Charles Kaine was certainly eager to see his sister, Bess but it seems like he was living in the play by Samuel Beckett, “Waiting for Godot”! The play consists of conversations between Vladimir and Estragon, who are waiting for the arrival of the mysterious Godot, who continually sends word that he will appear but who never does, just like Aunt Bess!

Charles writes, “you sent your last letter to Anne Cluff and also a slip to John saying you would come out in June or July and did not desire an answer so that we have been watching the cars every day for you.

Page 1 Letter from Charles Kaine to his sister Aunt Bess September 19, 1864
Page 2 Letter from Charles Kaine to his sister Aunt Bess September 19, 1864

17 Kaine Letter Sept 19, 1864
Transcribed from the original by Kerrin Churchill January 3, 2020
Charles Kaine to Sister Bess from Seaforth, Ontario Canada to Freshford, Kilkenny, Ireland

Dear Sister
I now take up my pen to write these few lines to you hoping they may find you in good heath as we all are at present. you sent your last letter to Anne Cluff and also a slip to John saying you would come out in June or July and did not desire an answer so that we have been watching the cars every day for you. We have also been to the post office for some word from you but all to no avail therefore we got so uneasy for fear anything has happened you that we now write to know why you did not write to let us know the reason you did not come. You said you would come out with Pooly and family to Quebec. We wrote ?? Quebec but got no answer.

We feel very lonesome since Eliza got married. We have nobody now but Spooner and we were in great hopes you would be company for us this winter but now we have lost all hopes of you coming it has got so late in the season. Eliza was married on the 28th of January and has got a good man. He is a carpenter by trade and keeps five men at work every lawful day. They live in the town and Anne within two miles & a half of it so they are quite convenient to each other. Anne is well and had two daughters. They also are doing well. Her husband has a good farm and they had a good crop this year. Charles is also married in the States. He writes to us very often which is a comfort to us. You mentioned in your letter that Miss Fowler was going to be married but you did not say to whom. Let us know all about it when you write and how Aunt Mary and Mrs Stone is.

Write as soon as you receive this as we will be uneasy until we hear from you . Aunt Anne is wearying for that piece of callico…paper missing….If you come and bring any with you you will not …paper a web. You must cut it in lengths or you cannot bring it. John and family and James and family are well and so are all the friends. We have nothing further of importance to mention. Mary and her mother joins me in sending their love to you and all enquiring friends. No more at present but remains Dear sister yours affectionately Charles Kaine

P. S. Be sure to write soon Very soon as we shall be watching the post office every day for your letter. William Davis is an ordained church of england minister in this country. Mr. Cronan is our bishop. No more from your affectionate Brother C K
Write Soon Very Soon

One can only imagine the anticipation and anxiety felt by the Kaine family members as they met the trains and went to the post office looking for a sign of their beloved Bess only to have their hopes dashed. The patriarch Charles and his wife were now nicely settled in their new home but felt lonely as their children were embarking on lives of their own. Life would have been different if the couple had stayed in their small village of Freshford in Ireland surrounded by family and folks they had known all their lives. They yearned for the connection to their familiar past and news of all the people they left behind. It makes me think with sympathy about the present day situation of the older immigrants who join their families in Canada and are often isolated at home while their children and grandchildren go about their busy lives.

Perhaps we can all appreciate the feelings of loneliness being experienced by Charles and his wife as we persevere through the pandemic which has changed life as we know it. We are cut off from much that is familiar to us and the end is unknown. We must be patient as we wait just as the family was while they waited for Aunt Bess!

Charles was obviously hopeful that Bess would come eventually and bring the goods they wanted from home. He mentioned that “Aunt Anne is wearying for that piece of callico“. Calico was the cloth that the pioneer women used to make their dresses. It was in short supply in North American at the time due to the Civil War in the United States which was devastating the production of cotton.

Life wasn’t easy for America’s pioneers, who migrated westward over rough terrain to settle in rugged, undeveloped areas. Although the pioneers were a diverse group of people with varied background and ethnicities, clothing worn by settlers in the 1840s through the 1860s had many similarities. Rapid changes in weather and the rigors of travel required sturdy, durable clothing. Nothing was wasted and pioneers used old, worn clothing to make quilts or rugs.Women’s garments consisted of dresses made of dark-colored fabrics that didn’t show dirt. Although women usually wore long skirts, pioneer women often wore slightly shorter, ankle-length skirts to keep the hems from the mud and dust. The dresses, which were fastened with buttons or hooks, had snug bodices and high necks. Women usually wore at least one petticoat under the skirt. An apron, either pinafore-style or tied at the waist, was worn to keep the dresses clean.”

3 thoughts on “Letter # 17 September 19, 1864: Write Soon, Very Soon

  1. Thanks, Kerrin. So the mystery of Aunt Bess is still not solved. It is interesting to see how people missed the close knit family and community life in Ireland and your comparison with the pandemic strikes a chord.

    I am reading a novel about Ireland – Troubles by J G Farrell – set in the immediate period after the First World War. It was written in 1970 and the author died young in an accident so wrote only three novels. It’s very good.

    Andree xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved the Waiting for Godot reference and the comparison of the isolation the Kaines in Canada were feeling to what we are experiencing now!!
    Thanks Kerrin.

    Liked by 1 person

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