January 20" 1869
Everything comnes about in its appointed order, or otherwise; now your letter of the 14" inst must be classed as otherwise owing to the fact of the long delay in its getting started at all. I have it now however and am inclined to make the most of it; the order of the epistle is decidedly warm notwithstanding the snow bound region from which it came; that dove and the large Scroll which he carries in his beake must be considered a little out of season; it is a matter of no small surprise that he reached his destination in such good order. If he had been game or anything but paper I should have disposed of him.
It seems strange to hear you speak of so much snow, when we have not had six hours sleighing in the city this winter. talk of shovelling snow when the atmosphere is like summer in the store and no fire to heat it either.
The weather outside has been mild with a warm balmy wind from the south until within a fiew days; Skating is considered a rare luxory, no winter since I have been in the city has afforded so little of it, and so my taste for that amusement has been but little cultivated I am sorry to say.
Tell brother Joe that just as soon as he gets to be worth twenty thousand dollars, I am expecting to borrow the half of it without interest, and in that manner we will in a short time be even as far as financial matters extend, as to nursing and kind treatment and all that sort of thing, I shall not be able to repay him until I start a family of my own, so the prospect of getting square with him in that respect is not very immediate you see.
I send you a shawl by the Am- Ex- to-day. it is as near like the one I sold Sally Ann as my memory will allow me to go. En-closed please find fifty cents to be returned to the lady who buys the shawl.
Tell my future wife, that her inquiring about the price of quilts sounds very much as if she was not going to keep her agree-ment with me; (See diary entry for Dec. 22, 1867.) Such is the way of the world however, no trust to be placed in any thing but the Constitution. Well I can send her an eleven quarter (size) quilt of the kind she want, at from four to seven dollars. either in white Pink, Blue or Orange color. Tell her to just send on her order and she will be sure to be please. We have goods at a lower price than those quoted but they would be too corse for her.
As to those breast ventillators, I don't know what the price of them is, but if you want one just send me the measure between the two places where babys are expected to get their dinner from of the person who wants it, and I will try and get one for her.
Love for my SnowBound friends from Grandma to Oscar.
A. T. LaForge
Many of the next letters were written on Macy's letterhead paper.
R. H. MACY,
14th STREET and 6th AVENUE,
NEW YORK CITY.
Feb 25" 1868
(should be 1869)
Don't be too much surprised at seeing this new heading to my letter, for I assure you that it is all in the way of business; Two weeks ago to-day Mr Macy asked me if I should consider his store an agreeable place in which to employ myself, and upon my replying in the affirmative, we struck a bargain; the Monday fol-lowing (Jun. 25, 1869) I = having obtained a release from Mills & Gibb = commenced buying goods for R. H. Macy and am thus employed now or more strictly speaking, as now means the present moment, I am writing you and at the same time superintending some alterations being made in the store this evening.
Of course you will see by this arraingement that my frequent visits to you will be curtailed very much, and that is about the only draw back to my change of place. It was so nice to be able to bore you with my presence several times a year. Well, that will be all right again after awhile.
How Mills & Gibb did take on when I told them that I was going to leave, They just discovered that I was a much more valuable man than they had previously supposed and offered me an extra induce-ment to stay of course, and of course I did not accept it. So here I am Macys buyer of Laces Embroideries Hadks Trimmings &c; My branch of the store will sell about $200.000ΕΕ a year.
Write me at my new place and tell me how you like my change.
Love to all; as I cannot visit there any more lets write often.
You may Address to No 3 Garden Row. Cor 11 St & 6 Av. New York. Your Brother
A. T. LaForge
March 16" 1869
Your loving letter was duly received and perused with almost as much pain as pleasure. pain that you were grieved at my "chang of Base" and pleasure to here that you were still well and happy.
My own impression is that I am better pleased with the situa-tion which I occupy now than the one which I held at Mills and Gibbs, for this reason that I am in a position to learn what I can in time apply to business with myself. The wholesale trade re-quires such a large capital to start with that I could hardly hope without aid to ever get into the business myself. Now in retail it is different, after one is master of his trade he can swim without farther aid.
