1864 Letters

November 8, 1864 letter to Mark Lee from Harriet Lee

November 8, 1864                

To: Mark Lee             

From: Harriet Lee, Bountiful, UT

An update on various family members.                             

City Bountifull[1] Nov the 8[2]

Mark[3] I sit me down to answer that letter that we have been looking for so long and not recieved yet. We are all well except Massa.[4] Henry[5] has gone to Weber[6] after a load of coal. I expect him home to morow. We have very fine weather now. Your folks[7] are all as well as common. Jane[8] has been home for two weeks. She had three of her children with her. They had the inflamation in thier eyes so bad that she could not come to see us. She has another daughter. Poor girl she is as unhappy as ever. Her children are well but wily. Her health is poor. Orins and Saly[9] have been in and made us all a visit. Saly is just as quiet as ever. The boyes have hauled your father three loads of coal to burn this winter. I tell you our Lucy has got to be a fine girl and I wonder when you will kneed the rest of the name. Oh yes now while I think of it Moira(?) is not maried yet. She come in from Weber and went out to Marys the other day. Mother[10] dont like her a bit better than ever. She sayes Mark was such a fool to give her that ring. Miss Lucy Howard is single yet. I saw her in the city the other day. She wanted to know if I had heard from Mark lately. Seemed very much interested. Susan has given up all hopes. Thinks you have gone back after a wife.[11] I dont wonder she thinks so. It must have been some thing very interesting that made you want to go back in these times. Mother sayes she wishes you had never come then she should have lived in hope and died in dispair. Your fathers health is very poor. He is failing all the time.[12] You ought to come home as soon as you can for they booth are in trouble about you and Malissa realy kneeds you to wake her in the morning. Ruth[13] sayes give my love to Mark and tell him the kingdom is on the increase. Henry has sold old george and bought a span of large horses. He likes them first rate. He has bought a house and lot quite a good house so we have a comfortable home now. We had the best conferance we ever had. I thought of you every day and wished you were here. Mark I have been to two of the parties I ever atended in my life, the Mormon battalion party and Zions Camp.[14] That was nearer heaven than I ever expected to get in this world, as splended a party as was held I guess. I danced with the president brother Hyde and bishop Hunter. You had better believe fat folks can dance. Henry laughfes but he cant beat us. I am very much oblieged for Lucyes[15] picture you sent. I wear it in my broach. Give my love to aunt Cate[16] and Lucy. Tell them to write to us. Henry raised a first rate crop this year. He had over four hundred bushels of grain. Provision is very high. Flour twenty four dolars a hundred and every thing acordingly but times are much better than they was a year a go. You would hardely know salt lake city. It has improved so much since you went a way. I am making a hundred and twenty yards of home made cloth. If you was here you shoud have a pair of Sunday pants. Your aunt[17] in the City has had bad luck. She was feeding a calf and it wound her up in the rope and split her thigh bone. Hurt her very bad. I expect she suffers a good deal in body and mind. Mark the children[18] want you to com back. They speak about every day. They was chatting to them selves the other day and Helen[19] said she thought Uncle Mark was the handsomeest man she ever saw. I dont know what made them think so much of you for they hardley saw you while you was here. They all send thier love to you. I dont know how you stand it out of school so long.[20] I should think you would feel lost. Henry said he was going to write to you all just as soon as he got back. He will tell you all the news. I am a poor hand to write now for I am out of practice and have to work hard and am as nervious as Mrs Partington. I couldent attempt to write to any one but the School Master. I know he will excuse mistakes. I was much obiged to you for your congratulations. I only wish you was here so I could tell you what I thought a bout it for I dare not write it. You know what aunt rill[21] said about the nine months and a half hour but it wont be more than fifteen minutes I will bet and how near and dear the little thing will be doubely endeared. She is crooser than two stix and such a time ____ me.[22] Wm[23] is here. He thinks she would make a good Lieutenant the ____. Mark if I could see you I would tell you a thing or two that I dare not write but never mind. They canot scare me out of my boots. Now this is expresly for your benifit. I thought it wouldent be rite if I did not let you know. Dont you let any one else see this for they would certainly think I was one of the nobility of Utah. If my Ex husband[24] should see this wouldent he faint. You must not write any thing but you may think just what you are a mind to. That is my privilege. Answer this as soon as you get it.

