Prince Snow Farm


The Mystery of Nannie French's Bible

Many years ago I found the sweetest little book at a book sale.
I opened the cover to find a handwritten letter from the 1800's. 
I knew I had to have it.
Only recently have I
Taken the time
to flip through the pages...
read the fragile letter,
and do a bit of research.

The book is a Holy Bible.
(The copyright is 1868)

On the cover it says
Presented to;
Nannie French
The Star Mission Sunday School
St. Louis, Mo

Inside is clipped a little piece of newspaper:

Mayhew-French at the residence of
 Mr. WA Blair in this city, at 9 1/2 o'clock this morning, 
Mr. James H. Mayhew and Miss Matilda S. French
Rev Graves officiating

The ceremony was performed in the presence of
only the relatives of the
contracting parties. They left
amid their congratulations.

Here is a transcript of the letter:

Thursday, November 19th, 1885

My Precious Husband,

            I am sitting beside Nanny who lies in a closely darkened room, while beside her lies a tiny, precious bundle of a little creature, her baby boy. Born this a.m. at 1:20.  He is a nice child in every way, fat, round, and well formed, his majesty has not tipped the scales yet but,we think that he would bring them down at 11 pounds.
            Nanny has behaved simply grandly. All the good grit in the French blood, (what there is of it), rose to the top in her birth giving agonies. Everything has gone most favorably. She took no chloroform but fought it out because Percy was so opposed to her using it. She was sick about 12 hrs. The first I knew of it all was when I came up here last evening at dark, intending to sit with her an hour and a half till prayer meeting, as she had several days before given up coming to see us or even going downstairs altho still walking actively about on this floor. I tapped as usual, when an agitated call from P. “Wait a minute” told me the end had begun. The nurse came to the door, opened it, exclaimed, shut it, opened it again and said “Yes, yes” and shut it again.
            Presently P. came out and told me that she had begun to suffer at about one in the day, but that her orders were that I was to be spared bearing or knowing it till the worst was over. They told her it was I and that I had gone on to the prayer meeting, which I did, and sent word on to Mother by Father (Ellie is sick in bed and M had staid with her to let me go to church) how things were; then I returned and staid all night. It was piteous to hear her agonized cries, but as P. and the nurse came out from time to time and assured me that all was as it should be, every pain telling and the child coming admirably, I rested on that, and prayed!  I fell asleep about twelve with my fingers in my ears and the first sound after the poor mother’s final scream, what I heard was the baby’s shrill entrance to this “world of ours”
            I knew I could not sleep if at home, and felt that I must be here near my child to know from hour to hour how it was best for me and for all that I did desire to stay. I have kept very quiet under it, and soon this morning N. asked for me. The dear child between pains last night would say “ I am so glad it’s night so Mamie can’t be here to hear all this”, but this morning she is so glad to hear that I was near her. She was her brightest, sweetest self between the earlier pangs and now that the baby is here, she is sweetness, patience, and brightness itself.  While she was suffering last night she thanked God “that Mamie had never had to stand this, for it would kill her.”
            Percy has behaved with all the calmness and tenderness of a real hero husband, and this morning treads on air, elate with joy and thanksgiving.
            Mother has been in, but E. poor child, cannot come today-she has quite a sore throat and it is a very rainy day.  We have telographed Murray and Helen.
            Nanny electrified me by saying with great decision soon after I saw her, “He shan’t go hunting till he is older than twelve, or ride his father’s horse if P. has one!”
      P. and I are so happy and thankful that we feel there is nothing left to ask for that God has not already done for us.
            Please send this letter to Murray. It is what I would write him and I will be too busy for the present to rewrite it. The little George Gordon sends the little Hugh Tale a greeting and wants to know what he thinks of strange, new world.
G.G. grunts his approval of his parentage.
“I’m just tolerable”,
 Your own loving Maemie.

(all text copyright prince snow farm 2013)

Someday I hope to pass this on to one of Nannie's relatives….to treasure and hold close to their heart!

Please feel free to share on social media!


  1. That is amazing!! I collect old books, and would just die if I found an old letter inside. Incredibly cool! And such an intimate view into that family.


    1. It was amazing! And to know that the book and letter were from the same family is amazing!

  2. That is so neat! Thank you for sharing this dear letter!

  3. What a wonderful surprise to find. We are remodeling an 1808 home at the beach and have found a few goodies in the walls, but no letters - still looking...


    1. Yes, it's amazing what's hidden in old walls! We have found treasures buried in our woods....

  4. This is. incredible.through. and through. Are there any such current heirlooms being made in this age of technology? Yet, I cannot hate it for then we could not share such wonderful finds. Who knows? Maybe someone out there will come across this article who is related! There is nothing that compares to a hand-written letter, even if my kids complain that they cannot read my 'rusty' hand-writing.


    1. I would LOVE to get this back to the family. I do a lot of research on our family history, and I am so stumped on some pieces. This would be a gift to treasure forever!

  5. Wow, what a find and such a history lesson. Thank you for transcribing it all, it is so much fun finding thing in old books! Wouldn't it be wonderful to find the ancestors! Hope you are doing well?


    1. Hi Ivan, I am doing well thanks! More each day ;)

      It was my pleasure to transcribe! I would be so happy to turn this over to the family!

  6. That is amazing! What a fantastic find.

  7. Dear N.D.
    I am enjoying reading your blog and have just 'joined'.
    What an interesting post! I do love things like that. It is such a tangible and very personal link to the past. Thank you for sharing.


    1. Hi Kirk! WELCOME! I agree about this being tangible. I hadn't really thought of it that way. I guess that is why I am so attached to things such as my grandma's recipe box, a vintage photo, a special ring.....they connect me in a physical way to people who are gone from the physical world.

      Glad you stopped by...come back soon!

  8. What a moving post, ND! It's a real mystery about real people who were so very much alive! Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Thanks FB! I do love a mystery! I feel like I'm wrapped up in a piece of historical fiction....maybe it's time to write a book!

  9. Love that postcard and Downton Abbey... I just finished up Season 3...

  10. This is fabulous! What a treasure. Thank you for typing that out so we could enjoy this look into their lives. So glad you were able to find such a piece of someone's history. I just love glimpses into days gone by and the moments that make a life.
    Liz @ Quirky Vistas

    1. I agree....a treasure. it was my pleasure to type it. I love reading has such a lovely sound to it.

  11. what a precious letter to have found. So sad that it's not with the original family. Thanks so much for sharing it over at Be Inspired!

    1. Aw thanks debra! It's so nice of you to allow us to share! I hope to deliver this book back to a family member....unless I was meant to be its caretaker!

  12. Loved this post Monica- thank you for the link and for leaving your calling card! I purchased the tray in an antiques shop in Fort Worth... one just never knows!!:)
    Happy New Year!!


Thanks for chatting!

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