A Westport Man Goes Whaling – and writes many letters home
Posted on April 27, 2008 by Greg Stone
“…I got baptized handsome in the following manner without ceremony. We raised whales and lowered away and the boat that I was in soon got fast and as soon as Tripp struck the whale he struck our boat and stove her and then by way of proving his regard for us beyond a doubt he gave us a parting kiss with his flukes that demolished our boat entirely and spilled us in the drink …being in some degree amphibious we managed to keep bung up and bilge free till the nearest boat…” (letter by Henry T. Pettey to his sister Nancy, sent from Fayal on September 9, 1854).
Henry T. Pettey made two whaling voyages. The first was as a greenhand on the bark Mary Ann out of New Bedford. His lay (or pay) was 1/150 of the voyage’s profits. He sent the letter quoted above after being aboard for a year and a half, whaling in the Atlantic.
He made a second whaling voyage on the Chili, which left New Bedford for the Indian Ocean on August 31, 1856, returning June 8, 1860. This time he was a boatsteerer (harpooner) and his lay was 1/85. This was not a happy voyage for him. He complains to his sister that the captain drinks and ruins the hunt. They are not getting many whales. Henry would leave but wages for home are not good, there is a revolution going on in Chile where he would have to put ashore, and he does not want to ship on another whaler and be out two or three more years so he will stick it out and be home in a year.
Why did he go to sea? Perhaps for the adventure or perhaps to get away from a crowded home. His mother had died when Henry was 11 and his father remarried in 1849 when he was 16 and his sister about 19. His stepmother had a baby while he was at the academy and 3 more children soon followed.
After returning from the voyage on the Chile, Henry married Harriet A. Mosher in June 1861. He continued to write to his sister. The newlyweds lived in Westport where he worked various jobs, mostly associated with the sea. In a letter to his sister in May of 1864, he says he belongs to the Matthew C. Durfee of Fall River, Capt. Sabins. He is the second mate. In 1866 he outfits a boat of his own for sea-weeding. Henry is a witty writer. He speaks of taking his pen in his “bread claw” to write to his sister and often signs his letters “your wicked brother.”
Henry T. Pettey died on March 7, 1900. His grandson Everett Pettey lived on Main Road just north of the Village Commons and his grand-daughter Lois Simon continued the family’s writing tradition, being the author of Woodchips and Sawdust, Whimsies from Westport.
Letters of Henry T. Pettey, 1854-1869
- Monday Feb. 9th
- Fayal, Sat. Sept. 9th 1854
- St. George, Bermuda May 26th 1855
- Fall River, Monday May 5th 1856
- On board bark Chili off Western Islands Sept. 9th ’56
- Talcahuano Friday Feb. 15th ’59
- No.3 Sat. Sept. 3rd ’59
- Westport Aug. 30th ’61
- Westport March 18th ’63
- Westport May 5th ’64
- Westport, Wednes. evening split-timber 6th 18 hundred and (I’ve forgot)
- Westport Monday Sept. 11th ’65
- Westport Sept. 25th ’65
- Westport Sun. Dec. 24th ’65
- Westport Wednes. morn Aug. 22nd ’66
- Westport Dec 19th ’66
- Westport, Friday evening Nov. 1st ’67
- Westport Jan. 5th ’69
I take my pen in hand to inform you of important affairs. I went home Saturday and returned yesterday. Rebecca has got another girl. Mary has left them and Charles cannot get help. He has been at our house after you. He heard of you going toward home and thought you had left for good. He said he would not have Mary without. They were like to suffer and Mary said she would not go. Her Mother said she should not go. So that ended it I suppose. Brother Stephen goes over in the woods and works with his father and grandfather. The school will last only this week. I must bring this letter to a close for time is precious. Excuse my bad writing for I am in a hurry. It is in school time.
