MARY EDITH RAFF LETTERS
The following letters, which accompany the Mary Edith Raff diary were written and transcribed by Elaine Rathmann, of Davenport, Iowa.
Elaine's notes: My grandmother, Mary Edith Raff Bell, died in 1968. I've had a large box of her effects since that time and about 3 months ago decided to go through it more thoroughly than I ever had before. In it I rediscovered a diary she had kept from 1911-1914, while teaching school in Muscatine, and many letters, cards and photos. I transcribed the diary and over 60 letters and postcards, some which were written at the time of the diary, many others dating from 1861 to 1923 or so. I have donated the diary to the Scott and Muscatine County pages. The diary includes over 100 Muscatine and Scott County surnames, many business names and events in both counties and a written view of a school marm's life from 1911-1914. In the meantime, I thought I'd post some of the letters and postcards that did not accompany the diary, as they might be of historical interest to some.
1861 A.K. Raff Poem to "Frank"
Typed verbatim. This poem was written by my G grandfather, A. K. Raff, who fought for the OVVI 19th Ohio in the Civil War. He was from Canton, Ohio. Frank was a nickname for his cousin, Frances Raff, with whom he was raised from the time he was seven yrs. old. He was very close to her and I'm sure thought of her more as a sister. She lived in Davenport, Iowa.
The following letter was written by my G grandmother, Ella Sanders, to her sister, Julia. Ella was 12 years old at this time. The Sanders lived in Davenport. I don't know why sister Julia was not at home and, unfortunately, there was no envelope included. It is typed verbatim.
Davenport, Jan. 13, 1861
Dear sister Julia,
We have not received your letter as usual on Thursday evening this week. I do not have much time to write to you on Sundays because it gets dark so soon and now I write some every day on a slate and copy it off on paper on Sunday. Our girl Sophie is sick and has gone away, she went away Wednesday to her sisters down in Duch town and now and Carrie and I do the work. Sophie sent a girl up to get her clothes and she said she would send us a girl but she has not come yet. She came up in the evening again to get her money ma has paid her any money since she came here, so she gave her fifteen dollars. We have engaged another girl she is coming tomorow. Aunty got a letter from you yesterday, We got your letter Friday instead of Thursday evening. We all went up to Aunt Lesslie New Years day, Mr. and Mrs. Rumbold, Mr. and Mrs. Chatterton and the two youngest children Mr. and Mrs. Patten Mr. Crag, and Maggie and Johney, Mr. Gray and Johney and Willie, and grandpa and grandma, were all up there. Aunty gave me a book its name is the Oakland Stories. I am reading it to ma in the evenings. She gave George and Carrie each a book. Grandma gave us all some candy. Aunty gave Carrie and I two little tin rocking chairs just large enough to put in the play house, Charlie got a little box of soldiers and a book. We went to the Sunday school the day before New Years to get our books. Maggie Crag got the prise, the Pollie Hibberd got the next, Frank Reed the next and I the next. I got a testament something like that little one of yours only it had a clasp. George got a book named the Harvey Boys and Carrie got a book named Learning to Think. Charlie got a Bible Dictionary. Your name was read out but ma did not get any book for you because there was not enough to go around. John our good old horse is dead he died a week ago Mr. Hibberd had him at the time. I am going to send you a piece of poetry which I wrote one afternoon for Carrie because she likes her kitten so much and ma told me to send it to you. It is not very good but I guess it will do. I must stop now or I wont have time to write those verses.
1861 Two Poems
The following poems were found with my G grandfather, Almon Keeler Raff's, effects. They were written on one sheet of stationary. The handwriting is tiny, very ornate and exquisitely beautiful and, except for the title of the first poem, quite legible. (Although I confess my bifocals were not up to the task in spots and I had to get out the magnifying glass! The second word of the first poem's title looks like "Queechy". (A nickname?) Only the first poem is signed and dated. I'm wondering if they were treasured copies by a published poet, or if someone named "Fleda" wrote them for him before he went off to the Civil War. If anyone recognizes them, please let me know!
"Merrily sang the crickets forth
1864 A.K. Raff Letter to "Frank"
Letter from my G grandfather, Almon Keeler Raff, to his cousin Frank (Frances) Raff Ebi in Davenport. He must have disliked his first name because he always went by his middle name, Keeler, or a nickname, Marty. This letter is typed verbatim.
Camp plenty, Camp beauty.
Sept. 20th, 1864
1869 Love Letter
The following is a courtship letter from my G grandfather, Almon Keeler Raff, to his lady love, my G grandmother, Ella Sanders, who lived in Davenport. He was in the farm implement business ca 1870, and his work included sales calls throughout the Midwest. Ah, love!
