W1545 TO DR. CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from his sister-in-law Mary Baker McQuesten
Jul 3 1885
To: Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten 15W 31st St., NYC [New York City]
Ever since I received your letter, I have been most anxious to answer your letter; but the getting ready to come to Hespeler1 the getting there and the getting settled is I assure you no joke. Just before coming Mary went away; she is now preaching in the Salvation Army; and I had such a time to find another nurse--Well, with Regard to Mrs. McQ's2 letter I must say both Isaac and I fully endorsed it except the part of Isaac's "Not being in a condition" I should like to ask her what she meant by that. I know pretty well and the only excuse I have for her saying such a thing is that any one not acquainted with Isaac's complaint would certainly think him under the influence of liquor, when one of these bilious attacks is coming on. Even Dr. Mullin was only convinced of his mistake after months of close watching.3
But it is certainly perfectly true that your Father is no more fit to be left alone than an infant; he is perfectly childish, when the children were there the other day, he was worrying about some jack-knives he had lost, he thinks he is at the old Homestead. It is no pleasure to him for any of us to visit him, for he does not know who we are not even Isaac. The other day he got out in some way and fortunately Turnbull met him and went home with him. It is impossible for Isaac to be with him much of the time and it does not seem to be any comfort to his Father; and it is so distressing to see him like that, that Isaac did not know how to ask you to come home and live in such dismal surroundings. Mary & Christie seem to be most faithful and not inclined in any way to side with the O.L.
So you know exactly how things are, and must judge and decide for yourself what is the Right thing to do. I fancy you are in such comfortable quarters with "the widow" that it would be very hard for you to make up your mind to leave. You have never told us where you are, but I imagined from your last that you were with Mrs. Brodhead. If so, why are you so very quiet about it? By-the-way I felt it my duty to offer my services to go over and help take care of your Father for outsiders spoke to me as if we were neglecting him, but Mrs. McQ. told me "when I want you I'll send for you." Of course I did not wait for her to send, but you can imagine how much I could do for him under such circumstances.--
I suppose if you do not come earlier you will come as usual in the Autumn, whatever time it is I will be thankful if you will bring another pair of boots for Cally,4 the last pair were just right the new ones I suppose might be a little longer and, Cally is very anxious to have them lace part of the way around buttons like men's boots. I scarcely know how to describe them they are more like brass studs on the boot than buttons. It is very common here and they can be quickly done if you think it so good for the foot. He does not need boots for a while.
We are all very well & hope you are enjoying the cool summer. Do let us hear from you soon again, and beware of widders [sic].
1 The family owned a summer house in Hespeler. Additionally Isaac and his business partner John Harvey operated a wool mill in the area which was bankrupt by 1887, see W2652.
2 Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten, Mary Baker McQuesten's mother-in-law and Isaac's and Calvin Brooks' stepmother. She was ill-tempered and made many demands on her husband, including that he buy land on which to build a house for her relatives, the McKeands, and tried to coerce him into changing his will to favour her. She despised Isaac who seemed to see himself as his father's defender and would sometimes confront her about her behaviour. He also had a trust deed drawn up and signed which made it nearly impossible for his father to give in to Elizabeth's demands and helped his father secure a secret will which left Elizabeth with only a yearly annuity but prevented her from acquiring any of the property she had demanded be bequeathed to her. See W-MCP5-6.351 for more details.
3 However, Isaac did have problems with liquor and it is very possible that alcohol contributed to his early death on March 7, 1888. See W2520.
4 Mary's son Calvin McQuesten.