Letter From Evelyn Packett, Age 9, to Her Grandmother Henrietta Webb

Lenoir City

Feb 3 1928

Dear grandma, thought I would write you a fue lines today to let you no how we are we are all well and I hope you the same Cecil Paul had the earach and he just cried I am sending you some paper if you have got some you can keep it tell you get out we sher do miss Vivan so bad I just look at your picture sometimes and just cry how is sam how is june & bud hope they are all well to hope aunt glads is better so by by love to all.

I am sending you a stamp

Evelyn Packett


When my mother was born, she and her parents were living with her mother’s mother, a widow in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Part of this time, my mother’s father, James Packett, was overseas in France during World War I.  They lived in Grandma Henrietta’s (Etta’s) house, with many children, young and old, married and unmarried.  “Vivan” is Vivian McFarland, a cousin.  Vivian and her brother were raised by Henrietta after the death of their mother during childbirth, Henrietta’s daughter Iva.  Henrietta, like her mother Ruth before her, kept a boarding house for students at the University of Tennessee. 

My mother’s parents both worked in textile mills.  There was a mill in Lenoir City, which is why I presume they moved to Lenoir City.

The James Packett family, circa 1930, in Lenoir City, Tennessee.


The picture above was taken in Lenoir City on Bon Street which was near the mill.  The children are Millard James, Etta Marie, Evelyn Ruth, and Cecil Paul, along with their parents, James and Ruth.  I’m guessing that the occasion for the photograph was Easter, given all the other pictures made over the years on this holiday.  Etta Marie had polio as a child, and I can’t be quite certain as to whether she is wearing leg braces in the photo. 

Henrietta Collins Webb

The photo above shows Henrietta “Etta” I. Collins Webb.  My aunt Etta told a few tidbits about her during one of the last visits I had with her.  When Henrietta wanted to visit the family in Lenoir City, she would go to a car dealership and say that she was thinking about buying a car but needed to test-drive it.  She would then test-drive the car all the way to Lenoir City, perhaps about 30 miles on two-lane roads, along with all the children she had in the household at the time.  Etta said that they would look up and there she’d be, along with Vivian, her brother Alberta, and Uncle Charlie.  (Charlie had had “brain fever” as a youth and was child-like.)  Henrietta had a big laugh and enjoyed jewelry, like necklaces.  She’s wearing one in the photo above.  It looks like they were ending their visit and heading back to the car dealership to return the car. 

At any rate, are the dramatic declarations of crying in the letter a foreshadowing of the future of our little drama queen?  Only the shadow knows…

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One Response to “Letter From Evelyn Packett, Age 9, to Her Grandmother Henrietta Webb”

  1. Beth Ferguson Says:

    I am looking for any information you may have on a boarding house owned by Ira and Mary Hill. In the 1920 census, it shows the address of 640 Depot St. I believe they had moved before the 1930 census because they no longer show that address on the census. Thank you for your efforts.


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