Letters from Elin: Illinois, 1919-1920

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1919 - 1920

Elin Ida Boring (1887-1920) was the grandmother none of us kids knew, until our Aunt Eleanor started showing us letters she’d written.

Then she suddenly became a vivid, ironical personality. When these letters were written, she and her salesman husband Aleck Henderson (1874-1957) were living in Moline in western Illinois; her father and sisters were back in Chicago. The final letter of these three is the last she wrote; three days later the “pesky ear” infection led to a stroke that claimed her life.

[12 November 1919]

Dear Folks -

I realize that I’m a peach of a letter writer these days, but somehow I just keep on finding things to do, and don’t get at writing. Its marvelous how many more things you can think of to do around your own place than in a rented one.

This is our first real winter day. I was surprised when I got up this morning to find frost on the windows and the milk frozen.

Elinor is home to-day, supposedly with a sick stomach, but I’m still trying to figure out whether she really was sick, or only didnt like to get up in the cold. Anyhow, I’ve kept her in bed all day, and she’s thoroughly tired of it, so I think she will be quite recovered in the morning.

The coat arrived O.K. and has already been put into use. I put a broad band of it on the bottom of Elinor’s coat, also on the sleeves and collar, and it looks real nice. I’m going to make the muff as soon as I can get down-town to get a foundation.

As usual, there is no news. I’m sure I say that in every letter. I washed to-day, but hung my clothes inside in the basement. I woke the other night and heard a noise outside of one of the parlour windows, which is right under my bed-room window. I lay and listened and the noise kept right on, so I decided someone was trying to break in at the window. It was a bright moon-light night, so I got up and poked my head out of the window, and what did I see but three cows which had broken loose from somewhere and were parading around the house. I sure did feel stung, after thinking I was going to see a perfectly good burglar.

Now, not having anything else to say, I shall quit. Tell Auntie I’ll write her sure next week. Haven’t had a letter from the family all week, but don’t blame you.

Love from us all to you all.

[13 Jan 1920]

Dear Folks -

Having received three letters from the family since I wrote last, I decided I had better get a wiggle on me and write or I’d never get caught up. Just a minute ago I got Papa’s letter enclosing a m.o. from Auntie. She is the limit for wanting to give away everything she’s got. However, as I just recently got my Doctor bill for the last six months, I’ll apply it on that, and it will make a nice little hole in it.

Sorry to hear from Emma’s letter that her tummy wasn’t behaving and hope it is better by this time. You ought to be nice and stop drinking coffee, the way I have, one cup a day being my limit. Can you believe it?

In the meantime, I’m having a gay time with the Doctors. The ear Doc has given me up for a bad job. He says my ear is in good order, and I ought to be able to hear, but I’m not in proper shape. So he has sent me back to the regular Doc, who says there is an infection way back of my ear, caused by some fool germ in there. He’s got to find out what the germ is, so he’s sending me over to the hospital this afternoon for a blood test, and then when he gets a report on it, perhaps he’ll know what’s the matter with me. He says I’m an ‘unusual case’ and he’s very much interested in me. I hope for his sake that his interest isn’t very expensive.

If it isn’t any trouble to send I shall be very glad to get the magazines to read, as I get plenty of time to read evenings when Aleck is away, and they’ve got such a dinky little library here thatyou never can get any books that you want. I get the Pictorial my self, but not the others.

By the way, if you get a package one of these days from here, don’t think it’s a belated Christmas present I’m sending. It’s only Aleck’s good coat, which he wants so that he can go and see somebody or other on his way back thorugh Chicago. Please take it out and hang it up. And make him take both of his coats home with him, even if you have to grow them out of the window after him. I haven’t written him about those lovely germs in my head yet, but I will one of these days. He’ll have a fit.

Now, I think I’ve written about enough, also I’ve got to get lunch. Will write again towards the end of the week.

Lots of love from us all to you all.

[24 Jan 1920]

Dear Folks -

Just a few minutes ago I got Papa’s letter containing the money order for the blankets, also got Aleck’s coat. Sorry you had to bother so much with the coat, and that Alice had to chase around looking for it. I had just sent it off a few hours before Aleck came home on Thursday. He is glad to get it back, however, as the job at the store gave out the other day, and he wants his good coat to wear while he is looking for something else here. In the meantime, he’s got what I suppose is a light attack of the grip, as he was quite feverish yesterday, but is feeling better to-day, but I’m making him stay in bed to-day.

Glad you liked your blankets all right. I didn’t see them, as Aleck sent them off direct from the store. He will be over that way on Monday, and will try to get you two more. The cameras that he had mentioned were all gone by the time he got back here.

After carrying the little ring around in his pockets for two or three days, he remembered it and gave it to Elinor. She was very much tickled with it and wears it to school every day, and is very proud of herself. It just fits her little finger, but one of these days I will get it fixed.

Also got the package of goods Emma sent the other day. Thanks. It will come in very handy making things for the youngsters. I finally finished the wool dress I made for Elinor, and she has been wearing it to school this week. She looks as if she had just come over, but she thinks its just swell herself, so I should worry. It saves wash anyhow. I think I’ll make her another dress out of one of the gray Emma sent. Elinor also passed into 5th grade the other day, so she thinks that is another reason for being proud of herself.

Hope Emma didn’t get the grip, and that her cold is better by this time. I kept Elinor home from school two days this week, as she had a cold, but it didn’t develop into anything and she is all right now.

I am cleaning house, but stopped right in the middle of it to write this letter. I think I’m awfully nice.

Will write again soon. Love from us all, Ellen


born 18 December 1887 Chicago, Cook County, Illinois

married Alexander Henderson 1908

died 27 January 1920 Moline, Rock Island County, Illinois

ANCESTORS: Thanks to excellent Swedish records, we know all eight of her great-grandparents and 14 of her 16 great-great grandparents, and some lines back into the 1600s.

COUSINS: None. She was one of six sisters born to August Philip Boring (ne Andersson) and Sanda Natalia Stenberg. None of the others married or had children.