Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Letters from home - snapshots in time - Post 1

I'm going to post the letters that were in the Carringer and Smith treasure chest of family papers that were handed down by four generations to my mother and then to me. These letters are from the period of 1888 to 1898, and are to and from Austin and Della (Smith) Carringer, Della's mother, Abigail (Vaux) Smith, her father Devier James (D.J.) Smith, Della's brother David Devier Smith, and several other Smith and Carringer cousins.

Austin and Della (Smith) Carringer came to San Diego in 1887 on their honeymoon and settled here. Devier David Carringer (named after his two grandfathers, Devier J. Smith and David J. Carringer), the first son of Austin and Della Carringer, was born in August 1889 and died in May 1890. Lyle Lawrence Carringer (not named after anybody as far as I can tell!) was born 2 November 1891.

The available letters start after the married couple settled down, and Della's mother, Abigail (Vaux) Smith lived with them for some time, perhaps to help with the babies. In the mean time, Devier J. Smith and David Devier Smith are in McCook, Nebraska or on their Spring Ranch near St. Francis, Kansas (in Cheyenne County, Kansas), up the Republican River a ways from McCook.

These letters are only glimpses of the daily life of these people - their concerns, their interests, their lives. I am sure there were many more letters exchanged during these years, but these are the only ones which have survived.

I feel fortunate to have the letters that I have - these people, like many others, would pass letters from their relatives to other relatives as a way to keep everybody in the family informed. Most of the letters I have are from another place to the family in San Diego, but there are several letters from Della and Abby to Austin while he was in Colorado in the early 1890's - he must have saved them and brought them home.

Writing letters is how people stayed in touch when the distances were too great to visit on a regular basis. We forget that telephones were not common in these years, and the cost was probably too high for most people to afford it. Many families lived on farms or in town with no electricity - writing was the best, and cheapest, way to communicate with distant family and friends.

One of the reasons to search for distant living cousins is to find out if they have letters or other records written by my ancestral families and sent to a distant place.

Each of these letters is precious to me, and some of them are priceless. You'll see what I mean!

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