*Family Letters

A salute to the lost art of letter-writing

Go dig out those old letters in the attic and desk, and see if you have any excerpts pertaining to family or local history. Please give a date, location and to/from names.  Stories are good, gossip better, and scandal earns a gold star.....
Just e-mail it to me and we'll put it up.

Home  Obituaries   Stories   Descendants   Address Book   Writer's Corner

Directory of Correspondence

From WW Towse to his daughter Ollie, 1898   On his early life in the West
Postcard from EA Towse to Ollie Smith,1903   Looking for cousins, just like us
From Jeanne Towse Collins to Charles S Dawson,1981   On her father, Frank Towse
From Grace Towse Weaver to Kenneth G Towse     On her grandfather, John Towse
From Eleanor Coyne to Debra Cohig,1988   On her grandfather, Thaddeus Warsaw Towse and his children
From Eleanor Coyne to Debra Cohig, 1992   On meeting other Towses
From Lucy Ellen Towse to Debra Cohig, 1988    On her father, Arthur Roy Towse, and her parents' marriage

Victor, Colorado, Aug 22, 1898

Dear Daughter Ollie,

I received your letter this evening, and will answer and give you what information I can though it may not be what you want. I went into Cheyenne the night the UP track was laid about Sept 1, 1866. I was working in a gang of carpenters putting up water tanks and section houses. The winter before I lived at North Platte and was foreman on the first section No 50 west of North Platte. Tho I did not move into Cheyenne until October.

Ellsworth was born in North Platte Sep 10th a few days after the UP track was laid into Cheyenne; he was the first white child born in North Platte. We lived in Cheyenne and Hazard, afterwards called Colo Junction, until after the UP and CP tracks were completed and trains were running from the Atlantick to the Pacific when we moved to Rawlins, where you were born nearly a year after. I was the first section foreman on the section out of Cheyenne west. I know many of the early settlers of Chey Mr Davis foreman of car repairs Mr Kingsley Passenger Conductor, two Phillips Bros...Geo Oaks cond, Capt Reed LL Lord CF Earl and Mr and Mrs Haas a blacksmith Dan Ulman butcher Wm Farrell, N R Davis and Lorence McGinn Mr Abney I was acquainted with before there was any Cheyenne. Him and H Reel I was on the plains with between Denver and Nebraska City the first spring about May after the UP run into Indians and Mr Abney and another man brought him into town. I saw him when they brought him in. The first winter we lived in Cheyenne there was several men hung at Dale Creek and the next summer there was two hung at Cheyenne, one for stealing a team of mules from Yank Smith who lived near Crow Creek west side of town, the other man, Morgan by name, was hung a short distance east of the Post Office.

We lived in a house near the railroad bridge over Crow Creek and one of Mrs Whitebread's girls used to work for us. B F Pinee was our nearest neighbor.

Ed was born in Nebraska City Sept 1864 and Ellsworth at North Platte Sept 10 1866 just two years difference in their age and you was born in April just 2 1/2 years after, but I do not remember what day of the month.

We have been having a house full of company from Pueblo for the last month have been very busy. The Little Perrell mine that Chas is interested in is coming out OK.

I hope this will give you some ideas of the early days of the UP. Give our love to Clare and Vena. Do not have the girls neglect Sabbath School and try to attend church as much as possible, and may God's blessing attend you, all is the prayer of your father. WW Towse PS I first came to Denver in 1864 July."

Back to Top of Page

From a postcard in possession of Jean Fisk, from EA Towse to Ollie Towse Smith

"Wash DC June 8, 1903

"My dear Mrs Smith,

"I will acknowledge the receipt of your letter by card and write later when I hear more particulars. I have heard from your father, my cousin and my oldest brother, besides you and your brother, Ed. I now await an answer from your grandfather Towse in Lubec, Maine. We think we have it quite well. Brother and I figure your grandfather and my father to be first cousins, your father and I to be 2nd cousins, you and my nephew 3rd cousins. However, we will hear what your grandfather says.

"Very sincerely,

E A Towse 603 1/2 4th St NW"

[NOTE: the 'Official Register of the US, Persons in Civil, Military and Naval Service' of 1907 lists Miss Elizabeth A Towse--lives in Wash DC; sewer for Mfg Div, US Gov't Printing Office; 25c per hour; Born Pennsylvania.
Edward H Towse--lives in Wash DC; works for Dept Navy as a moulder at the Navy Yard; $3.32/day; born Pennsylvania.]

Letter from Jeanne Towse Collins to Charles S Dawson December 22, 1981

"Your letter of the 14th reached me today, my late father's birthday. He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1909 to Frank and Jeannette Bontiers Towse.

"Frank Towse was a professional photographer--furniture for catalogues--in Grand Rapids. He married my grandmother late in life--having had a son and daughter by a previous marriage. My mother believes they lived in the upper peninsula of Michigan.

"Frank Towse had a brother, John Melville Lincoln Towse, for whom my faher was named. He was the founder of "Women's Wear Daily" in New York City. He died about 1930...Frank and John Towse were from Maine!

Sincerely, Jeanne Towse Collins (Mrs Weldon)"

Back to Top

Letter from Grace Towse Weaver to Kenneth Gilbert Towse (not dated)

"...I am the last of our family of eight, and the younger members of the family are most interested in tracing the Towse line...

"My great grandfather, John Towse, was an educator, was the son of a Yorkshire immigrant who settled in New Brunswick, Canada. He was the son of John Towse, who with his three brothers entered the colony in 1817.

"They cleared land, constructed homes, planted gardens, and built an "up and down sawmill" on a swoft flowing stream. Sending for their families they gathered at the shore to meet them and as the ship approached one exclaimed, 'Here be our bairns'. Towse Road and Towses Corner still remain, but the houses, church, school and sawmill are gone, and the original land grant has reverted to woodland.

