W4283 TO DR. CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from his sister-in-law Mary Baker McQuesten
Dec 28 1875
To: Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten New York
My dear Brother,
When I came home from posting your handkerchiefs, I found your magnificent presents awaiting me, and if I could have recalled my order, I certainly should, for your [illegible] quite made me ashamed of it. Many many thanks dear brother Calvin for your kindness, but it was altogether too much, one half would have been a large gift. Such a grand book and the little I could glance into the reading matter very interesting. The [illegible], I assure you, was greatly admired. I never saw any so pretty before and such a fine quality. I told Isaac you ought to charge the latter to him because it was altogether too much. And I am sure you have just robbed yourself.
I intended to write you immediately but I had hardly time to look at the presents when I began getting blind with a sick headache. I suffer so fearfully from heartburn and indigestion that I can hardly walk down town and back without being knocked up. But I fancy I can do nothing but endure it for a while any way. When I can't stand it, I take something that relieves me for the time but it will be on again in half an hour, the worse of it is you know that I am always hungry and it is such hard work to keep from eating. I wish you could see Tiny1. She is just the picture of health but I am afraid she would lead you a sad life of it, for Isaac never has a minute's peace, the moment he comes in she goes for him. Isaac thought it was so troublesome getting anything through the custom house, we would just post the handkerchiefs. Hope they reach you. With many thanks.
Believe me, your loving sister
1 The baby "Tiny" (Mary) was nine months old and the first of seven children. At this time Mary was five months pregnant with her second child, Calvin, born May 1, 1876. He was born with a withered hand and some paralysis on his left side and in the next letter he is in New York with his uncle receiving treatment for same. It is not known what medication Mary took for relief of symptoms. Isaac had reported the birth of their first child to his half-brother Dr. Calvin Brooks on March 21, 1874:
The show is over and well over, thank goodness. . . . Mary felt splendidly and took a couple of glasses of grape wine; about 4 a.m. Friday, she had a 'stomach ache that that confounded wine must have given me.' It drained out her internals. About 8:30 a.m. she suggested it might be well for the nurse to call in, as possibly it might be something else. She was in some pain. Dr. Mullin came in . . . and about 11:30 a.m. it was all over. The real pain only lasted about an hour and a half. She has been first rate since, and the Dr. and father say the child--a girl-though small is quite healthy. Our calculations were about ten days or a fortnight astray. (W4283)
Wine appears to have been an acceptable beverage even though Mary objected to alcohol. Isaac made wine and cider in the home from Whitehern's large orchard, as his father had done before him (W2321, W2467). In June 1907, Edna (daughter) mentions taking "a bottle of old port wine to Annie Fletcher" (minister's daughter) in hospital and, in 1908: "another bottle of dandelion wine. . . I had a swig to keep out the cold" (W5832, W6043). During the Temperance Referendum of December 1902, which was defeated, Mary's objection was to the "saloons" and drunkenness, no doubt influenced by Isaac's tragic experience with alcoholism (W4713).