Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Harriet Witt writes 'home' in 1884.

This letter was kept in the 'Gano' family for nearly 100 years, copied for Peggy Jean Oliver, and sent to me recently by her daughter. I appreciate so much those who have preceeded me in keeping these records! The letter was originally sent to Caroline (Hoffman) Gano, the sister of Harriet, both of them being the sisters of our g-g-grandfather John Hoffman, the father of Sylvester Clinton Hoffman.

This letter will be of special interest to the descendants of William A. Hoffman, who was Harriet's youngest brother. She gives several hints concerning William and his family in this letter. My next post will give several details concering his life and his descendants.

Here is the letter:

Chetopa, Kansas
March 31, 1884

My dear sister and brother

It has been a good while since I heard from you but I hope this will find you all well and in good health. I am just recovering from a spell of fever. I am with my daughter in Kansas have been here one year next month. I did not stop and see sister Sallie as I came up for I was not well and I came straight through from my son who lives in southern Texas. I had a letter from him last week and he and family are well he is married and has four children. Brother William and family stopped and staid a few days here with us as he moved from Texas back to Missouri. They did not like Texas they had a good deal of sickness and one little girl died while they was there he had two daughters and two sons with him and two girls married living in Missouri. I did not know brother it had been so long since I saw him. I want you to write me and tell me their post office if you know where it is and where is sister Eliza Wright. I want to know her post office to. brother William came from near sister Sallie Perry's they were all well as he passed up last summer. Tell Harriet Skeen I remember her and would like to see you all. Where does Joe Maxwell live, I heard he lived in Kansas somewhere. Write and tell me his post office it might not be far from here. How are you all I hope to hear from you soon would like to see you all. My daughter and son in law are tolerable well, their little baby a boy nine months old has had lung fever but is better now they have buried several children but have only this one living. I think Kansas is beautiful country and I believe most anything will grow here. Fruits in abundance if the people will try to raise it and fine corn as grows anywhere. We had green apples to eat until two weeks ago. Apples, peaches, cherries, plums, siberian crabs all do well here. This past winter has been very cold here old settlers say the coldest ever known since they have been here. I will close as I have written all the news and hoping to hear from you accept our love and best wishes for all and write soon.
Your affectionate sister
Harriet A. Witt

As expained in an earlier post, Harriet Witt was Mrs. Preston Witt, the formerly Harriet Hoffman, the sister of John Hoffman, the father of Sylvester Clinton Hoffman. She was a widow by 1884, and as indicated in her letter, she had lived with her son in southern Texas, and then moved to be with her daughter in Kansas. We know from other sources she had also lived with her sister Sarah (Sallie) Perry for a while.

Briefly, I want to elaborate on three other folks mentioned in the letter:
- 'sister Sallie' is Sarah (Hoffman) Perry who married Alexander Perry.
- 'Harriet Skeen' is a daughter of the authors sister, Mary (Hoffman) Skeen.
- 'Joe Maxwell' is a son of the authors sister, Mariah Jane (Hoffman) Maxwell-Davis. Joe is known in other historical documents as Flavious Josephus Maxwell or some other variation of these names.

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