W2451 TO DR. CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from his brother Isaac Baldwin McQuesten
Dec 28 1874
To: Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten, New York
From: Hamilton, Ontario
My dear Brother,
A Merry Xmas & A Happy New Year! Should have written you some time ago, but expected to send a joint epistle with something from the other side of the house, which however you will have to wait for as it could not be completed in time. Sent you today by registered letter (which Colbeck assured me was the safest way, & no risk on a/c of duties) a small New Year's gift in the shape of a Meerschaum Pipe--probably not as handsome as the swell one you already have, but still it will add to your number. If you want to color to the best advantage, Selinader says to keep the stopper in, only removing the amber centre-piece, & use for some time as a cigar holder, by which means you can, he says, color to the top.
Mary's doctorial brother has been here for a few days.1 He stands over six feet & is of same proportions as yourself. Weights only 280 lbs. As far as an unprofessional can judge, I should imagine he stood well in his profession. Father has been quite delighted with him. Father took his Xmas dinner with us, notwithstanding the O.L. [Old Lady] was very much disgusted at his not going to Archie's with her.2
By-the-way, as things look at present, Mary thinks of coming to N.Y. with me. The youngster is weaned,3 sleeps with the girl, of whom she is more fond than of her mother; & the girl, who is thoroughly trustworthy, would prefer the youngster with her, rather than otherwise. And as Mary is not any too strong, I think a fort-night's change would do her good, & N.Y. would be a new world to her. So if it should happen to not inconvenience you--but not otherwise, & I want you to tell me honestly just how you may be circumstanced--we would be very glad to stay with you, some of the time anyway. I don't want to put myself under any obligation to Dr. O. [Ormiston] & I do not see how we could, without actually having some unpleasantness, avoid staying with him, other than by staying with you. It will probably be about the latter part of Jan'y when we go; but I have the fixing of the time only partly in my power. Will write you again in a few days, when some funds come in. A haunch of venison is being cured for you.
As ever yours
I.B. McQuesten [Isaac Baldwin McQuesten]
1 Isaac is probably referring to Dr. John Orange Baker, Mary's older half-brother. In W3054, Dr. John O. Baker expresses the wish to move back to Canada. Later, he moves to Seattle.
John, like Mary, seemed to get along very well with their father, Rev. Thomas Baker, and took his father's side when his sister Mary Ann Baker married Frederick F. Wilkes, her sister Harriet's widower, in 1848. Apparently, Mary Ann ran away from her brother's home to escape her "confinement" there, although we do not know whether she was literally confined to the house or whether she was watched very closely, see W2868.
Furthermore, John was interested in operating on Maria (Mudge) Baker, the wife of his brother James Alfred. It appears that she had a heart condition and at least one operation was performed to correct it. See W3051, W3121.
2 The "Old Lady" is Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten, Dr. Calvin McQuesten's third wife and stepmother to Isaac and Calvin Brooks; Archie is one of the McKeands, Elizabeth's relatives. Elizabeth could be very unpleasant and demanding and fought her stepsons over her husband's will. See W-MCP5-6.351 for more details and links.
3 Mary Baldwin McQuesten, the eldest child of Isaac and Mary Baker McQuesten. She had been born on March 20, 1874 and would have been nine months old when this letter was written.