Voices From The Past
Historic Letters & Writings
Stephen J. Hartzell


The following transcripts are taken verbatim from the original documents.
I have also included my own comments for the sake of background and perspective.
All entries are arranged chronologically.

This is a glimpse of the past in the words of those who were there!



Letter From Sarah J. McDonald, Granby, Onondaga Co., New York
To Her Sister "Frank" in Marion, Ohio, April 10, 1861
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.


Letter From Lizzie Stacy, Colton Station, Henry County, Ohio
To Ida White, Clyde, Ohio, August 3, 1872
This schoolgirl letter paints a picture of a simpler time.
Lizzie apparently moved away from Clyde, and is filling Ida in on all the latest news.


Letter From Jesse Stoner, Helena, Montana
To John Lee Stoner, Green Springs, Ohio, November 28, 1886
Lee Stoner has apparently been agonizing over an impending business decision. In this letter brother Jesse is trying to help Lee to decide which way to go. Interestingly, Jesse offers his brother a quick instruction on the art of wheeling & dealing.


Letter From Jesse Stoner, Helena, Montana
To Mrs. John Lee (Ida) Stoner, Green Springs, Ohio, January 15, 1888
In this letter from Jesse Stoner to his brother's wife Ida (Smith) Stoner, most of the content is centered around the recent birth of a new baby daughter to Lee and Ida Stoner. Apparently the baby has been ill, and Ida fears that the Lord may be punishing her for some reason.


Letter From Jesse Stoner, Helena, Montana
To Mrs. John Lee (Ida) Stoner, Green Springs, Ohio, June 16, 1888
Jesse Stoner expresses great pride in brother Lee & Ida Stoner's baby girl, Jessie. Jesse also comments about the fact that everyone in the family has moved away from Green Springs except Lee & Ida.


Letter From Jesse Stoner, Helena, Montana
To Mrs. John Lee (Ida) Stoner, Green Springs, Ohio, April 30, 1890
With Lee in Florida to look after his sick father, Jesse expresses regret in not being able to go himself. At the same time he is apologetic about not having written more often.


Letter From Jesse Stoner, Helena, Montana
To John Lee Stoner, Green Springs, Ohio, January 13, 1892
Jesse Stoner acknowledges a letter of thanks from Lee for Christmas gifts sent to the children, and he speaks of the spirit of giving. Jesse also speaks of an inventory, presumably from the estate of a recently departed.


Letter From Jesse Stoner, Helena, Montana
To Mrs. John Lee (Ida) Stoner, Green Springs, Ohio, June 5, 1894
Financially hard pressed, Jesse, as usual, wishes he could do more. Again he wishes he could be with Lee and family.


Letter From Jesse Stoner, Helena, Montana
To Mrs. John Lee (Ida) Stoner, Green Springs, Ohio, January 16, 1895
Jesse dwells much on the spirit of giving at Christmas time, and states again that Christmas is for the children.
He also says that we all take life too seriously, that we need to take more time to enjoy life.


Letter From Jesse Stoner, Helena, Montana
To John Lee Stoner, Green Springs, Ohio, August 18, 1895
Jesse tells of a recent outing to Idaho, as well as to Butte, Montana.
He is concerned about the Aunties plan to sell their house, Uncle Ezra's move to Denver, and about Ethel's recent severe sickness.


Letter From Jesse Stoner, Helena, Montana
To Miss Ethel Stoner, Green Springs, Ohio, January, 1895
A short carefully printed letter to Little Ethel.
Apparently uncle Jesse had given her a doll and a sled for Christmas in 1894.


Letter From Jesse Stoner, Helena, Montana
To John Lee Stoner, Green Springs, Ohio, October 5, 1896
This is Jesse's most politically oriented letter. He speaks of McKay & Hayes, as well as Garfield.
His full name is also revealed in the way he signed this letter; Jesse Stem Stoner.


Letter From Jesse Stoner, Helena, Montana
To Miss Jessie Stoner, Green Springs, Ohio, November 11, 1898
In the final part of the 11 letter Stoner collection, Jesse offers much encouragement and advice to Jessie.


Letter From Mother, Bettsville, Ohio
To Kate Benefiel, Columbus, Ohio, May 31, 1906
This letter gives a good accounting of the issues of everyday life.
Mother's ramblings reflect much on other people's conditions & life in general.


Letter From Mother, Bettsville, Ohio
To Kate Benefiel, Toledo, Ohio, October 12, 1907
In this extraordinary letter Mother fills "Katsy" in on all the latest news.
Among the topics are a man who claims to be talking to spirits, who have also cursed him and his family.
Another pair of men have been on a drunk, and are apparently heavily into whisky and morphine.


Letter From Sister Ella, New London, Ohio
To Mrs. William (Sarah) Stahl, Attica, Ohio, December 29, 1907
In this letter Ella tells Sarah all about her holidays.
She describes in detail what her children got for Christmas.


Letter From Mother, Bettsville, Ohio
To Kate Benefiel, Toledo, Ohio, December 31, 1907
Mother writes another of her news filled letters.
Bill has some annoying habits, but still she is glad someone is there to keep her company.


Letter From Mother, Bettsville, Ohio
To Kate Benefiel, Toledo, Ohio, March 27, 1909
Along with the usual news, Mother also shares her thoughts about her desire to see Katsy, and her bouts with loneliness.


Letter From Mother, Bettsville, Ohio
To Kate Benefiel, Toledo, Ohio, April 16, 1909
Mother seems to be struggling to find enough to write about, as her writings are more rambling than usual.
She speaks of the new lock on the door. It is apparently of the type that latches if the door is closed while the latch is down.


Letter From Mother, Bettsville, Ohio
To Kate Benefiel, Toledo, Ohio, December 1, 1909
In this final letter of the Benefiel series, mother tells of several deaths, and other news about friends & relatives.
It is also clear that she very much misses seeing her grown up children more often.
Mother even shares her flowers with Katsy, as petals were inserted with the letter.


Letter From Edith McDonald, Buffalo, New York
To her mother, Mrs. Ida McDonald, Green Springs, Ohio, March 26, 1928
Edith is working very hard to help pay off some of the family debts.
At the same time she laments about her inability to buy better clothing.
She is also worried about her mother, and the fact that she keeps more cats around than she can support.


Letter From Bessie Starling, Bucyrus, Ohio
To Mrs. Ida McDonald, Green Springs, Ohio, April 22, 1928
In this extraordinary letter Bessie, widowed 3 years prior, explains to Ida why she wrote to her recently deceased husband.
The letter evolves into a young widow's accounting of the hardships of raising 6 young children alone.