Thursday, September 10, 2015

1905 Nat to Lucie letter - Sep.13

Nathaniel Wallace Ballantyne (1868-1949) and Lucie Sarah Brown (1880-1957) were married on December 6, 1906.  The following letter would have been written during their courtship and is scanned and then transcribed as follows.  The stationary is from "The Russell House" in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and according to Wikipedia was "the most high profile hotel in Ottawa for many decades.  Built 1875-1880, it closed in 1925.  He is traveling in Canada on business, presumably the fire clay business.  In the 1900 census, when he and his mother are sharing a house with his brother, James and wife in New Cumberland, his and James profession are both listed as "Clay Dealer."

"Nat" writes a wonderful letter, full of descriptions of his travels, and his desire to see Lucie again soon.  He also has distinctive handwriting full of flourishes and a tendency to not cross his t's when they end a word, yet add "tails" to other ending letter, especially k's, g's and y's.  Hopefully not too many errors have been made in the transcription.

The letter is addressed to Miss Lucie Sara Brown, Huntington West Virginia, with "Marshall College" – where Lucie taught elocution – written in the left bottom corner of the envelope postmarked Ottawa Canada Sep 13 1905 4–PM. with 2¢ Canadian postage.  On the back of the envelope is another postmark,  stamped "RECEIVED" Huntington W VA Sep 15 1905 2–PM

Sept. 13th 1905
My Dearest Lucie,

Not until I reached Montreal yesterday did I grow lonesome and when going up to the Desk and asking for my mail and none then, did it come over me, Why I didn't have you write again this sort of puzzled me when thinking about it but of course did'n [sic] expect to be so long on this trip.

No one [?] could have covered the ground I've gone over in much less time when it was all new to me but now could make it in one third the time.

Forgot to tell you in some of my other letters that I had [page 2] met a fellow from Wheeling who was traveling alone and we had become very close friends.  He knew people I knew in Wheeling and found him to be alright so we managed to be together as both got the same stateroom together and from this we became fast friends.  He was on a pleasure trip exclusively and as I only had one Customer to call on in Qubec [sic] we met after getting through and took in the City.

For the novelty of the thing we hired a "Caleche" and had a tour of the sights of Qubec and it really was worth the money ($1.00 apiece).  He took us up and in the Fort where a British Soldier showed us all through the old Citadel and it was a great sight.

While going through the [page 3] grounds we found an old Cannon kept there as a relic and marked as being captured at Bunker Hill in 1776.  It was certainly an object of curiosity.  Told the Soldier that while he had the Cannon we still held the "hill" and you should have seen his look before he spoke.

We then went out to the Plains of Abraham where Wolfe and Montcalm fought and also saw the house where Wolf was laid out & was  in the old which is well kept.  Also saw where Montgomery lost his life and where he went over the precipice and [page 4] was killed.  From there we went to see the Old Martello Towers, and past some of the finest parks and Buildings, and surely other people here in the Country take pride in these Parks and Fine buildings.  Went up to the Parliament Building and we went in to see the interior of it and it is furnished in the finest upholstery and furniture.  A guard took us down to the French settlement of the town where it is spoken exclusively and all the stores and business houses speak and write French only.  This was quite a sight too.  As [page 5] it was nearing time for our train we went back to the "Frontenac" and getting our Grips started for our train.  And bye the way you should see the tags that the boys have put on our Grips.  It is a Fad and they were almost covered with them.  You will see them (mine) when I go down.

As the train was a Portland train and we go with in 40 miles of Maine it seems strange to think how in traveling you get over so much Country.  When at Richmond Jct we parted and he said he felt as though he had known me for [page 6] years and he seemed the same to me.  So bidding him good bye took my sleeper and awakened up in Montreal this morning.

As I was leaving the Hotel got a little souvenir for you in the way of a paper cutter and will enclose it in this letter.  The little souvenir from Qubec will deliver in person and my dearest how I wish it would be on my return by Huntington you can put it down that I would make it that way for it does seem that I do not come to go back not find you there.  Heaven [?] will arrange to go down just as soon as I can and you can look for me.  I think of you Lucie and often and as I look over the big corridor full of people as it is, that should you happen to walk in would feel like taking [page 7] you in my arms and giving you a good hugging.  I know you wouldn't blame me for haven't seen anyone I knew for so long and would be only too glad to see a familiar face and should it be yours would be unable to control my feelings.

However, cannot say that if Love allowed it, being [indecipherable] to interfere with my enjoyment of my trip for there has been so much of interest to see that have not had time to get lonesome only when I got in my room and have the time to meditate and think of it.

Now am about to leave here and have not found nicer people here who have made it interesting to me in telling me about the country here and love the promise [page 8] of some nice business here in the future.

This is a fine Hotel and if you could see some of the English nobility who come here and their manners and dress.  And in the Dining room it is a sight to behold to see some of the Ladies in their evening dress and the men too in their full dress as I saw them last evening for dinner.  The Fair is going on now and people are here from all over the Dominion and as it is a National affair the best people of the Cities are here.  The town is full of people and the Decorations along the street are fine King Edward's Pictures and bunting and Flags of the Country are in evidence every where.

Now must say good bye again and will leave for Montreal from here I leave tonight for Toronto and expect to be home [closing page] by Saturday so you will see Love had two weeks traveling and the longest have been away from my business since I was with it I believe.  Head everything in shape though and heard from the boys often so know that everything is moving along O.K.

Will look forward [to] a letter from you on Saturday eve on my return so don't forget my dearest that am expecting it.

Will say good bye with much love and hoping you are well and enjoying yourself I am from one who thinks of you often though far away

Yours Affectionately,


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