This is Part VII of an ongoing series of posts based on the family album of Milton Goldsmith, so generously shared with me by his granddaughter Sue. See Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, and Part VI at the links.
On the page following the photographs of his parents Abraham and Cecelia, Milton included a letter written by his mother on November 5, 1857, which, according to Milton, was shortly before their engagement.
Reading this reminded me of what it was like before cheap phone calls and email made handwritten letters obsolete. When my husband and I were dating the year before our engagement, we also wrote letters back and forth. Of course, we were living several hundred miles apart (but still tried to see each other every weekend) whereas Abraham and Cecelia both were living in Philadelphia. But perhaps letters were the only places they had any ability to communicate privately.
Here is Cecelia’s letter:
Some words were cut off on the right margin and at the bottom, but I have tried to transcribe it as best I can and added some punctuation and capitalization for purposes of clarity. Cecelia was a few weeks short of her nineteenth birthday when she wrote this letter, and Abraham was twenty-five.
Phil. Nov. 5th
The few lines you have written to me give me a great deal of pleasure, for informing me of your health & good night’s rest. I passed an excellent night as[?] my cold is a great deal better though I am rather hoarse yet. My Dear, I forgot to give you Henrietta’s [?] shawl last night, but it will and[?] as well tonight. I would send over the boy with it, but I am afraid he can not find the place. I am obliged for sending me the book & will look through it as soon as possible. Come early this evening, if you can.
I remain yours forever,
If you hear of any thing important & have time, write me a note this [?].
If anyone can read it any better than I did, please let me know.
Appropriately, Milton placed the invitation to his parents’ wedding on the page that followed:
Note that the invitation is dated January 1, 1858, for a wedding to take place on January 27, 1858—less than four weeks later. Today it seems that wedding invitations arrive at least two months in advance (often preceded by Save the Date cards). Also, the wedding was to take place at Cecelia’s parents’ home at 440 North Second Street in Philadelphia, not in a fancy catering hall or hotel or resort, as many are these days. Life was so much simpler back then.
But life was also so much harder. Cecelia died less than seventeen years later on November 8, 1874, from apoplexia nervosa, or a stroke. She was only 35 and left behind her husband Abraham and six children ranging in age from Estelle, who was four, to Milton, who was thirteen.