Some time or other too - I shall be wanting to get married, well if I was to be a traveller all of my life what the duce should I do with my wife when I was away from home so much; Now it is possible that I have a woman in my eye that I want to marry even-tually. well the best thing I can do is to put myself in a posi-tion to take that step as soon as possible. Now mind you I do not assert anything but am treating of possibillities, and it is pos-sible that my views may be as above.
Now as to visiting father or yourself don't think that I have given up the idea, for I have not, if I had been obliged to never see you again by making that change, how long do you suppose I should have considered the matter? not ten seconds. No Sister dear I love you too well for that.
You will be asking me some questions about this idea of marry-ing. well when my course is shaped I will give you its bearings.
The weather is fair and foul by turns just now, and as a gene-ral thing the foul has the advantage. I am very busy nearly every day down town buying goods. just now have a very bad cold contrac-ted very carelessly I suppose. Shall be all right in a day or two.
Phebe LaForge was in to see me a fiew days ago, but I was down town so did not meet her. Was going to call on her that evening but had some trouble so did not go.
My head is very stupid to night with this cold. so I can sympatize with Mother & Joe. Love to All
A. T. LaForge
New York April 26"
My Dear Sister
It is strange that my letters to you have never reached their destination. I have written you twice, also have received two let-ters from you in neither of which you acknowledge the receipt of any letter from me. Something must be going wrong with the Western Mail.
I was considerably astonished on coming up town to-day, to have Mr Macy place your letter in my hand and say he presumed it was from my sister; Not heard from me since March 16". I don't know why you have not.
Besides your letters, I have rec'd other two very sweet mes-sages from you, for which please accept my warmest gratitude; I assure you and Joe that nothing could have given me greater plea-sure than your present. many of my friends have also tasted your bounty with pleasure. (probably maple syrup or maple sugar)
I have something to tell you which is of considerable impor-tance to me, and no doubt of no small interest to you.
Allow me to announce with all due modesty, my approaching marriage with a young lady who is now very prettily employed (not two paces from me) in working a beautiful pair of slippers. In fact I am allowed to be so rude as to write a letter while on a friendly call.
The ceremony,= which will be merely a private affair, with the exception of a fiew friends who will kindly look on.= will take place on or about the 8" of June next. And of course I am now open for the congratulations of my dearest relatives.
The lady is I think one of the best women that ever lived. (I have known her for about three years) and am fully pursuaded that she of all women is the one that I want for a wife. I have shown you her picture when I have been out there. the only foolish thing I have ever discovered about her, is her willingness to take me for a husband.
Miss Margaret S. Getchell, that's the name in full. her bright self being so near the the name pales in importance, out shone by the bright original.
Knowing that I am writing to you she is pleased to send many kind sentiments. the best one = to my thinking = is this "Tell my sister-(to be) that the thing most pleasant to me, after knowing and loving you, would be to know and love her." Sister mine, you must open your heart to the stranger who approaches with that "pass word", and wellcome her as warmly as you ever have
Your Own Brother
A. T. LaForge
May 20" 1869
My Dear Sister
You are a dear loving little soul, or (instead of writing me a second time) you would surmise that my long silence was owing to the fact of my being so very much absorbed by the approching solem-nity.
I suppose the best thing that I can do in regard to your que-ries, is to answer them at once least I again forget them. I shall niether go to Europe on my wedding trip nor get so far away from the city as to reach the comparatively near hills of Allegany. the 8" of June will come with the busyest part of the season so that to get away for more than a week will be next to impossible, therefore no distant trips for me. a fiew hours journey from the city brings us to the Catskills and I think a fiew days wandering among among the scenes made classic by Irving's pen will be all the holliday that I can indulge in even at such a momentuos period of my life as my honeymoon.
I am writing this letter under very much the same circumstan-ces as I did the last; on the other side of the little marble top'ed table upon which I am writing sits her. she is working upon a fine bit of Lace and Embroidery which I believe is eventually to be called a collar. the work is so fine that it keeps her atten-tion pretty closely, so not many times am I interrupted by her speaking to me, but you know its just as bad as though she was talking for I look up to dip my pen in the ink and before I can get my eyes away from her nimble finers the ink has all dried on my pen. so if this is not a long letter you may be sure it has taken me a long time to write it. She tho't you must be splendid to write such nice things about her as you did before, of course the formality of sending love &c. is understood. she wants me to say that she had some of that maple sirup for breakfast this morning and enjoyed it very much.
