Letters give glimpse into Moriah’s past

Moriah Reflections

The following are letters written by Ellen D. Witherbee Atwell in 1899 and 1900 to her nephew Tyler Reed Woodbridge of Victor, Colo. She was age 64 at that time. She tells of her family life, traditions, and some facts of history relating to the Witherbee family, handed down by her parents and grandparents, written at Port Henry.

These letters were sent to me from Bill Knowlton of Liverpool in 2002. Ellen Atwell was his great aunt.

“At another time she was very desirous of helping him and he told her she might stand in the cornfield and wave her arms and be a scarecrow and she thought it would be great fun. She went to the cornfield and he thought no more about her until she failed to come to dinner. They began looking for her and Father remembered about it and went to look for her and found her still there waving her arms. He gave her turpentine sometimes for medicine. He would motion her to come with him so Mother would not see them and tell her to eat a lump of sugar and not tell Mother. To eat it quick. When she tasted it, she exclaimed it was all turpentine. He was surprised and gave her a good one.

When Father went to town one day, Em wanted him to bring her a new dress with birds on it. He promised to do so and when he came home she was greatly disappointed because it had only bunches of flowers. She began to cry and said, “Father you promised to get me a dress with birds on it.” He said he had. She said she couldn’t see them and he told her they were behind the bushes. She believed him and went to school and showed the girls her dress with birds on it and because they did not believe it, she was very indignant and said there were “for Father said so”. She was very kind-hearted and did not like to have anyone feel uncomfortable and if Addie snubbed anyone, as she did sometimes, she tried to make it up to them. When Addie refused to be kissed and resisted, Em smiled on him and submitted to be kissed - not because she like to be kissed but she felt sorry for him.

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