Andrew Wylie’s Financial Records

Recently we have done some digging through Andrew Wylie’s financial records. This collection is a popular one with classes who have been visiting the house recently. Financial records can tell us a lot about the past and are an essential tool for any archivist, historian or enthusiast of the past.

1835

There are so many questions we can ask just from this simple list of purchases in 1835. Why was the Wylie Family buying so much sugar? Surely 46 lbs. of sugar was not necessary for one purchase? Did the family have an insatiable sugar tooth? Was there to be a party where they needed to bake tens of cakes? We might never know exactly why they needed that much sugar, but by investigating practices of the time we can get a better idea. In the 1830s there was no electricity in the house and there was no refrigeration. How would they have kept their food from rotting without keeping it refrigerated? To keep food from going bad, during this time period, the popular practice was “sugaring”. Many people assume that “canning” was the main preservation technique of food throughout the nineteenth century but in fact it did not come along until the end of the nineteenth century as an everyday household practice. Sugaring refers to dehydrating foods and then packing them with sugar. The same can be done using salt. Therefore maybe the Wylie’s were buying so much sugar so that they could make their produce and meats last from harvest time through the winter.

Just by looking at this receipt you might be able to figure out exactly where it came from. Take a look at this one below from 1842!

1842

Although the specific vendor is not specified, except for his name, the items bought indicate that John Height might have been grocer, or maybe he was a local farmer who helped keep the family supplied with food when needed.

But food was not the only thing that Wylie’s were buying. The receipts come in all shapes and lengths, and show a very diverse purchase record. With so many daughters, the family seemed to buy lots of fabric and trimming to keep the girls well clothed while they lived in their parents’ home. The family bought calicos, linens, thread and other materials needed to sew their own clothes.

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As a teaching tool, these receipts are hard for some people to read, so we also have them transcribed and printed for easy perusal. Going through these records has been fascinating for this amateur historian and (hopefully!) future archivist. These purchases can tell us so much about what was happening with the family in a given month or year. Maybe it was a lean year for dairy and they needed to buy extra butter from an outside source. Maybe the reason they did not often buy groceries is because the house was built on farmland in which the family tended. These receipts and bills are like puzzle pieces of the past, we put them together to reveal what was going on with the Wylie’s when they lived in the house.

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Although the transcriptions cannot be found online the original documents have been scanned and uploaded to the Indiana University Archives Online site. For those who are interested in delving into the person papers of Indiana University’s first president, visit this link to connect with the Wylie Family history from the comfort of your own home.

http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/findingaids/view?doc.view=entire_text&docId=InU-Ar-VAA2777#VAA2777-0482

Caroline Voisine, Graduate Assistant

A Day at the Beach

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A few months ago, I posted some pictures from the Wylie Family’s descendants. I thought this would be a good time to show you a few more!  After the exceptionally cold winter this year, it’s such a delight that summer is finally here. The warm weather had me thinking about these vintage beach photos that I came across while writing the last photograph post.

These pictures are from Morton Sr. and Marie Bradley’s honeymoon trip in 1900 when they enjoyed some lovely time at the beach in Atlantic City.  These pictures are some of my favorite from our collections and I hope you enjoy them, too.  Happy 114th anniversary to Marie and Morton! (They were married on July 10th for you inquiring minds.)

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“You’re all tired to death of course today. I can imagine just how it all is and looks and how much there is to be done and I only wish that I might be there to help. Morton and I are awfully—if Grandma will pardon the word—sorry to make so much trouble, and we’ll never do it again.”

“Kiss everybody for me and thank everybody for being so very very kind. We thought our wedding was just perfect—in everything it was just what we most wished it to be—thanks to all of you. You were all so kind and now please don’t work too hard clearing up the debris.”

- Letter from Marie to her mother, Louise, as she and Morton traveled to Atlantic City

 

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“I realize now more than ever before why you were anxious to have Marie with you even a week longer. She is the dearest girl in all the world. She becomes dearer every minute. I do hope I can sometime become worthy of her and that I can be the comfort and happiness to her that she is to me. I told you I would be good to her; every day I take again that vow. She is too dear to me to want to be otherwise to her, dear girl.”

-Letter from Morton to his new mother-in-law Louise, as he and Marie traveled to Atlantic City

 

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“We sat out in the sun about two hours, purposely trying to get a good burn so that we could show our tan to our admiring Western friends – – – – – -Well, we’ve invested in Ridgway’s Sunburn Lotion, Cuticura and cold cream and still we are the color of beets and so sore—especially Morton—that we’ve hardly been able to move today. We aspire to peel off tomorrow and then we think we’ll improve.”

- Letter from Marie to her mother, written from Atlantic City

 

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“The Board Walk with its hundreds of shops filled with beautiful things is a ver-ending pleasure, and then there are scores of different amusements all the time—and the people—such crowds of them and such dresses and jewels. I had never realized before that some women did have such marvelous dresses. We usually have breakfast between 8:30 and 9, go to the Board Walk between ten and eleven, take a sea bath about noon and have dinner at one. Everybody here naps in the afternoons—it is the laziest place in the world—and then dresses up about supper time and goes up to the Board Walk again at night.”

- Letter from Marie to her mother, Louise, written from Atlantic City

 

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“I’m sure that you’ll be interested in our pictures when we get home. We have had a great deal of success with our Kodak and have a number of good pictures.”

- Letter from Marie to her mother, Louise, written from Atlantic City

 

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Enjoy your summer!

- Abi Parker, Wylie House Graduate Assistant

Samuel and Margaret Wylie Martin – Missionaries in China

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The letters of the two Wylie families who lived here at the house are a treasure-trove of fascinating information and stories.   One such particular story is that of Margaret Wylie Martin and her husband, Samuel, who traveled to China as missionaries in the 1850s. Born in 1826, Margaret, or Maggie as she was affectionately known, was the daughter of Andrew and Margaret Ritchie Wylie.  Maggie married Samuel Martin in 1849, and in 1850 they traveled to Ningpo, China, as missionaries.  Samuel’s brother, William, and his wife also traveled to China as missionaries at the same time.

