Tuesday, August 25, 2015

May 1868 letter from B. F. Tisdale to Belle

B. F. Tisdale letter, belle.tisdale.blogspot.com

Original, 7 3/4” x 12” paper with faint blue lines, handwritten in ink on one side by B. F. Tisdale to his daughter Belle Tisdale, good condition, original in possession of Vera Booksh Zimmerman, transcribed exactly as written.

   New Orleans   May 5" 1868

My Dear Daughter
I am in receipt of Your letter of the 25” of April and it gave much pleasure. I dearly love to hear from You all: and When Your letters tell Me that all are Well I rejoice. I am of Course glad to hear of Your recovery. I Will treasure the lock of hair You Sent Me both for Your Sake and for his Sake from Whose little Sweet head it was taken. In the bundle by the Iberville Friday I Will Send a line for Mary and a Cork for You and Some hooks.
You object to My addressing You as Arabella Maria. Well I Will not do So, but the reason I have done So is, that the Names are associated With pleasant Memories and Sad ones too. Maria Was the Name of a favorite Sister Now dead and gone, one of the Most lovable Women I ever Knew. And “Arabella” Was a pet Name I gave Your Mother in the days that are gone - the days When She loved Me – in the days When I Was happy, and the Future promised No Such Sorrows as I have Met with Since. Their Names are dear to My heart and it Was I who gave them to You. But I Can Keep them to myself now – and perhaps it is Meet that I Should do So – for are they Not like Names upon Graves Showing Where Something We loved lies buried.
Good bye My Daughter, love and Kisses to all. Mr. Pickham & Winnie have Concluded to leave today for Mobile. Winnies health is not good. Pollys eldest child, Maria is With them. She is Sweet and pretty & good.
God bless You My Dear Daughter – Write to me as often as You Can. It cheers Me up some.

Your loving Father           B. F. Tisdale

B. F. Tisdale sounds depressed in this letter to Belle on May 5, 1868. The economic situation in New Orleans was still very unsettled which probably contributed to his mood. He mentions the lock of hair that Belle sent, most probably from her little brother Robert Rafael Tisdale. His gift of a line, a cork and hooks will enable the girls to go fishing in the Amite River and supplement the family's food.

In the paragraph about Belle's name, Benjamin Franklin Tisdale refers to his sister Maria who is “Now dead and gone.” This would be his half sister, Ann Maria, daughter of Nathan Tisdale and his first wife, Mary Bryan, of New Bern, North Carolina. According to family tradition Ann Maria and Arabella Maria's middle name was pronounced Ma RYE ah, and was sometimes spelled Mariah.

B. F. Tisdale remarks wistfully that Arabella was his pet name for Eliza “in the days that are gone – the days when she loved me...” Eliza must have still loved him though because two more children were yet to be born, Marion Eugene in 1871 and Charles Harry in 1874.

B. F. Tisdale's half-sister Ann Maria was born 29 December 1802. Her mother died just before she reached the age of one and her father, Nathan Tisdale, remarried on 4 August 1804 before she was two. Nathan's second wife was Mary “Polly” Wade. B. F. Tisdale was their eighth child and was born 19 March 1823. He was named for the famous Benjamin Franklin, his great great grandmother's first cousin.

The Nathan Tisdale family moved from North Carolina to Alabama about 1830 when Benjamin Franklin Tisdale was seven years old. Though some of Nathan's adult children from his first marriage joined the family in the move to a new state, Ann Maria and her husband Stephen B. Forbes did not move to Alabama with the family. Both are buried in the Cedar Grove Cemetery in New Bern, North Carolina. Nathan purchased a small plantation on the Tombigbee River in Alabama to which he travelled [sic] by caravan with a lot of other families." (From a letter by Mrs. Nancy Lee Tisdale Lawson) Many people were leaving New Bern around this time because of the silting in of the approach to the harbor.

