Thursday, June 4, 2015

March 14, 1867 Letter from Belle to Papa and Mama

Belle Tisdale c.1865,
Belle Tisdale c 1865
Belle turned twelve years old on January third, 1867. This carte des visite photo of her was made at A. D. Lytle's studio in Baton Rouge during the time she was living at her Grandma and Grandpa Pratt's Oakland Place Plantation. The original is in a carte des visite album in the possession of J. S. Sarradet.

The original letter is on 15 1/2” x 9 3/4” faintly lined paper, folded in half, with manuscript ink writing. Condition is good except for a torn corner on page 3-4. It is transcribed exactly as written. The original letter is in the possession of Vera Booksh Zimmerman.

Page 1
Oakland Place,                         
  March the 14th 1867
My Dear Papa,
Belle Tisdale back, by A. D. Lytle,          I was in A great hury when I wrote that last letter to you; because Grand Pa was in A hury to get to town. Ask Mama if she will come up here and come along with her. Bob, Aunt Bina's cat is A little, wilde because every time that Uncle Jena  sees Bob he commences to dance and that scares  Bob half to death. how are you all wee are all  well.   It  was freezeing cold last; night and it sleeted  last night, and then again this morning about A quarter of an  hour  after breakfast it turned warmer, A little, and then it  turned colder, than ever; and now iceicles About three or  four inches long are hanging on the houses.

Goodbye God bless you; your            
Affectionate daughter, Bella Tisdale.
     Page 2
I have not much to tell you but I thought as that last letter was so short I might as well write some more. As soon as it gets A little warmer I think; that is if the Amit is not to high we wil go and spend the day at the Amit; and if we go  I want you to come up and go with us. How is that blessed little Robert; I do wish you all had some sence, you would come up and go with us. Next Sunday Grace Mary Kate and I are all a comeing going up the road and stay until I see you all A comeing,
   Bella Tisdale

Oakland place March the 16, 1867
     My Dear Mama,
                 I have something splendid to tell you; Grand Pa is a getting up the timber to make A gin and he is a going to buy an engine to work his mill with. We say our lessons every

Page 3

day, and I work two hours every day on my slipper; and I will have it finished before next week is out; and just as soon as that one is finished I will commence the other one. Mary's ball of worsted has given out. Aunt Lizz says that there is no news yet; and Aunt Lizz sends howdy to you all.We have not had more than two or three days good weather since I have been here. Uncle Jena has gone to spend the day at Mrs. David's. Mary and Grace made A cake this morning; and what kind of egg's do you think she made them out of; I will tell you the whole truth; 
there was A goose a wa [torn]
when it [torn]
of water [torn]
that She c [torn]
that was [torn]
the goose [torn]
two or thre [torn]
he hopes th [torn]
your buisne [torn]

Page 4
Good bye God bless you      
 Your Affectionate daughter;
Bella Tisdale.

In her letter, Belle refers to Uncle Jena. This is her mother's youngest brother Joel Eugene Pratt. The family called him Jena, pronounced in the distinctive Louisiana style as Gee NAY. I can just see him doing a little jig and scaring the poor cat. I believe that Aunt Bina is Albina Pratt Durr, Grandma Pratt's sister. Aunt Lizz may be Uncle James Pratt's second wife, Mary Elizabeth Coyle. 

The Amit that Belle mentions is the Amite River just a few miles east of Oakland and a favorite fishing spot. Belle asks about her baby brother, Robert Rafael Tisdale, who was born in  New Orleans on October 24, 1866. Evidently Belle is either knitting or crocheting herself a pair of slippers. This is the only letter I know of that Belle signs Bella.
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