In a letter dated 1850 to one of his sons, Andrew Wylie expressed his doubts about his daughter and son-in-law’s decision.  He writes, “Generally speaking: for there are cases where a man may and ought to sacrifice his happiness in this world for the cause of Truth & Right in other words for the benefit of the Race. This however requires the spirit of the martyr. The two Martins [Samuel and William] have compelled me to think of this matter. Had they and their intendeds the true spirit of martyrdom I dare not say a word against their project of going to China as missionaries. But this I doubt and yet I do not like to interpose my veto, & know not whether it would avail if I should. Were I unmarried & thought it my duty to go a missionary to a heathen land I am sure I should never think of taking a wife with me as our missionaries do.”

On May 23, 1850, Maggie wrote her parents from Shanghai to tell them that on April 29th during the voyage from Hong Kong to Shanghai, she had prematurely given birth to her first child.  They named their son William Boone after Bishop Boone, a missionary whose kindness the Martins had much appreciated upon their arrival.  Three other children were born to Maggie and Samuel during their time in China – daughters Susan, Elizabeth, and Emma.

During their time as missionaries, the Martins corresponded with their family and friends as much as the distance in geography allowed.  In one letter, Maggie’s sister, Elizabeth, writes to their brother, John, that there had been no news from China for four months.  The letters give details of the Martin’s lives in China and of their work.  Maggie also writes of the local people and in one letter describes Chinese farming and harvest habits to her father.   A great deal of the letters’ content is the discussion of the news concerning the health and activities of family and friends back home.

In a letter dated November 1850, Maggie writes to her parents that, “We have richly experienced the fulfillment of that blessed promise “Go I am with you” truly has God been with us in delivering us from dangers seen and unseen I wish I could tell you all He has done for me, but it would require too much time and space…. When I first came to China I was much struck with the oriental appearance of things, the temples, high walled cities & houses the lodges in the fields & now, things have become familiar.”

A niece of Maggie’s wrote in 1918 that, “While in China Aunt Martin sent a large box of Chinese curios to her sisters.  We had a number of them & the Chinese articles that, as a girl, I saw in the McCalla home, undoubtedly came from her— ”

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The Martins remained in China until 1858 when they returned home due to Samuel’s health.  They then became missionaries to Native Americans, working mostly in the Midwest and Texas.  Several years later, Samuel wished to return to China.  Although Maggie’s letters home from China had described her belief in the Soapstone Piece 1good work that they were doing sharing their Christian message, a life of low pay, poor living conditions, and very few material comforts had apparently taken its toll.

When Samuel again applied to be a missionary to China in 1872, Maggie took matters into her own hands and wrote to the Mission Board stating her position.  “Without consulting me in the least my husband has written to you in regard to returning to China. I must confess I do not look at things in the light he does. As to our children, 5 out of the 7 are still living but they are mostly very delicate…. After a prayerful consideration of the whole subject I leave it to the wise council & consideration of the board of which you are an esteemed member.”

Not surprisingly, the Martins did not return to China.  Maggie died in 1898 of a paralytic stroke, while Samuel died in 1904.  Additional information about the Martin family is available in the Indiana University Archives.

-Allison Haack, Graduate Student Volunteer

The 1896 Fire at Wylie House

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Sometime in late August or early September of 1896, a fire occurred in the woodhouse located on the east side of Wylie House.   The woodhouse also served as a wash house and store room.  The local newspaper reported on the fire, writing, “The frame building on the east side of the residence used as store room and wash house, was almost entirely consumed and at one time it looked as if the residence would be destroyed, as the roof of the main building caught fire in several places.”

Woodhouse/Washhouse

The fire was soon detected and the Bloomington fire department was able to reach the house quickly, and immediately start the work of putting out the fire.  Thankfully, the fire did not reach the rest of the house.  The newspaper article reports that it was thought that the fire had accidentally been started by Anton Boisen, grandson of Theophilus Wylie.  Shortly before the fire broke out, Anton had been in the garden burning caterpillar nests in the trees with fire on the end of a pole.  He placed the pole, which he believed to have been extinguished, in the wash house.  However, the pole likely ignited the fire.   According to the newspaper article, $400 in damaged was caused by the fire, but the entirety of the cost of was covered by insurance.

We know that Anton’s sister, Marie, wrote to her fiancé, Morton C. Bradley about the fire, but only Morton’s letter of reply from September 4th still exists.  He writes Marie that, “Actually, I don’t believe I took a breath all the time I was reading it [her letter]. I was in suspense, in fear that your home—and it must be dear to you, mine always to be—had burned… I don’t know what I should do in case a “big blaze” came “sailing” into my room. I fancy I run to a window and jump into the rain barrel… I think you acted extremely judiciously in consideration of the very exciting, dangerous, and nerve shattering conditions… But I do pity you in your task of cleaning up the house – that is if any of the firemen came inside. I have seen houses after the fire was out. If yours is anything at all like those I surely sympathize with you.”

Irene Fee, a friend of Anton and Marie’s mother, Louisa Wylie Boisen, kindly wrote to her on September 14.  “I wish I could see you instead of having to write for we want so much to know all about the fire you were so unfortunate as to have.”  She comments that she hopes there will not be trouble getting the insurance, and continues, “It is fortunate your home was saved. It would make me feel very bad to have misfortune happen to that dear old house where I had such lovely times when a child and so many pleasant hours since.”

