Mary Beekman is a four-year-old ghost who resides in The Beekman Mansion, and considers Brent and Josh her “imaginary friends.” Follow Mary Beekman’s Diary each week to learn what it’s like to be a young child in early 19th century America

Mother and I went to Nell’s house for a visit.  Our mothers were talking and laughing.  I think they were planning the flowers they were going to add to their gardens this summer.  Nell showed me something in her pocket.  She had a beautiful blue glass marble in her pocket.  Her brother gave it to her.  It had a tiny crack in it.  But before it is REALLY hers, she has to collect the ashes from the kitchen hearth ten times.  That is what she owes him.  It is a very messy chore because the ashes always settle all over your shoe tops. Josh said if Nell was his sister, he would just give it to her.  She would not owe him anything.  Brent whispered to me it was cracked anyway and would soon break.  My marbles are clay and they break too.  They are not nearly as pretty as that blue one.

Some times I hear father tell his friends that if you are free from debt and do not owe anyone anything, you are free to do other things with your life. I am not certain what else Nell would do with her life.  She lives with her mother and father and plays with me.  If Nell were my sister and I lived in her house, I would help her clear the ashes. Two of us together would make the job easier.  She would really and truly own the marble sooner. I know she would let me hold it.  Together we could collect and carry lots of ashes and then she would not owe anything!

On the day Father pays out wages to the workers he speaks a lot about thrift.   He also mentions debt and the importance of being useful. He stands at the head of the table and his feet  roll from the front to the back and back to the front again.  When he speaks like this, he always seem to grow taller. I think he stretches his neck.   Everyone listens.  I am not certain what he means.  I think it is about not being wasteful and always being busy. Josh once told me his mother always  tells him, “waste not, want not.”  He isn’t sure what that means either.  Brent just rolls his eyes and makes me laugh.

by Mary Beekman

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Susan, it is good you have pots to grow plants. We have a

large garden at our house because we have a lot of people

to feed. Mother says when our trees get larger, we shall

have many birds. Our house is new. It was just completed

in 1804. Give Sherry a gentle pat from me, Mary.


My dear Mary,

I enjoyed your stories about Nell, her rascally brother, and the wisdom of your Mother and Father. My house sits on a high rocky river bluff so the ground doesn't allow me to plant anything except in pots. The birds are becoming more active, and one flew through an open window into my bedroom the other night! I had to put my cat, Sherry, downstairs which put her in a very bad humor. The bird escaped but not before leaving a "souvenir" on the floor.

Your friend,



Dear friend Sue, spring is always good. Earth answers seed

and all begins again. Nell and I are having grand times…..

brothers and sisters are a method of practicing grown up behavior. Mother tells me that. All shall be well. I am certain

it is so.


Sabino, Josh and Brent are most kind to everyone. They do

hard work and work for many hours. Only on our birthdays

and Christmas do we receive something without earning it.

I like to labor for my prize, I am better able to remember

the true value.

sue t.

Dear Mary, Hearing from you this morning was a true touch of Spring as it is still very cold here in Michigan. I am hoping that soon the snow will melt away and my spring flowers will be blooming in a rainbow of colours. I hope you can help Nell understand that her brother is not being very nice. Bribing her with a cracked marble just so he can get out of doing a messy job makes me think he is sneaky and lazy. That is not how one should treat others. As her brother gets older he will not know how to manage his household if he continues to bribe others into doing things that are his responsibilities. Tell Nell to give back the cracked marble and the two of you can go outside and enjoy Spring. As always, you are sweet and very wise for a four year old. Talk again soon. Your friend Sue T.


Dear Mary,

I hope you are as happy as I am having Spring back! We'll have tons of things to do, including starting our seeds to grow our vegetable gardens with you, Josh and Brent's largest community garden ever! Isn't that cool? I am very excited to be part of that great project!

And if you need to clean the ashes at The Beekman Mansion, let me know and I will come help you. However, I don't think there are any ashes to clean at your place, knowing that Brent keeps the Mansion spotless (except for Polka Spot, right?)….. And I am sure Josh and Brent will give you plenty of toys to play with this Spring, without any conditions to clean the ashes….. both of them have very big hearts and are very kind, needless to say, it's in their nature. Lucky you who have lots of time to spend with the Josh and Brent at home!

Enjoy Spring, Mary.