1880 letters between Ann BUXTON and Ann FAWCETT

This page is a drill-down from my main story of the METCALFEs on Stainmore. I have a note that John FAWCETT had married Jane METCALFE's sister Peggy and had taken their three children off to Wisconsin in 1865 after Peggy died. Then somebody else mentioned Iowa. In 1865 Ann FAWCETT was then 10, so I wonder if the reference in her letter to the "20 months we have been out here" means they had moved again, and recently. I'm not certain about Ann FAWCETT's 1880 address. The only likely Alexandria I could find in my old Rand McNally is just across the Iowa border into Missouri, although apparently there is one also in South Dakota, since George Buxton and Patty Fawcett both say she wrote from there. Wikipedia has a lovely photograph in its entry about the history and 1880s founders of Alexandria South Dakota (though no easily-recognisable Dales surnames in it), so the 1880s were still very much pioneer days.

I am sure either of the Anns would have stuck one of these lovely Victorian transfers onto their letters, if they had them, just as I can do now thanks to the generosity of Valeriana Solanis, who has made them freely available on Google Images for occasions just like this!

rose transfer

Ivelet Heads

October 27th 1880

Dear Cousin,

You will have been expecting a letter before now which I intended but have kept putting off. We are all well except Father - he is not strong. Perhaps you will know that Cousin Mary Jane Sunter [daughter of Rosey COATES nee Metcalfe] is dead. She died soon after Christmas, also Uncle John Coates [husband of Rosey nee Metcalfe] is dead. He died last June so you see what changes there is in the family. Old Jeffrey and Jeffrey Thomas Theakstone [some Theakstone mining neighbours in Ivelet but no Jeffrey] are dead.

I think we shall be leaving Calvert Houses in the spring. We have taken a farm on Stainmore near Uncle George [Metcalfe]. There is about 110 acres of pasture and meadow land. We have taken about 300 sheep this fall belonging to the place. We shall perhaps milk 9 or 10 cows and bring up a good few young calves. It is a larger place than this, also Cousin John Metcalfe [Betty's son] has taken a larger farm, will be leaving in the Spring. They have taken his wife's mother's farm, perhaps will milk 16 cows and bring a good few of calves up - it is both ploughing and grain land also Cousin John and Robert Coates [sons of Rosey nee Metcalfe] has taken another farm further down Westmoreland.

Cousin George Coates [Rosey's son] is staying on Palliet Farm. They are going to divide themselves also Cousin Thomas Metcalfe [Thomas's son] has taken a farm nearer to Uncle George. I think he will have a house keeper to hire so we shall be all away from the old place. We had sister Hannah [now wife of Edward SUNTER] from Liverpool a few weeks ago. I think they are all very well. We had Uncle and Cousins here from Stainmore this Fair. Brother William is on Stainmore at present. I think they are all well. Aunt Betty is all well. She has two little boys, and is in a fair way for another little one [Don't know who this is, unless Ann means her Aunt Betty Dunn has two grand-sons with another on the way - she did look after them. I don't think Hannah's father had a sister called Elizabeth]. John Harker has been very poorly but is going about again. John Harker's brother William [there was more than one such pair of brothers in the 1871 Swaledale censuses - anyone got any ideas?] is coming to Aunt Betty's farm and George Alton [Heights neighbours George and Rosamond taking over the Buxton farm at Calvert Houses?] is coming to ours in the Spring.

Aunt Betty's farm they have taken is called Ellerton - about four miles below Reeth [I think Ann means that her aunt Betty DUNN is going to be at the same farm as her son John METCALFE and his wife Annie nee BELL, who are in the later census for Ellerton Abbey]. John's wife's mother, sisters and brothers is going to a very large farm not so far off London in the South, but you will have to write before we leave here. Now we should like to know how you are all getting on in your farm so far as you have come. How is John and George getting on. Give my kind love to them, accept the same yourself. - Oh how I should like to see you all again. Whether that will ever be or not I cannot tell but we may all meet in heaven where there will be no parting again that will be the best meeting.

Father Brother's joins me in love to you all from

your Cousin Ann Buxton



December 20th 1880

Dear Cousin Ann.

I received your unexpected letter some four weeks ago. I had given up ever hearing from you again if I were to follow your example I ought not to answer this before 18 or 20 months, if I am not mistaken but I hope and trust you will try to do better this next time to your orphan cousin out in the territories. No I had not heard of cousin Mary Sumter's death it is news to Uncle John Coates and me is dead to. I would like to have one of their cards each if it is convenient to you and send me one. We are all well at present and hope these few lines will find you the same.

Time makes lots of changes even in a little place like Ivelet Heads if I were to come back I would fined some changes I suppose. I can tell you the 20 months we have been out here is a good many changes we had to go six miles to town for a while but at first sixty-four miles. Now we have just as good a town two miles from us the name of it is Alexandria. The railroad comes in and brings the mail twice a day, and we have a first class market to.

We all like to hear it out here very well so far I think some of you had better come out here and get some farms of your own, then you would not have to rent and pay the rent. But it is selling up real fast around here and the land is good out here and grass is good, stock does well. We have 31 head of cattle and 6 head of horse we are getting along as well as can be expected of us. Will send you a picture of my new sowing machine I got this spring. I don't know if it is anything like yours or not we are having nice weather at present it was quiet cold in November.

I don't know theses few lines will be interesting to you or not for I cant think of much to write you. I would like very much to hear from you once in a while and the old place. Remember me to any that may think of me if there be.

As ever your affectionate cousin

A Fawcett

Wherever you go may contentment be your lot
And fortune like Ivy encircle your plot
May each rosy morning be dressed in mantles of peace
Bring light to thy dwelling your gladness increase.

Is the wish of your cousin in the west

Please write soon if this letter is worth answer. Wishing you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year so I must come to a close for this time.


These letters have been reproduced for the 10th Anniversary of the Upper Dales Family History Group thanks to George Buxton, who originally sent me the transcripts and agreed to their display here.

Marion Hearfield April 2010