Sunday, April 8, 2012

Disneyland 1958

I got a newer, more powerful computer. One of the benefits is I can access my blogs without downloading Google Chrome (for the time being. I'm sure I'll have to do that eventually).
If you've read my other blog, you also know that my dad passed away in the fall. We're just now starting to go through older boxes in the house, like the one we did when he was alive where we found the letters from my great grandparents. I discovered a box of slides labelled "1958". When I held one up to the light, I saw my dad as a little boy and my grandma standing in front of Monstro in Fantasyland.
My grandma, Wilma, is the lovely child gracing the banner of this blog. She was the 12th(?) child of Matthew and Amy Nelson. She married Max Kimmel around the start of WWII for the U.S.
I don't really know much about my grandpa's side of the family. There are a lot of maybes. Maybe we're Hessian. Maybe we're Estonian. Maybe we're Jewish. Maybe we're decended from hired mercenaries for the British around the time of the revolutionary war. All stories, no proof. I know even less about my mom's family.
I think I'm only now starting to become aware of my grief, if that makes sense. But I'm proud to share these photos of one of my favorite places with three of my family members who I love and miss everyday. Even though my grandpa doesn't actually appear in any of these pictures, I know he's behind the camera. I've got pictures of him that I'll post later. He was pretty funny.

I love this pic grandpa took of the band.

It may be a little hard to tell, but my dad it feeding ducks!

Kudos to you if you know why my dad's happy to be standing next to this man, mousketeers!

It's a twelve year old boy who has cars in his blood's dream come true!

That mound of dirt will one day become the Matterhorn. And the dirt behind it is probably the rest of Tomorrowland that will reopen in the 60s.

I know grandma and dad were happy to be there, but I bet they relly wished they had sunglasses.

Check out that lady to the left's cloak!

My dad looks like Moochie (kudos again if you know who I'm referencing)!

The cabin's on fire!!!

I believe this shiney horse is from the Mine Train through Nature's Wonderland.


This one is from Knott's Berry Farm. I know there are more pictures from there. It's just a matter of finding them.
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Saturday, September 11, 2010


This is a 1908 Reo, which is probably very similar to the one Matthew Nelson had. I imagine his had more seats, because I can't see how half a dozen or more people could fit in that seat.
Here's some fun trivia from the article. Reo was actually an accronym that stood for Ransom Eli Olds. He founded Oldsmobile and lived in Oldsmar. Something tells me he was part of the founding family. The cars were built in Lansing, MI. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Half of a Letter by Matthew

This is the last letter I have from the envelope my dad and I found, and it's only a fragment of a letter. Considering only one side of the page is used, this is probably one third of a letter. But I hope that someone has the other page. If you do, here's the rest of that letter. Do you think you could tell me what the first part is about?
Seeing as how this is the last part of the letter, I don't know when it was written. It's still centers around Annie and Jack possibly moving to the States. My guess is this letter was written specifically to Jack, since Matthew mentions spitting. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's still pretty funny.
It's kind of sad seeing this story come to an end, but it was interesting. I do know Annie and Jack finally did make it out here, as the Nelson Genealogy has a picture of her (sadly, at Matthew's funeral in 1943). There could be more letters and more pictures, even though Matthew suggests to them that they shouldn't bring any.
Matthew and Amy went on to have four more children, one of which was my grandmother, Wilma. She is the lovely toddler gracing the top of this blog.
I do have some pictures that we found. I'll post them as soon as I can.

