Lone Pine BrideBy: Sylvia Damsell
“Dear Mr. Grant. Thank you for your letter and for showing an interest in me. I found it very inspiring.
“My background is not impressive. I have had to fight for what I have because my parents died three years ago. My father was an important member of local society and my mother entertained and managed the house very well, which included the servants. Our house was quite large though not the largest by Boston standards.
“However, that is in the past because after they died I had to fend for myself, which has not been easy. In view of that I feel I could be invaluable as a helpmeet for someone in California. I knit and sew. I enjoy cooking and particularly enjoy making up new recipes. I am not afraid of hard work.
“Life here is reasonable but often boring and I would like the adventure of living in the area you live and of being an active part in the life of the community. Because I have no real home I long to be part of a relationship which is mutually beneficial and where I can feel I am a part of it. In return I would do everything I could to make sure whoever I was with was happy.
“My appearance is hard to describe because when a person does that it sounds a bit vain. I have dark hair which curls on its own, brown eyes and what some people describe as a pretty face. I don’t know about that because I don’t spend hours in front of the mirror. My figure is what has been termed petite. As far as I know, nobody has fainted when they looked at me. I would like to send you a photograph but cannot afford a photographer. I am nineteen years of age.
“My accomplishments are not vast but I can play the piano, paint and do needlework. I also am proficient at needlepoint and do a lot of knitting for those in more need than myself when I can afford the wool. I am a Christian and love God very much. I attend a large church nearby and take part in its activities, which includes feeding the poor.
“The way I support myself is to sell my needlework. My needlepoint is particularly popular. I make my own dresses but have not got round to replacing the ivory dress I loved so much which I had to sell after my parents died. I also play the organ at funerals and weddings and that brings in some income.
“Please let me know a bit about yourself. What you have said already sounds very interesting but I would love to know what kind of things you like and a bit about your life.
“May God richly bless you. Rachel Barwell.”
“Dear Miss Barwell. I hope this letter finds you well. Thank you for sending a reply to my last letter and for telling me a bit about yourself. I am sorry about your parents dying. That is really sad. I think you are very brave the way you have done everything to keep yourself going financially.
“I’m not sure how to describe my features and don’t have a camera to send you a photograph. We did have a photographer here but he has left the area now. I am fairly tall though not excessively. My face is not one that would turn crowds but I suppose it is alright. I dress smartly and am fussy about my appearance though on the farm, of course, I sometimes get a bit dirty. I bathe regularly, however, and always when I reach home in the evening. No-one that I have noticed has fainted after looking at me though, of course, there might have been a delayed action.
“My house is a good one and built by the best builders who have paid a lot of attention to detail. I do have some standing in the community because I’m a member of the local ruling council. I also am quite well off therefore can employ the best and know that the service I receive is good because I am respected. This carries some responsibility but that I am willing to accept. In return I try to treat people in the way I would want them to treat me. I am twenty one years of age.
“My farm is a few miles from Lone Pine which is a town with a population of nearly three hundred people. They have a post office so we can get supplies when we need them. However, that is not the community to which I referred because there is a sizeable village nearer to me where there is a large church and a couple of stores.
“I do not expect you to feel you have to work hard when you get here. I have farmhands to help run the farm and I employ a cook who produces excellent cuisine. I can cook quite well myself but don’t have a lot of time for that. I don’t have anyone to knit me cardigans so if you knit me one that would be nice. However, that is not essential because I can buy them. Your dresses we can order or else a local dressmaker can make them.