Spinster Aunts, Mamie & Annie Hayes

5 Jan

Elsie's Aunt Mamie. Beloved by all that knew her.

Elsie’s Aunt Mamie. Beloved by all that knew her.

Annie M Hayes- served with the Bureau of Engraving & Printing in Washington, D.C.

Annie M Hayes- served with the Bureau of Engraving & Printing in Washington, D.C.

I want to share with you a couple Virginia history stories from the new book. I hope you enjoy these tidbits.

To encourage feedback I am going to choose one person to receive a free copy of “Elsie’s Mountain” from those who write a comment on my website before January 22. I will choose them at random, but it must be a mailing address in USA. I will draw the name on January 22, Elsie’s birthday and post it here.

Elsie’s two spinster aunts were remarkable women. Aunt Annie was said to be the first woman with an important post with the government. After her father’s death, when she was only 19 years old, in spite of the Civil War raging near, she went to work in Washington in 1863. She advanced in the Bureau of Engraving and Printing until she was Superintendent of Orders. When President Rutherford B. Hayes came to inspect the Bureau it was Aunt Annie who showed him around. In their chat about their mutual surname they found that they were evidently distant cousins. She had a little autograph album, which was taken to Congress, where it was signed by Lincoln and by several other men who were then members of Congress and who later in turn became presidents of the United States.

This letter from Annie to her brother Alonzo (Elsie’s father), is rather fun. During the winter the two sisters rented rooms near the bureau of Engraving & Printing. The daily buggy ride from Alexandria would have been too cold.

January 30, 1904
1881 Third N.W., Washington, DC
Dear Alonzo,
We had 10 inches of snow yesterday morning and it fell in a day and night. It is now warmer and melting without sunshine. Yesterday it was down to 7° above zero, two above is our lowest we had last week and then it ran to 60° and melted almost, yet not entirely off and then this new one came. The cars [trains] however ran regularly and we had no inconvenience and have been comfortable. We run two large oil stoves all the time we are in the house which adds a good deal to our expense that we did not expect when we rented rooms. But the furnace is totally inadequate and the cans are convenient and we must keep well and feel well to work hard all day so we don’t complain.
I expect you like details of our doings as I do yours. Yesterday the thermometer was seven but did not feel cold. After breakfast I took a car and a transfer to the Ninth Street South and rode to the south side of the market and got out to buy a chicken from the countryman. I can’t bear the thought of those horrid cold storage chickens, undressed. Alonzo knows how they looked stacked on the stands. I got just the nicest little one for $.50, looking as if we had dressed it at home the night before. Then I got on the car and went to the office and put the chicken out in the snow on a north portico until I was ready to go home and stowed him in my pretty red embroidered bag. After office hours I went to get some money orders and bought some bananas and pink Tokay grapes. Sunday we enjoyed a good sermon on the first fifteen verses of Romans.
Love to all, Annie

I wonder if the Bureau still allows workers to store their “nice, little” chickens on the north portico? Wish I had inherited that pretty red embroidered bag to stash my store bought chickens in!

19 Responses to “Spinster Aunts, Mamie & Annie Hayes”

  1. Amy Bergman January 5, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

    I’m reading this book slowly and savoring in it! I feel like these people have come to life and are my family! I love the saying in the book, Elsie’s parents were strong in their faith that they didn’t worry about the unknowns in life! This especially struck a cord with me! I’m such a worrier, and I had to read this over a couple of times! I’m so Thankful for Elsie’s grand daughter sharing her grandmothers memoirs with all of us! I hope all of the Elsie fans that read the first book get a chance to read this book. It’s such a gem! Thanks Barb Waite for taking the time to find the pictures and putting in print such a vibrant woman’s life and her family!

    • Barb Waite January 6, 2016 at 8:49 am #

      Wow, you just made my day. I never ever imagined I’d write one book, let alone two. And to read that someone is “savoring” the book is simply delightful. Thank You. To God be the glory. Your name goes in the hat for the drawing Jan 22. Blessings.

  2. Judy Petersen January 5, 2016 at 7:36 pm #

    I’ve never thought that a diary of mine would be interesting. I would’ve never the temperature or my shopping or anything would interest another. BUT I find that the most ordinary activities were interesting & memorable because of Elsie’s writing style. In the beginning, I thought I might feel like family because I had a great aunt Elsie. She was a real character and never one to worry too much about what people might be thinking of her. In any event, I was really affected by her story and her writings. I find I think of her often as if she was family. It was really one of those books that I was sad to finish.

    • Barb Waite January 6, 2016 at 8:44 am #

      Thanks Judy for your encouragement. I would love to have you add this as a review on Amazon. You just click on reviews on Elsie’s Amazon page and then a box shows up that says “write a review.” It is sad to think letters are becoming a lost art. I love that you said it was sad to finish the book. Your name is in the hat for the drawing, if you’d like another copy to give away.

