W4323 TO DR. CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from his sister-in-law Mary Baker McQuesten
May 17 1885
To: Calvin Brooks McQuesten New York City
From: Hamilton Ontario
My Dear Calvin,
When Isaac wrote you yesterday, he was very anxious about your father as he seemed so very weak, but to-day he is much better, so that Isaac does not feel alarmed about him. He was going to write you, but I wished to write any way, so that would do.
I very seldom see your father, for if I do I have to face that awful O.L. and she always sits in the room, although she will not speak to me at all.1 Besides after she broke her wrist, she had quite as awful-looking a female, as a companion. I really did pity that poor old man shut up with those two creatures, and not able to go out or rid himself of them in any way. I don't think now he minds them too much, as his mind is altogether gone; but they literally worried the sense of reason out of him.2
Isaac tells me Dr. Henderson has gone, and you have changed your quarters, how do you like them? Where is Miss Mealing? We sent her a little book at Easter. You must write & tell me all about it, unless you pay us an early visit. Aura and Clara Sawyer are in Hamilton just-now, taking painting lessons. They secured a boarding place before they came, but they are here quite often.3
We're all very well, even Isaac is better just-now, since the warm weather came. Now I must close, it is bed-time. It is a busy time, spring sewing etc.
With kindest love
Mary B. McQuesten
1 "O.L." (Old Lady) refers to Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten who was Dr. Calvin McQuesten's third wife and step-mother to Isaac and Calvin. She had a very poor relationship with both sons which had worsened over time. They were engaged in a legal struggle over Dr. Calvin McQuesten's estate and, after his death on October 20, 1885, she received a dower and went back to the United States ( W0234-W0252, Best 2-6). See W-MCP5-6.351 for more details.
2 In another of Mary's letters, she describes Dr. McQuesten's odd behaviour (W1545). It appears he may have been suffering from Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
3 The Sawyer family was widely dispersed between New England, Hamilton, Montreal and Muscatine, Iowa. Aura, Clara, Ida and the Colonel (Stein?) are mentioned in Mary's letters. They lived in Montreal in 1902 (W4323, W4619, W4871, W5388, W6028, W6343, W6871).
The Sawyers were cousins related to Dr. Calvin McQuesten through his sister, Sally Barber (McQuesten) who married Stephen Sawyer in 1824. Dr. Calvin and Stephen were partners in business in New England, Muscatine, Iowa. The Sawyer family lived at 264 MacNab St. between 1844 and 1857. Dr. Calvin gradually sold off his Hamilton foundry interest to his nephews, Luther, Stephen, and Samuel Sawyer. It eventually became the Sawyer-Massey Company (DHB1.146; DHB2.139, DHB2.140; Leona Bean McQuiston [sic] 84; W0050, W0276, W0317, W0320, W0331, W1197, W1318, W1505, W1645, W2191, W2301, W2511, W2483).