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Letters in wall solve sister’s situation

By Staff | Aug 15, 2018

HUGHESVILLE – In 1881, widows had no social security to sustain life following their husband’s demise. It was common for relatives to help, or perhaps a bit of temporary aid due to the generosity of neighbors or church congregates.

Such a situation literally came to light when letters were found stashed inside the wall of a home in Hughesville. The content of letters gives a glimpse of life in the 1880’s.

The correspondence, dated the 8th of November 1881, was between Thomas Wright of Millville and his sister Elvila Faus of Unityville. The letter was not of pleasantries, but referred to a debt owed by the widow Elvila. The time line was less than two years following the 1879 death and burial at Talmer of Elvila’s husband, John Faus.

In the letter the brother wrote, “I was down to Bloomsburg a short time ago and paid the Phil Young note off. I had to do it or beat the Sheriff collecting it, one or the other. It was one hundred and fourteen dollars altogether. I had to borrow the money and give my own note to get off the scrape and do not know when I can pay it.”

The brother knew he would not be able to collect the money from his sister, so he proposed a solution. “If the boys make me a good two horse wagon and get it ironed and finished ready to be hitched to, I will be satisfied as far as the Young note is concerned.”

Assessing the situation, the writing continued, “The boys is young and will not feel it if paid in that way. Make the wagon with pipe box and of good timber and of common weight, make the bed with a spring seat and extra side boards.”

Wright then invited his sister to “Go to Bloom and examine the record if you do not feel satisfied.”

As this author did research into the Faus family, it reveals the boys referenced were James, Charles, Isaiah “Edward” and William Faus. Like their late father, James and Charles and Ed were carpenters and would later establish a wagon making shop in Hughesville. However, brother William became a Methodist minister serving in White Haven where in 1920 he also owned and operated a machine shop.

By 1940, William retired to Hughesville at 297 S. Second Street. By the same time, the widow Elvila was at 322 Second Street, with Ed and William at 52 Cottage Street. The letters were not discovered at any of the residences mentioned.

The siblings, Elvila Wright Faus and Frank Wright, were the children of Thomas and Harriet (White) Wright of Greenwood near Millville.

A second letter to Elvila dated, 3 July 1881 from a sister in Bloomsburg initialed E. M. W. The salutation reads, “My dear sister, I think when I last wrote I thought I would be to see you again before the very warm weather, but I did not get off owing to various delaminates of one thing and another. Now I do not expect to get off before late in the fall.”

Concerning news of other outings she wrote, “I was only to Millville two weeks ago today. They were well as common better than I have found them in a long time. Mother (Harriet) seemed quite comfortable but is failing. She sits up part of the time with her dress on which is more than she did the two or three times I was there before. Mary complains terribly about the trouble mother makes.”

In the 1880’s, long distances traveling by wagon were challenging as worded in the letter. “Do you think of coming this summer: I would like very much to see you but do not wish to urge more travel for you than you must have. It must be very hard for you to go about so much. If you cannot come, you might write oftener or have some of the children write.”

Additional Wright family siblings are identified with the following: “Maize writes every once in awhile but neither brother William never writes nor Oliver either. I would like him (Oliver) to be near the rest of us if he could do well but when he was younger and better able to work; he could scarcely live in Columbia County. He is too old a man to be changing from place to place. We all know that he had earned money enough to have plenty.

The letters allow only a scant look into the times of the Faus/Wright families. Presumably, the boys made the wagon. There were no references t the Faus daughters, Anna M. born 1864 and Sarah in 1866. The latter lived with her mother in Hughesville after she too was widowed, her married surname Ruckman buried at McEwensville.

The widow Elvila Faus was interred with her husband at the cemetery in Talmer. Most from the next generation rest at Pleasant Hill near Hughesville.