Eliza’s Letter

Spanish Point June 19th, 1875
Dear Sister Nell,

I thank you for your good long letter which I received a long time ago. I will make no excuses for not having written before, except want of time. Lizzie has told you how we live that we are almost a self supporting household. We make all the clothes for the men even to their hats which we braid from the Palmetto a kind of Palm which grows all around us. The only thing which we don’t make for them is their shoes. We women want but little dress because we have no church to go to show off our finery.

We make our own sugar and syrup, and have some six or seven barrels to sell. We raise vegetables for Key West market and send them in our little schooner the Ruby which brings us our supplies. For three months in the summer we can get Turtle and their eggs on the Gulf beach. There are four kinds which are all good to eat, but the green turtle is the best, it makes an excellent soup, and salted is quite as good as the beef we get here which is not first quality. One turtle will lay from a hundred to a hundred and seventy five eggs which they bury in the sand. Each laying twice in three months. The eggs are almost as good as hens’ eggs and almost as large for cooking. Then our bay is filled with most excellent fish and oysters. Game is quite plenty but it is not often that I can look out of the window and see three Deer feeding within gun shot as I did for three days in succession a few days ago. Jack shot one of them and they have not been quite as bold since.

We shall have quite a little show of fruit on our Orange trees this year and Lemons, Limes, Citrons and Guavas in abundance, also Bananas. How I wish you could come down some winter and see for yourselves all these things would be so new to you. And then our winters why do you know they seen a to me to be a foretaste of that better country to which we all hope to go some time. Never too hot seldom too cold. No insects to annoy you as there are in our summers, very little rain. As Professor Webster (who spent a part of the winter with us) says, you need not tell me this is winter this is June, so they all say. Professor Meek of the Smithsonian says he wishes the Institute was on our farm and this was his home. As soon as we get a good line of Steamers on this coast, we shall have northern people spending their winter here as they do on the eastern coast.

Willie and Mr. Guptill have gone to Cedar Keys to get lumber to finish our house which we hope to do this summer. We shall expect to have a house full of boarders this next winter John R Webb has written to let us know he is quite out of health and that he and wife will spend the winter here and if they like the country they will move down here. Lizzie and Ginnie have gone up to Manatee which is forty miles from here they have been gone about two weeks. They will return when the Ruby goes after them. Mr. Griffith has just returned from Manatee he says the girls are creating quite a sensation. There is but one organ in Manatee and no one knows how to play on it there. We have had one two years, and Ginnie you may know has not lacked for time to practice and she has wonderful musical ability so every one says that have heard her play. Lizzie plays well too, but she has not had as good a chance as Ginnie I intend she shall have here after. They boys can play a little, all these things help to make home pleasant.

Jack is a big boy. Will says he is his big brother. And I will say to you Nell, they are all good dear children, a family to be proud of, they all take an interest in Aunt Nellie and will be glad to hear from her. Anna’s health is quite poor, that is she can’t endure much. A little work tires her out. I think it is well for her that we came south she could not have endured the cold winter north. She has the best kind of a husband he can do any thing about the house even to making bread if necessary. Floy is now six years old a big girl of her age and we think she is quite smart. Now don’t laugh at me you know this is private to you I would not say as much to any one but my own folks. And I thought you would like to know. I hope you will see for yourself some time.
Remember me to Uncle and Aunt Eaton and Uncle Isaac.

Kiss the little ones for their Aunt Eliza give my regards to brother H
with lots of love for yourself remain your ever dear sister,
E.O. Webb.