A Letter From One Wife

Posted by Seoirse on 10/30/2011 in Genaology


This is a transcript of a letter written by George Ferriter’s mother (Anne Flanigan Ferriter) to her mother-in-law, at the advent of WWII. Anne was in Portugal, having travelled over to spend time with her husband, C.A. Ferriter, who had deployed with the fleet:


Addressed to:
Mrs. John P. Ferriter
130 Norwood Avenue
Long Branch, New Jersey

from Portugal

November 3, 1939

Dear Mother and Dad--

    I am sorry to hear that you haven't heard from Charles lately--but I am sure that he has written you quite recently.  Regular mail is very slow these days in fact ever since war was declared it has been all balled up.  Charles received a letter from you about a week and a half ago that took a month to reach us.  You need not be concerned about him--because their ships are away up the river--and they are at anchor.  They never put to sea--so they can't get into any trouble.  As for me I am one of fourteen wives and seven children who are here.  More wives are expected to arrive from the U.S. in a week.  The ban on passports has been lifted by the State Department for Portugal only--so it appears that they must consider it all right for Americans to cross the ocean and come here now.

    This is the queerest war--nobody wants to fight--don't blame them a bit for that--but what will be the outcome?  Hitler is sure after Great Britain for some odd reason--but there is practically no action between the armies--France and England are both beginning to plan a leave schedule for their men--between now and next April.  I was hoping that it would look so bad that this squadron would be called home but now I am afraid that they won't be back before the middle of next July at least.

    From all reports the children are getting along nicely--don't know whether the burden is too much or not--because Mother let Charlotte go as soon as I left--she wasn't much good--but a help to some extent.  I have been thinking that I would plan to go back soon--hate to leave Charles--but would like to see the children--and should be with them really.  Charles keeps delaying the parting--and I am easy to discourage this time too--because it will be a long separation.

    Peirce says that he and one other boy are the two smartest in the room!  He and Charlie are taken to school in the morning by Claire or Charles--but Peirce is allowed to go by himself in the afternoon.  He has been kept after school several times it seems--and when questioned--he explained that he was late--takes his time along the way gathering the bright fall leaves--and picking barberries from the barberry hedges along the sidewalks.  He is certainly going to take life as it comes.  Uncle Charles has persuaded Charlie to have a nap with him every afternoon before Jack wakes up--so Charlie is looking fine.  Has had one more attack of tonsilitis--but gargles every day now--so all in all--it sounds as if I had nothing to worry about.  Jack is tops as usual.  Justin took Peirce, Charley and Jack fishing away back in September, and Peirce and Charley each caught two fish--Jack a piece of seaweed.  Peirce's garden at the farm produced a little lettuce, and a few potatoes!

    I am getting fat having nothing to do.  Charles and I have taken many very long walks--both at Villefranche and here too--but what I need is a few worries I guess--my nerves are getting a rest--and I am gaining weight.

    Charles looks splendid--his waistline hasn't changed much--although these European meals are enormous.

    Did I ever thank you for the pretty boatload of sweets that I received leaving N.Y.?  Thank you too for the message--things happened so furiously and there has been such confusion that I have forgotten everything.  My sailing from N.Y. was exciting with many messages, letters and packages.  I sat at the Captain's table too--the trip was a very pleasant one.  Charles has been trying to encourage me to fly back--there are two clippers in here a week now--but I am a bit timid.  The only American line is the American Export freighters--heard a rumor that the big boats were going to stop here on their run too--hope so.

    Hope that you all are as well as we are--don't worry about us--Charles is safe in Lisbon, and soon I will be safe in N.H.

    Love to you all,


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Know Your Ancestors

James T. Ferriter

photo b. December 1843
d. February 22, 1902

James Thomas Ferriter was born in December, 1843, either in New York or Massachusetts to Irish immigrant parents. Most census data lists his birthplace as Massachusetts. It is quite likely that he was born in West Springfield, MA, as he had a brother, Patrick, who was born there in 1849. His parents, Patrick Ferriter and Catherine Sullivan Ferriter, had married in Ireland on February 14, 1840. They moved to America and travelled where there were railroads to be built. Patrick's family landed in Dummerston, Vermont, in 1850, where many people with Irish surnames and the job title of 'railroad laborer' are listed in the census.... Read More