Please burn this as soon as you have heard it. I have nothing more to say except that I have found The End
Henry T. Pettey
So. Dartmouth Academy
Feb. The 9th 1852
It is with pleasure that I now take my pen in hand to let you know how I get along. I am in good health and sincerely hope these few lines will find you enjoying the same blessing. We arrived here last night and anchored near the city of Peth, where one man died, and two starved to death. Last spring when we were here I received one letter from Andrew, and that is the only one I got till this morning. This morning I went on board the Leonidas of Westport and got your letter of Feb. 25th. I then went on shore and got 7 more, 1 from Father dated Oct. 15th and 3 from you dated Oct. 12th, Nov. 28th and July 9th. 2 from Andrew dated Oct. 17th and Nov. 28th and 1 from Victoria dated Oct. 3rd. In your letter of Oct. 12th there was some news. Susan’s marriage was so unexpected to me, that it shocked my nerves so that I fear I shall not be able to eat any dinner, but I guess I shall get over it by suppertime. I am so agitated, see how my hand trembles. In your letter of July there was considerable news. Tell Rebecca to go it while she feels like it. I glory in her spunk. I should judge that the high-horn would flourish now. Glory to God in a minute. But the strangest news I have heard yet is about Alfred Snell. Andrew writes that he is raising a noble pair of whiskers two on one side and three on the other. He says they look red and angry. I will now proceed on other matters. I left New Bedford with a light heart in the pilot boat and passed along close to Caleb’s.
I saw the garret window up but nobody stirring … turn over. When we were 4 days out we had some fun in taking 6 blackfish. We got about 80 bbls sp. That season and went to the islands and sent it home. We then started for the river Platte and passed along in sight of the Madeiras and Canarys and at the latter place I saw what you never see. I saw the world on fire in the shape of a volcano. We stopped at the Cape Verdes two or three days and got 20 hogs, a lot of oranges, bananas, cocoa-nuts etc. and then started once more to the S.W. The river Platte is a hard place. It blows a gale of wind half the time and a hurricane the other half. We got 110 bbls. there and then started once more for the western islands. The next day after we raised the islands I got baptized handsome in the following manner without ceremony. We raised whales and lowered away and the boat that I was in soon got fast and as soon as Tripp struck the whale he struck our boat and stove her and then by way of proving his regard for us beyond a doubt he gave us a parting kiss with his flukes that demolished our boat entirely and spilled us in the drink. He then left us at the mercy of the waves but being in some degree amphibious we managed to keep bung up and bilge free till the nearest boat which was about a mile off came and picked us up. Luckily there were none of us hurt.
We have got a little more than one hundred barrels this summer making nearly 300 sp. in all and here we are once more in Fayal harbor. Fayal is one of the places you read about. It abounds in narrow, crooked, filthy streets and pretty girls. I believe there is but one respectable house in the place, and that one nobody lives in. Since I commenced writing I have received two more letters, one from Father dated July 8th >54 and one from Andrew dated June 5th >54. The one that Father sent by Jonathan Chase has gone round into the Indian Ocean I suppose.
Now I must write on some other subject. You wanted me to let you know how I liked whaling. I like whaling first rate but there are a great many things I don’t like. I don’t like to see a Captain half drunk all the time. I don’t like to see officers afraid of a whale for when I pull as hard as I can I want to get a whale when there is a chance. I don’t like to see men used like dogs when they are smarter men than them that use them so. I don’t like to be half starved. I don’t like to eat salt meat right out of the harness cask. I don’t like to see a damned black Portuguese cook. I don’t like Charles Mosher ….. When we were in Fayal last Spring, the Captain discharged our best whaleman Mr. Devol. And Mr. Mosher succeeded him, and he is as much afraid of a whale as he is of the devil. He has not got a whale the voyage, and I don’t think he will. We got a second mate that belonged to western islands. He was a good whaleman but he will go with us no longer. The Captain wrote home last spring, for the owners to send out a good mate to meet him here this fall, and he has come. He came on board this afternoon.
You wrote that Mrs. Anthony was sick but I hope she has recovered again. When you go there again remember my love to them all and tell them I often think of them. Remember my love to father and all the rest of our folks. I shall write father a letter if I have any chance, but I thought I would write to you first as I had not written to you before. I don’t think I shall leave the vessel. I shall not run away. I guess I shall try to live another year here, and I hope our voyages will be about to an end by that time.
