The last letter I shared from Ann’s husband, James Fraser to Aunt Bess was written in 1862 when he was a newly wed. https://acompellinglifeblog.wordpress.com/2020/08/19/letter-9-march-30-1862-anns-man-has-no-news

As previously, James is brief in his communication but he gets his point across in this letter in his rather formal and flowery way of writing, “we were led to believe that long ere now we might dispense with letters and deliver our communications verbally but since you have not made up your mind to brave the billions of the broad Atlantic we will still hope to see you safe among us in possession of your health God permits.

The phrase “the billions of the broad Atlantic” is very descriptive and indicates that he understands why Aunt Bess might be fearful to embark on the journey to be with her family.

Letter from James Fraser to Aunt Bess February 17, 1865

20 Kaine Letter February 17, 1865

Transcribed from the original by Kerrin Churchill January 4, 2020 James Fraser to Miss Elizabeth Keane  (Aunt Bess) from Morris to Freshford, Kilkenny, Ireland

Dear Aunt

There has been a break in our correspondence so soon after its commencement occasioned by letters sent to you by your friends there by which we were led to believe that long ere now we might dispense with letters and deliver our communications verbally but since you have not made up your mind to brave the billions of the broad Atlantic we will still hope to see you safe among us in possession of your health God permits. Our winter is very severe this season and snow is deep and as we have to feed our cattle the feed is scarce. I suppose it would amuse you to see horses and sleighs passing over the frozen snow at a speed far exceeding that of a wagon in summer but still it is very useful in its way. When you come to America I will give you a sleigh ride to try how you would like it. I have not much news of any importance to communicate. 

Write soon. I remain yours

James Fraser

The Farmers Home Winter 1863 Currier and Ives

James apologized for not writing sooner as he was expecting to see her in person. I can imagine James looking out the window of his farm house on a cold snowy February day wondering what to write to Aunt Bess, a woman so far away who he has never met. He shared that he is worried about feeding his cattle due to the harsh winter.

Perhaps a horse drawn sleigh was passing by and gave him an idea. Aunt Bess would not have seen such a sight in Freshford as Ireland has a temperate climate and snow is rare in the south. Definitely not enough for a horse and sleigh! He wondered if she might find it fun and offered to give her a ride when she comes to “America”. A reminder that Canada’s Confederation would not happen for two more years!

3 thoughts on “Letter #20 February 17, 1865: Let Me Take You on a Sleigh Ride

  1. I can say from experience that the Canadian winter is a shock to a European and in the 19th century immigrants from Freshford, Ireland, must have found it hard to endure, especially when they had animals to feed as well. Perhaps it wasn’t just the Atlantic that was keeping Aunt Bess at home! The mystery thickens as to whether she will ever make it to America.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the way you inhabit the characters and vividly imagine them for us with James, a man of few words, not knowing what to say to Aunt Bess possibly seeing a horse and sleigh passing by and discovering something to add to his letter. Also love the artwork of the period that you’ve added bringing the story further to life for us.

    Liked by 1 person

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