Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Letter from Papa to Belle

l874 letter from B. F. Tisdale to Belle Tisdale
Original 9" x 11" thin paper with light blue lines, manuscript writing in ink on both sides with bleed through from back, condition good, original in possession of
V. B. Zimmerman. Transcribed exactly as written.

This 1874 letter to Belle from her Pa was the most difficult to transcribe because of the heavy bleed through of the ink. I used photo editing software to adjust the contrast and brightness and was able to improve  it somewhat.
Edited portion of page 1 of 1874 letter from B. F. Tisdale to Belle Tisdale

Page 1
Will answer Frank

Octo 22 1874                            

My Dear Belle.         We got Your and Franks letter and Were Well pleased to Know that our dear Children were Well, as also the kind relatives at Kushla. As for us I mean myself – and old ['Ma?]
[“Banch”?] we have nothing to Say Save and except that under Gods Prov[iden]ce We are at least well. Thus far we have had bread and butter enough to eat how long [term?] this will be so I Know not. Mr [Sheppen?] Left us today and as a consequence “Bill Pike” was a “hornet” all day. Oh if I Could only leave him at once and forever, it would a release like that of the Prisoner of Chillon, or Eurydicé from Hell. Today, he Would have made me laugh, but that the tears of anger & Mortification drowned the laughter and turned the ludicrous into the Melodramatic, for indeed I Could have stabbed him where he stood, so exasperated he made me. But poor child this is not interesting to You – Nor indeed to anyone. I Smell of brimstone. Mr. [Majer?] or his Ghost I don't clearly Know which took dinner at our house on Sunday. He Came – He saw- he left. He Was there Just ¾ of an hour. I had no Chance to talk to him at all, even if I had Wanted to & I did not Care to - for he Seemed annoyed about Something – and my “bald dysjointed chat”, as 

Page 2
Shakspeare Says – Would not interest him - There was also a Cousin or something from “Ky” Mr. “Nip” Moore – He Came down to a “State dinner” with us. Your Mother had “felix” to bring it -  [illegible] Soup – Fish - but Stake - and I Went in debt for a bottle of wine- Whether Mr. M liked it or not I dont Know, for he bounced up from the table and Shot off for the Cars in Such a hurry You would have thought he had an appointment With ___ Grant.
About the box – Send it how You please to Me at Pike Brs. Co or let me Know When You Send it if You Can & I will be on hand to get it at the depot tho this Seems to be a bad Way too – At All Events fix it Some way – So You dont bother anybody over there With it. They have enough trouble of their own Without having any of ours to grieve them. The baby is all You Could Wish him – in beauty – Sweetness – goodness  angel like & all  Kiss Frank & Give love to all. Say to Sister M I will write to her Soon if I live. Your Pa! BFT

B. F. Tisdale and his wife are living in New Orleans with their youngest children, while Mary, Belle, Frank, and possibly Willie are visiting "the kind relatives at Kushla." This is undoubtedly the Jacob Magee family. B. F. Tisdale's sister Mary Eliza married Jacob Magee in 1834 and lived in Kushla, just north of Mobile, Alabama. We visited the Magee Farm, just north of Mobile, several years ago when it was operated as a historic landmark and open to the public. (I plan a separate blog post on the visit.) 

Belle's Pa is still unhappy with his boss, Bill Pike, and his anger shows in this letter. His literary allusion to the Prisoner of Chillon refers to a 392-line narrative poem by Lord Byron, written in 1816. It chronicles the imprisonment of a Genevois monk in the Chateau de Chillon from 1532 to 1536. Eurydicé, of course, refers to the Greek myth of Orpheus trying to retrieve his wife from Hades. The Tisdale family evidently loved poetry. My father remembers his Grandma Belle quoting entire poems while the children helped with housework. One in particular he remembered was Longfellow's "The Village Blacksmith."

B. F. Tisdale appears to have carried his anger home with him. I wouldn't have wanted to be at that dinner on Sunday! I can see him staring resentfully at the steak and the bottle of wine and making sarcastic comments to the guests. (There is a family rumor that he had a drinking problem.) The cousin from Kentucky was Eliza's relative, probably a son of her aunt, Ann Elizabeth Pratt, Grandpa Pratt's sister, who married a Mr. Moore. 

The one happy note in the letter is the description of the "angel like" baby. This was Charles Hiram "Harry" Tisdale, born 30 May 1874, the last child of Eliza Pratt and Benjamin Franklin Tisdale.