The weather to-day has been very depressing, raining all of the time in that quiet determined manner as much as if to say, its no use, Im going to take my own gait.
Tell Oscar that he will occupy just as large a place in my affection as ever. his uncle will love him just as much.
Good bye and love to all Your Brother
A. T. LaForge
Abiel Teple LaForge and Margaret Swain Getchell were married in New York City on June 8, 1869.
New York July 6" 69
My Dear Sister
Your letter did not reach me as a bachelor after all for I did not receive it until I returned from my wedding tour. However it was just as welcome as if I had been in single blessedness still. I am afraid that it is almost too late to give you the details of our tour as they might be considered rather old news. I will just say that we we had almost unalloyed happiness all of the time we were gone and for that matter have thus continued ever since we were married. On our way down from the Springs we made a stop at NewBurgh. Arrived at that place about 1 OC P.M. after dinner at the U.S. Hotel we took a carriage and crossing the Ferry drove arround Fishkill and Matteawan and also down by the Tiorhonda Mills past the mouth of Cedar Lane which goes up the mountain to Uncle Joes. how glad you would have been to pass up that road would you not? Drove back to the Burgh again pointing by the way the many places which were so familiar to me, to my wife. wasn't it splen-did to have such an interested listener.
About 7 P.M. John came down to take us out to his place. the evening was lovely and the greeting from Mary and Uncle Tommy all that I could have wished. After tea Mary told us that for two weeks she had worked very hard to complete a quilt which had been under way for four years so that I might christen it. It was a beautiful white, hand knit counterpane finished of course more in honor of my wife than myself. Staid at Johns from Sat. night until Mon. noon then came back to the city finishing as we began the journey in a Drawing Room car. In our quiet little section of the car we were as much alone and as much at home as we would have been in our own parlor.
Our honey-moon is supposed to have been over more than a week, but it is only supposition. Margie says that it will take years to terminate this moon, and of course it must be so for she generally has her own way about such matters.
In the natural course of things we have yesterday celebrated Independance Day. Young America had its usual "blow out" making certainly enough noise to last for one year. of the hubbub I have no just cause to complain however for we added our share to the confusion by sitting in the window and bombarding with torpedoes all of the passers by who came within reach of our ordnance. Mar-gie and I in the evening strolled down Broadway to the City Hall and got a very good position to see the Fire works. the best piece fired off was a firey representation of two men = life sized = on Velocipedes who chased each other across the space in from of the Hall. Came back home and went to bed (after having Ice cream and Cobblers) feeling as if we had spent the day in a most innocent and satisfactory manner. Now tell me about your Fourth.
I have heard nothing from Billings on the sugar since you wrote.
Margie gives me a standing order to send you all of her love that I can at any time spare. She wished that Oscar could have seen the Fire Works last night. the display was very fine.
Your loving brother
New York Aug 29" 69
My Dear Sister
I left my bed rather late this morning and feeling rather fa-tigued with the effort of eating my breakfast and reading the mor-nings "Herald" had just laid down again and with my wife by my side was composing myself for a much needed nap. My wife who is usually ahead of me had passed the boundary when rap, rap came a gentle tap at our parlor door Of I arose and opening, was handed your letter of the 26" and was duly surpriseed that you had not heard from me in seven weeks. I wrote you twice in that time and cannot account for your not receiving my letters. perhaps they are taken out of the mail here and opened We have recently lost three money letters mailed from the store to business firms here in the city. there seems to be something wrong with this Mail Sta-tion, so that the letters intended for you may have went where our money letters did. there is no telling where that is.