Irene’s sentiments are shared by all of us who love Wylie House.   Just think— if the fire has spread to the rest of the house, the Wylie family artifacts such as the numerous books and letters we have in our possession today might have been destroyed or irreparably damaged.  Thank goodness for the speed and hard work of the fire department!

-Allison Haack, Graduate Student Volunteer

Louisa’s Gardening Essay

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Finally! It seems as if spring has finally arrived.  As we enjoy the warming weather, many turn their thoughts to their gardens, as do we here at the Wylie House.  Our annual seed sale was a great success but if you missed it, don’t worry! You can still purchase heirloom seeds from plants grown right here at Wylie House.  The Bloomington Watercolor Society is still displaying their work and Quilt Show will continue through April! We hope you’ll get a chance to visit this month!

Soon the garden will be in full bloom and looking lovely! Wylie House has a long tradition of gardens being located on the property.  We know from the family letters that their plot of land originally included enough space for a working farm, allowing them to grow a portion of their own food. In addition to vegetables, the family also grew many varieties of flowers. Louisa, in particular, was an avid gardener.

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In February of 1890, Louisa Wylie Boisen wrote an essay describing her love of gardening and many helpful hints for growing flowers. The following are excerpts from this essay:

“In the first of the oldest and best of Books, we read that when our first parents were created they were placed in the Garden of Eden where grew “every tree that was pleasant to the sight and good for food,” and may we not suppose that beautiful flowers were there also? Our Savior bids us “Consider the lilies” and well may we learn a lesson from them and from each and every flower that grows.

To one who truly loves flowers their culture is not a task, but a pleasure which grows with the flowers and increases day by day. To plant the seed, to watch the first little leaf as it breaks through the soil, to see it grow and develop into the full grown plant and then burst forth into bud and blossom which ripen into fruit will ever be a delight and a mystery which does not diminish as the years roll on.”

“Let us not forget to plant some bulbs also, for they will reward us with an abundance of lovely flowers—the tulip perfect in form and rich in color, the hyacinth fragrant and beautiful, the Narcissus, the Crocus, Lilies of various kinds—all seldom cut down by frost yet always the first to bid Spring welcome—there are few flowers more beautiful than these.”

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“We may plant the [word missing] and Crocus in the shrubbery or in the grass and a bed of tulips and one of hyacinths will last for years if rightly attended to and they repay us richly for a little care. We are not yet quite through with flowers which are almost no trouble at all when once planted and growing, for just here I want to put in a plea for the cultivation of wild flowers in the garden. We have some beautiful wild flowers about here which bear taming exceedingly well. It would be better, of course, to give them a home as nearly like the one from which we have taken them as possible, but there are some which seem to thrive very well when brought into the garden. The large white Trillium makes a beautiful plant for the border, throwing up fifteen or twenty stalks each crowned with its pure white flower. The Celandine Poppy seems perfectly at home anywhere in the garden and is not satisfied with blooming once, but blooms a second time. The Virginian Lungwort, it seems to me, can hardly be surpassed for the delicate blending of blue and pink in its graceful flowers and only too soon flower and plant disappear and are seen no more till Spring comes again. There are many more which may be cultivated with success but I will only mention the Hepatica, one of the earliest blooming flowers, the Dodecatheon Meadia or Shooting Star with a flower resembling the Cyclamen, the brilliant red Lobelia Cardinalis or Cardinal flower which blooms in midsummer, and the Eupatorium which blooms in the Fall. The Trailing Arbutus does not flourish away from its native hills, nor does the Partridge Berry, but I am sure that there are many other beauties hidden in our forests which we would do well to bring into our gardens.

Having succeeded with these, we long for more, and we think we will try to raise some annuals. And now our trouble begins. The seeds do not come up, or if they do, they soon wither and die. Let us see what is the matter. We have planted all the different kinds of seeds in a well prepared bed outdoors at a uniform depth of an inch or more not knowing that the usual rule is to cover them about their own depth with earth, pressing the earth firmly upon them, afterwards covering them with paper or boards so as to prevent them drying out, unless there is prospect of rain soon, when they may be left uncovered. I think it is generally best to divide the seed, and plant some early in March or April in the house in shallow boxes, and transplant to the garden in May. The seeds of greenhouse plants I would not plant in the garden at all. The plants raised in the house will give us earlier blossoms, for we can seldom plant seeds in the ground before the first of May. There are some seeds though which do not bear transplanting well and fortunately they can be planted in the open ground as soon as it can be worked; this is the case with Larkspur, Candytuft, Poppies and others. Sweet Peas always do better if planted as soon as possible and will thrive best if planted from four to six inches deep in rich soil. The flowers of the pansies planted in the Fall are the largest and finest. The seed may be planted out doors but I prefer to plant in boxes and keep in a pit or Cold frame. A second planting may be made in Feb. or March in the house and transplanted into the garden; they will bloom in May or June, and make fine blooms. You can hardly make the soil too rich for pansies and if they are sheltered from the hot sun from 12-3 o’clock—getting only the morning and evening sun—and if they have plenty of water, they will flourish even in the hot summer weather and be radiant in the Fall. In planting seeds in boxes it is not necessary to make the soil very rich. Let it be good and well pulverized, but in the garden most plants like rich ground.”

