Anne Sophia Penn Chew's correspondence represents the first major group of letters between women in the Chew Family Papers. Within this series, there are many discussions about marriage and childbirth; even though Anne herself never married and had children, she served as a confidant for many of her relatives. They wrote to her about their fears and apprehensions prior to their marriages, and they shared their joys and their difficulties after the births (and, often, the deaths) of their children.
In the past few months, there have been an extraordinary number of turkey references in the Chew collection. In celebration of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Leah and I decided to share some of them here.
The first document is selected from a larger group of surveys, agreements, and correspondence regarding a tract of land the Chews owned called "Turkey Nest."
Within Anne Sophia Penn Chew's collection of correspondence are a large number of telegrams. This communication tool was widely employed by Samuel and Mary Johnson Brown Chew. Samuel and Mary split their time between Cliveden and Mary's family home in the city, so their belongings were housed in both places. Many of Mary's letters to Anne describe the day's events, give reports about the children, and, inevitably, ask for some article of clothing to be sent or some task to be completed at Cliveden in her absence.
In the days before pharmaceuticals, remedies involving food and herbs were often used to augment medical treatments like bleeding and cupping. Many common ailments were treated with prescriptions of lager and port.
In a letter from Elizabeth Johnson Brown to Anne Sophia Penn Chew, she includes her recipe for Onion Syrup, which appears to have been used for respiratory illnesses:
Just as the Civil War was beginning, Samuel Chew and Mary Johnson Brown were planning their wedding. In the following letter to Eliza M. Mason (married to VA Senator James Murray Mason), Samuel Chew laments that the Masons will not be able to attend his marriage. "I expect to be married on the 20th of June. The mails between you and us, I fear, close tomorrow, and I cannot let the last opportunity of asking you to my wedding pass...though I cannot hope to see you on that occasion.
Samuel Chew Jr. (1871-1919) wrote quite a number of letters to his father, primarily from boarding school, but also from locations abroad and during times when Samuel Chew Sr. was traveling. His letters reflect a genuine love and respect for his father and the rest of their family, while also providing an amusing perspective on the mind and occupations of a pre-teen boy of the 1880s. This letter contains one of the best post-scripts I have ever read: "P.S.
A different monarch, a different century, but this letter to Anne Sophia Penn Chew (1805-1892) includes not only an interesting reference to a remarkable cake, but fragments of the cake itself! Anna Maria Rush wrote to Anne on March 13, 1840, including crumbs from Queen Victoria of England's wedding cake. Rush had received some crumbs from another woman, Mrs. Stevenson, who attended the February 10 wedding, and sent on to Anne a few of them, "as a curiosity at least."
William White Chew was a prolific writer. He wrote notes to himself on scraps of paper, in journals, and in the form of memos. He wrote to family and friends in voluminous letters that he drafted repeatedly, as well as letters to the editor, newspaper articles, and other public communications. His journals contain detailed descriptions of his day to day life, records of family strife, and his deep despair about his life situation.