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Elizabeth Fay Brigham (4/28/1767 - 11/9/1837)
A Letter to her Mother Mary Fay
overview of Elizabeth's ancestry and descendants
see notes below
see photographs of original letter below
Bakersfield February the 2 1821
Dear Mother I improve this opportunity in writing to you hoping these imperfect lines which I direct to you will [be] acceptable for I think you must wish to hear from me again and know how I feel in my lonesome situation. My health has been verry good since I wrote to you last and I hope the same blessing attends you. I wish verry much to see and converse with you again and I hope it will be so that I shall think you would be a great comfort to me in my lonesome situation. I feel alone and I see many dark gloomy and sorrowful hours which I suppose I have know need of telling you of as you have passed the same dreary ____ before me and have been cut off from your expectations in the morning of life. I feel sometimes as though these things could not be right. I feel as though I could almost ask why these things were so, but the Divine Being giveth to know one an account of any of his matters. It is for us to obey His holy will and meekly bow beneath this rod of affliction. I received your letter and perused it with satisfaction. I feel that you have taken pains to write to me. I think it great blessing that I can hear from you by way of letters but your letters are the only ones I receive from Southborough. Sister Patty has never sent me but one letter since I have lived in Bakersfield. I regret being so far from my friends in my lonesome situation, but it is my lot and I must not complain. I have blessings which many others are deprived of. I am left with a wonderful support for my self and family and have three as faithful boys with me as the world bares. They are very steady and do all my business. The oldest is but nineteen years old that lives with me Josiah F. he taiks the whole load of my business. His learning is good enough to do any business and he is very faithful in trustey affairs. Robert does not live with me. He works at his traid. He is healthy and I think he will taik care of him self. Benjamin G. is but sixteen years old. He is six ft in height and is verry well proportioned and ways one hundred and eighty. He started for Montreal this morning with my blessing to market.
Betsy lives with me and I expect she will at present. we received Temple's letter the first week of my husband's illness. He took the letter, tried to read it, but was so feeble he could not. He then requested it to be read. He then expressed his pleasure on receiving a letter from him and responded that his Father should bless his inclination to study. We have not wrote to him yet, but intend to soon. We have had so much care and trouble that it has left but little room for writing. Tell him we wish him prosperity in his pursuits and shall ever rejoice to hear from him. He writes we must give up the thoughts of seeing him at Bakersfield which we were sorry to hear. Give my love to him. Tell him my children were pleased to receive a letter from him. Give their respects to him.
I wish you to write to me soon. I want to hear from you verry much. I wish you to write the pretentious situation and how you do your work. I wish you to write this concerning my Brothers and Sisters. I feel anxious to hear from them. I wish you to write the deaths that have taken place among the people of my acquaintance in Southborough since I was down. I wish you to write whether Ant Sarah Wood lives as she did when I was down or not.
I shall try to come down next Fall, and hope I shall, though I feel I could scarcely think of it. Mr. Brigham thought much of visiting his Friends once more and was making every calculation to come down next fall but Death has put an end to his expectations. Thus faiding and uncertain are our joys and our hopes must be buried in the grave. Spring will soon return and revive the drooping face of nature but no spring returns to the dead. They still remain in their cold graves and must until the Morn of the resurrection.
Now like a disconsolate dove
I am left all alone for to mourn
O may the King Saivor above
Shew pity to me while alone.
I look through the rooms of my house
Each door on its hinges doth mourn
While searching, I find not my love
Nor will he to me e'er return.
How lonesome my table to me
How empty the place where he sat.
What lonesome devotions I pay
Where once we so sweetly did meet
And also to highten my grief
My sons a kind father have lost
They can't go to him for relief.
O may they in God put their trust
And shall I indulge my complaint
And tell you how lonesome my bed
And try all my feelings to paint
And give to each note a dark shade
There's none that can learn my complaint
Unless it is stamped on their hearts.
Not all the gay heathens can paint
Can tell how true lovers do part. Adieu.
So I remain your affectionate daughter
Mary Fay Elizabeth Brigham
P.S. Mary is well and has a son two months old. My two youngest children attend school.
The letter is written on one sheet of paper. It is folded in two lengthwise, and then again into two. The page is then folded into three, and the address is written on one side of the resulting compact note. I have labelled the side with the address "recto," the other side, "verso."
There seems to be almost no punctuation in the letter, and almost no paragraphing; there are only two paragraphs marked on the second page. I have added some periods, but have otherwise tried to keep it as it is. This includes reproducing the variant spelling used by Elizabeth. To mark each variant with [sic] would interrupt the flow of the reading too much. Variants include the following: verry for very, know for no (as in know need), bares for bears, taik for take, faid for fade, traid for trade, ways for weighs, wrote for written, and Ant for Aunt.
"Ant Sarah Wood" was Sarah Bent Wood, Mary Bent Fay's sister, older by two years. She did not die until some time after this. Elizabeth seems to be asking if she is still alive.
Mary had lost her husband in 1776 at the age of 39; at the time of this letter she was 84. She did indeed know the long dreary hours of a "lonesome situation."
Photographs of the Original Letter
The following two images were provided by Mountain Goodies, from whom I bought this letter on ebay.