1893 A.K. Raff Letter
Letter from Almon Keeler Raff to his cousin Frances (Frank) Ebi in Davenport. Almon was a farm implement dealer and found himself in Nebraska at Christmastime. Almon's daughter, Nellie, was dying slowly of consumption. Almon's wife, Ella, apparently did not want any help in nursing her, or running the household and had turned Almon's sister, Frank, away when she showed up in Muscatine to help out. In this letter, Almon is trying to smooth things over with his cousin.
Fremont Neb Dec. 23, 1893
1893 Ella Raff Letter
In this letter, my G grandmother, Ella Sanders Raff, refers to the aborted visit made by her husband, Almon Keeler Raff's, cousin Frank (Frances Ebi) a few days before. Frank had taken the train from Davenport to see if she could help out, but Ella sent her back home after a short visit. (See A. K. Raff letter posted yesterday.) She describes her daughter Nellie as being "quiet" and "growing thinner each day". Nellie had been sick with consumption for a long time.
Muscatine Dec. 25th, 1893
1894 Ella Raff Letter to Frank
Recap: The last letter posted was written on Christmas Day, 1893, by my G grandmother, Ella Sanders Raff. My G grandfather, Almon Keeler Raff, was somewhere in western Iowa selling his farm implements and didn't expect to get home until mid February, if lucky. Ella was home alone in Muscatine with the three kids, the eldest, Nellie, was dying slowly of consumption. The rest of Ella's family lived in Davenport.
Muscatine Feb. 8th, 1894
Marie Antoinette Sanders letter to her daughter about 5 weeks after Nellie died.
Davenport, March 19, '94
My dear Ella,
1900 A.K. Raff Postcard
Mary Edith Raff, 17 years old, was visiting friends in Davenport. She had been gone awhile and her family and friends in Muscatine were getting lonesome for her.
Muscatine July 11, 1900
My Dear Edith,
1903 A.K. Raff Letter
At this time, A K Raff was the Muscatine City Recorder. He is writing to his cousin Frances, ("Frank") in Davenport and speaks of his uncertainty of remaining in office at the end of his term. The letter is written on City of Muscatine stationary and lists those who held office at that time. Mary Edith was doing her teaching internship in Muscatine. Information in ( ) mine.
On the top left of the stationary:
Muscatine, Iowa, October 23d, 1903
1903 A.K. Raff Tribute Letter
Recap: The following letter was found in my grandmother, M. Edith Raff's, effects. Her father was Capt. A. K. Raff, who was City Recorder for Muscatine, Iowa. On October 30, 1903, while at work at City Hall, he suddenly threw his arms up in the air and collapsed dead over his desk. The letter is typed verbatim.
Missouri Ridge Nov. 11, 1903
Mrs. A K Raff and Family
I have just received the sad intelligence of Capt. Raff's death and I hasten to express to you my heartfelt sympathy. I sorrow and grieve with you in this hour of great affliction . Capt. Raff (Marty as we formerly called him) was for four years my warmest friend and chum and a part of the time my bunkie and during that time I learned to love him for the many good qualities he possessed. The end of the war separated us and during the past thirty eight years I met him but twice and at each time we renewed our old time friendship with a cordiality that only the soldier boys of 1861 can experience.
8-18-1907 Ella Raff Letter
Background: M. Edith Raff was in Cedar Falls, Iowa, getting ready to start teacher's training. Her mother, Ella Sanders Raff, wrote her the following letter, which is typed verbatim.
Muscatine August 18th, 1907
8-23-1907 Ella Raff Letter
Background: Letter written by Ella Sanders Raff to daughter who is attending Cedar Falls Teachers College.
Muscatine Aug. 23, 1907
Additional writing on the first page in the top margin: "Let me know when I can look for you home. Gertrude McNutt is in Davenport attending a house party of little girls at Lafferty's.
7-7-1908 Ella Raff Letter
Background: Ella is writing to Edith who is in Cedar Falls Teachers College. In the letter, Ella refers to Frank (Frances) and Monroe Ebi, Ella's sister, Julia Sanders.
Muscatine July 7th, 1908
Written sideways on top margin of first page: You say nothing about your health how are you and how are you sleeping.
7-12-1908 Ella Raff Letter
Another letter to Edith in Cedar Falls. Ella refers to her son Fred (Alfred Raff) and others, including Carl, who was Edith's very good friend.
Muscatine July 12th, 1908
6-20-1909 Ella Raff Letter
Edith is at the Cedar Falls, Iowa, Teachers College and her mother writes to her of friends and events in Muscatine and Davenport.
Muscatine June 20th 1909
Your post card and letter were gladly received as also the news that you arrived all right and were enjoying yourself. I invested in new paper and pen so as to be ready for writing to both you and Fred (Edith's brother) this afternoon when I knew I would feel lonesome. Now they are in good condition the ink seems pale, you will need glasses to read this I fear.
