As always, I'll post the actual letter, then type it verbatim as it was written, for those who may have trouble reading the handwritten letter.
Author of Letter: Norah Donalda Flewell, 16 yrs old (b1893)
Dated: October 8, 1910
Addressed to: Miss Ethel Nelson, Bellhaven, Ont.
Mailed from: Wimbledon, North Dakota
Profession: student, housekeeping duties
Writing instrument: Black ink, possibly fountain pen
Written on: 5"x8" notepaper
Mentioned in the letter:
- she received a letter from Dora in high school
- Edwin's* wife took sick and she went down to help out
- Walter* (Donalda's older brother b1891)
Wimbledon, N. Dak.,
Oct. 8, 1910
Miss Ethel Nelson
Dear Friend: ------ At last
your most Welcome letter
was received but as I have
been away from home for
nearly three weeks I dident get
it even as early as I aught to
have gotten it but as you
say it is indeed better late
I had a card from
Dora to day and I guess she
is working pretty hard
but that is the way in goes
in high School I am not
sure weather I can go to school
this winter or not I should
certainly like to.
I have been pretty buisy
my self of late in the first place
Edwin's wife took sick and
I had to go down there and
from there I went right to
one of the neighbors to do some
serving and I have been sewing
as hard as I can all week and
I have to go back on Tues
to next week and will be
there for some time. then
comes house cleaning and then
I have to sew for our selves
and we have a lot to do so I
have work, work, work
To-day I have been takeing
a lay off and have been out
of the after noon it is certainly
lots of fun
Are cold and the la grip as
bad over there as it is here I
wonder so many, many
people have had it and I
included in the number and
Walter has been very bad
with the Asthma this fall.
Well Ethel I expect
company to-morrow so I
will have to get up in good
time in order to get the work
done up before they come
so I must retire for to-night
I believe The family send their
regards to your folks and I
can assure you I am glad to have
heard from you and we must
try to be more prompt here after
with oceans of love I remain
as ever your friend
N. Donalda Flewell.
My first task was figuring out what the N. stood for in the signature. Since the letter originated in the US in 1910, I began by searching the 1910 US census. It led me to the name Nora D. Flewell. The entry stated that the Flewell Family emigrated in 1899 from Canada, and that they were farmers. This made sense because Ethel comes from a family of farmers as well. Yet, Canada is a big place and if you've every searched the genealogy records, you would've seen that many people have the same names.
Was Nora D. Flewell really N. Donalda Flewell? I found the 1900 US census, but the listing once again stated a Nora D. Flewell.
The next step was to find her birth record. This should be easy, but can be difficult in places where records are kept by the churches, individual counties, or a combination of both. In this case, I found it quite fast because Ontario is in the process of gathering all their birth records into one file of the Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1913.
The birth record confirmed that Norah Donalda Flewell was born in the 1893 in York County, Ontario, Canada. Ethel's birthday was 1890, also in York Country, Ontario, Canada.
But who were the other people in Nora's letter, or more importantly, did they somehow fit in the Draper Family Tree?
*Walter Flewell is one of the children in the Belhaven School photo shown in the post, Noah & Ethel 1887-1911. However, I didn't realize it until after I'd found him listed as Richard Walter Sylvester Flewell in the Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1913.
*Since Norah's eldest brother is listed as Herbert E. Flewell in the 1910 US census, I thought it stood for Edwin, but upon checking his birth record at Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1913, I discovered that the E. in Herbert stood for Evert.
I thought perhaps Edwin was a former beau or something (I am a fiction writer, after all) so I went searching for her marriage record, but couldn't find one.
When I searched the 1920 US census, however, I found an entry for a Donalda Grosz, 26 yrs old, from Canada, with 3 kids and a husband, living in North Dakota.
Of course, I didn't have to follow through on the research once I knew who Nora Donalda was, but since she was a friend of Ethel's, I was curious to see if she ever moved back.
The 1930 US census shows her still married in North Dakota with 6 children. And a final check found the California Death Index of 1940-1997 where it says she died in 1971 in Sacramento, CA at the age of 78. Since recent records aren't open to the public for privacy reasons, that's as far as I can follow her story.
Although I have many more of Ethel's letters and journals, I haven't found another letter from Nora Donalda. This isn't to say they didn't continue to write, because I like to think they did. It only means I don't have another record of their correspondence to share.
Did we learn anything from this letter? Yes. It's one more piece of evidence that in 1910 Ethel Isabell Nelson was still single and living in Belhaven, Ontario.
Did I need to do all the research to discover that tidbit, since it was stated on the actual letter? No, but it gave me experience working with the US census record system, and bolstered my confidence in my ability of finding someone.
Stay tuned, because next week I hope to start showing the courtship letters of Ethel and Noah.