I sent you a paper yesterday containing the account of the "Alumni Reunion" at Nantucket, also the poem or ode, written by my better half, who is a member of the Alumni, for the occasion. it was sung by the whole gathering led by "The Hutchinson Family" everybody pronounced it the most successful part of the programme. Of course we were there. we left the city on Tuesday taking a sleeping car to Boston where we stoped one day. then proceeded to Nantucket. If you will look on the map you will see that island is located in the Atlantic Ocean thirty miles south of Cape Cod Mass. it was once the largest Whaleing Center in the world. her ships in search of oil dotted every ocean. Now how changed, four Whleing schooners, and one steamer plying to the main land composes her entire navy. From 12000 inhabitants she has sank to 4000 and her long unused facilities for commerce speak but too plainly of decay. No local avenue to wealth is there, no opening for enterprise, so all of the boys as fast as they grow up leave the island therefore four fifths of the inhabitants are girls and I think that in no part of the world will you find so many maiden ladies in so small a community as at Nantucket. Nevertheless the place has its at-tractions and the eleven days which we spent there were very plea-sant. the town was crowded with visitors. we rode and drove and bathed and visited the antiquated institutions of the place (among which are two Wind Mills for grinding corn) and "did" the Island pretty effectually.
When we started to return we concluded to make a visit to Ply-mouth. A visit to the Rock where our pilgrim fathers landed was made rather romantic by moon light, but very much detracted from by the fact that only about a foot square of the place where the famed founders of New England landed is visible. the granate structure which is erected over the rock hides all but that. My wife and my-self took turns in standing upon the "pebble" we have so often read about in history we tried to picture to ourselves "the landing" but on looking arround to complete the picture = after the charac-ters had been made to assume their correct positions = the entire illusion was spoiled by seeing the wharves and store houses pro-jecting far beyond what was once the shore. After another brief visit to Boston we came on to the city having had a very agreeable and instructive trip. I forgot to mention that on the way out we visited Harvard College, the Poet Longfellows house and the elm under which Washington took command of the Patriot Army.
I will now answer your questions.
We are not keeping house- we have a suit of rooms which my wife has filled with beautiful furniture of her own. we take our meals at a house near by where they set an excellent table. My wifes mother only is living. her residence is at Nantucket with her only other daughter the wife of a Sea Captain. (Rebecca A. Getchell Pitts, wife of William G. Pitts)
Margie after an all summer vacation has again came back in the store. She is the Superintendant having full charge of the entire business. as we sell a million dollars worth of good a year and have nearly two hundred employees her position is a very responsi-ble one.
I have heard nothing of Billings nor his sugar nor my money.
My wife and myself send love to all.
Shall send pictures taken soon and send them to you.
LETTER from Abiel's father Samuel LaForge to Susan and Joseph Potter. October the 4 1869
Joseph Potter .... Andover
Dear sun and dauther I once more set my self to write you a few lines to let you now that we are all well and hope these few lines will find you the same It is a long time since I hav hear from you and I want to hear from you all very mutch I hav Bin looking a long time for a letter but cant git one as soon as you git this send me a nother and direct to vanvill Chipaway Co wis dont forgit it is very wet out hear this very wet out hear this summer I hav not got my grane threshed yet I hav wrote two or three letters to you and cant git no answer yet and I dont no the resen wy you dont send me one my helth is Bin very good this summer my litle girl (Josephine, born in 1865 to Samuel and his third wife) groes very fast She would like to see her sister very mutch She talks about you evry day I wish you could come out hear and see us and see how you would like the land out hear I think you would like it out hear for the land is good wheat is very cheep out hear it is only sixty cents a Bushel But pork is very hy it is fifty dollars a Barel potatoes is fifty cents a Bushel Barly is 80 cents oats is fifty cents Beans is six dollars a Bushel I hav got five hogs and two dows and one calf and one yoke of Bulls and fifty hens and twenty five rusters Bill and famly is well all my sisters and Brothers is well now I must close for is late and I want to go to Bead this is from your father
LETTER written by Abiel Oct 24" 1869
I am afraid that I shall have to appear as a copyist after you in the matter of long delay in answering letters. I do believe that matrimony disinclines a man from letter writing. he finds so much content and happiness in the bosom of his family that it seems a sin to invade the outside world by even a letter. Of some thirty or forty correspondents with whom I used to hold sweet communion, but few are now left on my list, four or five at most beside you and father. and even of that limited number there is but one regu-lar correspondent my old comrade Beaugureau.
I could not fulfill your commission in the matter of getting that shawl for you as there are none left in town. there were only three thousand of them brought to this country and they all seem to have been sold to far-off country trade, so I return to you the check for five dollars which you sent me, together with my regrets at not being able to send the shawl.
