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.
" She used to like to work on the farm and, because she did, I tried it also but did not like it much and did not perform my part as well as she did hers. One day we went out to rake after the team and Father thought I did not do very well and asked me if I didn't know anything. I dropped my rake and went to the house and he did not ask me to return. My delight was to get rid of dishwashing and I was always pleased to have to watch the turkeys. I took my book and followed them around.
Ette was fond of work and when 12 years old made herself a calico dress all alone. She taught a private school in Westport and also in Port Henry. I was induced to apply for a school when I was 16 and succeeded in getting it. It was in "Hell's Kitchen," a suburb of Crown Point. I had to be examined for a certificate and as I was still afflicted with bashfulness could hardly answer to the questions and was much disgusted with my sister Addie (Betsy Ann Adelaide) because she answered for me. I was obliged to board around and at one place I slept in the family sitting room with a bed quilt hung for a screen, while the man and his wife occupied the other corner of the room. I lived mostly on pork and potatoes, Johnny-cake and blueberry pies. But the people were kind and simple and did the best they could.