MVC-018S“After we have learned to raise flowers from seed we are not satisfied until we have some pot plants—indeed some persons do not have any other kind. And certainly there is great satisfaction to be had in pot plants of thrifty growth. Even the very busy housewife who hardly has time to look in the garden can have a few house plants—to take care of them requires only a few moments daily and their bright blossoms and sweet perfume gladden and cheer her often weary heart. Pot plants usually need rich soil and plenty of water and light and heat of course. In Summer we can hardly give them enough water, in winter, especially in very cold weather, they need but little. In Summer it is well if they can be sheltered from the mid-day sun, in Winter give all the sunlight possible. Chinese Primroses, Begonias and some others will do well if not exposed to the direct rays of the sun at all, but I would rather give them sunlight even if they droop a little under it at midday. The Geranium is not a favorite with all, but there is no other plant which repays us better for our care than the Geranium in all its varieties and which is more long suffering under neglect. The Amateur cannot find any plant more suitable to begin with. It is easily rooted from cuttings—with the exception of the Apple Geranium which grows best from seed—and it will grow in almost any kind of soil. It will bear the hottest sun and will not die if once in a while we forget to water it. It has no insect enemies and is very easily kept thro’ the winter. And then in each variety the leaf is beautiful and in some the fragrance is delightful; while for profusion of bloom it can hardly be surpassed. During the whole Summer the Zonale Geranium is seldom without flowers, and the colors range from white through every shade of red with flowers both single and double. The Rose, the Queen of flowers, does well both as a pot plant and as a bedding plant. I speak now of the Monthly Rose—and when grown in perfection what is more beautiful! Unlike the Geranium it can not always be depended upon. Sometimes our bushes are loaded with beautiful and fragrant blossoms, and again they fail to respond to the most careful treatment, the leaves turn yellow and drop off and the plant dies a lingering death and we cannot discover the cause. And then the rose slug and the scale bug, the thrips, the aphis and the red spider all must have a taste of it at one time or another and our beautiful roses are blighted and we are in despair. We do not give up thought and we generally succeed in having some roses in the course of the year.”

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“But time fails me to speak of the many beautiful flowers so dear to every flower-loving heart. The culture of flowers when once we become interested in it is of peculiar fascination and the great danger is that [we] can never be satisfied but are always wanting more. If we could confine ourselves to a few plants and keep them always in the highest state of cultivation it would be better and then their care would never be a burden but only a labor of love and a source of recreation.

Does it pay? I answer,Yes. Not always in dollars and cents, but in health and strength and pleasure and in creating a love for the beautiful and pure. Teach the children to love flowers, let the boys help their Mothers and Sisters, give them a few plants of their own to care for. Let the girls put on their sunbonnets and gloves if they choose, and rubbers, and go into the garden with a trowel and a rake and after the heavy digging is done, let them plant the seeds and pull up the weeds, transplant the seedlings and love and care for the tender plants. What if a little healthful sunburn darkens their skin or a few freckles even dare to show themselves. Their cheeks will catch the red of the rose, their eyes will grow brighter and their spirits lighter. The love of the good and true and beautiful would take the place of the love of pleasure and of dress which ruins so many girls. And our boys would not live to linger on the hot and dusty street corners, where so much evil is learned, but would be content to stay at home and help make home beautiful and to learn the great lesson which Nature would teach us. That floriculture pays financially too, we must believe when we see the many beautiful, floral catalogues which are now being sent broadcast over our land. While some of the illustrations and descriptions may be exaggerated yet upon the whole we find that the florists deal honestly with us.

As I close this imperfect and incomplete paper I would like to pay a tribute of respect and gratitude to Peter Henderson, the well known florist of New York who died last month. I do not know of any one who has done more to help the Amateur than he. He had no secrets of trade but shared with his customers all that he thought would prove helpful to them. His books, “Practical Floriculture,” “Gardening for Pleasure,” “Gardening for Profit,” “Garden and Farm Topics,” and “Handbook of Plants and Horticulture” are invaluable to the Amateur and to the professional gardener alike, and he will be lamented by many unseen and unknown friends in many lands.”

Happy gardening!

-Allison Haack, Graduate Student Volunteer

Love Letters between Marie Boisen Bradley and Morton C. Bradley

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Among our thousands of Wylie family correspondence are numerous letters between Marie Boisen Bradley and Morton C. Bradley.  Marie was the granddaughter of Theophilus and Rebecca Wylie.  Morton and Marie met early on in their time as students at Indiana University and soon began courting.  The two graduated from IU in 1900 and were married that same July.  Two children were born to the couple, a daughter, Louise in 1908, and a son, Morton Jr. (known as Bob to family and close friends), in 1912.

The pair wrote each other letters any time they had to be separated. The letters written between Marie and Morton are touching as they describe the depth of their feelings for one another and how much they miss the other and long to be together.   These letters are lovely examples of the kinds of love letters sent by couples in this time period.   Below is just a small sampling of excerpts from a selection of their letters.

MMatIUExcerpts of letter from Morton Bradley to Miss Marie Boisen [July 10, 1896]

“I was talking to my half sister. She said that she was in a crowd where my name was mentioned in connection with a girl’s here in town—somebody was wondering if I would not go with a girl here. Then someone else spoke up and said, “You needn’t worry about him going with anyone here. He has a girl in Bloomington who is the nicest, most intellectual and highest respected girl there. He’ll not go with any girl here unless it is to pass away the time.” O, how good that made me feel! …  But the compliments I have heard on you since I have been back! Just last evening one of the boys was looking at my pictures. He picked up one of yours and said “Say, there’s a pretty girl. I’ll bet she’s a nice girl.” And of course I assured him that he had struck the keynote. And he had.”

Excerpts of letter from Morton C. Bradley to Miss Marie Boisen [postmarked July 26, 1898]

“Sweetheart, although I have been away from you a very short time it seems as if months had passed since you said, “I’m so glad you came. Good bye, dear.” Do you know, dearest, that your saying that made me so happy that even now I can see you standing there with your hand in mine and your eyes telling me how much you loved me. I wanted so much to turn and tell the cabman that I wouldn’t need him, then take you in my arms and tell you that I couldn’t go, that I would stay another day. But, I knew that the parting then would be just as hard, even harder.”

