Letters to Emily – Letter 22

This is a photo of one of the last remaining homes of Brandywine taken in 1988. It was a one-story structure with a basement built in 1850 by Benjamin and Pricilla Lemoine. The beams for the basement were 20-inch tree trunks. Once a community larger than Cleveland, Brandywine began to decline after a major flood destroyed three of the mills operating along Brandywine Creek. Almost all the buildings of Brandywine were destroyed when Interstate 271 was built except for this home and the Inn at Brandywine. This home was recently torn down.

We hear from Betsey, (Betsey Elmer Johnson Wood – 1812-1889) again. Like the last letter, she writes as if she ‘standing on soapbox.’ There is very little mention of the happenings with the family. She laments how important her husband being gone affects her even though she has her nephew and his wife at home to help her. She does go into much detail on her displeasure with how women are viewed with respect to helping their husbands. We find it interesting that even though Emily spells her husband’s first name with an h in it, Betsey has decided to leave it out.

My Brother and Sister – Roderick Dwight (1802-1863), and Emily Johnson Dwight (1808-1886)
Scott’s – Unknown
Marcus Taylor – Marcus Taylor (1824-1857), brother of Hooker Taylor (1811-1884), Betsey’s brother-in-law who was married to Betsey’s sister Clarissa.
My husband – Theodosius Wood (1801-1884)
Julius – Julius J. Brittan (1835-1912), Betsey’s nephew. He was the son of Betsey’s sister Juliette Johnson who died in childbirth. After her sister’s death, Betsey raised Julius.
Libby – Irene Elizabeth (Libby) Munn (1835-1915), Julius’s wife whom he married in November of 1856.

Northfield, Sunday, April 26, 1857 (written at top, upside down)

P.S. You put an h in the spelling of Rhoderick. I have concluded to adopt Scott’s spelling and leave it out. My husband has returned, this since writing the above, with two hundred and twelve sheep.

My Brother and Sister:

Having committed an error in my last letter to you respecting Marcus Taylor’s decease, I now seat myself to inform you of it. He died, I am told, the first of March; which, I had supposed was or took place in Feb; and on finding out my mistake and thinking, should I wait till I receive an answer from you, perhaps it might not be corrected at all. I am unwell, a great deal more so than usual in some respects. There is a throat distemper prevalent, I am informed, or something else, and I am afflicted with it, too, and my health being usually such that in addition to my exercise most always affects me, and, which, I sometimes unwisely take and take against wise reproof; but my husband is from home. I don’t know where, in pursuit of sheep or stock for our farm. I expect his return this week. I feel such a loneliness when he is away, it seems as though all comfort and light is gone from our dwelling. Julius and Libby are kindly, but the aid that gives [illegible] the sent that gives courage, the hand that tenderly relieves my wants and provides is gone; and, perhaps, I could not better illustrate my case than by saying that should you want a comparison to take a louse from a person’s head and put it on the cold floor, and then imagine the pleasures of its existence, if you can, and you will know mine. I wonder what sin there would be in a wife’s going with a husband and helping drive sheep. It does appear to me that there would be more enjoyment and more health could work and business between husband and wife be more mutual, and woman placed, where God first placed her, a help meet for a man. Rachel tended to her father’s flocks. Sarah made the cake and Abraham dressed the calf to entertain angels; but modem refinement brands a woman with disgrace for wanting to understand law and her husband’s business, although she suffers the pain of giving birth to lawyers, and rears children for husbands and fathers etc.; still, she sustains the relation by our laws, not Gods, of a minor; and should there be an outlaw or outcast, in the public she is compared to her for wanting information which the civil and moral law grants or should. Calculate the amount of sin and suffering incident to this state of things, physically and morally, if you can, and look at the results, confinement in doors, restrained social intercourse, sickly sentimentality, diseased imagination, fear of ridicule, an unnatural life, and, consequently, disease and peevishness etc., I might say, moral misery; and to add, as though the cup was not full, repeated doses of medicine and a doctor’s sympathetic visits to strengthen the evil, till life is a burden, existence a scene of suffering making man’s life almost intolerable, to say nothing of the accusations heaped upon the sufferer because she wants her husband’s aid, company and kindness to smooth her weary path of toil and arduous duties in rearing their mutual offspring; for should a woman claim her babe her own by right, as effectually as society puts the burden of rearing her child upon her, all relations and marriage ties would break at once, and jealousy reign supreme in married life; a man would divorce his wife as unnatural, Should she say, that babe is mine; but what does the world say? What do man’s acts often say? they’ll speak for themselves; and what does the present state of female society with regard to health present to the world in this divided, business acting and family interests, governed by popular tastes and censures? If a man stays at home and attends to his business, according to the ability God has given him, some are ready to say, he’s ruled at once. Should he abide by God’s law and make his wife a helpmeet for him she, of course “wears the breeches”; should he treat her with that tenderness her health and strength demand, the world must govern by helping to corrupt principle and destroy moral agency, forgetful that wrong continually enters the ears of the Lord of Sabbath, till vengeance is provoked and God’s curse is poured out. I need not write more, the truth is all around us, to be heard and seen, and felt and God’s truth is all around us, like a sunlight in darkness, to dispel this false state of things; but custom holds the barriers, Physic and refinement bulwark its minister, build it up; and lawyers defend it; and, alas for woman! she is the first and last transgressor and sufferer; a minor 

(Written up the side)

bearing the heaviest part of life’s burden and duties and sufferings yet of little use

B.E.J.Wood  (Betsey Elmer Johnson Wood)

Our next letter is from Ester Ellen Taylor (1845-1911), Clarissa Johnson and Hooker Taylor’s daughter. We will learn of the continued troubles of Betsey Johnson Wood and catch up on a few of the happenings of some of the family.