Marshall County, Iowa: 4 June 1870. Folio bifolium (ca. 31,5x19 cm). 4 pp. Brown ink on lined laid paper. Written in a legible hand. Fold marks, several minor tears on folds, but overall a very good letter.
An interesting humorous lengthy letter giving insight into the life of an Iowa farmer in the second half of the 19th century. Thorough descriptions of his corn-growing operations and prices for the staple crops interspersed in the letter with financial statements, he jokes about his wife’s weight, quotes from his son’s “scalawagerous” poem about spanking, and remarks about the women suffrage movement in Iowa. Joseph Holliday Glaspey was a major landowner and farmer in Marshall County (Iowa), residing there since 1861; his farm measured 120 acres and was valued at $3000. Glaspey’s brief biography was published among others in the “Directory of Marshall County” (see: The History of Marshall County, Iowa… Chicago, 1878, p. 674; the biographical information is taken from there). In this letter addressed to his sisters, Glaspey discusses his farm and family affairs, talks about his wife Mary Glaspey (b. 1820), and teenage son Ward P. Glaspey (b. 1856). Very interesting are his remarks about the women suffrage movement in Iowa, which he calls a “foolish enterprise” and describes arguments about it with his teenage daughter Lucy B. Glaspey (b. 1854) who “chiefly for the sake of being on the contrary side, pretends to approve of the enterprise…” (see more details in the letter’s excerpts below). Joseph Glaspey’s letter is supplemented by a shorter letter written by his younger daughter Jennie, then still a schoolgirl of thirteen years old. Not without some spelling mistakes, the letter presents an interesting example of the correspondence of an 1870s’ American farm girl. Overall an interesting original letter related to the history of women’s rights in the 19th-century American Midwest.
Excerpts from the letters (original spelling):
“I am now a little more hurried than usual as corn tending is now in full operation. I am going through my corn the second time, my corn looks verry [sic!] well, but one piece of it looks rather unpromising at a distance. I planted it on stalk ground without so much as cutting the stalks and did not even get time to harrow the stalks down as I expected to do. So when I came to plow my corn, I had decidedly a hard show of heavy stand of dead stalks and a verry abundant undergrowth of weeds and grass enough to make a jerseyman ashamed to be caught in such a […?] <…>
I shall have to give you a specimen of my boy Ward’s poetry, or rather it is it verry pretty, Sunday School piece that he has perverted to his own scalawagerous notion: I want to spank my mother, She spanked me long ago, There is on Earth no other, That ever spanked me so.
Mary was in town a few weeks since and some of her friends tried to get her on the hay scales to weigh her, but she would not do that, but did yet on a smaller scale and was weighed. She does not allow me to tell her weight and I shall not do it, but if the scales had not had a weight capacity of over 205 pounds, they would not have told her weight.
Speaking of scales reminds me of one of my adventures. The last time I went to mill some boys were experimenting how much they could pull down on scales by sitting on the scale and taking hold under them & pulling down. They were anxious for me to show my strength & to gretify [sic!] them I [made?] a demonstation. A very little experiment satisfied me that there was strength enough in my arms to lift a weight of 300 pounds. This might have flatterd [sic!] me a little at the time, but after a few minutes the thought began to down on my mind that perhaps my arms might be stronger than my back. When my grist was put into the wagon I had it so arranged as to have a bag to my back as I rode home. At home I found an excuse which I thought justified me in asking a neighbour to carry my flour into the house & then concluded to do up a few little jobs about the house for a few days instead of some jobs that require some back bone.
The female women[?] of the strong minded persuasion are now having a great time holding conventions to secure to themselves the right to vote. The matter comes before the people this fall and I am afraid the foolish enterprise will succeed. I hope the people of N. Jersey will keep their heads straight on that point. Lucy, chiefly for the sake of being on the contrary side, pretends to approve of the enterprise. She quotes with apparent approval the statements of Susan B. Anthony that her tomb shall bear her name of Susan B. Anthony and not Susan B. Wife or Widow of some fool or brute of a man <…> The female persuasion are now about to have a new rog[?] carpet to receive and entertain their company on…”
“Dear Aunt Sarah, I received a letter from you a short time ago and was very glad to hear from you. It rained same today but is clearing of [sic!]. Now we have a Sunday school at our school house and preaching every other Sunday. We only have three months school this summer, the school is only one third out. You said you had 400 chicken, I think that is a good many. You wanted to know if it did not make my hedache [sic!] to […?] corn, it does some time but not very often. Father got a few sweet potatoes and planted them, they are same of them coming up. We have never had any since we came to Marshall County. <…> I would be glad if you could come out here this summer and stay a long while. If aunt Emma comes out here don’t you think you will come out with her…
Dear cousin Lucy, I thought I would write you a few lines. I was glad to hear from you. You said you was going to write to cousin Bell. I would like to hear from her, I don’t know whether I owe her a letter or not. I got to school this summer and I like my teacher. Ward does not go this summer, he has to stay at home and work. Is your school out yet, I wish you was out here to go to school with me…”.
Price: $950.00 USD