Friday, June 29, 2012

Christmas Wishes From Another Century

The Tully family had a long tradition of befriending and ministering to priests and nuns by correspondence. There were a number of letters to Agnes Tully Stevens saved among her papers that indicate this habit. Agnes’ daughter Patricia also took up this role, following in her mother’s footsteps. But it has also become evident that Agnes was, herself, following the example of her own mother, Catherine Malloy Tully.

There are only a few letters saved, among the papers passed on to us from my husband’s grandmother, that were addressed to Catherine. Sometimes the letter was addressed simply to “Mrs. Tully” in that more formal age when it might not have been appropriate to address a lady by her first name.

In the note below, the “87” did not signify 1987, but one hundred years prior. It is not clear whether the letter’s greeting was meant for “Mr. Tully” or his wife, as the context seems to indicate the latter, but the illegible title does not appear to include the r and s of “Mrs." As the writer’s style seems almost foreign, or at least extremely formal, it might actually have included for a greeting the more European address of “Madame” in the format of the French abbreviation, “Mme.”

Unfortunately, the letter does not include any address for the man composing it. In another hand, next to the signature, someone had inserted the abbreviation, “Fr.” Yet without envelope or return address indicated, I’m at a loss as to how to identify the bearer of these Christmas greetings almost one hundred twenty five years ago.

                                                                519 W. Indiana St.
                                                                Dec 23rd 87.

My dear Mme Tully,
            I cannot permit this holy season pass by without wishing you, John + children a very holy + Merry Xmas + happy New Year.
            Remember to pray for me during this holy time. You + all shall not be forgotten at Mass by me on Xmas Morning.
            Again wishing you many happy returns of a merry Xmas + prosperous New Year. Be [?] also of God to bless + protect you all.
                                    Your very sincere friend
                                                W. S. Hennessey.

P. S. How are you + all. I am real well + very strong. I will [?] see you soon please God.
                                                W. S. H.

1 comment:

  1. Most interesting. I found a document showing St. Columbkill Catholic Church's rectory at the address on the letter. The address on the upper right corner is usually the sender's address.

    In the document, "Souvenir of the silver jubilee in the episcopacy of His Grace, the Most Rev. Patrick Augustine Feehan, Archbishop of Chicago" printed 1891, W S Hennessey is listed as the "Rev". (pg 243


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