1838 – 1856
[Memoir] Account from Rutherford B. Hayes about Fanny Hayes Platt, July 1856
My dear Brother, ---
Last Tuesday evening I went up to Sarah’s & waited until the mail came in, when I received your letter which made me pace home very quickly. Although we were quite certain you were prepared for college we could not help feeling a little anxious to hear that your examination was over.
This morning we kept coffee hot for Uncle expecting he would certainly come in the stage but the hour has passed & he is not here, we shall look for him every day till he comes. I stay at home from church today as Mr. Vandeman don’t preach you know I could not consciensciously go to hear any one else. You have my sympathy if you are obliged to attend meeting twice these short days; I wish you were at home to-day we should have such good times “grubbing” on pumpkin pies & apples.
I fear we shall not be able to send you a roast ox very soon, we can hear of no opportunity to send except by mail & they might charge double postage. Mr. Glesner (?) has received the appointment for postmaster according to your prediction.
I have attended a delightful cotillion party since you left, at which nothing of importance occured except that whilst dancing very briskly Mr. Darlington fell sprawling on his face, luckily the floor recieved no serious injury; the company manifested thier sympathy by an audible grin. By the way they Say (good authority you know) that the above mentioned gentleman is paying his addresses to H. Mody, what do you think of it?
Happening in there the other evening I found him chatting away very smilingly, & he had his hair combed, & boots blacked!!! ominous of something Manly Covill sent for the “Ladies Companion” for me. he was very sorry you left those books you lent him & thought of sending them by mail but we told him he better not, we shall send them the first chance.
It is very difficult getting as many books as we have leisure, to read, Sarah has been getting a lot of new books at Columbus, among others the “English gals” – as Sam Slick would say – Retrospect of Western Travels, which is very entertaining. I am reading it now.
When you write tell us who among your schoolmates you like best, how you like your teachers etc, etc. I shall be very much disappointed if you cannot come home Christmas, perhaps you can manage to get leave for absence, do if possible.
F. A. Hayes.
Dear brother Rud, ----
I cannot express my obligations for the everlasting long letter you was so kind as to favor me with, consisting of no less than five lines!! you are certainly a disciple of the illustrious Davy Crockett & believe that brevity is the soul of wit. We were speaking the other day of the possibility of your becoming a preacher, in that case I shall console myself with the reflection that you will never tire your auditors by long sermons which all things on earth are the most to be dreaded.
I have scarcely gaped since you left home I intend to save all my gaping powders until you return as it seems to afford you so much amusement. I have no news to tell you except that Sam Griswold is soon to unite his destiny (as the novelists say) with Ethline Kelly who formerly had the honor to grace his Mother’s kitchen. Since this last week or two of dull weather Delaware has been the very essence of monotony.
We have staid at home very constantly – Mother reading aloud to me whilst I sewed. We have read a great variety of books since you left, among the most interesting publications was the Down fall of Babylon, we have recieved all the numbers & will send them to you, if you desire it. We are now reading “Jewett’s travels in Europe”; can you inform me who it is writ by?
We took dinner New Years day with Mr. Wasson’s, I was proper sorry you were not there to see me eat turkey.
You have improved much in drawing judging by those specimens you sent us, --- hope you will favor us with more of them.
Every person is persuading Mother to take you from Gambier Mr. Vandeman still wants you to go to Oxford & Mr. Austin to Hudson; I hope you will like your teachers & stay at Gambier.
Write very soon to your own sister,
---------the clothes you have washed are dry before you wear them or put them on the bed You say the boys at the hall visit you often – I hope you will encourage them to like their teachers – it is better for them to obey them willingly than to be compelled to respects to. respects to Alvan his folks wonder he dont write. I think there must be as great a dearth for materials to make a letter in Gambier as Delaware. I hope you will be glad to get this letter – it has taken so long to write it.
I have not a word of gossip or news of any kind whatever to communicate excepting that we have been making some first “chop” crackers to day but wish most heartily you had some of them, but if you are a right good boy you shall have as many as you want in vacation, - oh real jolly times we shall enjoy them; - R.[utherford] Moody gave Mr. Kilbourne a most beautiful gun, - one that took a medal at the American Institute it can be converted into a shot gun or rifle at pleasure, - we will try its qualities by & by.
I was quite delighted with you last letter it was of such goodly length; my visibles were considerably excited while reading it & I concluded you would make a first rate reviewer you cut my letter to pieces & examined it so scientifucally. We have been great travetters since we last wrote have travelled over Great Britian to Italy with Dr. Fisk, & through Turkey & Russia with Mr. Stevens, both of whom we found pleasant besides these we have made several shorter trips.
Shall we have time to go to Sandusky this Spring think you? The roads may be so bad that we shall not desire to go until summer A widow lady from Newark has come here intending to open the Mansion house next season, - has four very genteal looking daughters – though I should think they come from a count good to grow people, for they are “six footers”, honest measure Oh these horrid steel pens! how they do try my patience, - I have found it almost impossible to get through this page, you must not expect any thing like sentiment or affection conveyed to you through the medium of such things, I really fear they will appear to me in my dreams to night; I move that this document be laid on the table until vacation for I doubt whether you have time to decipher it now. Write what day you will be home.
Ever you loving sister
April 30th 1839
We have become very impatient to hear from you; when your letter arrived yesterday it relieved us.
You have probably heard of the sad accident at Mr. Wasson’s; a week ago Monday evening as they were sitting down to supper they missed our little favorite John; one of the boys thinking of the cistern ran to it & found him lying on the top of the water a little on one side he was perfectly cold when they took him out, but they sent for a Doctor & made every effort to restore him, without effect.
We miss him very much, he came here almost every day to get crackers, & very often talked about ‘cousin Ruddy’.
I wish you could have seen him after he was dead; he looked just as if he were asleep; I thought I could never look at him enough.
The Saturday before it happened Mr. Wasson returned from the Western part of Penn. where he had been absent two or three weeks on business; it was he, who spoke of you to the “chap” at Vernon; I suppose he said Cousin instead of Nephew.
Harriet Platt has returned home & is very anxious to beat you at chess; it is well to consult Hoyle occasionally, but do not play a great deal, don’t fear that we shall beat you, we have not played a game yet, & intend not to practice much this summer.
Mifs Emerson is in town now, makes her home at Mrs. Little’s but will stay with us part of the time; it may be she will remain all summer.
Sarah, Harriet & Mr. Kilbourn start for Uncle Moody’s in three weeks; when H. is to be married I can’t say; - Darlington has gone for goods. Write soon to your loving sister - Fan.
Your letter arrive in due time & was rec’d with all becoming hospitality; I should have answered it before now but for the very good reason which you sometimes give, nothing to write about.
Mr. & Mrs. Kilbourn & Harriet left for N. York last week; thier house looks like a deserted mansion, something like old times, though with the modern furniture & carpets I can’t for my life conjure up ghosts & goblins as I used to when everything looks so antiquated. We go to see Eunice almost every day; her Mother is quite sick now, fear she will not live long. Mr. Darlinton has gone to Indiana, stopped here a few days on his return from the city; you cannot imagine how he has improved in his appearance, instead of going about with his shoes untied & down at the heel, he wears the neatest of slippers & silk stockings!! So much for female influence which id talked and written about by every scribbler nowadays.
We hear sad news of Uncle’s health lately; one who came from there a few days ago said he was scarcely able to walk about. He wrote himself that he feared he should need one piece of furniture which he left here; that was his cane. Mother intends to write to day urging him to come here & let us cure him by good nursing; Col. Meeker is going to start for Sandusky tomorrow; we hope Uncle will return with him.
Mr. Wasson brought a niece with him from Penn. to go to school, name, Martha Jane Wasson, age, 17, manners, very awkward disposition, very good; think you’ll like her.
I was much obliged for the promised invitation to your celebration of the 4th, depend upon it, at the first hint I shall pack myself up & proceed post in the direction which my nose leads for no doubt your savoury biands will attract that respectable organ in the right course.
Oh how I do wish you were at home now we have got plenty to read, & plenty to eat, nothing to do, & as happy as clams, but we want you to scold at, you know it wont do very well for me to scold Mother, & if she scolds me why you see I get mad, so we are obliged to let our talents in that line lie dormant most of the time which is a great pity as no doubt with a little cultivation they would be very brilliant. I have been reading the last week of Lockhart’s life of Scott, & have made a wonderful discovery, which is nothing less than that Scott was one of our ‘kinsfolks’; you know the Hayeses & Rutherfords who were from Scotland married together & Scott’s mother was a Rutherford; now as we never heard of any other family by that name what is more rational than to conclude that our ancestors are the same? To prove it you must turn out a genius.
I have just not ‘Nicholas Nickleby’, have not read it yet but the illustrations look very grinable. Forget whether I told you in my last R. Moody sent me ‘Oliver Twist.’ I send all the papers I get. Write as soon as you get this. Be a good boy. Be first in your class. Keep your teeth clean. Nails ditto. R. B. Hayes Dr. for a fips worth of advice to
F. A. Hayes
by the fire!!
You will begin to think my letter are as regular as Sunday morning sermon, but I promise you this shall not be as long as some sermons are, for besides not having any news to tell you I do’nt feel in the humor of writing to day, (and I should say my pen do’nt by its heavy tracks.) E. Hinton called here yesterday & said he should return to Gambier tomorrow; so I even thought I would send you a scratch for waste paper.
Tomorrow I shall commence taking French lessons of Mr. Mc’Elroy, he speaks the language very fluently.
I am studying vocal music now; & truly vo—cal music we do make of it; oh such melody as proceeds from the Presbyterian Church twice a week is heart-thrilling; The neighboring frogs are said to be dying of envy. How lemoncholy!!
We have firstrate teacher through from Columbus, & seriously I think I shall learn some.
I suspect my idle moments are as few & far between as yours, but my employments are so varied that I cannot describe them, I confess gadding about occupies small share of my time, the last week we have gone no where but to Mrs. Kilbourn’s, she has been very sick & is not yet able to sit up, we go up every evening, the last nights we staid all night; our two families put together make one the right size.
Do you play chess much I hope not a great deal, it is not so proper an amusement for summer as winter; Scott says it is a great waste of brains but I don’t agree with him, do you?
I’used up’ H. Platt the last time we played, & as I don’t expect to have the same to brag of very soon again, I shall not be bashful about it now. When you write tell me what you do, what you read, & how you get on in your studies. I have placed on my desk for reading this week “Wordsworth’s poems”; Life of Mrs. Siddons & Coleridge’s tragedies – when I have finished these I have the promise of lots more.
Verily it would make my heart glad within me if you would send me an epistle treating of a certain youth called Rutherford whose sirname is Hayes & whose loving sister
I remain –
F. A. Hayes.
My dear brother, -
We received your letter of the 10th which was very welcome after being watched for nearly a month.
Your account of your employments was very interesting, though it grieved my tender heart to find you were so murderously inclined towards the poor owls, & bats; “a good boy will be kind to beasts & other insects.” Shakespeare.
It does not speak very well for the gallantry of the Kenyon students,- banishing the ladies from their celebration, but we must be content to swallow the disappointment instead of the dinner. The 4th is to be kept here by training the S. School children about town, & feeding them bodily & spiritually with sermons & sweetmeats. Vot benevolence!!
Mrs. Husted & her bairns are spending a few weeks in Delaware now; Esbond is a real bright little fellow. – Eunice remembers perfectly well how we used to “play circus” with her.
We are expecting Mr. Kilbourn’s back very stage: - I should not be much surprised if Harriet returned with them, I had a letter from her since she left, giving a description of her journey &c &c.
I should have liked to have been at Gambier when Miss Love was there, I have a great curiosity to see William too; has he altered much since you saw him in Conn.?
I hope they well be there at commencement, - lots of us are going over from here: - provided you dont withdraw the invitation as you did for the 4th.
I am progressing finely in le Francois, - go up to the Academy every morning to recite: - am now reading Scott life of Napoleon: - so much for my literary pursuits. Ahem!!
You cannot imagine what a beautiful lecture I had prepared for you. The subject matter of which (as Mr. [Henry Van Deman] Vondieman saith) was to be your careless penmanship, but the passage “First cast the beam out of thine own eye &c”. occurs to me so I open not my mouth, though in truth if you know what a stump of a pen I have, & no knife to mend it, you would cry “King’s excuse”. I would “fain” entertain you with some news if there was any but I can think of none except that we had green peas more than a week ago, & S.[arah] Shepherd has got a beau in good earnest, - a young sprig of the law from Cleveland.
I should not think of sending such a scrawl as this did I not know that the silvery tones of the accompaniment or as you call it the “wherewithal” would render it very acceptable. I should have no objections at this present time to see a certain child here about your size & comeliness; but the 21st of August comes on apace.
So good bye. Your loving sister Fan
While standing at the desk this moment, I glanced at your letter which was lying open upon it & discovered that in closing that part you wrote Mother you signed yourself her ‘off brother’ really you have established a double relationship, - prog, what is your authority? ha! ha! ha!
My dear Brother, -
Well verily Mother has told a doleful tale of my intentions, trust you will bend the sympathising ear & enter fully into the sad horrors of the case.
As she refers you to me for particulars I would in the first place call you attention my dear hearers (oh I thought I was Mr. [Van Deman] Vandieman preaching so you must substitute brother for hearers & then will go on.) to the base ingratitude of a daughter leaving her Mother’s house, a proper good brick one too, & going to that vicious place Columbus, than which Sodom & Gomorrah would be more tolerable. Now you percieve that the sin lieth in leaving the house for the Mother has agreed to go with the daughter withersoever she goeth. And now come the exhortation; when your anger waxeth hot, & burnth, as in all reason it will – you must restrain it, you must chain your hands that in your rage you may do no violence to yourself nor to others, & bridle your tounge lest you speak evil words with it. After your anger is a little abated then try to acquire a spirit of resignation for many things will you be compel to suffer when you reach home – therefore come armed with fortitude & forbearance.
It may be well to mention a few of these things which will sorely vex & try your spirit & firstly, you will be obliged with your visual organs to behold the one who has been the prime cause of this great family commotion; & secondly, you will be required to “try to like him well enough for a brother” mark the expression & draw consolation from it, your conscience may be quieted by trying to like him, only think how much more dreadful the requirement would have been if that one little word try had been omitted. And perhaps it would be well for you to familiarize your mind to the dreaded object by often dwelling upon the person in imagination, fancy one “as the writer – who cannot be compared to the Pyramids of Egypt, nor the cedars of Lebanon, neither to lofty “Ben Lomond” nor the tower of Babel. And now having with the best of my poor abilities explained & commented upon the text which will be found in the latter clause of Mother’s letter I leave this subject with you recommending it to your careful & serious attention while I go to feed this body with the bounties which are prepared for supper - - - - - -
Your last letter pleased me better than any you have written from Gambier – the description of the 4th was just what I like, & I would repay it by one of the fishing excursion or to speak after the most approved style angling instead of fishing – over to Sciota, but I have neither time nor paper to give you the details, sufficient to say that we enjoyed a dinner spread by the shady bank of the river as much as you could the 4th. The next time you send you respects to the cousins you must include one more at Mr. Wasson’s they are blessed with a daughter about a week old. Had a letter from H. Moody last week a good long one too. No other news here except that Mrs. Hinton has a splendid new coach which is the “admired of all admirers”, There is music in its very wheels. Write immediately & say all you think of the matter herein revealed.
My dear Brother
As you must be very much interested in everything that concerns Delaware I call upon you to mourn for its population is to be diminished by my departure tomorrow – I have been trying to look sad to day inasmuch as I thought it would look exceedingly becoming upon the occasion of my leaving my native place to make my home elsewhere, but sadness does not suit my round face, so I will not feign melancholy. And it is in truth all the same thing whether our home is here or a few miles farther South, next Spring when we get settled to housekeeping it will be so much like our hose here with Mother & yourself when you are home at vacation that we shall quite forget we are not in Delaware. I promise you a sunny little room with a safe corner for your gun.
You have probably heard of the wedding & accompanying parties I was here just in the right time to enjoy them & get a great piece of brides cake, my favorite part of a wedding. Sam Calhoun at the party at Dr. Lamb’s, he seemed as happy as a clam, said he should be obliged to study very hard if you had got Buckingham for a teacher. We were glad to hear of your pleasant journy over but your account of the cannibal propensities of the Gambier Vermin almost drew tears from my eyes – strange that in such a classical region they have not become more civilised ere this.
I hope you will not be thier victim long it is horrible to think of my brother being devoured alive – poor innocent boy.
We recieved a letter from Uncle a few days since, he said some very pretty things of you – your good sense &c &c. Of course all he said was in perfect accordance with my previous opinion – not that I would wish to flatter you for you could not but be somebody considering the illustrations family to which you belong & the sister whose example you have had before you.
We have been to church this morning – Mr. Vandieman preached his sermon you know it by heart & Mr. McElroy sung his tune Dunder; of course I could not but regret that I should not hear them elsewhere but the hope cheered me that the temple would be standing when I come again & in that care the same pleasure would be in store for me. Do not fail to write soon to me in Columbus is the meantime be a good boy, keep your nails & teeth clean – study well – obey your teacher – love your sister - & write long letters to Mother. I do ‘sorter’ feel bad to go away & leave Mother alone, but the Scripture moveth us in sundry places to cleave unto our husbands, so farewell home. If you come up Christmas perhaps I will be here too. My good man sits in the corner half asleep & Mother in the other reading, now if you were here the family circle would be complete. You must excuse my careless writing for it was too cold to go to the desk so I have been writing with my paper in my hand before the fire.
Your love to Mrs. Platt I shall deliver the first time we meet, it hurt my sensitive feeling very much that you remembered he before your sister. Hanley Covell called to see me since you left. Albert Picket has gone to Cincinnati to attend medical lectures I suppose by spring he will return worthy & competent to carry pillbags.
As Mother was to write this letter I conclude I had better stop forthwith or you might think me guilty of the impudence of answering your last. Adieu.
Your loving sister,
Dec 6th 1839
My dear Rud,
For, & in consideration of a certain document, epistle or letter proceeding from the hand of an honorable member of the sophmore class at Kenyon college, I the much obliged & delighted recipient do intend to write a like epistle to make most hearty acknowledgements & true thanks for said favor & beg a continuance of the same at a future time.
As you have expressed a commendable thirst for knowledge concerning the important history of the discovery & settlement of my new home, I will show my eagerness to comply with your request by undertaking the unwonted task of the historian –
“For seldom, sure, if e’er before,”
My hand has penned historic lore.
To begin then: - on the 4th day of Nov. at D. 1839 after riding a considerable length of time in the cold, favored by an occasional streak of sunshine, we entered the Northern extremity of High St. & passed unmolested to one of the sunny corners of Sugar ally, where we halted, alighted, & entered without producing any apparent commotion among the inhabitants of the goodly city of Columbus. We were met on the staircase by two well favored damsels, Lizzy the sister of good Mrs. G. - & Anna her cousin, who straightway smote me on the cheek after the fashion of loving souls, as they are, & led the way to as snug a little room as reasonable eyes would wish to look upon, with a fire in the fireplace thereof, & many things besides which was pleasing to the eye & comforting to the body; - of this we took quiet possession after the manner of the great William Penn, & afterwards sallied out to explore the adjoining territory, after following a “winding way” through an anteroom like into the valley & shadow of death, we found ourselves in a seemly parlor which fronteth to the street & much resembled cousin Beebe’s saloon concerning which Johnathan Slick tells us in his epistles. Thence we proceeded to the dining room situated in the N. Western part of the “lower regions” where we were regaled with the feast of turkey & the flow of tea, & a call to dinner gives promise of a repetition of the same. So good bye.
Saturday 7th I know not when this letter will be finished for I only write when I have finished my daily task & have a few spare moments before dinner. We dine at the aristocratic hour of four & after that all work is discarded, we assemble in the parlor talk & laugh, play chess or blind man’s bluff, read Combe’s sense or Miss Landons sentiment, thus driving away the wrinkles of care from the brow & sorrow from the hearts.
Indeed a more agreeable family, take us all in all, cannot well be imagined – we are a little world among ourselves – there is Mr. Gilbert a bonafide member of the Slick family, The Percy anecdotes bound in flesh – a sermonizing Sunday evenings & jolly companion every day:- Mrs. Gilbert, who matronizes us all can read poetry like Mrs. Siddons, jabbles French like a French lady & makes a pudding like a French cook – Sister Lizzy can make fritters & point out the different constellations, Cousin Ann can talk from sun rise to sun set & “never tires or stops to rest”, W.A.P. can cure me when I have a cold or the headache, & hook a cold snack from the pantry when we get hungry before going to bed, & I the last, & least can mend trousers eat my rations, & gape as well as ever. – Time never flew so swiftly with me as this Winter, I have plenty of sewing to do, plenty of books to read & plenty of company. There is nothing I dislike here excepting the continual succession of formal calls, only think of forty nine ladies coming rigged out in feathers & flowers, all sails set, streamers flying, courtesying low, - declaring they are happy of your acquaintance – asking how you are pleased with Columbus, & courtesying again retiring, - is not such heartless ceremony enough to weary one! And this is not the end of the mockery, for one is obliged to train around at least once a week with card case in hand & compliments in mouth, anchoring here & there to “return calls.” When I think of it I feel disgusted with fashionable society & wish myself in a wild wilderness with a few friends whom I love, Yet, I like Columbus & the free unrestrained mirth at home compensates for the stiffness & forms of Society. The “honorable body” the legislature have assembled & adds very much to the bustle; we can easily distinguish a Rep’ by his new suit of clothes, not being used to stiff buckram they walk in their new gear as if they hadn’t quite “got the hang of them.”
If you are home for Christmas I hope to be too, write me again whether you are certain of going. I think about Mother a great deal; - how very lonely she must be! – she writes in a very low spirited tone sometimes, but I hope next spring we shall be happily settled here & she will feel at home with us. You must write often cheering letters to her – I have written every week since I came down.
You ask me if I write any now, very little excepting letters have a good many to write more important than poetry. “The Indian Maid” I think met her fate at the stake sometime ago, she was better fitted to kindle faggots than amuse by her poetry.
We see the world & his wife here – met Judge Lane on the street yesterday: - Fisher has his sent among the sages of the land – also Mr. Ford who has promised to call on me.
I ought not to write a long letter for I infer that you dislike them from your writing so briefly, but it was good what there was of it & I shall be extremely grateful for even that much once a week – or two weeks at least.
By the way, Young [Stanley] Matthews a fellow student boards next neighbor – I forgot what you said of him, but I like his appearance very much.
Your account of a call upon Dr. Colton was amusing, write soon & give me more of your laughable incidents, I always expect to smile audibly when I recieve your letters.
Your loving sister, Fan
The guda maun wishes to be remembered.
Jan – 19th 1840
My dear brother, -
Feeling a strong desire to hear something pertaining to your welfare & prosperity, I sit me down this Sunday to pen you an epistle, hoping that it will meet with a hearty welcome for the sake of the writer & an immediate answer for the same reason.
How much I wish you could step in this moment and entertain us a while by some of your jests & I fancy that I could tell you a story or two that would amuse you a little concering the wondrous things that occur in this Western Gothan such as “democratic conventions” “Loydd committees” & other doing that would tickle the ear of such a thorough bred politicians as yourself.
But as a gentleman said last night (& I l believe it is the opinion of most) that a lady steps out of her sphere when she meddles with politics I must not demean myself so much as to take it for a latter theme. Then what is left for me? If I were writing to a lady I could give an animated description of our last parties & fill up one page with a discourse upon the fashions & discuss the beauty of feathers & flowers tunics or mantillas, but to a sophomore who is deep in Latin & Greek lore such a subject would be too insignificant to obtain one thought from him. If you had adhered to your plan of last spring of becoming a disciple of Esculapins I flatter myself I would have been able to have given you important instructions in the healing art & made my correspondence of great service to you – for I am becoming quite an adept in making & administering doses that are almost miraculous in their effects.
And it is customary for physicians to relate as a proof of their skill some of their magic cures, I will tell you of one of mine, - last week my good husband was quite sick with a cold; at night he was scarcely able to raise his head but my medical skill – although it is not what should say it “ – effected so great a change in his system & set his hungry functions in such active order that the next morning at breakfast he was able to show his entire approbation of the manner in which his breakfast was prepared by treating his stomach to a whole broiled fowl besides something less than an acre of cornbread. Now was not this proof positive that there was a vast deal of virtue in the remedies I used; and as I said before if the study of medicine were your choice think you I could not give you much information? But perhaps you will think that I am bragging too much as you have some knowledge of my past ignorance – but brother this Columbus atmosphere is a very scientific one & I have an able instructor at hand to point our the right path. As to law which I believe you have pitched upon as the engine which it to assist you on your way to distinction I must acknowledge myself as ignorant as the assembled wisdom of the state – namely our sage legislators; but there is one thing I can write upon the subject & that is a little advice; - when you commence the study be sure that you select a person as your legal guide who is thouroughly acquainted with it & try to locate yourself in a place where you will have an opportunity to see legal proceedings conducted on the largest scale. Now where my dearest brother could you find these things as in Columbus! – The capital of the State! – where are gathered together for a great part of the Winter all the Chief lawyers & judges from all the country roundabouts where the U. States court & Supreme hold their sessions? Yes, here is the very place for you. I will admit that I am a little selfish in picturing these advantages in the most glowing colours but in plain sober truth I think there are a thousand considerations why you should select this place not to mention one – which is that here is to be the home of your only brother & sister & our dear Mother.
But how long, long it seems till you will be through college, & then to think of your going away from us to settle for life! Oh, I will not believe that we are to always live apart. In all my future plans you fill a large corner; & just think Rud how happy we shall all be – you shall have a snug room in our house with places enough for your gun, mechanical tools &c &c.
Time flies fast enough it is true, - yet, I cannot help wishing that the “commencement” alias the close of your senior year was nearer at hand. In the meantime, do not waste your school as so many do – my aspirations for you are high, do not disappoint them. You always laugh at my sober attempts at advice & think they do not become me, - but you know we should “exhort one another to good works”; & I for my part am daily trying, - (though alas without effecting much) to mend my ways & learn all the accomplishments that will tend to make a good wife to the best of husbands.
I can tell you of one acquirement which I know you will appreciate, - it is this, - making corn bread such as would please the palate of almost any epicure, - it will fairly melt in your mouth.
Now brother, I must stop for want of paper as well as matter, begging that you will write very soon a long letter telling me all about yourself. One thing let me say – try your best to improve in writing – you lack in that more than ought else. This comes with a poor grace from me, but indeed I am trying to improve myself in that same pray don’t take this as a specimen for I always write in haste to you, but in future I will endeavor to pay you the compliment to take more pains.
Your loving sister,
March 2d 1840
Me dear brother, -
A thousand & one pardons do I beg of you for not before answering your last letter. I was so very thankful for it at the time that I had serious thoughts of writing & telling you so that very day, but, as I had little else to write concluded that a letter containing only gratitude – although it is a cash article nowadays – would not be worth posting off as far as that seat of hunger & science – Gambier.
Therefore, it was resolved by the unanimous vote of the Union that the said letter should be defered until after the great Whig festival, jubilee, convention, or whatever other glorification name you may choose to christen it with.
Now, it came to pass that the effect which the glorious “three days” of Ohio produced upon one like myself “all unwont” to see the world – was so overpowering that I am but just beginning to be aware of my existence, & to know it was not the Judgment day that brought the people together in countless numbers. I long to give you a description of the scenes which would enable you to form some faint idea of them, but nothing short of the pen of inspiration could do this.
The streets were one moving mass of heads – with banners floating over head & here & there a log cabin, - brig, canoes or steamboat proffering, their aid to bear the Hero on to glory.
One of the most significant emblems of the downfall of banocracy one a tinpan with the bottom broken out & a piece of crapes attached to it. A troop of N. Yorkers who have through Ohio collecting & have cast anchor here for a while joined the throng with a banner on which was inscribed this motto “The star of empire takes its rise in the West, N. York hails it! Our suffering is intolerable.” One of the principal stump speakers was a native genius from the southern part of the State – said he never went to school only long enough to “school out a vest his Mother made for the Master. Mr. Gilbert invited him here to show to us as a kind of lusus naturae. His name – Bear – was exactly indicitive of his person black bushy hair being the most prominent feature. He was a blacksmith & looked like a vulcan just from the forge.
All Whig houses in this goodly city were crowded to overflowing – we slept – or rather lodged (for sleep comes not to our eyes or slumber to our eyelids for the space of three nights) four in a bed spoon fashion.
But I may as well spare myself the trouble of further words upon this subject for you will probably see as many descriptions of it as we did of Queen Victoria’s coronation. So I will sum up all in the tirade of a French dandy who called here. – He said in the most exquisite lisping style imaginable that “Thuch a manifethtation of feeling, thuch a unithon of purpoth – I amy thay, thuch a cooperation of the math of the people I never thaw in my life.”
To proceed to every day life – things go on smoothly with me as ever – a hook & eye to be sewed on our dress or a button on our breeches – a letter written to Mother – Uncle, or brother – a chapter in my French testament & one in the “City of the Sultan” or some other entertaining work fill up the measure of my days. Thus quietly my good man & myself – a secone edition of Darby & Joan – expect to job on through life – making no noise in the world & dying leaving behind us the name of “quiet good sort of people”.
We look to you as the prodogy of the family & hopes that you will strive to make yourself competent to go abroad in the world & sound the family trumpet far & wide. Do you intend to finish your collegiate courses at Gambier? Do your studies occupy most of your time? What are you reading? I am very desirous to have immediate answers to these important queries, so I pray you will not delay. I am going home to make a visit during your vacation – write me when it commences.
Mother & Uncle will be down this week or next – so they say. I am anxious you should improve in writing – for my part I give it up in despair. Write very soon.
Much love goes with this from me & mine. Your sister – Tell me whether you are able to read this scratch. Fanny.
May 12th 1840
My dear Rud –
We were mightily rejoined to hear of your safe arrival at your journey’s end, long & dangerous as it was, - & I could not help enjoying your happy faculty of telling all things concerning yourself with so few words, you must have profited by the text “in the multitude of works there wanteth not sin” which is assuredly one of the wisest proverbs of “Solomon, son of David, king of Israel”. – But I will not bore you with a sermon this time if I do quote Scripture, for no doubt you have a goodly store of them now from the notable devines of Gambier.
Now to speak or our own welfare we are “as well to da” in the world as we could reasonably expect; - the chess warfare is still carried on with anmitigated fury, - both parties claiming to be victorious:- how it will end, - time the great revealer of all truths, will shew – at all events a truce will be declared about the first of June to give both parties leisure to attend to business in another part of the field.
Mr. Darlinton & H. Platt come in as allies once in a while & then the glorious double games we have language has no words to describe. Mr. Rice still does up our by the job, free gratis for nothing:- Uncle nicknames him “fever & ague” because like that agreable visitant he comes regularly every other day. – Perhaps you don’t know that you have become Miss Hayes since you went away, - but indeed you have – for we miss you every day. We have no person to read lectures to now – Mother practices a little on Sarah Wasson but she is too small game for me, - William came up Saturday & staid until yesterday – he is as good a subject as yourself but I thought it was not worth while to put my tongue in scolding order for so short a time. - I was glad you approve our house – to pay you for it I think some of inviting you spend next vacation in it. – trust you duly appreciate the favor.
Our “goods & chattels” are reported to be on the way West & will probably be in Columbus in two weeks, - being myself an important article of “housen stuff” I shall move Southward about the same time – though we shall not get to housekeeping till the latter part of June. I am becoming skilled in the mysteries of making bits of calico into “stars”, half moons” & rising suns” not with the sublime intention of making a new firmament but such creature comforts as bedquilts, does not the very name clip the wing of fancy – but so it is, - thus we must all come down at last to the sober realities of life & I must wind up my letter wishing you peace, joy – (& long suffering I was about to add for the sake of rounding the period handsomely.) Your loving sister, Fanny
June 12 1840
Me dear bub –
I feel so highly flattered at your answering my letters so promptly that I would fain write you sheets an sheets of thanks. Am happy to say that this little burgh is nearly as fruitful in incidents worthy of filling a letter as Gambier so that it is not surprising that our active brains would never lack the wherewithal to give an idea to a friend even if there was a dearth of news, by the way I don’t think news should be the “subject matter” of a letter it is only fit for gossips, - I prefer wise remarks & considerable sentiment such as our epistles usually abound.
Saturday morn, -
Last night was interrupted in the very good letter I intended to give you & should be not surprised if I have wholly lost the thread of the web I was weaving & it should turn out nothing more than common after all.
Three very important events have occured since I last wrote. Gen. Harrison has spent a Sabbath here on his way to Ft. Meigs – I have made me a new calico gown & Uncle has bequeathed Dolly to me to have & to hold – to ride nourish & protect so long as we both shall live.
I discover some new virtue in her every day & have no doubt she will be well worthy of her mistress after a little training.- I have rode her & find her as gentle as an old cow without any lack of spirit either, - how you will enjoy riding her when you are at Columbus during vacation.
Do you have any Whig glory where you are? You would absolutely live on it here – yesterday a large delegation went to the Marysville convention – the ladies joined the procession there 500 strong! Every little town considers a scare up of this kind necessary to their salvation & they never think of less than 3 or 4000 a decent number. Lanson joined the procession that escorted Gen. H- out of town & thus declared himself on our side at last. The poor democrats after scouring the country & rallying all their forces from Dan to Bersheba made out a very respectable training of 700 or thereabouts last Saturday.
My husband Esq. Platt arrived last night after we had gone to bed so to day we shall have some rides & a double game of chess – wish you were here to join us. I am not going away before the first of next month – it is so genteel to spend the warm weather here that perhaps shall remain till Fall. Write when your commencement comes hope we shall get to housekeeping before then. Excuse writing for it has been in the greatest haste fearing the mail would go. Write soon.
Affly your sister Fan
July 3 1840
My dear brother, [Rud]
Not a little glad were we to recieve your last letter, but I was near dropping it with astonishment when I saw that the sheet was actually filled & almost feared you were not in your right mind till after reading it I concluded you brain was only a little cracked with fun which is not unusual with those who lack years & which we, sober, gravity loving matrons as we are, can readily excuse as often as you will give us as laughable a dish of gossip as your last afforded.
Your ludicrous description of the trial was worthy of “Boz” & really coaxed our muscles sacred to fun into a broad grin a thing they have not been guilty for many suns, & nearly making us forget our duty of reproving the disrespect that the students of Kenyon Coll. Shewed that great personage a Justice of the peace by their obstreperous conduct in his august presence.
Remember my dear brother that much laughter tendeth not to the improvement of the mind; the greatest sages were always of the gravest, - & while you have such as example before you of a long drawn out visage as the Rev. Doct. Presents, much do I marvel that you are so little given to dignity of manner, - especially when nature has in her rich goodness bestowed upon you features so filled for it. – now it is almost hopeless for me to think of drawing my rubicund face down to the dignified notch, yet as perseverance we all know effects so much I shall not weary in well doing at least for the present. If you could see Mother & myself these long days you would think we were succeeding admirably –not a laugh awakens the sleeping echoes of our chamber not a smile disturbs the repose of our features – it is one long, dead, unvaried calm the whole day, preserved by the continued monotonous plying of our needles or by half dosing over some soft love & murder tale in the “Lady’s book’ or the real murder history of Mary Queen of Scotts.