I beg your forgiveness for thinking you had forgotten me. I had received but one letter since I sailed and nearly all the rest from around there had received several. We spoke the bark Mattapoisett of Westport and then I expected to get one, but no. Then we spoke the Osceola Capt. George Macomber and not a letter there for me. Then I made up my mind that I was forgotten, and if I had not received one here this fall, I think it might have been some time before you would have seen me again. But I have given up that foolish notion, and ask your forgiveness for unjustly accusing you all. Remember my love to all my old friends, and tell them I should be happy to hear a word from them.
Well I suppose I must bring this to a close soon for I am tired. You must write to me as often as you can and put in all the news and tell father to write to me too. I hope I shall have a chance to write him a letter but I don’t know yet.
P.S. If this does not reach you it must have been miscarried therefore I trust you will write soon and let me know.
Thurs. 14th I don’t think it will be of any use to
send any more letters to be left at Fayal
for this is the last time we shall be here
I suppose. I have written to father.
Write often for
I am still
your wicked brother,
Henry T. Pettey
St. George, Bermuda May 26th 1855
It is with pleasure that I take my pen once more to let you know how I (bevel?) I am well and sincerely hope these few lines will find you the same. I have written one letter to father just before we arrived here and put it on board the ship Milo bound on a straight bee line for New Bedford. We have got 200 bbls. sp. This cruise and I hope we shall get as much next cruise. We have got first rate officers now but the old man is disagreeable enough. And the old woman knows a great deal more than she should know. I asked the old man for my discharge the other day but he would not give it to me. But never mind it is not forever if it is for life. – Look out for me next November for I shall roll along about that time. Tell all the folks how do you do for me. I have been ashore here three days on liberty. It is a small town but I could get anything I wanted. I have had a good time but it is about over now for we shall sail on Monday. I am going on shore tomorrow and going to church for the good of my soul, and to see the pretty girls. I cannot write much today for I was ashore last night and I feel very lazy. Remember me to the girls, and to all our folks. So no more at present.
from your wicked brother
Fall River, Monday May 5th 1856
Having nothing to do and scarcely that I take my pen in my bread-claw to let you know how I get along through this world of trial and scribbulations. I am well and hope these few words will find you the same or more so. I belong to the schooner Daniel Brown and I suppose we shall sail today for Alexandria after a load of coal. I have been one trip in her and I like the business very well. I am right from Peleg’s with my head full of fun. I left home this morning with a blessing ringing in my ear. Father begins to think that I am a very wild youth and I think he is not the only one of the same opinion but I can’t help for I am bound to blow if I don’t sell a clam. Terrible times in Westport washing sheep all of a lightning there has been three baptisings and there will be another one in two weeks more. Terrible times at wild Edmund’s. Mary has got spliced, Edmund’s gates get blown away and Olly’s old goose won’t set and Daniel is courting Charlotte White.
But I am too lazy to write much more. You must write me a letter in about three weeks and send it to Fall River. I forgot to write how all our folks were but I believe they are all well except for the boys. They cough nicely yet. Uncle Benjamin has been quite sick but he has got quite well again now. I have only just strength enough left to write
On board bark Chili off Western Islands Sept. 9th ’56
With pleasure I take my pen in my hand to write you a few hurried lines to let you know how I am getting along. I am well at present and always expect to be and hope these few lines will find you the same and in better spirits than you was the last time I saw you.
I have wrote one letter to father a few weeks ago and I intended to write him another now but I don’t think I shall have a chance for times are very busy now. We have taken two whales one small one and one large one. We sent the small one home in the Malta Capt. King and the other we shall land at the islands.