B. F. Tisdale's Family

B. F. Tisdale's father, Nathan Tisdale was born about 1766 in New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina. He became a silversmith like his father William Tisdale. By his first marriage to Mary Bryan he had eight children, four of whom lived to adulthood:

William Tisdale, born 30 January 1791 in New Bern, North Carolina
     married Sarah Jane Haddock in 1817
     died 12 December 1861 in Canton, Mississippi
Nancy Tisdale, born 1792, died 1793
James Cutting Tisdale, born 1794, died 1795
Hannah C. Tisdale, born 1796
     married James M. Smith on 12 April 1836 in Mobile, Alabama
Elizabeth Tisdale, born 1798
     married Jacob Gooding
     died 1862
John Tisdale, born 1800, died 1805 in New Bern, North Carolina
Ann Mariah Tisdale, born 29 December 1802 in New Bern, North Carolina
     married Stephen B. Forbes, March 1823 in New Bern, North Carolina
     died 11 October 1855, New Bern, North Carolina
Thomas Bryan Tisdale, born 1803, died, 1804 in New Bern, North Carolina

After Nathan's first wife died on 23 November 1803, he married Mary “Polly” Wade on 4 Aug 1804. They had nine children, five of whom lived to adulthood:

Charlotte Wade Tisdale, born 1806, died 1811 in New Bern, North Carolina
Joseph Wade Tisdale, born 4 May 1808, in New Bern, North Carolina
     married Mary Amelia Wilson on 4 March 1830 in Edgefield, South Carolina
     died 4 May 1848 in Covington, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana.
Mary Eliza Tisdale, born 1810 in New Bern, North Carolina
     married Jacob Magee on 4 December 1834 in Mobile, Alabama
     died 21 September 1882 in Kushla, Mobile County, Alabama
Hannah T. Tisdale, born 1812
Sarah Tisdale, born 1813, died 1813
Twins Tisdale, born 1815, died 1815
Nathan O. J. Tisdale, born 1816 in New Bern, North Carolina
     married Maria Louisa McCrae, 29 September 1838 in Mobile, Alabama
     married Rosa Roux, 31 July 1851 in New Orleans, Louisiana
     died 31 Jul 1870 in New Orleans, Louisiana
Benjamin Franklin Tisdale, born 19 March 1823 in New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina
     married Maria M. Pike, 25 August 1846 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
     married Eliza Helen Pratt, 29 July 1851 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
     died 16 June 1876 in Kushla, Mobile County, Alabama
John B. Tisdale, born c1825 in New Bern, North Carolina
     married Virginia M. Read, 15 February 1849 in Mobile, Alabama
     died between 1880 and 1887

Nathan Tisdale died 20 September 1839 in Mobile, Alabama. His wife, Mary "Polly" Wade died the next month in October 1839. Both are buried in Whistler, Alabama.

Friday, August 14, 2015

April 1868 Letter from Belle and Eliza Tisdale

Tisdale children by Lilienthal, belletisdale.blogspot.com
William Pratt Tisdale and  Olivia South Carolina Tisdale c1867
This carte de visite of Belle's little brother and sister was taken by Theodore Lilienthal in New Orleans. Both children are mentioned in the 1868 letter from Belle and her mother Eliza to B. F. Tisdale.

William, always called Willie, was born November 1, 1861 and Olivia, always called Lee, was born on February 8, 1864.
Judging from their ages the photo was probably made in 1867.

Theodore Lilienthal (1829-1894)

The year 1867 was the same year that Frankfurt-born photographer Theodore Lilienthal was given the job of preparing a portfolio of photographs of New Orleans and environs to be sent to the World Exposition in Paris. The 2008 book by Gary A. Van Zante “New Orleans 1867: Photographs by Theodore Lilienthal” tells the story of this first municipally sponsored photographic survey of any American city. This outstanding book also tells the story of New Orleans from antebellum city building through Civil War occupation and postwar reconstruction.

Lilienthal worked for twelve weeks and produced 150 12”x15” views, “mounted on gold-trimmed card stock and labeled in English and French.” In late May 1867 the finished photographs were exhibited at Lilienthal's studio. The newspaper Crescent reported on May 26 that “Mr. Lilienthal has just completed one-hundred and fifty photographic and fifty stereoscopic views of this city and vicinity, which are very creditable to the artist.”

The photographic portfolio was intended to show evidence of postwar progress and to show that New Orleans was still a good place to invest and do business. It was also hoped it would attract “immigrant labor to restore productivity to war-ruined sugar and cotton plantations that fueled the city's economy.”

The German language newspaper Deutsche Zeitung reported that the photographs would “give our friends in Europe a correct idea of the size and importance of New Orleans and the numerous places worth seeing in this city, and will therefore create a very favorable impression concerning our conditions.”