 Excerpts of letter from Morton C. Bradley to Marie Boisen [Monday, 22 January 1900]

“I thanked God that He had given you to me to love and to make happy. I thanked Him that you loved me and that I loved you in the same way—with the whole heart. You had promised to be my wife and I was happy—so happy. You had changed my life; you had taught me to live a better life and I was grateful to you. You were a woman and I admired you. You had character and I loved you. You were my sweetheart and I worshipped you.

And now a year has passed. I still am grateful; I still admire you; I still love you; I still worship my darling sweetheart. And all to a greater degree than a year ago. But how can I write them stronger? I feel them—I know that my whole heart’s love, my whole life, my whole being is yours and will always be. I know that my entire happiness depends on you, dearest. I know that I wish more than for anything else that we were married—that you were now the darling wife I know you will be.

Five months, and less! My dearest, I am so anxious for our wedding day to come that were it right I would wish them gone. But still there is a sweetness in the waiting. I know I dearly love to talk to you about our wedding in blissful anticipation of the happiness I pray for. God willing, we shall be happy, my sweetheart. I will devote my life to your happiness. In doing that I know He will be pleased. For you will want me to live a Christian life.

And now that our perfect happiness is so near, I am trying more than ever to be what you want me to be. I will be what your husband should be. My darling, you deserve the very best husband in the world. And with His help, I will be that.”

Marie and Morton outside the front of Wylie House.

Marie and Morton outside the front of Wylie House.

Excerpts of letter from Marie Boisen Bradley to Mr. Morton C. Bradley [Postmarked May 14, 1901]

 “You will forgive the writing, won’t you? My position is not conducive to expert penmanship, but I love you just the same.

Dear heart, I am so sorry that you have had to go these three days without a letter from me. You know, don’t you, that if I could possibly have written I would have done so? I did all that I could—had mamma write and I hope that her letters kept you from being uneasy. Dear boy, you mustn’t be one bit uneasy now, though, for I am really and truly getting well quickly. I feel so well today. I don’t see how I will ever manage to stay in bed for ten days, but of course if it is for the best I will try to be patient. I want to get up entirely well and I know that the only way to do that is to stay in bed for a while.

Do write to me as often as you can, dear. Your letters will mean more than ever to me now that I have nothing to do but to be here and think.

Tomorrow I will try to write a longer, better letter. Now I wish I could see you, dearest. I am thinking about you all the time. I love you with my life. “

 

Excerpts of letter from Marie B. Bradley to Mr. Morton C. Bradley  [Postmarked Oct 20, 1903]

“Everyone sends dearest love to you, and all wish that you could have come. But most of all Mrs. wishes that! My heart was pretty heavy, dear one, when I found myself speeding westward past the billy goats grazing on the out skirts of Jersey City. But I’ve kind of picked up heart now, and much as I miss you, I intend to have a fine time, so that we will both be glad I came. Darling, I love you. Next time, which will be tomorrow, I will write a longer letter. Tonight circumstances are against me. I am down in the dining room and while the folks are trying to keep still it simply has to bubble over every so often. They all do seem so glad to see me dearest!

May God bless and keep you, my precious love. I am now, and will ever be

Your own true

Maidie-wifen”

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No idea what is happening in this picture, but it’s one of my favorites.

Excerpts of letter from Marie B. Bradley to Mr. Morton C. Bradley [October 21, 1903]

“If only a letter comes from you tomorrow! I have so longed for one today. It seems a long time since I have had any word from my precious boy.

Everyone is impressed with the fact that I look so well. (I think too, dear, that my brown suit has made a profound impression.) I have felt so well today. It has been a heavenly day, a splendid Indian summer day. The country is wonderfully beautiful just now and the fine air is exhilarating.

But how I long for you! My heart is with you all the time. I am thinking, thinking, thinking of you all day. May God bless and keep you for me, dear one. He alone knows how I love you and long for you.

Tomorrow! I can hardly wait, for tomorrow, I know, will bring me one of your precious letters.

My heart’s love to you

I am, your own

Marie

A thousand kisses to you”

 

Morton C. Bradley, Boston, Mass. to Mrs. M. C. Bradley, 307 E. 2nd St. Bloomington, Indiana [postmarked Sept 27, 1905]

“I believe this letter will reach you on your birth anniversary. But whether it does or not it’s my birthday letter to you, my sweetheart-wife. I couldn’t think of letting the day go by without telling you at least some of the things my heart prompts me to say. And especially this year I must write you such a letter. For whatever of happy days the other years have brought you the one just beginning gives promise of greater happiness and completer contentment than any we’ve known. And we have been happy these other years, my sweetheart. It’s true, there have been times when we would have had conditions different. And yet through it all we’ve been happy. We had each other and we knew absolutely each other’s love—why shouldn’t we be happy? We knew each other and we loved completely and our hearts were happy. Those are the important things. Other conditions change, there are ups and downs, dark days and bright. But love, if it is love, changes only in that it grows more intense. And it is love only if it becomes more complete regardless of the changing conditions.

Such a love, my sweetheart, is mine for you. It has always seemed to me that my love for you was so great, so complete, that it wouldn’t be possible for anyone to love another with a greater or a more devoted love. And yet as the months go by and when new years begin, I realize that my love for my precious sweetheart wife has become more complete, more intense.

MarieMortonNow, I firmly believe that no one can inspire a real love, nor can anyone encourage any love to really grow unless that person is truly worthy of that love, and that never is the love greater than that person’s worth. Only good is truly loved and only to the extent that it is really good. To see good is to love it; it is only necessary to recognize it. The greater one realizes the good to be, the greater his love for it. My love for you, dearest one, has become greater every day. It’s simply that I have known you better every day. That my love should become more intense was only natural. My heart’s love today, sweetheart, great as it is, is all yours, my very life is just for you and your happiness.