Heigho! to speak truly I am most heartily tired of this kind of life & shall be as glad to leave Delaware as I was to return to it after my last Winter’s absence. If I had left two months ago – believe I should have felt some real sorrow & could have written a folio sheet of pathos & sadness at parting with my childhood’d home & childhood’s friends but now we have so long been on the eve of going that I am weary of saying farewell to old scenes & every one else seems equally wearied of expressing grief at our departure & now only open their eyes with amazement to see that we are “here yet”.
As almost all the ills of life have some hidden good perhaps our present unsettled way of living is only preparing us to enjoy the more a home which we have in prospect & hope sometime to see though it flies from us thus far, something like the Ignis fatuus of the swamps. – You did not say what day of the month your commencement will be – write particularly in you next – Mother will probably be there then & shew you the way home. Write soon after the 15th of this month we may possibly be in Columbus, though I begin to think we never shall.
Aff’ly your sister
July 16, 1840
Dear Rud, -
In the course of human events it came to pass that one the 20th day of the 7th month an epistle of comely appearance & will ordered contents did arrive to gladden the hearts & light up the countenance of a worthy household, in a certain domicile of this respectable city – whereupon it was considered fitting that no less a person than myself Mrs. F. A. H. P. should assume the delightful duty of returning suitable thanks for the said epistle to the author thereof. In pursuance of the above duty I now inform you my dearly beloved brother that after steering due south for some hours last Monday we cast anchor in a place which is destined to become one of the loveliest spots in this vale of tears. We found things in most delightful confusion & one first employment was to bring order out of chaos & procure the wherewithal to satisfy the cravings of the foul friend hunger, - straightway a fire was kindled on the gastronomical altar & our kitchen priestess sacrificed thereon the edibles this region afforded. Since then each day has witnessed some new work of our hands and each night it was been declared “goods”.
By the 5th of August all will be in readiness to recieve you & minister to all the wants which are incident to this life taking care that you shall have no longings after the “flesh pots of Egypt.”
The advice you gave concerning our treatment of the natives was worthy the fountain whence it flowed & we trust it may prove like the good seed sown upon good ground which springing up shall bear a hundred fold. Do not I beg allow your sensitive heart to be longer troubled by any fears on account of the long letter your last would have proved an antidote to any bad effects proceeding from it had there been any such – fortunately like an electric shock it cured when for the moment we thought we were killed. My pen refuses farther service so in the midst of bustle & haste I remain
Your loving sister Fan.
P.S. None of us are going to commencement, order the stage to bring you here bag & baggage. F.
Feb. 7th 1841 
My dear brother,
I could not have believed then I rec’d your last letter that so long a time would have elapsed before it should be numbered among the answered – but so it is, & when I reflect upon the momentous fact I feel ready to repent of my remissness in sackcloth & ashes, more especially as said letter was one after my own heart. And now my beloved brother, for want of a more prolific subject I will give you a faithful chronicle of the doings good & evil of that part of your tribe which sojourneth in this goodly city, or rather in the suburbs thereof.
Since the morning you left in company with your buffalo robe an age seems to have passed by but if the Almanac doth not lie it is not two moons ago. You remember about that time the presiding goddess of our kitchen had taken flight & your sister your only sister was made conscious by sad experience that she was in possession of hands; after labouring under the curse of Adam “by the sweat of thy brow & c” – for one week – Anon’s sister came like an angel of light to our relief since which time work & I have only nodded at each other at a distance. Parallel with the about event was another of somewhat minor importance but worthy of a place in these annals – vix.- the arrival of R. Platt followed two or three days later by that of E. Little & Miss Emerson – the latter after tarrying a few days left for Putman in company with an abolition brother. Lizzy staid a couple of weeks caressed & flattered as much as one could desire by her would be relations the Buttles – at Albert’s fathers was given the most delightful party I ever attended in Columbus, - this was followed by others of prime stamp which together with numerous little accidental soirees at our own house has wiled away the last three or four weeks most pleasantly. You were most ardently wished for more than once to join in our festivities & add your mite to the mirth. Hatty’s beaux & the cheerful company drawn by her around our evening fireside seemed for a time to give a new zest to our quiet life, but alas “a change came over the spirit of our dream” from sundry misunderstandings & misconstruction. The fiend disputation arose amongst us & for the last three days has been contending for sway with domestic felicity. – The latter has not entirely fled yet; but hovers around appearing every now & then in the intervals of sunshine. The facts of the case are these – William made some unguarded remarks from which Mother infered that he prefered she should stay home from which Mother & Hatty whenever they converse together, - & the idea that H. wishes to rule us all has so completely taken possession of her, that she makes it a point to dispute the propriety of all H’s designs even to the building of a fire & H. to shew her independence contends for every inch her own way. I never wished you here so much as now – you would make an end of it at once with a little ridicule & one of your good natured laughs but now I suppose it will continue till Hatty takes her departure;-
William don’t understand the petty wranglings of womenfolk & takes what he sees of it a’ too gravely;- which is the most to blame I cannot say – perhaps Wm & Hat shew too little respect for Mother & her opinions, - she too little consideration for the ways of young people – sitting up late at nights &c. &c. Now I do not wish to make myself appear as a patient looker on having no part or blame in the matter sometimes I pout at my husband & sometimes fret at my Mother, yet I know it is possible to live cheerily with any one of them – Mother the baby & myself have been sitting together this hour in the pleasantest way imaginably & so I can with the others but when all assemble together disputes seem to arise out of nothing. I ought not to have filled my sheet with this tirade for it looks so much worse than it is, when written & perhaps by the time it reaches you it will all be forgotten here & indeed now I could take another sheet & give you a bright picture with equal truth – such is life! lights & shadows!!! Mother says she will write you soon – bids me tell you for her to keep your outward adornings well brushed & hung up when out of service, & those of the inner man so cultivated & refined that they will be a crown of glory to you when you come to man’s estate. Hatty sends love & says that our presence bodily would gladden her more than aught else here below. William if her were here would send some
[ ] ladder in his good graces. – Sarah Bells is married to Smith a merchant of L. Sandusky, good match saith rumor William sent you lampwicks were they O. K. burn this as soon as read for I have written those things which ought not but I felt just like writing confidentialy & could think of no other great secret, but the every day walk of the family. Write me soon I beseech of you & I will not neglect you so long again. Oh how I wish you were here
Your loving sister
Feb. 14th 1841
My brother dear, -
Quake when you see who has taken up the pen to address you a second time within eight days & that too without recieving one word from Gambier hill!
The object is to give vent almost in the same breath to my satisfaction & my ire, - the first feeling is occasioned by your declaring your intention to go on to perfection in the epistolary art – The second by your not including me in your confidential corps & imposing upon me a part at least of your series of letters;- You cannot think me a friend if you fancy me unwilling to endure something for your benefit;- & to prove the sincerity & strength of my sisterly affection for you I promise from this time forth & for evermore to recieve with cheerful resignation one epistolary scourge from you every week & will engage sometimes to return it if it will be agreable to you.
My last letter failed in one essential point, - under the topic of baby not one item was recorded; - my apology for this omission must be that so much was to be said on that subject one modest sized sheet would not contain it & the same being the case at this present time I am forced to postpone it with a promise that her whole life adventure shall be orally given to you in detail when you appear here in person. Until such time you must be content with the facts that she is increasing in flesh & decreasing in hair daily that she has maintained a perpendicular sitting posture on the floor for the space of 2 seconds & a fraction- & that as a consequence of the U. States bank suspension she substitutes for her muslin dresses blue calico gowns & aprons her precise weight shall be given to you in a postscript when she returns from the land of nod whither she has just departed. Of news domestic I have but a barren stock – the last week having been rather a quiet one – keeping ourselves warm being our chief employment. There is to be a slight change in our kitchen cabinet tomorrow – Robert’s place is to be filled by a stout Dutchman – do you vote with the majority in this case. I condole with you & your neck it must be too long – mine never troubles me. Supper demands my attention – So Good bye – the rest another time –
Your sister Fan.
My dear Bro,
Mr. & Mrs. Whom have stepped out so I take it upon myself to acknowledge the reciept of a letter which I suppose I may claim as well as any one since my elegant cognoman graced the back of it. Bodily & spiritually we are in a noncomplaining state – all have reasonable appetites & our morning slumbers are very composed – May this find you in the comfortable enjoyment of like blessings: - I have not quite “got the hang” of beggining a letter after the good old fashioned way when one had but to set the pen in motion & it would go through the routine of blessings, health, & “love to all the folks” without one effort of the mind or imagination. The weather – as we have been regularly informed a decade of times each day for two weeks – is delightful, charming, bracing, invigorating, enlivening, reviving, really quite Spring like. This piece of news you amy not doubt for I gained my knowledge from the refined & elegant who have favored me with calls – I should never had had the presumption to have made the assertion merely from the evidence of my own senses. Frederick is making hotbeds in the garden, - Catherine is ironing, - Sarah Sophia is asleep on the bed - & Mother is ditto in the rocking chair & thus having seen that all under my jurisdiction are profitably employed I feel my mind at ease to sit down & prepare some intellectual food for my dear good brother; - if it should not prove of a very substantial nature you must remember that judicious cooks always endeavor to suit their dishes to the stomachs for which they are intended, so I must remember that your mind is not yet matured & only bring from my store house the broths & lighter varieties of food. – The baby & household duties have compelled my to adopt a system of literary dieting this Winter not very constant to my former habits & feelings, - our weekly newspapers with a scrap of biography or poetry now & then have composed my reading – A new work that has lately pleased my much rounded my curiosity to know the meaning of its title – Hyperion, can your profound learning instruct me concerning it; is it from the Latin? One extract let me give from it to encourage you in your labours, - the secret unpretending studies of the student are laying the piers which are to support the future bridge of his fame.
Have you become as poor as Pharaoh’s lean kine? if so I will have the meal barrel & cruise of oil well filled before you come. It will afford me the greatest pleasure to have you bring any of your fellow students you choose to spend the vacation with you – the lord of the manor says these are his sentiments also- tell whoever you bring that corn bread & bacon is our bill of fare.
Meat is becoming more abundant – in other words the baby weighs 15 lbs. – Harriet is no longer sojourning amongst us – she has departed northward. She rode Dolly a few times while here – a new side saddle has been added to my goods & chattels since you were here.
I was much amused by your comedy – Thus we laugh over the afflictions of our fellow critter.
Aff’ly your sister
May 6th 41
My dear brother, -
I have finished my work & toilet – having nothing else to employ my mind or my fingers I sit down with the intention of answering your last very welcome & amusing letter, - it certainly deserved a vote of thanks for it raised a laugh & in that way promoted the health of a whole family; - what letter would do more? -In the first place I will answer the opening paragraph of said document which demands an apology for neglecting a letter sent some weeks ago. I have an ample one ready – about that time young scapegrace from a neighboring college quartered himself upon me during his vacation & if you had but been the trouble I had to keep the wild imp within bounds & teach him something of civilized life you would not have wondered that all my other duties were swallowed up in this one. He has now been gone some time & my first resolve after my mind had regained a little of its former equilibrium was to write you, but several friends had similar demands upon me so I adopted our favorite method when children of saving the best till the last, therefore feel yourself complimented & accept my apology in a manner becoming a brother. Ali Ali over.
A jovial Delaware party left us this morning – Mrs. Little & her train bound for Kentucky – have been staying since Monday & a delightful visit we had; - You were much wanted to join in & add to the merriment. Fortunately without any preconcerted plan Lizzy & Albert Buttles arrived in Columbus the same evening he was here very often, - all seems to be going on very smoothly between them. You will see A.B. in Gambier in a week or two, but little change in him visible unless it be a little more attention to dress, - he was not careless before if I recollect right. Lizzy bid me tell you should not speak to you till you had said Good bye to her – you had better be practising the difficult words if you wish to be restored to her good grace. You know not how much you may desire it at some future day when she is an influential matron in Columbus & you are just coming out a gallant young buck. – Hatty is off in a tangent in pursuit of “The Hunters of Kentucky” as she says.
Cynthia & H. Williams spent two days with me on their way to Cin. it seems the Delaware young ladies have imbibed a roaming spirit. Hat Darlinton & Eunice will probably be here next week & Uncle S. by the week after so we shall keep up our round number.
Either company or Spring weather has done wonders for my health & spirits – am no longer an invalid even in the imaginations, shawl. – Fred still keeps improving the garden, every thing is laid out with line & plummet – the roses lilacs &c are placed at regular distances in rows like soldiers on parade, with Catalpa tress &c places as marshals.
We heard from Uncle S. last week, then at N. Orleans- he left Cuba rather too soon, took cold while landig at N.O. & was unable to leave the house when he wrote. He has met with a great loss in the death of Geo. Grant who died with the pleurisy about two weeks ago – after a short illness. When Uncle hears of it he will hasten home I am sure – fear he will think it necessary to apply himself too closely to business the coming summer. I hope you may never be harassed by the cares incident to a business life but preserve your happy faculty of casting off troubles, above all things I hope you may never have a passion for making money – avoid it as the outset & make something else the object of your ambition. ahem! so much for advice.
You slighted the flower of the family the last time you wrote not even mentioning the lovely little bairn – she grows more & more astonishing every day & waxes fat every hour she has far outstripped her contemporaries in size & indeed I believe in all other desirable qualities.
Our new minister – Mr. Fox made his grande debut last Sabbath, - he reminded me of the fat boy in Pickwick,- is very polite – a single man & takes with the ladies – which is all sufficient. His pronunciation & voice is like the Bishop’s.
No more to communicate at present excepting that Miss Sarah has got a new carriage & a little armchair – her play things will soon fill her share of the house – try & save for your gun. William treads the old track Mother talks of going to Delaware & Gambier! Something new! quite!!!
Bushels of love sent by all as well as your loving Sister Fan.
June 18 1841
My dearest brother, -
A week ago I could have written you with very different feelings from the present – now my thoughts dwell upon but one subject. Death has snatched away the loved one & I have nothing to do but weep. There is a vacuum in our little circle that can only be filled by grief. Time drags along most heavily – hours seem lengthened into days for the lack of something to interest. Oh brother you know not what a change it makes in our home – she was always so playful & full of glee – though she could not talk everything seemed expressed in her speaking face. She had improved very much since you were here & I had anticipated the greatest pleasure in showing her to you she would so soon have learned to know you & stretch our her little hands to you as she did to her Father. She always had smiles ready for every one & would demand attention even against one’s will. Uncle who you know never notices small children could not help giving her a word now & then she would look at him so coaxingly. But she is gone forever –tis almost more than I can bear.
Since warm weather we had carried her all over the house she had played in every nook & corner & thus every part is associated with her. She died so suddenly that many of her playthings were left where she last used them. I now realize that a terrible thing is Death – it is terrible at any time but when it tore away my lovely child, our own sweet Sarah, it was rending heart strings.
Perhaps you will wonder as I did once how one could mourn for a child – but if you had lived with her you would have loved her too. Even Fred had become very fond of her he says he will plant flowers on her grave. – I have lived a lifetime within the last year – have loved almost idolized my child – centred every hope & fond anticipation in her - & lost her in a day. Is it not a strange world in which we live – joy & sorrow go hand in hand. You are a thoughtless happy boy yet, I trust, then let not my sorrow cloud your brow one moment, - I would have you ever thus – if it is possible to live & not know afflection. Will you not write to me soon my brother – write as you always do every thought as it rises – do not fell under restraint because we are in sorrow, - we shall not blame if you are gay. Time will no doubt heal the wound sad & desolate as it makes us now.
There was much enjoyment in Uncles visit but we will talk of that when we meet, - now I cannot recal it.
You will soon be with us – till then write as often as possible
Your aff. Sister
July 9th 1841
My dear brother
And my good brother too for writing so often; when your first letter came I thought a second could not come before I should write to you, but days slipped away & though not one passed without many thoughts of you I still neglected writing. - I knew you must feel our loss as you said you did for I thought you loved our bright beautiful child, - it is as hard as ever to think that she is gone, & I cannot help exclaiming inwardly, - how could she die? Time is all what can heal such a wound yet I feel calm & even cheerful; - when with company I exert myself to appear as lighthearted as ever & what was at first feigned has become in a measure real – I can join in a merry laugh with others, if I cannot drive grief away when alone. At first I could have sat & wept the livelong day but I resolved to seek employment & interest myself about something;- writing I found easier than anything, - reading poetry & making some rhymes of my own –then I amused myself arranging my shells which by the by is a treasure you have not seen- & finally I have fallen into my old track of attending to household matters mending, sewing &c &c. so that from having nothing to do as I thought when I wrote last I have found sufficient to occupy me for a month to come. Last week Mother went to Delaware to attend Eunice’s wedding – you have probably heard before now that she has married Rutherford Moody & gone to N.York to reside.
They would have invited you if they had supposed you could have attended;- Rutherford & H. Darlinton came down & invited us – I was very anxious to see Eunice before she went so far away but felt as if I could not go to Delaware then, we had talked so much of taking our dear Sarah there, that the thought of going without her was almost insupportable.
I think E. will like a city life - &R- will make her a good husband – he is a blunt honest soul, & lacking something of a refinement of feeling which we should think congenial to E.’s family tempered mind, - but though there seems more of Heaven than Earth in her compositon she is neither sensitive nor romantic. I should not be surprised if a few years should find Alexander in N.York also- & the Kilbourns be like the Hayes family in Delaware among the things that were.
Harriet D. – will leave for her Western home in a short time thus change – change is written upon all things.
Your merry description of our Independence days brought them to mind afresh – we were both full of life & hope then but I have grown old since _ am a staid, homely matron & indulge in no wild roving dreams, - oh may you ever remain as full of hope as now. – I cannot tell you how much I long to have you with us,- your careless laugh, if anything, will make me happy again. Uncle will probably be here during your vacation – I fear he is trouble about business matters & finds it difficult to close up his concerns. I do hope that you will “make a living” easily & more than that I trust you will not desire, - stronger & stronger is my faith in the proverb – “Money is the root of all evil”.
I will not deny that I should like us well as anyone to have all the luxuries that money will but – but if you have not a fortune to being with you may toil away the days for enjoying it & when you are old look aghast at your gold & die!
I can but smile at the homily I have served up for you thinking as I do that you are in no need of a warning upon this subject; - you must take it as mere random thoughts suggested by my husband’s present close confinement to business, - he will be somewhat relieved I hope by Cyrus’ return who is boarding with us now. – Harriet Platt is here & will perhaps remain till you come – Mother & myself think a very little of leaving her housekeeper & going to comencement – what do you think of it? Can we find accommodations at Gambier, - but I almost know I shall not come so there is no use of words about it. When you write say exactly what day you will be here. By the way have you read “Master Humphry’s clock” – hope you have not for it will be such a feast in store for you, - We have all been reading & quoting – laughing & crying over it for a week past.
Consider yourself at liberty to invite any of your friends home with you at vacation – we shall be most happy in making you & them so. Mother was going to write something about your bringing your clothes home clean – nails do, hair cut &c &c. but I have left her no room.
Aff’ly your sister
Oct. 10th ‘41
My dear bub, -
How are you – how are the sweet potatoes - & how is your appetite? It being Sunday I suppose the two last of your favorite companions have recieved some little attention.
Weary with reading I can find nothing to keep me awake this evening but writing you – thanking you for your last epistle & giving you the gossip of our little circle, foreign & domestic. To begin then with the Foreign news, - the Senior partner of this establishment has not yet returned but is expected in a few days, - in the meantime we jog along in a quiet sort of a way seeing as much of your dear friends the “family” as usual – we occasionally going down there or one of them straggling along to dinner – see how much you lose in that sequestered spot – an old dusty bookish college – here in the world you might learn something.
The “sociable afternoons” we spent out after you left & before Sarah went were exactly after your own heart: - you would have laughed to have seen me tramping down to Mrs. Millers through the rain – ‘twas just such as day as the one she came here – the others went in a coach but just as I was about to step in Jane Gregory who is staying here & was going with us – took it into her perverse little head not to go so I must stay & pacify her – which feat accomplished I hoisted umbrella & manfully braved wind & tempest rather than break poor Mrs. M’s heart – who had so kindly saved yours from a similar disaster on a previous day. Now to come to news more entirely domestic, - perhaps you were aware of some little commotion in our kitchen cabinet before you left – well “by & with the advice & consent” of all concerned the mistress of the cooking department has rec’d her discharge from office & gone home, a strapping Dutch lass has been appointed to the vacancy - & I feeling my inability to preside over a German Diet have resigned to Mother who is now acting president. You must expect nothing but clobber & cabbage your next visit.
Released from household cares I feel as free as air shall have nothing to do but gather the sweets of life & be young again. By the way my little protégé Jane has come to spend the Winter with me & I am trying to do my duty to the rising generation by stuffing into her head the circumference & diameter of the earth & making her wonder what kind of a place the Equator is.
I was sorry we did not see Bryan when he passed remember me to him & the other good fellows, - if you choose Am afraid we shall have no opportunity of sending you the pommes la terre indeed they seem to have pined away wonderfully since you left – have had more but slim one of late. Write soon & give us such another pleasant account of your doings as your last.
You must tell Levi K- we had a delightful little snatch of a visit from his Mother & Sister – they spent one night with us not long since. You must have had a time sleeping so many of you together – Bryan & Kinsolving would bear it the best as they were somewhat inured to sleeping hard on our corduroy bed; - did you ever tell them of the turmoil in the hive when we discovered their good fare in that line during their visit here? You must excuse this letter full of trifles light as air – I did not feel like writing very sensible to night. In obedience to Mother’s wishes I leave the rest for her.
Aff’ly your sister
Nov. 29th 1841
Monsieur, mon chere frere, -
“Very inclement weather we have enjoyed of late” if we may believe the assertion of sundry comers & goers during the last few days; - all the news I shall communicate will be of equal importance with the foregoing item – so prepare yourself for a rare morceau indeed. But to begin according to the most approved method I should inform you that your favour dated the 22d of the present month & year came duly to hand – was “thankfully received & diligently attended to” as this document is intended to prove. – I am looking forward to Christmas with quite as many pleasant anticipations as you can be- it will be quite a merry making among us if we can persuade Uncle to remain- & you at home of course; - Alas for the poor goblers
My employments are varied to suit the whim of the moment- now knitting the heel of a white stocking – not “doing the narrowings” on a red one & anon mending the hole in a grey one: - Sometimes doing charity work (which in the present acception of the word means making something of no earthly use selling it at a good round price & giving the avails to the poor – which is a double charity supplying the necessities of the indigent & giving the rich a chance to bestow their alms without recieving the credit of it- thus enabling them to obey the command “give not your alms before men to be seen of them” sometimes I take a short tour with Steven’s into “Central America” again wile away an hour following the fortunes of Littelbat Titmouse & his “Ten Thousand a Year”.
By the way I have not yet told you of the rich literary treat we have in store for you when ever you have leisure for reading – I will not wait to give you the catalogue or tell you of the new bookcase that is in tow at the cabinet makers.
I am pursuing my French studies with my energy – have learned to say il fait froid with true French & since we got our new stoves il fait chaud.
William brought me two charming little works by Madame de Stael which are sufficient to practice me in traduisant for this Winter,- we have an Italian with whom I jabber a few words of French every evening but shall endeavor withal to retain sufficient of my mother tongue for all common purposes.
Taking it all in all I believe I never jogged along in a more quiet contented sort of a way than at present- I intend to take warning by the old proverb “care killed the cat” & not worry if the milk does get spilled or the bread soured.- You will find some one here ready to accompany you to the Delaware wedding – I believe Mother talks more just now of going there than to Gambier – you know she always has some journey in prospect. She has finally succeeded in getting up an excitement about Temperance. – There are two or three meetings every week – she has gone this afternoon to a Martha Washington Sewing Temperance Meeting – where the ladies sew up the gapes in elbows of the reformed drunkards, - in this case the ordinary rule is reversed the gentlemen do the talking & the lades the working. Uncle has not yet arrived but like Winder is expected. The remainder of the sheet I leave for mon bon mari. With kindest regards to R.B.Hayes L.L.D. – M.C. &c &c. I remain
Aff’ly your sister
Jan. 26 1842
Many thanks are due your Seniorship for the Death’s head, bill of exercises, interesting remaks, & sundry hyerogliphics which eminated from the literary atmosphere of Kenyon College in the shape of an epistle not “long ago” – You took the readiest way possible to purchase absolution for the offence committed the morning you left Columbus – writing a conciliatory letter bought your pardon. Harriet & Lizzy returned home yesterday leaving us as quiet as before the invasion of the Goths & Vandals (excuse me, I have been teaching Jane her History lesson or I should not have made such a barbarous comparison – all the anology I would be understood to trace between yourself the young ladies & the above mentioned tribes is that you all came from the North upon us the polished & enlightened of the South.) Episode No. 1
They (H. & L.) waked uo after the first week & seemed to enjoy their visit highly – parties great or small occupied so much of their visit when they went, - That was almost a belle.
Do you study hard this Winter or is intellectual food not so well relished as my apples & mince pies?
Bozzari has gone South in search of easier work & will probably find harder fare; Therefore I am not so regular in my French lessons but shall have a better teacher in Corvoisier, who will give me occasional instruction.
The world has gone as “Merrily as a marriage bell” with me for some time, you remember we were all on edge the morning you left & the day finished as it commenced a genuine washing day – all of the feminine part of the household as sour as old yeast – but that must have been a physicking off of the bile for I can answer for myself for one, that I have been if a good humour ever since!!! Don’t you wish yourself at home now to make hay while the sun shines. – As I expect “my lord will soon bear me company” after the labours of the day, I do not think it worth to broach any subject which will require the arraying of my ideas & without their aid I think “there is a limit to the progress of” my pen – so good night. Sleep ----on.
Aff’ly your sister
F A Platt.
Sept. 24th ‘43
My own dear brother,
From the pile of antiquated, classic bricks of Cambridge there comes a voice over the mountain, lake & river, saying “pay me that thou owest”. Lest my “Christian spirit” should fall into disrepute in that quarter I will render unto you the epistle which is due. – Your letter of the 17th recieved yesterday was particularly satisfactory leaving curiosity quite in the back ground with regard to you, ever my “concern for your manner’s is quite forgotten when I think of the genius & learning by which you are surrounded – indeed twas never your manners, morals or talents for which I feared but at your age there is always danger of the tastes & feelings degenerating whilst associating with low bred minds – such for instance as you would find in Sandusky. – I looked forward to your year at Cambridge, - in the intellectual atmosphere of Boston – with as pleasant anticepations as you could have done, - for although I knew the parting would be painful I thought you would there have better opportunities for becoming more & more what I desire my dear, my adored brother to be! – I am delighted that you admire Judge Story – he has been so long my standard for a man that I am happy to find my opinion confirmed.
It must relieve the study of law of much of its heaviness to adorn it with the eloquence which you hear daily.
I can scarcely help envying you the pleasure of roaming about Mr. Auburn – tis a place of all others there I should most like to spend a lovely Autumn day with one friend to whom I could say “how beautiful”! – Niagara is grand but it strikes one with awe which is oppressive almost fatiquing – Mt. Auburn as I imagine it must soothe, at the same time that it elevated the feelings.
Whilst writing to you I almost imagine myself with you exploring the beauties of civilised land & almost forget to remind you of home in Ohio. - We are indeed very lonely just now – Mother & myself Laura & her little damsel compose our whole family both night & day – one by one yourself Uncle & Harriet came & went again William has not yet returned from the East – even Ann has been seized with the spirit of traveling & gone home for a visit.
If I had nothing to hope for but a life like this I should choose to depart, & that right speedily, but William will be at home shortly, & you in less than a year: so anticipation makes me happy - & these short separations are not without their benefits – they make us value each other more,- you don’t know what a devoted wife & sister I have suddenly become.
Laura is improving as fast as mothers children usually are, she walks with me as far as Mrs. Champion’s frequently & her “march of intellect” far outstrips her foot marches. She can raise as good boils as ever Job could &very similar comforters. Some one remarked the other day –very consolingly – that some children had them every year: - quite a comfortable crop to expect every year certainly – you no doubt have a lively remembrance of assisting to harvest them last year.
I believe you are not much interested in the news civil, political or religious of this community & if you were I could not give you much besides marriages & marriages intended which I accidentally gleaned from some worthy members of the sewing society which through Mother’s patronage held its last meeting here. – Maj Brush still worships his wife & Mr. Gilbert his city hall. – The latter Mr. G. not the hall has in turn acted the part of little Nell in Jarleys waxworks crying “unprecedented attraction!” for an old veteran lecturing upon himself & Napoleon – for the celebrated Dr. Lardner – for Negro singers & Irish repealer. As we are in the family we shall be likely to learn all knowledge & see all sights which are to be learned or seen at lectures & shows.
We had a very good visit from Uncle – I really believe the man is in love at last – a thing I could never have believed but by witnessing the effects with my own eyes. – I hope he will succeed for his heart is so much engaged in the matter twill make him happier now to have a wife, & he will make a good husband I am sure.
He fancied he met with a partial defeat – the cause of his relinquishing the chase & coming down here, but after he explained the affair fully to me I encourages him to return & persevere, - I shall know the result before long.
What time in the Winter do you intend to visit Vermont? You have a vacation before Spring do you not?
Write as often as you have leisure & inclination – your letters will make us happy but don’t feel obliged to write when you don’t choose. The reason I did’nt write with Mother was because I like to write on a whole sheet & not eke out other peoples messages. She wished me to leave a little space for her.
So Adieu Your loving sister Fanny.
Nov. 13th 43
My dear Brother, -
With a “willing mind” I sit down to the pleasant task of answering you second letter to me, for which you seem to think an apology is necessary, - in good truth I could excuse you if you were to write even oftener than twice in three months! - Williams brought me a brass patent steel pen & I sat down elated with the idea that for once my writing would rival copperplate but alas for the uncertainty of all earthly hopes my ink had a sudden touch of chill & fever & turned as pale as the “white lady of Avenl.”
Your letter was a very satisfactory one to all parties & most of all I desire a repay you with one equally so but unfortunately since I began this letter the key of all the sweets – the cupboard key which you may remember, - was found to be missing & we were obliged to eat our cakes at ten without honey, - this & mislaying of the last Intelligencer which you know is always up stairs when it should be down & down when it should be up, - so disturbed my equanimity that I fear I shall betray my humour.
We have had a season of unusual quiet in our amiable family as far as ebullitions of temper are concerned – you know I begged to make you the confident of all my petty vexations but it has been rather a barren topic of late The calm & beautiful serenity of our domestic circle has scarcely once been clouded o’er for months.
I have met with one bitter disappointment since your last –John Q. Adams – the man I have venerated so long spent last Sabbath here – I quite set my heart on seeing & admiring the same man that you had so lately seen & admired, - accordingly William took great pains to learn where the old man attended church - & found he would be seen at the Episcopal church in the afternoon – the time slipped away faster than we counted & when the second bell rang we thought it the first & made ready in a very leisurely manner- sauntered along slowly to church & seeing no one going concluded we were too early – took a turn to the bridge – when we at last returned to the church steps we found Mr. Dobb just closing & what aggravated my disappointment was that he sat directly in front of our pew where I might have studied his features at my leisure. – He delivered a short address Saturday evening – that I missed hearing too. – Your descriptions of Boston – men & manners is quite a novel & interesting – hope you will continue the series for my edification & amusement this Winter. – Harriet has come down to spend a few months here – she joins her lamentations to mine that you are not here to laugh & make merry – indeed dear brother we miss you when we lie down & when we rise up when we sit in the house & when we walk by the way. – I am much obliged to you for your hints concerning the bread at dinner – you was very careful not to mention a word about the bread of wafer thickness for tea which is quite as necessary in a genteel family.
Weddings are coming on in abundance – some of those same plain Boston ladies you were speaking about in your last might find a market here.
Elijah Backus & Miss Wheeler were married last week – the wedding was given at Wm. Sullivent – more splendor & elegance was exhibited there that I have seen in Columbus to say nothing of my experience in other parts of the world. – We are intending to give a soiree next week – wo be to our friend’s corns for twill be a real jam. – Laura is waxing fat continually – her cheeks look like my old rag dolls with a wafer for each cheek. She dines on sweet potatoes & sups on sweet apples – you & she in the same part of the country would cause a rise in the price of such articles.
We have not heard from Uncle lately but expect him down very soon – he does not succeed in getting his little wife & I am truly sorry for it – he would have been much happier. – Mother is well & happy with the exception of her pew in church which is a subject still open to discussion Indeed my good Rud I am ashamed of this poor return for your letter but hope you will pardon me this time & write very soon.
Affly your sister
Dec. 17th 1843
My dear brother Rud –
Most happy am I at last to be able to set down for the purpose of answering your letter to William & myself. Although it was a partnership concern I took upon myself all the responsibility of replying & have felt a burden on my conscience for some time not so much that it was depriving you of any great pleasure but rather my own household as they would not so soon recieve one of your exceedingly felicitous epistles. Ahem! Do you think I have been kissing the Blarney Stone? – A score of apologies I could make which would serve besides to give you an idea of my occupations for the last six weeks. – One of the first & most important items would be “our party” which has been an era from which all minor things have been dated. I missed you very much on that occasion though I scarcely know whether you would have lent a helping hand to the turning up & turning out of all the movables – converting your room into an oyster saloon & our little sanctum below into a cabinet of shells ornamented with my rare exotics.
Next succeeded calls from most of out three hundred dear friends to whom we sent invitations – by that time it behooved me like a good housewife to look into the state of the wardrobes belonging to the several members of my family & finding a most woful want of stitches I set to work right diligently to the entire neglect of letters either written or printed. – Sundays I thought I could have for writing but Mr. Gilbert has been trying the sound of his democratic speeches by dinning them in our ears every Sabbath afternoon – he is at it now but I resolved this morning to write to day unless life & breath should fail so if I should write a little confused don’t be surprised for William & he are getting a little cross & both talking together on opposite sides. Mr. G. has come out decidedly loco foco & what will be somewhat astounding to you – Tom Sparrow has joined the Hickory club & is making rank Democratic speeches. What do you think is his object? Can he be thus swayed by his interests?
You inquired after William’s cases, - it has been postponed till another year – he says expects you to make your maiden speech in that cause. – Harriet & myself attended Supreme Court most faithfully during the trial of Clarke the prison murderer you remember – Swain is a fine speaker so energetic in his manner & logical in his matter – he was against the prisoner Judge Swain in his favor. The plea was insanity but the jury brought him in guilty of murder. – Whilst I listened to eloquence & lack of eloquence I rejoiced that you had chosen a profession which gives you such an opportunity to develop great talents if you possess them. My heart swells with pride when I anticipate the possibility of your swaying the multitude by the power of eloquence.
What month do you visit Vermont? The holidays are coming on fast & you are making some plans no doubt for sport during the season. Supposing you step across home & feast on sweet potatoes for a week – a visit from you my dear brother would be worth more than any book you could send by Neil but since you wish me to make a selection of one let me do so by giving R B. Hayes a power of attorney to act for me. I did think of sending for Willis poems newly published, but that intention was forestalled by the appearance of a pamphlet last night which had marks about it savouring somewhat of a certain Cambridge student that I wot of, - My unfeigned thanks to him for the pleasure he has afforded me – the poem on the death of Harrison is a gem.
We are in quite a poetry humor at present – Harriet myself & N. Baldwin have warm discussions about the merits of different authors. Motherwill has been quite a bone of contention between us – have you read his poems? If you have give us your opinion.
