Letters From Mer (Elizabeth, Ruth’s Mother)

Sisters: Phoebe, Mary, and Elizabeth (Mer)- 1850

Sisters: Phoebe, Mary, and Elizabeth (Mer)- 1850

New Providence, NJ
Sep 11, 1894

From: Elizabeth “Mer” (Wisner) Barrell
To: Ruth Barrell, State Normal School, Trenton, NJ

My dear Ruthy:

It is after 9 o’clock but Dolly and Ethel have been writing to you and I want to add
something too, before I go to bed. I have just finished a letter to Gangmer so would have
got at yours sooner. Are all the rooms in the Boarding Halls the same size and do they
have three in them? It seems to me it would be nicer if there were only two of you, and
both Normals. Do you have room enough for all your things? Is the school full this year? I
suppose in your next letter we will hear what year you are in, and also about your music.
Which one of you is the single bedder. Is your room as large as our sitting room? You
were in Trenton yesterday before your Far got home. He stopped and talked with Debbie
half an hour or more. The weather changed hue in the night so it was cold this morning
with the wind from the north. Quite a different atmosphere from yesterday. We made peach
marmalade yesterday and canned a kettle of tomatoes. We have enough ironing this week
to take us three days to finish. It rained hard here yesterday afternoon and we had quite
heavy thunder. Puss got a letter from Bessie Runyon tonight. She says she has a friend in
the Normal school, so there will be someone you both know, but she does not give the
name of the friend. We had quite a serious accident in this neighborhood yesterday.
Andrew Webster was drawing gravel when the seat slipped and he fell under the front
wheels. The wagon was loaded and the wheels ran over his chest breaking his ribs and
injuring him so severely that he died this forenoon. Dolly says it is a pity it was not Danny
instead of his father. Dolly is hard on poor Danny. This makes another accident for New
Providence. We got letters from Bob and Joe yesterday. Bob says “Ruthy must write-to-me
after she arrives at Trenton and tell me all her experiences.” You may be so busy with your
studies that you will not have much time to write. I wonder if Adele Cazen from Hoboken
ever knew Mr Mayhew? That is where he hailed from. [Adela was Ruth’s roommate.]
Is Sam Jones in the Normal school? I am so sleepy I must be off to bed but may add
a line or two in the morning if anything interesting pops into my head.

Weds morning –

We are just through breakfast and Ethel ready to start for school. It is very cold for the time of year. What a change from Monday. Cousin Harry is up to the school house. He
rings his first bell at 8:30, so we will have to scratch around in the morning. We have a
large ironing for today. I have divided it up in three parcels this week so you can imagine
us at it until Friday noon. I must stop as Ethel sits — looking at me quite resigned. All of us
want to see you ever so much. With lots of love

Affectionately your Mer

Henry and Elizabeth, 1853

Henry and Elizabeth, 1853

New Providence, NJ
Sep 15, 1894

From: Elizabeth “Mer” (Wisner) Barrell
To: Ruth Barrell, State Normal School, Trenton, NJ

My dear Ruthy:

Your letter of the 14th (yesterday) was received this morning and we were all very glad to get it. The sweeping came to a standstill until I had read it aloud with all the family gathered around me. Far sent you three photographs with our letter last week in the same mail, one was Dolly and the begonias, one the veranda with Mary Reynolds and George on it, and I do not know what the other one was. You do not mention them. Did you receive them? I suppose it is better that you should have entered the B class, as it is so long since you studied those elementary studies you are probably quite rusty in them, and this years
brushing up will help you with next year’s work. The music too will take some of your time.
Are there many of the Normal’s taking music, and how do you like Prof. Brace? I should
think with the piano classics and the World’s Fair Col you would not need to get any new
music with the exception of exercises, for some time. Is the piano at the auditorium one of
their best ones? I suppose it probably is.

Last Weds, Puss took me out calling. We went first to Mr Hoopers and they were both away, then we drove down to Runyones where Puss had some C. E. business. Mrs R — kept us over an hour making her toilet. Then we went back to the Hoopers and found him home, but Mrs Hooper was out making calls, so we did not go in. We then came down to Grays and called there, saw Mrs Gray and Hessie. We staid there over half an hour, and then came down to Geo Wilcox, where Bessie let me out and I made quite a long call on old Mrs Wilcox, so it was after six o’clock when I got home.

We heard at the Grays that the Aldens did not decide to send Eleanor to the Normal school until two or three days before she went. It seems she had taken a violent fancy for a girl in the Newark school who is one year younger than she is, and she spent her time writing poetry about her and moving around her, and the girl did not care anything for Eleanor. Her people could do nothing with her so decided to send her away. She must be a strange, sentimental sort of a body.

Henry and Mer, 1858

Henry and Mer, 1858

How do you come to be in the 2nd division? Your initials should bring you in the first unless they begin at the tail end of the alphabet, I suppose Mr Hoopers letters is what put you on Model Avenue. You will have to be sedate if you live up to his description of you. In your next letter tell us where you go to church and if you have good table board. We judged the meat must have been a little off one day by its comparison to Hooknose’s. Annie Badgley got a position as teacher in Burlington Co, New Jersey, at a place called Pointerlie. She left today and expects to commence teaching on Monday. Bessie looked it up on the map. It is down near the cranberry bogs and looks as though it might be a very primitive place. School is open nine months, and the salary about $41 a month. She got the place through her photograph, which she requested to have returned if they did not engage her. The old man who wrote to her told her his wife and daughters wanted to keep it to put in their album. Mr Balcern told her he would give her a place in his school after she had a year’s experience. I suppose she must have gone down to Westfield in August and got a certificate or she could not have got the school according to the new law. The Sons of Labor had a dance in the Deirls Acre last Wednesday and she told Bessie she was going to it and bid the town people good bye.

