Esther married George Sawyer on August 9, 1862, in a double wedding with her cousin, Hannah Spooner, who married Horace Shepard. The wedding took place in Sharon Springs, the spa town in New York visited by Esther’s mother, Mary, in the 1850s. It is likely that Mary’s brother, Bourne Spooner, who was Hannah’s grandfather, hosted the ceremony. Three days later, on August 12, another cousin of Esther’s, Mary Bartlett, married James Thurber in Plymouth. The three grooms – George Sawyer, Horace Shepard, and James Thurber – enlisted together in the 13th Massachusetts infantry, and departed for training camp shortly after their weddings. The three fought together at the Battle of Antietam in September 1862. Click here for a family tree that highlights the connections between individuals mentioned in this letter.
Although this letter is undated, clues in the text suggest that Esther wrote it two weeks after her wedding. She is staying with her father in Plymouth while her husband and his friends prepare to join their regiment. Mary is on her way home, presumably from Sharon Springs. Esther expresses her gratitude for her cousin Charles W. Spooner’s kindness, asking her mother to keep her appreciation private as she knows Charles would shrug off the praise. The anxiety over her husband’s imminent departure underscores her longing to have Mary home again.
I shall not write you much of a letter for Charles will tell you all the news. It is a fortnight to-daybut I have not had time to write you. I have had a good many things to do for George. They went Monday to and Last evening they came home on a furlough very unexpectedly to & I. They will go back Tuesday morning and are expecting to be called any time to join their regiment, which is the 13th. They will not know what company &c untill they are in Virginia. They will be under . & that is all they know at present. I was very glad of your letter & send you one , it is all there was.
I have been very busy lately & am real glad you are coming home so as to help me sew. George says “give my love to her” he is going out for a little walk. I know Charles will tell you all you want to know much better than I can write it. And I don’t feel much like writing. Charles is very kind. He goes out to Camp to see them and does all it is possible for anyone to do for us all. I don’t think we half appreciate him. Don’t tell him so, for he will say “oh bah” and think it is silly, but I want you to know. We all went in there to dinner to-day. Had a splendid dinner. The flies have soiled the house more the last two weeks than all the rest of the summer, but I hope it will soon be time for them to take their leave. It is that time now when it is no use to clean. I begin to feel scared now you are coming home for fear you would find things in good order. Father has written you a long letter. He is very well & wants you to come home. I dont know of anything in particular to tell you.He will show it to you when you come home. I did not go to , for we heard of the fight in the cars and George & Horace were afraid they might be ordered off sooner & we had things to attend to at home, so came on. I had a beautiful letter from .
I will say good night now. I have got lots to do tomorrow & it is 9 o’clock. Much love to all & please remember me to Mrs [name?] if she is still there.
I am glad you are coming so soon. From your daughter,