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These are letters written by and to the five Scott sisters (Mabel, Eva, Gertrude, Reba, and Mildred) from their childhood and early adulthood.
The Scott girls were the daughters of William Alan and Rose Plaisted Scott (for more information on Rose and William, see Rose's Letters). William and Rose were married in January 1886 in West Union, Steuben County, New York. Their oldest daughter, Mabel was born a little over a year later on March 2, 1887.
Four additional girls followed: Eva Lorena Scott (born September 13, 1888), Mary Gertrude Scott (born July 13, 1892), Reba Rachel Scott (born February 18, 1894), and Mildred Scott (born March 5, 1896). Mabel and Eva were born in West Union, and an 1891 Steuben County directory notes that William Scott, farmer, lived at 29 West Union, leasing from D. Wass (probably a distant cousin of his wife's). Rose's parents lived not far away. By 1892, however, the family had moved to Troupsburg, also in Steuben County, and the three following children were born there. William's parents also lived in Troupsburg.
In October 1899, Rose Plaisted died of "Bright's disease". The 1899 Merck Manual refers to "acute" Bright's disease and "chronic" Bright's disease, and refers the reader to albuminuria, hematuria, scarlet fever, uremia, and dropsy. This list includes a variety of possible ailments, but probably points to a renal (kidney-related) disease.
At the time of their mother's death, the girls were all still very young. Mabel was 12 years old; Eva was 11; Gertrude, 7; Reba, 5; and Mildred just three. The 1900 census, taken just a few months later in June, shows that the girls had been separated and were living with a variety of people:
It is unclear how long these arrangements lasted. Family legend has it that while the girls did stay with their grandparents for a little while, they were soon set up independently in a house with the older girls taking care of the younger ones. In 1910, the four younger girls (Mabel was away at school) were living together in Greenwood. William Scott had married Maggie Hauber, and was also living in Greenwood, with Maggie's two daughters, Addie and Charlotte.
The letters begin when the girls were quite young, just after their mother had died. Several of the early letters are from Rachel Plaisted to Gertrude (her granddaughter), who was apparently then staying with the Scotts. The letters continue with the girls going off to college. All five girls attended college, and most (maybe all?) also went abroad. Gertrude seems to have been the most reliable about saving her letters, although it is possible that her letters were kept because she was the first to die: in 1928 at the age of 36. Otherwise it is unclear why some letters were saved and others were not.
Letter from Rachel Aber Plaisted in Rexville, NY to Gertude Scott in Troupsburg, NY, postmarked Nov 2, 1901
I am sorry we could not go down to see you tomorrow but I have company and so we will come next Saturday is Possible. I hope you like your school and are learning a lot. I know you do learn fast. I think you will want to know what we are doing. well we are working at everything, housework & sewing and cooking & eating too if you will believe it.
I am making Mildred a new apron. we go to Church every Sunday. we have no Sunday School now and miss the papers.
I hope you will get this Saturday night I ought to have written before but have been buisy and thought I should get there but you will have to get along with this for one week more you must be patient. do you read your bible I think you can and I want you to be a very good girl goodbye untill I see you which will be soon.
From Grandma Plaisted
Letter from Rachel Aber Plaisted to Gertude Scott dated April 23, 1902
April 23, 1902
I thought I would write to you.
I wrote a line to send quite a while ago and left it for your papa to take over to you but it has not gone yet so I thought I would send this in the Post Office like anybody's letter
I heard that you had the Measles but I hope you are all over them now and abel to go to School and every where.
Well you wont have to be afraid of Measles any more. the weather and going is better now so I guess that I will be down to see you Saturday next week.
That will be may third if it is a good day I come Saturday so Eva can come with me we will start early. if it will be convenient for your Grandma to have us, if not you must write and let us know so if I don't hear from you we will be there if it is a good day goodbye untill then from your Grandma Plaisted
Letter to Gertrude Scott from Mabel Scott, Sept. 24, 1905 [presumably sent from Geneseo, NY]
Sept 24, 1905
I enjoyed your letter very much.
I will proceed to answer your questions. Yes, my room is quite nice. It has in it a dresser, bed, commode, study table, and chairs.
I wore to the reception my graduating dress with my new white girdle and my white hair ribbon. I suppose I looked quite nice at least I thought so. Jeanne wore her graduating dress too. Her new suit is green.