They buried Andrew Webster on Thursday afternoon. His funeral was at theMethodist church at 2 o’clock. All the G A R s for miles around were out, and the Knights ofLabor (or whatever they call themselves up here) all marched so there was a large procession. When they went from the corner to Websters house they were playing some dancing jig. It sounded more like a wedding than a funeral, but when they came back withthe body they played a lively march. The people on foot made a long procession and the carriages extended solid from our house to Thirderwaus. They had a flag around the coffin. Far went up to the funeral. Mr Hooper made a long prayer, and Mr Bice preached a long sermon. Then the Sons of the Veterans carried him over to the burying ground. The flute played “Nearer My God to Thee” and the drum tapped. After he was buried they fired a volley over his grave. So poor Andrew was laid away with much ceremony. I am afraid the “orphan boy” will go to the “bad” with no restraining hand over him.

I got a letter from Mr Vanamee yesterday, and a printed argument that they had
used before the three judges in the Supreme Court in Brooklyn, on last Wednesday. Mr
Vanamee thinks they favored our side but did not want me to feel too much encouraged
over it, as he said you could not tell how they might decide after consulting together, but I
do feel hopeful that Mother will win without carrying it any higher.

Joe’s address is #16 West 4th St, South Bethlehem, Penn. Dolly and Ethel are both
busy writing to you so I guess I will stop and leave the rest of the news for them.

Thursday afternoon
They are all off to Sunday School so I am alone. It is very warm here today, sultry
and no air stirring. Bessie, Dolly, and I went to church this morning. Cousin Harry went to
Jetts church and we have not seen him since. He takes dinner with him every Sunday I
believe. He was off yesterday on a private picnic, I suppose with the Jetts. He saw Mr
Vogel yesterday afternoon. He reported that he had got along very nicely with his Milburn
school. He has bought Mr Knapps bicycle so we judge Mr K must be near being spliced
[married]. He went by here one day last week with his little gray nag and Miss Peck in the
wagon with him. Harry thinks he had better rush the thing or she will back out. I forgot to
tell you when you left, I have a little note book and keep all your accounts in it. Put down
every thing you spend and receive from the time you left home. I hope you got the three
photos all right. The third one was Bessie B, and Bessie Runyon. Mame Badgley told us
this morning at church that Annie had quite a time getting started and they did not know
how she got to her place of destination. Jarvis took her to Plainfield but could not find out
anything there about her route, so he drove her to Metuchin, where she was going to take
the cars to Perth Amboy and from there to Wrighterm, the station she was booked for. I am
glad you are not so far away. Take it all in all, how do you like the Normal and are you glad
you went?

I must stop writing as I want to read devine. We miss you very much all the time.
All of us send lots and lots of love.

Affectionately yours

Mer, 1863

Mer, 1863

New Providence, NJ
Sep 23, 1894

From: Elizabeth “Mer” (Wisner) Barrell
To: Ruth Barrell, State Normal School, Trenton, NJ

My dear Ruthy:

We were very glad to get your nice long letter of the 20th yesterday morning. All
hands assembled to hear it read. We were very busy too at the time, sweeping, making
pies, churning, etc. Harry Saxe heard the most of your letter. He says your time is more
filled out with study and recitation than theirs was at Oswego. It seems to me you have
very little time for recreation. Do you have to go to the gymnasium and don your divided
skirts for the “physical training?” How is your suit, made like the others? You must be
hungry as wolves when your dinner hour comes. It seems a long time between your
breakfast and dinner. Your regulation walk cannot be a long one as you only have half an
hour to do it in.

We are having a most lovely day, bright sunshine, and fine breeze, and the rain we
had freshened up everything. The grass in the door yard is as green as if it was spring. I
am all alone this afternoon. Far and Uncle C are off for a walk and all the rest are at
Sunday School. Uncle C expected to have gone to Brooklyn yesterday afternoon but the
young ones badgered him so that he staid over. He has been writing a note to you, as
have also Dolly and Ethel. I see Ethel says Sue Lum is moving in to the Martin house,
which is a mistake. Bessie went over to see her on Friday about Ethels taking music
lessons of her. She found them all torn up ready to move. They have sold their horse in
Chatham and bought the one below Martins, on the same side of the road, nearer
Chatham. It is a large house just beyond the pine grove and beautifully situated. Perhaps
you remember the place. It cannot be more than two miles from here, so Ethel can easily
walk it in fair weather. She wants to give her two lessons a week until she gets over the
first rudiments, says it is much better for a beginner to take two lessons a week. They will
be 45 minute lessons at $10 a quarter of twenty lessons. So we are going to try to fit her in
so she can go twice a week. She is the head of the A grade now in our school and can
easily keep up with the others. What a set of dolts they are. Harry seems puzzled over
them. He says they look smart enough, and are smart enough in some things and it is a
mystery to him why those large boys never got out of the grammar grade. He thinks the
simple fact of their going over the same studies for several years in succession ought to
enable them to pass the grammar grade. It is strange to me they do not realize what
precious time they are throwing away. There is another Trustee Meeting called for
tomorrow evening at no 16. I do not know what now is up but something I suppose. Geo
Wilcox and Mr Knapp are probably at the bottom of it. The Summit school will not open
until Oct 1st so Mr K has nothing to do but ride around. He and Miss Peck are furnishing
their house in Summit. They are to be married about Nov 1st. Just now a gentleman riding
past, came to the door to know if this house was for rent. He must have been pleased with
the appearance of it. I told him no, it was not for rent. Real estate seems to be picking up
around here, and some day I hope Far can sell off a part of the land for a good price, so
we can live nicely on the remainder of it. Annie Badgley had quite an experience in getting
to her destination. She left here in the morning and did not get to Wrightstown until evening.                         Her trustee who kept her picture is a tavern keeper and has a pool room and sells wine. She                        boards with him, (a nice place to board). She has nine scholars now, the rest are all busy picking      cranberries. In rainy weather they all go barefoot to save their shoes. I think if you cannot get a better place than that when you are through the Normal you had better stay at home.

