Letter: Eunice Marsden (probably to James Carr)
South Manitou Island ~ March 22nd, 1864

"Noomi" is Eunice Marion Burton, youngest daughter of William and Lucy-Boyd Rice Burton. She married Captain Charles Marsden in 1855, becoming Eunice Marsden; hence the signature "Noomi M." At the time of this writing, she had divorced and was living with her parents and two young daughters (ages six and four) on South Manitou Island in Lake Michigan. The recipient of this letter is not indicated, but was probably James Carr.

Teusday, March 22nd

Twenty eight years old today [1]. Mercury 8° below zero, ice as far as one can see, & taken as a whole, a decidedly frozen country.

You will see by the first date of this letter that it was written some time ago, & I am really fearfull it will remain here some time to come, Unless some good (or evil) spirit comes to ones assistance, our only hope is in Capt Hart [2], & he has not yet made his appearance.

Friday, March 26th [3]

About five o'clock yesterday we espied a vessel, got within eight or ten miles of us, could come no further on account of ice [4]. We watched her closely until dark. This morn could see nothing of her. Gone back, into winter quarters perhaps.

Father [5] has just gone out to tap a few trees for us. Step in some evening next week, and we will sugar of.

I am agoing to seal & send this down to the other dock [6], so it will certainly go the first opportunity. I have taken care of it long enough, let Kate [7] take charge of it two or three weeks. By that time it may possibly go a little fasther. Great country this.

I shall expect to hear from you again when we hear from the P O

Write soon, & believe me your sincere friend

Noomi M. [8]

(click image to enlarge a page)


  1. "Twenty eight years old today" - Eunice was born in Cleveland, Ohio on March 22, 1836
  2. "Capt Hart" - probably Captain Clifford B. Hart, of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. (See Note 10 in the previous letter)
  3. Date error - Friday was actually March 25th. The "Teusday" date is correct.
  4. The William Burton home was evidently on the south shore of the island, a venue that would permit a long view down the lake from inside the house.
  5. "Father" - William Burton
  6. "the other dock" - probably refers to the dock at "Burton's Wharf" in the bay, which was the usual landing place for visiting boats, and indicating that the William Burton home was located elsewhere (the Life Saving Station and its dock, south of Burton's, did not exist, having not been built until 1901.)
  7. "Kate" - probably Katherine Burton, daughter of Eunice's brother Ellison. Ellison had taken over the management of the Burton interests on the island, including the dock at the wharf. "Kate," his eldest daughter, would have been seventeen at the time, and might have been acting as the island's postmaster.
  8. "Noomi" - Eunice's eldest daughter, Eunice (Naomi)-Emily Marsden, was affectionately called "Noonie"

Submitted by Phyllis Begens, great-granddaughter of Eunice Marion Burton