...are not any dearer here than in England. Amy bought fur muffs for Nancy and Nellie on Saturday and she paid 65 cents each for the real french coney (maybe?) skin, woolen singlets 10 cents, mens under shirts & pants 19 cents each, ladies the same, so you see we can buy as cheap here as you can of course if you come bring all your good bed clothes such as blankets & sheets etc and your cutlery. I would not advise you to bring any dishes or pictures or anything breakable. Shoes are cheap enough here so there is no use getting any extra and if you go out waiting and cooking you will get lots of things given you as my Aunt goes out sometimes and she gets all sorts of things and she never gets less than 2 Dollars a day and all her food. So I think I have told you nearly all I can think of at present. We are having lovely weather here just now, plenty of snow and frost Friday morning. When I went to work it was 12 degrees below zero and Saturday it was 15 below so you see it gets a little bit chilly sometimes. When you try to spit on the ground it falls in a little icecicle but it don't seem to be very cold as the air is drier of course if you stood out it would soon freeze you to death. I will now conclude. Hoping this will give you an idea of how things are here and hoping to see you all very soon.
I remain your ever loving brother
Matthew Nelson  

The next segment on this blog will feature letters we found from my grandfather to my grandmother. Thanks for reading this segment and I hope you enjoy the next one!  
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Friday, September 3, 2010

November 10th, 1912

This is the only letter I have from Louise, another sister of Amy. I don't know how many sisters Amy had, but it sounds like three, possibly: Annie, Ethel and Louise. From the tone of this letter, I would guess that Louise is the oldest sister, or at least older than Annie. From what I understand, this is not the "Aunt Louise" that Dick Martin spoke of on Laugh-In.
I love the way Louise writes in her letters!

17. Hicks Road
Nov. 10 - 1912

My Dearest Annie

I would have written you last night, but it would have been too late for this to be delivered this morning. I think you need not worry about the tickets, & George thinks you will be able to make an arrangement with the agent in Grange as to when you can be ready to sail. So do not hurry your sale too quickly as your lovely furniture will have no chance of fetching a fair price for you. George will try & come for a couple of days & help, if he can possibly manage it, & you will let him know when it is to be as soon as you can. He has a few days due to him yet of his summer holidays. The travelling skips George hunted L.pool for yesterday but could get none second-hand. The new ones are 30X20X30 16/6, 33X21X21 18/16. Of course they are well worth the money being so strong. Just what the steam Laundries and Large Dryers use. But it is a lot of money when one has it not. Do not get anything yourself because George will certainly get secondhand ones if there are any to be had in or about Lpool. He is a regular ferret.
Yes dear, I should much like the baby things and any old pieces you find you cannot pack up. About the pans. The carriage would not be much by goods train (carr. form) & really I have a very small supply. Have broken two lately by dropping. They have lasted you & I daresay would be in as good condition as any I might pick up at a sale here. They are such a price now. Your bedlinen & blankets etc you will need to take with you, but if you find any too many or too thin to pack for so long a journey, just make a parcel of them & George can bring them & I will give you whatever you think you would get there for them. 
Yes, Aunt Lizzie has Amy's watch still I believe. If you reflect, Amy pawned it & Aunt L gave her the money & interest (£1-0-0) to redeem it, & told her she could have it back any time she had the money to pay for it. I have not seen Aunt Lizzie since about June. No, I think it was May. So I do not see much of her. She generally comes when I least expect it. I will drop her a p.e (?) & let her know you are going away.
Lots of love dear & do not overtax yourself.
Your loving sister 
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Thursday, September 2, 2010

September 25th, 1912

Well, this is quite a jump. In the previous letter, 1911 was just about to end and already we're over half way through 1912. One plus is that Amy sends her sister a recipe for ginger cookies! Annie's fortune is our fortune, too! There are no actual baking instructions, but I'm sure it can't be too difficult. If you make them, please post in the comments how they were. I'm sure everyone has lard in their cabinets, nowadays. (Also, I'm guessing that the little scribble she writes for some of the measurements are indicative of being the same as above. If you've read my other blog, you know that baking is more of an aspiration of mine than a hobby.)
Finally, Annie and Jack are coming to the states. Amy is so happy, and she and Matt are making sure they get their tickets as soon as possible. Though I'm sure it weighed on everyone's minds, given the year, I find their reason pretty cool.