Belle and Eliza's Letter

The original letter is written in ink on 7" x 12 1/2" paper. Belle Tisdale writes to her father, Benjamin Franklin Tisdale on one side, signing on the back at the top.  Her mother, Eliza Pratt Tisdale writes on the back. The edges are worn and there are holes where it was folded. The original is in my possession and was transcribed exactly as written.

Oakland   April the 7 1868.

Dear Papa
I received your most welcom letter's and was so glad to hear from you, but was as sorry to hear that you were so lonesome. we are all well; Mama is the dairy maid, Robbert and Lee are as well and mischevious as ever, Willie is the same fellow, not changed A bit; he had been wearing the big straw hat for A long time but this morning he found his old grey hat in the mud, and he took it up and poped it on as it was and started off; the children are all in bed. How are you and all, give my love to Annie when you see her and kiss Frank for me; I do wish that I could see you all. Tell Annie that I miss her so much, When I look at the cows I think of her and when I look at the clothes being washed I think of her and everything reminds me of her. I am sitting in the dineing room writing and Grand Pa and Mister Misener are playing cards; Mr. Misener says that this pack of cards is almost worn out and to send them up another pack please. Grand-Ma and Mary are well to. Robbert has got a little kitten and I dont know what to name it. Tell me A name to name it pleas sir. they are all down in the other room and Mama is reading Vallantine Vox aloud to them. So good night.
Goodbye God bless you Your Affectionate

[Page 2]daughter, Belle.
Oakland Place, April 7th 1868 
           My Dear Husband.
   I was rather disappointed that I did not get a letter from you yesterday but I suppose I should not have expected it as I had got one on Sunday, but I thought as Belle was answering her letters that I would write a few lines also. I hope you are well & doing well, we are all pretty well at present & I hope we may continue so.
   Willie is growing so fast he is not half an inch shorter than Frank & he is getting [hole] real good boy always working round & doing something, Robert is getting his eye teeth one of them is through the gum, Lee is well she plays out all day in the yard. 
    I have been out in the Garden this evening putting sticks up by my pinks & tying them up they are going to bloom & the heads are so heavy that they fall over, when they bloom I will send you some in a letter I planted them myself & my violets too they are growing & Blooming so pretty. I havenot got more than 9 nine roots of the violets-  I believe I gathered all I could of  of [sic] them Sunday & sent them to you. Belle has told you that I am reading Valentine Vaux well we do have some good laughs at it I read tonight about the man where he had the cats in his room, Well havent we got a cold spell again it hailed here yesterday for about ten or fifteen minutes right hard and fast & we had a very heavy storm of wind & rain, goodnight, all are in bead but me,
God Bless you My Dear.          
Your Wife. E.
[PS written in the top and left side margins]

PS Lee says Pappas prayer every day & never forgets Papa
a kiss for Frank tel Annie howdy.
Tell Rosa to send me the patron of that collar like Marie's.
Send it to me in your next letter. I want to make Mary & Belle one like it

Eliza had taken four year old Lee and 16 month old Robert to visit her parents, William and Bernice Pratt, at Oakland Place near Baton Rouge. They would have traveled by steamboat up the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. The older children, Mary, Belle, Frank, and Willie, were already at Oakland. Belle mentions that, “Mama is the dairy maid,” which tells us that Eliza is getting up early each morning to milk the cows. Mary and Belle would probably gather eggs and help Grandma Bernice fix breakfast. I can picture Belle sitting at the dining room table using her dip pen to write by the light of the oil lamp as Grandpa and Mr. Misener play cards at the same table. I can hear Eliza's voice from the other room, reading a story to the children who are lying in a big four poster bed. Grandma sits next to Eliza by the fireplace, rocking and laughing at the funny story.

An interesting side note about Valentine Vaux, the book Eliza was reading: 
The Adventures of Valentine Vaux; Or, the Tricks of a Ventriloquist. A Parody of Henry Cockton's "Life and Adventures of Valentine Vox," was writen by Timothy Portwine (pseudonym) and was published in London in 1840. (Google Books)

Drawing by Belle, belletisdale.blogspot.com
A Devil of a Sight: 
 This drawing by Belle may be an illustration of the storm mentioned by Eliza in the letter.
(Thermal copy of Pencil drawing on 8 x 10" paper. Location of original unknown.)