and last twas the whole root of the tooth. 

Frank is going to send you a letter tomorrow so I will wait this until Tuesday.  there is plenty snow now for sleighing. began to snow tuesday or monday night and snowed quite a little every day since until today. snowed hard last sunday.  Cant think of any news or anything else.  Have you got the childrens pictures Charley Young said he would send them yesterday to you.  Alvah had written a letter to his pa and send it over to Buffalo.  He writes I like George 2 bushels 21 22 Now I will stop and let Omer write to you. 

"I cowght a big rat  they ar eating the apples awful
 (?) and floura cowght a big rat so that makes too rats."

i meant to have written more but have not time got to send it to the office.  Ell is going to write in a little while .  I told her we would not send them all at once.  Lyd


Thoughts:  I think "ra" meant something within the family like strong or tough, sort of "fighting ready".  Anna also used it in her postcard a few days back.

Uncle Frank must be Lydia's husband John's uncle.  From the great tea story we learn that John's pa might have been a bit of a drinker. Lydia gives us a fabulous menu too--I only knew when Allen had chicken or turkey.  We even know that little Alvah called Lydia "Aunt John," how sweet is that?
The love in this family is evident. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Picture for Daddy

George Burns, jr, Alvah Burns
To Stockton
    feb 7, 1880

    friend george.  i am well and here is my hand (drawing of a hand to shake) shake the old shot thing it is all heated up your folks are well, thay went over to Sinclairville friday and had the childrens pictures taken.  We have got lots of snow.  Mart is a drawing wood most every day.  i don’t now how mutch he has drawed. abought frank putnam, i have hurd that he tried to hang himself two different times the fool.  the cars run over a man and cut his head off near pine hill, i dont now who he was, i have been a drawing wood and logs and haint hunted atall lately, mat flagg is dead.  it bothers me to think what to right but i guess i can think of something more tomorrow.

good morning a fine day to hunt.  can i take trump.  Well i will go down and let lew trude go he wanted to good by.

hear i cume all tired out after hunting, got down to trudes and found Jo carpenter there with tips dog.  We all started for the swamp to put them on an old fox track but tips dog started a rabbit, and lew and Jo shot at it but did not get it, dogs lost it.  We went up the swamp and started an nother, he made one turn and i shot him.  We started 1 more and Jo shot at him and missed hime and he came around and i shot him.  trump was most to much for tips dog, i wish you was here to take a tramp with me.  I would sesk (?) my legs a while. any way.  i don’t now how much hay you have got i haven’t been in the barn lately. 

Lydia is at your house now i can’t think of any thing more now. rite and let me now how you get along every few days.

From your friend.
Frank Wakeman

Hunter by cot

page 4; page 1
page 2; page 3

Thoughts:  I really like this letter.  It is clear that George had many good friends including Mr. Frank Wakeman.  In it you can see Frank struggles to think of what to write but in the end it is very newsy  and familiar.  The writing style makes you think he was just talking to George over a quiet drink--discussing the days exploits. There was no shortage of death talk.  But it is sweet when Frank asks George if he can borrow George's hunting dog Trump but the request is rather moot.  This is not a real conversation, he can't wait for a reply and he is probably looking after the dog anyway.  It is post facto courtesy.  Later in the letter he seems to praise Trump for being the better dog on the hunt.  I'm sure the thought would have pleased George.

Frank also mentions photos of the children being taken.  I truly believe the photograph above is the one referred to for two reasons.  The first is I am 99.9% certain the boy on the right is Alvah Burns.  He has Alvah's signature dark eyes and sticky-out ears.  Secondly, the fact that there are only two boys in the picture would be true as well as the ages they are in it.  While there would eventually be four Burn's boys, Ella is still pregnant with the third in 1880.

There are two Frank Putnams of the same age in Stockton in the 1870 census.  However, reveals one of them, probably the poor boy above, dies in July 1880.  I am wondering if Mat Flagg who "is dead" is really Met Flagg or Emmet Flagg who is on the 1870 census but not the 1880.


Monday, February 20, 2012

In George's Own Words

George writes to his wife-speaks of his amputation, wanting the local paper and for goodnessake hire a man to help him already:


February 6 = 1880  

Ella i recieved your kind + welcome letter on the 5.  i am on the gain some, i can set up in bed now a little while to a time.  the day i got your leter mother + Andrue Frank went out on a walk, went up on main st. seen lots, i ges for there is lots to see if you are a mind to look at it.   i supose you + the children are all well. has frank been a fox hunting yet i want to hear all about what is a going on.   is lydia with you yet? you wanted to now if i wanted a boy, i want some one that can plow with the team how old is he?  if any of you see henry Canaustman the indian, ask him how much he will ask a month to work for me.  andrue frank has been here to day it makes 3 days he has been here how did mart like his leter i rote in yours? who is frank hodges a going to work for? 

Ella you take the Standard paper as fast as they come and let Wall mail them to me you can read them first if you want to.  You pay the postage on them.  Don’t send any more postal cards if you cant send a leter dont send anything i dont want everyone to read my business.   there is a geathering coming on my stub don’t now what it will amount to but i ges it wont bee more than a bile.  i hope you mite send one that tells about the amputation of my leg to.   there is lots of snow here how i would like to bee so i could get out on my crutches it is prety tough i can tel you lay here on my back all the time +  don’t now how much longer i have got to lay here it said in one of those papers you sent me. the latest advice in regard to George Burns was that the doctors hope for his recovery but i is quite a critacle case. has frank got my leter i wrote to him?  i got a postal card from John Sunday he said you had got them pictures taken.

Sunday 8

the doctor was here to day he said i was doing nicely. the gathering has broke now ges it wont mount to anything but a little mater.  the boys is real good to me beter than they would use me to home.  they wait on me to change my shirt or lift me on the couch so mother can make my bed, buy me cigars + apples.  real good the mail comes rite to our door twice a day.  andrew frank said if it staid good slaying he + his women would come and see us he thought.  wish i could come home this week but i cant no use crying over spilt milk.  did you get that leter with one in for Alvah? how did he act over it?  is the calf giving any + how much?  has mart got a card so omer can card him of? how does the small colt look now and the rest of them and that big red cow making bag wet? i can set up in bed a lone now but cant set long my stub pains me some but dont take any morphene.  get some rest has mart got a good road so he can draw a big load how much longer does school keep? i can’t think of any more to rite so good by.

 from you humble Husband
 yours truley
George Burns


How scary to endure the loss of his leg and then worry about every little threat of infection that could take his life.  Clearly, after a month in bed George wants to get home again and get back to the job of running his farm.  

Henry Canustman sounds interesting.  It seems like he's seen as a local "indian" who turns up in town every so often looking for odd jobs.   While I didn't find anyone of that name in the census, I found an odd photo in the box that makes me wonder if it is Henry.  Obviously, the style of photographic finish suggests it is from the 20th C but who knows.  Clearly this guy was a character.

"Compliments of your Indian Friend"