21. 1876, A Challenging Year

Austin house in winter.
Austin house in winter.
Emma's father Henry Austin, in 1895
Emma’s father Henry Austin, in 1895
The year 1876 was a difficult one for the Austin family. Henry lost his New York City business as a result of the 1873 national financial panic and the 1875 depression. He returned to Eldred as a full time farmer.

Added to the Austin’s financial woes, Emma took on the responsibility for the care of her cousin Addie’s son Thomas, born in January 1876.

January 24, 1876
In January 1876 (seven months after his wife died) Chester wrote Emma.

Chester recalled his time in Lumberland and wanted to hear the news from Emma. His letter indicates that Lumberland was his first school and Emma was the first student who caught his attention. Emma must have teased him that his writing was boring, in previous letters.

Friend Emma,
As I sit by the window viewing the fruits of winter-barren fields and forests bare, with now and then a wandering snowflake coming slowly down as if reluctant to be seen alone upon earth’s broad domain, my thoughts revert to scenes that have passed and events that occurred during my four months stay at Lumberland.

And as I sit and think over the great changes that every day present themselves to view in places where I now am and wonder what they have been for a much longer time at Halfway Brook—And as I wonder my curious desire says—Emma write me a great long letter & give me all the news you can.

Your last remains unanswered if my memory serves me true for which an apology I’ll not try to make or polished words to give why I did not sooner make reply—yet you have not entirely been forgotten, like most of your schoolmates under my care for one term of school.

For meet them where I will their names I cannot tell and their features are all a blank—of course some few exceptions are; but in all the different schools I’ve been I soon forget the pupil’s name—except the first which stands in memory brighter than all the rest…

I would like to make a good long visit at your place but something seems to present at present. In a few days time my cares may be given o’er to other hands (and I expect they will in time not far ahead) when I can spend a day or two with friends (please excuse the term) I do not often see.

Two of my neighbor friends have been talking of going on a fishing excursion to Black Lake and take me a long but it seems to end in talk alone.

How is school prospering and who is teacher this winter? I think I shall try teaching again (after two years vacation) don’t feel willing to give up the trade.

Please accept these few lines though uninteresting and answer soon.

Yours truly, Chester Beers

Previous Posts
1. Is that the New Teacher?
2. The Math Tutor
3. Chester Beers to Friend Emma, Correspondence Continues
4. What is the News? October 29, 1869
5. The Merry Laugh of the Village School
6. Teaching Advice in a Poem
7. I Would Not Wait for Erie’s Train
8. 1870 Highland
9. Mrs. Prindle’s Soliloquy
10. February 28, 1870, What Is the News?
11. Who Teaches in the Village, April 1870
12. Fair Hagan’s Pool, June 1870
13. Shades of Night, 1870
14. Deposit, New York, 1871
15. Dear Father, January 1872
16. Emma Attends Albany Normal, March 1872
17. Lumberland Schoolhouse, 1872
18. Verdant Meadows, June 1, 1873
19. I Have Been Very Busy, August 30, 1873
20. 1874–1875

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