Perhaps Will told you in his letter that Aunty McElligott had left ____. She is now
boarding at Murray Wilcoxes. She goes down to Grays to give Lilly music lessons, and I
believe she charges 75 cents a lesson. “How ish dot fun high.” How do you like Prof Brice
as a teacher? Is the piano in the auditorium a good one? Do many of the Normal scholars
take music lesson? I wish you were rid of your model girl if she is too lively in study hours
and bothers you from studying, but I would dislike to give up a good room for a poor one.
Is Adele Cazen a quiet girl? Are you going to attend the Dixons church regularly and how
far is it from the Normal school. It is too bad you have a dismal Sunday School room and a
poor teacher. Dolly was in Mrs Hoopers class today. I dare say she will stay there. She
said Mrs Hooper read a part of your letter to the class. We have been canning lots of
pears and have got to go at it again this week. Far picked the Pharisees yesterday. I hear
him coming in with the milk so I must go strain it.

All the rest are writing to you so you ought to be supplied with all the news. We still
miss you very much. We keep the “leaving for Trenton” picture on the sitting room mantle,
to look at. All send lots of love.

Affectionately your

Four generations.

Four generations.

New Providence, NJ
Sep 30, 1894

From: Elizabeth “Mer” (Wisner) Barrell
To: Ruth Barrell, State Normal School, Trenton, NJ

My dear Ruthy:

Your letter of the 27th and 28th was received yesterday morning. I am glad you
have moved and got a room for two and so got rid of your noisy third party. It must be very
distracting and annoying to try to study in such a racket. How do you get along with your
studies? Does it come very hard to you after your busy vacation?

I do not see why you have lost so much flesh and I hope you will soon regain it.
Dolly says she will not be weighed until you have increased your weight, for she is not
going ahead of you. You made somewhat of a mistake in writing that you weighed 16 lbs in
your gymnasium suit and 18 lbs with your other clothes on. Do you have good substantial
food most of the time? If you do you can get along without the dainties.

We have had no frost here yet and it has been quite warm for two or three days.
Today there is a brisk wind blowing from the east. The grass in the door yard is very green
and pretty and just like spring. The long rain we had started it — all up fresh. Puss has not
taken her begonias out of the veranda boxes yet – except the rex. She covered them with a
sheet one cool night, but there was no frost. They look so handsome it seems a pity to
have them nipped.

Ed Furnell has cut Far’s corn and is coming to husk it as soon as it is fit to be
husked. Then we can turn the cows into the meadows and let them fill up on the new
grass. Dolly churns now. I saw by reading over Dolly’s letter that she had told you all about
Gangmer’s being here, and also about Minnie. Gangmer expects to stay here a few weeks
and then Bessie is going to Orange Co with her. I think she can be more comfortable there
during the cold weather, but if they do not treat her well in any particular I will go up and
bring her back here. I know your Uncle Rug will be good for her, but Lizzie may want to
impose on her. She is finishing up the rug & commenced knitting, and it is going to be
quite pretty. We will put it in your room when it is done. I suppose you received your
birthday “daybook” all right on Friday, and your package of photos. Puss spent quite a
good deal of time getting it up and seemed to get a good deal of pleasure out of it.

Will came down Weds evening and helped her. He staid until 1:30. He was half sick
and had a chill, so Puss had to make up a fire in the dining room to thaw him out before he
left for home. I felt a little worried for fear he was going to be real sick, but I guess he had
not been or we would probably have heard about it. Walter starts for the University
Medical school on Weds the 3rd of October. They are expecting to send Garty to the
Summit school. The Chases are not back yet, but ought to be here soon for I think their
tenants lease is up tomorrow, and they certainly would not want to leave their house
unoccupied, full of furniture. It is hard to know what Lulu means to do when she gets home,
they are such a changeable family. The two Alder children come to our school. Ethel says
the boy is only eleven years old and he is the best one in the grammar grade.

Harry was down at the Teachers Association yesterday. He brought home a copy of
the new course of study. They have three courses. The Commercial which takes two
years, and the Scientific and Classical which take three years each. The Classical                               prepares for College and has Greek, Latin, French and German taught – not all the                             languages are necessary. That will be taught mainly in the City high schools. County                             schools like ours will not get above the Scientific. In that Latin, French & German are                           optional. I hardly think we will ever get far enough along to have them taught in our school.                               I wish you had a chance to study some of the modern languages. If they are going to                              introduce them into the Public Schools it would seem to be necessary to have them taught                             in the Normal schools.

Mr. and Mrs. Hooper

Mr. and Mrs. Hooper

We shall have Ethel take the scientific course. She is now in the highest classes in the school here, and the
best ones, so Harry says. I wish our schools had a few brightscholars in it, and not so many addlepates. Ethel has just come in from Sunday school. She says
Dolly was in Mrs Hooper’s class all the time.

Do you attend Dr Dixon’s church regularly and how do you like his preaching & what church, of what
denomination, I mean, are most of the Normal students? Is your room mate a catholic? She has a
French name, if she does hail from a German city.

Puss and I went to church this morning. Dolly stayed home and got the dinner. Mr Hooper preached a very
good sermon from the text, “Ye are all bought with a price.” They have a very small congregation all the
time. I wish they could manage to get the church
filled once in a while. The fat little Mr Bebert seems to be at home, at least he goes by every few days. Mrs. Geo Wilcox told me he was in the Normal at Trenton, and
she said the tall one graduated there.

They have diphtheria at the Clark settlement on Stony Hill. Two boys died there last
week with it. They were Harry’s old scholars. It may break up his old school.
By the way do not forget to write a note to Mr Holmes telling him what class you
entered, etc. You know he said he would like to hear from you after you got there. Keep on
the right side of him, and he may help you to a Union County school when you are

Puss has not sewed a stitch since you left home. She will have to start it soon for
Dolly’s in need of clothes. Have you heard from Florence Cronce whether she got the
situation she was trying for when she left here.