I suppose we shall cruise on the river Platte again this winter and if we do pretty well we shall go into St. Helena in the spring. I want you to write a letter and send there and if we don’t go there it won’t be any harm. I want you to write how you felt after you got through crying that day. I think you felt better. You must tell our folks that I had not a chance to write to them. I cant write any more at present. You must excuse bad writing for I am in a hurry so good bye
Talcahuano Friday Feb. 15th ’59
It is with pleasure that I now take my pen in hand, to write you a few lines, to let you know how and where I am. As to where I am, I am here or nowhere every time, as to how I am, I am sick and have been for a long time: not in body, for I am tough and hearty as ever: nor in mind, for that is reposing in a state of perfect tranquility for I have made up my mind to take things as they come. Neither am I lovesick (although I had a pretty girl off here to see me today) but I am sick of this voyage. We have done nothing yet, and never shall while the Captain can get rum. He is a drunken swab, a soft headed ignoramous, a confounded hog, and everything else that is mean or contemptible. In short, he is a regular nondescript. But enough of this, so now for the news. We arrived here yesterday and I received two letters from you, No. 13 and N. 15 the first letters I have received from you this voyage; I was so glad that I thought I would stop on board tonight and write one to you. Last August I got four out of the Greyhound from Father, Andrew, Talmin and Victoria. They were written about nine months after I sailed, and they were the first and only letters I have got until yesterday. In the letter that I got from Father, written nine months after I sailed, I found out that you, and he, had each written several times and then I made up my mind that I would write to you; but now the time is come for me to act, I don’t know what to write; so I guess I wont trouble you to read any more bad writing until you come to the next page.
In No. 15 that you wrote about the first of November you wrote that you had not put in much news in that letter, and I have got it, so I want you to write one more letter and not put anything in it at all, and I shall be sure to get that also. I believe you wanted me to write how much oil we had taken this voyage altogether. We have shipped home 250 bbls.sp. And we have got 300 bbls.sp on board and nearly 150 bbls blackfish. We should have 1000 bbls. By this time, if the Captain had been half a man but he stays on board the ship, and heads all four boats at the same time and that is more than any two men can do well. But the worst of all is, every time we see whales he gets drunk and spoils the whole. We have seen a good chance to get 500 bbls. This cruise and not half try but it is as it is, and we have got only 185 bbls. We had some fun with one whale this cruise; there were eight vessels after him before we struck, but only four had boats down. There had been seven boats chasing him about five hours, before we lowered, and after we lowered four boats, another vessel lowered three more, making in all 14 boats to one [email protected] But strange to say the God-forsaken old Chili got him after all. He made us 110 bbls. Our officers have been good fishermen, and our boatsteerers have been good all the voyage thus far, if I have been one of them, but I expect there will be a breaking up in this port. I would leave if I could, without running way, but the times are too hard here just at present to do that. Board is 4 dollars per week, and wages for home are only 10 or 12 dollars per month; so I don’t think it will pay very well to run away, and wait for a chance to ship for home and I don’t like the idea of shipping on board another whaler, for two or three years, more or less, and to think of stopping ashore here any length of time at present would be folly, for the country is in a rank state of revolution. So I think the best thing I can do, is to stick by the ship, oil or no oil. It will be only one year longer, before she will be here again on her way home. And who knows perhaps we shall have better luck next year, too. But I must change the subject, and give you a little advise, and I have grown so steady of late and self-conceited withal, that I think my advice will be god. Don’t be too hard on poor Leonard. Remember, a broken heart is worse to mend than a stocking. And remember also that you are neither young, nor handsome enough, for a coquette. The sun of thirty-two summers will soon have done its work for you, and then the Rubicon will be passed and you will be an old maid. Poor Leonard! I expect he sleeps cold these long winter nights. Tell him I pity him, but I cant cry without rubbing an onion in my eyes, and I cant spare time to do that, neither do I feel inclined to do it. If you see Peleg’s girls, tell them clothing is on the rise this side of land, and that I intended to sell off a certain part of the ready made that I have on hand. Frank got two letters yesterday and one of them said that Hannah Rhoda was sick and had been all summer. It was written in December. I have heard a great deal about hard times around there; why did you not write something about it or was you afraid it would keep me from coming home if I had a chance. I’ll bet it wouldn’t. I suppose you think that I don’t hear anything that is gong on around there, but you are mistaken. I have seen a New Bedford paper this side of land only twenty days old and we get them quite often not more than a month or two old. You must write all the news when you do write. I have seen a number of my old schoolmates around here from both Westport and Dartmouth, and got lots of news, and seen lots of miniatures that made me almost feel homesick. But I must bring this to a close for the present, until the next steamer arrives, in hopes that I shall get more letters. There is one mail behind now, caused by this confounded revolution. Tell all the folks how do you do for me; and if you find any body that has not forgot me, give them a dollar. Excuse bad writing, and me too for the present for it is past 8 o’clock and my lamp does not give a very good light, and I am getting tired and sleepy. So good bye, for I am off for the land of Nod.
