Hannah Hickok Eldred, January 1864

Uncle James Austin.

Net Austin, NYC to Mary Ann Eldred Austin, Halfway Brook, NY
Sunday, January 31, 1864
Dear Aunt Mary [Austin],
I received your very welcome letter last week and will now try and answer it.

For a great wonder, we are all well. Mortie [Net’s brother Mortimer Bruce Austin], has been quite sick with a bad cold. He was so sick that he could not go to the store for a week.

Uncle James went up to Mount Kisco Saturday after Aunt Julia. She has been up there three weeks. He is going to bring her down Monday.

Mother got your carpet Thursday. I think you will like it first rate. It will look very nice when you get it down. How I wish I could come up and help you with it. Mother says you must sew the breadths together and tack it around the sides. It will last so much longer if you do.

Is this Hannah Hickok Eldred, mother of Mary Ann Austin?

Emma [Mary Ann's daughter] is very well, though in rather a bad fix today. Her trunk has got a spring lock. Well she got the key inside and accidentally put down the lid. And as a matter of fact of course, we had not a key that would unlock it, but will get one tomorrow. She gets along first rate at school. She is at the head of her class.

Has Uncle Henry given up coming to Brooklyn? How I wish he would come. How is little Lonie and Eldred? How I do want to see them and all the rest. Give my love to Grandmother [Hannah Hickok Eldred].

With much love to you all. Write soon and oblige. Nettie

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January 1863

Ralph Austin, the grandfather of M.B. Austin.
Mortimer Bruce Austin.

NYC, NY, January 6, 1863
Dear Grandfather [Ralph Austin],

Your letter of December 18th came to hand in due time and I was very glad to hear from you, but sorry to hear that your health continues so poorly and hope this may find you enjoying better health. I have sent you a paper today by mail containing some very important news which I know you will read with a good deal of pleasure.

General Rosencrans has gained a great victory over the Rebels at Murfreesboro, Tenn. After fighting five days, the Rebels retreated in great disorder and our army is in pursuit of the fleeing enemy. The loss is said to be very heavy on both sides.

Another photo of Ralph Austin, my great-great-grandfather.

There has also been a great battle at Vicksburg and we have gained another glorious victory and the Stars and Stripes are now waving over Vicksburg, and Mississippi is cleared of the Rebels. But there is no need of my saying anything about the battles, as you can read it in the papers. We have not as yet received any particulars, but as we do I will send you another paper. Continue reading

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January 1862

“We are going to be presented with the nicest flag in the United States. Uncle Abe is going to be here when it is presented.” Postcard sent to Sherman’s grandson McKinley Austin around 1907.

Washington, January 16, 1862
Dear friends,
I don’t know what they can want better than we eat. We get rice and molasses twice a week, beefsteak twice a week, pork and beans and corned beef the rest of the week. One loaf of bread a day, coffee twice a day, pea soup once in a while, sometimes ham, potatoes once or twice a week.

The smallpox was in this regiment a while ago, but it is all gone now. I thought I would not write about it at the time for fear you would think I would catch it.

You wanted to know how I got my washing done. We pay a sixpence a piece for a shirt and the same for a pair of drawers. It is cheaper than to wash them ourselves.

I got your letter yesterday and one from Harriet…

I don’t know what is the reason you have not got any letters sooner. I write one every two or three days. We have not got our pay yet, but expect to get it now everyday.

Me sending my money home must interfere with Aunt Sal’s business a great deal that she should get so mad about it.

You can tell the folks that we have plenty to eat, plenty to wear and every one is contented that is not too shiftless to be contented with anything. Continue reading

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Ella Sergeant Leavenworth’s Diaries

Ella’s first diary (1931–1935), a Christmas gift from her sister Hazel in 1930. Photo from Cynthia.

Ella Sergeant married James Garfield Leavenworth September 5, 1906. “Uncle” Garfield was the brother of Jennie Austin, my grandmother.

Fast forward to Christmas 1930 when Ella received a diary as a gift from her sister, Hazel. Inside the cover Hazel wrote:

Merry Christmas to Sister
May each line written in this book be a record of pleasant memories. Hazel

Ella Sergeant Leavenworth left a diary record of her life in Eldred for the next 19 years—1931 to 1950. I am indebted to her granddaughter Cynthia for transcribing a major portion of those diaries.

The daily accounts mentioned Ella’s neighbors and relatives (or soon-to-become relatives); and fill in so much of the story in “Halfway Brook” for those years. People included:

Garfield’s Austin Relatives
• Mort, Jennie, Raymond, Bill, Art, and Bob Austin.