I must tell you before I forget that there are two Indian girls who go here to school. They are from Erie county (reservation I presume) and their names are Salina Mabie and Flora Tallchief. Then there is a Negro girl here from Andover whose name is Pearl Ray.
Jeanne has one white dress her graduating dress, and a cream voile dress.
Anna Connor, Mayel Range and I went out to Austin Wadsworth's home this afternoon. They have a large white house, lovely lawn and flower garden. I saw some green lemons on a lemon tree in the flower garden. There is an evergreen hedge all around the gardens.
Then we went our to James Wadsworth's. He lives on the north side of town & Austin lives on the south side. James Wadsworth's grounds are not quite so nice as the "other one"'s. His house is a light brown or yellow. It is very grand.
Letter to Gertrude Scott from Mabel Scott in Geneseo, NY, October 8, 1905
Dear Gertrude: - I am afraid that I cannot think of much to write you besides what I have written to Eva. You must read her letter.
I think Addie must be quite homesick if she has to write 5 or 6 times a week.
The Indian girls dress and talk like everyone else. The negroes hair is very curly. She seems to be a very bright girl. There is a negroe young man here in school. His name is Thomas Simms.
I am glad that you will be glad when I come home. Be a good girl, get your lessons and help do the housework.
I have written to Grandma P. Here is a story one of the girls told me. There was a man who did not believe in ghosts. So he went to a haunted house and a ghost came up to him. He turned and was going away. But the ghost went too, walking along by his side. Then he became frightened and began to run and the ghost followed him. Suddenly he fell down and the ghost said to him, "Say, old fellow you ran some didn't you?" The man said, "Yes and when I get my breath I'll run some more."
That is all for this time.
October 8, 1905
Postcard from Mabel Scott in Geneseo, NY to Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY, postmarked Sept. 22, 1906
This is where I go to school. Have just sent you a letter. Thank you for the candy you gave me when I started. I enjoyed it and treated all the girls.
Postcard from Mabel Scott from Middletown, NY to Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY, postmarked October 22, 1907
Rec'd your letter this morning. I did not bring the glasses down here. When I left I supposed Eva was going to wear them. Can't the girls find them? Mabel
North St. is one of the main streets of this place
Postcard from Eva Scott from Syracuse, NY to Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY, postmarked December 16, 1907
This is not where I usually go, but I went here once. I am coming home Friday night, I think. If not, I will come Saturday. -- Eva
Postcard from Eva Scott from Syracuse, NY to Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY, postmarked January 12, 1908
Dear Gram - I was glad to get your letter will write when I find time. Thi sis the building where I have my classes, but it is very poorly colored. It is really of gray stone. I heard Mr. Cool, an anti-saloon man this A.M. He was very interesting. E.L.S.
Postcard from Eva Scott from Syracuse, NY to Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY, postmarked March 2, 1908
I rec'd both your letters. I hope your are feeling better now. It snows and is cold today. I have had a bad cold but I am O.K. now. Will write soon. E.L.S.
Postcard from Rachel Aber Plaisted to Eva Scott in Syracuse, NY. Postcard is from Washington, DC, but postmark is April 8, 1908 from Greenwood, NY.
I have bought Pink Cloth with embroiderd front for a waist will get it made if I can. Mrs. Van [?] keeps buisy She thinks could fit you all right. Grandma say if you want to or not [illegible] try when you are home
Postcard from Mabel Scott from Middletown, NY to Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY, postmarked March 19, 1908
This is the st. I live on except that this is where the st. begins and I live at 210 in the direction of the arrow. I heard from Mary Murdock and I am going, I am quite sure, in less than 2 weeks. Are you well? I wondered that I did not hear from you. Mabel
Postcard from Eva Scott from Syracuse, NY to Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY, postmarked April 6, 1908
Am sorry to trouble you with so many decisions. I rec'd your letter this A.M. I supposed you had got my other letter when you sent the postal. Well I guess we had better leace the waist after all, and not have it made now. This is my final decision. I wont change my mind again. Mabel didn't go anywhere.
Postcard from Rachel Aber Plaisted in Bath, NY to Eva Scott in Greenwood, NY to postmarked July 31, 1908
We stay'd in Canisteo untill 4 o'clock & then came on arrived near
7 are having the best kind of a time am not homesick yet. you better
pick my cucumbers and do something with them. Pickle or give away.
