This letter was written by Alida Marguerite (Tower) Staring (1835-18xx), the wife of Henry Justin Staring (1834-18xx). Henry and Alida were married in September 1857 at Delavan, Wisconsin by Rev. Daniel Harrington, her connection by marriage. Henry was the son of Joseph Starin (1783-1843) and Calista Dimick (1797-1851). It was Henry who changed the family name from Starin to Staring for some unknown reason. Henry came to Chicago from Vermont at an early age and entered into the employ of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company. “He was the inventor of our admirable American system of baggage checking; and it was solely through his ability and efforts that it was brought up to its present efficiency. He was “general” baggage agent for more lines and more miles of railways than any other man ever has been; and withal, he was known for his good fellowship and kindness of heart wherever in the United States a railroad reached. The effects of these traits were such that, in the year 1870, he had charge of the entire baggage service from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast along all the main trunk lines, such as the Pennsylvania, Chicago, Burlington and Ouincy, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads.”
Alida wrote the letter to her sister-in-law, Evaline Elizabeth Starin (1818-1884) — the wife of Rev. Daniel Harrington (1812-1865). At the time this letter was written in 1861, the Harrington’s resided in Battle Creek, Michigan where Rev. Harrington served as a trustee of Kalamazoo College. It was their son, Daniel Galusha Harrington (1841-18xx) who served in the 2nd Missouri Cavalry (a. k. a., Merrill Horse Cavalry). Daniel was a corporal in Co. H and stationed at Sedalia, Missouri, late in 1861. He rose to the rank of sergeant.
Alida mentions her brother-in-law, Elias Warren Starin (1816-1888), who was married to Philena (Clark) Starin (1818-1887). She also mentions Warren and Philena’s youngest, Alvah Clark Starin (1858-1912).
Addressed to Mrs. D. Harrington, Battle Creek, Michigan
December 12th 1861
My Dear Sister,
As Henry has answered brother’s letter and wrote more news and more everything than I can think of I will only answer your part of the last letter and tell you some of my thoughts in regard to your kind invitation — and my contemplated visited to Battle Creek. I threatened you seriously with the noise of my little Tobadee and the talking of our Allida but after having the trunk packed and going to start for nearly two weeks & gave it up because of it being so near cold winter weather and neither of us had any clothing ready for leaving home at that time and too I could realize that Henry was too feeble to be left alone after such a long time of fever and being reduced to such a degree that I feared to leave him to take care of himself. He felt so forlorn. And now there is nothing that would give me more pleasure than to visit you but am not certain that it will be so that we can this winter.
I had a letter from sister Philena a few days since stating the season had passed so far without any of her family being sick — that they were alone and both herself and brother Warren were doing their own work. I spent several weeks with them this summer exceedingly pleasant. Met her Erastus Starin there and visited with her a week. Brother has a nice little family of lovely children. Little Alvah — the youngest — is as smart as steel, a splendid boy. Mrs. Henry J. Starin who left her husband has become weary of living away from home and like the Prodigal Son, returned to once more adorn the house of one she left as the worst man on earth.
I do not see any of the Blue Island people any more or Mr. Boyce’s girls. We are boarding at the same house where we were living when you came to see us. How I wish you and brother would make up your minds to come and spend the Holidays with us. Although we are not keeping house, I think we could make it pleasant for you. Try it and see if we can’t.
My dear husband is wisely employed this evening delivering an address before Garden City Lodge, and I am just provoked to think it is a place where I cannot look in and hear it. Tonight ends his term of office as Treasurer & Secretary for four years — or Treasurer four and Secretary two.
We had a letter from Galusia not long since and I have threatened everyday writing him back but have not put my threats in execution — and send him a few little comforts and luxuries for Christmas, but Henry says that if I do, he presumes he will not get them for when he wrote us he did not know how long their company would stay at Sedalia. I sincerely hope that the present troubles will end and he will be spared to us and not be cut down so young by disease or in battle. We can only submit to the will of our Heavenly Father believing he doeth all things for good.
I have lost one cousin the Cause of the Country — that is Mrs. Larnard’s brother. Young Bradway. And too, Mr. Larnard has lost both of his little girls which has been a severe trial to them both. Cousin writes their house is perfectly desolate — nothing cheerful and happy as it used to be.
Well, dear sister, I am writing quite a letter with my broken pen. When I began I only thought to write a few lines but it has worked better than I thought for. Love to all the children and yourself & brother. Write soon & often.
Affectionately yours, — Alida M. Staring