This post, and the next few, are about love. But not modern love.
I recently borrowed, from one of our family archivists, about a thousand letters between my great-great-great Grandmother Julia Palmer and my great-great-great Grandfather Morris Smith. I am reading a few letters every day, seeking a story I might write about their extraordinary lives. In order to write letters, you need absence, love, and a strong desire to communicate -- and for nearly forty years, Morris had to stay in New Orleans to work for his brothers from six to nine months out of each year, while Julia and their four daughters stayed up North in Hartford, Connecticut.
Reading these letters of love and longing, of domestic details and gentle teasing, I begin to see scenes and cloudy outlines of America in the 1840s through the 1880s. I'm less than a third of the way through, but already I am fascinated, and I thought I'd share some pieces with you, who might be thinking of getting married or officiating at someone's wedding. I'll post some words soon that Julia and Morris told each other as they fell in love, and in future posts, some of their more mature love as it shines through the letters. Julia went on to become a successful novelist, even earning enough to build a wonderful home! But between you and me, it was a few of Morris's letters that actually brought tears to my eyes. Stay tuned.
Here are some thoughts about weddings, writing, and the world. Enjoy.