Presentation Notes: 2005-2006

Letters Among Cape Families - Letters to "Aunt Ruth" (Hedge) Sears

Presented by Bonnie Snow - April 12, 2006

Notes by Carolyn Weiss

Bonnie Snow, Historian of the Orleans Historical Society, had worked all fall and winter with assistance from volunteers to decipher letters sent by various family members to "Aunt Ruth" Hedge Sears, who then lived in Goshen, New York, as well as other family letters within the Hedge-Sears and Doane families.

There are three sets of letters which cover the years 1833 to 1912. In the original letters there was an absence of punctuation and many misspelled words, making the transcriptions quite difficult. Volunteers punctuated and corrected them. They are being put together as a historical collection for the Cape since they speak specifically to life during the period of midto-late 19th century on the Cape.

The letters tell of deaths of children and of one murder that took place in Goshen. They also attest to moves to the Midwest from the Cape, talk of "feeble" wives, ship captains and the everyday life of the mid-to-late 1800s. One letter mentions "death from gravel", which is what kidney stones were called in earlier times.

Mrs. Betty Gott from Easthampton, Massachusetts, and her stepson, David, attended the meeting. Betty and her late husband gave copies of the letters to the Orleans Historical Society, and CCGS member Ellen St. Sure obtained copies of the Betsy Knowles letters (1848-1855) from the Eleanor Pratt Knowles collection at the Sturgis Library in Barnstable.

See the Presentation Notes Index for summaries of other presentations given at the Society's monthly meetings.