(Lead on McDuff where Morpheus points the way)
You need not write any letters
after the 15th of January 1860
I now take my pen to finish this epistle, or whatever you call it. The steamer has arrived but no letters for me. There is two or three mails that have been detained or lost, I don’t know which, on account of this revolution, that is raging throughout all Chili. I don’t know as I can think of anything more to write at present, and if I could this letter would not hold it but this letter is a pretty long one, and you must try to be satisfied for the present. I shall send this by a man bound home in a ship. It will be the surest way but perhaps not the quickest. All letters that you write to me previous to the first of August, direct to be left at Payti, Peru. All after that to Talcahuano.
It is with pleasure that I now take my pen, to write you a few lines, to let you know how I get along. I am well and hearty, and hope that these few lines will find you the same. We left Tombez this morning bound for Payti after letters. I don’t know as I shall get any, but I hope I shall. If I do get any I shall like to read them before I write to you. But after we get to Payti I shall not have time to write, for we shall not anchor there, so I shall write now. I saw Jerome Tripp last night, and a lot more Westporters, among them was Robert Tripp, Holder Crapo, and Perry Brightman. I hope I shall see some more in less than ten months. I hope I shall get a letter from you in Payti, for I want to know if you have profited by the good advice I gave you in my last letter. I hope you are Ahopefully converted,@ as the ministers used to say. Think of that awhile and then turn over and look at the next page.
We have got 275 bbls. this cruise and got in port about six weeks sooner than we calculated, on account of mutiny. We went into Tombez with thirteen off duty; but if it don’t make us to soon to get our letters it is all right. I head a boat now and have for the last five months. I cant write much more at present, but if I get ashore in Payti, and find a letter there from you, perhaps I shall put in a few more words. If you see any body that inquires about me, give them a cent and send them on their way rejoicing. I have written a letter to father today. I want you to write me a letter to Talcahuano, and put it in the post office by the first of January. I don’t think I shall write from Talcahuano, for if I do I shall be home almost as soon as the letters will; so you may expect to hear nothing more from me till you see me, and then you will hear a whole ever so much. Give my love to all my old friends, the girls in particular. Look out for me about the 15th of June. I have not written a very long letter but you can read it over twice, and it will answer the same purpose as a longer one. I cant write any more now, for it is supper time, and I am both tired and hungry.
So good bye from
Wednes. 7th at Payti
I have received one letter from you dated June 30th No. 16 and one from Victoria but I have not had time to red either so good bye.
I take my pen to write you a few lines in answer to your kind letter. I cannot write so much so I shall use a small sheet. I have got a sore thumb so you must excuse bad writing. I am sorry you have not got a good place to work and so is Hattie. She cried about it the other night after I read your letter. We are both well and pretty good spirits. I have been at work down at Goodfellows for the last week and have not got through yet, digging and stoning a new barn cellar. Hattie and I have sold about $5 wroth of berries and got six quarts dried besides. Some that we have not picked yet. Hattie has been out a nursing two days this week up to Fred Devols. Hannah Rhods has had a child too, but it was dead. We intend to go to housekeeping about the last of October and then if you cant get enough to eat any where else come and stay with us. I have always had enough ever since I had left Potters and that that was enough for me. Hattie is a good cook although we did have some poor johnnycakes the night that you took supper with us. O dear I don’t know what else to write. I have not got on my thinking cap, but I guess I will light my pipe and then turn over.
I don’t know of any place around here that you could get a chance to work. O Hattie and I have a notion of going down to the horseneck on Sunday. I wish you were here to go with us but I suppose you would not like to go Sunday. I don’t think of any thing more to write at present. Keep up good courage and drink of plenty of sour milk. Write when you have a chance and I will do the same, perhaps I shall write much more next time but I think I have written as much now as you can find out in a while but you must excuse bad writing for I pinched my thumb the other day and it hurts it worse to write than it does to build cellar walls. Good bye.