  3. Carole Binder January 5, 2016 at 8:34 pm #

    Oh Boy, Barb, you’ve done it again! The aunties just come to life, and pop off the page! Traveling to buy a little dressed chicken for $.50, and stashing it out doors in the cold til she was done working. (During the winters in MI growing up we always used the porch or inside the garage like a refrigerator…kept stuff about frozen.) Loving the way Annie describes things to her brother, so he can feel right in the middle of the situations. Haven’t been able to buy the book yet, but I’m enjoying the pieces/parts you’ve shared. And if by chance my name gets picked, please send it on to Wayne & Helen G. I’ve never wanted to be in any other era, but your stories make me want to be there, if only for a short time. Wonder if I’d have been so adventuresome?

    • Barb Waite January 6, 2016 at 8:36 am #

      You, my friend Carole, would have been the leader on adventures in early 1900’s. Elsie wrote in 1924 about getting her hair bobbed and marceled. Bet you would have been sitting beside her in the beauty parlor! Your name is in the hat!

  4. Rita Covalt January 5, 2016 at 9:13 pm #

    Thanks for sharing Elsie’s story so that I can share it with others! Today I picked up my copy of ELSIE’S MOUNTAIN from a dear elderly friend who lives in assisted living. She said the book was delightful and especially interesting to her since it paralleled the time of her parents’ lives. They had shared similar experiences with her 80 years ago! Do you have another book in the making???? I truly hope so!

    • Barb Waite January 6, 2016 at 8:31 am #

      Into the hat your dear name goes Rita because you commented on website- Thanks! I think I will literally use the hat I wear for Elsie presentations to do the drawing. How wonderful that you share your books. I have a group of women that I share with.Yes, a historical novel about Antigua in 1700’s is my current project. Love the historical research aspect.

  5. Tammy Fesmire January 6, 2016 at 7:53 am #

    When Annie said “I expect you like details of our doings as I do yours”, that made me think. I used to be quite a letter writer before the days of email. I lived in Japan and would write details to my family back home of our day to day life, and they would love receiving it.
    In years to come, having the handwritten letter for our ancestors to read would be such a treasure, as you have now.
    You have given me inspiration to sit and write a letter once again, with “details of our doings!”

    • Barb Waite January 6, 2016 at 8:27 am #

      Thanks Tammy, Love it that those Hayes women are still an influence today. Indeed, I think we should have a system where we think of those people in our lives that we would send flowers at their funeral. Send them a letter now instead. I’ll enter your name in the hat for the book drawing. I think Aunt Annie never could have imagined people enjoying her tale of the chicken on the north portico being enjoyed 112 years later. Common, ordinary events are sometimes the best to share. Blessings, Barb Waite

  6. ShirleyLee January 6, 2016 at 2:57 pm #

    Just wanted to get a copy of the latest book,etc.

    • ShirleyLee January 6, 2016 at 3:01 pm #

      Thanks for sharing Elsie’s story so that I can share it with others! Ray had an aunt who could relate to her story. A dear Christian, whom I got to know when my kids were little. She is in heaven now, but I got to read some of her writings of her mother! So similar!

      • Barb Waite January 6, 2016 at 3:06 pm #

        Sweet Shirley your name has been added to the hat, but if your name is not drawn you can order a copy from me or from Amazon. Miss you.

  7. Peggy Hamerly January 6, 2016 at 3:15 pm #

    I would love to read the history and memoirs of someone who has walked Palomar Mountain before me. Whenever I hike there, I think about the fact that I’m probably walking in Elsie’s very footsteps!

  8. Peggy Hamerly January 6, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

    I loved the descriptive letter by Annie to Alonzo! I can’t imagine leaving a chicken outside in the snow all day and not having some stray dogs come by and eat it!

  9. Pallas January 6, 2016 at 6:20 pm #

    It is so nice to take a peek into how life used to be, and it is wonderful that you have these letters and photographs – so enjoyable.

  10. Trena Reck January 8, 2016 at 8:23 am #

    I loved your first book “Elsie”, could not put it down. I have been waiting patiently for the
    second saga about this wonderful person and her family. Cant wait to read the new book!

  11. Jody Klassen January 11, 2016 at 4:59 pm #

    Barbara, I love this little tidbit about Elsie’s aunts! I’m not entirely sure what a “dressed” as opposed to an “undressed” chicken is — I’ll look it up as soon as I finish posting this, but my artists imagination is having great fun picturing the chickens!

  12. Susan Efaw January 11, 2016 at 10:25 pm #

    It is obvious in reading the aunts’ letters, as well as the wonderful books Barbara Waite has put together, that the qualities that make these fascinating accounts–a sense of out-of-the-box adventure, keen observation, and a flair for clear expression, run in the family.

    They are not merely historial accounts that give you a glimpse of a different era. They are straightforward, honest, unadorned accounts of real life, of family and faith, that transport you right into that different life. You can feel it, taste it, think it. And, you are the better for it.

    Thanks, Barb, for such skillful editing and writing and especially for sharing these with us.

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