Confident as I am that my love for you, my truly lovable wife, will become greater this coming year. I am just as confident that your happiness this year will be a more complete, a more contented, happiness. I believe we both can more correctly look ahead and that we have arrived at a point where there is actually more there to be seen. I think we have “found ourselves.” If that is the case, we need but to resolve and to work. If we haven’t quite reached that point, working, I know, will mighty soon bring us there. Dearie, I’ve resolved and I’m working. The results must come and they must be results commensurate with our abilities. And we know what they are, which means that we know the results not to accomplish which will mean disappointment to us. And neither of us will ever be satisfied with disappointments.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

-Allison Haack, Graduate Student Volunteer

 

From Our Photograph Collection

While we were preparing for the Christmas Open House, I spent some time in the Wylie family pictures searching for wintery scenes to put in our display.  I have always loved photographs and it is difficult to not be sidetracked by other images that are particularly beautiful or humorous.  I chose a few of my favorites to share with you all.  We don’t have much context for most of these but I think they speak for themselves (although, you might recognize some familiar faces from the Bradley family in the last photo).  If you are curious about anything you see, let us know and we might be about to do some research on it for a future blog post.  You can click on any picture to make it larger or just scroll through the gallery!

Glamping

Girl and Kitten

2005.003.1165
Room

Girls on the Beach

Man in the OceanStretches Laura Margeret Squirrel

The Bradley Family

- Abi Parker, Wylie House Graduate Assistant

Christmastime Told Through the Letters and Diary of Theophilus A. Wylie

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Here at Wylie House we’re busy preparing for the return of our annual event Wylie House by Candlelight, which will take place Saturday, December 7th from 5:00-8:00pm.   Docents in period attire will lead tours of the house by candlelight, while seasonal refreshments, live music, games, and crafts will be offered next door in our education center.  Also, be sure to stop and look at the small exhibit on Christmas at Wylie House prepared by our grad assistant and one of our volunteers.

In the spirit of the Christmas holiday, we’ve decided to share some selections from the diary and letters of Theophilus A. Wylie pertaining to Christmastime.  Among the topics he discusses are the sending of Christmas cards, their Christmas tree, IU examinations, his views on the holiday, and family gatherings.

wyliechristmas

From diary, December 25, 1835

“This is “Christmas Eve,” a time of running to and fro from shop to shop, of all the good Pas & Mas (i.e. Fathers & Mothers) of the town to purchase “bonbons” and “joujouse (?)” [playthings] as we say in french for their little ones, have been in town this evg Chestnut & Market st are crowded with persons of the above description and dear friends of every kin, engaged in this laudable work. The book stands, had their goods, from the Bible to Mother Goose, displayed on their counters. But the toy stores and cooky shops and confectionaries, were we are sorry to say were more crowded. There is something pleasing about Xtmas the better feelings seem then to get the upper hand. I remember that last Xtmas to have been much pleased, and amused, by seeing a~ old man who had perhaps seen 70 returns of this day – toddling along the St , leading by one hand a little grandchild or grandchild’s grandchild for ought I know, and holding in the other a wooden horse of German workmanship, and behind him followed and prattled a dozen more of both sexes and of various sizes and ages, all bearing visible and substantial proofs of grandpa’s good nature. It is no unusual thing on this day to see an old gentleman walking in the streets with the greatest gravity carrying in their hands penny whistles and rattles and other seasonable goods. This looks nice & whether Christmas is popish or Xtian, or a vestige of the Saturnalia it is a pleasant time and I for one would be very sorry to see these innocent follies of other years frowned on. No body as far as I know, as yet says anything against such observances of Christ, as is here mentioned, but in these days of nice reform, it will be strange if they dont cry down christmas boxes & christmas pies as demoralizing & superstitious.

“But, in fact I know no reason why it should not be religiously observed. Why should not the recurrence of the birthday of the Savior of Men be held as sacred? If Xtmas be that day, why not consider it as one of peculiar rejoicing? If not, the commemoration of that great event, by the observing of this or any other day, would surely not be sinful.”

From letter from Theophilus A. Wylie, Louisa Wylie, December 26th, 1860

“Dear Lou,

…Yesterday the children had their rejoicing over their Christmas gifts. The stockings were all duly suspended on Monday Evening and their treasures examined the next morning. It seems to me that the happiness it gives the little ones compensates for the folly of the custom. The Old S. Presbyterians had a Xtmas tree in Dunn’s hall and the Sabbath school assembled there to receive its decorations. So you see how old Popish customs are sanctioned and observed by grave Protestant Presbyterians. You remember the story told of John Bunyan. Somebody, knowing his hatred of every thing Popish, in order to vex him when in jail sent him a present of a Christmas pie. John eat the pie and sent back word to the [one word] that he had lived long enough in this world to know the difference between Christmas and Pie. So it is with these customs, they have a popish name, but there is a good deal of difference between them and Popery….”

wyliehouse

From diary, December 25, 1864

“Last Sab of year. Xtmas day. pr. on “time part of our lives &c” Day wet sleety, not many at ch. Thursday last very cold. Th 7 ½ A.M. -13. Wind changed Fr. though still cold. Sat. pleasant. A week of Holidays. Dr Owen not back. “Labuntur anni” quam celerrime! [How quickly the years slip by.]

Sherman invading Savannah — perfectly successful in his expedition.”