I take this opportunity to write you a few lines, to let you know how we are all getting along. We are all well especially Nelly. I received your letter last night, and I thought I would answer it this morning and let you know that we have got to move. I want you to write as soon as you get this, to let us know what to do with your things, whether we shall take them with us or leave them with some of the neighbors. I don’t know whether Pardon will stay here or not. I suppose they will stay here till the first of April anyway. I don’t know where I shall move too. I have not looked around any yet, for I did not know that I had got to move till last night. Hattie wants to go to Fall River, and I don’t know but I shall, for I intend to go coasting this summer and if I do it will be handy. O I must write you a little news, your old beau Leonard has got a boy; or rather his girl has; and Rebecca Crow has got another. Sarah Tripp or Coggeshall has got another boy, and Julia Nye has got a girl.
Ben Howard is sick, and Nat Tripp has got a touch of the hydrophobia I think. Nelly is a pretty good girl, fat as a seal, and weighs 21 2 lbs. Hattie is at work, scouring tin ware, getting ready for moving. I don’t think of much more to write at present, only you must come and see us when we get settled down again. Be sure to write as soon as you receive this so that we shall know what your wish is concerning your things. If you want us to take them with us, we will do so.
P.S. I wish you would come over between now and the 25th if you can make it convenient.
I now take my pen to write you a few lines to let you know a few things. The first is this is devlish poor paper. The next is we are all well except Hattie. She had an attack of overflowing of the eyes last night, caused by a man coming after me to go coasting. And thirdly as the ministers say, I shall speak of your letter which I received this morning. As for Leander Thomas I never saw him but once as I know of, but I remember him, and I guess the Westport Pointers remember him too. He was down to the Point last Christmas to the shooting match, and the way he hit the turkeys was a caution: he would take me almost every time. As for setting your cap, I think you would stand a pretty good chance, for if you should not catch the father, you might catch the son. Fourthly and lastly I am in a hurry and must bring this to a close by telling you that I am going off in two or three days, second mate of the schr. Matthew C. Durfee of Fall River. Capt. Sabins for $33 per month.
Harriet sends her love and Annie’s and I will send Nellie’s
No more at present
from your wicked brother
Westport, Wednes. evening split-timber 6th 18 hundred and (I’ve forgot)
Your favor of the 31st has arrove. I received it last Saturday night just in time to read it before I went to sleep, for, be it understood, I had been in bed some time. I take my pen this evening to scratch a few lines in answer to it.
Hat is about sick; got a touch of dysentery and I am afraid the baby is going to have it. She has been about sick all day. Hat has been sick ever since last Friday and I do the housework all but the washing. I cant go that no how. I arrive home a week ago last Saturday about sick. I was about sick nearly all of last trip, and I thought I would stay at home and recruit up some. I have had Dr. Kidder to me three times, and he had got me patched up about as good as new, only not quite so stout yet. Turn over. I am going to.
We received that dress that you sent out by Lydia before we got your letter. Your poplin dress is not here, at least so Hattie says, and I suppose she knows. I have drove my ink to water and I guess it will work a little bit better now. I asked Hat what word she wanted to send you, and all the answer I could get was a grunt. Poor creature she has not slept but a very little for the last three or four nights, and she is sleeping so good now that I will not disturb her, but I will venture to send her love to you. You will find it wrapped up with mine. It is quite sickly around here. Grandmother Olive was down here Sunday, and she said Lizzie Pettey was about sick with the diarrheia or dysentery I have forgot which. I have not been up that way any where since I have been home; for as soon as I got smart Hat was taken sick and so it goes. I should have answered your letter before, but I have been busy about all the time and now I have got it written I don’t know how to direct it but I will send it to New Bedford any way and perhaps you will get it. I don’t think of any more to write this time so I will bring this epistle to a close. Write again soon and let me know whether you get this or not, and if you don’t get it I will write another and come and bring it. No more at present so good bye
From your Wicked brother
Henry T. Pettey
P.S. If you can read this, all right, but if you cant, – bring it over sometime and I will read it to you if I can; but I don’t know as I can, for I did not write it to read myself; if I had I should have written better
H. T. Pettey
Westport Monday Sept. 11th ’65
I take my pen to let you know that little Lizzie is dead. She died last night about 10 o’clock. The funeral will be tomorrow afternoon. Come if you can.
