Monday, March 31, 2014

A Taylor New Year’s Day of Snow and Feasting, From Upstate New York, 1851 By Elizabeth Taylor Sizer

I know we are NOT near to New Year's Day, but I see that some cousins on facebook have yet MORE snow as of yesterday; so here is one last burst of winter before surely Spring shows its face?!

This blog story is by a special correspondent—Elizabeth Taylor who was the sister of our Daniel Rockwell Taylor, great grandfather to Aunt CB. Aunt CB has some old letters tucked away, and I spent the better part of an evening poring over the small writing trying to decipher words.

Readers of the blog know Elizabeth Taylor Sizer. She was born in 1830 and died in 1852, so she was 21 years old when she wrote this letter to her brother Daniel.

 She married Albert Sizer in July of 1851, and spent much of that first summer tending to her brother Daniel, who left Yale very sick. The next year Elizabeth bore her son and died days later, but not before naming her son after her favorite brother. The story is told in more detail here:

The town the Taylors live in is Alabama, New York, a small community halfway between Rochester and Buffalo.

At the time of this letter, Daniel is away at Yale, Elizabeth has not yet married ‘Mr. Sizer’ and all seems joyful ahead of them.

Oakfield January 19, 1851

Dear Brother,

We received your letter dated January 11 last night, and were very glad to hear of your continued good health and happiness.

Perhaps you think it is my turn to plead guilty, for not writing sooner. I have many excuses but I think one will suffice, and that is this --Mr. Sizer was here between Christmas and New Year's, and wrote a long letter to you which I concluded by the length must contain all the news, both in the kitchen and parlor, and I finally came to the conclusion that I would delay writing for a few days at least, and perhaps something new would transpire. But the snow has been so deep most of the Yorkers have housed up for the winter, and as we are not so well supplied as we were before the emigration to the steam sawmill, and as the roads are so we could not attend church, I thought I would employ the time in writing. (Editor’s Note: Elizabeth will go on to marry Albert Sizer in less than six months; it does not sound like the family knows this yet. Perhaps Albert wrote to Daniel telling him about it).

Oh! Daniel I wish you had been here New Year's for we had a fine time outdoors especially. Imagine yourself in a place where the snow is some less than 4.0 feet deep, the wind blowing so hard that the sheep have to brace themselves against the fence to keep from going away, and the snow flying in all directions, and you can form some idea of the outdoors prospect at least in old Alabama, New Year's Day.

We had a rousing fire built up in tother room, (not much like your city fire I reckon), ditto one in the kitchen and then what do you think we did? Well! We didn't do nothing, no I guess we didn't but we stuffed a dead goose and then put her in the oven to roast. About 10 o'clock, if you had looked through one of them big telescopes you have heard tell about, one of them 'ere things what big men look through and seen such wonderfications on the moon, you probably would not have seen Elliot and his better half (their older brother and his wife, Sarah, married one year earlier) wading through the snow up their ankles, but they like hard and weatherbeaten sailors put on bold faces and braved the storm manfully and thus came off conquerors, leaving their white antagonist none the better for interfering with the plans of others.

 Daniel Taylor, later in life

The other guests did not make their appearance, however we had quite a little party of Taylor's, and enjoyed ourselves first rate, especially about 4 o'clock for about this time the roast goose looked very tempting and but few in old Genesee worked much harder than we did, as we sat around the long table, levered with geese, chicken pies, plum puddings, bison cakes, with a little cabbage on it, with many other things too numerous to mention, justice was done to them all.

Thank you Elizabeth for writing letters! I wish we had a picture of you, and perhaps in the future, through finding Sizer cousins, we will find one, but I did not think a picture of your grave would be appropriate. In this letter, you are so alive and filled with energy, thoughts and love. Again, an ancestor I wish I could sit down with and get to know over coffee (or tea?).


Pat Herdeg said...

Love the image of sheep having to brace against the fence to remain on their feet!

These letters are such precious treasures --they offer such images of who our ancestors were! Thank you to all who kept and saved them throughout these one hundred and sixty plus years.

Mom/CB said...

Dear Pat, How great to get Elizabeth's letter in here somehow! She was a well loved sister of Daniel's as his later diary shows. The home they lived in, Woodlawn, was situated at the 4 corners of Alabama, Batavia, Oakfield and Elba. [ am not sure of tha last one.] Eventually their mail was to be delivered in Oakfield but at this date, apparently it was not known. Their older brother lived next farm over.