From diary, December 27, 1874

“On Thursday morning Herman (Prof. Boisen) came from Terre Haute — & made another rejoicing. All day Thursday Prof. & others (not the children) arranged a beautiful Xtmas tree in German style. A Balm of Gilead we used to call it (Canada pine or fir) was placed on a table in the middle of the parlor and decorated with bonbons, & [even] lights — The Xtmas presents were arranged on tables around it, It was delightful when the appointed hour [written above “Thursday 24. 6t P.M. ±l] came to see the joy of the little ones– Anton particularly– can’t enumerate all the presents. I became possessor of a big chair Uxoris meae carissimae donum [A gift from my very dear wife]. All received something. Next day– a family dinner — All of the family save Theoph. & Arthur C. Mellette — were present — Theophs in Philada Arthur on a trip to Colorado  Our company was — from the oldest downwards — Self & wife — Aunt Emma-Prof. Herman B & Louisa –Maggie Mellette — Brown Wylie –Dory Wylie, Richard Speck (Nephew) — then the little ones, T Wylie Mellette –Charles Mellette & Anton Boisen Mellette — Baby was somewhere about — & Lizzie Brackenridge — served the table. Gaudia et hilaritete, caenavimus — delicibus fruentes. Gratias Deo. 0. M. reddentes. [With gladness and cheerfulness, we dined — with the pleasures we were enjoying. Returning thanks to God.]”

From diary, January 3rd, 1875

“Rev. Mr Clark — formerly of Princeton now of Iowa — preached for Mr MeN Eph VI 11. “Put on the whole armor &c” Prof. Ballantine Col. Ch. “Noah”-a man of piety & enterprize

Monday very rainy

– Thursday night relighted the Xtmas tree, which had been standing during

the week, & had another rejoicing of the children. The good things were

distributed & the tree dismantled & removed.

Yesterday open College — only 37 students in attendance.”

From diary, December 25, 1987

“Mr Minton preached an Xmas sermon from Mat. About the birth of Xt. He spoke of it as the birth day and celebrated everywhere. It is very uncertain, unknown instead the day of Xt’s birth.More like the Christmas & Xmas week is the successor of the Roman Saturnlia. We do not see however, since all Xendom nearly, directs its thoughts to the nativity — that there is any harm in joining in the celebration of this greatest event in the history of the world.

Yesterday we had our Xmas dinner — only guests Elizabeth Dennis & Seadie & The & Sam & Reba & baby. About 6 o ‘C the table was covered with gifts for the children (not many & not expensive) which they enjoyed. Afterwards went to the church where they had their children’s exhibition – Tableaus music speeches from the little ones. The last performance, was the introduction of a wagon drawn by a goat, the wagon loaded with bonbons for the S.S. scholars. Every thing went off well.”

From diary, December 25, 1881

“Vacation No chapel service.

Last night the children had their Xtmas tree — no strangers – we should not call them strangers — no one besides the family but Aunt Em & Lizzie D –were present. Tree lighted up about 7~ O’C & Children delighted.

In church to day there were allusions to Xtmas — very different from what would have been 25 or 50 yrs ago. The Presn churches, are beginning to think it not wrong to have Xtmas services.”

TAW Diary from 1883

TAW Diary from 1883

From diary, December 23, 1883

“Mr McNary Mat V 13-16 Ye are the salt of the earth &c.

Examinations closed Friday. College will commence Jan 4th.

Christmas day after to morrow. A week and a little more than a day & 1883 will be in the past time. Labuntur anni [The years slip by].

Have been sending some Xtmas cards, perhaps too many — but maybe will not have another opportunity.”

 

Happy Holidays from all of us at Wylie House!

-Allison Haack, Graduate Student Volunteer

Ghost Stories from Wylie House

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Halloween is fast approaching, and you know what that means – all manner of spooky and frightening stories!  Over the years, we’ve had a few of our own tales of ghosts here at Wylie House.

The first documented story we have is from 1914, and recorded in 1937.  The Wylie family had moved out in 1913, and Professor Amos Hershey and his wife, Lillian, were living in the house.  The story goes that when they moved in they found a section of work near the attic door and over the attic stairwell where the plaster had never been finished.  After some inquiry, the Hersheys discovered that the original plasterer had been working at the house when he found out that his wife had died.  He rushed home to see her one last time, and grief-stricken, committed suicide by jumping down a well.  Supposedly at the time, no one could be found to finish the plaster job because it was claimed the house was now haunted.  Mrs. Hershey had the plaster in the stairway finished in 1914, but left the spot above the doorway unfinished out of respect for what she called “the hant.”  She apparently reported no ghosts ever bothered her.

The stairwell from the third floor attic.

The stairwell from the third floor attic down to the second floor.

In 1986, Betty Landreth recalled the time she had spent at the house with her grandmother, Lillian Hershey.  She claimed that every night footsteps could be heard up on the second floor, always around midnight.  One night, Betty decided to try sleeping upstairs in the southwest bedroom.  Although it has been claimed by another person that Mrs. Hersey did not believe in a ghost or was not bothered by it, Betty recounts that her grandmother refused to sleep upstairs because of the ghost.  When Betty slept upstairs, she heard the clock chime midnight, then heard footsteps descend from the third floor, walk down the hallway, and proceed down the main stairway.  After a couple of nights, Betty decided to resume sleeping downstairs.  It was her opinion that the ghost was likely that of the plaster worker who had killed himself and that he walked the halls at night in despair.  In Betty’s version of the story, he had hanged himself.  She commented that no harm or damage was ever by the ghost.

Entryway to the attic and second floor hallway where footsteps were heard.

Entryway to the attic and second floor hallway where footsteps were heard.

In the 1960s, Wylie House was underwent a major renovation.  During this time, several strange occurrences took place.  Footsteps were heard (most often in the upstairs hallway), previously closed doors were inexplicably opened, and lights were turned on when no one was in the house.  The campus police were asked to check up on the house, but no prowlers were ever discovered.  One night a police officer found himself locked into a room on the second floor, and claims to have heard footsteps running up to the third floor.

Although John Dixon, the restoration supervisor, did not take these events seriously, many of the workmen refused to work alone in a room.  However, his opinion changed one day when he was alone in the house heard a loud noise in the kitchen.  The kitchen was still under construction, so he hurried in to see if something had collapsed.  He found that the contents of a wheelbarrow had been scattered all over the floor, there was mortar dust clouding the air, and the kitchen was freezing cold.