Garfield’s Leavenworth Relatives
• Charlotte, Martin, Truman, and Anna Leavenworth; Anthony Sr., Christina, Tony Jr., Charlee Hirsch.

Ella’s Sergeant Relatives
• Luella and Everett Kelley; Frank and Raola Daiber and children: Frank and Lillian.
• Walter, Hazel, Marjorie, and Marion Connor.
• Unita Jane Sergeant Livingstone.
• Alvah, Mary, Charlie, and Grant Sergeant. Continue reading

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January 1946

Jim Leavenworth’s new mill. Photo courtesy of CLB.
Aida Austin’s good friend and neighbor Mary Bosch. Mary may have given Aida a ride to or from Eldred in this truck. Photo courtesy of the Bosch family.

Click to read post on January 1945.

January 1946
Tuesday, the second day of January, Chet Middaugh skidded logs for Jim.

Sunday Jim paid $15 to have the mill machinery he had bought from Perry Barnes Jr. in December, drawn to his mill property. It was set up near the road to the right of his dad Garfield’s house. Bill Meyers Sr., Jim, and his dad Garfield, all worked to get the mill set up.

The following Sunday, Jim and his brother-in-law Bill Meyers Jr. helped Bill Sr. cut wood. Clara and her family ate supper with Garfield and Ella.

The last day of January, at three in the afternoon, Jim went to the Horton Memorial Hospital in Middletown. He was the best man when his good friend Orville Clark married Mary Weisshaar. The wedding was at the hospital because Mary’s maid of honor was recuperating from an operation.

Aida Austin’s good friend Mary Bosch died mid-January.

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January 1944

Mary Briggs, U.S. Cadet Nurses Corps.

January 1, 1944, Italy
Arthur Austin, T/Sgt, 5th Army Headquarters, Italy, to Mary Briggs, Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn

Dear Mary,
Well, here it is New Year’s Day and I think it a good idea to catch up on my correspondence…

Your very nice Christmas Card arrived shortly after Christmas. It is too bad that you were unable to be home for Christmas this year. (Or did things turn out better than you expected?)

This makes my third Christmas overseas, but, as I haven’t a real home to return to, it does not matter quite so much in my case—still, it would be nice to spend a Christmas with my friends back in Eldred or with my brother and his family on Staten Island.

Well, rotation seems to be moving right along, and perhaps sometime during the next year I will have an opportunity to spend at least a month in the states…

Received last years’ El Dorado [the Eldred Yearbook] about a month ago and of course was quick to note your picture among those of the Alumni in the service. Ella Getz’s picture was also there and was surprised to learn a short while back that she is a nurse here in Italy…

Trust that even away from home you managed to have an enjoyable Christmas and New Year. Hope to hear from you again soon. Sincerely, Art

There were going to be some rough months ahead for Art and his brother Bob Austin who were both in Italy. Their brother Bill would soon arrive in North Africa. His outfit would train first in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria; then at the Invasion Training Center on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Bill would eventually be in Italy.

New York, January 8, 1944
In Islip on a cold Saturday, January 8, Anna ironed a big ironing. Her friend Lucy stopped by and they made plans to go to Bay Shore for glasses for Anna.

Sunday Anna wrote a long letter to her nephew Bill Austin. Continue reading

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January 1942

Arthur Austin was with the 5th Army.

“The Japanese took Manila,” Art’s aunt Ella Leavenworth wrote on Friday, January 2.

The warm start to January ended the third day with a storm. Art’s cousin Charlee was with their aunt Anna Leavenworth in East Islip. Charlee’s father Anthony Hirsch arrived at Anna’s in the evening, but had left his car out in the snowstorm. It took Anthony and Charlee ten hours to drive home to Eldred where they spent the weekends.

Life in the Town of Highland seemed to stay the same. Jim Leavenworth and John Ort drew a load of hay from Proctor’s on the 12th. Vernon and Orville Clark were at the Leavenworth’s in the evening.

But there was a heightened sense of danger and the unknown. Highland townsfolk took different shifts to watch for planes at the golf course on Lake DeVenoge. Garfield and Mr. Lochner watched on January 7; Garfield watched again six days later.

Mid-January the Leavenworth men drew two loads of hay with Norm Wolff’s truck. Norm then ate dinner with the Leavenworths. Vernon and Orville Clark and Jim went to the movies.

Orville worked for Dr. George Mills on the Mills Farm. Vernon worked at Jim Mills’ Highland Lake House near Highland Lake.

Between the two houses was the laundry area and summer kitchen. Our family, the Clarks, and the Hallocks were well known to each other. Stella, Vernon, and Christina Hallock all worked for my dad in the boarding house. Vernon was also my brother’s best friend during high school years.—G.M. Russell.