I received your kind letter this evening and now hasten to answer it. I am well, but the rest are all about sick. The next morning after you were here I sent for Dr. White for Nelly and he came the rest of that week. She is a little better now but so weak that she don’t sit up but a little while at a time and if she tries to walk she staggers like a drunken man. Her appetite begins to come now and I think she will be quite smart in a few days. Anna is worse off than Nelly is now but the Dr. Said today that the symptoms were better. Her fever has nearly left her but the bowel complaint hangs on yet and she has not eat a half dozen mouthfuls for the last five days. The both had the dysentery. Hattie has been about sick ever since you were here, being broke of her rest so much is almost too much for her, and if I had not been at home to look out for her and keep her as still as possible I think she would have been down sick, perhaps with a fever again as she was last winter. But I have coaxed some and scolded some, and with a little doctoring thrown in she just about holds her own.
Grandmother Judith was down and spent the day with us last Thursday. I suppose you know that Wilkinson Tripp is dead. He had the dysentery. His widow is very sick with it now and Charles’ baby too. Holder Whites wife died this morning, she had been sick some time I believe, but I don’t know what the matter was. I dont think of any thing more to write this time so I will bring this to a close. Write when you can and oblige
Henry T. Pettey
I wish you a merry Christmas.
I take my pen to write you a few lines just to let you know that we are all well B and hoping this will find you the same. I have heard nothing from you for a long time, but I suppose it is my own fault, for I think you wrote last. I have heard that Peckham’s wife was very sick. I suppose you know that grandmother Judith fell and broke her wrist. Perhaps you have seen her. She has been over to Bedford sometime but she has got home now, and smart enough so that can knot. Christopher Briggs’ wife has got a pair of twins; weighed 10 lbs. Andrew Earl has got married to a Fall River lady by the name of Bush. Adrain Tripp is also married to a German woman, so I have heard. Anna Cornells’ beau has got home and I suppose there will be another wedding now. O dear! I don’t know what else to write unless I tell you that it rains slightly very much. O I heard that the place where Pardon and Melissa live is for sale. Vic has been about sick but she has got better. Andrew is getting better but I don’t know whether it will be lasting or not. Hat sends her love to you and says she would like to see you over here. She says she will pay you for that dress when she sees you. Come over when you can, and when you cant come, write.
Nellie has got so that she can read a little. I got her a primer and she learns fast for one of her age.
Come when you can and write often. No more at present
from your brother
Henry T. Pettey
Westport Wednes. morn Aug. 22nd ’66
I take my pen this morning while it is raining to answer the letter that you wrote a fortnight ago. We are all well at present but the baby has been sick so that we had the doctor once. He was threatened with a fever. I should have written before but I have never thought of it when I have had any chance. I have got me a boat and I have been busy day and night fitting her up for seaweeding. I had to make two new sails and various other things too numerous to mention. I went down Saturday for the first time after a load, and I saw Potter and Stephen down there, very free to talk. Hat sends her love to you and says she hopes you take lots of comfort housekeeping. O Nancy Kirby or Nancy Knowland has got a boy most a week old. I dont think of much more to write at present. Nellie has picked and sold 31 cts worth of berries. Vic and Zeal were down here week ago Sunday. I am in such a hurry that I cant think of anything to write so good bye. Write when you can. Please excuse this short letter. I will try to do better next time.
