Letter: Eunice Marsden to James Carr
South Manitou Island ~ March 3rd, 1864
Eunice (Burton) Marsden apparently began exchanging letters with someone she always referred to only as "My Dear Friend" in the early 1860's. The recipient of her letters was never indicated, but the context clearly indicates it was James Carr. 
In the early 1860's James Carr, a young man from Batavia, Illinois (35-miles due west of Chicago) was working as an "Assistant Engineer" with the U.S. Corps of Topographical Engineers, participating in what was popularly called the "Lakes Survey." In August of 1861, his ship, the Survey, was assigned to projects around the Fox and Manitou Islands. As suggested in a subsequent letter, the sheltered bay at South Manitou Island was probably a regular over-night anchorage for the Survey crew, and it seems likely that this explains how Eunice Marsden and James Carr first met.
She had recently separated from her first husband, Charles Marsden, and had come to the island with her two young daughters to live with her parents, William and Lucy Burton. Although some nineteen years younger than James Carr, they evidently carried on a long-distance romance by mail over the next six years. Some of those letters have survived, and are reproduced here. This is the first.
Manitou, March 3, 1864 
My Dear Friend,
Words will faintly express the pleasure I have experienced in receiving another of your kind, good, & ever welcome letters, and you may be assured it was greeted with the earnest welcome it so richly deserves. Do my best. I am well aware I am not capable of making a correspondence interesting, but the assurance of remembrance which these tokens prove, are inexpressibly dear to one, to know that I am thought of occasionally by absent friends is a source of great comforts to one. Such is selfishness, still it is pleasant to feel that we are not entirely forgotten.
I am really thankful that you are coming to your senses at last, and do pity us a little. Just fancy yourself imprisoned on this or some other island, without hearing one word outside our own little circles from the middle of Dec, until the first of March. Such is our case during that time.
We had an opportunity of sending letters outside, by a gentleman from the north island, that gave us a call on his way to Buffalo, and he went across on a boat with five or six men, & by breaking ice all the way across, succeeded in landing on the opposite shore some way above Glen Arbor. My brother has made several attempts to get to the office. Once got within forty or fifty rods of the shore. The next time within a half mile, & after all was obliged to come home without the mail. Such a set of disappointed ones you never saw.
The last of Dec a man went from here over to Glen Arbor intending to return at once, but was detained there over a month by wind & ice. Finally feeling so anxious about his family, started for home taking with him a large mail for the island. Got out about a mile from shore, got into the ice, and the last seen of him he was drifting down the lake with the ice. The wind blowing very heavy from the south, he leaves a wife & two children here in destitute circumstances. 
Spent a lazy winter. You ought to have spent the winter here. You would have seen at least one specimen of laziness. If it had not have been for our house work, I do not think I would have exercised enough to insure good health. The most we have down up at this end of the island this winter has been to eat, drink (thanks to Mr. Carr for very fine tea) and sleep. With an occasional journey through the woods to the other dock, with the black shawl as my only companion. The boblasted coat, as you are pleased to term it, has remained stationary, waiting for Mr. Carr, & another rain storm.
We thought that we had a very severe winter here, until we read accounts of so much suffering outside. But think the weather here has been very mild, compared with other places. The coldest we have had was twelve below zero. Mr. Kirtland  had rather a serious time getting through. Was only sixteen days going from here to Chicago. Poor fellow, he wished himself back on Manitou Island more than once during the time, I warrant.
I should like very much to attend one of your balls. I hardly know what for an appearance I would make in a ball room, or what kind of a dancer I am, but I do know that I am very fond of dancing, or at least used to be. It is so long since I have danced a step I am afraid I should make some ludicrous mistakes, & instead of laughing at others, be the one to be laughed at. That would not be so pleasant.
How much I wish Mr. Chaffee  had have taken Kate's  picture. It would have been the best joke of all. He may get it yet. You had better guard it well.
Did you see Capt Potter  while in Chicago? My brother received a letter from Capt Hart  last week saying he wanted a light. The 18th of this month he should certainly be here with his boat. You may well imagine the rejoicing here when that letter was read. There are two vessels ashore on the North Manitou, which he wants to get off before the Straits are open, so we will have him around here some time, and I think if coaxing will get our mail. We shall get it often while he is here. I do not know as I should leave the Island next summer, but cannot tell. If a good chance should offer, I shall hardly be able to withstand the temptation. I am sorry it is such a task for you to write. Nevertheless, I shall expect answers to all my letters so please write soon, & greatly oblige,
Your Island friend
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Submitted by Phyllis Begens, great-granddaughter of Eunice Marion Burton