We have tickled Mother very much by selecting the “History of the Reformation” for reading aloud – tis only four weeks since commenced it – don’t you think we shall digest it well as we proceed.
Mother goes to sleep as regularly listening to it as Mr. Hoge’s deacons do at church & like them catches enough to be satisfies that nothing falls on her ear which in not perfectly othodox.
Your sketches of Boston men & manners, women & ways are highly relished by us, - hope you will continue them for our amusement – you have taught us to look to you for one good laugh a day when you are at home & one a month when you are away. – Mother has been sorely tryed in spirit to know the fate of a check for thirty dollars or thereabouts that she sent you for a clock, & even my curiosity was a little awakened to hear whether you are glorying in one of the shorts so becoming to young bucks.
Laura was quite ill for a few days last week but has recovered.
I had some inquires to make with regard to the ladies you visit & a little advice to add pertaining thereunto but must postpone till the next time.
F A. Platt
Feb. 25th 1844
Dear brother Rud, -
I was not the least wearied by the reading of your last letter – the result of the united efforts of yourself & cousin Mary. – It’s parentage of course rendered it very acceptable but a document could not easily have enlightened me less about your doings & the “incidents” of your visit. – I don’t wish to find fault for even a “few lines” are better than nothing but with my Cambridge as with our N.York correspondent I feel disappointed when there is any blank left. – If I could remember the date of my last letter to you I should know what have already written & what remains to be told, - to be sure of communicating one bit of news I will make haste to record some of the Deleware hymeneals – the parties concerned are rather juvenile which will excuse any indiscretion – Col. Meeker (who has been a widower of some few months standing) to Mrs. Cooper & Hannah Jameson! – the whistling spinster! to James Carpenter of Liberty.
Columbus news you will receive fresh from Neil – though he may forget to tell you that William has had the measles, - one proof that all the joys & recreations of youth are not past yet with him nor with me either for I am cutting my wisdon teeth.
The Whig convention of the 22nd – just over – was very encouraging – it was composed of the most respectable looking men I ever saw collected on such an occasion, - not the silk stocking gentry either as the Democrats have styled the Whig party.
I wonder if in Boston you are enjoying such fine weather as we are here – The air is soft & balmy as May – the spring flowers are peeping out. The birds singing – caterpillars crawling & children & chickens rejoicing in the glad sunshine which seems even sunnier than usual; - for more than a week this has lasted & some fine rides have had in consequence greatly to the delight of Miss Laura who scorns a roof when the sun shines.
Harriet has gone home – thus leaving our family smaller than ever since we kept house – we live I the most quiet manner possible – a perfect contrast to the beginning of Winter when every morning & evening was taken up by visiting & company. You ought to see us at our little tea table to realise how we enjoy this domestic way of living – our table is so small that I can almost reach across the longest way to either kiss or shake Laura as the case seems to require.
Uncle has written us that you will stay one more term at Cambridge than you at first intended – You have kept it a mighty secret from us – nevertheless the plan meets with our cordial approval, individually & collectively. – I cannot help wishing your return sooner – the time seems to lengthen out so when I look forward to a whole year of absence yet, - but if it is to add one mite to your intellectual strength I will bide the time patiently; - besides I am most anxious that you defer the evil day when you will commence taking upon yourself business cares, as long as possible. William approves of your staying with his whole heart. – he thinks now is the time to take advantage of every means of improvement, - to perfect yourself as much as possible in your profession before your mind is divided by active business. – But do be careful dear brother not to injure your health by studying too closely – in the midst of the most ambitious hopes I have for you I often shudder lest your success will be attended by suffering.
William will send you a draught by Neil for the sum you requested $175- it will put him to no inconvenience at any time to send what you need be it a large or small amount, - he thought of sending more this time but concluded to abide by your order exactly.
I wish I could think of something you really want twould afford me so much pleasure to send you an acceptable present – I send you a pocket tablet thinking you might find it convenient for daily use in noting down your “pencillings by the way.”
Come, this is Sunday afternoon seat yourself in a lazy lolling way in the rocking chair & tell me of your Vermont tour- of our kin there – Uncle Russel with his puritan wrinkles – Grandma with her “perpetual motion” embroidery needle – Aunt Noyes with her perfectionist notions – Uncle Roger with his oddities – Aunt Birchard with her foolering & cousin Mary with her pretty black eyes not to forget Charlotte with her sensible blue ones & Cynthia Taylor with her great nose; - how they are all presented by faithful memory as we saw them on our first visit ten or more years ago. -- Mother commenced a letter to send with this but she may not have time to finish it – she has been assisting at Mr. Gilbert’s all day – Mrs. Baldwin died last night of a lingering consumption – her remains are to be taken to New Haven for interment,- Mr. Gilbert & Clara B. start with them tomorrow morning.-- Do not write as often as you leisure & let your letters have at least one of the attributes of good John Quincy’s speeches – that of length. – Let me entreat you again to tell me something of the Boston ladies – fear you are not very susceptible to their charms. –
William’s law suit is again defered till another term court is now in session.
With much love sister
April 17th 1844.
Dearest brother Rud, -
If you have recieved Mother’s letter written about a month ago you understand why your last to me has remained unanswered so long, but as you have not sent congratulations you may have not heard the news, which is that a new olive branch made it’s appearance on our genealogical tree the third of March last past, and was forthwith christened William Hayes in honor of sundry elder branches, but more especially of William Platt & the whole family of Hayeses.- They said William Hayes is a remarkably promising little fellow with blue eyes, light hair & long nose much resembling I think & hope R B H.
Your description of Vermont friends was true to the life I am sure, I could easily see in fancy all the groups you painted. – Most heartily would I thank you for Dicken’s last pleasant little tale – I thought it must have been by clairvoyance you knew just what I wanted – but the evening before I had asked William to step into the bookstore the first time he passed & get the “Christmas carol” for me. I thought as you did that twas more like Dicken’s early works than anything he has lately written. – You are do in the midst of books & publications that you must often be tempted to spend a spare shilling for some of the cheap Boston literature & if you sometimes bless my eyes with a sight of it twill not be unwelcome & I will give you a larger piece of pie some day than I do any body else. – You wished me to write one page about Laura – you should have applied to Mother for a history of her – she is as eloquent in promise of her as she ever was of you – indeed Laura is her grandmother’s spoiled child, runs around after her calling “Miss Hayes bye me” “Miss Hayes bye me” from morning till night. – She is very healthy & quite a pretty child, her cheeks very red, her face very round – in short a perfect chub, - or cherub to be more poetical, when she laughs, which is all the time that she don’t cry –she shows her pretty white teeth in the prettiest way imaginable. She talks very plain for a child of her age – mimicking every thing she hears – would be a pretty play thing for you – she is so fond of fun , though you might sometimes get weary of her waywardness. – She is quite impatient of control & when I attempt to correct her she will put up her lips to kiss & say “I love mama” in such as winning affectionate way that tis almost impossible to reprove her. She is always the chief object of interest, to her father, grandmother & myself – we never tire of her childish prattle & I fear sometimes we shall force her too much upon others attention but with the request you have made I feel quite at liberty to discourse upon her virtues.
She is rather jealous of her little brother & looks upon him very askance when he usurps her place in her Father’s or Grandmother’s arms, - but tis a good thing that she is not the only pet or she might be spoiled past reclaim. Please excuse me for here quitting the theme.
Columbus news I must scrape together as a sort of relish to my letter – though I am not in the way of gathering much as I have not been out for several weeks excepting to ride.
Mr. Gilbert brought Lizzie Baldwin out with him to spend this year with them, - you must remember her – a talking laughing body – the very death of “Hypo” wherever she goes, - I reckon a great deal of her company. –
A goodly number of our citizens have gone East & a few West this Spring – among others who have gone to N. York is Corvoisier he have us the No. in Fulton St. at which he would be found wishing it is possible you may see him in Boston before Summer is over. – Mrs. & Miss Neil I believe expect to visit Boston about this time do call upon them I beg you if tis for nothing but to gratify the beggar for I should enjoy of all things seeing some one who has seen you since I cannot have the sight of you myself for the present. – Ann Mc’Dowell’s marriage to Mr. Massie will be stale news if you have heard it at all & the death of our member of congress (Herman A. Moore) the papers may have informed you of leaving nothing more for me in the way of arrivals, departures, marriages & deaths.
Of Delaware news my gleanings are still smaller – Mr. Kilbourn has sold out his own store & bought Allen’s factory in Co. with Howard Sharpe & McCullock – they are about setting up improved machinery & getting Eastern workmen intending thier cloths shall rival Yankee manufactured. – I hope Mother will go east this Summer though I can ill spare her, twill be a great gratification to her. – William is more than usually engaged now – having no one with him but Weever is expecting a young man from the East soon.
Write soon to me brother & I will answer as speedily as my babies will let me.
Ever your loving sister
We are looking for Uncle Sardis every day. – “Between you & I” – I think Uncle will not advise your staying at Cambridge after the year is out but I will urge the matter with him if you wish it for much as I long for your return I wish you to remain if you will improve by it. He will be with us when your next letter arrives probably.
May 26th 1844.
Dearest brother Rud, -
Do not I beseech of you wait for me to answer each of your letters but write as often as your regard for home & friends prompts you to, - your last letter has remained unanswered longer than I wished but these babies monopolize most of my time – neither do I give it to them grudgingly for they are precious little beings & are daily adding new charms to our fireside or rather garden this weather for they are as much out doors as in at this season of flowers & sunshine. – I wish you were here now our roses & honey suckles puff their sweet perfumes into each door & window - & the strawberries! – of how delicious, dotting the bank of the terrace & begging to be eat. – Last night Weaver, Will Baldwin & Blynn – a pleasant young fellow that fills Corvoisier’s place – came up about ten o’clock – I had my large whip bowl filled with “strawberries smothered in cream” we tasted & talked & tasted & laughed for a pleasant while, - by the way Uncle Birchard is here adding his hearty laugh & good story at all merry makings.
He has been here a month halting between two opinions – his heart seems to impel him towards Cincinnati where his “lady love” has been spending the Winter - & his head perversely insists that tis best to give up the chase & return to Sandusky since she has given him a negative answer – which will gain the ascendancy time will show.
We have been occupied the last six weeks by our usual round of Spring visitors – the Gregory’s, Harriet Unlce &c &c. – This summer we intended to set apart for recieving visit from friends – we expect Mrs. Hickok & her little boy to come out – Grandma wrote that Uncle Wm. & his wife would visit the United States this year – if they do we shall look for then in Ohio as they promised to visit the West the next time they came on and above all & more then all Uncle Sardis says you are to spend your vacation with us & return to Cambridge in the Fall. I had made up my mind to bear cheerfully a separation from you one more term than we a first thought of never one thinking that you could in the meantime visit us, - now I enter with double zeal into the plan of your pursuing your studies longer since it costs no sacrifice of our meeting with you.
I suspect I am more ambitious for you than you are for yourself – but if love & ambition keep pace with each other my feelings for you it is your own fault – love was a kind of matter of course between brother & sister but your success thus far has given the impulse to ambition - & once aroused tis a passion difficult to restrain – I believe your views of fame coincide with my own – you wish to seek it in the laborious path of your profession rather than in the highway of popular applause, & this is right.
In speaking of my boy you compliment his parents – now near as they lie to my heart I hope he will join to thier good qualities some that resemble his Uncle Rud. – He is a large healthy child & good as any mother could wish, - for a wonder Mother has not the least care of him – she is so absorbed in Laura that she scarcely looks at him once a day, - of course I am much more confined to him – but that very care endears him to me.
But nursing is a lazy business – I never was half as indolent before in spite of what you used to say of my yawns – I have the front chamber for my nursery & Mother the bedroom below she consequently superintends the kitchen fry so that I have no care out of my own room, - we ride for a couple of hours after breakfast then rock my boy & read till dinner time – play backgammon rock & read till tea, - & read & rock till bedtime. So goes the time but Mother will go to Delaware soon & then I shall spur up & be myself again. I want to begin some historical work to read while I am nursing my baby – what do you recommend?
Since I last wrote Lizzie Hensley has married Mr. Woodbridge a member from Marietta & a Methodist exhorter – how opposites do combine! – Lucien Buttles is soon to be married to a young lady from Cincinnati. – Albert was returned I believe – have not seen him.- Julia Buttles makes kindly inquires after you when I see her. – William follows his old industrious tracks, - seeing well to the sleek hide of his horse – the health of his wife & the comfort & happiness of his bairns. – I expect we shall not keep Uncle much longer for Miss Johnson made him a six hour visit yesterday & that is enough for a man of stronger nerves than his. – Mother wonders you do not write so do we all. I dreamed the other night you were dangerously ill & waked up frightened to death.
Your loving sister
P.S. Do not wait for answer to your letters.
June 26th 1844
This letter contains so much of the “needful” but must tell you how full of joy I am that your coming is “at hand”. Every day I become more & more impatient to have you with us, & we hope too that Mrs. Hickok will come out with you – we wrote her that you would be in N.York soon after the fifteenth. – if your term closes sooner than that date you had better write to Dr. H. so that she may be ready to start with you. I think I wrote to you of the death of their two lovely children in last Nov. one was a little girl six or seven years old – little Mary perhaps you have heard up speak of – the other a boy about Laura’s age – this left them a very desolate family - & probably you will find Mrs. H. rather depressed on this account we are more anxious to have her visit us this Summer. Thinking change may revive her spirits somewhat. - - I am sure you will exert yourself to make the journey out as pleasant as possible. – Uncle made us a long visit – Mother went with him as far as Delaware & has not yet returned so that we are indeed lonely – our two selves & our two bairns. - - How pleasant twould be if Bryan should visit you here – so much like good old times. In three weeks you may be on your way home & when you are really here oh how we will talk, talk, talk & laugh, laugh, laugh – but I will not write another word for it is hard to write well without communicating something wither in the way of news or ideas & I wish to reserve every thing till your momentous arrival. – A Cambridge student! Ahem! – I must go & look up some of my old books & have forgotten almost how to read amid my maternal cares.
Your sister Fan.
Oct. 13th ‘44
Dearest brother Rud, -
You will not write to me I see plainly so I will even take it in hand to answer Mother’s letter which we were all glad to see inasmuch as it assured us of your propersity.
A long time it doth seem since you went away – (I have been reading Bacon for the last month so if I express myself after a quaint fashion know where I have found my copy.) -I have made quite a business of visiting – one week at Delaware & one at Berkshire – the remainder of the time about the highways & byways of Columbus.
Your friends at the first named places seemed wofully disappointed that you did not visit them – some of them talked of your slighting them more in anger than in sorrow. – I met your friend Dud Rhodes at a party – he was the very pink of gallantry & I tried to think well of him because he professed such ardent friendship for you but I could only be disgusted with him – he is the very essence of vanity & egotism. I forget your opinion of him but think it coincides with my own.
Am rejoiced you have so charming a circle of friends at Cambridge – Goddard I consider the model of a youth as far as person & manners are concerned, - Lane I only know from your description – from that I have learned to like him.
William has sent you the result of our election – we all cry huzza & huzza. – I felt more interested in Delano’s election than any other candidate – Mc Nulty’s defeat might have had some share in producing the joy but Delano I liked after hearing him at a barbecue at Worthington – his honest frank bearing spiced with a little humour made him a man to please.
The convention must have been a fattening scene to you who are such a gathering lover, - I heard you “handed” the Ohio delegation. – Uncle has returned just in time to be present at his defeat – (you know of his nomination to the Senate probably). – William returned in time for election, -he wanted to visit you & Boston but felt in a great hurry to get home an usual. –
Harriet is here on a visit - & we are enjoying the fine weather riding about &c &c. – I wonder if you have had a t the East as pleasant an Autumn as we have here. –
There has been but one rain since the 2d of Sept. we have more dust than we relish but the sunny skies compensate for that. –
Our bairns are thriving as well as we can desire, Willie is the sweetest boy that ever did breathe (almost) he sits alone & rides his Michigan pony right bravely.
Laura still continues to write her series of letters to “Uncle Ruddy” – to eat potatos & grow fat.
The time will soon slip by until you come again – yet I can scarcely wait for February; you will not think of leaving us for a good long while will you?
Your last visit seemed like a confused dream – we were in such a bustle all the time, - there is not one walk or ride, or talk to remember through it all.
Mother has a cold but I hope she will cure it before it quite wears her out. – Laura cries “hurra for Clay” & her grandmother thinks she is a marvellously precocious child.
The moccasins I am a thousand times obliged to you for – I was ticked that you thought of my little people amid all the scenes you were enjoying. – What a trip yours must have been, - I quite envied you. – Grandmother would be very much gratified if you could visit her again before you return West, - we recieved a letter from her by Uncle & she expressed so much affection for you & pride in your name that it quite warmed my heart towards our old ancestor. We are living most happily now – no cares – no vexations – never since my married life have I been better contended; - I wish it may be the same when you come so that the memory of your last Summer visit may be erased from your tablets. – Which way will you return? I don’t know that you select your route – The Winter may force you to come over the mountains. – Dear brother do be careful of your health – if you are ambitious – health is the best foundation for success in anything. – I am very stupid to night & not being over smart at any time perhaps it will be as well not to spin out my letter much beyond my ideas – but as I only wrote to prove my abiding affection for you I really wish to say something to convince you I am
Your loving sister Fanny.
P.S. Hatty sends love – though she says you do not deserve it as you did not call o her in Delaware. Wm. says to Rud Hurrah for Clay. Mother wishes to say so much that she cannot condense it into a postscript. – F.
Nov 27th 1844
Dearest brother Rud, -
What do you think of my neglect of your last letter? Verily am I grieved in spirit if it has troubled you one tithe what it has me, - there seemed to be a spell cast around me of one kind or another whenever I thought of writing you, - numerous are the epistles I have sent you in imagination while I have been rocking my boy to sleep or stitching my husband’s shirts but twould be in vain to attempt to cramp the subject matter of them in this small space; - some of them have been eloquent with sisterly affection others burdened with wholesome advise, - Mother’s trouble just at this time is upon the ruin of her hopeful son unless he totally abstain from this sinful practice henceforth & forever & declines to accept the books of whatever other articles he may have won by the result of the last election. – We of Ohio shake hands with Massachusetts; she is our well beloved sister in adversity. – Laura says “poor Clay” with such a doleful face that it will almost draw tears to one’s eyes.
The time will soon pass away & you will be with us again. I can scarcely wait a day when I think of it. -- again let me beg you will make no decision about your future abode till we meet & weigh the matter well before the domestic counsil fire.
I think of no news that will interest you excepting what you get by the papers, - you are so fast getting to be “Square Hayes” that with all your Cambridge lore I am beginning to be afraid to say common things to you – so I must tell of my uncommon children – Will is a noble boy – Laura a lovable sort of a child – both will be ready to romp with you when you come. – Tell us when you write whether you shall return the Southern route - & stop any time in N.York. – Mother would give me ten thousand messages for you if I had space for them. – Be sure & write to Grandmother if you don’t visit her. – Let us hear from you soon & I will write you a letter in return.
Ever your loving sister
April 15th 1845
Dearest Brother Rud, -
We recieved Uncle’s & your short letter & twas a comfort to hear you were safe at home.
It was a bitter thing to have you go, not because you were about to take upon yourself for the first time the cares & vexations of business. – may they press lightly on your heart & bring no premature wrinkles to your brow.
I really feel quite happy that you are at Sandusky instead of any other place since you cannot be with us, - tis so pleasant to think you & Uncle are together – then you have some one to give you a push & assist you in extending your acquaintance, - this is much better than sitting in your office without business or friends as you might so in a strange place. So hurra for Lower Sandusky!!!
Mother has written I believe that Charlotte has arrived – she had a crying spell when she found Uncle Sardis was not here – this I was afraid savoured a little of her Mother – but she soon recovered her spirits & we like her very much indeed. – We shall do all in our power to make her visit a pleasant one. – I was very much surprised to see Cynthia Taylor – tryed to make her welcome but twas choking work – I never saw a homelier girl in my life but am sure she is good & try to like her. – I feel that tis very wrong to make personal appearance such a great matter, but I am sure God would never have given us eye for the beautiful if it is our duty to admire such as she. I sincerely trust her visit will not be a visitation.
Tell Uncle he must not put himself out of his way by hurrying down for we shall make Charlotte’s time pass pleasantly – I only wish we could give them better accommodations. Mrs. Gregory is here with Fanny so we are obliged to put them together with baggage enough to have served them to go to the Holy Land – in the little bed room – but they seem to make the best of it.
I think Uncle will give up the idea of sending Char. to school – she will enjoy traveling about so much better – the schools in Vermont I am convinced are better than ones in Ohio & the inducements to study greater, so that it would be no object for her to come West for that.
Traveling about will improve her if she does not meet with persons who flatter her, - we womenkind are given to vanity.
Your friend Mrs. Sparrow was here yesterday – she says her husband has written you & she is very impatient for the answer, - do not neglect to write to them for a friend is worth keeping. –
I am very glad that you board with cousin John he will give you good advice & useful information. – With such good Mentors & your own judgment you can scarcely fail to go right. Do write to us frequently – tell us all you are doing – your pleasures & your griefs.
You are my only brother & cannot bear that our affection for each other should become as lukewarm as it often does between brothers & sisters after they are separated & ---just at this crisis the boy cries so adieu dear brother –
Dear brother Rud, -
I intended to have answered your last letter with a long one but have put it off till the last moment & so have no time to write well or long. – and this puts me in mind of the importance of promptness in all business matters, - I warm you against the family failing in this regard, - you have many gifts that will insure you success in the world but if you have not promptness what will they profit you? William says it is the secret of his success in business. – But I have been told once this evening that I am the last person who should attempt to deliver lectures so I will stop here.
We are very sorry that Uncle came for Charlotte – we feel as if we have done very little for her pleasure while here yet she seemed quite cheerful & contented.
It does me good to hear Uncle talk of you – he has a truly paternal feeling for you & I rejoice that you & he are together. – I love to hear of all your little excursions & all the professional incidents you meet with & should dearly like a description of the manner in which your first shilling was earned.
I know you will do all you can to render Charlotte’s visit pleasant & I wish also to commend Cynthia to your kindly attentions, - After I came to know her well & hear something of her history my sympathies were all awake in her behalf, - she is a gorl of feeling but has learned to conceal it, - the struggle against poverty has been harder with her than for those whose relations are on a par with them. - & then her homely face has brought her so many cruel neglects. ----Will you not come down this Summer? – I do so long to hear your voice & see your odd grimaces. – I would be willing to take up my abode in Sandusky even, for the sake of living in sight of your office door. – Since you will not come to Columbus nor we to Sandusky let us compromise the matter by removing to some third place at some future day.
I saw your friend Case one day this week & had a little chat with him, - he is a real good fellow.
My children keep me employed most of the time – I sometimes think I shall lose all ability to do aught beside singing lullabys & making bibs; - but Laura’s lively prattle & Willie’s noble eyes pay me for some sacrifices. – Leonera & Charlotte have been very happy together – it made me feel rather old to find that Charlotte felt under a good deal of restraint before me until I found that she was “as afraid as death” of you (to use her own expression) – The idea of any one’s standing in awe of you was quite ludicrous. – Mother’s health is not good – you must write her some comforting letters & do not forget your loving sister. Fan.
June 29th 1845
Dearest brother Rud, -
I am getting to be a great economist to time & as Willie is asleep I may have an hour now unemployed unless I busy myself writing to you, - the pleasantest of all tasks. – Tis so long since I have written you that I don’t know where to begin – am afraid if I attempt to communicate news that twill be stale. – Mother has been at Delaware for nearly two weeks greatly to Laura’s discomfiture & indeed I never felt so lonely myself without her. – When she returns cousin Sarah K. –will come with her to visit me for a week or more – you may have heard of Harriet Platt’s accident but if you have you shall hear it again, - she was thrown from a buggy, or rather jumped whilst in great peril, & broke her ancle bone, - it is about four weeks since the accident & she is just beginning to limp a few steps; however there is no danger of her being lame the physician says, - so there is great cause to be thankful the minister says. – She has had one solace during her affliction, he made her a visit of a week on his way to Vermont. –
Vermont reminds me of cousin Clarlie though I need nothing to remind me of her for she is often remembered & missed – I quite loved her before she went away & should love dearly to have her back again. – I hope she does not think of going home this Summer. – We thought a trip to the upper lakes would be so delightful in company with her & Uncle or yourself that we did once quite make up our minds to propose the matter to you – William was resolved for once to break away from business, & Leonora from school but I proved the faint hearted one – I could not leave Willie & he is such a troublesome age to travel with that I broke up the plan before it was fairly matured.
We were rejoiced that your fellow boarder, was induced to transfer his lodgings to our neighborhood but we are curious to know whether you & John Pease recovered the articles he borrowed of you. - Mother’s indignation was boiling over – “that is the good society Rud is in” she says “thieves sitting at the same table with him. --- Stephen Perry was here a fortnight ago on his way to Texas – he is very tired of study & unless his Father compels him will go at some active business.
He told me of the honor confered upon you by the faculty of Kenyon – William is sorry you declined he thinks you ought to make the most of every opportunity of that kind to perfect yourself in public speaking – now is the time for you to acquire ease in appearing before mixed assemblies & William is so sure you can be an orator that he wishes you to make haste to prepare for it. – We have you success at heart above all things but you as well as we must be content to wait several years for the fruits of your close application to study. – I hope you will come down to Gambier commencement then of course you will make us a long a visit as possible. Willie did not give me an hour this time – his nurse has gone to church so I must finish this another time. Good bye for the present dear brother.
Monday Eve, -
Rutherford – brother dear, I am determined to take the first opportunity to add to your fortune by means of saving a few pennys - & as tomorrow is the first of July (or will be) my letter will not cost you much, - dont you see Grandmother sticking out!
Have you any nibbles on the business line yet or are all your clients as yet beings of the imagination? – The young lawyers here loaf more than ever this Summer – it seems to me they have nothing to do but promenade the pavements & watch the growth of our sweet potatoes.
The physicians do much better apparently. Mrs. Sparrow told me the other day her husband talks much of going to farming & she approves the plan highly.
Thinking all these things over I am not sorry you are where you are. - How is Uncle & why does he not write – he has such a family to look after now I suppose he quite forgets us. Tell him he may anticipate one more Winter of literary & intellectual conversation with Harriet, - one more campaign of curling tongs & tunics. – Leonora is quite out of health we shall have to call her Miss Blanche instead of Miss Brown she is getting so wan. – Write often often & tell us all about yourself Charlotte & Uncle – love to them all not forgetting Cynthia.
Aff’ly your sister
August 10th 1845
Dear brother Rud,
You see I am ruralising this warm weather, - I came up to Sunbury nearly a week ago & staid with Mrs. Bennet until last night.
This is a warm drizzly rainy Sabbath & might be the least bit in the world stupid if I did not resort to some such pleasant pastime as writing to you.
I am getting to be some like Mother & wonder every day if all of ours are well at Sandusky & why Rutherford don’t write, - I know we are rather exacting & perhaps would be hardly satisfied if you were to write every mail but I think you are too chary of your letters to suit even reasonable people.
Now I am excusable if I never write, for I have my sick boy to nurse – Laura’s noise to confuse me – a husband’s stockings to mend, a cook to scold & a housemaid to train beside sundries while you if you share the fate of most young lawyer have nothing to do but sit in your office & wait for clients.
While cousin Sarah was making us a visit a few weeks ago she was so curious to see your friend Clark that we visited the prison & enquired him out, - he looked common as any of them in the prison uniform:- he has become a Knight of the needle & proves such an adept in the art that they suspect he has wielded that delicate implement before. – Robbers & incendiaries seem to be a very popular class of late – they make us quake at night. I want to hear from Charlotte – why don’t she write to tell me all about her visit to Detroit, - I would commence the correspondence while I am there if I could get a decent pen but I am not mechanic enough to make one - & this one must have been brought up with farming tools for it resembles a two tined fork more than any thing else.
Wednesday 13th – After proceeding this far the children came running in to tell the news – my lord had hove in sight & before old Dick was fairly anchored we were all ready with greetings warm & many. Laura was with him & so delighted with the novelty of being in the country with so many children about her that she was almost wild with joy. – She & William returned home Monday morning leaving me to resticate a week longer – from here we are going to Delaware for a few days & hence home. – I have another trip planned for next month, - to Putnam – I shall go that far with William when he goes to N. York if nothing happens to prevent. – I saw Lizzie Little with her two brothers & Julia Buttles in Sunbury as they returned from Gambier – Lizzie L. paid you a very pretty compliment but Julia turned just at hearing your name. – John Andrew has chosen the study of medicine & intends to pursue it under Doct. Jones. -- -- We have lost Leonora, her Uncle took her East in company with Chauncey Hills & Almora – as they return Mr. B. intends to leave L. at school in Utica. – I hope & think it will improve her; - I love her as she is, but she has faults that I was disappointed to discover – indolence & a want of perseverance – I tryed in vain to induce her to study – she had sense enough to know she should disgrace herself at examination & refused to pass that ordeal.
Willie has been very delicate all Summer & last month dangerously ill for a few days. – Berkshire air has done wonders for him. – I hope now he will grow more robust.
And you dear brother must we wait till Winter before we see you, - will we not become almost like strangers if we are together so little? Must we always stray in such separate paths? Oh it makes my heart ache to think that our affection my be chilled by absence.
Thus far there has been nothing to damp a sister’s love, you have fulfiled every cherished desire every ambitious wish I have formed for you – but disappointment seems so much the lot of mortals that I sometimes tremble for the future – some times awake in the night & feel as I must go to you & see if you are indeed safe.
You are daily the object of my waking thoughts & almost nightly of my dreams:- dear brother be careful of yourself I entreat you for our sakes if not for your own. – Next Summer I anticipate a visit to Sandusky – I should enjoy it still more while Charlotte is there but cannot think of visiting you bachelors with children.
Give my kind regards to cousin John; I sympathise with him in the loss of his child, - the most precious memento of his beloved wife. – Will he not visit us with your next Winter
And our good Uncle, - I hope he & Charlotte will turn their course towards Columbus when they have explored the North sufficiently. – We shall be most happy to see them. Write – do write dear brother.
P.S. Pardon me if I have written only stale news – such as I have give I unto you. F.
I have felt the greatest desire to express my entire satisfaction with your kind letter by Uncle – your feelings with regard to the future, - your modest confidence & your freedom from selfish ambition accord with my present views entirely. – Before I had any experience in the world I was over anxious that you should make a brilliant figure in society but now my anticipations & hopes with regard to you are of a different kind – that you may be respectable (to use your own expression) & above all things happy are my loftiest aspirations for you.
After a young man arrives at a marriageable age he is so overwhelmed with advice upon matrimony that I deem it almost unnecessary to throw in my mite in your case though I feel a great longing to “have a finger in the pie” & think nearly as much about it as you will when you are in love. – All I have to say now is - do not fall in love with any of the Sandusky beauties. Perhaps I am prejudice but I wish you to take into consideration that you will not always live in Sandusky & do not marry a wife you will blush for any where. Do forgive me brother if I am meddling, if you do not like such interference say so & I will forbear in future. – Oh how I wish you were here to dine with us these days, we have glorious sweet potatoes & good beef but no masculine to wield the carving knife.
I did hope you would come to comfort me during my good man’s absence. – How do you like the “Crock of Gold”? Love to Uncle.
Aff’ly your sister
Nov. 3d 1845
Dear brother Rud,
I have nothing special to say by letter though no doubt we should talk fast enough if within speaking distance. – Your last letters have put me quite at ease with regard to your future prospects & all I care for now is a good long visit from you. A young man left word that you are coming down the first of Dec. – not so soon by a fort-night as we anticipated. But I shall wait very patiently for of course twill be more agreable to you to be here while the court are in session, - all I ask is that you will make us a visit of at least two months unless you sacrifice something by so doing. – We have lived in such uninterrupted quiet for so long now that we shall enjoy more than ever your frolic & fun though it may be that business cares have already begun to sober you.
I rejoice that you are in love with your profession & am content that it be your wife for two or three years to come. – but then if the destined fair one does not appear I shall advise you to sally forth – Quixotte like – in search of her. – You must come prepared to play the beau down here a little – not that I wish you to be smitten with any of our young ladies but tis a good time to learn to the art of pleasing against a time of need.
This is a fine field for two young bucks like yourself & Will Lane – both of you devoted to courting.
I recieved a letter from Charlotte not long ago she seems perfectly well contented – I imagine she is not one of the kind that is troubled with melancholy.
What is Uncle doing with himself these days? – tell him we shall have no young ladies here this Winter so that his office of heating the curling tongs will be abolished, but the children are ready as ever to romp & play so that he can find plenty of such employment – agreeable as it must be to a bachelor. – Willie in now climbing over me & Laura asking me questions incessantly so you need not wonder if there are baby tracks all over my letter.
In fine weather such as we have had all the Fall they play out doors nearly all day but tis raining now – so that we are regaled with sufficient noise. – Mother has taken refuge up stairs & William down street so that I have all the fun to myself – nevertheless I will see if I cannot write this out by giving one a pen & the other the wafer box. – William has been busying himself to raspberry bushes & strawberries & such like innocent employments – he enjoys it so much I wish he had nothing else to do. – He has taken Blynn & Weever into partnership so that he much more leisure at least till the busy season comes on. – He brought me a great many beautiful things from N. York – my new hat & plumes or my elegant forty dollar shawl you will not be much interested about I suppose – but the box of Stuart’s candy & jars of preserved ginger will make you sweet tooth palpitate I imagine.
The lawyers here are not so well satisfied with thier business I think as you are with yours – the young fry are shuffling about constantly, - Massie has gone to Memphis – Sparrow has formed a partnership with Peirpont – Albert Buttles with Matthews. – Will Baldwin says the law is hateful.
In the last Intellegencer there is a scrap of poetry you would prize as a relic of Judge Story – “Advice to a young lawyer” – I will save it for you.
William brought me some good books & every leisure moment is most pleasantly employed with them. I hope you have not read Prescott’s conquest of Mexico – it will be such a treat to you when you come down, it is one of my new books.
William Neil has returned to Cambridge again – he vibrates between college & pleasure equally dissatisfied with both I believe; though just now he’s pleased with Cambridge.
Some day Julia Buttles & Mr. Riley will make a match. – Lizzie Little has two strings to her bow – Mr. Campbell of Sandusky & Mr. Smith – (a Gambier student from Cincinnati) she smiles upon one very blandly & recieves handsome presents from the other so with the lookers on it remains a matter of uncertainty which will be the elect.
William’s everlasting suit will come on next month – I shall be glad when it is decided – go as it may – I shall be willing to live on mush & milk for a while if we need hear of no more lawsuits excepting such as you may be honored with.
Mother is in better health & spirits than she has been for three years – so are we all if possible.
Love to Uncle. Adieu, dear brother.
[Nov. 30] 1845
Dear Brother Rud -
We recieved your letter of the 22d & are beginning to think your correspondence has become monthly instead of oftener as we had hoped. – Until we rec’d your last we expected to have the charms of your society by to-day certainly but we must enjoy the “pleasures of hope” for a fortnight more. – I wished particularly that you should come some time before Christmas on Mother’s account – she wants to have you all to herself for awhile – when we have company in the house she is somewhat jealous of your devided attentions – Harriet will be down before N. Years & we shall want our own fun running about town – now if you could come a week or two previous so as to gallant Mother like a dutiful son – she will be ready to give us more of your time without grumbling when we wish it. – Weigh well these weighty considerations & decide as conscience & inclination dictate.