Later during the reconstruction, a brick mortared into the wall was found to have a curse against the Wylie family carved into it.  Dixon insisted that the brick was not a fake, because as someone who worked with historic structures, he was certain that the brick had been mortared at the time the house was originally built.  Dixon would not say what was written on the brick, only saying that it was crude language and not appropriate to be recorded in the archives.  With workmen as witnesses, Dixon smashed the brick with a hammer.  No further incidents occurred after that point.

Renovated Wylie House kitchen.

The kitchen were John Dixon found the mess from the wheelbarrow and the brick mortared into the wall.

The most recent ghost sighting took place in 2002.  Two men from the IU carpenter shop were in the house rehanging doors when one of the men reported briefly glimpsing a woman standing about a third of the way up the stairs.  He noted that she was wearing a long, full, yellow dress, but didn’t get a closer look at her hair or face to be able to determine an age.  He only saw the woman out of the corner of his eye.   He stopped short in the doorway to the parlor and asked the other worker, “Who was that?” but there was no one there.  Neither of the workmen seemed frightened by the experience.

So who knows?  Maybe the next time you drop by Wylie House for a visit, you’ll hear the sound of footsteps.  As far as we know, only one visitor, a little boy, has ever claimed to have seen anything ghostly – but maybe you’ll be the next lucky one that does.  Or maybe the only ghosts here at Wylie House are the ones in our heads as we walk through the house and imagine the family going about their day to day lives.  Either way, Happy Halloween!

-Allison Haack, Graduate Student Volunteer

The Wylie House Telephone Wire and the Seminary Square Fire

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Library and Science Building

Library and Science Building at Seminary Square, the first campus location

Before 1883 when Indiana University was still located near what is now Seminary Square, Professor Theophilus A. Wylie and his son, Brown, installed a telephone wire that ran from the University to Wylie House.  We know from the Wylie family letters that Theophilus was very excited by the telephone and regularly used it to call the college. On the night of July 12, 1883, the main academic and laboratory building at the Seminary Square location burned to the ground. Initially, it was believed that the telephone wire from Wylie House to the University had caused the fire.

In a letter to her husband dated July 14, 1883, Theophilus’s  daughter, Louisa Boisen, wrote:

“My dearest Hermann,

I sent you a letter yesterday morning telling you about the fire. This morning it seems to me that I feel even worse than yesterday. It is thought that the lightning entered by Brown’s telephone wire and that of course makes us all feel dreadfully. If Brown was careful to shut off the connection before he left I don’t see how it could be unless as Pa says it may have been near enough to the lightning rod to jump from it to the wire. I do hope that Brown did attend to it, but yet others used the wire and if it was used during the vacation perhaps he left it to them to attend to it. Pa feels terribly about it. He says it almost crushes him. . . Then too what will be the consequence of it all? Won’t this be the opportunity for those who seem to desire it, to get rid of the Laboratory? . . . It is very sad to go over there and see the leaves of books scattered all about, many just burnt around the edges. . . The blackened remains are shoveled out when they can do it but even now they are blazing some and the smoke still goes up though we had a hard storm last night again. A great deal of rain fell and there was a great deal of thunder and lightning. . .  The wall towards College Avenue was left entire yesterday but last night it was blown down, as were the other walls, but it is too hot for them to work inside yet. I suppose there are some valuable remains there. Poor Dr. Jordan loses all his fishes—the work of his lifetime. Spangler and Conger I suppose left many things in their room. . . Dr. Van Nuys lost a valuable microscope. Pa lost a good many things I believe. But I have not heard him speak of his own particular loss. He said this morning that he hardly felt as if he could survive. He feels the public loss so much and then he grieves so about the way it probably happened. If Brown can only write that he shut off the connection, I think it will make Pa feel better to think that it was not thro’ any carelessness. . . It is too sad, for it will be long before such a library can be gathered and many books can never be replaced and then they had much fine apparatus….”

The Indiana University Archives is fortunate to have extensive diaries kept by Theophilus Wylie. On June 15th Professor Wylie wrote:

“1 Cor. III. 12-15 –The Foundation & the Hilding. — Miserrimus sum [I am very miserable].Last Thursday (12 ) night — about 10 O’C the college bell range the alarm of fire. I immediately ran through the rainstorm — & found the New College building on fire. The fire had been smoldering for some time before it was notir’ed & the building was filled with smoke, — & could not be entered. — for a time it was thought that it might have been controlled, but the flames got the better of the exertions made– & the building with all its contents save a few of the tables of the Museum was destroyed. — The prin Library — the large & valuable Museum– Dr Jordan’s fishes & specimens — & library, Mr Gelbut’s Panama work — all the apparatus in my rooms, All the Laboratories and their contents — all Spangler’s things & perhaps Congers – were utterly destroyed. — The fire seemed to have originated in my room. Thus I will be more implicated perhaps than any other, as the occasion of the loss. — I feel that it is more than I can bear. Miserere nosti0 Deus Salvator! [Take pity on us, 0 Lord Our Savior!]

However, by July 20 when Louisa wrote again to her husband, she reported that: “They don’t think now that the fire kindled from the telephone wire. They think it came down the cupola into the hall where it was burning when the door was broken open. It is hard to tell. Dr. Van N. says such a stroke as that would have melted the wire.”

This new information about the fire likely helped to ease Theophilus Wylie’s sense of guilt, but he remained deeply saddened by the loss of the academic building and its contents. It was feared that the University would be moved from Bloomington to another part of the state, but the citizens of Monroe County pledged $50,000 to the University.  Dunn’s Woods was purchased to be the new site of the campus where it remains today.

-Allison Haack, Graduate Student Volunteer

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