This transcribed letter was written by Thomas W. Hart while he was courting Stella Palmer. It was found in the wall of the old Hart house (Betsy’s house) at 333 Center Street and donated to the Mankato Library years ago by Mrs. Robert Murphy.
My dear Stella,
I received your most welcome letter some time ago and have started to answer two or three times but each and every time occurred to prevent until tonight I have been vary busy. Your Christmas gift to me arrived yesterday and truly Stella I am delighted with it. It is so much nicer than any present received by any of the boarders at Mrs. Trinques. Please accept many many thanks for the same and also accept from me a gift which you will find at the American Ex offices in your city – a gift that is old as the hills but still one I hope will please you. Please excuse my tardiness in getting it off but was disappointed in getting it. I have been vary busy the past week and am not feeling vary well al though I am not sick now that the rush is over I am going to get rested up and will be all right soon I hope. Jim has been working for Mr. R. James in China Hall the past week he is getting along nicely makes a good salesman so Mr. R. says. Miss Dunn has gone home to spend the Holidays. Dave is wandering around almost lost since she went away. Mrs. Trinque received lots of beautiful presents today. The gentlemen boarders chipped in and bought her a nice $10.00 hanging lamp with which she was delighted. I think she must have got $50.00 worth of presents in all. Hows that for an old lady? Mr. Beebe and his girl have gone to the Opera House tonight for an entertainment of some high fangled sort I have forgotten what it is.
What do you think of “My Partner now? He is coming out in great shape nothing small about him ha! Oh well I was young once myself. You can remember can’t you? Miss Walfram comes in the store every day now and has long personal interviews with Beebe. What’s that ah sign of? I tease him almost to death. I can bother him awfully. I had a letter from Mollie in which she wished to be remembered to you and said she had not heard from you for some time. I sent her a Christmas card today. Jim and I went up to Mr. Demerays today to dinner had a splendid dinner and a vary nice time. I think it was the best dinner I ever ate It seemed so funny to get out of the store for one whole day or afternoon rather for, I worked in the store till noon. Today seems like Sunday I can’t think it is Saturday Eve.
Alene Demaray has grown to be almost a young lady she is as tall as I am and so womanly poor girl to be left without a mother so young as she is. She was quite cheerful today but “What is home without a mother?” As I was coming back from supper tonight I stopped in and bid Miss Wilson a Merry Christmas. Jim was with me and she showed me a stack of presents about four feet high she was on her high heels she had a basket of nice muscat grapes a basket of nice oranges and vases, perfume. I can’t remember half of the things. Sister May is married I suppose all though I have not heard from her yet I think they are living in Alden, Minn. Mr. Crocker was in the store tonight he has just returned from a trip out west looking well. Mr. Tenney was just in the store he was exhibiting some vary nice presents which I received today. I wonder where we will spend next Christmas? I suppose in Mankato in some humble little wigwam eating turkey perhaps. I hope so.
Stella I believe I will close as I don’t want to try your temper too much by cyphering out this tardy ill written epistle so bidding you a kind farewell and wishing you a happy New Year also hoping you will write soon. I will close.
Ever your true friend,
The gift that Stella Palmer gave to Thomas Hart for Christmas in 1886 was a book of poetry written by John Greenleaf Whittier. This book was donated to the Betsy-Tacy Society from the estate of Merian Kirchner.
Stella’s inscription to Thomas.
Full page inscription from the Whiitier book on display at Tacy’s House.
Photos courtesy of Michelle May.