There is a great gathering of strangers for the last few days – town begins to look as populous as a hive & as gay as a clover field in futterfly time – parties are going off “&” coming on” in the usual style – turkeys quails & oysters are suffering martyrdom to grace the “festal board” & mantua makers & milliners are sewing their fingers to the bone to grace fair ladies persons.
They had a delightful chattering, laughing, dancing, waltzing, singing soiree at Mr. Gilberts last week, Lizzie has quite recovered her health & is coming out as good as new this Winter.
There are more young ladies from abroad than usual this Winter – tell Uncle there are no old maids amongst them to beset him so he may come & flirt with the younger one. – Tell him it is reported that his friend Mr. Riley is courting Julia Buttles.
John Little is here studying with Doct. Jon[es] – he spent an evening with us not long ago – is a truly agreable gentlemanly young fellow.
I recieved a letter from Charlotte about two weeks ago – she seemed in fine spirits – she writes just as she talks – does she not?
One from Leonora last night – I am afraid she has not very good health – though she writes very cheerfully.
Cordelia Gregory is married to her Doct. Potter – They made us a visit last week, - how amiable people are during honey moon! Pity that is cannot by some revolution return occasionally during married life. Though in our case I do not regret it for we took the path that led to the broad sunlight of happiness which is better than any honey moon. In sober truth I think I was never happier than at present – I may not laugh as often as in childhood or dance as often as in maidenhood but the gleeful frolics of my bairns are sweeter than all that went before – Willie is quite past this mewling, puking baby days & is one of the most beautiful boys in the world, - Laura is a very chub – half potatoes & half cornbread – they are both a “well spring of pleasure”.
I have had – or taken more time for reading this Fall than ever since I have been a housekeeper – the works I am perusing now are almost as profound as your law books – they are a part of the Swedenborgain Theology. – If a real genteel New Jerusalem church is established here I shall be forsaking the Episcopal – especially if it continues under Mr. Dobb’s jurisdiction.
I agree with you that your Mrs Cutler is a rare one if she can excel in so many capacities as you named – I will not attempt to vie with her in any one of them but if you are here at Christmas I will promise you a glorious supper prepared by my head if not my hands. – Now while I think of it I will send you a recipe for buckwheat cakes that Uncle requested some time ago – Buttermilk sweetened with pearlash & thickened with the buckwheat like common batter cakes & a tea cup of sour cream. – This is for Uncle’s benefit & for John Pease I send the following advertisement from the Intelligencer of this week. Nov 27th “Heirs wanted. Mr. Bradley Pease died some months since Louisiana leaving about 4,000 dollars for which there is no claimant. He is said to have been from Vermont & has a sister living near Lake Champlain, if the heirs don’t get the money the State will.” – Mother sends love & says she should have written if I had not. William says come straight along we all want to see you in our old house once more – he says his suit comes on in a few weeks & we shall surely lose, - but we intend to be jolly under all circumstances.
Aff’ly your sister Fanny.
Feb. 22d 1846
Dearest Brother Rud, -
Your hairbreadth escapes, - your unprecedented suffering from hunger & fatigue awoke sympathy in many a feeling breast & with a sigh parted many a rosy lip. – Scoldings innumerable I have recieved & combated in your behalf, - in consequence of your neglect to pay your adieus, - Miss Willis says she will never speak to you again – after staying at home all one afternoon expecting you she looked out at the window & saw you promenading with Mary Sisson & “little Nell” entirely oblivious of your engagement with her – I excused you by saying you expected to meet her in the evening but were detained from going to the party as you anticipated, - “aha!” said she “I know where he was “detained” till eleven o’clock”. – She says she is going East in July & if she should chance to meet you on a car or steamboat might possibly be reconciled for the sake of releiving the weariness of travelling by quarreling with you. – When I called upon her last she & John Little were sitting tete á tete upon the sofa. – you will have to look out for him, - he is a comet in the same constellation you whisked about in while here. – I can only tell you of one of your stars – I only get an occasional twinkle from the others as I am quite out of their orbit.
Charlotte is here & we are very glad to have her with us, - indeed after your long visit we should be quite lonely without some one to enliven our circle - & lay a variation to babies prattling & squalling & matrimonial cooing & caudling. – Tell Uncle we do not wish to see him if he is coming to take Charlotte away, - we are determined not to part with her till Summer, - but if he has no such designs we shall be glad to have a visit from him. – Unless he veto’s it I shall run up a small bill to his account in order to make Charlotte presentable.
We expect Harriet down before long to remain with us until next Fall – I think it is well on C’s account as it will be the means of introducing her to more society.
Mother has after a careful examination of Charlotte’s accomplishments arrived at the conclusion that she has improved while at Granville, inasmuch as she has learned how to make a fire. –
We have fine sleighing here – the heaviest snow fallen this week that we have had to nearly ten years, - but this bright sun will make some havoc in it to day.-
The children talk about you every day & wonder you don’t get up to breakfast, - Willie says “Unc Uddah don to Dusky” – are you Greek scholar enough to translate that. – Mother has just recieved a paper from cousin John – but says she will not read it (as it is Sunday) till tomorrow – she knows coming from such an unholy quarter it is not fit except for a secular day. – Mother is waiting for another war article in the Observer to send to John – she does not despair of making peace convert of him yet.
We have been reading Dicken’s last tale – to my taste it in one of his finest productions – first it will make one laugh then cry – then laugh & cry together – with a little more of the laugh than cry;- tis an exquisite mingling of humor & pathos.- Will send it you as soon as recieved at the bookstores unless you get it as we did in the express.
I suppose you are quite at home again amongst your dusty, calf bound lawbooks – perhaps prefer their society to the fandangoes of Columbus, - well, we will not quarrel with you if you always relinquish them & unbend yourself with as good a grace as you have done this Winter. – Mother & I both concluded after your successful debut here that if you had spent the last year in Cincinnati instead of Sandusky we should have said “how a city life has improved him in all gentlemanly arts”, - but how I am flattering you while I only intended to say you are a good for nothing chap the children make such a noise it quite confuses me – they chase me from one table to another with a string of sleigh bells – let this be my excuse for writing unintelligible things in a most unintelligible hand. – What a din!.
Write often if you have nothing to write – we shall be entirely satisfied with some of your elegant or amusing nothings Lalla wants me to make a “tiss” in my letter for Uncle Ruddy & tell him it was from her.
I don’t know of any one but Boz or Cruikshank that could embody such an immaterial thing as a kiss.
Love to Uncle & Cousin John.
Your loving sister
March 14th ‘46
I wish you could leave those shelves of calf-bound, formidable looking books, that old rusty stove, those heaps of loose papers pen stumps & well brushed clothes & come ramble about with Charlotte & myself these fine Spring days. – But it seems by your last letter that you are not wanting for recreations, at least while the snow lasted.
We are beginning with new zest to trim up our garden & add new conveniences to our premises. – William has a perfect horticultural mania – his plum trees & grape vines are almost as great pets as his children & are certainly much more nursed.
Mother is very well & leads for the most part a very happy life – spiced with occasional worries about your business talents – Uncle’s health – Charlotte’s temper – and my housekeeping; - she has not decided whether to go East or not, - I shall miss her very much but wish her to go if she thinks the journey will pay – as you say.
Charlotte seems to enjoy herself grandly – she reads aloud a great heal for our mutual amusement – mostly works of a “light” character – Mother gave her the History of the Reformation to read but it put her to sleep until finally she relinquished it till sometime when she should need a soporific to quiet her nerves.
Uncle will be glad to hear – not that we were sick one night – but that in consequence C. was obliged to get supper nurse the sick & take care of the children which she did with a willing grace quite creditable to herself. – She has become acquainted with several young ladies here – but her fancy has generally taken quite an opposite direction from yours, - she dislikes Miss Willis very much, I think from some imagined neglect at a party she attended, - she has not learned the custom of young ladies here to devote themselves exclusively to gentlemen at parties. On the same occasion William was so charmed with Miss W. – he was having you propose immediately.
But I have done with selecting a wife for you brother – the more I look about the more convinced I shall never find one perfect as your deserve, in my opinion – so suit yourself & I’ll be suited – reserving to myself the privilege of putting in a word before the bargain is made. – As you desire I have reconsidered the blooming Mary & I can see nothing but what is lovable in her – yet there is an indescribable something about her, or her family that I dont quite like – much as I admire Mrs. S.
Charlotte is very anxious to go to Cincinnati – perhaps Uncle will come down soon enough to take her there – if not I will answer for her being quite content here – we find employment enough for her, roasting apples for the children – playing battle door with William - & stitching linen for me – she is a very useful person in all these capacities.
Weever has just brought in a letter from you to William – am very sorry to hear Uncle is unwell, - why did not he come down the last snow? This illness must be a visitation for staying at the North during the Winter, - he should have been in Columbus. Send him off as soon as he recovers. – Mr. Bennet has returned from Cuba – he left his invalid brother convalescent – he has no doubt of his returning well by Summer - & attributes his recovery entirely to change of climate.
Lizzie Baldwin has been quite ill but now recovering I have had a great deal of sport out of their conjunctures concerning Harriet – I told them all that H. gave me liberty to- [say] that she was going to be married this Spring – they said directly that her match with Solace was broken off & she & Uncle would take up with each other after all. I did not dispute them – so they have the same notion yet. If Uncle were here twould be fine fun carrying it on.
Our maid-of-all-works Ann is going to be married shortly so I shall have all sorts of vexation with new damsels I suppose. – You must be tired of this wandering letter so as I am not much in letter writing humour will make my adieus. – Mother says you owe her a letter.
By the way that joke that Mrs. Follet alluded to has very nearly got the old women about your ears, - the young ladies vanity led them to divulge too much in the wrong quarter – the comparisons drawn between them & some young ladies that “knew too much” were not so flattering to the latter party, - perhaps you have forgotten some of your inadvertent expressions but they are well remembered here. M’importe, - but be more careful in future.
Write soon – we shall want to hear from Uncle.
June 7th ‘46
Dear Brother Rud,
I suppose Charlotte & Uncle are in Sandusky by this time & have made you familiar with all news & matters & things pertaining to Columbus in general & ourselves in particular – therefore I have nothing to communicate on that head & I never write sentiment or letters of advice in the summer time so you may conclude this is intended for a letter of business – so it is. – To begin at the beginning then – Mr. or to speak less generally – Gen. Medary took a house in our neighbourhood this Spring & we women folks (that is Mrs. Medary, Miss Willis & myself especially the last two) have been industriously employed spinning street yarn between our house & theirs ever since said removal.
As you of course are more interested in young ladies than old I would drop all the above mentioned persons with the exception of Miss W. & descant upon the “thousand nameless young charms” I have, or imagine I have discovered in her – only I am afraid you would accuse me of what I have a perfect horror – match making. – Far be from me such a design, I know too well the difference between lasses & wives to determine what kind of a wife any lass will make – matching is almost as uncertain as a lottery – every heart must decide for itself. But if you will absolve me from any design upon your peace of mind I will go on to say what I intended to at first – that I love Miss Willis & admire her character very much. – She will leave here tomorrow in company with Gen. Medary – Tuesday they will spend in Mansfield & Wednesday they expect to arrive in Sandusky City intending to take the first boat for Cleveland
“Thinks I to myself” if I were a young man living in such a married off community as Lower Sandusky & were to hear of one of my flames being as near as Sandusky City I would post thither without delay if it were only for the sake of an hour’s chat with an auld acquaintance. - It may be that my letter will reach you too late to afford you such an opportunity or it not it may be you will not care to avail yourself of it. Suit your own taste or convenience I only write at a venture thinking it possible such a meeting might afford you pleasure. I feel certain the lady is not engaged – or morly certain. She gave me as a parting gift a sweet little watch paper of her own painting – if I thought you would prize it as much as I do I would send it you forthwith.
We have missed cousin Charlie very much above all I regretted she was not here at two concerts we had last week – Dempster the finest singer I have ever heard excepting Russel. – He sung one of her favorites – Tennyson’s “May Queen” – the music was beautifully adapted to the words - first part gay & exhilarating – 2d part most touchingly sad & pathetic closing with the music of angels.
Harriet & Lizzie Little are coming down tomorrow I wish you could be here too. – I visited you little Ellen yesterday she is as sweet as ever. – I have become a good deal acquainted with Mary Sisson & like her very much indeed, I think John Little & she would make a fine match.
I saw Converse Goddard’s & Miss Vinton’s marriage in the last Intelligencer – they were probably married at Washington. – I have not written to Harriet since you offered the fine Southerner to her but am sure she will accept of but one solace through life.
Mother is quite happy in the prospect of visiting Vermont this Summer – Laura is quite miserable whenever it is mentioned. – Write me very soon. I must stop short or you will not consider this a fine specimen of business correspondence.
Your loving sister
I hope you have not gone on a wild goose chase to Sandusky City – Miss Willis is still here & will remain until Wednesday – then it is uncertain whether she will go that route – if they do she will be there Thursday – forgive me if I have led you astray.
Mother will be ready to start whenever she recieves word from you.
In the greatest possible haste
F. A. Platt.
Dear Brother Rud, -
I have written a letter to Charlotte this afternoon – tis almost supper time – & Willie will soon wake up – two or three important reasons for writing only a very short letter to you this time – just enough to assure you of my continued affection & my entire satisfaction with your last letter. I was very glad you did not go to Sandusky City at my bidding – though I might have been a little disappointed if Miss W. had not gone to Cleveland another route. – We are getting on charmingly this summer – our garden never looked half so beautiful – our children were never half so interesting nor ourselves half so amiable.
Harriet will be a very pleasant companion for me this summer – she cares no more for flirting or society - & makes herself very agreable in a quiet chat with me at evening, - she has a good many old maid tricks – we married women never get so nice & fastidious. Blynn has brought on a stock of “dry goods & groceries” in the shape of a wife – she is a good matured dumpling shaped woman with a mouth like a fish, long & narrow. – To you this much will be a good as three sides crossed – especially in court time when briefs are greatly in favour. Write all you are doing & all you are going to do.
Dear Uncle or dear Rud – either or both,
As I owe a letter to each I may as well answer them in one breath – I was particularly glad to receive Mother’s – for the one I got Saturday evening from her written after she arrived in Fayetteville was like reading the second volume of a novel without the first. What a chapter of accidents was her journey on! – I could not but laugh all the way through, - then I read it to Wm. & Harriet & they laughed, and we all laughed, & I waked up in the night & laughed. How annoyed & nervous Mother must have been & how Charlotte must have wrung her pretty white hands when they were separated at Schenectaday! - But in spite of all her trials on the way her last letter was beaming with satisfaction. – Charlotte has played the good daughter & affectionate niece so well since she returned home that Mother has almost forgiven her previous waywardness.
No wonder Mother’s letter went wandering around the state- it was in perfect keeping with its contents.
We have all been in perfect health this summer. – Harriet & I have have had a grand quiet cozy time of it, - we have wished for you good company sometimes, - H. wished you had been with her at Gilbert’s this morning – Lucy thought she must invite her to tea as she is going away so soon – Harriet declined of course, - Lucy drew a long breath of relief & said she was glad our friendship did not depend on going out to tea. – H. said “how Mr. Birchard would have laughed at such an invitation as that.” - Rud, are you not coming down to commencement? I have been living in prospect of it for the last month.
I shall be very lonely after this week for Harriet will return home as soon as we come from Lancaster, - so you must come & wake up my solitude with your merriment.
We have corn & beans every day at dinner & tomatos as large as your head. Is n’t there bait for you?
William is just beginning a stable & you know he likes to have an oversight of every brick laid for him – so that a trip to the upper lakes or a visit to Sandusky is quite out of the question. – Next year when Mother is at home to take care of the housekeeping I will run away from the babies & husband & accept your kind invitation.
Will Baldwin is to be married the second week in August & go to Niagara for two or three weeks, - Lizzie B. – will accompany them. – Lizzie has got a lot of new dresses & all sorts of female artillery, resolving in better earnest than ever to storm & carry some poor I should say rich man’s heart before summer is over. – She has been sadly off for beaux for some time, - the only one she has had in tow is a good for naught scamp of a West-point Lieutenant – whose dog she fed, caressed, & gave the best corner in the parlour until she found the younger beauties had monopolised the Lifetenant [sic] & only felt her the quadruped.
I am going up to Lizzie Little’s wedding next month. – You will have her for a near neighbor.
Come bachelors, make haste & hunt up your wives there is no time to be lost if you would be wise.
What a drubbing you deserve Rud, for treating the ladies so at their festival – they must want to wring your long neck. – I hope as a compensation you spent your money most freely in the good cause.
Weever Turney has gone to Marion to set up for himself – William & he parted with mutual satisfaction.
Another piece of news I have to communicate – which would be very melancholy to you if you expected to attend church here, - the most worshipful Mr. Dobb has at length been starved out, - he preached his farewell sermon Sunday before last. – Mrs. Dobb & the single sisters were the only ones that were seen to wipe their eyes. – William has not been to hear him for months. – Laura wishes me to tell Uncle Birchard to come & see us. – but not Uncle Ruddy.
She has borne her separation from her Grandmother much better than we anticipated – she can still eat her six potatoes at a meal & waxes fatter every day.
Mother wrote that Grandma had dislocated her hip bone & that probably her life would be shortened by it though no immediate danger was apprehended.
I should have answered your last letter Rutherford but that I thought we should probably see you here & besides I have devoted nearly all my writing to Mother knowing how nervously anxious she is about us when away from home I determined to write her a long letter every week telling her all the smart things Laura says & assuring her that she has not died of worms, cholera infantum, or broker her neck falling down stairs.
I shall miss Mother very much if she don’t return until William does in Sept. yet I think it would be pleasant for her to come with him. Write often. I have written in the greatest possible haste for I have a thousand things to do this afternoon in preparation for starting to Lancaster tomorrow morning at five.
Sept. 2nd 1846
Dear Brother Rud, - perhaps you forget the ceremony pronounced over William & myself seven years ago this very day & hour. Time has slipped quietly away & at first thought it seems as if scarcely a year has passed but when I hear a fine lad & lassie calling me Mother every other minute I become quite conscious of the lapse of years.
I attended Lizzie’s wedding last week & could not but look with surprise upon the advances our staid Delaware people have made in style & fashions since the simple days we lived amongst them. – I have never seen a greater display on any occasion in Columbus – such a flaunting of shaded Tarltons flounces, veils, & streamers of all sorts would make your Sandusky eyes stare. – I had a tasteful, suitable dress made for the occasion but my whole toilette was so remarkable for its simplicity that my old friends exclaimed “there is plain Fanny Hayes come back looking just as if a day had not passed over her head” – very flattering of course to little me. Old Col. Meeker was there with his smiling old bride, - grey headed, middle aged & young mingled in gay confusion. – Of course you will call upon Lizzie in Sandusky City. – John asked me if you are offended at him you had not answered his letters for so long. Dud Rhodes made similar complaints. – Mr. Latimer quite frightened me about you telling me how very sickly it is in Sandusky – I should be miserable about you if you were alone but I know Uncle will watch over you & let us know if you are sick. Do not fail to send us word immediately if you are the least ill – I shall be glad of an excuse to come & visit you. – I suppose you will come down in Nov. as the courts are changed. – We recieved Mother’s letter last night which I will enclose, - we expect her to return with Wm. the first of Oct. – he will start next week. Why can’t you come down while he is gone I shall be so lonely? – I rec’d a paper from Miss Willis in N. York yesterday. You don’t appreciate her I see. – There is a very large party to be this evening at Mrs. Gilberts in honor of Will Baldwin & lady’s return from their bridal tour.
Love to Uncle. Write soon, very soon & quiet my alarms about your health.
Your loving Fanny.
Sept. 29th ‘46
Dear Brother Rud –
“I will so” sit straight down & tell you all about how I recieved a letter from you this evening & what a rare comfort it was to have such company for a lonely evening - & how it gladdens me to see one of your old-fashioned jolly letters instead of those little cramped scrawls that look & smell so shockingly legal & business like as your last two or three. – But I see I am more obliged to Uncle than to yourself after all, & I thank him from my heart for rememern – being our existence, - indeed if I had not begun this to you I believe after second thoughts would have written him instead.
Was it not a rather singular coincidence – our writing our last letters the same day having such similar feelings of anxiety for each other - & last Sunday I was on the point of writing again, for we still hear only of the dead & dying in the Sandusky region – young men & maidens, old folks & babies dying with fevers or shaking their flesh off with the ague, - but Mother and William are so exacting that it requires all my writing time to keep them quiet. – This has been a sickly month here but we have not had a days illness in our family. – We attribute it to our plain wholesome way of living, - we have had a little company this summer, & only our own tastes to cater for, have banished cake & desert from our table almost entirely, - the children live on potatoes & are as fat & healthy as possible.-
I have felt greatly troubled about you because you are so careless of your health & such a scorner of medicines – my only comfort was that Uncle was with you to take care of you & inform us if you were ill. – I feel easy about him because the fever tried him faithfully & given up that it can’t kill him.
I am glad you waited upon Lizzie in Sandusky City – would advise you to take every opportunity to do so for besides keeping up an old friendship – to visit occasionally in a prim family like the Campbells will serve to revive your notions of civilised life & remind you that clean linen & smooth hair “is” still worn. – Mrs. Campbell could not have impressed you so unfavorably as she did me – I never heard her speak but I looked at her thin lips & sparp features & thanked Heaven such an embodiment of propriety was no my Mother in law.
If you had read many evangelical works lately you would know “evangelical preacher” was not original with your young lady (why don’t you mention her name?) - A Puseyite would not be worthy of that adjective in the opinion of most Episcopalians here.
Julia’s old beau, Mr. Riley has married – lately a lady at the East – they have not arrived here yet. – Tell Uncle he has lost another croney. – I recieved a letter from Mother about a week ago – she was about leaving Vermont to make a visit in Mass thence she was going to N. Haven from thence to N. York – would probably spend a week or two in the last place. – William started for N. York nearly three weeks ago & will probably return with Mother about the 12th of Oct.
I have never felt so lonely before – during the day I scarcely think of it the children keep up such a buzzing – but these evenings seem to have no end to them – sitting alone as I do frequently from dark till bedtime. – The last week I have had clerical company but not of the most delectable order, - the synod of the Presbyterian Church met here & sickness among Doct. Hoge’s “people” prevented many families from accommodating the clergy – so partly because my vacant rooms were begging to be occupied – partly for the sake of protection at night & partly from regard to Mother’s brethren I volunteered my services – so who should make their appearance one day while I was sitting at dinner with a small party of ladies who were spending the day with me – but two ordinary looking mortals from the N. East corner of Marion county – I should have asked for their credentials directly but for a certain Presbyterian look all over that was not to be doubted, in spite of the striped unmentionables.
The divine had no intelligence beyond the “Confession of Faith” & Washington Co. Pa. – knew just enough to say “surely”! to every remark of mine & eat sweet potatoes & parsnips evangelically.
The Elder was an exact counterpart of old Tom Tipton in personal appearance – with a yallor white hat – the fur bristling all around like the feathers of a setting hen – as he never said a word I can only speak of his external man - & I suppose you are as well satisfied. – Harriet is to be married about the middle of next month – wish you & Uncle could be there. – We are going up of course. – She will have an evening party to gratify her Mother – for herself she would prefer a quiet morning wedding but the old woman thinks this a fine time to get a party out of stingy old Doctor. – Lizzie Baldwin will be bridesmaid.
William Fay is to be married this evening to one of those little Coxe girls up in Delaware. Look out you old bachelor or you will be left behind. You never inquire after Miss Willis so I shall not tell you that she has just returned to Cleveland from the East.
Mrs. Sparrow bid me write you she had an eleven pound daughter – two weeks old that she is going to bring up for you.
Let me decide for you about your visit here – the sooner the better – so come in Nov. & stay on till New Year if you dont get Sandusky sick. – You are a gentleman for sending me Janette’s letter – she’s a cousin I like & if she is not better provided for I intend some ten years from now send for her to be governess to my children – it will be a good a vocation as that of “Yankee School Marm” –as she calls herself. – My love to Uncle.
Write me oftener & pray take care of yourself for I love ye.
P.S. You Watson letter to William arrived here after he had left. I am saving it up for him – concluded not to forward it as I would not get me a Winter hat. F.
Oct. 17th 46.
Dear Brother Rud –
Mother’s & William’s return – Harriet’s marriage & departure have so mingled joy & sorrow that I can scarcely tell whether this has been the happiest or sadest week in the year. – Last Saturday night we were full of rejoicing – the travelers returned from what they declare was an intolerably fatiguing journey – yet looking as fresh as if they had just come in from a pleasure ride.
Mother has improved very much in health & seems to take great pleasure in recaling her “incidents of travel” but says she can never be induced to go the Northern route again & nothing can hire her to go the Southern so she will be likely to spend the remainder of her days contentedly in Ohio.
Uncle ought to come down & hear her description of Fayetteville scenes – loud laughing, loud crying & loud scolding, (especially the last two) were about the only diversions the amiable trio got up for her benefit, - I imagine there was a little plain speaking of her part when she gave her final benediction – enough to prevent their hearts breaking at the farewell. – William & myself went up to Harriet’s wedding of course, - how delightful ‘twould have been to have met yourself & Uncle there – Harriet was disappointed – she at least thought Uncle would have taken the trouble. – They were marred in church & strongly too for they were martyrs to the whole ceremony – both repeating after the clergyman, - Lizzie Baldwin & Cyrus were their attendants – William & myself also stood at the altar with them, - Wm. gave the bride away.
Tell Uncle that even when he presided at Harriet’s toilet he never saw her look so beautiful – her costume was in most perfect taste & simplicity – but I am not writing to a lady & shall not enter into the minutia of the bridal veil & flowers. I liked Mr. Solace’s appearance very much & think them remarkably equally matched if they resemble each other as much in all respects as in features & manners. – The morning after the wedding we all came to Columbus & in the evening they left for Cincinnati. –
I did not think I should feel so sad at parting – but we have been so much together & confided so much in each other from childhood that the separation was very painful – I cannot think of it now with composure.
Cyrus forwarded a letter to her since she left which he supposed was from you, - I hope ‘tis for it will gratify her much. – Your birthday letter was recieved & as you thought, appreciated in my loneliness. – I observed the day though it might have passed unheeded had I not been writing a letter & the date 4th Oct. looked so familiar that I stopped to think what had made the day so memorable – was it Election, Inaugeration day or what? directly it flashed upon me that it was something still more important to myself (& time will show how many more) the natal day of my dear brother – R B Hayes. – Your resolutions for the coming year are warmly seconded my me – but in fulfilling the first oh, be wary – trust not to outward seeming in the sweetheart or you may find the wife another being.
You broke off your letter as Sue did the numbers of the jew just as the excitement of curiosity was at the highest pitch – I shall wait impatiently for the “conclusion” of your confidence in your next letter. – Who has more of your thoughts than Miss W.? - Come & play the gallant amongst our ladies awhile or you will get rusty. – Leonora has made me a short visit – she laughs & takes her ease much after the old fashion – has improved in many things but will never be accused of being “bookish”. – Bookish reminds me very naturally of books - William has brought me some fine ones for Winter evenings, - the “Queens of England” & works of Charlotte Elizabeth; - books remind me of Mr. Riley whose marriage I mentioned in my last letter but the strangest part of it was that he was married last Spring – tell Uncle when he invited him to his ice cream party he was not a bachelor – so the young ladies wasted their smiles on him, he had a wife in N. York at that time.
When I was in Delaware Mr. Finch told me they were to have a morning wedding at their house soon, - she says Sarah is to be married to young Potwin of Mr. Vernon – Joe – perhaps you know him:- “authorities” differ about the gentlemans age – varying from nineteen to twenty three, - she has the satisfaction of knowing she is his “first love”. A strange mistake has been made in her age – when her Mother took down the family bible to show Mr. P. the record of her age she found they have always calling her two years older than they should – she is now but twenty four according to the bible. How valuable these family records are!
We visited cousin Sarah while in D. – she seems quite happy petting her plants & dogs buying new dresses & changing carpets training her husband & planning improvements.
Mr. K. – is nearly as portly as Doct. Picket – probably from the same cause. – Write as often as you can or else which is much better come to see us. – I would make some apology for always writing to you even worse than usual only I know I can’t beat you in bad writing – yours is so “prodigious hard to read” as Mother says – but then we enjoy it the longer as the dog said when given sole leather instead of beefsteak. – A loving adieu. Fanny.
Feb. 7th 1847.
Dearest Brother Rud, -
I recieved your letter &c. Thursday Eve & intended to do my share towards keeping up a correspondence since we have no prospect of enjoying your society in any other way this Winter. – Our friends seem to have forsaken us – Harriet married, you & Uncle obstinate keepers at home & even Leonora did not get here until last week, - our East chamber stove had almost forgotten how to draw it had been out of use so long.
Uncle’s company we have desired very much – Leonora wants him to help her be jolly & to beau her about – she don’t like to run about the streets alone so well as when she was a schoolgirl.
She leans back in her armchair as indolently good natured as ever – bringing to pass a great deal of laughing in the course of the day & very little else. – She has only improved in knowledge of the world fashion & etiquette – makes her toilet with great care – sports the neatest of gloves & gaiters & wears her hair in unscriptural broad braids – all these things are a great passport in such a place as Columbus. – Cyrus has taken quite a fancy to her, - how do you think they would match?
Uncle will remember Doct. Massie – one of Harriet’s old “fetchings” – well he & Sarah Medary were married with great pomp & parade about two weeks ago & whirl of parties came off about the same time as fast as carols could be given out. – The Legislature will probably adjourn on Monday & we shall be left in most profound quiet – the party givers think that honorable body do better justice to the icecream & oysters than our own citizens, therefore make all the soiries for the whole year while they are here.
Gen. Goddard tells a story of one of the members at a party coming down stairs from the dressing room backwards – being asked why he did so replied that he had been used to a ladder to home. Lizzie Baldwin is a young & airy as ever attends every party with a new relish – sews all day as fast as her fingers can fly – takes care of sick & crying children all night & sings merrily while Mr. Gilbert drinks ale & scolds Mrs. G. turns blue & sighs. – She is a rare girl & with all her rare qualities bids fair to be an old maid. –
If you are not so entirely regardless of the charms of our young ladies I might flatter you with a few compliments from them – we had a bevy of the pretty young ones to see us yesterday among others Ella Esby – Miss Stewart – Mary Sisson & best of all Miss Willis – they are all “out” this Winder as sweet as fresh flowers. – I hear from Harriet occasionally I had half a mind to send her last letter to Uncle but thought she might not like such a disposal of it, - twas about such a picture as Mrs. Clovers gives of “Forest Life”, - she had been housekeeping but a short time but had a long tale of trials to relate – her girl left her the third day & with her own fair fingers was obliged to knead the bread – wash the dishes & sweep the house for two weeks – oh did she not sigh over the waning beauty of her lily hands? Besides to one of her refined taste – who loved to study effect in every curl & arrangement of every book on the parlour table the thousand & one details of the kitchen must be peculiarly hateful.
Now having summed up all the news far & near I have nothing to say but about our own selves – we are with one accord blowing our noses – for colds are the prevailing fashion. – Mother has enjoyed remarkably good health & unusually good spirits this Winter – her eyes have troubled her some – she cannot bear to think it one of the signs of old age- & keeps on hoping & believing that they will be better bye & bye. – William is “hearty” & happy – bathes every morning in our cold bath room in cold water (it makes me shiver to think of it) & saws wood for exercise before breakfast. – He thinks he begins to feel the youthful buoyancy that Bulwer describes himself to experience after going through the winter process at Malvern - & indeed I never saw him look so well or so free from care but have attributed it in part to his confining himself less to business than usual. He has made arrangements for selling out to Mr. Blynn whenever a partner with capital can be found.
Laura waxes fatter & fatter on sweet potatoes & corn bread – she just remembered this evening that she had not directed her letter on the outside that she sent you the other day & feels quite distressed for fear you will not recieve it – she thinks you will be “deplied” (supplied) with letters if you get hers & mine both. – Willie is fast becoming learned. – bids fair to follow in the footsteps of his worthy Uncle in scholastic attainments – has recieved the degree of A.M. (Master of the Alphabet) since N. Years day. Now you have the whole family before you excepting my humble self – of whom perhaps the least said will leave the best impression, - I have been very domestic – darning stockings & sewing on buttons – dividing my reading time between “Queen of England” novels such as Bulwer’s last & Swedenborgian tracks – for recreation scolding my husband & children alternately. – Now in return give me a history of yourself & cronies
Love to Uncle – we have not recieved a letter from him this Winter – what are his pressing engagements?
Good Night. Your loving sister Fanny.
Dear Brother Rud,
Your last letter seemed to be the emanation of a most unsentimentally jolly mood, - you should have been sobered a little certainly by my failing to forward dispatches de ‘Orient for so long a time. – I expected to have done so before now though your last did not demand an answer. – What are your plans for the Summer? - have you any trips in prospect, - perhaps a breath of eas air might benefit your health if you find yourself suffering from the Sandusky malaria. – But you talk of being busy the coming Summer – this is not bad news for I have been conjuring up lately rather stupid pictures of your mode of life, - I fancied you with very little to do - & nothing to stimulate you to study, - instead of improving, retrograding in knowledge, - laughing & cracking jokes your main occupation, - and felt prompted to write you a grave letter of advice – recommending a regular system of improving time – urging you to devote yourself more to the reading of elegant literature than business men usually do even if they have leisure, - But if I had written thus sagely you would have only laughed at my woman’s wisdom & got up some frightful caricature as you did of the old Presbyterian sisters, - in laughing at the worthy dames so unmercifully you betray your contempt for the sex generally, but I must forgive you since you manifest some signs of yielding to their charms when you meet with some “bright particular star.”
I resolved to write to night & dislike to break my resolution else I would lay my sheet aside – for Platt Gregory sits at the other end of the table & I feel obliged to divide my time between this letter & playing the agreable to him – you will be blessed with a most disjointed epistle.
I recieved a letter from Charlotte the same morning that yours arrived – it was one of the best I have had from any quarter this Winter, - free & easy in style – gay in mood & making herself out one of the most industrious of industrious Yankee girls. --- I handed over the spectacle money to William; accounts of his new horse please him well.
He is hard at work setting out trees, - having filled all vacant space once, he is obliged to dig up the old ones to have the pleasure of putting out new. – Laura & Willie labour with him most diligently, - Will has found a long handled contrivance you had to melt lead for bullets which he calls his spade & digs with all day.
Mother has been sorely afflicted with rheumatism in her neck & shoulder for a week & declares she shall never be able to work any more – but these fine Spring days will soon cure her & make her as lively & active as ever.
Uncle must enjoy this fine weather he loves Spring so much – I hope we shall see him down when the roads become goo[d] in May or June. – And you, - when are you coming? – come & we will talk together of this & that which we cannot write about so glibly. – Mother sent you & Pease some Temperance documents lately hoping they might be “blessed” to you & your unrighteous community, - however, she is not quite as devoted to the temperance cause since the Mexican war claims so much of her attention – she pores over the news from that quarter as she would over some of the warlike parts of the bible & mourns over the very authentic (?) accounts of the slain & wounded. --- The principal topic of gossip now is our new Episcopal minister – “just recieved from N. York” – son of Doct Tynge – apparently about twenty years of age –such an agreable young man! such a fine reader! so pious!