Sept 25th 1912

Union St
Marshall Mich

(Get as many stocking for yourselves. They don't wear such thick ones here. They wear union suits that come to their feet and thin stockings.
Write by return.)
Ginger Cookies
1 Cup White Sugar
1 Cup melted Lard
1 Cup Treacle
2 Cups beaten Eggs
1 Teaspoonfull Cinoman
2 Teaspoons ginger rocks
1/2 Cup boiling Water
Flour to make a stiff dough
Roll out with paste
and cut with a tin lid
Try them

My darling sister
I expect you will be happy when you read this. I can hardly sit down and write it, I feel so happy. We are going to send your tickets before xmas. Because we would sooner you come when there is no danger of ice burgs, as they always come in the spring. Get to know how much it is from Liverpool to Marshall, Michigan. We have forgotten and we will see how much cheaper it is to get them in Liverpool than it is here. Maggie (is) under 12 years, if you tell them she is over you will have to pay full fare. It will cost more for you than it did for us because we did not have to pay railway fare for the children. If Herbert is small, we won't have to get a ticket for him for the train, so let me know how big he is. People take the children on the trains here when they are 8 and without paying for them, but they are supposed to be under 5 years. I can take all mine and just get a ticket for myself.
I would not get a lot of new clothes because they wear different stiles here. You can get them cheap enough here if you go about the right way. You will have quite a lot given you when you start out to work. I have five dresses given to me last week and I don't go out to work. I had a kitchen cabinet given to me today. A lady that was moving 15 miles out to a farm and did not want to take it with her, because 1 of the legs was broken, but Matt can fix it. 
Dear, I would start and sell as soon as the visitors stop coming, so as you will be ready to come as soon as we send for you. I would keep a pillow or cushions each, for you will need them on the boat and train. For the pillows in the boat are made of straw and they are pretty hard. I would get a box of health salts for the boat if you felt a bit sick. It will be good for you. I would have given a dollar if I had have brought one with me.
I am sending a paper with this mail. I get those 2 every day for 10¢ a week. I guess Matt will be starting out to work in Nov so he will get Jack work either 1-75 or 2 dollars a day. They can't get women to go out working here. Aunt had 3 ladies come after her on Monday to cook and clean for them so you need not be (a)fraid (that) you won't get enough to do.
Write soon, from your ever loving sister Amy XX
(Try and get my watch)

I have a feeling that if Annie doesn't have the watch by now, she probably won't get it in time. But I could be wrong.
Another thing that I didn't really think much of before is Amy's comments about Annie's "visitors". Do you think she ran a bed and breakfast or let out rooms?
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Letter Fragment from Amy

This is the last half of a letter from Amy to Annie. It's some time after Christmas, but before New Year's. Either Annie definitely wants to come to Marshall but Jack is still unsure, or Amy has simply convinced herself that they're coming.
It's amazing what you learn when you read. Not only does Amy write of arriving to the U.S. by way of Canada, but she gives exact times of the day. She also laments that she is not sea-worthy, but Matt's sister very much is.
Their oldest daughter, Ellen, is referred to in the letter as "Nellie". She was six years oldat the time of this letter.