Far has brought the milk in and I must go strain it. It is almost dark so I will close
this and they can mail it when they go to the C. E. Meeting tonight. I wonder what Mrs
Dinsmores maiden name was? We might trace her up if we knew. All of us send lots of

Affectionately your

Mary Ann Wood (Mer's mother), Mer. William Jr., Ruth

Mary Ann Wood (Mer’s mother), Mer. William Jr., Ruth

New Providence, NJ
Oct 7, 1894

From: Elizabeth “Mer” (Wisner) Barrell
To: Ruth Barrell, State Normal School, Trenton, NJ

My dear Ruthy:

Your letter of the 4th was received yesterday morning. I guess from what you say
about your studies it is a very good thing you took the first year, for it would have been
very hard for you if you had entered the second year with no knowledge of the methods of
the first year. Now it ought to come comparatively easy to you, and one year more will not
make any serious difference with you. It will cost a little more but that can be made up if
you get a good position. I do not believe Bob will be hard on you. He ought not to charge
you any interest, and we may be able to help you some, so you will not have to get so
much of him. It is too bad they do not do your washing any better. You are wise in
confining yourself to as few articles as possible. Bring home anything you do not like to
have washed there and have it done here when you are home for Thanksgiving. It seems
an awful long time to wait to see you, nearly eight weeks more. Cannot you come home on
Weds afternoon before Thanksgiving, and get excused until Monday noon? We will write if
necessary to the principal about it. You have three new unbleached underwaists which will
be just the thing for you to take back for the winter. I sewed buttons on two of them since
you left and put them in your drawer.

Puss is now making you a black skirt out of the black heurietta Aunt Libbie sent us.
That will be ready for you when you are home at Thanksgiving. We will send you the
money you need before you come home. Let us know if you want it sooner. I would not be
surprised if Bob was home by that time. If so, you will all meet together which will make it
very nice. We are having lovely weather now and the country looks very pretty. We have
had no frost yet although it felt like it last night, and it may come tonight. Yesterday Puss
took up the most of the begonias. She divided the large one and made two plants of it. The
rex fills a small tub and we have so many altogether that she has hard work to find places
for them. I wish we had a small conservatory. The boxes still look very nice. Puss is out
now covering them with sheets to ward against any possible frost tonight. The Gray family
just went by, gray horse and all. I think it was Ed driving. The Chase family came back
yesterday. Mrs Chase, Pauline and Will were out to church this morning. Lulu peeped in
the Sunday School this afternoon but did not go in. I suppose the girls will see her tonight
and find out what her plans are for the winter. Puss lighted the parlor heater yesterday.
Gangmer is sick so she needs a warm room and it is such a job to keep a fire place going
in evening.

Puss and Dolly are getting ready to go to the C. E. meeting. Gangmer is down stairs
with us. She has been quite sick for two days with a great deal of pain in her bowels and a
diarrhea but she is better tonight. I think she took cold. I will not have your letter ready to
mail until Ethel goes to school so you will not get it until evening again. I suppose when
you get your letters in the evening you have to undress in the dark. Ethel told you she had
taken two music lessons. She is going to take them Weds and Sat mornings, but Miss Lum
had to go to New York last Sat, so Ethel went on Friday afternoon. I guess she will get
along very well. She still grinds out Douglas and some of the other old tunes after she has practiced the exercises. I do not know as it will hurt her any for she picks them out by rote and it ought to help her albiet reading the notes. We are all hungry to hear you play and sing. They have even had me playing my little jig by way of variety. Dolly has told you about the invitation to the Bee Doctors wedding. Bessie and Dolly are going to it. Far may take them, if not they will go on foot. The Doctor is “going on an extended wedding trip.” So he told your Far today. It was Miss Purdy’s father who was killed by the cars last spring or early in the summer. He got bewildered on the track and was struck by the train and cut all in pieces. I suppose Dolly will write and tell all about the wedding after it is over.

Friday Far went up to town to see the way John Badgley was fixing the school
house, and as he came by the tavern Dave Totten sat on the stoop. He wanted to see him
about painting the end of the school house where John has resided it so he stopped and
spoke to him. Dave was howling drunk and he came down by Far and patted him on the
back and rubbed his cheeks, and was telling him how much he thought of him etc. Geo
Wilcoxes wife took it all in, and Dayton Baldwin went by grinning. It was quite a show right
in town. I am going to read aloud to the family so I will finish your letter after I am through

I have just finished reading a story in the Youths Companion and Gangmer has
gone up to bed. She is going back to Orange Co in a week or two and wants Bessie and
Dolly to go with her. I suppose they will do so, and if they do they will probably stay two
weeks. I think it will do them good to get away for a while if they can get along without
having to sleep with Gangmer. It is awful to have to sleep with her in a hot room. She
expects to hear all your letters so do not say anything about it when you write!
Walter Gray has gone to New York to the University. Garfield goes to Summit, and
is preparing for college, studying Latin and French. It is strange they do not teach any of
the languages in the Trenton Normal.

We have not hear anything yet about Mother’s case and do not know whether the
Judges have rendered their decision or not.

Mary Bowcell has been quite sick with chills for over a week and Edna Nevins has
been teaching for her. Bessie saw her (Marne) on Friday and says she is pale and looks
badly. She is going to go back to school tomorrow is it is a pleasant day. They have not
had any fire there yet. The heater needed a few repairs but Mr Broadwell is going there
tomorrow to attend to it so he can then make a fore. They had no fire in church this
morning and Bessie and Dolly came home looking blue. Neither of them wore jackets, and
the church was cold. I do not think of any more news and I must stop as I want to read
some before I go to bed. Joe is playing chess by mail with Georgie. I think he is a goose to
do it.

All join in lots of love

Affectionately your

Ruth, Mer, and Dolly

Ruth, Mer, and Dolly

New Providence, NJ
Oct 10, 1894

From: Elizabeth “Mer” (Wisner) Barrell
To: Ruth Barrell, State Normal School, Trenton, NJ

My dear Ruthy:

Your letter of yesterday was received this noon and I will write a short letter and
enclose the $2 you sent for. It seems to me you will then be left pretty short after paying for
your music lessons. Do not get entirely out of money. Let us know in time so we can send
you some. How about the exercises your teacher was going to send for, will you not have
to pay extra for them?

