Family discipline a century ago in Moriah

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. The nephew typed these up in 1900 and inserted some comments.

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

"I never remember his punishing his girls, but word from him was as much as a whipping from Mother who did bring us up in the old fashioned way. We did not fear her but were a little in awe of him, or did not like to hurt his feelings. We did not realize that it did hurt him. He used to tell us most wonderful stories, some of them being very thrilling and of course, being devotefully believed. Humbuggery played a conspicuous part in his method of training, as you will see later on.

Mother was short, plump and very erect in her carriage. She was dark, black-eyed, red checked, and had straight black hair and was called very handsome in her younger days. She was a true help-mate, stayed much at home while raising her family and was never idle. She was devotedly fond of her children and, while she could see their faults and always reproved them, she allowed no one else to comment upon them and, if they did, they were not likely to repeat the offense. She was very jolly and was interested in our pleasures and none of us feared to seek her counsel for fear of her disapproval. She was one of us and was a favorite with young people.

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