...childrens boots are perhaps a little dearer but not mens. Matt can get boots 1/2 up his leg for 4 dollars*. Good ones too. He goes to work in them (and) can put his trousers inside for this cold weather.
My dear, I hope you have got Matt's letter by this but he has not got to know how much it will cost to bring you out yet. He has not managed to see the agent yet. He is going again tonight. Matt goes to work to early in the morning to see him. Dear, I do wish you were here without the trouble of coming. Sorry all your bills have come in all together like that, but cheer up, dear. There is better times for you if Jack would only look the same way. I wish I could send you your money all at once but I will do the best I can. Matt has to pay 12 dollars* a month out of his wages for his garage and he has a phone at the garage to pay for every month and water taxes the water he uses for cleaning the motors. He has as good bit in the garage. He says he has about 600 dollars* invested in it. His car broke down so he has that to repair but he won't repair it before the spring.
I did not send any cards out this year, only a few post cards, for I think it is just a waste of money. We got those ships at a second hand store. I think they cost about 8/- for the two. Of course you can bring tin boxes, but ships would be the best if you could get them. You can sleep in the train we were in Saturday night from 6 till about 12 at night and stayed in Montreal all night. Got (on the) train Sunday morning and got to Detroit at about 2, Monday morning. Left Detroit about 8, got to Marshall about 10 O'clock. So you are not in the train so very long. I think we we(re) on the water 7 days but it was fine. You do have some fun but I did not have much fun. I was in bed nearly all the time, was sick. I don't think (if) I had been sick I had have been all right. I went to bed the night I got on the boat and got up on the next Thursday and did not have anything to eat all the time till I got up. I could not eat I was so ill, and Matt's sister, Sarah, did not miss a meal.
I would not advise you to get a lot of clothes. Girls wear all light dresses all the year round and so do little boys. You can get childrens under neath wear at 50 cents* the suit. I buy a lot of remnants for our kiddies. I got some Elitrope stuff for myself for next summer for to make a dress for 60 cents*, but I have started to make it up for the children, for I let Nellie go to school nice. There is always sales w(h)ere get things cheap. 
Dear Annie, I must close now as I want to catch the post so you will get & write to me and say you will come. I will be broken hearted if you say you can't come for I have made up (my) mind I am going to see you soon. You don't know how I want to see you. I must wish you all a happy new year. 
From your loving sister Amy XXXXX  

*$4 in 1911 would be about $91, today.
*$12 in 1911 would be about $273, today.
*$600 in 1911 would be about $13,650, today.
*$.50 in 1911 would be about $11.40, today.
*$.60 in 1911 would be about $13.65, today.  
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

December 18th, 1911

I can picture Amy pressuring Matthew, begging him to write to her sister and Jack. I can imagine her going on about how she misses them, and maybe said something along the lines of being sure they'd listen to him if he asked them to move to Marshall. And it wouldn't be that Matthew didn't want them to move there. He was just tired from working so much. But, just to please Amy, he wrote another letter to Annie and Jack. This one is also full of "land of opportunity" speak, which I'm sure it was, at the time.

December 18th 1911

Dear Annie & Jack

I have no doubt you will think I am very long winded not writing you before this but to tell you the truth I don't like writing very much. Besides, I have been so busy lately that when I got home at nights I did not feel like writing.
My Garage is now closed up for the winter as there is no motors run here. There is too much snow and the roads are too rough so I am working at the shops of the Electiric Railway till the spring. I work 11 hours a day and I have been there five weeks and have only got one Sunday off and the manager was round today and asked me if I would work Christmas day and I said no. It is a nice easy place to work and if you were to come over here I can get Jack a job there. He would get a dollar and three quarters a day* at the least to start and if he went helping a blcksmith he would get 2 Dollars* and you could live right here with us and go in the train morning & night and it don't cost him a cent. I can travel all over the company's line for nothing. I have a book of blank passes and all I have to do is write where I want to go and hand it to the Guard of the train.
You must make up your mind to come over here this spring as Amy has started to get some things for you already. We went to a sale last week and bought quite a lot of stuff, such as beds and cairs, etc. When you do come don't bring a lot of stuff with you as it is no use. Bring all the bed clothes and things like that and plenty (of) clothing for yourselves and the Kiddies as that is about the only things that are dear here. Well Jack, you need not worry about getting work here as there is plenty of it and you are not obliged to stick to one job all the time. If you don't like (it, then) move to something else.
We have just got in our winter stock of meat, a quarter of a beast, which weighed 20 pounds and I am expecting the same farmer to bring me half a pig this week and we have all the potatoes we will eat and canned fruit & pickles, beets & tomatoes. Our own growing and plenty cabbage and we can kill a good fat chicken now and then for a change and I am having a chunk of deer given to me tomorrow. A friend of mine went deer hunting and brought home a fine big deer and if I get an odd Sunday off, I can go hunting for rabbits and partrige, myself. Don't you wish you were here, where you can take your gun and go and shoot anywhere you like and go fishing? People don't have to work so hard in this country to earn a living, so make up your mind now and come this spring, bag and baggage.
I will conclude with love from Amy and myself. I remain your ever loving Brother Matthew Nelson (write soon)
So it sounds like the "stock" they were investing in really was livestock. It sounds like a good business plan for the farmer: put your livestock on layaway. That way, your customers are guaranteed food for the winter and you get a steady stream of income to take care of your farm.

