From a Daughter-in-law to Her Beloved Father-in-law
I‘m not sure of all the circumstances surrounding this letter, but here’s what I do know:
Postmarked 1880 in Lebanon, Tennessee, it was mailed to Josephus Cavitt in Bryan, Texas.
The author, Matilda Norman Cavitt (Tillie), is the recipient of the 1871 letter in the previous post. She was married to Andrew Cavitt and they had a little boy, Norman, before Andrew died of yellow fever on a business trip in 1875. Although they had met in her hometown of Lebanon, Tennessee, where Andrew and some of his brothers went to school, they lived in Waco, Texas, where Andrew practiced law.
Josephus Cavitt, recipient of this letter, was the father of Andrew; therefore, he was the father-in-law of Tillie. Evidently, Tillie and Norman had moved from Waco back to Lebanon for a time, perhaps where she had been teaching before she was married, or perhaps for her to attend more school. She did live most of her life in Texas, where my grandmother, Beulah Cavitt Mitchell, grew up knowing her very well.
The brothers-in-law and sister-in-law she mentions in this letter are Whitley, William, Kate, and John Cavitt.
Please note that I have provided links within the letter, all of which help explain the conditions mentioned in the letter. Here is the transcription from the stationery, which was embossed with the national capitol and the word ‘Congress’:
March 2nd, 1880
Your letter is just received. It served with a good warm fire, as a pleasant welcome after a walk from church in the cold. It warmed my heart; as the fire did my body.
I am glad you are all well. There is surely a blessing in the health God grants us. I never felt better in my life, except that I am troubled with dyspepsia, which only comes from my eating too much. Norman is well and hearty and just now fast asleep. I found him asleep when I came back from church, so he has not had the pleasure of receiving your letter. He will be so proud of it. And I hope its good advice will go to his heart, especially about crying. He often crys[sic] and frets at my commands, when they deprive him of some pleasure he thinks all right. There are so many children here, that he is often led into wrong. I try to properly restrain him, but ‘tis hard to do under the circumstances.
I received the paper, and recognized Whitley’s handwriting. I am at a loss as to where “Morgan” or “Franklin” rather, is. And I thought “Englewood” had been selected as the new county seat. I suppose of course you are benefitted by the change, and exerted all your influence for it. How far is Franklin from home, and in what direction?
I am not in need of money just now as Bro Jimmie has just paid me $50.00- an amount due me from my Father’s estate. I shall devote it to a purpose which I have long wished to attend to- the repairing of my teeth. I do not know what I shall have done, nor how much it will take. Am going tomorrow to my old dentist Dr. Claywell, the gentleman with whom William and Andrew last boarded.
You are desolate indeed if all your children have left you. Is Kate boarding at Wheelock? It must be very very lonesome without any children. I don’t think I could stand it. What a blessed relief and comfort work is at such times. Sometimes sorrow or despondency all flee from the sturdy stroke of labor and industry. You will feel as if you were turning farmer again, superintending the work of three hands. No doubt you will miss “Norman’s partner” and John this spring- the many duties will require many and efficient hands. What is Mr. Plasters doing with your stock and what is the last news from Waco? Who is renting my house now? Dear home- I’ve been thinking and talking of it tonight, it could never seem the same to me again, yet I love it, even as I love the past.
There are a great many Texans here at school, both in the Literary, Theological, and Law classes. One, a Mr. Shannon says he knows William very well.
Dr. Fite is suffering greatly with Rheumatism tonight, as a physician he has to expose himself so much that he never has time to get well. How is Whitley doing in his practice?
Tis quite late, and I must off to sleep, if I would be prepared for the torture of dentistry tomorrow. Goodnight to you all, and God mercifully keep you.
Will you change your Post-Office to “Franklin”?