"My great grandfather, John Towse, was a teacher and became steward (business manager) of Mount Allison Academy until his death. It now is Mt Allison University, said to be the third ranking university in Canada. All his children and grandchildren were educated at Mt Allison. My oldest sister attended and cousins. So we all have affection for Sackville, New Brunswick and the school. Last year I established a scholarship in Father's and Grandfather's names---tho' I made it available to a student who was of the Stiles line.

"Great grandfather married Lucy Stiles--and in that line of seacaptains, we also had a cousin, Lord Bennett, who was Prime Minister of Canada 1930-1935.

"I am ninety years old...

Sincerely yours, Cousin Grace Towse Weaver"

Letter from Eleanor Coyne August 31, 1988 to Debra Cohig

"...I am a descendant of Thaddeus Warsaw Towse, who was my grandfather. As far as I know, he was born in Lubec, Maine in the late 1840s. I base this on the fact that my father was the oldest son, and he was born in Lubec in 1872. I was only six years old when my grandfather died in 1911, and I dont know anything about the family--if there were sons or daughters.

"Grandfather had three sons and one daughter. My dad, Ernest, was the oldest; Fannie was next: Oscar then Arthur. Fannie died in her late teens. My dad, Ernest, grew up in Lubec; went to vocational school in Portland; moved to Worcester, Massachusetts to work for his uncle (his mother's brother); married Emily E Worth, who was born in PEI. They had three daughters: Evelyn-- born 1903 in Worcester, she never married; was for years a legal secretary in Worcester; died in 1981. Eleanor--born 1905, married Malcolm Midgely, who was City Clerk of Worcester for 30 years; when he retired they moved to New Hampshire for eight years and then to Florida in 1959. There were two step-children. Malcolm died in 1974 and she later married Edwin Coyne who retired from Western Union; he died in April of this year. Marion--born 1907 in Worcester; married Percy Sprague; they had one daughter, Nancy Sprague Hanrahan, who has three daughters and one son. Maeion died in 1985.

"Oscar was born in Lubec in 1878. He married Lena Case also from Lubec and they had two daughters: Fannie, born in late 1890s was a cchoolteacher before she married Verner Robinson. They had three sons. They are all married and have children. I am sure you have contacted Roger and he can give you much jore information on that family than I can...

"Arthur Towse, the youngest son of Thaddeus was a graduate of the University of Maine. He had three sons and a daughter. His daughter is Lucy Elen and is the only one of them who survives. She lives in Cape Girardeau, and can give the names and dates of all that family...

Please keep in touch. Fondly, Eleanor M Coyne"

Back to top

Letter from Eleanor Coyne to Debra Cohig 23 Jan 1992

"...How exciting to find so many new cousins. It seems unbelievable to me that there are so many Towses around this country. We almost never ran ito any in our travels (I looked in the telephone directoriws wherever I went). Once while I lived in NH my Dad came up for a visit and I took him ot by bank so he could get a check cashed. Wehn the teller saw his name, he said, 'There's a fellow lives in town here by that name, know him?' My did didn't but we took his name and address and looked him up and he and Dad had a lovely visit trying to find a common relative. I think they decided they must be cousins...

"...When I was quite young (8 or 9) we used to spend summers in North Lubec with Uncle Oscar , and I remember going on a picnic--I think by boat--and meeting other relatives. Two of the families were Tofts. One was Thad and the other was John, I think. Maybe that was Mary's father, for Thad and John wee brothers. Their families were with them, so I may even have met Mary there but of course, at that age---and since we never saw them again, I dont remember. Interesting, isn't it?...

"Love, Eleanor"

Letter from Lucy Ellen Towse to Debra Cohig November 15, 1988

"...My dad, Arthur Roy, was born in Lubec, probably the only season it wasnt recorded. He was premature, weighted less than two pounds. No one thought he'd live but his grandmother took over and wrapped him in a tea towel and lined a loggers boot box with sheep wool and put him in the kitchen oven where he lived for at least three months, fed with a droper of sugar water and goat's milk. He was a large man and lived to be 83 years old. They both died at age 83--Dad was four years older than Mother.

"If I had the ability to write I would have written a novel. They had a beautiful life. They didn't talk about much of their early days as I remember as a child. I wasnt particularly interested---but then when I grew up thru college etc he had a letter from the University of Maine wanting him to come to the 50th reunion of the All-Americans. He had never been back and he made the remark he wished he could go.

"Then and there I decided I'd take the folks back to Maine. I knew he was a Civil Engineer and a graduate of the University of Maine. I didnt even know where they were married because the four of us were born in Pensacola, Florida. Mother picked up the southern accent droppint all of the r's and Dad never lost his down-eastern accent. When people asked how they met the answer was always 'We grew up together in Maine'.

"I cant remember the year, it was 1954--'55 or '56--Dad spent a year in the Northeren Woods of Maine building roads...

"They were married in 1907. It seems that wasn't the life he wanted, thirty miles tothe closest town. So he got a job in Pensacola, Florida. I learned that summer from Uncle Mac, who really wasn't her uncle, about their marriage. He said I was named for my grandmothers which I never saw (Lucy, Mother's; Ellen, Dad's).

"He was blind but he took me to the window of a nice log-cabin type house, and said, 'The last time I saw your mother I walked her over hill to that cove and told the Captain of the boat not to let her off the ship until April 18th.' The ship arrived in Jacksonville on the 15th. They talked back and forth for two days between dock and ship. Dad got a license in Jcksonville and they were married by a Presbyterian minister in his home.

"Plans in Pensacola were changed and they arrived married. I never asked, I just assumed they were married in Pensacola. They were wonderful parents.

Love, Cousin Ellen"

Back to Top     Home