Besides washing all the dishes and pots and pans, I washed the front porch and a side porch every morning for the two years that I worked there.—Vernon.

Lee Hansen started working on the new school which was being built. It would be completed by January 1943, or at least enough to have classes in it. Bill Meyers and Goldie worked on the new Barryville Bridge. Continue reading

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January 1941

Barryville-Shohola Bridge was under construction until October 1941. Photo courtesy of Ed W.

January of 1941 was almost two degrees colder than normal in New York. But the month started off on a “lovely, clear and warm Wednesday,” according to Ella Leavenworth. Her son Jim bought his first car for $25.

On the other side of Eldred, Aida Austin wrote that 1941 started off, “rather cold but pleasant all day. Arthur was up for a few minutes before dark.”

Thursday was pleasant, but quite cold. Aida walked the 1-1/2 mile round trip to the A&P, Harold’s, and the Post Office and back. Mary Wormuth stopped in for a few minutes after paying Lon for the hay. It snowed about two inches before dark. It got so cold that Aida slept out in the sitting room near the wood stove.

There was no snow on Friday which was cloudy and cold. But at least the temperature was warmer than Thursday. Warm enough that Aida could sleep in her own bed, though she still checked the fire several times in the night.

Friday Anna Meyers helped her sister Clara get set up in her new home. Garfield worked up there also.

Lon Austin went for bread and milk Friday and Saturday. It was so warm, Aida let the fire go out. She built a new fire Sunday morning, January 5, when the weather turned cold and it was windy all day. Continue reading

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January 1940

“Mr. Briggs stopped by on Tuesday.” Irwin Briggs (not in January!).

January 1940
Garfield and Ella Leavenworth started 1940 off with all of their family (minus Stella who was perhaps not feeling well) in at some point. Lee and Clara enjoyed a goose dinner with them. Grandson Jimmy and his dad Bill Meyers Jr. visited. Garfield’s sister Anna Leavenworth called from East Islip.

Tuesday, January 2, Lee started digging the well for his and Clara’s new home. While Lee worked on the well, Clara and Ella sometimes crocheted. Mid-month Garfield helped with digging Lee’s well. Garfield also worked on his own well.

Wednesday, January 17, Lottie Meyers and Oliver Dunlap called on the Leavenworths. The next day Lee and Goldie did icing for Walter Tether. The following Tuesday Anna and Jimmy stopped by to see Ella, Clara, and Didrik. Lee and Garfield were still digging on the well.

Jim often visited the Clark brothers, Orville and Vernon. Sometimes they went ice fishing on nearby Montgomery Lake.

Saturday, January 27, the Leavenworth menfolk all helped to stone up Garfield’s well.

Sunday Goldie and Lee drew wood for Goldie’s aunt Charlotte Leavenworth.

Mr. Briggs stopped by on Tuesday, the same day that Lee and Garfield each had five teeth pulled by a dentist in Hawley. Bill, Anna, baby Jimmy, and Ella went to Monticello. Goldie worked for Harry Wormuth.

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Christmas 1938; January 1939

Dottie Wait (Spider), Alex Wait, and Jim Wade in front of Wait and Boyd’s garage, December 1938. Photo courtesy of CSMyers.

Christmas 1938
Sunday, Christmas Day, there were some snow squalls in the afternoon. Perhaps that’s the day a photo was taken of Dottie Wait (nicknamed Spider), her dad Alex Wait, and Jim Wade in front of the Wait and Boyd Garage.

The Leavenworth children were all in for Christmas dinner except Goldie and Stella. Supper included everyone except Anna and Bill who were probably at his parents.

Thursday Jim skidded wood for Norm Myers part of the day. Friday the men drew two loads of hay from Ed Myers.

January 1939
Sunday, January 1, Anna and Bill were in. Jim was hunting. Tuesday Jim worked for Harry.

Sunday, January 8, Charlie Sergeant bought the place his grandfather Edgar Sergeant had built.

Monday Garfield took the scaffolding off Jennie Austin’s house that they used when they were shingling the roof.

Thursday the men tore down two barns: one on Goldie’s land and the other on the property Lee had bought between Goldie’s and Echo Hill.

Saturday Lee, Clara, and Jim helped Stella celebrate her 19th birthday.

The following Saturday Lee worked for Harry. Clinton helped Herm Bosch with ice for two days.

Herman had a sawmill and dairy, as well as his ice business. Herman and Mary Bosch and their children: Herman Jr., Marjorie, and Bobby lived near the elderly Austin siblings, Aida and Lon. Herman and Mary were dear friends and good neighbors to Lon and Aida.

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