*$1.75 in 1911 would be about $40, today.
*$2 in 1911 would be about $46, today.
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

November 14th, 1911

This letter is from Amy to Annie. It seems that her and Matt's mission is to get Annie and Jack to the U.S. as quickly as possible. It's funny, because Amy talks about what an easy decision it was for their family to pack up and leave in the beginning of her letter. How quickly she forgets that she didn't want to leave England, originally.
We learn a few things in this letter. Jack, it turns out, is deaf. We don't know how deaf, or if it only affects one or both of his ears. We also find out that he's a big guy. Bigger than "the tall men". Amy suggests the reason her sister and brother in law might not want to leave England is due to Jack's insecurities. Whether that was the case or not, I don't have the proof.
We also learn that Amy is a very spiritual woman. My dad had told me before that Amy used to read tea leaves. I'm not sure if that's what she's referring to when she tells her sister that she hopes her "fortune comes true", or if she just hoping Annie and Jack make more money. In a very sad part of the letter where she mentions that John died a year ago, she tells Annie that he used to see him every night after he died until Margaret was born (who she calls "baby").
Finally, I originally thought the "stock" that Amy writes about in the letter was money stocks, but I think she's writing about live stock. But in a way, buying local cows can be considered an investment.


Dear Sister
Just a few lines in answer to your letter. We expected a letter from you last week but of course it takes time to think thinks out. Not like us, we made our minds up all at once, but we have got on all right. So far we landed on the Monday and Matt got work the end of the week and now in business for himself. Of course it takes a lot to make a stock. Most of what they have made has had to go out on the place and buying stock but we shall feel more of the benefit next year. Of course they don't run the car here in the winter as there is too much snow. It has been snowing here since Saturday night. Of course we have not got much of a home together yet but you can't get everything all at once. 
Dear, I do hope you will come. I could hardly wait till I got in the house & open your letter. It was too cold outside & read it so I had to wait. But I was disappointed when Jack had not made up his mind. It won't matter about his deafness as long as he is a good worker. I think Jack thinks he is deafer than what he is. No, (at) his size, Matt says he can do twice the work a some of the tall men. Matt says he would not have to plough but if he did any time, you just sit on the seat and the horse does the ploughing. You only have to drive. We had our ground ploughed and it seemed quite easy but this was only a small plough. The horse pulled it and the man just guided it straight. Jack would not have to hire for twelve months unless he ... of course if he does not care to take it, Matt could try and get him something else in the meantime. Matt says Mr. Lewis is a very nice man. He does not rush them. Tom work(ed) for him for a few days. He said he is very nice. I don't know how many men he keeps, I forgot to ask Matt before he went to the Lodge, but I will ask him when he come back.
They don't think so very much of Sunday here. You can go to a theatre here on a Sunday. Of course you could go out to work as well. It is about 1/2 an hour's walk from town but you can go in a few minutes in the car.
(Have you heard anything about my watch? I would like you to bring it with you if you come.
I expect Luoise will be jumping sky high when she knows you are thinking of coming.)
Matt will get to know about the fares. I don't know whether it is only through farmers you can get cheap rates. I know it is cheaper to get tickets sent from here because Tom sent a ticket to one of his pals just before we came out. You won't have to pay any duty on your bed clothes. You can bring quite a lot with you. You could get some ... like we did and you would be surprised what a lot you can pack in them. You are allowed so much for each one. Our baskets was not opened at all and we were not asked what was in them. I am so sorry you will be having such a hard time again this winter. We know what it is to have hard times so we can feel sorry for you. We brought all our bed clothes with (us), of course we had not got as much as you. 
Dear, there are no mines near here. There is about 18 milking cows. Matt says he only want a man to look after the stock. I expect Matt will write again. I don't know what other stock he has, I forgot to ask him before he went out. 
Dear, I do hope your fortune comes true for I am longing to put my arms around you and give you a good big kiss. I think it is a six-roomed house.
Dear Annie, I'm so pleased the children are getting on so well. They will be quite a help to you. It is 12 months since this coming Saturday that my boy fell down those stairs. I feel as if I can see him now with that big cut in his forehead. He would have been quite a big boy now if he had been living. I feel as if I must write about him, it seems to ease my mind. Nobody knows how I sit and think about him. I used to have him with me every night till baby came but I have not seen him since.
Dear Annie, we had quite a storm here, Saturday. Such wind I thought it was going to blow the house down. Thundered and lightened and oh it just teamed with rain. It was quite warm on Saturday and just before midnight the snow came on. It was a drop I can tell you, freezing as well. I tell you I was jolly cold in bed. I had let the stove out for it had been so warm through the day. 
Dear Annie, the church people here are very nice. There is always some of them coming to see me. I have not been since I had baby christened. I have not been able to go since baby has been so cross since she started to cut her teeth. I don't know what to do with her. She does not half cry, she squeals. Raises the dickens! You can't hear yourself talk when she starts.
I think I have told you all and will get Matt to write in a day or two. I got your letter at noon 14th. 
From your loving sister Amy Write soon XXXXX 
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Friday, August 27, 2010

