Below is one of a series of letters my great grandfather, Melvin Van Every, wrote to my grandmother, Myrtle. The year was 1926.
Minnie and Evva are two other daughters. A.H. Goldstein is the name of the individual who according to the deeds, sold to Melvin their land in El Paso in 1917.
Garfield, N. Mex.
Sept 26 – 1926
This is a dreary day, it rained last night and it has drizzled all day. We got ready for Sunday School at 10:00 but it was raining real heard so we did not go.
I was sick in bed two days this week but am feeling fine now. Had the first cool spell the past week. Sept has been unusually hot. I hope we don’t get an early frost as we have 40 acres of late cotton. We have cut 2 bales here at home but have not hauled it to the gin yet. Cotton is cheap selling here for less than 15c. Guess we will be short on money as cotton is all we have.
You ask in one of your letters what I thought about Mrs. McPherson. See I thought for awhile she was kidnapped but now I have changed. I have lost confidence in the old sister.
My oldest brother Nelson died Aug 29th. He lived in Page Neb. My sister Alice is still lingering between life and death.
I have not heard from any of the folks at El Paso since writing you. I will write Minnie today. I guess now she realizes what I was up against when she tells of the hard times she had at home slaving for me and I being so stingy. I worked many a day for 1.50 a day to keep her in school and one time in Goldstein’s office I recall Evva as saying how she had worked and did without decent clothes to wear and Goldstein ask her if I hadn’t worked any and if she knew how much it cost to raise a child. He told her that with the income I had (rented land) he thought I had done unusually well for my family. I wish all that could have been different but I have always been poor and I guess God intended it so. But these children that think they had such a hard time when children let them show the world how to raise children and prosper and get rich. I made failure and I am willing to admit defeat. I am not trying to please everybody that is more than our savior did. All you children had a better start in life than I. I never went to school after I was 10 years old and I helped my father support his family quite a few years after I was married.
I guess my cousin in California can tell you of hard times other children have had. I want you to see him when you get there.
Love and Best Wishes
Yes, I know my Grandfather was named Andrew. I have a half dime he gave me the last time I seen him. Am glad you are coming.
According to my records, Melvin's sister, Alice, lingered until 1930. I don't have the letters my grandmother sent, which Melvin often responded to in his letters. My guess is she learned about her great grandfather from the cousin she met in California, and asked what her father knew of him. Melvin would have been 10 when his grandfather died. Here's a clipping from The History of the County of Brant, Ontario on Andrew Van Every:
Contrary to the history, Andrew David Van Every was according to most records born in Canada. He was my only ancestor who spent his entire life in Canada, as his parents were born in New York, and fled the country as Loyalists, and his son Samuel returned our Van Every line to the US.
I am continually amazed at how easy the internet has made research. In years past when reading the above letter I would have struggled over what a "half dime" was, and the historical reference to Aimee McPherson. Today I found the answers I needed within seconds.
Finally, normally I wouldn't have included Melvin's comments about his daughters, but they were inextricably intertwined with his comments about himself. Still, I think it is probably universal that children aren't completely appreciative of what their parents go through until they are adults themselves.