Monday, May 9, 2016

Amanuensis Monday: Minnie Van Every Visits Her Uncle - June 1898

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

I transcribed several letters back in 2010 which my great-aunt, Minnie Van Every, wrote to the Houston Post's Children's Section 1897-1902. I discovered a handful of other letters at ChroniclingAmerica which hadn't turned up in my earlier searches. (They still don't, if I only search for her surname. But each letter's byline had the town along with the name, and searching for the towns I knew she lived in, I uncovered  the additional letters.)

From the earlier letters, I knew the Van Every family had left Maxwell, Texas in November of 1897 for Ganado, Texas, and was back in Maxwell by May 1899. These new letters narrow that gap down.

June 19, 1898, Houston Daily Post

Maxwell Texas 

Dear Happyhanmers: After an absence ever since February, I will endeavor to wrlte to our growing band. Last April about Easter time, papa, my brother, and 1 went to my uncle's. I intended to tell
the Haps of our trip down here but as space is precious I will just tell about going fishing on Green lake while we were there.

My uncle and family and ourselves went on Easter Monday We got there by dinner. We fished until nearly sundown and by that time had caught one fish weighing about two pounds and another about twenty-five pounds. Then my aunt and I set our hooks and went to get supper. Papa and Uncle Willlie were busy taking care of the hooks. By bedtime we had five fish weighing about twenty pounds each and five more which weighed about five pounds each. I saw some alligators but
would not go near them.

Haps, I have the sweetest little brother you ever saw. 1 think we will name him Melvin Theodore.

Guy Fagen's death is surely a blow to the club for he was loved by all. His name was
mentioned so much in the letters that papa asked me If he wasn't the leader ouf our band.
I agree with Mrs. Lewls about putting a monument over his grave. I now contribute 10 cents to help pay for n monument. A true and faithful Hap. 

Minnie Van Every


1. It's not completely clear whether Minnie means April 1898 or April 1897 by her phrase "Last April." Regardless, the family is back in Maxwell by June of 1898. I know from the Dawes Testimony filed by Minnie's father that Minnie's grandmother, Sarah Hartley Denyer Foster, died in 1898 while she was living with her daughter and grandchildren. My conclusion that they were in Ganado when she died is put into question since I don't know the month of her death.

So, I now know that they left Maxwell for Ganado in November of 1897, were still there in February of 1898 (due to another letter), and were back in Maxwell by June of 1898. Possibly spending April of 1898 near Green Lake in Calhoun County.

2. Minnie's "Uncle Willie" would be Samuel William Denyer, the brother of her mother Margaret Denyer Van Every. While it seems she went with her father on the trip, her father had no brothers named William who survived infancy.

3) Melvin Theodore died in 1899.

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