Another Glimpse of Life at the Turn of the Century

By Rita Norander

Another Glimpse of Life at the Turn of the Century

Edith Robie’s graduation picture from Proctor Academy (mid 1920s). Edith was instrumental in saving her father’s early letters and her mother’s 1916 diary. They were the basis for these last five articles.

Part 2
This is the last in a series of five articles which give a glimpse into the life and times of the Robie family of East Andover. In my previous article, we read letters which were written in 1896, 1900 and 1902 by Mary Keniston of Danbury to her cousin Robert Robie of East Andover. This article will be looking at letters written by Mary in 1903 and in 1917.
April 1, 1903 – Danbury, N.H
Dear Cousin,
I received your letter last evening and will try and write a few lines this morning before Breakfast, as the team is going out to Danbury, and Papa is going to Bristol with milk. We have to carry our milk all the time now, and we go every day.  We are all well, and hope this will find you and the family all the same. We got a nice long letter from Nannie (Robert’s sister and my grandmother) a little time ago and sent her one Monday. Papa was down to Franklin last Monday. It was quite a storm Saturday, when we went to Bristol.
We tapped 25 trees this spring. They did run very well, and we got all the syrup we cared for.

In reply to you asking me about working for Papa, he has hired a hand, and will not hire any other. Of course, he had to hire when he had a chance. It won’t be long before we have to begin on the ground.
I must close as I want to eat my breakfast.

Mary Edyth Keniston
March 5, 1917
Background Information on this Letter
Fourteen years have passed since the last letter (or the last letter which was saved). Mary has married and is living in the Tioga section of Hill which is on the other side of East Andover’s Tucker Mountain Road. Robert married in 1906 and has 3 children. In 1912 Robert takes over the family farm, and in 1917 his father dies. Mary’s letter is one of condolence to Robert on the loss of his father, and an apology for not being able to attend the service. This letter really brought home to me, the difficulty of traveling at this time, and especially the difficulty of winter travel.
Excerpts From Letter

Your card received late Saturday, and sorry to hear the sad news. It is hard to bear the great loss, but we ought not to wish them to stay and have to suffer when they can find comfort in heaven. Robert, my husband and I would have come down to the funeral had it been a pleasant day. We did not dare to come in the storm for it snowed and blew here something terrible. We had such a long drive to get there, as we had to come to Hill Village and then go down and out by Webster Lake, and then up to your place. There is no road out through Tioga this winter (and over Tucker Mountain to East Andover). We have nothing but a five year old horse to drive, and he is not used to a long drive. But we should have come had it not stormed. I would not have dared to ride so far in the storm for I have been sick for nearly four weeks with this terrible Grip cold. I’ve done my housework that I was obliged to do and that is all.
Guy (her husband) and I are all alone now as his Brother has been away working all winter. We do intend to come over sometime  when Summer comes and with it better weather.
We have 12 little Lambs. We have one sheep who gave birth to triplets, and they are all alive and doing fine. She feeds two of them and the other we have to feed. They need a lot of care since it is so cold.
How are all your family? Well I hope. My family is quite nicely, but had quite a time here with the Measles this fall. Glad no one got them that was here at our reception. Guy was just coming down with them. He was sick that night but did not know what the matter was. Three of them here got them. Guy was terrible sick with them. Then it left his lungs so bad that he is just now gaining. He does have to be rather careful.
Wish you all would come to see us when you can. Would like to hear from you once in a while, and I will try and answer.
Love to all,

Mary Keniston Noyes
A Little About Edith Robie Richards

Edith Robie Richards had the foresight to save the early letters of her father, Samuel Robie, and the 1916 diary of her mother, Blanche Hersey Robie. Edith later passed these keepsakes on to my mother, Dorothy Hersey LaPlante, who in turn passed them along to me
Edith and my mother were double first cousins (a brother and a sister married a sister and a brother). They were only a month apart in age, and attended Dyers Crossing School together. Edith graduated from Proctor Academy and Plymouth Normal School. She taught school for a short time before becoming a librarian in Springfield MA.
Edith, her mother, and my mother were always interested in family history and family genealogy. Blanche was a correspondent for the Journal Transcript, and for a number of years she reported on East Andover’s social happenings. She was the secretary of the Hersey Reunion for 43 years, and Edith followed in her footsteps serving for 41 years.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to Edith Robie Richards for preserving this little bit of East Andover family history!