October 17th, 1911

This next letter is from Matthew to Jack. It sounds like he has been busy with too much work, though I imagine there had been more corrospondence between them than what I possess. Matthew finds himself to be a big fish in the little pond that is Marshall. His skills are so appreciated, according to his letter, that he is surpassing his competitors. More than this, he wants Jack, Annie and their children to move to Marshall. Perhaps Jack wrote about his interest in his last letter? Either way, Matthew paints Michigan as the land of opportunity, except during the winter. There is fruit to be grown, meat to be stored and work to be had by anyone who wants it! Bountiful America is soooo much better than depleted, expensive England!
This time, I did edit Matthew's letter a little in the transcription, but the actual letter should be large enough, if you'd like to read from it. Also, thanks for following! Please tell other relatives, if they might be interested. Or if you know of any other sites that deal with our family, let me know and I will link to them.



Dear Brother Jack

No doubt you think you think I have taken a long time to make up my mind to write you but when you consider my position you will no doubt excuse me for the delay. I need not tell you the trouble I have come through loosing my only son and fighting my way in a strange country among strange people but thank God I am no longer a stranger and my ability has made me a name in this town and also the towns near here. I now have customers from towns where their own countrymen are in the same business and myself and if my services were not appreciated I would not have them come to me. I have run two men out of the business in this town and bought one of them out, and things seem to be coming my way all right. Of course there won't be very much work to do during the winter as it is impossible to run a motor car in the snow we have, but still we will have enough to keep us going one way or another.
Now I have been looking round for a place for you and your family, for no doubt you are of the same disposition as myself and would not like to leave them behind. Now I have been in conversation with a farmer that I do work for, as he keeps two engines. One to pump water for the cattle and the other to grind food for them, and he wants a man just like you to take an intrest in the work on his farm and be there when he wants him. He wants to hire one by the year and he will provide him with a nice cottage & a good garden. He will also have two hundred pounds of pork, all the potatoes he needs and plenty of fruit and 2 quarts of milk a day for the home and and all the feul you need and the wages are three hundred Dollars* a year . Besides now the man he has now (Besides the farm the man has now, he?) owns a farm but it was morgaged and since he has worked for Mr. Lewis he has saved enough to pay off the morgage on his farm and he is taking possession of it in the spring and therefore the place will be vacant.