John Little was here a short time ago on his way home – his whiskers are about as long as a horses mane – making him look about five years older than you do.
Do you ever hear from your friend Bryan? Is he fighting the Mexicans? I have been looking for his name in the dispatches from that quarter. – And Will Lane – what has become of him? I should think he might enlighten you in regard to your Eastern friends somewhat when he returns.
You have probably heard of Gen. Medary’s death – we lose by it a most excellent neighbour, - she will probably return to her Mother’s near Cleveland so that I shall not see Miss Willis much more, - I have become attached to both of them & shall regret the loss of their society very much. – You have no idea what a grabbing there was for the Post Office – before Gen. M. was cold, letters were sent to Washington by a host of “good for naughts” such as Doct. Miller, A. P. Stone & others.
A petition was signed by many & forwarded to continue the business in Mrs. Medary’s hands, but tis not likely to succeed for “Government” will be anxious to have an efficient auxiliary at such an important post. – no answers have been recieved yet.
I don’t know but Mother has written already all that I have but I am not in a writing humour so can think of nothing else excepting that I love you like my own life & wish you could write often – often, often.
June 15th 1847.
Dearest Brother –
No news of a victory over the Mexicans could be as exhilarating as that by your letter, - it gave me new life & strength – for I had dragged my self about with very little of either since anticipating your being burnt up by a Mexican fever – thrown up by the Vomito & finally swung up by Santa Anna.- Doct. Mussey is “a gentleman & scholar” & I will hold him in respect the remainder of my days. – After your assurance that you would abide by his decision my apprehensions were somewhat quieted, for I could not think an intelligent physician would recommend such a course for the recovery of health, - yet ‘twas pleasant to have assurance doubly sure – not knowing what effect your lawyer like persuasions might have on the good Doctor. – Next Fall will find you well again I hope – with your spirits at high tide once more, & an additional store of anecdotes & reminiscences gathered up during your wanderings here & there. – Twill not be me that will urge your return to books – I cannot but reproach myself when I think that even in my last letter, when perhaps you were almost fainting over your books, I urged you on in the path you were only too willing to follow.
My ambition that you should excel in mental acquirements was too great – I never thought but that your constitution was of iron. – Now a fair promise of health & old age will make me happy as far as you are concerned.
I hope you will become quite enamored of Cincinnati – I should so love to eat strawberries with yourself & charming wife every month of May in some lovely cottage thereabouts then you should come to spend July & August with us. – Oh how delightful! – I fancy this tickling in your throat will bring about some desirable end after all.
We have just rec’d a letter from Uncle full of tender interest & anxiety for you – he will be as much rejoiced as any of us that your warlike notions are relinquished, - he will write soon recommending you to consult Doct. Drake also, we think too many cook’s will spoil the broth – we are content with Doct Mussey. – Mother is in good health & cheerful at the prospect of your restored health. – William is firm in the faith that starving & washing will set you to rights directly.
I am still in attendance in Mr. Freeman who is labouring hard to make me presentable hands arms & all, - all say she looks too sad but from this time I shall wear a broad grin. – Write us often & keep us informed of your whereabouts &c. &c.
Yours in love & joy
The weather is so cold here that we set by a warm fire all day.
July 25th 1847.
Dearest Brother Rud, -
I fancy you now sitting in a grave assembly of those good old Yankees, demurely listening to the “droppings of the sanctuary” that is if you have escaped all land “perils” & arrived at Brattleboro as you anticipated.
Uncle finished your letter & sent it the day you left & has written once since – he will not miss you so much as at any other time, - ‘tis a fine thing for him whether he succeeds or not – he needs some such excitement to keep him alive. – You know how to sympathise with him since you are living with out any certain aim or pleasant object in view farther than the recovery of health – but “wait and hope” as the prisoner said who waited fourteen years hoping every day for release. – In spite of your shabby throat I almost envy you the pleasure of roaming about N. England I do so long to breathe mountain air these Summer days - & I would so love to go over the same spots with you again that so captivated our youthful fancies “long, long ago.”
Mt. Holyoke would be one of the first places I would see I wonder if ‘twould seem so grand to me now as in the days of my “small experience”;- if you visit Aunt Bancroft you could easily make that in your way.
Since you left I have been engaged in the usual round of matronly duties – with such variations as the measles & other infantile diseases occasion, - I think of writing a “Song of the cradle” to keep company with the “Song of the needle” & “Song of the quill” –
Rock! rock! rock!
From peep of day until night,
Rock! rock! rock!
Till my brains are addled quite.
Teeth & cholic & croup-
And croup & cholic & teeth-
I nurse till my shoulders stoop,
And my brow wears a wrinkly wreath.
And “so on” as Mr. Vandieman used to say.
While Laura was gone with her Grandmother we had quite a respite from noise – silence prevailed for the space of ten days, - Willie laid on the lounge measly – measly & would have scarcely found out he was well now if she had not come home to wake him up to fun & frolic.
Since you went away I have thought of a thousand things that I desired your presence for & have wondered that we did not make a better use of the time while you were here – we might have gone a pleasuring so much more than we did, - you driving old Dick we might have visited all our acquaintances & all the natural curiosities the whole country “roundabout” – but this baby did so settle me for a while that I forgot every thing like adventure, - notheless it is not your & my philosophy to spend many regrets on the past so will be content with the present & hope for the future. – Pray do dear brother return the Southern route & stay with us through the Month of Sept. – while Wm is gone to N. York we shall be so very lonely without some mankind to take care of us. – Do not think about your office for the present – live the life of a gentleman with becoming composure.
I was quite negligent not to charge you with messages letters or keepsakes for our good cousins, - now I trust to you the saying of good things to them from me – tell Charlotte I am much indebted to her for her last good letter & will certainly answer it the first time that wind & tide (that is babies & housework) are favorable.
Write us often & give us your ‘inklings by the way” – one full sheet every week you can well afford us or you are not Rud Hayes of old. – Do not fail of going to N. Haven & like a good boy cousin the Trowbridges & make much of Uncle William & Aunt Emily – if it is only to please Mother.
If you do it to please her this time you will too please yourself another if you like them as well as I did. –
Uncle William & Samuel Hayes are model men according to my opportunities of judging. – As you will find the scenery delightful in that part of Conn. supposing that you wander down to N. London – one of the Trowbridge girls is married there to somebody I forgot who – ‘twill benefit you to go & see her. If it suits you remember the Baldwins in N. Haven & be sure to call at Doct. Hickoks in N. York 112 Franklin St. – If you find any Sally, Betsy or Fanny to make love to while you are roaming give my kindest regards to her & tell her she has a warm corner of my heart, & I shall be very happy to carry on a correspondence with her whenever it may suit her ladyship. – I recieved a letter from Harriet a short time ago in which she expressed much regret at not seeing you this summer – she & Mr. Solace are both urgent that you shall visit them in Sept.
We regret very much that John Pease is quite so industrious though ‘tis an amiable virtue – that he can’t take time to get a wife – perhaps he will find a little leisure some Saturday afternoon between daylight & dark.
Write me truly about your health whether your throat still bleeds &c. &c.
Your loving sister
Dearest Brother Rud
I have been impatient to hear the farther progress of affairs in Conn. since you sent me a confidential note enclosed in a family letter. – Certainly such a reception must have led on to very agreable explanations.
I am quite in love with the lady & my imagination has been on the full canter conjuring up “things to come.” -
Uncle was the first to get that letter – brought it to me eager to get news of you – when the note dropped out Uncle said “oh I don’t wish to see that tis something for your private eye” I wonder why he thought so!
Mother was of course quite curious to know what it was I told her ‘twas only a boy’s frolic you had been getting into that I should not tell her about but you probably would when you came home. – She thinks that ‘tis something that happened at Springfield. – Tis amusing to hear her descant upon the charm of Lucy Webb, - she was to see us not a great while ago & is truly a fine girl but too young for you.
I hope you will conclude to return home this way I do so want to hear the tourists tales.
Tell my William that the babe is improving very fast, - we are getting along quite comfortably - & Richman has come back to work for us. –
John Little is your companion in leisure taking – he was obliged to go home on account of violent nervous headaches which prevented his studying – Lizzie, Mrs. Little & all the Campbells are coming next week to Columbus. – Will Sparrow is in Pinney’s store.
Come or write.
My own Dearest Brother –
This is one of those sweet melancholy Sabbaths which only come at this season of the year – when one loves to sit & watch the falling leaf & floating cloud, moralising or sentimentalising as their mood prompts them. – If it were my gift I would breathe beautiful thoughts in Poetry on such days as this or lacking that listen to a smooth quiet voice like yours reading the Poetry of more gifted mortals while I gazed dreamily out on the harmony of nature. – I have been setting solitary though not alone for the three “hopes” were about me - & while watching their childish plays memory has been busy recaling our own childhood – tomorrow will be your twenty fifth birth day & as the incidents of this quarter of a century loom up to the minds eye how many more of a pleasurable kind there are than of a painful caste. – It may be that “distance lends enchantment to the view” for as I recal our early days they are all long merry ones when we laughed & laughed if it were only at the sound of each others voices, - those weekly walks to the farm are only remembered as rambles in the shade when sitting down we bathed our feet in the brook & watched the minnows or gathered pebbles – our toiling along the dusty road the long mile that seemed so weary is almost always forgotten. – How many Saturdays afternoons at this season of the year we have wandered through the woods after nuts – making all the noise we could rustling through the fallen leaves, - in Winter how many times in the early morning we have scampered off to the “run” to slide until breakfast time, - can we ever enjoy any thing with such zest again? – In Spring how many times we -----------here the tea bell interrupted the birth day remaniscences & soon after the tone of my spirits were wonderfully changed by the arrival of my good husband – he describes in strong terms the regret of the N. Haven party at finding you gone he says Caroline brought all her charms to take you by storm – their plan was to take you with them to the Springs & keep you until Wm. was ready to return – no doubt you would have been a willing captive before the siege was over - & would have joined the Trowbridge firm greatly to your worldly advantage. William has been away so long that I can’t spare you any more time from him now. –
I hope you will write my tomorrow – you sometimes have on your birthdays, - do you remember the last you wrote that before another one came around you would have a wife or sweetheart? – how is it?
Tell Uncle I thank him very much for his letter & the information it contained.
Oct. 24th 1847.
Dearest Brother –
Thank you for the letter of explanation – I had been expecting it with a good deal of interest for some time & when it did come was quite satisfactory though I must say your “affaire de cour” terminated differently from the way I anticipated it would. – You talk so coolly about it that I think the greatest disappointment is mine – I had built so many castles or rather such a remarkably pretty cottage upon the foundation of your “prospects” that I grieve that ‘tis not to have the lovely inmate we had designed for it. – Yet I cannot but hope that all will come around right in the end – a few years will rapidly sweep by & carry away the obstacles now opposing you. – I trust ‘twill be before you are both wrinkled. – It is queer as you say – the way you both acted your parts, - rather unlover like I should think for a youth & a maiden. – such a course would not be unbecoming to a couple of their crutches.
One thing rejoices me – your resolution not to take a wife to Lower Sandusky – indeed now I shall have some hope that you will not spend your days there. – Perhaps your place of residence has been some barrier to your success in love if not in money. – Since you are released from all interest in Conn. – if you can find another one as desirable to fall in love with – do so with all your heart before “old bachelor” is fixed upon you, - you have already one of his wrinkles stamped upon your brow – you have grown fastidious in your choice. – but for that I am not sorry – she would be an embodiment of excellence that would meet my wishes for your wife. – My fancy had invested your Fanny with all the required perfections & I hope it will be as obliging towards your future choice. – Was F. ever engaged to Dudley Rhodes or near being – I heard a rumour of some such affair while he was in college at N. Haven. Now I will drop this subject – which has been an interesting one to me – assuring you of my entire approval of your conduct throughout.
Are you well? if so take care to keep yourself so – if not come away speedily & with us lay plans for the Winter.
What are the throats made of nowadays – Mr. Preston has come here for a visit of several weeks being disabled for preaching by an affection of that worthy member.
John Little has gone to Philadelphia to attend a course of lectures – his health was somewhat improved though not entirely restored. –
Thanks for the book you sent me, do you know the author’s true name? – I am reading Prescott’s “Conquest of Peru” & ‘tis a rich feast – the countries whose history he relates become li the persons Mrs. Gen. Patterson describes – the most remarkable the sun ever shone upon. – if I were Gen. Scott I would choose him for my historian – he caste such a “glory” over every thing he touches.
The children are all thriving physically & intellectially – for all they are my chief pride & pleasure, they do tax my patience to the utmost when rainy days confine them to the house – my fingers too are kept constantly plying the busy need sewing together fig leaves – oh what endless toil did luckless Eve entail upon her children! – William eats like an alderman - & if you were to see us at our meals you would think the rest of the family were not behind him in this accomplishment – indeed if any one asks after our health they follow it up with a laugh at the absurdity of such a question.
How is Uncle? How did Pease leave his Yankee sweetheart? – Mother just brought me her letter & if you laugh at its contents as much as I have ‘twill do you good. Lucy Webb & Mrs. Brush’s sister divide her heart. Write often.
Your loving Fanny.
Nov. 4th 1847.
Dearest Brother Rud, -
Saturday night, - a cheerful coal fire, - hearth swept up, - children all in bed, - floor tables & chairs cleared of toys & other juvenile rubbish, - all signs of work laid aside in an orthodox manner, - not let me say a few words to you.
I recieved a short letter from you this week, - there seems to be a strife who shall get the last word & it seems rather difficult to decide as we both mail the same day often, - & I fancy we shall each put the other in debt this week again.
This shall only be a very brief letter, only detaining you a few moments “while I answer the interrogatories of your last letter, lastly making a few remarks “by way of improvement.”
Clara Baldwin is here & is a fine looking intelligent energetic woman but youth no longer casts a couleur de rose over the scenery of life – every thing appears crooked to her, sometimes causing her to laugh & sometimes to sneer, in plain terms she is very near being a sour old maid, - so that unless you wish cousin John to relinquish all opinions & thoughts of his own never advise him to endow with his worldly goods such a opinionated daughter of the Puritans as Clara B. –
In the second place if he were to kneel at her feet & offer himself with all the profits of the tin shop, retrospective & prospective in one hand & the whole town plot of Sandusky in the other she would reject him as a capital punishment for so unmercifully murdering the Queen’s English, - other sins might be gilded over but this one could not, - all his fine & noble qualities would sink into insignificance with a family who so much regard appearances. We shall be happy to see him if he decides to visit Columbus & would gladly aid him in the search of a wife when there is any probability of success. –
William & myself wrote you a letter which you ought to have rec’d before your last was dated – wherein we gave sundry reasons why you ought to come immediately down, - these I hope have been so convincing that this will find you already departed for Columbus. ----Mr. Solis made us a short call this morning on his way to Delaware – I was troubled to see him looking out of health – you may indeed be called well besides him for his lungs have been bleeding profusely, - my heart aches for him when I think what little strength he has to reach the point at which his ambition aims. – He will remain a few weeks in Delaware – I hope he & Harriet will visit here at the same time you do – it will be pleasant for both of you I think.
The members come flocking in – you will no doubt be greatly interested in the debates of these “Wise men’ – we shall hope to keep you here all Winter, - although you may be nearly well I dread the effects of lake winds upon you.
I am glad (if it is all the same to him) that Bryan is not married – he will be a more congenial companion for you if you conclude to go to Texas.
Sunday afternoon. – We have had our first snowstorm to day. – an old fashioned prelude to Winter – we have had no very cold weather yet. – There were sundry dignitaries at church – among others Judge Lane. –
I thought when I sat down of filling this sheet but three very good reasons force themselves upon me for stopping short here in the shape of Laura, Willie & baby.
So adieu dear brother.
Your sister Fanny
P.S. William has not spoken with Judge Swan he thinks best to wait until you come down so that he can understand something of your plan of operations. Love to Uncle.
[Nov 17, 1847]
Dearest Brother Rud,
With children, cooks & cares to monopolise my time I have but little left for writing or I should have answered your last letter before now – but you can smile again over Mother’s & that will do just as well. – I am walking almost every afternoon & meet such scores of you gentlemen about your age that it fills me with a strong to have you with us again – you would find many things to interest you I am sure – courts are & will be in session for some time drawing great numbers from all parts of the state mostly of your brotherhood –besides it is nearly the time that you promised to visit us. – so come, come. - If you have time in Delaware call to see Harriet you will soon realise the metamorphose from belle to Mother. – All my young ladies are married now so I shall depend upon you to enliven my Winters until you are involved in the same forlorn state. – I intend to reserve all my calls that we can make pleasantly together until you come – there will be plenty of occupation for you here perhaps as profitable as you find in Sandusky, though ‘tis not the gathering together “filthy lucre”. – We will give you nice brown bread & sweet potatos dishes for an Alderman.
Give my love to Uncle – when the baby gets through teething Laura teasing & Willie tooting I will write him a letter at least as long a Gov. Bebb’s Thanksgiving proclamation – he must come here this Winter.
Nov. 23, 1847
Dearest Brother Rud, -
William has expressed my desires & opinions exactly & when I remember your obliging disposition I anticipate seeing you drag in your trunk before many days have passed by. – What weather we do have! dull & rainy more than half the time – yesterday was delightful though soft & balmy as May - & Jane Kelly had the good taste to select it for her wedding day & the still better taste (?) to invite us among the “chosen few” who graced her bridal.
The evening was a lovely one both within & without, - there was none of the gaud & glitter usually the accompaniments of this ceremony among “the upper ten thousand” but every thing was done “decently & in order.” – the bride looked remarkably well with all the graceful timidity so becoming to the occasion yet so unexpected in Jane Kelly – no bridesmaids with their flounces & furbelous came giggling in but the daughter led in by her Father remained leaning of his arm until the part of the ceremony was pronounced where the bride was given away – when she was transferred to her future lord. – The latter is one of the N. York “Barnburners” a member elect of the approaching Congress – a handsome genteel looking man apparently about Jane’s age. Mr. & Mrs. Collins will leave for Washington tomorrow. – I saw several of your friends at the wedding who made kind inquiries after you. – Mr. Preston was there – he has been here for several weeks disabled from preaching by an affection of the throat – oh the throats of the present day are sadly degenerate. – We women will be obliged to do the speaking in spite of our aversion to the use of our tongues if the disease increases at the present rate.
Mother made herself ill last night eating ice cream or drinking champagne I am not certain which – she is compeled to acknowledge that dissipation does not agree with her. --- These things may not interest your dignity-ship as they may find you deep in German Metaphysics but “such as I have, give I unto you.” – There is a case under discussion in court which would interest you much I presume as it is drawing out some of the fine speakers – it is a slave question which you may know something about as one of the parties belongs in Sandusky City. That place had to take some abuse from the speakers yesterday.
Lizzie Baldwin is dividing her attention pretty equally between the medical faculty & the legal gentlemen who are here now in any quantity – she thinks it a wonder if her graceful walk & new cardinal don’t “catch ‘em”
We are going to a lecture to night so with getting my bairns to bed I shall have little more time to write.
We shall probably have lectures on the Natural Sciences the most of the Winter so that ‘twill be a fine opportunity for you to study them farther if you wish. Now don’t be perverse & not come.
Ever your loving sister
Feb. 6th 1848.
Dearest Brother Rud,
This is just such a cold windy Sunday as the last you spent here, - are you not glad you are at home without the trouble of going in such treacherous weather. – Mother has been writing so I suppose she has said all that is necessary about the pleasure your last letter afforded & given you a history of matters & things that have occured since your departure with the moral appended, so I will only add a few embellishments.
There have been all sorts of farces acted since you were here – enough to bring down any one’s dignity – you would have even laughed in your sleep seeing them, - I will merely name them in the order of occurence & then leave them to your imagination – first was the nomination of Gov. Ford – the very sight of his meek face all dressed in one long smile as he went about most courteously calling upon his friends answering their inquiries with his elegant affirmatives was enough to upset one’s gravity. Oh!! Seabury Ford!!
The next was a lecture by Noble on “Spiritualism” – which was so ethereal that no substance could be discerned by the grosser faculties of the audience. – Very good for so young a man was the “faint praise” it recieved from those who were disposed to be lenient.
Next in the category was a concert which attracted all the elite of Columbus with the expectation of hearing most heavenly music but were regaled with the most ridiculous succession of sounds from two female singers – something between a pea fowl & a guinea hen – accompanied by the noise of two singing brothers. The came our “fandango” to which we invited all our devoted friends & ‘twas most surprising to see how vastly well pleased every body seemed to be who were so fortunate as to be able to come! – but alas it was too touching to behold the misery of those who were forced to decline our invitations!
The wailings of the latter class so much overbalanced the joy of the former that I have nearly resolved never to put them to such trail again, -though to say truth every thing went off grandly – William Mother Uncle & myself did our very best to compel every one to eat enough to last them a month – or at least make them fit subjects for apoplexy –all which efforts were repeled with great ingenuity excepting by a few who gave themselves up to their fate with becoming resignation. The affair wound up with a few intellectual games in which the players were enabled to show their attainments by repeating “Peter Piper” & other quotations. – But Mother says a love for the ridiculous should never be indulged so I will repent me of what I have said & declare that Mr. Ford is a good man that Mr. Noble is very clever, very clever indeed – those singers are honest morthy Yankees & our party a very benevolent act on our part at least. You ask after your sweethearts & I most sincerely regret that I did not treat Miss Johnson with some civility so as to have become acquainted with her – but she will be here again in the Summer. – Helen Kelly pouted right prettily because you went away without bidding her good bye – quite a compliment to you I thought. I have seem all of your flames within the last week – they are all sweet girls – take which ever will take you – trying the best first.
Ask cousin John to drink to Uncles good health, who takes his bottle to bed with him every night. – I have written this in rather a confused style for the children have been reacting the Babel scene – but we have just “conquered a peace” by putting them to bed though too late to benefit you. – Write often.
Dear brother adieu.
Feb. 17th 1848.
Dearest Broth. Rud,
Your letter arrived without ? or hindrance & gave us all one little laugh last night just before going to bed. – Uncle things he shall be ready to start just as the fine weather is over & a long storm “sets in” - & as that interesting occurrance will probably take place within a few hours I will merely write you a few words – (for verily I have nothing else to write just to keep you in my debt. – I am comfortably busy at my old occupations – nursing the bantlings & keeping all the household in “daily bread.” – My amusements are few & far between but for that reason I enjoy them with the most zest. – we have something to stir us up about two evenings in the week, - we went one evening to hear Yankee Hill – not at the theatre – oh no! some of the pious who were dying to see him thought it might be considered orthodox if he could be persuaded to give a parlour entertainment at the Neil House – to which he very kindly consented. – the room was thronged with Doct. Hoge’s, Mr. Tyng’s & the Methodist sheep who must have fattened marvellously on the strange pasturage if the old saying is true laugh & grow fat:- It would have been food for you for a month. – Hill looks as much like an Englishman as Mr. Freeman – a good countenance & very fine head somewhat resembling Shakspeare’s. – The theatre was burnt the same night – so that the closing act was much the most brilliant that was ever performed there & much the best attended. – Two or three stoves underneath were washed out – two or three backs broken &c. &c. We had one of the finest – no the very finest geological lecture I ever heard our Lyceum this week – as you have been dobbling in this science a little you would have been particularly interested – it was upon the creation of this “terraqueous globe” & the agreements of Geological facts with the Mosaic account. – He gave “The Vistiges of Creation” a blast.
Next Monday evening A. F. Perry Esq. is to deliver a lecture upon the character of Wilberforce – an honest theme for an honest man, - “I calculate” upon a feast of reason.
I mix in a little reading with my matronly duties – I lull the baby to sleep with “remeniscences of Coleridge & Southry” & quell the tumult between Laura & Willie by relating some of Pizarro’s feats in Peru. --- Do not make love to any of those girls up there just because they are or may be easy to get a wife is worth taking some trouble for & one that would be an ornament to your house would be quite as likely to be useful & adapt herself to circumstances as well as one just caught out of the woods, - but such a lecture is quite useless to one as fastidious as yourself – I don’t know what put it in my head unless it were your great aversion to taking any trouble in this matter. – Uncle will take this letter so there is no need of my telling you when he is coming nor any of the news – such as that Mr. Solis is coming to stick up his shingle here next month - & going to housekeeping as soon as they can find that “little cottage.”
Your loving sister
March 4th 1848
Dearest Brother Rud,
In the due course of time your letters arrived & were recieved with noisy delight by the younger portion of the household & have been read every day since by them as regularly as they say their prayers – or to be still more emphatic – with as hearty a relish as they take their lunch.
The history of our times whilst Uncle was with us has been given you in his own pleasant style, there is only left for my poor pen to record our doing since then – a period wofully meagre in events worthy a dignified epistle.
Tell Uncle there are two facts worth mentioning to him viz. we have not had a single turkey since he left, & I have staid at home a whole week with the exception of one evening spent at a lecture & another at a small party – both of which evenings were rich in entertainment intellectual & comical. – I should have enjoyed describing them to Uncle if he had been here. –The lecture was delivered by Doct. Hoge at the Lyceum “On the choice of books & manner of reading them” – exactly in the same style & with the same words that he would have sermonised upon the doctrine of predestination yet from under that style & those words there loomed up just & beautiful thoughts which riveted the attention of a large audience, mostly of those who are not his Sabbath listerners, for an hour & a half that he talked on without notes as if from an ever ready fountain & when he had finished all were ready to exclaim like the eulogisers of our Adams – “the old man eloquent.”
The party was a little sociable select one at Mr. Kelly’s – which wound up with a farce in which the most prominent actor was Mr. Galloway – his powers of mimicry were shown to be as successful as chloroform in throwing people into convulsions. – And in this category we are naturally led on to the subject of Helen’s many charms & to your queries, - first as to your chance of success, - I think it rather encouraging though I would advise you to proceed very cautiously – she is but sixteen so that you have at least two years in which to take the preliminary steps, - you should take every opportunity of becoming acquainted & then time will develope her feelings & your own. – It is not my wish to be a match maker & do not wish you to be biased by any predilections of mine but whenever your choice is made – my advice is at your service in regard to the course to be taken to insure success, - and let me begin the chapter by advising you to keep all your young friends both male & female in the dark concerning your intentions.
Helen professes an ardent friendship for me lately & from some remarks she has made I am sure she is not unfriendly to you.
The “couleur de rose” of your valentine would of course remind you of your Zanesville flame – Miss Frocker & she as naturally of Lizzie Baldwin – so that the author would stand confessed. – Mother thinks that Scripture has been verified in her case since you have joined the Sons of Temperance after her many lectures upon the subject. - “Cast thy bread upon the water & thou shalt find it after many days.” – Yet she would rather you would have joined the old fashioned Temperance Society – any thing that we women have no part nor lot in must have some evil in it. Mother thinks it behooves her to practise economy for your & my benefit – as she fancies that William & Uncle will sink all they are worth in real estate, & as for you, - you will never make a penny as long as you live.
I hope Uncle will not suffer from his cold as much as he did here – I thought I could hear him laugh when I read his story of you & Trowbridge. Mother will write him.
Your loving sister
P.S. Dear Rud – come down in the pleasant weather of Spring – it is the most auspicious period for courting. – We understand you are having very cold weather up there, does not Uncle regret leaving this Southen climate. Fan
April 8th 1848.
Dearest Brother Rud,
Your last letter was entirely satisfactory inasmuch as it assured us of the improved state of Uncle’s health about which we felt very anxious. – I have some idea of his suffering from the specimen we had when he was down in the Winter, - it was surprising to me then how he could keep about the house & more than all that he could be jolly in spite of his pain, - I have a great mind to pronounce a eulogy upon some traits of character peculiarly his own – but then if he were to see the letter he obliged to Mr. Adams & Louis Philippe, - the death of one & abdication of the other have been the cause of a deal of scribbling & some fine writing would laugh & say the drugging he has lately taken from the doctors ought to save him for a while from all eulogies & elegies. – Apropos to eulogies – Mr. Perry pronounced one today upon Mr. Adams which is much admired. – The news paper press & speech makers ought to be much obliged to Mr. Adams & Louis Philippe, – the death of one & abdication of the other have been the cause of a deal of scribbling & some fine writing.
Although the disposition to laud deceased great men is often indulged to a ridiculous extent it seems rather an amiable failing & not without its “use” (to use a favorite term of our church) for we are such imitative beings that the contemplation of virtues, even belonging to an ideal character, must stir up a feeling of emulation.
It is Saturday night – a busy week ended & if you were as sleepy & stupid as I am you would end the epistle here but I have a womans horror of making an end of speaking & if I were writing to your wife instead of yourself I should enter into a dissertation upon housecleaning – Summer gear - & such like feminine matters, - but I fear you would not appreciate my doing in those branches of the useful arts if I were to set them in order before you. – Harriet is settled to housekeeping in a plain quiet way, - I am sorry she is not nearer to us that we might be more neighborly, - they live in the same block with Mrs. Sparrow, - they staid with us two weeks & we had a good visit from them – I was particularly glad to have an opportunity to become acquainted with Mr. Solis, - I like him very much, - much better than from Harriets description of him, - he seems to have none of that foolish pride which I fancied he had, - is affable & familiar with those he meets & makes acquaintances easily. – Harriet has a most constant & lively admiration both of the personal & mental endowments of her husband, - she esteems him the handsomest & most intellectual man of the age, - is willing for his interest to give up all the vanities of life – to dress in the plainest possible way & live in the plainest possible style to be in the true sense of the word a helpmeet. – all this crucifying of her vanity she can endure & yet be very happy, because they “love one another” but ‘tis very hard for her to labour about the vulgar parts of housekeeping, - she looks tired & disheartened some times;- with but little strength & very little practical skill tis not strange that she wearies with no one to help her but a little “marchioness” only large enough to break tumblers & make the baby squall – which last little personage is the fattest & best natured brattling in all Infantdom. ---Monday Eve, - here the husband came home, or the baby waked up or some such domestic incident wound up my letter & Mother having appropriated the other half of the sheet to herself I have only room to regret for your sake the untimely end of my remarks. – Sometime I may have complained that you quoted from my letters – now you have gone to the other extreme & don’t answer them at all – your letters bear about as strong an allusion to mine as Doct. Hoge’s sermons do to his text, - notheless I will not complain so -
I am glad that you are busy because I regard it as a sign of your prosperity – but above all I hope that you are well are you strong? Are you getting over your liability to take cold? –
If these pleasant days continue we shall be looking for Uncle soon. – Give my kindest regards to Mrs. Valette – I love her for nursing Uncle so tenderly & making such a pleasant home for him.
William is busier than a bee, a great deal, - that proverbial little worker may go hide his head in the presence of my laird, - he has commenced or is about commencing a large new building on State street near High – for stores & offices – is stopping up rat holes & mending locks & hinges in less of forty of his old rented houses – is pruning fruit trees looking after shop business – dunning people (which is his special mania) – trying to “set up” Mr. Solis, - reading the National Intelligencer & riding out with his wife & babies. – I have concluded that the only way I can be a helpmeet for such an eferlastingly busy man is to do the resting for him – which part of his vocation I take too most lovingly, - as long as William will do enough for two persons – I am resolved to enjoy enough for two. – But for my little incumbrances I would roam about some this Summer – as it is I will take some short trips taking the troop with me. – Let us hear often.
Dear Uncle – I called at Mr. Gilbert’s this morning – Mrs. G. was complaining of being very much delibetated and Lizzie was quite run down by these warm Spring days so they brought in foaming goblets of egg nogg for “aid & comfort” – Oh how I wished you were there to take a horn with them. F.
Dear Brother Rud –
Mother has written up every thing so that very little remains for me – her letters quite out do the newspapers in conveying intelligence. – We are now wishing for a visit from you now than anything else. – as Mother has informed you we have just recovered from the whitewashing epidemic & are most anxious to have our friends come to see us now while we have our clean faces on. – The greatest thing that has happened to the children lately is having their daguerrotype executed – they sat nine times making the oddest caricatures you ever say – we succeeded at last in getting only tolerably good likenesses.
If Uncle were here I would insist upon his getting sunstruck for the benefit of posterity. – If you have a decent artist stray into your place be sure & have it done.
I have my hands full of employments of such various kinds that ‘twould be in vain to make out the list to night, - partly by way of recreation & partly inprovement I am studying the times of Queen Elizabeth from all the works within my reach “Kenilworth” I am engages in now – very profound studying you will think. – As this is not my night for writing letters I will follow your example & make a very short one. Love to Uncle.
Your loving sister
June 10th 1848
Dearest Brother Rud,
I believe I am indebted to you for several little letters which a press of household business with perhaps a touch of indolence has prevented my answering – but I will now make up for it by giving you the history of all our doings.
During the Spring months we had a reign of peace throughout out establishment, - after our house & garden had put on their Summer gear, we often said we had every thing is such fine order – had such a good set of servants & our children were so well & good natured that we wished you or Uncle or Mrs. Kilbourn or somebody would come & enjoy with us a state of things which could not last long in this “miserable world” – as ungrateful people say in their prayers.
One of those pleasant days I sent for the Gardiners & Miss Stem to visit me & we had an evening filled up with pleasant sprightly conversations such as ‘tis refreshing to remember.
I have become so enamored of the Gardiner family that I shall be willing to join Uncle in all his ?
Mrs. Gilbert was here in apparently her sunniest humour – she has been very much depressed all the Spring just brightening up before people to keep up appearances, the day before she has received a telegraphic dispatch from Mr. Gilbert at Wheeling very affectionate in its tone & assuring her that he was behaving himself better, - this caused her to be in better spirits than usual. Just as we were going to bed that night Willie came running up with the startling news of his Father’s death in Pittsburgh – he had been drinking harder than ever for the last month & his family seemed suddenly to make up to his danger resolve to do something to reclaim him – but twas too late. – The last week he was at home his mind was a mere wreck & his family passed through trying times – yet they kept a fair outside & it was only by Mrs. Gilberts sunken cheek & emaciated form that we could discover that she was troubled, - the day that he left home for the last time I found her in tears but she rallied directly & never alluded to the cause of her sorrow. – Mr. G. took young John Miller with him to do his business for him in Pittsburgh – he says Mr. G. did not drink much after leaving home until after he had sent the message home from Wheeling then he lost sight of him for a few hours during which time he fell in with some of his old cronies – drank very deep with them & lost nearly all the money he had with him – in a half stupifyed state went on board a boat for Pittsburgh –duing the night was seized with violent retchings & after much suffering died in a hotel in P. about three o’clock the next day – the third day after leaving home- he was not rational after leaving home. – The family are all very much relieved excepting Mrs. G. & Willie – the former may be troubled with remorse at all events she is the very picture of despair. – Uncle will be surprised to know that I am convinced her great flow of spirits last Winter was entirely artificial. – Clara & Lizzie had found their home uncomfortable for some months part & had decided to go East this Summer now they are very happy in forming new plans for remaining here.
Mrs. G. seems singularly determined on keeping Willie with her – we thought at first she would like to part with him – thinking the youngest daughter is but three months old. – I have gone into all these sad details more because I thought Uncle would be interested in them than yourself – for he had a greater regard for Mr. G. than you had.