Postcard from Eva Scott from Syracuse, NY to Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY, postmarked November 2, 1908
How are you now? I haven't heard from you in quite a while. I suppose you are busy. It is quite cold here now. It is nearly Thanksgiving. Don't know what I'll do then. Nothing I suppose.
Postcard from Eva Scott from Syracuse, NY to Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY, postmarked December 13, 1908
It's been quite a long time since I wrote you, but I think I won't write now until Xmas. I have been so busy that I haven't been downtown lately to see how things look; the stores usually look nice at Xmas time. I expect to come home Tuesday 22 but don't know for sure. Eva
Postcard from Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY to Eva Scott at Syracuse University, postmarked October 7, 1909
Greenwood Oct 6
I just returned from Oneonta could not send card from there did not know your address better late than never
Postcard from Mabel Scott from Middletown, NY to Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY, postmarked January 9, 1909
Dear Grandma -- When I was down at Weehawken last fall I went through this tunnel. I thank you very much for the clipping. I would write you in place of a postal but it seems as though I haven't time for anything. I had a very nice time at the Epworth League Banquet. It was last Friday night. Lovingly, Mabel
Postcard from Eva Scott from Syracuse, NY to Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY, postmarked March [??], 1909
Dear G- I read your letter some time ago. I hope you are feeling better now. There has been quite a lot of snow lately and rather cold. It's only about four weeks before the Easter vacation. I don't know what I'll do then. Eva
Postcard from Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY to Eva Scott in Syracuse, NY, postmarked March 26, 1909
Dear Eva I am glad you are
going to see Mabel. it will be fine for both. do you
recognize the place on this card commencing at Van fleets on the left
and costours [?] on the right. looking up town. isn't it pretty.
Postcard from Eva Scott from Elizabethtown, NY to Gertrude Scott at Bolt House in Geneseo, NY, postmarked Sept 18, 1911
Dear Gertrude -I suppose you are established by this time. How is it? I will write soon. You see our stores aren't very grand here -
Postcard from Rachel Aber Plaisted in Olean, NY to Gertrude Scott in Geneseo, NY, postmarked Oct 6, 1911
Friday Oct 6
Dear Gertrude, I am at State convention shall go home Tuesday a church full first day Steuben has a large delegation have a new hand bag like yours Grandma
Postcard from Eva Scott from Elizabethtown, NY to Gertrude Scott at Bolt House in Geneseo, NY, postmarked Oct 31, 1911
Aren't you ever going to write? What on earth has happened? I hope you are getting along all right. This is the hotel where I spent my first night here.
Postcard from Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY to Eva Scott in Elizabethtown, NY, postmarked December 13, 1911
Greenwood Dec 13, 1911 Dear Eva
I have not heard from you in so long. I want to let you know Christmas
is coming and I am wondering if we shall see
you. it is a long ways for
you to come but it is a long time untill June you might send a card and tell us.
your loving Granmother
invited down to Lucius Sunday & today & went to breakfast most of time
Postcard from Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY to M. Gertrude Scott in Newton Centre, Mass, postmarked December 26, 1912
Greenwood Dec 25, 1912
Dear Gertrude I have such a lot of lovely Presents and Mabel, Reba, and [scratched out: Gertrude] Mildred. [scratched out: we used] excuse all mistakes
Postcard from Rachel Aber Plaisted in Greenwood, NY to M. Gertrude Scott in Newton Centre, Mass, postmarked January 6, 1913
Jan 4, 1913
Dear Gertrude I fixed the book [illegible] your
father took to the P.O. cost 20cts 3rd class Mail matter so he said he
sent by common mail we are having snow & blow. the girls go back
Monday morn. I am crowding around the house. hope to keep on
Letter from Rachel Aber Plaisted to M. Gertrude Scott, Mass. State Infirmary, Tewksbury, Mass.
Greenwood Aug 3, 1914
I had the chance to read your long letter so I see you are very much alone yet good. The extremely hot
weather is bad for me, but it is cooler now. when I came home
from Savona I found Glenn here waiting for me. That was near 2
weeks ago and he is here yet. he talked some of going back to
Akron, but he may find work nearer here. thinks of going to Keuka
to work in fruit it makes me sit up and take notic to have steady company.
he does what he can picks the beans, the second planting are coming on
now but cucumbers are a failare as usual. I thin kthe corn and
tomatoes will soon be big enough thee is to be a Troupsburg fair this
year and Roya is to have a Stand there. the first week in Sept_
the harvest apples have been wonderful and we all have been
making Jelly with the poorest ones I have made 6 glasses. it is very
nice. how very glad aunt Hattie and Lizzie were to have me visit them.
