This is one of two surviving letters sent from Bettie Brewer Noyes to Ray Noyes when she went from Liberal, Missouri to Oklahoma to stay with Ray’s older brother, Allen, and his wife, Susie. It wasn’t a pleasure trip. Allen and Susie’s daughter, Carrie, is mentioned in the second letter, so Bettie was there subsequent her birth in 1902. But Susie had also been ill and in the hospital. The letter doesn’t give an indication of the nature of her illness, which appears to have required surgery, but whether the surgery was essential is unclear as Bettie states she felt Suzie’s stay in the hospital did more bad than good. Bettie does mention Suzie’s experiencing headaches. However, Bettie’s visit there seems to have less to do with Suzie’s having been ill than a subsequent, nearly immobilizing depression. Perhaps Suzie was actually suffering from postpartum depression.
The mail was fast back then. It may as well have been email, it was so fast. Bettie states that she imagines by now Ray has gotten the letter she wrote Sunday. June 23rd was a Monday and she’s writing Ray at about 10:00 at night. The Sunday letter would have to be the one she had written the day before. I have the impression that she was likely mailing him nearly every day.
Having been helping out with Allan and Susie for a full three weeks, Bettie’s patience was wearing thin between Suzie’s crying spells, which had not abated, and the arrival of relatives of Suzie’s which meant the descent of two continually crying children on the household. Bettie must not have been used to such behavior from her own children, which would fit with what I’ve heard of them running a very formal household. Also, Bettie seems to have gathered no understanding of the reason for Suzie’s crying spells, and appears to even be dubious of them. The household is in such a state of upset that she wonders how her brother-in-law can get farm hands.
Miller Okla. June 23
My dear Boy
I will write a little to you tonight. Joe Reynolds folks came and if nothing happens I will be at Home Sunday night.
It is awful hot here now. Allen is still cutting oats he has six men besides his self. but I don’t mind the work very bad but Joe Reynolds kids both squall ALL OF THE TIME and I get sick of that they don’t hardly let Carrie sleep any in the day time
I don’t know what they will do when I am not here to do the work but I dont feel that I am able or that it is my duty to stay and do for them all by myself.
I told Allen I wanted to come home and he said all right I thought maby he would try some more to get a girl but he has not. I don’t think there has been any change in Susie she has worried lots since Joe’s come. She takes a spell of crying most every day when the men come in to dinner. I think it strange that he can get any hands. How would you like to
go in to dinner and hear a woman crying and talking and two kids qualling as loud as they could every day.
Allen says it gives him the head ache and I have had a headache so much since I have been here though never so bad as to have to go to bed. We all want to come home awful bad. I expect you got my letter I wrote Sunday by now. We went and took it to the Office were all awfully tired when we got back well it is 2 and 1/2 miles up there but we got so lonesome here by ourselves
Well I will quit and go to bed and try and sleep a spell, it is so warm I don’t know whether I can go to sleep or not – but it is getting late for it was almost 10 oclock when I got through with the work. so by bye.
Go to the May 30, 1902 letter, Bettie to Ray
A letter from Ray to Bettie, dated June 6th, unknown year