Frona recovered her strength after childbirth and Maud grew into a clever toddler. Frona wrote this letter to Ephraim from Concord, where she and James appear to be visiting Frona’s sister, Em Paine. She relates his granddaughter’s antics, and James adds a note playfully chastising his family for not writing. While the year is omitted from the date on this letter, the fact that Esther is living with her father and the speech patterns of baby Maud suggest that the year was 1862, before Esther married and when Maud was two years old. Mary was away from Plymouth at this time, leaving Ephraim and Esther at Seaside. Seaside was an area north of downtown Plymouth and just south of the Kingston townline. Today this area is more commonly known as North Plymouth. It was the site of the Plymouth Cordage Company, the ropemaking business founded by Mary’s brother Bourne Spooner in 1824. The Cordage Company became the largest manufacturer of rope and twine in the world by the late 19th century and its success influenced the development of the area. Ephraim and his family lived in Seaside in the 1860s, although the exact location is unknown. They may have lodged with Bourne and Hannah Spooner in their home at 373 Court Street, but more likely they lived in a separate dwelling nearby.
Concord July 27th.
Our dear Grandpa,
We have been meaning to write you this long time but we are so busy through the day we hate to stop to eat our meals & it seems almost impossible to write except in the evening when I ought to be sleeping. I think of you there alone with Esta & it seems as though you must be very lonely sometimes, & I wish you had little Maud for an hour or two. You would both enjoy the change, I know. She is a sweet little darling & will never be more cunning than now. She talks very plain & puts words together very well. We have to watch her constantly but sometimes she will run away & get over to Thomson’s before I know it. Tonight aunt Sarah took her out to the barn to see uncle Stephen milk the cows & she came in very much animated & said to me, “Mama, auntie Sadee baby barn. Seven mick cows. Moo-oo. Cows no no.” The cows & pigs frighten her very easily & she says to them, “Moo-oo, no no. Pigs no no.” When she plays with little cousin Howard he sometimes whips her & she comes & says, “Mama, Oward wip baby,” & when we ask her name she says “Maudie Pooner.” She found a hole in her apron to-day & she mourned over it & kept saying “Boke. Boke.” I want Walter to send you dear Grandma’s letter to read, but he wants to keep what few letters he gets. He is quite disturbed at not hearing from home. I hope we shall soon.
[Note from James.]
What in the world is the matter? Have the rebels taken Plymouth or has Plymouth sunk? Four weeks today since I left there & not a word in the meantime from Father, Mother, or Sister, until yesterday a letter from Mother. I should think one of you might write if you are alive. If not, communicate through the Banner of Light. I sent you a letter soon after I got home & have looked for one daily. Mother’s first letter I have not got & never expect to.
I wish you could see the quantity of berries that Geo. carries off to market every other night. Tonight 150 boxes of red raspberries, some blackberries &c. &c. I believe they will have $500 worth this year & perhaps more. Walter picks from 20 to 25 boxes a day & I pack twice as many sometimes. Don’t you think we shall make our fortune? We are all very well now but Maud has been having a rash & Ida Paine, one of our nearest neighbors, has just been having the scarlet fever, & you may judge that I have been quite uneasy about her. I suppose our children here may all have it yet. Father & Mother are as well as usual & Mother picks a good deal. Please give my love to all of my friends in Plymouth, or rather at Sea Side. It is almost ten o’clock & I must be off with the baby. She would send a great many kisses to Bapa if she was here. Good-night, Frona.
I wish Esta would send me a drawers pattern for Maud if it wouldn’t trouble her too much. The baby says “Tar Tar” whenever she finds a picture of a lady, or sees her little coat she sent her. I want to get some photographs of her so you can all have one. Love to Esta.