Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Lt 145, 1896

White, J. E.; White, Emma

Sunnyside, Avondale, New South Wales, Australia

February 25, 1896

Previously unpublished.

Dear Children, Edson and Emma:

I am not in a condition to write much, even to you. I am weak. It has rained nearly this entire month. There seems to be no vitality in the air. The work is going forward and we hope soon to be able to part with the workers. Our cistern is built large, round, bricked up and cemented, and the first water has been received into it. We have now five large iron tanks and a large cistern, built dome-shaped after the fashion of a jug, with an opening made large enough for a man to enter it as necessity may demand. These iron tanks soon fill with rainwater in the rainy season, and in the hot weather the water is very warm and unpalatable. There will be now thousands of gallons of water in an underground cistern. 11LtMs, Lt 145, 1896, par. 1

The last rain of nearly one week has raised the creeks. Our dwelling is upon a rise of ground. There is a falling off toward the creek and waterhole. These are our blessings in a dry time, to water our orchard and garden. We now make a well near the waterhole, and when required pump up the water on the garden. It is not a common season. For nearly one year there were but few showers. Everything was dry; feed for cattle scarce. There has not been such a season for forty years, and yet the orchard of peach, apricot, apple, and pear trees is doing well; also our orange trees and lemon trees are doing well. 11LtMs, Lt 145, 1896, par. 2

It costs to begin. We had only the ground broken by an immense plow last July, then the broken furrows were worked by shovel, spade, and hoe, and trees were set. The large space between we left without breaking, for it was so dry it cost to break the turf. But we have now, since the rain, broken this intervening space, so the whole orchard is now ready for cultivation. 11LtMs, Lt 145, 1896, par. 3

We have also broken more land. Sixteen bullocks are attached to the plow, and two men work the plow—one at each handle. The third man, with mattock, keeps close to the plowpoint to relieve it of chunks of earth and roots of the trees, and the driver of the oxen—by word and cracking of the whip, which makes a report like a pistol—wheels this team around into perfect order. The leader has blinders like a horse. I asked why. The driver said he had to be mostly about the center of the string of oxen, and if that large ox did not see him, he would suppose him to be close by and would not shirk. If he thought his driver was not watching him he would take advantage and work lazily—eye servant. 11LtMs, Lt 145, 1896, par. 4

The ground is now soft and can be so much more easily plowed. The deep furrows are now made. After this our own horses can plow. This is good land to bear vegetables of any kind. We have now plenty of beans and most excellent tomatoes. We—Willie and I—put in peas about one week ago. They are up now. We have more to plant. We put in our potatoes and beans and more cucumbers. We eat the enormous great cucumbers just as you would apples, cutting them up and setting on the table without vinegar. All like them and they are a dish enjoyed at every meal. 11LtMs, Lt 145, 1896, par. 5

The gum trees grow very, very high, straight as an arrow. Near the top there are branches. We have now been cutting away the tops of trees and leaving twenty or thirty feet to branch out and produce foliage for shade. There is no safety in any of these trees being near the house only as the tops are cut off. The wind is liable to uproot them and crash them down on the house. One of our workmen, a sensible, all-round man, strong and faithful, climbs these trees, clinging to the smooth bark after going the length of a long ladder. There is not a branch to cling to. He climbs until he gets to a branch, then takes the cord fastened to his body and ties it about the top of the tree. Then he slides down to the ladder and commences to chop the tree—after someone has tied the rope to a tree. At the right time several hands pull upon the rope and crashing down comes most of the tree. All the trees that are anywhere near the house are to be treated in this way. 11LtMs, Lt 145, 1896, par. 6

We have just experimented sufficiently to know that this land, thoroughly worked, will produce pumpkins, squash, melons of all kinds, cucumbers, beets, turnips, and all kinds of vegetables. We shall now plant onions, beets, and a variety of things. 11LtMs, Lt 145, 1896, par. 7

You would be amused to see W. C. White’s dwelling place. He has the wash and laundry house converted into sleeping rooms and kitchen, pantry, and storeroom. He has a large piazza on the front, sixteen feet long and eight feet wide. A raised platform of boards communicates with the tent from the piazza which is covered with iron roofing. The tent is their diningroom and parlor and good-sized bedroom for children. Here is their organ, bureaus, washstands. The tent is square, I think 18 by 18. 11LtMs, Lt 145, 1896, par. 8

We are pleased with the atmosphere in New South Wales. Our family number twelve when we do not have visitors. W. C. White was with us until one week ago, which swelled the number to sixteen. The family in their rather novel quarters seem to do well and are satisfied. The children have made wonderful progress in growth since they came to Granville, but more especially since coming to Avondale. The children are doing excellently well. They are good children, very helpful. They have abundance to do without devoting time to play. 11LtMs, Lt 145, 1896, par. 9

Connell is my man employed to do anything and everything—just the man I need to take the care and burdens. He knows how to do almost everything. 11LtMs, Lt 145, 1896, par. 10

I wish we could see you, but I shall not write anything in regard to your coming to Australia. I may have said altogether more than I should. My desire is none the less to have you come, but I dare not, without the orders of the Lord, urge you. We will seek to do our duty here; you will seek to do your duty where you are. 11LtMs, Lt 145, 1896, par. 11

We have the most precious Word of God and it is to be searched diligently. We are to hold forth the Word of life to others and impress upon the minds of all that it is not only their privilege but duty to read and understand the Word for themselves and bring that Word into their practical everyday life. Notwithstanding [that] so large a number wrest and pervert the Scriptures, yet there the faithful witness stands, speaking to all the truth. In searching the Scriptures we find the precious jewels of truth, and we are blessed in communicating to others the riches of the grace of Christ Jesus. We receive light to diffuse light. 11LtMs, Lt 145, 1896, par. 12

I send you this copy. Last Tuesday I awakened about half past eleven o’clock and tried to sleep, but no, there was no sleep for me, so I dressed and at quarter past twelve o’clock commenced to write the enclosed. At seven o’clock, the hour of prayer, I had written ten pages of letter paper. The second enclosure for Norfolk Island I wrote Wednesday night, rising at three o’clock. 11LtMs, Lt 145, 1896, par. 13

Mother.