I am glad you like your music teacher and are getting along nicely in your music.
Why is it your right hand is so stiff? What has caused it? I hope you can get it limbered up
to your satisfaction. Ethel missed her music lesson this morning, it rained so hard she
could not go to Miss Lums. It has cleared now and is getting colder. Bessie and Dolly are
getting ready to go to Summit to get shoes for both of them. They expect to go to Orange
Co with Gangmer and they have to have high shoes before they go. I think Gangmer will
leave the last of next week or first of the week after. Bessie is going to New York next week
to get some gloves and other things they need if they go visiting.

Harry has paid his first months board and that has given me some money. I expect
to pay for Ethel’s music lessons out of his board money. There is a Montgomery’s History
in the house I believe at least Ethel says there is, and she says there is a Geographical
Reader, but not Kings. I do not know of any such reader. Dolly says we have one by
Johoust, pronounced jons. Do you want us to send you any books by express? It will only
cost 25 cents if we take them to Fanwood.

Ray Crati did not break his fingers. He caught them in his bicycle and squeezed
them quite badly. Far has gone to Murray Hill to get a harrow wheel and when he comes
back the girls will start to Summit and I want to send this much with them to mail. I have
just looked at the Central time table and find there is a train leaves Trenton at 12.12 and
gets to Plainfield at 1.07. A way train leaves Plainfield at 1.14 and gets to Fanwood at
1.21, so it might be that you could get that, and it would bring you home in less time than
the Penn — and I suppose at less expense. We might arrange it to go with two seats, and
bring Eleanor Alden back with you. This is the time table we got when you left, so there
might be some changes since then but you ought to be able to find out before you leave. I
am glad you can come home on Weds, I think more than likely Bob will be home by that
time. Gangmer has been ailing for several days but is better now. She takes all the
medicine she can lay her hands on. Pills, powders, cholera mixtures, paragorie, powdered
licorice etc. I think I would be sick to if I made such an apothecaries shop of my stomach.

All join in much love to you.
Affectionately your

1916 William Gray family

New Providence, NJ
Oct 14, 1894

From: Elizabeth “Mer” (Wisner) Barrell
To: Ruth Barrell, State Normal School, Trenton, NJ

My dear Ruthy:

Your letter of the 12th came last evening. You certainly have not a very large bank
account at present. You will probably need more in a few weeks and I will try and send you
something before you are reduced to your last cent. Will you not have to pay for your next
quarter before you come home for Thanksgiving, or will they wait until you go back? Find
out about it, as Far will have to draw what you need from Bob’s saving’s bank account. So
far you have only used $30 of his money and I want to help you all I can, and not draw out
any more than we can possibly help. I am glad you like all your teachers and succeeded to
Miss Riley’s satisfaction in your arithmetic teaching. Harry says he did not have to teach at
all at Oswego until his last year. It ought to be easier in your third year from the slight
experience you are getting in your first year. Far has hunted up the Montgomery’s History,
but the Johoust Reader was sent up to the school when Andy was here. He sent his
sample copy up with the rest. I think perhaps he can get it for you. It will cost no more to
send three of four books than one. We will prepay the express if we send them, which I
suppose we will do. I see he has two of them tied up already, Halls Geographical Reader
and the History. I commenced this letter this afternoon but now it is evening.

Gangmer, Harry, Ethel and I are around the table in the sitting room and Far is in
the dining room doing some writing. Bessie and Dolly are off to the Endeavor meeting.
It has been sprinkling tonight and is cold and damp. There has been a great change
since morning. We started the sitting room heater just before tea. We have had the parlor
one going for some time but did not start the other one as it seemed early to have both
going. We have had fire in the fireplace at the time, but it has been a job to keep wood to
burn. Nearly all the family have sort of an influenza cold. Far and I have not got it yet.
Far is busy all times extracting honey. He has taken some to Madison and
Chatham, and has some ready to go to Summit. We are using the new honey on the table
and is very nice.

Ethel has told you we did not have school on Monday or Tuesday. The heater had
to have a new pipe and some new door frames, so they had no fire. Now it is in good
working order again. The _____ Springstein had put their scrubbing water in the pipes to
save themselves trouble. Harry is his own janitor now. John Badgley resided the north end
and it ought to be much warmer this winter. Dave Totten has painted it. Harry got an
invitation to Mr Knapp’s wedding. It is to be on the 25th in the memorial chapel at Madison.
He is going over to attend it, and expects to stay all night with Bert Saxe. So we will hear
about the performance. Bessie & Dolly will go to the Bee Doctors wedding next
Wednesday if it is not stormy. I think probably Far will take them over. Lulu Chase was
down here to tea twice last week. She is now expecting to go to Fort Edward soon, but
they are such an uncertain family she may not go at all. Will Chase and Garfield Gray go
to Summit to school. The two small Alden children come to our school. Sam Hunter also
goes to Summit. Bessie expects to go to New York tomorrow and if she does she will stay
all night with Florence. She did expect to stay in Brooklyn Tuesday night, but they have a                     Christian Endeavor Sociable at the Hoopers that evening so she has concluded to come home.

They expect to go to Orange Co with Gangmer next week, probably on Tuesday,
and I suppose they will stay there two weeks. After they come home I may go to Brooklyn
for a weeks visit. Bessie was down to Summit to get shoes for herself and Dolly, but Will
did not have any to fit them and was going to get them in New York for them. Dolly is still
wearing low shoes, and it is rather hard on her ankles. Ethel is getting on nicely with her
music. Miss Lum had her put the first two exercises together yesterday and gave her two
new ones and was surprised at the way she read the notes without making any mistakes.
Puss was with her and she said she could not help smiling. Miss Lum does not know Ethel
grinds out Douglass, Old Folks at Home, etc from notes. She holds her hands very well
and I think will get on rapidly. I am glad you are getting your hand limbered up and that you
have so good a teacher. It will be a good plan for you to take one of the languages when
you get time for it, but you do not want to make a grind of yourself. Probably Latin would
be the best. That is the father of the other languages and they are more easily learned
when you have a knowledge of that. I see by the new course of study that Latin and
French are to be taught in all the higher schools. They certainly in that case should
introduce them in the Normal Shools. It is too bad you lost your little knife. The want of it is
more than the worth of it. Puss will try to get you another one in N Y.