Now if you should decide to come let me know per return and I will make arrangements with the farmer and we can get reduced rates for bringing you all out here. You need not be afraid of the work as there is very little difference here. The only thing is that they don't work so hard as they do in England and the living is cheaper all round. The climate is so nice that you can grow all sorts of fruits and vegetables out of doors. Tomatos and grapes and all such stuff as that without any trouble. It will give you an idea of how grapes growwhen you can get them for 9/1 for 60 pounds. And apples this year are so plentiful that they (are) not worth the trouble picking. You can buy a barrel of them, 180 pounds for 3/- and pears the same. We buy our meat in chunks as we can keep it without salt all winter. Last year we had nearly half a cow and a whole pig and we will have more this year as my brother is boarding with us. I see by the paper tonight that beef is 4d per pound and pork is 4 1/2d. Eggs are considered very high just now, they are 10 1/2d per dozen. And butter has never been so high since the civil war, it is 1/1 per pound but it will soon come down. So you see we can live cheaper than you can in England and as the wages are higher a man has a chance to save a little for a rainy day. And any man who wants to work can get plenty, as the demand is far greater than the supply and there are opportunities for your children which you would never have in England. I have a cousin in this town (who) just left school and she has seven dollars* a week. That's £1-9-2. You would be a long time in business before she could earn it in England. So for the sake of yourself as well as your family, I hope you will give this your earnest consideration. Give my best love to Annie and the Kiddies and all the friends in Grange and accept the same, yourself.
I remain Your loving Brother,
Matthew Nelson

I still don't understand the "/-". I haven't researched it yet, but I'm guessing it's got to be cents, only in different fractions than American dollars and cents. So I'm trying to convert those until I know what I'm doing. also, I think the "d" after the fractions probably represents dimes, but I'm not certain.
*$300 in 1911 would be about $6825, today.
*$7, or £4.50 in 1911 would be about $160, or £103, today.
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Undated Letter from Amy

This is a letter that I have a hard time reading. Amy's handwriting can become rather illegible to me when she gets excited. I will try and make my best guesses, but I'll keep them in parentheses or put "..." in places where I just can't make it out. Feel free to write in the comments what you think certain phrases might be.
This letter doesn't have a date on it, but I figured this was probably where it fits. It sounds like it's summer. As you can see, Matthew has his snazzy new letterhead stationary for his snazzy new auto garage. You can actually still see his garage, today, only it's no longer a garage. State Street was renamed "Main Street" sometime later, and if you went to the old building on 301 E. Main St, you would find... a tapas restaurant! So if you find yourself in Marshall one evening, stop by, have some tapas and think of all the old cars Matthew used to work on there.
Amy says that Matthew has brought his brother, Tom, to Marshall. Matthew eventually leaves the garage to Tom as he goes to work in "industry", as the Nelson Genealogy puts it. She also says they buy a car, which is a "Reo" and I'll try to find a picture of the model online. This is boasted as the first car in Marshall, nicknamed "Black Bess". Incidentally, I drive a Kia Rio. 
By the way, the second sentence in the parentheses is the best I could translate. I have no idea what she's referring to, but if anyone else has any idea what that actually says or what she means, please let me know.


(I could get plenty of work if I had not got baby_____
You could make 10 dollars* a week going out like that.)

