Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wisdom From a Wise Woman

"I have every thing I kneed to be comfortable I have my bed here in the front room and agood coal fire in the other room night and day Joseph sleeps on the couch by the stove so I am not alone we have plenty to eat and why not be happy and content and I am" -- Sarah Ann Camfield, South Bend, Indiana, December 1899.
As I read this in Sarah Ann's letter on Apple's blog, I was struck by how the woman who wrote this letter over 100 years ago could be so content with so little. Such simple things as a bed, a warm fire, a companion, and plenty to eat was all she needed. It's happiness and contentment at its most basic, summarized in 57 words. Think about it. With all the richness that surrounds your life today, are you as happy and content as Sarah Ann and could you sum it up as well?

In her letter, Sarah Ann went on to tell of the Christmas gifts she received and of a most unusual Christmas tree. This wonderful period information provides insight into her life and times and that's certainly interesting too in it's own way. But I keep going back to her happiness and contentment from the simple things...

Take a moment to reflect on your life or that of one of your ancestors. Would they have been happy and content with such simple things? Would you? As you go through your day today keep Sarah Ann in mind. It may just give you a different perspective on things.

And here's one last phrase from Sarah Ann, one she closed her letter with...

"write when you can it seems like seeing you to get aletter"

Don't we all recognize that feeling? It's the one we get when a friend leaves a comment on our blogs. A visit from a friend in written form... Why not stop by and make someone's day with a visit in written form!

Thank you, Apple, for all the hours you spend transcribing the letters in your collection. There is much to be learned from them and I enjoy them, each and every one.


  1. Thanks for highlighting Apple's project of documenting the Camfield letters - I find those posts fascinating!

    Also your post reminds me of the old Shaker hymn:

    'Tis is gift to be simple
    'Tis a gift to be free
    'Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be . . .

  2. Jasia,

    Thank you for this post! Lately the transcription of the letters has been a chore rather than the labor of love that they started out as. Preserving them is important to me but they sometimes keep me from writing or pursuing other projects. Knowing that someone else finds value in them, even though they are not related gives me a big boost.

    Sarah Ann's adult life consisted of work, worry and more work. I think she finally knew true happiness after Mike died when she let her children take over the work and the worry for her. As I've transcribed the letters I've often wondered how far I could have walked in her shoes.


  3. I always lov to read Apple's blog. There's nothing like a handwritten letter.

  4. totally awesome letter, thanks for your insightful comments about it.

  5. Jasia:

    Apple's project has fascinated and touched me since the day she started this monumental project.

    The everyday life, the simplicity has shamed me and all my conveniences on more than one occasion.

    Thank you for the shout out to Apple. Old friends are the best!


  6. Your words are very true - it's the little personal touches that have such an impact on our lives. Thanks for sharing this!