Joe and Georgie had not finished their first game of chess when Joe wrote last. Joe
in his letter in speaking of Georgie said “he is a conceited ass.” You know it takes some
time to play a game by mail. Georgie crows on his postate, about the same as he used to
verbally. Joe is a goose to take up his time with such a chap. He might better spend it in
writing to you. Far saw “Bub” in town the other day, and says he looks quite young and
spruce. Their house is vacant so he may have come up to see about renting it. I have been
looking over the time table again and the 12.12 from Trenton is much the best one for you
to take, as there is much closer connection at Plainfield, and it is a through express, but it
is so long that their is lots of time to arrange for it. The time is slipping by however. It will
be five weeks tomorrow since you left, and six weeks from next Weds — you will probably
be home again. Gangmer is much better than she was. She talks quite a good deal about
the “dear child.” I suppose Dolly will add her mite before this is mailed. I can think of no
more news. All send lots of love.

Affectionately your

Ruth and Mer

Ruth and Mer

Providence, NJ
Oct 21, 1894

From: Elizabeth “Mer” (Wisner) Barrell
To: Ruth Barrell, State Normal School, Trenton, NJ

My dear Ruthy:

Your letter came yesterday morning, and found we all well. The colds are about
over. I did not have any. I believe I was the only one of the family who escaped. I am glad
you received your books all right. Far had the express receipt laid up, for we to send in this
letter but you will not need it now. I sent a variety of spellers for I knew you had
orthography this term and they all seemed good ones. I knew you were a little shaky on
long words. The Johouab Geographical reader had been sent up to school and has a
school label in it, and Harry is going to use them in the school, so the only other one in the
house was Halls, the one I sent. It seemed to be more for small scholars but I thought it
might answer. We have a few specimen pages of Kings geographical readers which were
sent to Far last summer. There are five books in the series. You will probably find some
more books when you come home that may be of use to you. We are counting the time to
Thanksgiving as well as you. It seems months since you left home and yet in many ways
the time has gone quickly. We have had lovely Indian summer weather for the past week.
This forenoon everything had a warm, dreary far away look, but this afternoon it is so hazy
we cannot see Long Hill. Gangmer thinks it is going to rain, but I hope it will not until she is
back in Orange Co. She and Bessie expect to go tomorrow afternoon. They will leave here
about 1 o’clock and are due at Lake Station at 5.34. Dolly was going with them but Bessie
says she must be back on Saturday so I thought it was a big bill of expenses for mother to
pay both their fares up there for so short a visit. She says she will send for me and Dolly in
the winter to go up together. I expected Bessie would stay ten days or two weeks, but she
seems to have a press of business on hand, what it is I do not know.

She went down to New York Wednesday morning and staid until Friday afternoon.
She spent one night with Aunt Libbie and one with Florence. I suppose she will write you
all about it. Aunt Libbie is not at all well. She had been confined to her bed for a week or
two but was up and around the when Bessie was there. She has no cough but is weak.
They have had a Baltimore heater put in their back parlor and Aunt Libbie and Uncle
James are going to sleep in the back room on the second floor and keep the front one for
her sitting room. The two heaters will keep the whole floor warm so they will have some
room and not be so cooped up. I do not believe they are expecting to go away this winter.
Uncle James head is very bad, but Bessie says he looks quite well.

Far is expecting to take Hiree “a days ride” on Weds if he can go and the weather is
pleasant. He cannot leave Aunt Libbie all night, but Far is to pick him up at Summit and will
probably drop him at Chatham in the afternoon. They are going to ride through Millburn to
Caldwell and home via Livingston and Chatham. Altogether about 30 miles. I think I will go
down to see Aunt Libbie after Bessie gets back from Orange Co.

Last evening Dave, Lulu and Bessie Runyon were here. Puss expected Walter too
but I suppose he felt too tired or did not come from some other reason. I doubt if Lu goes
anywhere to school this fall. It seems to be the same old thing over again as it was last fall.

Gangmer thinks it is dreadful the way you have bound yourself to stay three long
years at Trenton and then have to teach two years. She seems to take it for granted that
you are going to get married before that length of time rolls around. She appears to think
the “dog tracks” on the stoop pointed that way. You know it does not take much to set her
off on the matrimonial track. I suppose Dolly will tell you about the ride to Chatham on the
C E anniversary, also about the sociable at Mr Hooper on Tuesday evening and how Art
took her out to tea so I will not attempt it.

I believe Ed Gray expects his suit to come on in Trenton in a week or two, if it does
you will probably have a call from him.

It is getting quite dark although it is only 4.35, so I will stop and finish this after tea.
Gangmer did get your letter and was very much pleased that you wrote to her. She says
she will answer it when she gets back to your Uncle Rug’s. She had not written since she
has been here because she thought we wrote such fat letters we must tell you all the

After tea – Dolly is sitting with her hat on ready to go to the C E meeting, and filling
in the time by writing to you. Harry went over to Madison yesterday and staid until this
afternoon. He went on his wheel. One of his cousins from Troy was there visiting. He went
to the Methodist Church in Madison this morning and heard Miss Peck play for the last
time. Mr Knapp was in the congregation. They are to be married next Thursday evening,
and go off on a short trip as they will have to be back so he can take charge of his school
on Monday. I believe every one in town is invited except Harry and Marne Bourrell. They
have a small reception at Mr Pecks after the ceremony. Harry thinks he is getting much the
best of the bargain.

Puss saw Miss Alden today running over the fields with her brother and Jim Blaine. I
suppose she will be going back to Trenton tomorrow.