Henry T. Pettey
I have got hold of my pen at last, but I dont know how long I shall keep hold of it; not long I guess by the way it writes. So here goes for another one. I recd. your letter some time this winter but so long ago that I am ashamed to look at the date and I thought I would sit down this evening and answer it. We are all well as usual, or a little more so, and hope you are the same. I am busy chopping most of the time; once in a while I go eeling; the last time I went I caught about half a barrel, a little over 38 doz. Now I must tell you what Hat is up to. She is up to her eyes in business tying a comforter; and she says she wishes you were here to help her. Hat says she wishes you a merry Christmas. Nellie is waiting very impatiently for the night for old Santa Claus to come around. She thinks she shall get her stocking full of peanuts etc. Willie has got so that he stands alone without holding on to something. We killed a pig this fall that weighed 235 lbs. O I must tell you a little news. Ezariah Tripp’s wife has got another baby, but I have not heard what it is, nor whether she has been to the poor-house, or intends to go there or not; time will show I suppose – ho-hum. We have not seen Vic since we received your letter. Stephen Cornell that lived down by Uncle Gilbert’s will be buried tomorrow and grandmother Olive’s sister Susan or Suzy as they generally call her is very sick if living. Stoppage I believe. Hat says come over to Christmas. She says you need not be afraid if Willie is about ten months old for she shall not send out yet. I dont think of anything more to write at present so good bye. Come over and see me and
Westport, Friday evening Nov. 1st ’67
Dear Sister I take my pencil to scratch a few lines to let you know that we are all kicking except Hat, and she is too tired to kick much tonight. We killed our pigs yesterday and Hat has worked till she is tired enough. I send you a spare-rib and if there should happen to be more than you can eat before it will spoil you can salt it or put it in brince and it will keep as long as you want it to. The pigs weighed 359 lbs.
We got your letter the next day after it was written. Hat says tell you that we have made 40 lbs of sausage. Nellie says tell you to come over for she wants to see you. If the box is left there you can send it out by James. Perhaps you will see him there next week for I think I shall send you some cabbage by him for I have got a nice lot of them. No more at present so
I take my pen to write you a few lines to let you kow how things are over this way. We are all well and hope these few lines will find you the same. I suppose that it will be useless for me to try to write you any news for you hear more about things that transpire in Westport than I do. I have not heard a word about mothers present only what you wrote about it. I suppose you have heard about Mary Peckams boy. I have got my cellar done and pointed up down some below the ground so it is warm. I have heard of Charley Spooners death and his grandfathers too. Hat has got 24 yds. of carpet wove and 10 yds. more to weave when she gets the rags. She wants to sell 20 yds if she can find a purchaser. Nellie says she would like to see you. We are all pining away here. We were weighed today. I weighed 166 lbs. Hat poor thing only weighed 162. Nellie 67 and Willie 31. I must now tell you about something serious; very serious. Yesterday one of Hats old beaus come here, one that she had not seen since about the time that she was married. Now you cant guess who it was or what his business was but I will tell you for it was concerning you muchly. His name was Christopher R. Gifford and this is his wedding card. Nancy Petty But now to business. He came here urged on by Abner and Rebecca Petty and Charles Davis another of your beaus to get us to write to you and pop the question. He said he commenced a letter himself but he gave it up in despair for he said he did not know anything about writing love letters. He has been married once but found out that his wife had got two or three husbands beside himself and all living so he got a divorce over a year ago and now he wants a wife that will love him and go heart and hand with him (and touch firelocks. I suppose but he did not say so.)
He wants somebody to take hold and pull with him to hoe one row and he will hoe the rest. He has got a cow he says. He has sold $32 worth of butter in 4 months. He has got 2 pigs and about 30 hens and 4 roosters. Year before last he made about $400 catching oysters and fish. I cant remember 1/10 part that he said. He was here two hours or more and I guess he talked some. He said if it would please you to become his wife it would be very pleasing to him indeed. He wants you to write an answer but not a hasty one; he wants you to take time to consider; but he hopes the answer will be favorable and he wants it in two or three weeks certain. He is coming here for his answer and Hat promised him that he should see the letter himself so you must be careful what you write. Perhaps you had better write it separate and enclose in the same wrapper. But if your answer should be unfavorable dont hurt his feelings too bad for he is clever as the day is long.
Hat says you must give her an invitation to the wedding. You ought to have seen him when he went away. He went off on three legs tickled with himself and all the world. Hat says he looks 5 years younger than he did when she saw him before. Hat says she thinks something will be done now for last night she dreamed you had a-a-a-a-a baby.
I dont think of any more to write tonight and I dont know as you can read what I have wrote or rather scratched, so I guess I will close. Write soon but there is no need of my writing that I hope what I have written will not keep you awake much. No more at present so good night
from your brother
Henry T. Pettey