Now for your taste I must “make a few remarks” about the young ladies – I used to think the world over to fine somebody that I thought I could consent to my brother’s marrying now contrary to all former expectations I have found several – there is Helen – who is quite comely, - lady like manners, - good education, - four talents , firm unwavering principle, most excellent domestic habits, energy & perseverance with I don’t know how many other virtues: - is a very warm friend of yours.
There is Lucy Webb – who has the very finest disposition with perhaps a few exceptions – that woman was ever blessed with – so frank so joyous, her spirit sheds sunlight all about her – tolerably good looking – would be handsome only that she freckles ( but there is a was will take those out) remarkably intelligent – very much improved in manner since you have seen her.
Then there are the Gardiners – I always ? them & they seem to all have the same characteristics, - I don’t know the younger ones but if they are equal to the other ones they are worth taking a look at – I think they are all plain looking – Louise – will make a fine looking woman but she may be engaged at the West – I dont know. – With such a choice before you will you be a bachelor? Just as you please though dear brother, - I am half selfish of your affections & never will give them willingly into the keeping of any but a jewel of a woman.
Gen. Hinton called here this week with Mary Ellen – she is a blooming girl & her Father is very proud of her – that is all I have to say for her, - they are going East to visit some of the grandees at their country seat near Baltimore where they were to meet some of the nobility of England. –
I am glad Uncle is having his portrait taken if it is only well done, I shall be impatient to see it that I may be satisfied on that point, - What is the style – full size oil painting or what?
I commenced by telling you what delightful Spring we have had so far as domestic peace & health are concerned but the tale is not all told unless I tell you what a stired up Summer we are having. – Mother has been writing to day so she must have descanted pretty fully upon poor Minor’s malady as she has been nursing him a good deal – then the children have all been sick – probably from eating too much fruit – first Willie & then Laura & anon both together – lastly I had a violent course of fever which lasted two days! – I commenced this letter in bed this morning to wile away the time until my fever came on but it would not come at all so I got up well this afternoon & shall have no more time to write letters.
Oh you ought to have been here to eat strawberries we have had more than we wanted to pick, - & flowers! our garden is one immense bouquet! there is hardly a spot that can be touched on our borders & hedges but what is covered with gay flowers, - I only wish they could last through the Summer – but ours are mostly June posies.
Don’t keep deferring your visit – come as soon as you can. – We shall all be well before long, - fortunately Mother seems to be better than usual – active usefulness is her life. – Give my love to Uncle & Mrs. Valette.
Your loving sister
I have not read “Domby & Sons” the name was so extremely unpoitical that I never had a desire to go beyond the title. – I have been greatly interested in “Kendall’s Santa Fe it would delight Uncle very much but he must have read it too before now- He gets hold of every thing that is humourous so soon. – Can you get up any zeal for Gen. Taylor – I can’t enough to light a tallow candle. I won’t write you another as long a letter this Summer – the sight of it will make you perspire. F.
Dearest Brother Rud,
I have been wishing to write you ever since I received your letter but the numerous duties which belong to me as “a citizen of the world” are making my pen & my humble self such strangers that we seldom meet now a days.
Uncle is a good one to relate facts so I suppose he has given you a picture of the times here, - we enjoyed his visit very, very, much, - Harriet especially said his sympathy really did her good. – I suppose he told you how he spyed out the land for you. – The fair Helen & I are on the best of terms, - she frequently enquires after you but I am not quite sure that is a good sign, though it may be. – I have been rather surprised to find that you have warm friends in the family for I thought them a little prejudiced against you formerly.
The day after you left I was out there & they began directly inquiring after you, or rather, talking about you, - I saw they had been boring Helen at a great rate & that she was burning with blushes so I turned the conversation as soon as possible but not till I had the gratification of hearing Mrs. Kelley speak of you in the most flattering terms.
Why can’t you come down during the fine Indian Summer weather, - there is a magic about sweet sunny days which softens the heart & there is no knowing what might come to pass under favorable circumstances. – The lady may go East some time this month though it is quite uncertain as it depends on her Father’s options entirely. – The girls here say you don’t talk as much as you used to – I tell them it is because you are done with being a rattlebrained youth.
Our little people are all thriving remarkably well – Willie has lived out doors for a week – helping to gather in potatos & other things from the garden – when he comes to the table he keep two busy to supply his plate. – Laura goes to school & is death on bread & butter, - the tiny one knew his father when he came home, - she makes rapid advances in all kinds of mischief. – “The grown up people” as Willie calls us are conducting themselves in their usual creditable manner. William counts up his profits – gathers his apples & tosses the children, - Mother catches the servants in any sly misdemeanours they may be endeavouring to conceal & makes herself generally useful by doing whatever any body else leaves undone, - and the “undersigned” --- but is it not written “let not thy right hand know what thy left hand doeth” – so as for me – mum. – I grow fat any how. – How vulgar!
I fear a most interesting portion of Mother’s occupation will soon be “gone” – for Richard has been allowed to depart & we intend to send Anne away in a few days, - so that her talent for discovering pecadillos will quite run to waste. -- Helen Gregory is with us now & has been very ill today – she had an attack of fever from which she had but just recovered when she left home, - I hope this will not be a serious relapse.
How does Uncle prosper in his electioneering – people here are getting wide awake, - Corwin speaks tomorrow at London – many are going over to hear him. –
The candidates are shaking hands at every corner, - it is good to see how they love their fellow men; Mr. Dennison’s smile is getting broader than ever. – I sat down intending to write from the time the children were in bed until William came home, - he has come early to night so you are spared any farther remarks from me at this time. – Only let me beg you will write frequently, - and dear Brother do tell me if you are not quite well, - it will not trouble me more than it does you, - and it will be a grief to me to not possess your confidence. – Love to Uncle – we though he looked better & younger than he has these years. – Has cousin John returned with his young wife? Write or come soon.
Your loving sister
P.S. Last Saturday Mother looked out at the north window & saw an old man peeping round the house as if hunting for an entrance – said she “there is an old beggar man coming in” on his entrance we found it was our great Uncle Smith brother to our Grandmother, - he is a sensible, pious Presbyterian as anxious to bring every body over to his faith as Uncle is to have every body vote for Taylor. – I was interested in studying out the Smith traits that have descended to the Grandchildren, - our share was a disposition to take things as they come & be satisfied – “it don’t make no odds what I eat, - I take whats set afore me” was the way the old man exhibited that trait.
John Pease’s share is a fondness for taking no change of linen with him when he travels. – Mother had a great many misgivings about going to church with that shirt collar but she was relived by the old gentleman preferring another church than Doct. Hoge’s. – He intends to visit Sandusky some time this Fall.
Oct. 30th 1848.
Dearest Brother Rud –
Your letter arrived safely Saturday night, not quite a week from the time it started! huzza for the days of steam & lightning! This is the only item of news I have to communicate foreign or domestic civil or political. – We eat too much to be smart & sleep too much to be bright so you must expect nothing but very stupid letters from this quarter I only write because if two weeks passes without a letters from you we all get in a “stew.” – Mother has gone mad over Sweetser’s election – she has taken the stump & no knowing what a resolution may be brought about before next election, - if the right of suffrage could only be extended to the old ladies such candidates as Olds & Sweeton would soon be sent up Salt river.
About twenty Whigs were absent from Columbus the last election who would not have been but that they thought they were not needed to make up the “10,000” majority, - they will be at home next week. – I was out at Mr. Kelley’s to day, - Helen looks as blooming as ever – she can’t be very deeply in love or she would wax thin instead of the reverse. – I hope her Father will not be ready to start East just as you come down. – We had a good visit from Mrs. Gardiner & Mary Jane last week, we wanted Uncle to make up the company complete. I am too sleepy to write so I will give you a taste of how good short letters are. “Write”
F. A. Platt.
Jan. 3d 1848 
My dear Brother,
If I were to consult my own feelings I should write rather a doleful letter, for we are filled with apprehensions for your & Uncle’s safety, - nearly a month has passed since you left here & not one word of intelligence have we recieved concerning you or your whereabouts. More than a week ago Mother began to be anxious & looked for the Cholera news from day to day with increasing alarm, - my hope kept buoying me up & making me laugh at fear until within two or three days – I now almost believe you are safe yet you occupy all my thoughts - & the many times that I awoke last night – Rutherford Uncle, N. Orleans, Texas came floating along on my first waking thought frightening me like specters. – When I open the papers the very word N. Orleans makes me shudder with all its tales of Cholera, I fancy you may be acting a part in one of the most horrible ones. How selfish we are! – We can hear of the whole world dying around us & say “how shocking!”, “how fearful”! but we feel very little until those we love are in danger.
When I sat down to write I only intended to slightly allude to our fears, - for if this should find you snugly sheltered near your good friend Bryan you will laugh over our womanish wailings so I will try to postpone moaning over you for the present & write you about the momentous little affairs that busy us. – The three children have the hooping cough, - one more & we should have a nightly serenade from a coughing quartette.
Laura has it very hard – two or three of us run to hold her when she has one of her paraxyms, - I am obliged to drop my pen once in a few minutes to attend to Willie in the bedroom, then to fly to Laura up stairs & anon the baby will call out mama, mama.
Mother’s health is not very good being broken of her rest down not improve her but there seems no way to avoid it for she will not consent to be separated from Laura. – the Holidays passed very quietly with us – nursing sick children is no great promoter of hilarity.
New Years day was clear & cold, & we have biting Winter weather now, - the lat four days are the first cold ones we have had. – I hope you are safe in the “sunny South West” before this time. Oh where are you?
Uncle will rave when he hears all the doings of the Legislature, - I will try to give you an understanding of how they stand now lest you will not gather it soon from the papers. – A week or two ago the Whigs & Democrats passed a resolution to unite together for the discussion of the question whether the Hamilton members should be left out until after the organization or not. New Year’s day it was decided they should be set aside until after the organization when their claims were to be decided, - then the Whigs felt well, - but to day the Democrats & Free Soilers joined together & elected Breslin (Dem) speaker & Matthews (a Free Soil Editor) clerk, - now the Whigs feel dea? the other party have completely outgeneraled them. – Your member has remained true to the Whigs through it all but the keeper you placed over him went over to the Locos bodily & spiritually. – As much of politics as you can expect from a woman.
There is not much news to tell you of your acquaintances, Doct Case called here New Year’s day – Doct. Little is in town & I hope to see him soon – Lizzie Campbell & her husband are thinking of living in Delaware with Mrs. Little.
Helen has gone East with her Father – I have only seen her one moment since you left – she sent me her address in N. York before she left so that I can correspond with her if I choose- I sent her the evening she left an enamelled portfolio for a Christmas Gift. - It is uncertain how long she will be away. – William has just come in with more cholera news, - why don’t we hear from you? If you are safe in Texas how will you ever get home again? – The more I think of it the less heart I have for writing. –
I suppose you have quite recovered from the California fever if you have read the accounts of the difficulties & delays in reaching that country. – I think it would be better to “take sight” at a docket fee forty miles off than go to such a place to dig gold or for any other object. – Mr. Stem sent us down one of his buffalo tongues which we have in keeping for some jollification, we shall not save it till you get home but we will kill some other “fatted calf” is such a joyful event ever comes to pass. Oh dear! where are you now? is still the burthen of my thoughts. – Some letters is now wandering about perfectly unconscious of the mischief it is working by its erratic course, a Telegraph line ought to be established between here & Texas forthwith, (so we think.) – Well --- Jan 4th
Here the baby called out for me more decidedly than ever & I laid my letter aside, this morning my heart was momentarily lightened by the arrival of your letter from N. Orleans but your note to me awakened my alarm though I do not thank you dear brother for not keeping me in the dark – I shall feel less anxious about you if I feel confident you disclose the whole truth in regard to your health. – I shall long for another letter as ardently as for the last. – The note I slipped aside until an opportunity offered to read in private & then I had not the heart to tell Mother its contents, she has so enjoyed the reading of your letter that is seemed cruel to mar her happiness, - she has fed upon it all day & really seems quite well, - the children all listened most eagerly while I read even the baby, though all she could understand were the last words “Good Bye” which she repeated after me most knowingly. – We are glad you found Mr. Blynn in N. Orleans & wondered we did not think of it before you left home.
The children are still more ailing to day – I can hardly get time to write a word, - it is merely the progress of the disease so we are not alarmed about them.
I shall feel relieved when we hear of your safety beyond the Cholera region, - Uncle must dread the very name he has so witnessed it’s direful effects, - how is his health! has he quite recovered from the cold he had here! – Tell us what kind of fever you had, if it is indeed in the past tense. – I hope you can write us another letter as full of enjoyment as the last but oh how I fear! – I weep to think this letter may never reach you. – When you have no time for writing send us a paper that kind of correspondence will for once be valuable, as it will assure us of your existence.
Dear Uncle & dear brother
Jan. 13th 1849
Dearest Brother –
We recieved your letters from Galveston yesterday morning & truly it was most welcome, - the shout “good news”, “good news” rang through the house & called together the household, little & great to hear the message from the far awa’ country. - & those few lines were as satisfactory as an epistle as long as the Presidents message – for we had been sitting in sackcloth & ashes fro a week, - we had you sick & dying on the Gulf & Uncle only waiting to bury you to die himself. – The weather was clear cold Winter weather just right for walking but we sat at home taking care of the hooping children & reading by way of recreation the massacres of St. Domingo, the tortures of the Christians in olden times & similar doleful works which as you may suppose had an exceedingly cheering effect upon our spirits. Yesterday morning the sun was bright as Winter sun can be & the air most exhilarating.
The cheerful smiles that appeared in every face at the breakfast table seemed harbingers of the glad tidings that were to come, - as I was looking to my household affairs I said to myself I will believe that Rutherford is “alive & alive like to be” until I hear the contrary- when we were actually assured of your safe arrival in Texas we put on our holiday gear & sallied forth to enjoy ourselves, - Mother went out for the first time since Christmas & found that her cough was entirely well. – She was so alarmed while you were in the Cholera region that we thought it would be rather a relief to give some definiteness to her fears therefore showed her your note. – The Yellow fever has been reported in Galveston & Houston but I do not intend to cultivate any fear on your account after this – I will hope that you are in the full enjoyment of all the “goods of life.”
If you have time amid your pleasures give us some “picture” of life in Texas – or at least “sketches,” you can fill up the outlines when you get home. You may be resigned to writing a few letters now for if you should ever be so happy as to secure such a secretary as I wot of, you will be free to relinquish the task, - she writes home during her journeying two or three times a week, long, flowing, glowing letter too.
I fear me a lovyer will be considered rather lukewarm that will be absent more than a month from his ladye love without enveloping one sigh to her. Stir yourself, brother mine & indite something handsome in the way of an apology.
Here in Columbus we have out usual Winter variety. William has sent you some of the weekly papers so that you may see how the Legislature is wrangling. – they snap & snarl at each other like a parcel of dogs over a bone. –
Their disgraceful course has had a marvellous sobering effect upon the gaiety of the place – the inhabitants have not been disposed to give them the usual complimentary invitations not a single large party has been given, & the strangers that come have to get up their own dances at the Hotels. – The town quite full at present of the gay & fashionable. – Your friend Jones changed the course of his bridal tour on account of the cholera & came here – I called upon them & might have extended my civilities farther if they had returned my call which they did not. – I forget whether Uncle is acquainted with Mrs. Worcester from Norwalk, I know he is with her husband –
We quite consort together being New Church brethren, or rather sistern – she is trying to convert me over a little stronger to the new faith – she thinks I am hardly strong enough to keep. – I tell them Uncle has gone to Texas on a tour of cold porterage, - he must send a report of his labours to the “New Church repository.” ---Uncle will be interested to know that I still have my round of evening recreations, - I suspected he thought I made quite a martyr of my husband, dragging him about to lectures & concerts, but he still bears it with Christian fortitude, - while we have our Lyceum lectures to give us something to admire or to laugh at, - the Hutchinson to carry us up to very seventh Heaven of Song, or the Barrack Band whom we applaud after every piece because we are glad that they have finished it, but whose concerts are perfectly delightful because you see all your friends & have a sociable chat with them, my husband will not be able to devoted every evening to his business & I do not think he wishes to either, - we wives are always anxious to consult our husbands tastes in every thing!
Hattie’s Hattie has the hooping cough & we are afraid the whole family of Solises will have it as none of them had it unless they have it now - they are all coughing. – Mr. Solis says he has only to take to the bottle to crown their misfortune
I dare say you will make merry over our alarms but we are content that you should do so, - better so than that the sharks had you. – Write us long or short letters or send us Newspapers frequently. My kindest regards to Bryan.
Love to Uncle.
Feb. 3d 1849
That letter of yours, from that happy home you have found, in that healthiest of all places in that yellow fever, cholera, & plague region, - Texas, did “come to hand”, & if ever Christmas was welcome to a child, or the Pacific ocean a refreshing sight to the weary traveler across the Isthmus, or a good dinner eagerly snatched for by the starving gold digger, - even so was that letter to us who had expected it every morning for a week as confidently as our breakfast. – I am quite loth to write you while you are immersed in the stirring life of the South, - the reception of a letter can be a matter of no moment to you, - it can allay no anxiety, - for you can feel none, even if you possessed an imagination equal to Mother’s in conjuring up disasters, it would be difficult to make them alight on us in this quiet spot, - & you cannot expect lively pictures as you give us, from the tame cold North, - Noah & his family in the ark could not have lived more monotonously than we do this Winter, their one incident of the dove going & returning, answers very well to our one, the arrival of your letters, yet we do not intend to complain of the sameness of our life since it is “one continual flow” of quiet domestic pleasures, - nursery cares giving the shadows to the home picture. – The children are getting well of their cough & Mother of hers, & a general exuberance of spirits prevails in this household, manifested in the younger portion by never keeping still the smallest fraction of a second & keeping up a continual chorus on every pitch of the only interrupted by a volley of questions generally aimed at “Ma”! – which exercises have a marvelously tendency to moderate the transports of the older members of the family. – At this moment there is a good natured face as each elbow presiding over the progress of this letter & improving the chirography thereof by administering “shock” at short intervals.
I hope you get the newspapers William sends often enough to keep the run of politics here, - don’t Uncle rave at the triumph of the Democrats? – Mr. Gregory says I must tell him that Whiggery is dead & buried in Ohio, - the very memory of it will be forgotten by the time he gets home. Pugh & Pierce have their seats & “the constitution is saved.” – After much ado Gov. Ford’s inauguration was permitted, - Mrs. Gov. Ford is here supporting her Gubernatorial dignities under the weight of plumes & brocades such as she had never dreamed of when she was attending to her dairy in Cheesedom, her large useful hands carefully “done up” in kid gloves on all occasions , as if they were preserving themselves for future operations in their former sphere, - but it would be naughty of me to show her up in a ludicrous light for she is a worthy woman, - I am going to give her a soiree this week. So much for female politics.
Tell Uncle, (I believe I had better have written him instead of you for I have the most to tell him this time, he has been with ladies so much that he is more interested in our bits of gossip) that Mrs. Sherwood is married to a scamp of a clergyman, - one who took Mr. Richard’s place in Mrs. Whiting’s church & who was bared out of the church by his congregation when every other attempt to get rid of him failed. – Mrs. Richards told me her husband was delighted with his company while you & Uncle were with him, - I wonder if you preached & took up contribution on the way.
Mr. Watson was in town a short time ago – he told William the Lower Sandusky people were dying off as bad as in Cholera times, with the Erysipelas Fever. – There will no body be left to quarrel when you return so you will have to hunt a new place for your peace making profession don’t fix upon Texas though, tis too far away from us.
Helen is still in N. York.
Remember me to Bryan & his family – I love them all for their kindness to you. – Write us often – just such letters as your last – you would not grudge the little effort they cost you if you knew how much real pleasure they afford us.
Love to Uncle. Dear, dear brother
P.S. Laura has written a little letter which she begs me to enclose – it is her first effort – that she was entirely unaided you will perceive by its tenor.
Pray be careful of your health – don’t feast yourself into the cholera on those fine Southern dinners, - & don’t expose yourself to contagion from the California Fever, - I cannot decide which disease I would prefer to lay hands on you, the last rages here violently, in a grade a degree higher than that which was taken off by the Mexican war, more than thirty are going form this town very soon, - in Delaware too they have California meetings two or three times a week.
“They say” that John Little is going – not to Cal’a but to be married to Caroline Williams. – Lizzie Campbell & her husband are coming to Delaware to live & John will probably leave Sandusky too. – We have just read Dicken’s Christmas tale “The Haunted Man” – Uncle is fond of ghost stories & I will send it to him if I don’t forget it though ‘tis not worth quite five thousand pounds – the sum Dicken’s recieved for it. A poor thing.
I am reading “Domby & Son” the name prevented my reading it before but I like it very much. I will leave the other items to Mother she is great on them.
March 3d 1849
Dearest Brother, -
Since we have recieved such gladsome letters from you I have regretted writing that frightening dolorous epistle, for straight from the heart as those ebullitions of feelings sprang I know they were quite ridiculous in your eyes, - reaching you as they did while you were so safe & happy, but you must admit that you ran some hazards & with a little different turn to affairs my anxiety would not have been so very malapropos after all. – The difference between Mother & myself is that she spends a few of her fears every day so that when there is a real demand for them she has not a whole hoard of them to concentrate on one object as I have, who go on hoping & believing that all is right until a foundation for alarm is seen when my whole treasure of fears is ready to erect uoon it a mighty edifice of apprehensions.
I almost though you were off to California by your preparing as for the reception of no letters, - but then I knew you could have no object for concealment if such were your design. – Edward Bancroft has gone to the golden land – he probably expected to fish up the ore from the rivers as any harder made of getting it would not suit his temperament. Willie Hickok has gone too. – We will wait until the balloon is finished now building in N. York to carry passengers to the mines in four days! Orrific! It is estimated that five thousand will go from this state the present year. John Mc.Dowell is going with the intention of residing there permanently – he expects to be a star of the first magnitude there.
I recieved a letter from Helen written soon after yours reached her, - she was seemingly a little piqued by you tardiness in writing – said she should reflect two months upon the propriety of answering it. – If it were not a breach of confidence I should like to send you her letter as it might perhaps give you a better insight into her feelings than any expression of them you will be likely to get for the present.
She has a higher place than ever in my esteem since I have discovered the motives from which she acts, - not so much a discovery of my own either as a revilation by herself, for she has avowed to me her sentiments in the most frank & ingenuous manner. – She will not marry or even engage herself in a hurry, - she will take time to investigate your character; nothing will induce her to follow a mere girlish fancy for a the only character in which she knows you, - unless she discovers valuable qualities for a husband. – You must know that the wandering life you are leading gives her few opportunities for arriving at a knowledge of your true character, & as she has a sort of liking for you has she not a right to demand time without the charge of coquetry? I am sure you think so, & will deem her the better worth waiting for because she has the independence to exercise her judgment in a matter into which young ladies generally think it so romantic to rush blindfolded. To fall in love at first sight sounds very pretty & confiding in a novel but in real life it is neither safe or sensible as many a husband & wife might tell you.
In answering Helen I exerted what little skill I possess to forward your case, - not by praising you – that was not for a partial sister to do, - but to keep her from flying off from the position which she now occupies, lest her motives should be misconstrued. – She is young & you are not old so that haste is not necessary.
I wish in return for your lively descriptions I could pick up some news for you – but the superintendent of the food & raiment of a troop of little folks does not furnish other than tame subjects for letter writing.
This has been a grand day for Willie, - his fifth birthday, - he had the present of a pencil this morning – the first trial he made of it was a letter to you but as we have none of us the skill to decipher it I think it will hardly find its way to Texas. This afternoon he had a party consisting of himself & another little boy. – Laura was quite indignant when we recieve a letter from you containing none for her until we assured her you had not had time to get hers.
Hatty has another of the “poor man’s blessings” – a daughter they call her Frances. –
The Legislature is in session & in session like to be for a month yet. – The Locos plotting all the mischief & the Whigs committing as many blunders as they can. – Chase is elected senator. The Free soilers & Democrats forming a coalition.
Mother says she would write but thinks you will not get another letter – she expects you home in a day or two – I try to moderate her expectations by resuring her you cannot get here before May. – Come when you will there will be a great rejoicing. – we can regret your trip this Winter since you have both extra pleasure & health.
Best love to Uncle – we congratulate him on his renewed youth. – Write if you don’t come directly home.
Your Loving Sister
I did not have your last letter by me when I wrote – so I will answer it next time – success to your Western tour – am glad Bryan joins you, - kind regards to him, - why don’t you bring him home with
May 16th 1849
I had a most romantic feeling of loneleness after you went away this time, - I went about putting away the battledoors & backgammon board with a sad feeling like taking leave of usefulness & with plenty to do time never drags.
I have been glancing over Mother’s letter which she handed me – she is mistaken in saying that we will not advise you again for fear you might blame us sometime, - I have no fears of that in any case, but I feel fewer ambitious aspirations for you than formerly – whenever you can be healthy useful & happy I shall be content to see you establish yourself. – I will not deny that I should rejoice to see you settled in Cincinnati if all things considered you decide that it is well for you, but any place that you finally select will possess an interest for me. – I hope you have not experienced any more unpleasant effect than we have from the late cold weather.
We have Mcauloys England – fine edition I have just commenced it again.
Uncle is well I hope.
Mother wants to send her letters off or I should not have tempted to write to day – I am both sleepy & blue.
May 27th 1849
Dearest Brother Rud –
When I recieved your letter last week I thought I would answer it before I slept – but a picnic wearied me that day – directing a sempstress occupied me the next & on the third day the cook went up stairs to shake while I did up the Saturday’s work in the kitchen – now Sabbath afternoon I sit me down with many juvenile facilities for writing – such as Laura now & then asking me how to spell a word in the letter she is penning to one of her many correspondents – Willie teasing me for his Sunday hat & Fanny climbing on the back of my chair & trying to feel of the words as fast as I write them. – Laura wrote you a long letter some time ago & she says she is quite provoked that it has not been sent, - she insists on her own unaided efforts – when I suggested that I might correct her grammer for her she replied very indignantly that she quessed she had something besides grammer to write to Uncle Ruddy. – I might give you as long a description as she has of a day spent at the Cemetery but you may have a more graphic description of it form the newspaper as elsewhere. This Cemetery is becoming a pet with us – we ride out almost every day & when the children are with us stroll for an hour over the grounds gathering wild flowers & other rural sports, - which are not gathered.
I have always regretted that our children could not roam the woods as you & I did in our childish days, but now a fine opportunity is afforded by these rural grounds & their enjoyment in them is unbounded.
I love to have their associations with this burial place thus early & pleasantly begun, - it will be to them what the “High! Banks!” were to us. – Oh how pleasantly, how refreshing those early recollections come back upon one! – I hope some day to visit Mt. Washington & some of the grand scenery of our country & if then I can experience a tithe of the deep enthusiasm & wonder I felt when we found that lovely brook with its overhanging bank I shall not have traveled in vain. – If we can leave our children in safety we intend to refresh ourselves with a trip this Summer – but that is yet quite doubtful. – There is very little alarm felt on account of cholera here – though it seems to be expected. – It it prevails here as an epidemic we shall probably leave – it is a time of year when it is pleasant to go from home at any rate – our servants would be very likely to leave & I am not o’er fond of work I should be for packing of to some of the neighboring towns. – Mr. Otis did not get the Cholera here – we have not had a single case among us. As one preventive we have had every nook & corner white-washed – this has made as a great deal of heavy work since you were here. – If your place is visited by the scourge you & Uncle must come down here & we will go together to some place of safety. Even if one is not alarmed it is so gloomy staying in a death struck place unless one has the health & strength to make a hero of himself as Uncle did before in Sandusky. – We have found Uncle’s flowers in a very good taste of preservation. Shall we send them to him?
July 1st 1849
Two letters we have recieved from you within a week & I have been impatient to answer the first but I am so constantly employed looking after my three bairns – keeping them from playing in the hot sun, - from overheating themselves & from treating themselves to the raspberries which look up most provokingly tempting - & the rich clusters of currants “through the leaves their bloom revealing” – not to mention the cherries which the birds revel in unmolested & the large English gooseberries which are turning sour from neglect – that I can hardly get time to read a letter much less to write one until after bed time or on Sabbath afternoon when the presence of their Papa occasions a quietus amongst the juveniles.
Your letter occasioned me both pleasure & regret. – pleasure for the hearty welcome you gave the announcement of my visit & which was quite unexpected to me for I was only going with a selfish desire to please myself not thinking that you could care much about it one way or the other, - & regret added to that already felt that the anticipated visit must be given up for this Summer.
Our plan was for me to go up with Mrs. Bates to Kelley’s island & from thence follow wherever pleasure seemed to lead, after our husbands joined us. My heart was set on going to Niagara but William was rather opposed to that trip – prefering the upper lake tour, - I canvassed in my own mind the propriety of asking Uncle or yourself to accompany me & my decision was that you had both traveled so much the last year that you would hate to be dragged away from home again – then you may know how gratefully your gallant offer of beauing me whither I would was recieved aggravating though it was coming as it did just as my pleasant anticipations were all dashed to the ground, for we waked up one morning & the Cholera was here! – Of course now I could not think of going away & leaving a single member of the family behind & we shall not think of going more than a days ride on account of the danger in public conveyances. – We sent to Delaware to inquire if comfortable quarters could be had – but the hotels are filled with Cincinnati & Columbus people – all private families are amply supplied with friends & relations, where we would like to take boarding. Mrs. Wasson would take us but I would infinitely prefer running the risk of any pestilence to suffering martyrdom amid her flies & litter, even the memory of her former skilful housewifery would not render her present maladministration of affairs bearable.
I think our good Cousin Sarah might spur up her hospitality to the extent of inviting Mother to spend a few weeks there, Heaven forbid that she should trust her polished mahogany & snowy tablecloths in such irreverent hands as are to be found in my household troop – but Mother! how can she close her heart against. – On the strength of a long visit of several days – she sent me back a cordial invitation to do so & the day was sent but in the meantime Mrs. Gilbert was taken dangerously ill & I did not like to leave her in the absence of her sisters, - by the time she was better the Cholera panic commenced & I wrote to say I could not leave my family, - of course that ended our correspondence.
Our sister Janette with her o’ergushing generosity & hospitality urges us to go there with our whole family – but her little house is full enough now – Harriet & her children have gone there to stay until September. H-had a violent attack of cholera – morbus the first night after she arrived there – not doubt it would have been the Asiatic if she had remained here. – We are very careful about our diet & seek purity as far as practicable in this hot humid atmosphere, ( we have had warm rains every day for more than a week) are free from all fear – or nearly so – it must be a little startling when we hear of new cases & I must confess to a good deal of trepidation the first night, - felt almost ready to be laid out, - but have grown quite courageous & am willing to stay unless very good accommodations are to be found elsewhere, or if it so happen that our servants leave us I shall want to leave directly without being very nice in my choice of place for I have just as much as I can do now to keep my children’s wants supplied, with any additional burdens I could not escape belonging to the “labouring class a very respectable portion of community but not one I am ambitious to join under “existing circumstances”
If you see the Journal you get accurate reports from here – nearly every death occured on Jewett premises –about a dozen have died there – Uncle will think his blacking has spoiled since the old man is not there to take care of it. Nine cases occured in the prison yesterday – two fatal – it will find an ample field there. Not one of our acquaintances has died with it & but three attacked – none of our intimate friends have left excepting Harriet, Mr. Sparrow’s & Mr. Andrew’s families. When our friends are all gone I shall want to go too.
I am glad that you & Uncle will go into the country when the Cholera appears in your place, it makes gloomy times at best & you may as well go where you can enjoy yourselves.
Miss Johnson died of Cholera in Cincinnati, - did you know her Mother died nine years ago & her Father has lost seven children since. – I don’t think the sulphur remedy is used here at all & as for “Ozone” I think none of our scientific faculty have proved that it is not the cause of Cholera. – (A kind of argument I learned of Mr. Vandieman.) – Gov. Ford told us some time ago that he was giving Uncle Wm. a lift toward getting the consulship so that was no news to us.
Mother is in no hurry to go away & is in much better health than usual – she had an attack of diarrhea just before the cholera came but cured herself without difficulty – she has such faith in her infallible remedy that you can’t frighten her. I prefer that she should go. – We might go to Berkshire perhaps if a part of Mrs. Gilbert’s family were not intending to stay there. – We shall write often & let us hear from you. My health is perfectly good – I feel equal to anything.
F. A. Platt.
July 10th 1849
Dear Brother Rud –
As your request I will try to write often during these perilous times.
It is now bedtime & we are all in perfect health Mother remarkable well better than she has been in two years & in the best of spirits did you ever observe this singular trait in her of being rather disposed to look on the dark side when others are very joyous & rising as others are depressed, - she serves very well thus to preserve the equilibrium in a family. – The physicians say there is very little more sickness than is usual at this season excepting at the prison – there the ravages of the cholera are fearful – the public sympathy is so awakened that probably a great number will be pardoned, - the Governor is expected to night. – We are getting every thing ready to start at short notice if it should become imprudent to remain.
William has had a very sick day but it is a comfort that he has not one Cholera symptom. We have had Dr. Smith – he says it is bilious fever & will be easily controlled – he was taken suddenly after breakfast & has not been free from acute pain for a moment. – Last might they did not lock up the prisoners but allowed them to sleep in the workshops – to day the Cholera is not as violent there as yesterday – though but 70 sat down to the breakfast table this morning.
Dr. Gard one of the prison physicians is dying or dead – he was seized last night without any premonitory symptoms. - The rest of us are remarkably well.
Fifty three is the whole number that have died in the prison.
July 13th Evening
Having mentioned William’s illness in my last letter I thought you might like to know of his recovery. The attack was very violent but was arrested so soon that there was no time for anxiety. – His fever was so high & pain in his bones so intense that in an ordinary patient it would have been expected that a long “spell” of bilious fever would ensue but his recuperative energies (as the Doct. says) are so active that when the disease is checked there is nothing more to be done.
His fever never returned after the first day & we have been taking our usual ride to the cemetery this evening.
Our children are just well & just as happy as they can be – there is no school & they have one long holiday, - indeed we might all have holiday for there is no business to attend to – only it seems more like the Sabbath than any other day. – We have had beautiful Summer days yesterday & today – quite warm but refreshing breezes blowing which dry & purify.
There have been no new cases of Cholera in town excepting Dr. Lathrop – one of the prison physicians – & he is thought to be in a favorable state. – There is a decided improvement at the prison – only one death last night & one this morning, - we have not heard since noon.
We are doing all we do with a view to leaving at short notice – but we are all so well & so little danger to be apprehended that we don’t want to go just yet. – Let us hear from you
Helen Kelley made a “providential” escape this evening, - while herself & cousin were riding; the horse became restive while the latter was fixing the harness & by some maneuvering tipped the buggy over on to Helen only soiling her dress, - they righted the buggy went home & changed the horse & dress & gave me a call afterwards. Love to Uncle.
July 31st 1849
Dear Brother Rud,
I received your letters & forwarded one with a short one of my own.
I wish I had time for a long letter I have so much to write about our daily pleasures – but it is late – all in bed but me - & we take an early start tomorrow for Hart’s spring. - We are delightfully settled here – brought our cook to help in the kitchen & great many comforts for ourselves in addition to the innumerable ones they have provided here for us. We intended to make our head quarters here & trip it about the country at our leisure.
