Matthias Woodruff Letter to Francis Woodruff, May 10, 1883

Turning Sod in North Dakota in the 1890s (Photo credit: Shorpy website–see link to large version of photo below)

Below is a letter written on May 10, 1883, by Matthias Woodruff to his father Francis Woodruff. Matthias’s mother Mary Trowbridge Woodruff passed away earlier that spring (in March). Francis passed away two months after the letter was written. Both parents were in their early sixties. Matthias was writing from Larimore, North Dakota, a town founded in 1881. In 1883 there must not have been much to Larimore. North Dakota obtained statehood in 1889, and at the time of the 1890 census, the population was just 553.

He was on his own out there–far away from his wife Mary and son Frances (mentioned in previous post). I gather he did not get back East very often. I have another, longer letter that I will post in the near future. It is partly in pencil and there is some smudging, so it will take time to decipher.

P.S. I have added some punctuation since it is largely missing in the letter. The spelling and grammar are his.

Larimore May 10th

Dear Father

It is now a long time since any word from home but have heard of your terrible loss. I wish you would write and tell all about my Mother death and if she ever spoke of me before she died. It is nice warm weather now. we are seeding now. I am tin [I think he means “thin”] for seed. it a great deal of money to start in this country as well as any other.  I had to mortgage my stock to get seed. now I want to ask you to help me pay $130 by the 16th of June. There no chance for me to get the money till my crop comes off. Then I can pay every thing and I will pay you back the first thing. I am about to take another 160 acres [?] of land which I have a chance to do. You will help me this much I hope. I want to come home this coming winter and make a visit. My land is in fine order. I am using mules instead of horses this year. Please excuse all mistakes as I am in an awfull hurry. With much love to all I remain your ever loving son. M. Woodruff

Shorpy Image

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