Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Dear Little Sweet Babe

That's how this letter from my great-great-grandmother, Mary Frances (May) Bunker, to my great-grandmother, Beulah Holt Bunker, begins. At the time, Beulah had recently started her course to become certified as a teacher at the State Normal School, what would later become the University of Maine at Farmington. According to my grandmother, it was a 2 year program at the time and was the only credentialing a young woman (or young man, for that matter) would need to become a teacher for life. First the photos, and afterward there's a transcript. Although her handwriting is lovely, May's grammar and spelling weren't quite perfect, and I've left the transcript unredacted.

At the time this letter was written, my great-great-grandparents were living in Bar Harbor, away from their own house across Frenchman Bay in South Gouldsboro, and working for the Rockefeller family. Henry was a groundskeeper, as my grandmother recalls, and May was an "upstairs seamstress", meaning that she sewed and hand-embroidered the bed linens, pillowcases, and towels used by the robber barons. My grandmother recalls some of the excess pieces that May was allowed to bring home, but none survive to her knowledge.






Bar Harbor Oct. 3 - 1915
Sunday 7 P.M.

My Dear little sweet babe:

well another week has gone and I suppose you have written to us this afternood Uncle Nate is still hear going to stay until the middle of the week and then he is going to Winter H after making Clara and Enos a visit Clara & Enos has been down to day and stayed till after dinner.

Clara said He said coming down we shant see Bubber to day. and after he had been hear a while he said Bubber makes a big hole in the house and he missed you. well that is all about them. suppose you got your check all right. we are having nice weather now after the storm. had a letter from Aunt Flo yesterday. said she had sent you your ring.

Have not see Miss Latham yet Harry and Minnie has gone to Cherryfield dont know when thay are coming back thay have bought a farm down there. probly you will have a letter from them I hope thay will stay here this winter.

everything is just the same as it was the day you went away. am awful glad you like so well. Barbar comes after the milk every night. I should think Howard Emery would fill some, with all of you girls.

did you have a letter from Goldie. Mr. Cummings has got Typhoid Fever I guess that is the way it is spelled. papa is going home sometime and paint the house but I don't know when

well I must write to Flo and hope I will get a good long letter from you this Wednesday. so good night with lots of kisses.


Monday Morning

I got your letter this A.M. and it was a good one am glad you are having such a good time and am well. hope Hazel wont have a sick spell. I am washing wish I could wash and Iron in a hour. good bye.


  1. So cool you have letters! I'm wondering if Beulah got her red teacher pen out?

    I'm not sure my grandmother could write that well... she was so proud that she went to school until the fourth grade.