My Dear Annie

Just a line. I expect you will think I have forgotten you but you are never out of my head. We are having awful hot weather, 103 and more than that some days. I have stood it so far. Dear Annie, I wish you were out here. I'm sure you would get on alright. Matt (a bit slack). They went out to the harvest on Saturday. They get ... dollars a day and food that would just suit Jack. There seems plenty of laboring here and I am sure you would get plenty to do. If you go out to work by the day you ... get 15 cents* an hour. Aunt gets that when she goes out. She has no need to go out for he has a (farmer sheds. Farmers) take their horses in for a rest and he gets 10 cents* to a dollar* according how long they are in. You get good pay for washing (clothes). Some only just have them washed and sent home as they are. Matt's cousin washed and ironed 2 dresses and a blouse and she got a dollar and a half* for them. They would not have taken you any longer than an hour to have done them.
Dear Annie, I am sending you 2 dollar bills*. Try and change themand let me know how much you lose on them. I know they change them at Lewis in Liverpool so I expect you can change them at the bank. For we lost over a dollar when we sent the last so I want to see if it is any cheaper sending it that way.
Dear Annie, thanks for paper. Had to pay 2 cent* on the last paper. I should have loved to have been over for it. They had grand doings in Canada.
We have Matt's brother staying with us. Matt's learning him Auto work. We give him his board and pocket money and he seems quite satisfied. They bought a second hand auto last week. 60 Dollars*. It will hold up 6 but they have got to repair it. Tom got it out of the bank and paid for it.
I will answer the last letter in a day or two. I have got Matt's sister Maggie staying with us for a month from Canada. We will make room for you all at our house.
Write soon, Amy XXXX

*$10 in 1911 would be about $230, today.
*$.15 in 1911 would be about $3.50, today.
*$.10 in 1911 would be about $2.30, today.
*$1 in 1911 would be about $23, today.
*$1.50 in 1911 would be about $34, today.
$2 or £1.29 in 1911 would be about $45.50, or £29.30, today.
*$.02 in 1911 would be about $.45, today.
*$60 in 1911 would be about $1365, today.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

March 20th, 1911

Here's another letter from Amy that she sent to her sister with some more money. You can tell she misses Annie, terribly. She encourages her to write her back a few times.
Amy also mentions that Matthew starts his new job as proprietor of his own garage. The next letter that will be featured here will be on his stationary!
If you notice, Amy's pen dies while she writing the second page of the letter and switches to pencil. You can see marks at the bottom of the front side of the page, where she might have tried to get the pen to work again. 


(This is a second. I received it last week with £5)
(Something underlined twice, looks like "omme".)
March 20th 1911
Union St

Dear Annie

Just a few lines. Hope you are keeping well. I am sending you some money as I promised you must write back as soon as you get this.  We are sending you 24 dollars. That is £5 in English money. I will send send more as soon as we get an answer from you. Don't forget to let us know how much we owe you. Tell Ethel we will send her some as soon as we can. Matt started in his new place this morning. If he gets on all right we will soon be able to pay you both. We got a letter from Scotland the other day and they told us you had not had any visitors in all winter. I was so sorry but I hope you are pulling-along all right.
Dear Annie, we have named the baby Maraget after Matthew's sister. She is dark and she is very good.
I must conclude now as Matt will be in for dinner in a few minutes. With love from all I remain your loving sister Amy
And that is our address. Write soon.
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Saturday, August 21, 2010


So, two posts ago, I speculated that Matthew and his family went through Ellis Island. My reasoning was that the children had to had their hair cut off and I didn't have proof that they actually went through Canada. Well, I was looking through the Nelson Genealogy and found the migration history on page 14. I thought I'd read it pretty thouroghly, but I guess not, because I found this:

1910- SARAH Nelson, with brother MATTHEW Nelson, wife AMY and three (3) children came to Montreal, Canada. SARAH, being sponsored by a church, went to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, to work as a servant.
MATTHEW and his family proceeded to Marshall, Michigan, to the home of his uncle, ROBERT RAE Nelson.
So it sounds like I was wrong about Ellis Island, Green Lane and that whole theory. I can't entirely rule it out just yet, even though that auto shop in the link to the Pennsylvania address looks like it was probably built in the 1950s. On the positive, it looks like Matthew's partner was probably from the Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
I'm going to keep all of the mistakes I post, unless they're technical glitches, like a picture not loading. This blog is about our family, but it's also about my research, trial and error. That's how research works, anyway. Sometimes clues cause you to guess, and sometimes those guesses are wrong.