Nellie Coleman 1890/91 Letters

Many thanks to Chuck Russell who just sent me these two letters that my great grandmother Nellie Coleman (later Shaw, See Howard Irwin SHAW’s page) wrote to her aunt Elvira Coleman Gilbert.  Chuck is the grandson of Nellie’s sister Lucy and BBF Lucy.   Nellie wrote these letters in pencil because she “hasn’t conquered her aversion to pen and ink” and over 113 years the letters became faint.   However, through 21st century magic, I  adjusted the contrast so it’s easier to read.

Nellie was 13 years old when she wrote this first letter.  She was living “out west” in Anoka Minnesota and her aunts and uncles were in the east in Vassalboro, Maine.

Nellie Coleman age 18, four or five years after she wrote these letters

Nellie Coleman age 18, four or five years after she wrote these letters

See Dudley COLEMAN’s page for descriptions of Nellie’s aunts and uncles

Her father’s younger sister, Eleanor, who everyone said looked like Nellie was born 1 Jul 1850 in Vassalboro and died at age ten 18 May 1861 Vassalboro. I don’t have a picture.

Aunt Elvira is Elvira Brown (Alvira or Vi) Coleman b. 25 Mar 1845 Maine; d. 22 Jan 1930 Vassalboro, Maine; m. 25 Nov 1865 Vassalboro to William Wallace Gilbert.

Aunt Maria is Cynthia Maria Eastman Coleman b. 8 Aug 1830 Vassalboro; d. 20 Mar 1897 Augusta, Kennebec, Maine; m. 1 Dec 1857 Augusta, Maine Daniel Foster

Aunt Roxy is Roxanna “Roxie” Parmenter Coleman b. 24 Feb 1835 Vassalboro; d. 30 Nov 1926 Vassalboro; m1. 20 Apr 1854 to Augustus Plummer; m2. 5 Sep 1863 Kennebec, ME to Charles R. Church; m3. 22 Aug 1869 to Marcellus Lovejoy

Aunt Sophornia Richardson was born Sophronia Sanborn in 1817. Her parents were Timothy Sanborn and Hannah [__?__]. Sophornia married Amasa Richardson Nov 1837. Her mother Hannah had become Amasa’s stepmother in 1833 when she married Seth RICHARDSON as his second wife.  Not only that, but Sophornia’s sister Hannah married Amasa’s brother John.  Amasa Richardson was born 22 Jun 1809 Vassalboro and died after 1885 in Anoka, MN

Nellie 1890

Elvira, Charles, Eliza and sitting Cynthia Maria Coleman

I’m not sure if this is the picture Nellie was referencing, but it has the four aunts and uncles she mentions.  Elvira, Charles, Eliza and sitting Cynthia Maria Coleman
Photo Credit: Margaret Gilbert Peterson

Nellie’s sister Esther was 14 years older. Esther married 12 Sep 1882 St. Paul MN to Edgar Howard Fitz  and already had four children by 1890 and were living in Martin county, Minnesota about 150 miles southwest of Anoka near the Iowa state line. (See Guilford Dudley COLEMAN’s page)

Little Ellen was Ellen Webber Coleman b. 5 Feb 1883, Anoka, MN; d. 1888 Pipestone, MN

Ammi, Nellie’s brother was nine years older.

Ellen Webber Coleman  Age  2 1/2

Ellen Webber Coleman Age 2 1/2

Nellie 1890 2.

Nellie was 14 years old when she wrote this second letter.  She would later join her brother Ammi and sister Eleanor in the “wild and wooly west.”   The mining town where my grandmother was born, Giltedge, Montana is now a ghost town.

Nellie 1890 4
Nellie 1890 3
Edgar Howard Fitz was  a civil engineer and architect from St. Paul, came to work on a bridge spanning the river at Anoka.  ”He went on Sunday to the church” where he met Esther Coleman.  they made their home in St. Paul.  Office work proved too confining for E.H. Fitz so a few months later they moved to the farm in Martin County near the Iowa state line, later known as Cedar Park Farm.  When Dudley was two years old, the farm was rented for a year and the family went to Great Falls, MT to join the King family.
Nellie 1890 5
Emma Prescott was Nellie’s mother’s twin sister.   Emma A. Webber was born 3 Aug 1835 in Vassalboro, Maine. She married Jacob Melvin Prescott bef. 1863   Emma died between 1895-1900 in Tama, Iowa

Nellie 1890 6

Herbert S Prescott  who visited was born Jun 1867 in China, Maine and died 13 Nov 1928 in Salem, Oregon  He married in 1897 to Alice M. Peck (Mar 1864 in Cedar Falls, Iowa – 9 Dec 1940 in Salem, Marion, Oregon)

In the 1900 census, Herbert was working as a mechanic in Waterloo, Iowa. In the 1910 census, Herbert was a newspaper editor in Grants Pass, Oregon. Strangely, Herbert is listed twice in the 1920 census, as a newspaper reporter living with Alice in Salem, Oregon and as a laborer living with his sister Mabel Smith in Atascadero, California.

Mabel Prescott who perhaps visited the next summer was born  1 Mar 1872 in Montour, Tama, Iowa  and died 5 Jan 1956 in Los Angeles, California.  She married Putnam David Smith (b. 11 Aug 1857 Grant County, Wisconsin – d. 27 Nov 1933, Monfort, Grant, Wisconsin) Putnam was 15 years older than Mabel. In the 1910 census, Mabel was an artist (picture painter) in Brooklyn Township, Oakland, Calfornia. In the 1920 census, Putnam was now the artist living in Atascadero, California. By the 1930 census, Putnam and Mabel were retired in Los Angeles. After Putnam died, Mabel married a man named Liddle.

They started a family business making china composition dolls called the American Beauty Doll Company,when German dolls became scarce during World War I.    Artist dolls were hand made by Mr. Putnam David Smith, his wife Mabel Smith and their young daughter Margaret.

Nellie 1890 9

Alice H. Webber was born Jan 1865 in Vassalboro, Kennebec, Maine.  She married in   1889 to  Richard Jude (13 Mar 1857 in Buffalo, Wright, Minnesota – 26 Aug 1932 in Anoka, Anoka, Minnesota) Richard’s parents were from Ireland.  Alice died 2 Aug 1919 in Hennepin, Minnesota. )  .

In the 1900 census, Richard was a butcher in Ramsey, Anoka, Minnesota. In 1910, he was a general farmer in Ramsey.

Alice (Webber) Jude ca. 1885, Anoka, MN

Alice (Webber) Jude ca. 1885, Anoka, MN

Nellie 1890 7


Nellie 1890 8

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3 Responses to Nellie Coleman 1890/91 Letters

  1. Janet says:

    The only Coleman I knew- Roy Coleman,Harriet Coleman,Ruby Coleman, Elton Coleman all lived in Bondville,Vermont,where i grew up.

  2. Polly says:

    These letters are absolutely charming, Nellie comes across as a very bright and confident young lady with a sly wit to boot. Makes me curious about her as an adult. Thank you for this and every other post on your remarkable blog.*

  3. Pingback: Favorite Posts 2013 | Miner Descent

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