I saw my friend Mrs. Porong [?].
aunt Hattie and I went there to tea and they invited her another day.
they say they think Will Miller lives in Bath but I never hear
from him. the W.C.T.U. here had a large book bequeathed to them
by the woman who organized it Elizabeth White of Angelica. it is
"Glimpses of fifty years in the life of Frances Willard." Reba says
that Josephine Lawrence and her mother came this morn to visit
Charlotte. Mildred Potter is to have a girl from Syracuse, so of
course that house is being cleaned from top to bottom. the girls sew
constantly first one and then the other. they leave
Letter from Rachel Aber Plaisted to M. Gertrude Scott at Cazenovia Semenary [sic], postmarked Feb. 1918 from Greenwood, NY
Greenwood Feb 19, 1915
I told you "if" I lived through the "event" I would write you about it. it was a success with drawbacks. Jessie [possibly Jessie Moses Plaisted, Gertrude's maternal aunt] had to be at Whitesville, her sister is no worse but is in bed and Luciel went home and Jessie stayed. Mrs. Lewis worked at it great, and then Wednesday afternoon she was took sick and the night of the Social could not be here. some others with less excuse stayed away.
Clarence Webster's wife sang a Solo, and so did Marjorie [probably Marjorie Plaisted, Gertrude's cousin] and 6 little girls sang and we old woman had a piece. we read our parts. the parts were in rhime and made a great laugh. Roscoes boy [Cecil Roscoe Plaisted] who lives in Young Hickory "Leon" died in the Hospital and was buried this week. and this morning I have a dispatch from Abraham that Aunt Hattie was dead and going to be buried in Lowell. So they would start tonight or tomorrow morning. Philip Moore died and was buried monday. I seem to be quite well. I wonder at it. I suppose you know about Mabels teaching in Austins district, but she boards at Vincent McCormicks, she likes ithe school, will be home againe tonight. I don't think she did anything about that dress but I will see when she comes. the gas is low againe today. I havent written to Mildred since she went west. I am am going down to Mrs. Bennetts. Ruth boards there and goes to School here. she could not teach any longer on her permit. will write more next time from your loving Grandma
I went down to Mrs Bennetts & she said wont you lay off your shall meaning you wont will you so I dident. came home and eat. now I don't know what I will do. there are lots of places I can go and keep warm.
Letter from Eva Scott to Gertrude Scott on letterhead marked A bord Cie Cle Transatlantique, possibly a ship's name
le Sept 9, 1921
They say we will dock at N.Y. tomorrow morning. I'm feelilng pretty well today, so I wouldn't mind going on for a few days more.
I think I wrote you from Grenoble, didn't I? I stayed there about 10 days then went to Paris. I meant to hunt around and find some nice little things to buy -- I did buy some things of course, but I didn't hunt around as much as I wanted to. The reason being that I was sick -- had bowel trouble which troubled me greatly. I'm just getting over it now. All the same I'm sending you a little souvenir, I hope you like it. If the chain is too long you might have some [illegible] off at a jewelers.
I enjoyed the trip a lot but somehow, I can't bear to write in detail about it.
I bought Reba a dress -- because she was so anxious to have a Paris dress of course I expect she will pay me for it. I also bought Patricia a little hand embroidered dress, a purse for Mildred, & a doily with real lace for Mabel. I guess my choices of things wasn't the best but maybe I'll do better next time.
I got your letter from St. Paul. I hope you won't freeze to death this winter. Do you have to pay your own R.R. fare when you are changed around. It's so nice that you have a new suit that you like. Mabel ought to send you her fur coat for the winter.
I still urge you to try to save some money, because I suppose we are fortunate to have jobs when so many people are out of work, and we ought to save some money while we can. Of course, I spent all mine this summer but I am going to try to save some this year. I wish some of us together could buy a house or a cottage at a lake somewhere. All of us together ought to have enough money for something of that sort.
I have a Kodak picture of Mildred & the baby & isn't the baby cute.
Guess this wil be all for today. Try to enjoy life and take care of your health in your new place.
I sort of dread to go back to teaching, but it has to be done.