It will be nice having you all home together at Thanksgiving. We will surely have to
get a good turkey for the occasion. You must stay until Monday. I suppose Bob will
probably get home a week or so before Thanksgiving. He will most likely stay in Montana
to vote on Nov 6th. He is coming home via St Louis and will stop over there and see

I wish he could find something to do nearer home and would not have to go so far
again. I do not know yet what day Joe can come home, or how long he can stay. I wonder
if he will finish his game of chess before that time. Does your “Lizer” Sunday school
teacher improve any on a longer acquaintance? What time is your Sunday School and is it
connected with the church you attend?

Far is having his corn husked now. He has a very good crop notwithstanding the dry
weather last summer.

I must stop and read a little before going to bed, and I believe I am spun out of
news. Danny Deever went by here this afternoon on a bicycle. His handsome mouth looks
particularly expressive. All join in much love to you.

Affectionately your

1918a RG235

Providence, NJ
Oct 28, 1894

From: Mer
To: Ruth Barrell, State Normal School, Trenton, NJ

My dear Ruth:

Dolly and Ethel have both been writing to you and they have told you about the
various weddings, etc, so I do not know whether I can make my letter very interesting or
not. I was glad Ed and the other two fellows called to see you when they were in Trenton.
We thought Ed was going to compromise with the Co — and did not know he was going
down. Were Sam Tyler and Mr Young witnesses for him, or did Mr Young have a trial of
his own against the Company? There was a Mr Young injured in the accident so he was
probably the one. I guess Ed was fooling when he said he was going to get $50,000. I do
not believe he will get $15,000, but he may. Ethel has written about Mr Knapps wedding.

He certainly is unfortunate in the matter of weather. His bride was dressed in white silk and
carried a bouquet of Chrysanthennums, white ones. They had quite a large reception and
they were driven in a coach to Summit to their own “dove cote.” Mr Goodening’s school
has not opened yet in Jersey City as they are building and have not finished, so he came
up to Summit and taught Thursday and Friday for Mr K___. Tomorrow he, Mr K, is going to
take charge of his own school. I do not believe any one in town was invited to his wedding
but Harry and Marie Bowers(sp) and they were only invited to the church. I do not believe
the Wilcoxes and Wahl are very well pleased, he was so intimate with them. He is perfectly
disgusting since he has the Summit school. Harry says he will have to have gussets in his
hat pretty soon. His wedding coming on the heels of the Bassinger – Jett wedding has
been entirely thrown into the background. People are so taken up talking over the latter
that Mr and Mrs K are not thought of. The Bassinger wedding was hurried up a little so the
loving couple could go out west for a trip and get back before cold weather brought on the
Doctors rheumatism. The weather was too rainey when they started, perhaps he has the
rheumatism now. He looks as though he was eighty – and homely as a mud fence, it must
certainly have been his money that influenced her. Mrs Bassinger tried to make him
promise before she died that he would marry an old maid out west if he ever got married,
but he would not. Perhaps he had Miss Jett in his mind’s eye at the time. The rumor is
going around that Florence Ackerman is going to marry Dolph Jones. She is up again and
goes riding with him. I suppose Puss will tell you about how she had to make the second
Douglass for Will, so I will not say anything about it. They might strike up a brisk trade in
Douglasses. Gangmer said she was going to send you $2 in a letter so you may get it very
soon. I have only $5 at present but will get it changed as soon as possible and send you
some more. If you do not have to pay your next quarter bill until after Thanksgiving you can
take the money back with you when you go. I want to keep you in spending money, from
Far if possible, so you will only have to get from Bob for your school expenses, that is,
board and use of books.

I am glad your package of books are useful to you. When you come home you may
find more to take back with you. I looked over the LeHigh Registar and found Walter
Thatcher was a junior last year, from Camden. He was a C.E and was conditional. He
ought to have graduated next June if he stayed there and worked off his conditions. I suppose you wish it was your senior year, but as you say, three years will soon go by and then if all goes well, you will come out prepared for life’s battle. It seems an awful while to have you away from us when you stop to think it over.

Mr Fauz, Marie Bounell’s prospective father-in-law has moved up to the house by the Murray Hill station, and two of his children come to our school. I think she expects this to be her last year as our assistant. I wonder who we will have next year? Perhaps Annie Badgley will want it. I wish we could have you as near at home as that when you get through. Maud has left the Syracuse Hospital and gone home. The hospital authorities decided they did not want her after her three trial weeks.

Lulu Chase has not gone to school yet and I do not believe she will get off. I think it
would be a good thing for her to go to Trenton. Bessie stopped over in New York yesterday
and bought cloth for Ethel a winter jacket. Lizzie gave Bessie her jacket or cloak and it fit
her very nicely. It would hardly be large enough for you although it is your color, navy blue.
If you need a new one this winter Puss will buy the cloth and make it. She says she saw
such beautiful cloakings in New York, so much cheaper than the ready made cloaks. Joe
sent us a card with the names of an Indian team of foot ball players who played with
LeHigh a week ago yesterday. Such crack jawed indian names you never saw. They were
from the Carlisle Indian school. I think Bob may be home after the middle of the month. It
will be nice to have you all together. I must stop and read a little and it is now after 9
o’clock. All join in much love.

Affectionately yours

1921 and on 2 photo porch & beach groups_z

New Providence, NJ
Nov 10, 1894

From: Elizabeth “Mer” (Wisner) Barrell
To: Ruth Barrell, State Normal School, Trenton, NJ

My dear Ruthy:

Your letter came just before tea and I read it aloud to the family. I am very sorry you
have had a cough, or still have it, and have not felt well. Did you take anything for your
cough? You did not have any medicine of any sort with you. You must take a few kinds
back with you when you come home, a couite, cawpher, etc. Does the preceptress do
anything for the girls when they are sick?