It does not seem as though I have done much of anything since you left-I felt pretty well tired out. Friday was spent at the church as the society had an all day meeting. In the evening of that day the ladies came to see me. Mrs. Day, Durkee, and Lillibridges. Yesterday Sarah Hawley and her mother were here a while in the afternoon, she was at the church for dinner on Friday, too so you see she is getting quite spry. Carl is spending today in Davenport as I expect you know. I have received several letters since you left, one from Fred. I will give you his new address 6330 Greenwood Ave. He says he and Jo (Ella's cousin Josephine Sanders) have fine rooms and wanted me to tell you to write him or drop a post card and you should have a box of butter chocolates. I had too quite a long letter from Mrs. Jameson which I must answer right away for she is so homesick, she says little Hugh and she cry a great deal over it. They have had quite a little attention shown them there but still they have not yet become reconciled, the living is much higher and the house does not suit. Her health is not much improved from what it was here and Ruth has whooping cough, so she is not through with all her troubles yet.
You knew dident you that the Y.M.C.A. has called Mr. Mitchell back here again to take Mr. Jamesons place. Then too I had a letter from Carrie, (Ella's sister, Caroline Elizabeth Sanders) instead of going farther west she is coming east, will reach here Wednesday or Thursday and said she would stay a few weeks with me while you are away. Of course I will be glad to see her but it means I will not get to go anywhere this summer. I was planning to live very economically while you were away and save something perhaps for a trip somewhere. Carrie says that Jo has been trying to persuade her to come back east and wants her to come to Chicago and she will try to get some thing for her to do.This is a lovely day although rather warm. I had your Sunday school class and will likely have to keep it while you are away. It is a fine class and ought to have a regular teacher to keep it together and influence them for good, they were almost all present and one new one besides.
Mrs. Kent fell down the high terrace at their home and has injured herself quite severely. Mrs. Barr's funeral took place today.
I will enclose a clipping in regard to our excursion which has just been decided upon. The Methodists have one this week, the Congregationalists next week but the crowd will wait for the Baptists.
Written in margin at top of first page: A couple of pair of those tan hose are good if I can dye them a good color will send them if you wish.
1864 A.K. Raff Letter Civil War
Partial letter from my G grandfather, Lieut. A. K. Raff, to his cousin Frank (Frances) Raff Ebi in Davenport. After the war A. K. Raff came to Davenport and started a farm implement business with his brothers-in-law, Monroe Ebi and C. C. Cock.
Camp 19th O.V.V.I.*
Dear Cousin Frank,
7-28-1908 Ella Raff Letter
Recap: This letter is from Ella Sanders Raff to her daughter, Edith, who is attending the Cedar Falls Teachers College.
Muscatine June 28th, 1908
Dear Edith,I have been out to Hutchinson's for dinner and now it is five oclock so will have to hurry in getting a letter written you this afternoon. Everything is so nice out there, I especially enjoy the porch parlor in hot weather, and also the chicken we had for dinner and Rickie's good bread. I have been very glad to get your letters and also the cards you have sent, did you get a couple of post cards I sent? I have such a pretty one of an Angora cat which I am going to send Fred, I will not have time to write him a letter today and wish to thank him for a letter of a day or two ago in which were enclosed five brand new one dollar bills to buy ice cream sodas to cool me off this hot weather, he said. Have you not received postcards from him? I sent him your address which he asked me for so that he could send you some. I am glad you are enjoying your self so well and that your surroundings are so pleasant. I would like to see the place and how you are situated. Have you not thought out by this time what the hieroglyphic on the postal meant? I dident want any one else to know but thought you would perhaps you dident recognize it as an x which it was intended for, meaning a ten dollar bill, there was only one left in the box, so unless you took $60.00 with you instead of $50.00, there is one missing, I cannot account for it in any other way, can you?I will not need send you any more paper clippings if you get the paper itself you will have all the news. I have been sewing some this week as much as I could for the heat, although the latter part of the week was not so bad, the skirts of my silk dress and the white one are finished but not the waists. Monday evening I went to hear Bishop Quayle at the Tabernacle, he was fine, and Wednesday evening to hear Charles Butter, that was very good too, besides his singing and beautiful playing by his accompanist, on the violin, he produced on a graphophone records of songs sung by himself and Mr. Fischer and others, one of the revival songs sung by a choir of 500 voices at Seranton, Pa, where Mr. Sunday was last and also one of a message from Mr. Sunday himself to the Muscatine people, that was next best thing to having him here, for his voice and pronunciation of words was perfectly natural.Wednesday afternoon I attended the laying of the cornerstone of the new post office, you can see an account for that in the paper I expect.Friday we had an all day society at the church to finish up the work on hand and disband for the summer. Next Wednesday the ladies are to go out to Mrs. Lewis to celebrate her 83rd birthday. Walter Hine and Miss Mildred Peters were married here at Hines on Tuesday eve and left that same eve. She is an orphan and was raised a catholic by an aunt, but is a Baptist now as she was baptized at our church last Sunday evening. They are to make their home in Chicago he is a practising dentist there. My paper is coming to an end and so I will end this.Lovingly,Mama
7-4-1909 Ella Raff Letter
Letter to Edith in Cedar Falls, Iowa from her mother, Ella Sanders Raff.
