"Frank" is presumably named such as Frances, who apparently must have come to Marion, Ohio from Onondaga County, New York, as Sarah states that she has never been out of the state of New York. One can also presume that these two young women were half sisters, as Sarah refers to "your mother." Sarah is single, and it appears that Frank is recently married. Both women were presumably McDonald by maiden name. Everyone seems to be eager to find a mate for Sarah, who is occupied with with caring for a very sick friend who she affectionately refers to as "Ma." It is also clear that the impending Civil War has begun to show it's dramatic effects, as Sarah refers to "the Southern excitement" in this letter, which is dated 2 days before the firing on Fort Sumter. Also striking is the effect of Frank's apparent emigration west, as Sarah repeatedly says how much she misses her sister, and expresses a great hope that they will one day see each other again.
South Granby Apr 10, 1861
I now sit down to answer your letter which I did not receive till last Sunday. I am well as usual. You ask me to come out there. I would do so if it was so I could, but there is no way that I can leave now. Ma, as I call Mrs. Penfield, is quite unwell so I could not leave her alone. George Penfield has hired out a few miles from home this season and she and I are alone. She has been a good mother to me and I must stay with her when she needs me as she does now. Were it not for that I would do as you wish willingly.
I had a letter from James and Jaz about two weeks ago. They were all well. Jaz was going to build a house for a move a few miles from there. He wrote that times were very hard there owing to the Southern excitement. I think things go about as well here as any where. For my part I like New York, as I have never been out of the State. I suppose it is natural. It is very pleasant here where we live. I wish you were here. I hope you will come out here sometime and see me.--
I suppose the reason I did not get your letter sooner was because we have changed our Post Office and did not go to that one. You may direct your letters after this to Lamsons Onondaga Co. NY and I will get it right off as it is nearer than S Granby PO. I am glad to hear that you are keeping house for I should think it would be pleasanter for you. You say that Theodore has promised me away, well I don't know how I am to manage for most every one has one picked out for me and as I can't marry but one I feel almost tempted to be an old maid, if I am not one already. I presume I am, though I feel quite young yet. I wish you would write to me often. When you write tell how that little motherless babe gets along and who takes care of her. Give my love to your mother and write as soon convenient. Tell Theodore to remember his promise to send yours and his likeness to me, it will not cost much. Jaz and his wife sent theirs about Christmas and I want yours, for if I can't see you I want to know how you both look and sometime I hope I shall see you. I hope you will get along well and take comfort. Write often as you can.
Your affectionate Sister,
Sarah J. McDonald
Lamsons Onondaga Co. NY
To Sister Frank