It is too bad they do not give you plenty of good wholesome food to eat. You shall
have all you want when you come home, and some to take back with you. Do they give you
all the bread you can eat and is it good & when I went to boarding school we had plenty of
good bread, and all the syrup we wanted, to eat on it, so we could fill up on that. Try and
take good care of yourself, and if it does not agree with you in Trenton you shall not go
back next year, for your health is of more importance than anything else. It was very nice
for you to get a trolly ride and a taste of fresh air. How did you get your cold? We have had
miserable weather nearly all this week. Cold and damp and stormy. Election day was clear
and bright and the next day quite fair but ever since it has stormed until today. Last
Monday it fairly poured down. I had a very nice visit with aunt Libbie and got quite rested
up. I had the big room with the “shin plaster” in it and I slept well and soundly under all
those records of generous giving, gazing down on me. I went down there on Thursday
afternoon Nov 1st. I got to Aunt Libbie’s about 4 o’clock. I found her alone in her room. The
girl was out, (what a misnomer, to call her a girl) and Uncle James was filling up the cracks
in the stone work with plaster. He let me in the house. Aunt Libbie was laying down and I
walked quietly in and had been there half an hour before she woke up. She seemed very
glad to see me. Friday afternoon I called at Louis but Carrie was out so I went on to Franks
and saw Grace, and Frank came home before I left so I saw him too. Saturday afternoon
Uncle James went with me to the new armory of the 23 rd Regiment, Brooklyn Crack
Regiment. It was quite a long ways from their house, on Bedford Ave. The regiment took
possession of it that afternoon. The whole of Bedford Ave — from gates to the armory was
lined with people waiting for the regiment to pass. No one was admitted to the armory
except those who had tickets. Uncle James told me to go up to the entrance door with him
and we could look through and see the length of the drill room. A young fellow in uniform
was standing by the door taking tickets. He spoke low to Uncle James and said “go right
in,” so we went in without a ticket and saw all the inside of the building. The troops were
not there yet, and Uncle James said it might be some time before they came so we went
back home. I had just taken my things off when Uncle James called out that the regiment
was near, so I put on my hat and cape and walked back to Bedford Ave, and had a good
view of them. They had two bands and some mounted officers, and all the rest marched.
First the veterans who had served their time. Then the others in full uniform and lastly the
cadet corps, who were younger, and had on white gaiters. They took quite a long time to
pass a given point, and looked very nice. It was fine to see them all march in perfect time.

Sunday Forenoon. Puss and Dolly are off to church, and I have my ironing work
finished so will add a bit more to your letter. I got too sleepy last night to write any more. It
is a lovely day. Every Sunday appears to be nice, no matter what the rest of the week has
been. I will take up my Brooklyn visit where I left off last night.

On Sunday it was communion at Uncle James church and he said they had no
service at all so he advised me to go somewhere else to church, so I went to Dr Behrens
church, a congregational one. He is considered a very fine speaker and he gave a very
fine speaker and he gave us an excellent sermon, and the music was splendid. In the
afternoon Mary Reynolds came up to Aunt Libbies and I went home with her to tea, and in
the evening she went with me to Dr Lyman Abbotts church. (Beechers old church.) He did
not preach, but they had a fine choral service and short address by the assistant. It was
well worth hearing. The alto and tenor solos were especially good. Monday it poured down
but we had been invited to Louis to dinner so I fixed up in some of Aunt Libbies old duds
and went in the afternoon. Uncle James came in time for dinner and we staid until about
9.30 when we made a dash for a car and rode home. It cleared off in time to give every
one a fine election day and it is true the Republicans have cause long to remember. That
old scamp of a Beattie was carried in on the tidal wave and I daresay some other rascals
along with him. You were rightly informed as to the result in New Providence. I called on
Mrs Keyes in the afternoon on election day, and came home on Weds afternoon. Aunt
Libbie seemed stronger when I left than when I went there. She does not seem to have
anything in particular the matter with her except weakness. Uncle James head is about as
usual and he goes around the same as ever. Aunt Libbie is much thinner than she was and
I am afraid if she gets a cold or anything else should set in she will stand a poor chance to
recover. She wanted me to stay longer with her as she gets so lonesome, but I thought I
had been away quite long enough, as we want to clean some before Thanksgiving and
there is a good deal of serving to do.

Poor Gangmer seems to be having a pretty hard time of it. She told Uncle Wisner
the reports about Jesse D and Katie Powers and he told Laura, and Jesse is making up to
Laura and she told Jesse, and he threatened to punish mother for it, or rather gave her
trouble, so she is feeling very much worried. I feel awfully sorry for her, and only wish
Jesse D could have justice meeted out to him speedily. I wish I had kept Mother here for
the winter, she is in too close quarters to such a d___l. She writes that she is very
lonesome. Write to her as often as you can. Letters seem to cheer her up. I looked over
the time table and you can get no train back until the one you took when you when in
Trenton which gets you there about noon, so you must send your “form” for an excuse and
Far will write it so we can send it to you a week from tomorrow, or sooner if you wish it. Joe
is coming home on Wednesday afternoon the 28th and has to go back on Saturday
afternoon. Bob writes he will probably start for home by the 15th.

I must go and put the clothes to soak and get dinner. How I wish you were here to
cut it with us.

You shall not stay in Trenton if it is going to break down your health. All send much
love to you.

Affectionately your

New Providence, NJ
Nov 13, 1894

From: Elizabeth “Mer” (Wisner) Barrell
To: Ruth Barrell, State Normal School, Trenton, NJ

My dear Ruthy:

Bessie received your letter today and we think it advisable for you to come home as
soon as possible and see the Dr. So Far is now writing to Dr Green to excuse you from
next Friday noon until Monday afternoon Dec 3. That will give you some time to rest up
and find out what is the matter with you. Your health is of more importance than your
studies. Bring home what books you need and you can study some at home. Far will meet
you at Fanwood next Friday the 16th at 1.21. The train leaves Trenton at 12.12. I will
enclose $1 as you may not have money enough to bring you. Find out if an excuse will be
good until Dec 3 before you buy your ticket, and be sure and but your excursion or ticket
for Plainfield or the train will not stop there with you. I wrote full directions about the trains
in the letter we sent you yesterday. I will stop now as Bessie wants to add a few words and
we want the letter to catch the afternoon mail. With lots of love.

Affectionately your


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