From your sister, Harriet[25]

Mark for heavens sake dont let any one see this.

I am going to send my picture next time I write.


[1] Bountiful, Utah

[2] Believe this letter was written in 1864 due to Harriett’s reference to wondering why Mark would want to go back east at such a time, possibly referring to the Civil War

[3] Marquis de LaFayette Lee

[4] Short for Master, most likely referring to Ezekiel Lee, her father-in-law and Mark’s father

[5] William Henry Lee, Harriet’s husband and Mark’s brother

[6] Weber County, Utah, about 30 miles north of Bountiful

[7] Ezekiel Lee and his first wife, Elizabeth “Betsy” (Strong) Lee, who were also Harriet’s in-laws

[8] Believe this refers to William Henry Lee’s sister, Clarissa Jane Lee; it seems many of the Lee family preferred to use their middle names  

[9] Mark’s brother, Orrin Strong Lee, and his wife, Sarah Ann (Miles)

[10] In-laws were generally referred to as Father and Mother, while one’s own parents were called Ma and Pa

[11] Mark married Julia Ann Lee in 1864. From a history entitled “Dr. Marquis De LaFayette” written by his granddaughter Lelia M. Anderson: “On March 15, 1845, when he was almost twenty three, a baby girl was born to his Aunt Juliann Davis and Uncle Charles Lee, his father’s brother. Mark was sent to get the doctor; later, when asked what he wanted for the trip, he jokingly replied, ‘I’ll take the girl when she grows up.'” So apparently he went back and followed up on his earlier request

[12] Ezekiel was the first doctor to enter the Salt Lake valley and was the personal doctor of Brigham Young. He was severely injured and crippled in a buggy accident while being transported home after doctoring a patient, and remained so until his death in 1877

[13] Ruth Clarissa Carter, Harriet’s sister, who married Peter Cornia in 1856 in Salt Lake City; they had twins that were born July 9, 1865

[14] A celebration party in honor of the  men who participated in the expedition of Latter Day Saints soldiers, led by Joseph Smith, from Kirtland, Ohio to Clay County, Missouri during May and June 1834 in an unsuccessful attempt to regain land from which the church members had been unjustly and cruelly expelled by non-Mormon settlers

[15] Lucy Irene Lee, daughter of Catherine (Keith) and George Clinton Lee, Mark’s aunt and uncle

[16] Catherine (Keith) Bradley Lee

[17] Mark’s aunt, Aurelia (Lee) Hood, wife of Alvin C. Hood, and sister of Ezekiel Lee

[18] Harriet’s children, Daniel, Helen and Ezekiel

[19] Harriet’s daughter, Helen Marr Lee

[20] Probably refers to the fact that he taught school while he was in the Salt Lake City area

[21] Aurelia (Lee) Hood

[22] If this letter was written in 1864, Aurilla Lee, William Henry Lee’s second wife, was expecting her first child, and that would explain Aunt Rill’s comments about nine months and a half hour, Harriet’s comment about it only being nine months and 15 minutes (being a Mormon family, having several wives was common and Harriet could joke about her husband’s degree of intimacy with his newest wife), and Aurilla being cross as two stix because of her pregnancy

[23] William Lee, son of Charles and Juliana (Davis) Lee, was Aurilla’s brother

[24] While it is unclear as to why Harriet was referring to her husband as her “ex husband” perhaps she might have meant “excellent husband” or “exalted husband”

[25] Harriet Amelia (Carter) Lee, first wife of Mark’s brother, William Henry Lee

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