Last week I took a day and ventured to the Crawford County, Ohio courthouse in an attempt to find some records on a few ancestors on the Kimble/Brown side of the family.
The day turned out to be a very enlightening day. While I can’t share everything that I learned in this one post, I felt the need to share a letter that I found in a guardianship file.Jessie A. Brown was Hazel Kimble’s mother. Jessie was born in Crawford County, Ohio in July 1867 to Oliver C. Brown and Annette Willoughby. At the age of six, Jessie’s mother, Annette, passed away. By the age of eight, Jessie’s father had also died leaving Jessie an orphan. According to the court records, the only possessions that Jessie had after her father died was one bed and bed clothing, one parlor stove, one lounge, one set of chairs and 18 yards carpet. With these few items, Jessie would begin the next phase of her young life.
The guardianship records indicate that Jessie’s uncle, William C. Brown served, for a brief period, as her appointed guardian. Upon her uncle’s resignation, the court appointed Charles Rupp as Jessie’s guardian. The appointed guardian’s role was to ensure that Jessie’s personal and legal matters were taken care of in her best interest. Whenever Jessie needed money to purchase clothing, school books, pay for board, she had to write the guardian and request funds from her account. Every expense had to be justified with a receipt. Can you imagine having to do this at such a young age?
The records seem to infer that Jessie lived with her uncle and grandfather (Benjamin Brown), but she was still required to pay them board. Several letters in the file also seem to indicate that from a young age, she was working in order to earn the money to pay for her board expenses so that she would not have to use the funds in her account. It’s difficult for me to imagine being eight or nine years old and having to work to pay for your board. What kind of a childhood would that be?
After reading through these records, I feel very sad about the life that Jessie must have lived as a young girl. I can not even fathom the thought of losing both parents at such a young age. Reading the letters that she wrote to her guardian really touched a part of me….knowing that I was reading her handwritten letter seemed to make her a little more real….she is no longer just a distant person on the family tree. I wish I knew more about Jessie and that I could track down a photograph of her. This is one of those moments that I wish I could go back in time to find out exactly what her life was like and how that impacted her in later life.
Below is a transcription of a letter written by Jessie Brown to her guardian Charles Rupp. The transcription reads exactly how the letter was written, spelling errors and all.
Transcription of letter written by Jessie Brown to Mr. Charles Rupp, dated January 26, 1885:
Nevada Jan 26, 1885
Mr. Rupp Dear sir
I will drop you a few lines I am living with unkel Will Brown now. I have been sick I had the typhoid feaver and I am not able to work out yet. will you send me som money to pay my doctor bill and get me som cloth pleas send me 20 dollars with unkel Will I will not ask you for aney more for a while if I can help it well I must close your truley