Friend Ettie

Friend Ettie

Prelude: Here is a little gem of a letter I found at Cuba Antiques, located at 6 Water Street in Cuba, NY.  I spent some time sorting through a box of old papers and found this tiny little envelope. It was sealed and the post stamp on the outside of the envelope was barely readable, but I thought the date said 1881. I was right. I purchased the letter and opened it. It was written on August 2nd in 1881 by a man named Clarence Gleason who lived in Belfast, NY to a woman named Ettie Merrill, who lived in Belmont, NY. It’s short, but sweet, and I left the spelling errors in, so you can read it in its original form.



Belfast                                    August the 2nd 1881

Friend Ettie,

I take my funcile (?) in having to let you now (know) I am well, hope to find you the same. Well we have just got threw (through) heying (haying). We have got to (two) sick horses now and when they get better I am coming up your way. I am in quite a hurry now, please excuse me for this time. Write soon.

Clarence Gleason



I love this little letter! I wonder if the postman was passing through town and Clarence decided to write something quick so he could send it along to Miss Ettie. He’s got two sick horses, and it’s the beginning of August. That was probably quite a hardship when people depended on horses for labor on a farm. Anyway, it’s a glimpse into the life of local people living in 1881. I did a little research (see all the links below) and found out an interesting fact. Clarence and Ettie got married! I found this out by researching cemetery records of the Riverside Cemetery in Balfast, NY.  I went first to the Allegany County Historical Society and found a link to the cemetery records there. I looked up Clarence first and to my surprise found Ettie a few rows down.

So, this letter is a courting letter from before they were married. I just love finds like these, where I can find historical information about the people who wrote these letters. History is so interesting when you find out about the personal lives of everyday people. What do you think?



Here is a link to Wikipedia 1881:

Here is a link to Belfast, NY:

Here is a link to Belmont, NY:

Here is a link to the Allegany County Historical Society:

Here is a link to the Riverside Cemetery List :

Here is the listing of Clarence :

Gleason Clarence B. June 5, 1858 – December 2, 1930

Here is the listing of Ettie:

Gleason Ettie L. Merrill February 22, 1864 – October 31, 1945



3 thoughts on “Friend Ettie

  1. The word you transcribed as funcile is pencil…people used to often use a longer stem on their lower case p. I have no explanation for the e at the end, however
    I love reading these treasures; thank you for posting them!


    • Thank you Sheryl for catching that. I did not know that people wrote that way in the 1800’s but it makes much more sense as “pencil.” I’m glad you enjoy reading the letters. I truly enjoy finding them and sharing them.


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