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 to learn what it’s like to be a young child in early 19th century America

I could see them from my window this spring morning.  I have been searching each morning and today is the first fine day I saw them! VIOLETS!! The sun must have been  in just the proper place in the sky . The purple flowers were sprinkled across the grass. The dark green of their heart shaped leaves was louder than the pale green blades of grass surrounding them.  Josh said his mother has some violets that are spotted with white and purple.  Brent and I had not seen those. When I am outside, I shall have to look for those.

I love all things the seasons bring,
All buds that start,
all birds that sing,
All leaves, from white to jet,
But chief the violet.

                                                               –Brian Waller Proctor (1787 – 1874)

We are going to visit Grandmere tomorrow.  It is her birthday.  She loves violets and I am going to be able to pick her many bunches to take to her. I will pick as many as my hand can hold.  Mother said she will help me tie a piece of long grass around them.  Then I am going to select the largest leaves and carefully surround the violets with an outside wreath of the heart shaped leaves.  Mother and I will  fasten both the inside bunch of violets and the outer circle of leaves with a piece of ribbon.  I will make the very best bow I can.  I would like to make a bouquet for Grandmere’s parlour and one for her bedroom.  The bouquet that will be the best is the one I will make for Grandmere to pin on her dress.

Mother is taking her a cake.  We are going to decorate the cake with candied violets.  Mother is going to show me how.  Grandmere says she loves the scent of violets even though it does not last for long.  She says the violet means humility and perhaps it does not wish  to show off it’s scent for too long a time.  Grandmere has violet scented powder and she sprinkles some on her handkerchiefs to hold under her nose when we walk through the barnyard.  Father teases her that perhaps he should sprinkle the barn with her powder!

To Candy Violets Whole   –  The Lady’ Assistant for Regulating and Supplying her Table – Charlotte Mason   1777

Take some double violets, and pick off the green stalks; boil some sugar til it blows very strong, put in the violets and let them boil till the sugar blows again, then rub the sugar against the sides of the pan with a spoon till it is white, stir all together till the sugar leaves them, and then sift and dry them.

by Mary Beekman

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The Judds Grandpa

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Marcia, I hope you will use some of your wild violets to make violet vinegar. It
has wonderful peppery flavor.


Dear Amy, when the sugar blows, it means it is beginning to boil. You notice the
sugar crystals as they begin to dry.


Sue, I was not born in February but I do love violets. I love the scent and someone made

Mother and me soap scented with violets. Just lovely.

Amy Wexler

Dear Mary,

I am not from your time period can you tell me what it means "When the sugar blows?" Do you see the sugar crystal on the flower petals right away?

sue tolbert

Hello my dear friend, I too have missed you since your last letter about all the baby goats being born in the barn. I so wish I could be there with you, we would go to the barn and hug all the babies. Maybe we would pick a large bouquet of violets for Farmer John, he is such a wonderful man. Mary, I was wondering if you were born in February, just as I was. The reason I wonder is because violets are my favorite flower, my favorite color and I love the scent of lavender. I grow violets all year long and they bloom almost all the time. I have two plants that belonged to my aunt. The plants are over 30 years old and I think about her each time I water and admire the plants. I know your Grandmere loved her flowers. Enjoy Spring and all the flowers still to come. Love you, sue t.

MaryAnn Nellis

I just love this … the photograph is delightful and so appropriate with Mary’s musings of spring!


Have been hoping you’d write dear Mary, we have missed you this winter. Our yard is full of wild violets and they are so pretty, some have even crept into my flower bed along with the Lilies of the Valley, together they make the yard quite pretty.