Muscatine July 4, 1909
Dear Edith,Thanks for all the mail you have sent I am always glad to hear from you and look forward to mail time as you used to and I expect do yet. There has been a little hitch in it the past week, the post card I sent you asking about the Chautauqua ticket I put in the mail box at Prossers corner wanting it to reach you soon as possible so as to get an answer.Laura Bilkey has them to sell and I told her I would let her know the first of this week. The next morning it came back to me in the mail, as there was nothing the matter with it I mailed it again and hope it reached you. In the same mail I received a notice that a letter was in the Cedar Falls post office with a one cent stamp directed to me if I would forward the other stamp they would send it, so I have it now, that postcard cost four cents to get it here but I am glad to have it.This evening we were to have commenced services at Weed Park and Carrie and I were going out early and take a lunch with us, so that I could take her around and show her the park but it has commenced raining so the plans will have to be changed. If it should be pleasant tomorrow we will go then instead. Nothing special in the way of celebrating is to be done that I know of, excepting excursions up and down the river. I hope you will be able to have your picnic and that you will have a good time. The weather of the past week has been more like Fourth of July weather than today. It was almost unbearable. The day of the Congregational excursion was hot but there was a delightful breeze on the boat. There were only about two hundred and fifty people, just wait until we have ours, we always have the crowd. It was pleasanter though for those who went, it gave them more room. There was plenty of music, Pandets band and the boat orchestra. I did not expect to get to see Frank (Edith's cousin, Frances Raff Ebi in Davenport) but we were given such a long time there, from half past twelve to half past five that I did go up there too. I wrote Julia (Ella's sister) not to come up to the boat that we would come down there but she did and so we missed each other and we had to wait at the Home until she returned. We did not see Nellie Hawley, did you know she is going to leave there the first of Sept? going to train for a nurse.I will enclose a couple of clippings from last nights paper which might interest you. Mrs. Durkee and Ray have decided on moving to Des Moines. Ray is going this week but she is not just yet. Cora Lilly has been here to make arrangements for moving here, so you see things are changing while you are away.Cora is going to take the part of Mrs. Makins house which was occupied by Dr. Barr. Mrs. Prosser has rented a part of the double house being built on the corner this way from where Jamesons lived. Mrs. Fred Giesler was buried on Friday.Ed Shoemaker is laid up with a broken arm, fell off a step ladder while picking cherries. This is about all the news I can think of so we'll close for this time.Lovingly,Mother
7-12-1909 Ella Raff Letter
Letter to Edith in college in Cedar Falls. Apparently, even in 1909 college kids wrote home for money!
Muscatine July 12th 1909
Dear Edith,Your letter just arrived, I have to got a board meeting of the Y.W. this afternoon, so will not have much time but will try to write a short letter in reply to yours for fear something might happen to prevent me this evening. I am sorry about the money order. When I got it at the office said to Ed Link, it is the little one that goes in the letter isent it? I was in a hurry and dident stop to look at them or I would have known better. He said yes, so I put it in and the other away without looking at it and never thought of it again until getting your letter. Do just as you think best about coming home Sat. of course we will be glad to see you. I have not had much time to rest up partly on account of the ants, we are just taken alive by them, I never had such a time, have tried everything I could hear of for driving them away but without success so far, they even get in the refrigerator and at night we pile the bread box, sugar box, &c on the dining room table.It was beautiful last evening and so the first of our out door services was held in the park, it was quite a success, the young peoples meeting was well attended and so was the other. Carrie and I went out early and went in the club house and around, then sat in Hutchinson's surrey and heard the preaching, then they took us home together with Mrs. Prosser, who had gone out with them.We have not heard from Jo or Fred either, Carrie has been looking anxiously for one from Jo as she told her if she would come back here she would try to get her something in Chicago to do. She sends her love and says she will write to you or send a card. Good bye for this time.Lovingly,Mother
Letter, Illinois City Ill, July 11-1911
Comments: According to the M. Edith Raff Diary, Carl Parchert died Sept. 15, 1911, just 4 days after writing this letter.
Muscatine, Iowa, May 18-1911
Muscatine Iowa, Dec. 39 1913
Miss Edith Raff