Now about the likenesses: I am writing in the store and am unable to say whether we have a picture of my wife up stairs which I can send you or not. I think there is one which must do for the present. it was taken a year or more ago but is a pretty fair re-presentation of the dear little thing just as she sits at this mo-ment, over there by the register.
Mr Macy just came in and my wife and he and I have been talk-ing over the business; it is immense. the store where we sell our goods is larger than all the stores of Andover put together, and I suppose we sell five times as many goods as the whole town; So you must see that we are pretty buisy from 8 OC A.M. until 6 OC P.M. the time that we are open. I should like to see some of you Ando-ver people in here. we would show them what trade means. Just think, nearly two hundred employees in one store.
To day is lovely, the first fine Sunday of this month. this P.M. wife and I must go up to have a ramble in the park. How I should like to have all of you along to see the beautiful and ani-mating scene.
I have not heard from father in six months, have you?
Well by. by. love to all the family. Tell Oscar that he will hear from us about Christmas.
Your Brother & Sister
This picture belongs to some one else so just as soon as we get another we will want this returned.
New York Nov 4th 1869
My Dear Sister
Both of your favors reached me almost the same date and both were very welcome; I am very sorry for having caused you sorrow at my long silence, such certainly was not my intention. I tho't that you had became less anxious in regard to me, now that I was married and had somebody to care for and to care for me, for the last let-ter but one which I wrote you had to wait four weeks for an answer and you excused your want of promptness on some such ground.
But throwing all such considerations as tit for tat to one side, and I think neither of us need consider them we shall never have cause to fear for each others love; we were born of the same womb and have been nurtured in the same school of want and priva-tion, and have also succeeded in keeping ourselves free from any-thing that might cause us to blush for ourselves or each other. With the future before us fairly full of promise and a past that we can recall without fear, why should we now begin to love each other less. we have faced the same suffering from actual want, looked the same sorrows in the face, and with both now as things of the past let us remain strong in our confidence of love one for the other.
We cannot give our confidence fully of course, to any but the ones whom God has placed side by side with us, for better or for worse; Your husband and my wife occupy nearer and dearer relations to you and to me, than we ever did to each other. we can accept this truth admitting too that we love our spouses better than any other earthly object and yet at the same time feel the same warm, well tried, true love that we did on that October morning eight years ago when I left Brother Joes house with all of your familys dear embraces fresh upon me, and shouldered my pack for the war. Veterans may form and break their loves very easily but the very trials and dangers which makes their hearts in all other things fickle, binds the dear home ties more closely arround them. So! confidence again Sister dear.
My wife would unite with me in these sentiments I am sure if she were awake. she was feeling unwell this evening and retired early. she felt real bad when she read how grieved you had been at my long silence. so you must accept her love from me.
You must tell Oscar that I have no notion of making him a vi-sit this winter; will you send me the size of his head for a hat? how old is he now?
Tell Joe that I have not got a hundred dollars that I could lend him now. if I had he should have it very gladly on my part I am sure. I will give him half of the ten dollars which Billings owes me if he will collect it.
Much love from both of me to all of you.
Dec 12" 1869
Dear Sister & Brother
Yours of Nov 29" is before me and I have just stolen down here in the store to answer it; there is such a flood of business now pouring in that during the week I have no time to do anything or think of anything but trade. we are retailing from 6.000 to 10.000 dollars worth of goods a day and it keeps us all hopping. The store looks so strange now that I hardly recognize it, the long floors are all deserted, the sofas chairs and standing places are all unoccupied and as I sit here in the office looking over the si-lent place it seems that nothing save fairly enchantment could call up the buisy scenes of yesterday. yet to-morrow I shall see them all repeated. I never before saw any thing in the way of trade as-semble such a crowd as we have here daily.
I left my wife up stairs asleep. (They had an apartment over the store. The New York City "Trow's Directory" for the year end-ing May 1, 1872 listed Abiel T. Laforge as a clerk living at 200 Sixth Avenue.) if she were here she would have some kind word to send you, so you must imagine the pleasant things she would say.
I intend sending Oscar some things in the way of toys this week so look out for a box by express.
With much love to all we Subscribe ourselves
Major & Margie