Mother & Laura are at Mrs. Wasson’s & very comfortable too – she has the whole of her house & no boarders.
There are two front chambers unoccupied now & she is taking such pains that you & Uncle might be very comfortable there - & here there is a very decent tavern where you might come for a change – Mr. Chittenden’s family from Columbus are staying at it for the Summer Mr. Andrew’s family came over from Hart’s (where they are Summering) & spent today they were so well pleased they think of coming over again for a week – Mrs. Gilbert boards half a mile below here & Will Baldwin is coming with his family – so you see there is no lack for society.
The particular object of my writing to night is to ask you to meet us at Gambier the 7th of August or Mt. Vernon. Commencement if on the 8th.
We intend to be there if the weather & roads are good & all other contingencies favorable.
Come away. Come away. Adieu Fanny.
I am so anxious to have this letter reach you that I dare not venture the new name.
Sept 16th 1849
Dearest Brother –
It is very pleasant to sit down this Sabbath afternoon in my wanted place to answer your pithy little bit of a letter almost as concisely worded as a hymeneal notice. – Now I am older than you are & have seen the folly in the present age of the world of never saying anything excepting when I have some thing to say or never writing without something important to communicate therefore be not surprised if I fill up two or three pages without recording a fact or deducing a moral which you would consider worthy of appearing in black & white. – I suppose if I were to tell you that we are all well with the exceptions of William’s very bad cold – Mother’s swelled face – my remains of a cough Laura’s headache & Fanny’s sore mouth you would be perfectly satisfied & never have the tact to inquire how I enjoyed my visit. – Delaware whether I went again to Berkshire & how I found matters in my domestic provence when I reached home – thus robbing me of the power of being eloquent upon my disappointments in Delaware – such as its raining one half the time I was there & my coughing myself nearly to death the other half – how one half my friends who wished me to visit then had no “help” & the other half had sick children & therefore they all wished to be excused – how Cousin Sarah went off to Zanesville & thus abridged my long talked of ten days visit with her to a “sociable afternoon” - & how with one accord they complained when I came away that they had scarcely seem me & begged me to make a longer visit next time with the air of people who had been badly slighted, - how the streets & places that I had loved “lang Syne” I found neglected & dilapidated & places that I had scorned grown up & blossoming like the rose – how there was a spice of real pleasure too in a charming visit of a day or two at Mrs Little’s & in finding the dear old Sulphur Spring as sparkling & flowing as ever & those grounds about the mansion House that we Delawareians always felt such a pride in arraying themselves in permanent beauty, -- how we went a family party – Solises & Platts – Little & great to Berkshire the Saturday before we came down here having a most jovial pleasant time – how we came down here a week ago tomorrow & found to my special delight our good applefaced maid of all works standing in the door to welcome us – broom in hand - & how said broom has been kept in busy requisition ever since removing the exquisite tapestries which the industrious spiders had spun wove & hung upon every where & the dust which had cushioned the whole house & lastly how complacently we rest from our labours this seventh day & looking about upon our well regulated house pronounced the work of our hands “very good.” – All this & much more I might have made quite a picture of, if, as I said before, you only possessed the art of putting leading questions – you have the faculty of making yourself singularly agreeable when you do not feel like taking the trouble of making them pleased with you. – You see what a sly lecture your little letter has called forth – but indeed I have been saying smooth things all Summer & there is such a home feeling in finding fault that you must come in for our share. But never mind, brother mine, you need not write any longer when you don’t feel like it. – I am rejoiced to hear that Fremont is increasing so rapidly in population but the Whig mothers must be stimulated to their duty or the Democratic cry will be louder than ever.
We persuaded Mother to stay in Delaware until we put the house to rights – yesterday she came down & we are fixed for the Winter.
I have seen Helen twice – she expressed a great deal of disappointment at not being able to meet us at Harts – some unexpected business detained Mr. Espy from taking Miss Welles & Mrs. K objected to H.s going with only Deshler because so many remarks had been made about his attentions to her.
She entrusted a note of apology to some one going up to Hart’s for me & the talking clique there made out quite a story of an engagement between you and Helen & how it was all arranged to meet there & how sad you looked when she didn’t come &c. &c.
Belle Espy was quite active in adding pretty embellishments to the picture, - but Helen down not seem to care for Madame Rumor.
You say you have cold weather – come here it is warm & delightful with us, only we that have been luxuriating in rural life are quite disgusted with City dust – we have it in clouds.
Best love to Uncle & the “lobster” babies.
After exchanging greeting with all our friends immediately about us it seems quite natural that we should yearn towards those who are absent, & I will gratify this feeling by writng to you & thus close this week of festivities alarms & toils.
Of the most important events – the Widowers party & our fire – you have already been informed but as such momentous transactions are generally considered worthy of more than one historian I may as well add my version to those you may have already recieved .
The fire being a matter of the latest interest I will begin with the “introduction” to that. – On Saturday Evening we gave a little tea party to Lizzie Campbell & I never enjoyed a little social gathering at our own house more – at a late hour we returned to rest in the best possible humor with ourselves & all the world – about two we awoke & the bright light on the curtain revealed the close vicinity of fire & when looking out we saw the glowing cinders falling in a shower upon the garden we made our toilets in rather less time than we ordinarily do for breakfast.
The stable full of dry lumber & other combustible materials the wood house stored full of similar stuff as if just ready for a bonfire were one blazing mass, roaring, crackling & stretching its great firy arms over the house as if eager for more prey after one look at the fire we snatched our children up, threw cloaks around them & ran to the neighbors, - the fireman were soon on the ground & combated the fire until daylight – not allowing it to progress an inch after they fairly got to work. – We had all our family back to breakfast Sunday morning but our house was in a sad state of confusion during that day. We all had our individual regrets – poor little Willie considered himself the greatest loser as much as his fine propeller, wheelburrow, sled, swing &c were destroyed – Willie Gilbert regretted his nuts & tools – William lost some choice grape vines – I mourned greatly over my New Years turkey, quails, chickens, &c. &c which were hung in the wood house to keep cool – in fine we almost come to the conclusion that never was wood house & stable filled with such valuable articles. – “How blessings brighten us they take their flight.”
Now although we did not make quite so brilliant an appearance on the occasion of the party as the fire you have probably seen that there were not wanting bright & shining lights at the “widowers wake” – (the name you have the credit of bestowing. . -) The ridiculous description you refer to has occasioned as much talk as the party itself & a deal of wonder & guessing in every circle. – Curiosity has been busy ferreting out the author. – The “dyspeptic looking widower” with the two ladies was Mr. Bateham with Miss Caroline, Mother & Miss Crosby, - the prominence given to three persons who usually only helped to give fill up the background immediately fixed suspicion on Mr. Bateham – he too being the one who would be supposed the best able to describe the scene at his wife’s death bed. – Now however it is said to have been actually traced to a Mrs. Tracy – Matron of the deaf & dumb asylum a widow lady who has been in the habit of writing for the public press – a great friend of Mr. Bateham. – I cannot see how she became so familiar with society here as she has scarcely mingled at all in it.
Heath Ware seemed to me the most probable person but public opinion is not with me. I can hardly think a lady would have so little good taste, write a full description of the party but a good one is coming out in tomorrows paper so I may as well spare myself & you. – Tell us all about yourself this may be a very important year to you – perhaps the last free from the hurry of business. Your loving sister Fanny.
Jan 20th 1850
This is my thirtieth birthday. How old it sounds! Every tenth year seems to leap over such a space & come down upon us with such an emphasis. I cannot feel so mature, & yet when I look back through the vista of thirty years to the ill defined point where memory begins to make her first dim uncertain record it seems very far away. All along this distance how pleasures loom up & continue to grow in proportion as time causes them to recede, while griefs & disappointments sink like little valleys almost out of sight, - is not this a happy compensation for the small enjoyment of the present? Our lot in life is forever brightened by “The fame of the future the dream of the past.” –As I think of thirty years to come I long to see what they have in store for me & those I love yet if a magic glass were given me for that purpose I should shrink from the first glance. – Reflection at these eras in one’s life awaken a world of sentiment but I suppose you will only laugh at mine as you do at that which emamates from a much higher source. – How you could ever romance enough to make love is a mystery to me, though indeed I know there is deep feeling in your nature, so deep that skilful mining is required to bring it to light & much sifting to separate it from the fun & humor with which it is mingled. Now laugh! do!
I am truly sorry that I did not write to you a few days sooner for now I fear you will consider yourself excused from sending us your usual weekly bulletin. – Your last letter to me was just such a one as I like to get, - entering into all the minutia of your goings & doings as it did it allowed me to participate in all your pleasures - & your sketches of character extend my circle of acquaintance without shocking my timidity as a personal introduction into high life would do. – I hope you will cultivate the friendship of Mrs. Cox, - if the child shadowed forth the woman she must be very amiable & excellent, - she was in the Putnam school at the same time that I was, - the youngest there I believe, - a timid, studious, lovable little creature, - the only one I ever saw with Buckingham blood in their veins, destitute of pride. – She probably does not remember me – though she may, ask her if you like. – I have understood that her husband has considerable talent & is in a good business there, also that the kin are anxious to get him back to Zanesville & that he thinks of returning if so you may possibly gain something by his acquaintance. Does Miss Collins resemble the sister who was here last winter? – I am glad you are cultivating your gallantry – you will have plenty of time for it if your fate is like most young lawyers.
I am glad too that your office leisure is shared by another, - sitting up alone for business calls must be something like my waiting for New Year’s calls since I have no young ladies to grace my parlor with their attractions.
You omitted to tell us how you spent New Year’s day.
I do not wonder you did not recognise us amongst the fancy sketches of the widower’s guests – no person would , but for my husband’s being “slightly bald” – I forbid his ever getting a wig, now that his crowning feature has so happily distinguished us. – I think it will be a long time before such another “court” will be held it has been written to death by newspaper scribblers & Mr. Tyng has preached its funeral sermon. – He gave fashionable dressing such a scorching. – that the boldest arms in his church have hid themselves behind white lace. – Nothing like a party has been ventured upon – our fashionables solace themselves with concerts & lectures – of which there is no lack, - & sociable tea drinkings got up in true orthodox style we were at a nice little gathering at Mr. Noble’s last week – nice people, nice house, - nice entertainment. – Mr. Cushing gave us one of his rarified lectures the evening before he left for the South - The audience applauded – the papers puffed - & the orators seemed to be as pleased as any one, - The lecture occupied an hour & fifty minutes – William was so far back in the crowd he could not catch a sentence – he thought it was rather long! -- You know it has been said that his heart is broken for “Fenella” (is not that the fairy’s name?) & his description of the disappointments of genius, & pathetic sketch of the love of Dante for his Beatrice were drawn as by one of like experience.[-You hear all the news, so you must have heard that Miss E. is engaged to Mr. Rgh. Of Cin. so you may anticipate the pleasure of her conversation frequently hereafter-] – You will no doubt hear how our citizens have been “astonished, instructed, & amused by the Biological lectures which you will have the opportunity of attending – though you will not avail yourself of it more than once, - a crowd went to hear them night after night because a farce is always popular. – We shall have something to keep us alive all Winter of one sort or another – if variety fails we can soon take a railroad frolic to Cincinnati.
Laura has written a note to you which she considers very withering – she will not call it a letter because you do not deserve one from her she thinks, - she has had this ready a week & very impatient to send it. – a “proper letter” from her Aunt Hickok & Uncle Birchard have quite built up her dignity. – Nannie talks a great deal about “Uncle Yuddy” - - says he has gone to “Tincinnati” bringing out the word with great gusto. – I seldom see –H- did I tell you she gave me a pretty present – The Gift Book of American poetry. – Deshler is generally her cavalier.
Mrs. Bates says she would like to know what kind of an understanding there is between you – that there is one she think very evident – as all the family considered the parlor as given up to H & Mr. Hayes when he is in town.
Mother is intending to write soon she expected a page of this, but I have cheated her out of it & you will be the gainer for she will write longer now on her own sheet. – Now do make it a part of your business to write often & particularly.
Your loving sister
Shall we direct letters simply to Cincinnati.
Feb. 10th 1850
Dear Brother Rud,
All the family are gone & I am left in perfect quiet, excepting one little luminous face which has climbed upon the back of my chair & stands ready to jog my elbow every second & ask me a question every minute, while I have written these few lines I have bestowed a whole page of admonitions upon her. – Much as I love my nursery duties I would like once in a while to get out of the reach of perpetual questions long enough to write a letter or enjoy a scene in a romance, - I think of yours & Williams quiet offices with almost a feeling of envy, - but I suppose it is a luxury that you are not anxious to enjoy a great while & perhaps will require as much patience to carry you happily through your two or three years of leisure as I shall in my little Bedlam.
Your letters are more satisfactory than any you ever wrote me from a lawyer’s office, - I dread on this account the time when your atmosphere will be tainted by business – what little shriveled scraps of letters I shall be treated to then, yet as your success is what I most desire I shall be quite content.
I am glad that you daguerreotype so faithfully all the little matters connected with your city life. I hardly need to visit you to know how you are living & what you are doing, but tell me how you have found the reality different from what you anticipated, for of course you have found as we always do in a change of scene that expectation & experience are unlike, & if we think of it there is something curious & interesting in tracing the differences.
You will see half your Columbus acquaintances in Cin. when the cars begin to run, - we think of going down the first trip – staying but one day just to see how quick a visit can be made with our new facilities. – H & her cousin are going down to spend a week or two with Miss Williams, - Miss Gwynne & Bella Espy are also going to spend several weeks with their friends.
Some of these persons I know you will for your own pleasures sake treat with sufficient politeness – but let me ask as a favour confered upon me that you will show Miss Gwynne a little kind agreable attention, - she is a friend I value very highly.
I met H two or three evenings ago at Mr. Tyng’s & had a pleasant chat with her – she talked in a free & easy way about all her beaux – yourself among the number, - how Mr. Deshler spent long evenings with her & Mr. Cushing wrote her long letters- not less than eight pages. – She’s a queer one, - if she ever falls in love I should like to see how it operates upon her. – With all your pleasant acquaintances you will have a fine opportunity for cultivating beau-like accomplishments - & with the lectures, societies, & other advantages of a city residence you may so increase your intellectual store that you will not regret the lightening of your purse for a brief season. – I wonder if you heard the lecture on “Kossuth” delivered first in Cin. & afterwards here by Mr. Tefft, - I hope you did though I am sure you would have mentioned it if had enjoyed it as much as I did. It was a most masterly sketch of Hungary & its noble [patriot full of those exquisite touches – or rather one flow of] eloquence which bears the spirit away as if on wings, & melts the heart like sweet strains of music. For two hours & a half the large audience listened without the least approach to weariness – a part of the time loudly applauding & towards the latter end bringing into active service most of the handkerchiefs in the assembly.
A movement was made towards sending Mr. Teft to Washington with his fine production – but the news that the Hungarians are granted a free egress from Turkey & the possibility that Kossuth may now be on his way to this country renders such a step unnecessary. – I have placed him among the heroes that I worship.
I am just pleasantly busy this Winter – not hurried – about half our evening we spend out – the rest we have good books to read at home – pleasant days I go to see my friends – rainy ones I patch my boy’s pantaloons & coats & comb the snarls out of my girl’s hair – while thus employed I endeavor to retain a little sentiment by persuading Mother to read a novel to me if she can raise her voice above the din. – We have been reading “Shirley” – every body reads “Shirley” – accordingly I did, in spite of previous resolutions, - I do not go into raptures over it as most do – but rather like it – would particularly recommend it to old maids & old bachelors, it must be rather consoling to them.
When in your reading you meet with any book that would be pleasant & improving to me – please name it – I do not like to spend my limited time in reading books which I find out at last possess neither of these qualities.
William wished me to leave a corner for him – but that is not the reason I leave this whole page – I sat down in the most indolent possible humor & have not improved by writing, - have not energy enough to think whether I have anything more to say. - I dare say I shall recal many items tomorrow as I generally do after sending off my letters & they get too old for the next letter. – Oh here is one that I wished especially to mention, - a short time ago I wrote to Charlotte she being absent her Mother answered it immediately by enclosing a volume of letters recieved from Mary who is spending the Winter in Yazoo, Miss. – the most pleasing intelligence they contained was that she should return in May & spend the Summer with her Ohio friends, - I am impatient to communicate this to Uncle he will be so gratified! Can’t you see him putting his hand to his head & striding across the room, revolving in his own mind the means of escape? She says she shall expect Uncle to meet her at Sandusky – she probably thinks that village situated on the Ohio river. When she finds her mistake she will probably be just as willing to have cousin Rutherford receive her at Cin. & forward her on her journey in due time. Aunt Birchard added a characteristic note – I will make one rich extract “I hope you will all think of Mary in that wilderness, in a loghouse with reptiles, niggers & 14 miles from a post office & have Fanny & Rutherford write her.” “Direct your letters Yazoo City Miss. to the care of James Bullence Esq. please give R. the address”.
After such an appeal you will of course hasten to responde to it as desired. – When Mary comes I intend to treat her kindly & hospitably for all things considered she claims our charitable forbearance. I declare I am at the bottom of the page – but many last words at the door belong to women by established usage.
When we come we shall stop at the Burnet House because the others will. Write every week.
March 17th 1850
Dearest Brother Rud,
Why have you not written? was it not the understanding that you should write first. Or have you had very absorbing engagements on hand which left little leisure for absent friends. – The first week or two after my return passed without any of the usual longing for a letter – for, I came home so entirely satisfied with your lot in life – your physical health & peace of mind that I no longer felt those anxious desires for fresh assurances of your welfare which I had experienced from the time you went to Cincinnati until I saw you there, redolent with health & hope. – But now I wish a letter, - I am tired of hearing nothing beside these “bird of the air” rumors – how “Mr. Hayes is very attentive” & “Miss Helen is flirting desperately.
I am very glad we visited you I like to think how the street looks where you walk every day & although our friends laughed at us for coming home so soon & pretending we knew anything about Cincinnati – I maintain that we are quite thoroughly acquainted with it. – I challenged Mrs. Dennison to a comparison of the lions we saw – she staid several weeks – but the printing of Adam & Eve was all the advantage she had of me. – I have been on the lookout for the return of a part of the pleasant party who accompanied us down – they must find city attractions very binding.
We had a stupidly tedious ride home – next time I shall be for staying when I get there since all this trip was pleasant but the returning. – Yet the getting home to the little folks was pleasant, - Nannie said a great many times “must not go to Tincinnati” in her authoritative manner, - but Willie enjoyed our absence inasmuch as he had as much molasses as he wanted. – We are reaping the ills as well as benefits of the new railroad, - the prospect of higher wages has enticed away our faithful John – to some wood & water station leaving William no alternative for the present but to turn ostler to old Dick in place of enjoying his matin slumbers so luxuriously as he has all Winter.
Columbus is fast relapsing into a Summer calm, - the marriageable young ladies are giving up matrimonial speculations declaring marriage a perfect bore – making their own shoes decidedly preferable; - people talk about the Cholera & country residence - even our Lyceum lectures are discontinued. – Mr. Carrington wound them up with a lecture on Volcanos! – a characteristic selection you would think – his look of wonder would have been in perfect keeping if the subject had been new to his audience, - but as it was only treated Geographically & statistically probably many thought as Laura said when by her desire I gave her a sketch of the lecture – “humph I learned all that before in my Geography.” – Miss Reed commenced a course of Shakespearian readings – but after the first night returned to Cin. without making a second attempt – her audience was composed of the elite of the place but their very faint applause probably convinced her that her name did not indicate her fitting vocation – or else that their obtuse perceptions of genius could not even be aroused by her powers. – Indeed I think the best of Shakesperian readings must fail to excite much more interest than the quiet reading of a well modulated voice by ones own fireside without any attempt at imitating characters in the stage ranting style, - they however possess one advantage, without the evils attendant upon the theatre – they create a new interest in Shakespeare’s beauties in a large circle at the same time - & give them the place they deserve in conversation & which has been so long usurped by the fashionable novelests of the day.
Mother & I have been feasting out of the same dish reading the memoirs of Dr. Channing, - his piety secures her favour - & his liberal sentiments charm me – he must have been of a similar mould with your clergymen who drowned himself, - those who are restless under sectarian trammels touch in me a sympathising cord.
Fill up the interstices of these thoughts & recreations with the making of children’s bibs & sunbonnets & you will know how time has passed with me since I came home.
I believe Lizzie Baldwin has given up the hope of visiting Cincinnati this Spring – she would be vastly disappointed if it were in her nature to be.
When are you going to Fremont? Perhaps you will make it convenient when you can have good company as far as Xenia. – Write do.
There is a likeness of Kossuth in the March number of the “Ladies repository” – will you send it to me – we cannot get it here. – He is one of our heroes you know, - a poor wood cut is all we can get of him.
April 7th 1850
I suppose you are at home again & hope that you have escaped getting a cold during your Northern trip. I had many fears for you while the March winds were blowing in such Wintry fashion.
We received Uncle’s letter & yours to Laura – the mention of your pleasant visit at Sandusky almost induced Mother to go there instead of Cincinnati this season – but I decidedly recommend the latter – if she goes at all I am very anxious it shall be this month, -because of the sickness that may be in him later, - because of the convention which will bring you all here next month - & because of the repairs we shall be soon making – which will make us very uncomfortable for a time – a kind of discomfort which, as it is not necessary, I do not wish her to share.
Our kinsfolks & acquaintances have been in a bustle of removal this week, - the Gilbert’s are packed into their little house & strive to look comfortable – but the house will not hold them – they will boil over before long. – Harriet is settled and quite to her mind- boarding at Mr. Huntington’s she revels in the refinements of case after her trying familiarity with the vulgarities of a kitchen - & returns most naturally to the enjoyment of books & the assiduous care of her aristocratic hands.
The present is the first time since her marriage I have seen anything enviable in her situation, - not that I think it desirable – it hardly seems to me endurable – to be separated from one’s husband for months without scarcely hearing from him, - neither would I like to relinquish the pleasures of home – the only place where woman is “monarch of all she surveys” – but I would like to shake off the annoyances which beset me on every side, - such as a clumsy servant who leaves the picture of his great hands every morning on the parlor door or the prospect of a faithful kitchen maid getting married & leaving me to the tender mercies of a worthless substitute, - then to have a good large place by your fireside occupied at will by any of “Kitty’s relatives” in the shape of overgrown nieces & nephews who find it convenient to attend market or teach school in your neighborhood, or silly cousins who seek your house as a place of refuge from a termagnat mama almost wearies one with domestic quiet” & the “graces of hospitality”. – But you will think as William does that I am in a perfect tease, - a state very unamiable I must acknowledge – but you always knew I had not much of the angel in me or much to make poetry about. – Yet I am sometimes in a good humor & then life is sunny enough & my lot blessed enough & I am ashamed that what seem like such trifles after they are passed should have annoyed me so much while they were occurring.
You lords of creation are such paragons you never are ruffled by such small matters, oh no! nothing less than a missing shirt button or mislaid slippers will disturb your equanimity.
Look out how you get a wife to fret at you, - the best of us can play the part of Mrs. Candle most naturally.
It is decided that we are to lose Mr. Tyng – so as we were Tyngites & not Episcopalians we shall relapse into Swedenbargians or anything else that offers. – I am truly sorry to lose the church going spirit which we were fast acquiring under Mr. Tyng’s administration. – But I think he will leave almost unmourned excepting by the old maid Welles’ & ourselves.
--Miss Mary Wells lost her trunk when she was returning from Cincinnati – it was at Buffalo the last she heard from it, - a young lady without her traps is in a destitute condition indeed.
Lizzie Baldwin has a real live suitor in Moses Hoge – but she can’t abide the prospect of being a stepmother so she will “look farther”- as we say when we are shopping. She is quite elate with the anticipation of having another chance at Jake Perkins – he was a candidate for the convention & is probably elected. – Your superior gifts are much discorted upon by Mrs. G. & Lizzie.
I will wind up this rambling letter with an important item of business – the coloring establishment you will find on 5th St. West of Elm. “Huntley & Thompson”
I am not quite sure of the first name in the firm but it is almost Huntley if not quite. – I would like the silk colored black & sent to me as soon as possible by any safe hand who may leave it at Blynn’s if it will be any more convenient. Also Laura’s gaiters. Don’t forget them, brother mine.
Write, write often.
Your loving Sister
May 5th 1850
Dearest Brother Rud, -
I have just come from the parlor after a half hour’s chat with your friend Herron – he appears very social & good tempered – I am glad you have so pleasant a companion. –This is quite a visiting Sabbath with us, - just such a one as we have a great many of in the course of the year- Uncle, Helen Gregory, Mr. Solis, Mr. Herron & Doct. Little have all been here since church.
We wrote to Uncle that he had better defer his visit for a few weeks because we were without a kitchen & were living on “cold victuals” – but he did not get the letter & has staid at the hotel nights, - comes up & helps me boil the potatoes over the dining room grate & seems to enjoy our dinners with a peculiar relish because served up in such a primitive style. – Helen is teaching one of our public schools but only spends Sunday’s with us – our straitened circumstances not allowing us to accommodate a person of her generous dimensions.
We shall be living nicely in our new quarters by the time you come – I am going to have a nice Welch girl tomorrow - & a prospect of John’s returning – so I am beginning to get in a good humor. – I am very grand in my new dyed silk – only I cannot help thinking of Mrs. Narrowsmith who you remember darned her carpets & dyed her dresses.
I am much obliged to you for attending to my business so well & will settle all fees at some convenient season.
Laura’s shoes fit her exactly - & she has a letter in progress which will probably express her gratitude.
The best way to ensure Aunt Emilys favour is for you to write to her - & don’t forget the pretty sisters & perhaps if she is not there some of them will be polite in her place.
Uncle says a request well made from a gentleman bears much greater weight with Aunt E. than one from a lady & he thinks my writing quite a superfluity. – You must tell her her what good friends they, the Jonses, have been to you while you were a stranger.
Mother now talks of going to Cin. – when Dr. Hoge & his elders go to the great National Presbyterian Assembly, which I believe meets next week. – she may not stay more than a week or two though I think she would gain much ease by remaining till we get “to rights” again – yet she has seemed to enjoy our narrow quarters very much – they have called into play her Yankee contrivance – she really enjoys cooking up a few nice things in a little bit of a sauce pan over a little bit of a fire much better than superintending a dinner on a large scale with a retinue of servants, - it accords better with her previous habits – she has really been a most important aid. –
If there are any descriptions of the Burnet party after the manner of one Widower’s party – please send my a copy.
Uncle is not going to Cincinnati this time, - he can laugh & enjoy a joke as well as ever, but the loss of his suit is of course quite severe upon him. I am truly surprised & sorry at the result – but it will remove from your path what all sage observers of mankind deem a stumbling block to a young man’s progress – that is a fortune to fall back upon if he fails to win the bread & butter for himself.
You have now your own energy alone to back you & I do not fear but it is all sufficient.
Mr. Herron says you have made friends much faster than he did the first year & his account of your uninterrupted health was pleasant to hear.
Do not omit regular cold bathing – it is a sore trial for lazy people but it will give vigor to the constitution I don’t doubt. I wish I could think of some more advice in my capacity of elder sister but my family are too baskling today to allow of letter writing.
Mr. Tyng will preach his last sermon to us next Sabbath. – I have heard your Mr. Nicholson named as his successor but not in an official quarter, - would not he suit the sinners of the congregation pretty well?
June 9th 1850
Dearest Brother Rud,
I would have answered your letter announcing Cousin Mary’s arrival in Cin. by the next mail only that I thought by waiting a few days I might urge you to come with her, I do so want you here now – with her to look at & you to listen to time would pass quite pleasantly. – But with all the exertion that could be made Saturday might came without a place to lodge you in, - by a little more doubling we prepared a comfortable room for Mary - & this week the servants can take possession of their rooms so that we can make you welcome whenever you find it convenient & agreable to come. – What a pretty dainty looking little creature Mary is – with her French ways; when she clasps her beautiful little hands together & throws back her head at all the astonishing little things which seem to be constantly overwhelming her she is quite dramatic, quite picture like.
In one of the large Southern towns I should think she would suit admirably – like the ladies of the South she is so the embodiment of lady like uselessness. Before she came I thought of the many nice little pieces of needlework Charlotte had done for me – though she does not belong to the useful class & thought that she might sometimes wile away the morning by my work table – but after seeing her one would soon think of Power’s “Greek slave” employing her hands hemming muslin.
For a Vermont girl she is certainly a prodigy!
Our children are quite in raptures with her – she pets them & fondles them so prettily.
Laura’s Jenny Lind fits Nannie so well that I think I shall keep it for her – we had provided Laura with another bonnet before it came – I think it has travelled about enough to be taken in somewhere.
To change the subject from little things to great – let me ask about Emerson, - before you wrote of him I intended to ask you to give me some ideas of his lectures & opinions, - the matter, style & object of the former & the Theology of the latter. I have only read enough of his writings to give me a notion of some striking truths mixed up with much that is incomprehensible & shadowy; - the effect on my feelings was something like looking through a telescope at some scene which is indistinctly within its range – one feels as if a moment more would reveal in more plainly – so in reading I felt that I had almost grasped a though – but not quite. – Was he not once a Unitarian clergyman over one of the churches in Boston?
I have been reading the memoirs & writings of the Rev. Henry Ware more because they fell in my way than because of any particular interest they possessed, - you may know of him in his own sphere as Cambridge was the scene of his labors, - I think he was succeeded in his pulpit by Emerson.
Columbus is lively of course this Summer – Winter doings all over again. – Lizzie Baldwin is full of pleasant excitement with her many beaux – each time I see her she regales me with an account of Mr. Page’s or Mr Perkin’s last visit. – The last gentleman & Miss Helen are said to be making an impression on each other.
You were kind enough to ask me for a long letter but this warm weather is not more favorable to my epistolary powers than to yours, - a siesta is too inviting.
The dust & drouth here are unparalled in all the annals of Spring, - my roses are just struggling into bloom but one is obliged to give them a shower bath before any fragrance can be discovered.
Write or come soon.
June 10th 1850
I do not shorten my afternoon nap & sit down at my desk for the purpose of writing you a letter – but merely to inform you of a very few things in as few words as a woman can.
The first is that our new rooms are completed & we are in the happy occupancy of them, - though the mechanics are still hovering about touching up the front rooms a little that they may not be too much outdone by those in the rear. – This week we shall be very busy finishing up the house cleaning, but by Saturday night shall be in prime order. – Some have said that the July court would be postponed until Fall, - now as soon as you ascertain that to be a fact we wish you to come up immediately, - we are ready for you any day – though we shall be still more at leisure to enjoy your visit after this week.
We have strawberries in plenty – therefore wish you were here now. – Cousin Mary seems very happy though it has not been in our power to do anything for her amusement – William has had a good will to gallant her about but he has had such a slavish time with his new building – his new horses & his garden during the drouth that every night finds him too tired for anything but bed.
There is so much going on here now that pleasure seekers may find enough employment – you & Mary would be on the wing the whole time if you were here.
I am most agreably surprised in Mary – she is just like a sunbeam in the house, if she continue in this beaming spirit I shall enjoy her visit exceedingly.
She will probably go to Circleville about the middle of July. – I remarked that she looked like Helen before I knew you thought so.
I am content too that H. should captivate Mr. Perkins if she can – much more than I should have been a year ago.
Would not Cousin Mary & Will Deshler make a fine match – all he wants of a wife I should think is to ornament his handsome house & meet his warmth of heart with affection, - I have no opportunity of bringing about a meeting at present but you can manage it if you are like minded.
If you have paid for Laura’s Jenny Lind hat well & good, - but if you have not & you think if perfectly proper I will return it by you after your visit or by any other chance I may have for the milliner sent me one more suitable for Nannie the day after I wrote you last – one that I had engaged before Laura’s arrived.
Your Emerson letter was most excellent & most acceptable – a fine critique, - in return I would send you some thoughts too in place of this ill strung gossip, but the truth is a womans cares have so pressed upon me lately that I have not been thinking.
I have been using my hands instead of my head & only that my brain whirls a little alarmingly now & then I should be unconscious of even the little I am blessed with. – But I have more leisure in prospect.
Write or come soon.
William handed me your letter a few minutes ago & here is the valuable return I make for it, - we have been expecting you in place of a letter every time the cars arrived this week & we wish you to come immediately for many good substantial reasons. – One is cousin Mary talks of going to Circleville soon & I fear she finds it rather stupid here with nothing but children to entertain her – she plays with them & nurses Mother (who has had one of her attacks of Cholera Morbus) & seems well pleased – but I would be glad that she should see more of our young society as she will do when you are here. – Then the Convention may run away any day & you had better come see them while you can
Let us see you directly.
F. A. Platt.
Laura wrote her letter yesterday & was quite indignant that I would not permit her to put it in the office.
Sept 8th 1850
Dear Brother Rud
This is the first time during the life of the little lady Emily that I have taken pen to write & it is with a new pleasure my former employments & recreations are resumed. – The twelfth year of married life is just begun & it opens with fresh hopes & anticipations, - a quiet happiness pervades my whole being such as I have not experienced for a long time, - I do not seek for the cause, - it may be the vigorous health with which I am blessed, - or the pure atmosphere which has succeeded the cholera or the quiet home way in which I live, - I know not, but am quite satisfied with the present fact & am scarcely willing to admit how transient may be its existence.
The advent of a fifth child might be supposed to awaken no new feeling but the chords of the heart seem to send forth a richer melody the more frequently they are touched life the viol which is said to improve by long use, & this little one “has stirred the fountain of a mother’s love” more deeply than any of her predecessors.
I shall consider her quite ready for exhibition by the time you visit us again – her brilliant color has already become very much subdued under the bleaching process which is still continued. – Nannie is the same bird she was when you were here – has acquired one new accomplishment – playing on the piano, - she has one of home manufacture which she fingers with her own peculiar grace at the same time singing snatches of Negro melodies with a Jennie Lind air. – By the way what an ado the New Yorkers make over the “nightingale” – the nest they have prepared fro her at the Irving house is worthy a bird of paradise. – Is it not enough to turn the head of any woman? Such attention must be song inspiring. – Will our people “catch it” again for their adulation of foreigners? Will they be served up in a song when the Swedish lady gets home?
I love to swell an admiring crowd & earnestly hope I may happen to be on a visit to you when she visits Cin.
I suppose Mother has written of Cousin Mary’s departure for home – I was very sorry that you & Uncle did not get Mother’s letter so as to meet her at Sandusky City – a short visit at Fremont would have been gratifying to her; - to return to Vermont without seeing Uncle will make her Ohio visit quite incomplete. – The Gilberts are well at home again – Mrs. Gilbert looking charmingly in her new second mourning modeled by Eastern fashions, - & Lizzie looking much the worse for wear after her fatigue & fright at Worthington. – Our Citizens have generally returned & the place is resuming something of its wanted aspect, though it will be a long time before the sombre veil which this Summer has thrown over it will be entirely withdrawn. So many families in the deepest sorrow & so many individuals bereft of their families make this a mourning community.
Death seems loth to leave any family unscathed, Mr. Dennison second child a promising boy of seven years is at the point of death with dysentery, - their numerous little flock has been often pointed at as remarkably exempt from the maladies which children are exposed to in this climate – but now the loveliest one is about to fall. – Our large family are all in health –
Willie Gilbert has returned & Helen Gregory has been staying a month with us, - we manage to keep every niche full, - long may it be thus. –
I have some thought of sending for Eunice to make me a visit while you & Uncle are here – if I can contrive room enough.
Willie has laboured severely to write you a letter, - it was amusing to witness his desire to emulate Laura at the same time that he was entirely destitute of an idea suitable for a letter & unable to write it if he had one.
He sat down with great alacrity to his pen & paper but soon came to me with a woful countenance begging me to tell him what to write – upon my refusing decidedly to help him he went to Sarah, - I could hear the two holding counsel together in an adjoining room one whole afternoon & the enclosed production was the result of the mighty effort, - which is deserving of the most credit I am unable to say, - I consider their epistolary gifts about equal. – Willie has teased me out of all patience every day since it was written to send it you – what a relief it will be when it is gone!
Laura has been made the happy possessor of a long comb & spends the greater part of her time arranging it in her hair. Mother is growing young & spry. When she hears a rumor that Gen Hinton is caught she is almost sorry again, - she says in one breath she should be sorry if he escaped & in the next that she should be sorry if he escaped & in the next that she should be sorry to have him sent to the penitentiary, probably a great many are torn by like conflicting feelings.
William is very busy these days – Mr Griffeths death has thrown the business of the Insurance company upon him, - this with the Cemetery & Gas Company keep him labouring very hard, but I hope it will not last long.
My nursery cares keep me pretty constantly employed – I send the older children out to build play houses & with the baby in one hand & a book in the other manage to read more than usual – I have a miscellaneous stock of books on my table – religious, dramatic & romantic from Greek, German, English & American authors but notwithstanding all this literary display it would probably be found on dissertion that the baby occupied the largest place in my thoughts & memory. – Let me not forget to say that I was glad of your letter short as it was & glad to hear you were back at Cincinnati. – Hope you will write more now.
I intended to pay you for Laura’s hat please settle with the milliner & I will with you when you come.
Dr. Little was in Cin. a day or two before your return & regretted very much not finding you there. Lizzie & her Mother will be there the last of this month of their way home. – This is one of those beautiful Autumn Sabbaths – such as fills me full of sentiment but my nursery annals occupy so much space that I have no room for the expression of it – it fills my heart for a that.
Dear brother Adieu
Oct. 20th 1850
I am not sure of the time to more than append a note to Laura’s brief letter but do not regret it so much as we are looking for you every day. – I thought you were to come about the fifteenth & that was the reason of my not writing last Sabbath. – My long Sabbath afternoons that I used to devote to you every other week are no longer at my disposal – I must make Minnie sleep all the forenoon so that I may leave her in safety to attend church – consequently she will be wide awake all the afternoon & I must take care of her to give her nurse a half day’s liberty therefore for a time my letters will be short.
I wish you were a woman long enough to understand all my occupations – now it is vain to talk to you of the four sets of Winter garments that I have to prepare for.
Sunday Eve 9 o’clock – My letter was interrupted by the arrival of one of the Delaware students who brought us the melancholy news of Sarah Wasson’s death, - she had only been ill a very few days with fever & died this morning at 7 o’clock.
Mother returned with the young man as soon as his horse had a little rest.
How desolate it leaves Mrs. Wasson! And what a thrill it sends through one to think that she who so short a time ago was so full of youthful life – all bloom & vigor – has passed away! – It recals to my mind a thousand reminiscences connected with her from the hour of her birth, - how I nursed her when an infant & played with her while a child, - how long, long ago that seems, -- Mother will perhaps stay a week unless you come up sooner.
I cannot write more now. I shall be glad when you are come.
Brother Dear –
health to you, - & success to your speeches. – I wish I could peep out from behind some column & listen to your elequence – though I fear it would awaken the old ambition I used to cherish for you but which has slumbered long – having my breast full of satisfaction whenever I see you in good health.
Health & happiness are the only boons I have desired for you of late years, - but if power is given you over others I shall not repine for I know you will exercise it for their good.-
Old Dr. Hoge preached to day greatly to Mother’s edification. – With Pat & Lucy for flames your gallantry will not become rusty. –
Helen called upon me last week – was very pleasant – just as she would have with any indifferent person.
William read Mr. Clay’s speech to me last night – do tell me all you read that is not above my poor woman’s comprehension.
Adieu in love
Jan 21, 1851
Dearest Brother –
I have been making calls this afternoon & in some parlors where the thermometer was rather low the temperature of my feet became exceedingly reduced (as Mr. Macomber might be supposed to express it) & the consequence I am now suffering in a weeping nose & frequent fits of sneezing. – Toasting myself before a blazing fire made me so sleepy that I was commencing preparations for retiring when the effort attending that process waked my up to sublunary things & I concluded to sit out the evening – then casting about for employment, - there was reading – but my intellectual faculties were in a collapsed state & I should go to sleep directly, - there is sewing – but one hand was constantly on duty with my pocket handkerchief – but there was a letter to be written to brother dear & that would just suit my purpose –
I need not exert myself to be smart but just scratch on until bedtime or until little Emily wakes, - the last an event which is never far distant.
The cars have commenced running regularly between here & Delaware - & all our former townspeople are flocking hither so pleased with “the increased facilities for travelling”
“Miss Angelina A Webb, No. 146 Neil House” sent me her card this morning – I thought being she was a young lady & I was a married one with responsibilities that she might have called upon me at once instead of leaving me no alternative but to call upon her & Molly Stark & the rest of ‘em as can shout. It is so easy to come down in the cars now we may all keep our spare beds made up.
Mother took a severe cold a few days after you left which settled in her face, - Neurology is the polite name –she had an old stump taken out – passed through a campaign of hot poultices – hop bags – cracker diet &c &c. & is now convalescing.
William is very much interested in a course of lectures by the celebrated phranologist Fowler – I heard one lecture & was pleased – his style is wholly unpolished & his manner that of a rawboned down easter but he fairly overwhelms you with a volley of practical truths, - tis as if he had found a whole quarry of truths & flung them at you in rough dornics without waiting to smooth or polish them.
His ideas on Physiology & the dependence of the mental upon the physical man are excellent common sense, - they have almost decided us to take Willie from school – they would accord with your notions I know. – If you have an opportunity do go & hear him you will find him tedious but he will “make a lodgment in your mind” of a great many facts. – He certainly understands mankind remarkably well, - & he has remarkably long arms or at least they have the power of extension & contraction & the coat sleeves being cut to suit the latter state seems to retreat towards the shoulder during action. – We have some of his books you must read if you don’t hear him.
Mr. Noble treated the Lyceum to one of his metaphysical lectures last week – it was deep – William called it muddy – but I termed it only deep – I used to think in the days I read Kant & Dugald Steart that they were too deep for practical pruposes but Mr. Noble was deeper than they. – I have a great respect for him he makes such great efforts to improve - & his earnestness & truth compensate in some degree for his lack of brilliancy. –
Wednesday Morn. – Laura & Willie had their heads examined by Mr. Fowler – he is very emphatic upon the necessity of developing Willie’s physical powers,- thinks him in danger of dying young if his intellect is pushed at all, - advises us to keep him from school until after twelve years of age - & we shall probably take his counsel.
This is about what you have always told us & what we knew pretty well ourselves yet we needed the sanction of science to confirm us in the belief. – If he goes to Cin. you had better take your cranium to him, - never too old to remedy defects in his doctrine, & I think you so near perfect that I wish you to be quite so.
I saw Mrs. Lardiner yesterday, she says Ellen will go down in about ten days, - & we will try to forward the shirts by her.
Am impatient to see Lizzie Baldwin – she & the Hoges are expected tomorrow.
I have told you all.
Mother says don’t forget the boots – “tell him not to wear pinching boots he’ll spile his feet,” – You could not have touched her feelings more effectually than by appealing to her corns.
April 5th 1851
Brother, Dear Brother –
The last time I held the pen to write to you is now brought vividly & sadly before me, - I was seated by Willie’s sick couch with my portfolio on my knee writing his little letter for him – his eye was lighted up with satisfaction & in childish restlessness he was throwing himself about – for he did not seem much ill. – To day we brought down his sticks for Nannie to play with, - he had cut them all the same length & size to build plank roads & bridges with , - they seemed to recal him to her more than anything else has done, - she has spoken of him very often while playing with them & her last words before going to sleep were, “dear little Willie”, in a low, sweet, mournful tone. – We have felt much anxiety for her all this week, - last Sunday night she was threatened with croup, but her cold finally settled on the lungs & she has been very much as she was while you were here.
She has been very sweet for a half sick child these few days, - she disliked to take her medicine very much & when we first offered it would begin to cry – but stopping directly & wiping her eyes would say almost choked by her sobs – “wait till I stop crying & I’ll take it.”
We hope she will not be obliged to take much more, - her playfulness & appetite have come back together.
Poor little Minnie too has been arousing all our tenderness by a cruel cough which we fear is hooping cough, though we yet hope it is not. And Bella, who is always thought of now next to our own children, is quite ill with hooping cough. – When I see these little ones suffering so acutely from the ills flesh is heir to I think more cheerfully of Willie’s fate. – I received a beautiful anonymous letter (I think written by Mrs. Worcester of Norwalk) expatiating upon the joys of children in Heaven as they are developed by the doctrines of the New Church, - it almost brought me back to the faith again.
Laura has had a great deal of experience since you were here, in stepping into her tenth year she seems to have climbed upon a much higher platform.
Her birth day was a great & happy day with her, -- she had company to tea in little girl style, - but they were scarcely gone when quests arrived to spend the evening with her, - Miss & Master Broadbelt (of the English family), acquaintances she had made the day before – The young lady twelve with the manners of eighteen & the lad ten with those of twenty one- they talk of “Harper’s Magazine” – the worlds fair – town, country, church & state in the most approved drawing room style.
It was ten o’clock when Miss Jamesina & Master James took leave – Miss Laura sitting up in the parlor entertaining them as large as life. – The “old folks” moralised over it considerably but concluded to permit it as it was her birthday, -
In two nights more the precocious little gentry made their appearance to spend another evening we threatened to put Laura to bed – but her whispered entreaties prevailed once more, - though I am resolved she shall not “come out” this season. – Today she went to Juvenile Sewing Society & expects to be made Chairman of the next meeting, - talks very benevolently of what they are doing for charity & feels as much responsibility for the success of her table at the Fair they are gong to have “sometime”, as even Lizzie Baldwin did. Our Irish damsel don’t steal, nor let banditti into the house, but she shakes, & takes patent medicines, so I shall not rely upon physiognomy next time.
Remember it is Lent & not expect much to eat if you come up soon; - eat your geese before you fly. (Parody!)
Writing to you has something of the genial influence upon my spirits that your society has I commenced in tears & end in smiles. – Thanks for your letter.
Poor Mrs. Mott! – I should think more of the husbands, & wives too would resurrect, the widows & widowers have flirted so the last Winter; - I expected it.
Tuesday Morn before breakfast. Children in bed.
Brother Dear –
I set apart last evening for writing to you but Laura had a hard lesson she wanted me to teach her & then Minnie fretted until bedtime so that you must take a little scratch in place of a letter.
I must leave all minor matters & briefly touch upon the one I was intending to write most eloquently about – viz. care of your health. You know the disease you have lately been troubled with frequently becomes chronic, - therefore do be careful.
First of your diet; second to exercise; third to bathe regularly in the morning, fourth (& which I fear you will be most apt to forget, & which I consider highly important, & which you ought to have a wife to look after) to have your bedroom thoroughly ventilated & your bed well aired every day. – To sleep in close rooms impairs every function of the body as you very well know if you will only consider. – Children must be dressed for breakfast so good bye. When you write tell me whether you attend to all these items.
Your loving sister
May 6th 1851
Brother Dear –
If folding a sheet of paper & directing it to you would be expressive of the warmest sisterly affection that ever sister bore for a brother – then I should adopt that method instead of writing a letter – for that is my only object in writing today - & not because I have any facts to communicate, - any fancies to amuse you with, or any thoughts worth the thinking.
And because you often seem gratified by any little home pictures I sketch, I will try to tell you of our homely doings. –
Mother has had a very hard cold but seems almost entirely recovered. Almost her whole time is spent in training our shaking Irish damsel, - tis a double duty – for besides inculcating the necessity of keeping clean dishcloths & warning her not to bring the cholera- upon us by stopping up the drains – she feels bound to teach her that there is no necessity in fasting & walking a mile or two to mass & thus bringing on a fit of the ague & to warn her not to trust to the Virgin Mary to cure her of ahead ache the result of eating too liberal a slice of rich pie.
The careful reading of the N. York Observer for the last nine years has not been in vain to Mother - it has furnished her with weapons against the Catholics & she is likely to have a field for their ear – the Irish are pouring into our kitchens so fast.
As for William he is busy. All of my married life I have been trying to win my husband to a life of leisure – once I was certain of success – but he has had a relapse & I give him up in despair to seek happiness in his own way.
He has lately been elevated (?) to the post of president of the “Ohio Tool company” a new organization of an old works & his other business is sufficient to occupy him if not hurry him. --- Laura is always having great events, - she went to hear Gough – which made her feel quite old, - then the first of May she went to a May party, - a picnic in the woods – you remember how it snowed & blowed in the morning & was none too warm the rest of the day, - she can hardly think of it now without crying. – She is going to school & every night is deep in Latitude & Longitude – fractions & reduction & all those incomprehensible mysteries that we so short a time ago were bewildered by, - I almost feel sometimes like letting her skip them, they will all be so clear to her when she is old, - but the mind must be disciplined say the wise ones – so let her plod on.
Nannie runs out in these cruel winds & her cheeks grow redder than ever. We took her out to the Cemetery last week & she seemed to be recaling Willies tunes that he used to sing when we took the same ride, - she talks of him a great deal & I think she will never forget him. – The other day I found her on the grass with the long blades braiding them – Willie taught her how she said & “he used to cut his finger pulling up the grass” – which I well remembered after she spoke of it.
Minnie is bright & playful as ever – cries after her Father as usual. – I think she is growing a little like Willie, but she can never be like Willie to me – my darling, my beautiful boy. – I don’t talk of him now, but he is ever coming up before me in all places & at all times, he is the one thought which occupies by mind & seems to form the basis & frame work of every other thought, - I can join cheerfully in whatever pleases or engages those about me but my mind reverts back continually to the one painful subject. I sometimes wish I could forget the past for one day, that I might rest, for the same incidents have passed & repassed before my minds eye so often that I am weary, oh how weary! of looking upon them. – These are memories that are very dear to me too – yet they are at times full of bitterness. –
I did not intend to write one line like the above but my heart would open itself to you.
I am both glad & sorry that you were disappointed at our not coming down when you expected us, - glad because you wished us to be there – sorry because you were sorry. –
Papers say the Cholera is in Cin. – how is it? Do tell us always when you are not quite well, - I have been hearing Laura read Mrs. Opie on lying, - & appreciate her remarks upon the sin of withholding the truth, - & the bad results.
Do go to see Mrs. Keating – I love her.
Success to your speech! – Was not Bulwer’s a good one at the late Emigrants meeting, N. York? You see yours only reminds me of a good one.
Mr. Gregory & Helen have been here for several days – so we are posted up on prison matters & common schools.
Janette Platt coming in a few days.
Dearest Brother –
Thanks for your letter – was glad of all it contained excepting that Bryan will probably not visit us this Spring – I do so want to see him here with you again before either of you are trammeled with families, - the necessity of loving your wives for your sakes I fear will half spoil the pleasure I have in you now. Bryan seems more like a brother to me than any of your friends, - why didnt he come?
I can hardly make up my mind whether I shall be glad to see Janette Elliott or not, I can remember she was a school girl what promise she gave of being a woman of fine literary attainments & agreable manners, - such a one as I should like to have in my family but Mother’s description of her calls up a vision of a toothless jawed maiden like Cynthia Taylor.
When we go East we shall avoid the crowded points as much as possible, - shall visit none of the Eastern cities but seek out the lone & beautiful spots among the Green mountains to hide ourselves from the heat & feast the eye with beauty. “to these things, fresh air, & the bird’s song & the fragrance of the lovely flowers, God has given a blessing, like sleep they are his medicine, - balm to the sorrowing mind!”-
Write brother dear & tell us if you are entirely well or if you have any more returns of the complaint you were troubled with last Winter.
P.S. Laura has gone to visit Jennie Andrews – perfectly happy in a new pair of gaiters. Nannie & Minnie both asleep in the bedroom, - I am expecting Mrs. Bates to spend the afternoon.
Mother asleep over her paper by the fire! We had frost last night so that we were obliged to cover up tender plants. F.
Same day after breakfast
I think Mother’s characteristic letter is quite as much as you deserve at one time so I will only make my mark by way of thanking you for your last letter. – She has forgotten one fact however which I must add by way of making the budget complete – Mrs. Casey is going to be married soon to Mr. Briggs of Cleveland.
I am reading between daylight & dark “House of Seven Gables” poor old Hepzibah is the only novel heroine I should even think of emulating – but if I had been an old maid & you Clifford – no just yourself with Cliffords griefs – I should have gloried in being Hepzibah.
In-sunshine & shade,
ever your loving sister
July 22d 1851
I think your “three centers” are among the best of your epistles & I should have answered the first but for the reasons you conjecture. I have been constantly engaged in “fixing” the three little ones – then the desire to be doing something for Willie too haunts me all the time – I cannot bear that he should no longer be a sharer of my cares – to satisfy this craving I have made the most of my time & given all the moments I could to finishing & copying in a neat little book remeniscences of him, - this is all I can do for him, oh dear! oh dear!
Write often & I will repay you when I am on my travels.
You are in love brother. Cherish this era of your life – it is like a delicious dream.
I hope you will come up before we go.
Aug. 4th 1851
It is just a week to day since we left home but it seems more like a month reckoning time by events. I wonder that I am ever contented to stay at home I do enjoy travelling so much.
The weather has been cool & the children quite well & happy. – We have met acquaintances all along the road & remarkably agreeable, kind, conversible people among the strangers. At Buffalo we hunted up our grand cousins & were treated with all the politiness we could desire.
The fine hotel & fine relations induced us to spend two days there & I considered it an era in my life because I heard Jenny Lind! Yes I have heard Jenny Lind! a piece of good fortune I did not anticipate. It was a perfect Heaven to me. All that has been written & all that has been said failed to give me that faintest idea of her indescribable charms. – Her beauty is so spiritual –her grace so celestial that I was tempted into the common extravagance of calling her an angel. The only fault I could find was with her dress & that was universally declared to be in perfect taste, but I thought the mantua maker should have no hand in her robes – I would have her arrayed in cloud drapery or something as little material as her expression & her voice. – She was said to be in the best of tune & temper & in some of her notes there was a hearty gladness which I fancy they do not always possess. When I give myself up to the influence of music they always carry me out of the body & this time the illusion was strong that Heaven was just beyond that half concealed pulpit & when she retired I felt impeled to fly after her into that blissful region. – Once after a most joyous strain she glided away with happy smiles on her lips & in her eye – the calls of the delighted audience brought her back but when she came her features had relapsed into an expression of sweet melancholy which, to carry out the illusion of my fancy, seemed like sorrow at being called back to earth. It almost made me weep. From all descriptions of her I had supposed that in her music was a wonderful artistic merit which the untaught ear could not appreciate, & that it did not possess the power to stir the deep fountains of the soul of merely an amateur, - that not being clothed in words it did not appeal to the English heart or intellect, but to me it possessed the universal language of Heaven, - a language purely spiritual not dependent upon those physical organs which assume to themselves National peculiarities.
When I first saw Niagara & upon one or two occasions upon lofty eminences surrounded by grand natural beauties I have felt that I had wings – so I felt when I heard Jennie Lind. Would it not be delightful to really fly away from the body at such a time?
My enthusiasm (if you choose to call it so) is not at all indebted to the furor created wherever Jenny goes – I never went to any place in cooler blood than I did to her concert & to prove it let me give you the plain historical facts, if I can subside into that vein. – Tired of Newspaper puffs & sobered by the moderate commendations of many friends who had heard her I thought it scarcely worth while to stay over a day at Buffalo on account of the concert, but other attractions inducing us to remain William, entirely for my gratification, proposed to get tickets. – I with a very calculating spirit, which I am quite ashamed of now, desired him not to pay over three or four dollars apiece for them, thinking that more money would buy me more pleasure of some other kind. – He attended the auction & found the tickets going high – disgusted with the whole scene he left without buying. That evening we were invited to spend at Mr. Tiffany’s – one of the aldermen of the city & at that time acting Mayor. His mansion joined the church where Jenny sang & you could look directly upon the stage & hear quite distinctly, - the first notes kindled me & when Mr. Tiffany hurried in & said complimentary tickets just recieved gave us seats inside I sprang to my feet ready to encounter any peril from mobs or pickpockets to reach the enchanted spot.
Now I think money cannot pay for her notes, - I shall always acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Jenny Lind. And told Mr. Tiffany I would pray for him to rest of my life for bringing me so near Paradise.
Believe me, one sentence was all I intended to write about this subject but from the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak.
Niagara we enjoyed of course. We took the children as near to the Canada sheet as we could, but they are rather young to be moved much by the sublimity of the scene. Nannie laughed out joyously & said “is’nt if pretty to see the waters sliding down hill.”
Laura inquired if the water kept pouring over there all night, I thought it quite natural to think that it could all get over in one day. The baby was silent!
We became acquainted there with Mr. Hamlin’s family, M. C. from Mississippi & traveled with them as far as Ogdensburgh.
We found the children a happy medium of introduction to such pleasant social people – the M.C. himself, however is not described by the last adjectives. – At Lake Ontario we met with Mr. & Mrs. Horton who came with us to this place.
The sail on the St. Laurance was pleasant, as we anticipated, - passes “the thousand isles” early in the morning- first enveloped in mist & then lighted up with the morning sun – with their wealth of evergreens they seemed the jewels of the grand lake & ocean chain.
Then Lake Champlain with its mountain bounds claimed its meed of admiration, & this beauty spot among the mountains this lovely village of white cottages & evergreen hedges its beautiful terraced gardens sloping towards the lake – its sunset views where mountains, clouds & lake vie with each other for the palm of beautywill win from us exclamations until we are almost weary of wondering & admiring. At Doct Hickoks we have found a very pleasant home, - they seem interested in the children & remarkably lenient to all their faults. – Little Minnie has improved a great deal since we left home & is no trouble to me. Her nurse has proved an excellent one, - I scarcely have her in my arms between breakfast & tea. – We are interested now in looking up improvements for our house that is to be – There are some fine residences here with all the modern conveniences & we are studying them with a view of copying. – We are constantly on the go – our friends planning rides, visits & water excursion every day. This letter was begun one day when I was waiting a few moments for dinner & perhaps would never have been finished if we had not been sent home by the rain this morning.
Perhaps you had better send Mother this letter – I shall have so little time for writing that my letters to one must answer both.
Write dear brother
Oct. 9th 1851
I am sorry to hear of Heron’s illness & hope it will be as you say not a severe case.
His is a disease that I dread greatly & think it must be semiinfectious. – There are some simple remedies not made use of by most physicians which I believe quite effectual in the early stages of the disease.
Mother has had a good deal of experience in the treatment of it & I have more confidence in her mode that that of most others. Now what I write for at this time is to beg you if you do have any symptoms of it to come here directly or if you are not able to come to send immediately for Mother. – Don’t think I am alarmed, - not the least – I am only taking thought for what might happen.
We are all in excellent health but not quite through the labours we were engaged in when you were here, though I have a prospect of being entirely relieved by the advent of two promising Welch damsels. – I was truly disappointed to find that many persons attending the Fair were not accommodated & went home grumbling – I shall lay in a larger supply of straw next time & go into the highways & hedges & compel them to come in.
Your loving Fanny.
Oct. 19th ‘51
Your last letter contained all that was necessary to allay my fears but I do so love to hear about your every day employments & amusements – of what you read & what you think & what you do that I always close your little three liners with a feeling of disappointment. Yet even those are better than nothing so don’t feel obliged to write long yarns when you don’t feel Micawberish.
The hurry & bustle & labour of the last month is fast subsiding into our usual quiet way of living. – I have two excellent Welch girls so that I have nothing but the head work of housekeeping to do, quite a rest after my toils I shall have.
The everlasting sewing too I expect one of my smart girls to undertake so if there is not too much visiting in the way I may read again if I choose. – But I never expect to know much either by reading or thinking, - when I read it is too superficially & my thinking always runs to sentimental musings. – The day has been (as old folks say) when I was ambitious to become a student & live a student’s life, - when a kind of bibliomania possessed me & all air castles were lined with books – but a change of associations has somewhat damped my ardor & now I only read for the momentary pleasure.
When I possessed a son, I was impeled by a higher motive, - I was reading & learning for him, & so I ought to be now for my daughters but there is something so decidedly unintellectual in woman’s sphere as it is generally filled that I am sometimes discouraged in attempting to teach them anything beyond household duties or a skill in that arrangement of a ribbon or the proper adjustment of the hair. – Sometimes I feel a strength to oppose the popular current & bring up my girls to fulfil woman’s mission nobly, but my resolves are weak & I am more likely to be borne along the tide of frivolity myself than to teach them to shun it.
To return to books, - if you can recommend anything not too thin & light yet not too profound for my unpractised mind – just say so, - I have read all the Intelligencers, Statesmen, Journals Harper’s magazines, Observers & Gambier papers by way of getting my hand in once more, - during the Summer I was reading Nature in such large type that I quite stumble at small print now.
We recieved a beautiful box from Charlotte of wedding cake with all the cards that city etiquette requires & a dainty little note inviting me to visit her at Elyria & declaring that she was quite happy! Who doubts it? The Honey moon not yet over. Look out for an eclipse! – I am looking to see the beautisome damsel that at present seems to fill your eye, demolish your bachelor fortress ere long – lease report the progress of the siege. –
Minnie is feverish & restless to night & she keeps me jumping up every moment to attend to her wants which rather tangles or breaks the thread of my discourse, so I will leave you & attend to the dear child.
P.S. Tuesday morn. I have forgotten to send this before. The “table talk” all over town is the recent failure of the “Columbus Insurance Co.” – some of our surest business men are involved in it. – Mr. Moody has lost all he has & more than he ever expects to have, Mr. Whitehall, the Adams, Joel Buttles estate &c.
Mr. Moody’s loss I mourn the most for.
I have philosophised much upon it & have come to the conclusion that I had better enjoy & spend all the money my husband can spare me now before his little pile melts away. F.
Why did you not write as you promised Sunday?
Nov. 2nd 1851
I have had your last good long letter in grateful remembrance these many days, but some other correspondents claimed the allotted time for writing & I only now sit down to thank you for it & put you in debt again. – We were feeling pretty sure that Jenny Lind would sing here & therefore did not think of going to Cin. to hear her.
We are all on tiptoe in anticipation of Tuesday night, - Mother will go if it neither rains, snows or blows – is not too cold or too warm, - if she has no headache cough or rheumatism & there is no preventing Providence, though she scarcely dares to expect as much enjoyment from Jenny’s singing as from Squire Miller’s at prayer meeting. – I hope she will go for I am very curious to know how she will be affected. – I think Laura we shall not take, - she has been confined to the house for more than a week by chills & fever, - we should not like to expose her to late hours & besides I don’t think her old enough to appreciate it beyond common singing. – There would only be the gratification of saying that she had heard her & I don’t care about her begginning so early to plume herself on such false pretensions.
For myself I look forward to a second hearing with some misgivings, - Jenny occupies such a lofty pedestal in my temple of heroines, - is indeed such a divinity to my fancy, that I almost dread to have the image retouched, - yet I cannot quite forego what may be as great a pleasure as before. –
Lizzie Baldwin is expected home the middle of this week, - she will remain a short time & then go South to spend the Winter with a bachelor brother who lives on a plantation, I think in Mississippi.
If Pat Hoge is not already in Cincinnati she will be soon, - she went to Wheeling a few weeks ago intending after a visit to go down the river.
Helen K. is at home keeping house almost alone, - Mrs. K gone traveling East with Mrs. Collins.
I made her a long call the other day – found Mrs. Butterfield there spending a few days, - you know Helen is very fond of being the champion of the oppressed.
I am enjoying much domestic comfort now, - have sufficient employment without being oppressed with care or labour. – Last week I planned & carried through a most successful campaign of housecleaning, - my accomplished aids acquitted themselves nobly & by Saturday night the beds had changed corners, shed their mosqito bars, & renewed their white coverings – old carpets had given place to bright new ones, - a comfortable grate in the parlor chamber promised a more genial atmosphere to the Winter guest & polished lamps shed additional light upon our evening studies.
I went about with my needle & sewed up a rent here & there upon some worthy veteran of carpet or put a bit of binding upon a new one, & while my fingers were busy plying the shining little implement memory was busy with the past or fancy weaving the new web of life. – As I set alone on the stairs putting the last stitches to the carpet which was to usurp the place of one which had bravely withstood the tramping of many feet for more than eleven years, - visions of those years began to loom up before my fancy & the little forms that from time to time had tottled up those stairs & put their little fingers upon every flower in that old carpet, & then the form of one became more distinct than all the rest – first a wee thing carried up & down in the nurse’s arms – next scrambling fast up & crowing at his victory, - a curly headed little fellow in frock & pants unloosing the tail of his kite from the bannisters & larger still proudly stepping up & down with his new boots pleased at the manly noise they make, & then, once & for the last time a cold beautiful form stretched out in his long sleep brought silently down, - oh, the tears begin to fall on the new carpet – already it begin to be identified with the family, - every faded color & every worn thread for years to come will have an accompanying incident & when it has grown old & almost buried itself in dust like the cast off one at my side it will have tales to tell too!
Thus I muse & thus I busy myself from morn till night often gladdened & sometimes perplexed by the little people who demand so many little attentions at my hands.
In the evening I can read uninterrupted, - I have a better selection of miscellaneous reading than you had at your last writing – “Fresh gleanings” by Marvel, - Eastbury, a novel – good for ladies reading - & “The footprints of the Creator.”
It is a dark day & growing darker so will wind off with best wishes for your office chum “your” bed fellow “Dick Anderson” & “Dick Andersons family” the “beautisome damsel” & all others who contribute to your happiness dear brother.
Dec 7th 1851.
Nannie is promised many good things on tomorrow & she often asks if it is tomorrow now, & sometimes is a little fretted that the day of fruition never arrives. – I was near the same state of feeling in long expectation of your letter but as it came at last in a very satisfactory form “I’ll worship still the blessed morrow, storehouse of all good”,
Oh, it does gladden me to hear of your happiness & prosperity the cheerfulness that was beaming from every sentence of your letter has brightened every hour since. – I have a bad headache today, the penalty of eating too many oysters last night, - Nannie is on one side combing my hair & Minnie on the other pulling it, - three good reasons if other were lacking for a disconnected letter & inelegant penmanship.
Last night I had a “tea drinking” for Lizzie Baldwin – she will leave for the South tomorrow & you may see her any time the next two or three days by calling upon Pat Hoge. – I had suppose for a long time that the last named young lady was engaged to Edwin Baldwin but the family say only considers him as a brother. A queer way the young ladies have nowadays of calling their discarded lovers, brothers!
You probably know that Mr. Page & Charlotte Gardiner are engaged, if not I have the pleasure of informing you. – It is a good match is it not? – I should prefer your wife should not have quite so many sisters – the vista would be filled with too many nieces & nephews, - but one ought not to make it an objection where there are so many compensating virtues as in Charlotte Gardiner.
On what occasion was your lecture delivered, if it will pay freight bring it up & read it to me, you know I shall be deaf & blind to any thing but its beauties. – We shall look out for you by Christmas, - the children are more than usually elated at the prospect of your coming. Laura was talking last night of writing to hurry you a little but I believe the letter is not begun yet, - she thinks you would be pleased with the piece she has selected from Burns to speak – the sentiment is
Up in the mornin’s no for me,
Up in the morning early,
I’d rather gae supperless to my bed,
Than up in the morning early.
She thinks unless your habits have changed you would appreciate the piece.
I recieved a letter from Charlotte last night – a very good one, - she intends to visit here this Winter. Mary is not coming to Ohio until Spring, when her Father will probably accompany her.
I am just out of reading & shall get Carlyles work next – though at the risk of being unfashionable in my literary tastes I must confess he is not a favorite author of mine. – I am glad you have Channings works, I always feel strengthened & invigorated in mind & heart by the perusal of his excellent practical sermons. – He is a man of such a great heart – with such elevated notions of humanity & of such vigorous, original thought that my mental tone always ascends under his influence.
I am as proud of him as the Scotch are of Chalmers. Blessings on you & all you love dear brother.
Jan 19th 1852
“Cauld blows the wind frae North to South” & we are “shivering sairly,” –
A fitting motto for a letter which must be frozen enough if it is at all affected by the atmosphere in which it is written.
21st Just at this point Nannie came to me with some pressing want & that satisfied Minnie urged her claim, then Laura’s music lesson must be attended to, next some dainty must be concocted for the invalid up stairs, then Mary wants her sewing work fixed, then Minnie & Nannie, Laura & the invalid want something else which no body else by any possibility could do & thus thirty six hours have slipped by – all my cares are asleep & my husband not yet home so I shall have two minutes for you dear brother.
Perhaps you would like to know who the invalid is, - well, a week ago to day our cousins Charlotte DeWitt & husband came to make us a short visit, of course every person that comes to Columbus must visit the Asylums – climb a dozen pairs of stairs & walk through as many files of the stupidest people in the state & declare that it is very interesting! Accordingly we took the tour one of these cold days & the consequence was that Charlotte went to bed very ill as soon as we returned home – Mr. De Witt was obliged to go back on Saturday & leave her, - will come for her in about two weeks. – Today she was able to come down stairs & will be well soon.
Mother has taken her into training & she proves quite a docile subject so far, but I think she will not be able to eradicate Charlotte’s deep seated conviction that she is made of the most delicate mould such as is solely appropriated to the very fragile fair ones, so that she cannot inhale the fresh air of Heaven without breathing short & coughing hysterically. Mother is striving to teach her the necessity of being useful, - but I can’t see what she is well fitted for unless it is to do the fainting in the drama of life – she cries well too, & remarkably easy.
But really I believe I am doing her injustice, exaggerating her natural gifts, - she may make her husband happy, he seems really pleased with her yet!
I liked him well, - he is quite a jolly, light hearted soul something of Uncle’s turn.
I suppose you “go over to Gympsey’s” quite often, I am not sorry to hear she is a Methodist – the better one she is the mor I shall revere as well as love her, - beware as you value her happiness, - how you weaken even the slenderest prop to her faith.
Are you quite well?
Dear Brother Rud,
A new cook came to me one morning with a broken plate in her hand & a countenance of alarm, - I soon reassured her by telling her I was much pleased to see she had broken it, for my table set had been gradually disappearing for a long time yet our innocent servants never broke anything, - this incident may illustrate our pleasure at receiving your letter last evening in which you plead guilty to a “severe cold”. – We often suffer from anxiety – fearing that you will not make honest statements in regard to your health.
Now we want you to come up & try Mother’s good nursing – she has already commenced the review of the studies in “the old Doctor book” preparatory to making you a victim.
Bundle up well & come up.
I shall never rejoice again to hear you are busy if this is the way business uses you up.
I wonder if you are having as much sport from Kossuth menagerie as I had, - I do love such excitements & whatever the cause, a Jenny Lind or a giraffe or Tom Thumb or a Kossuth I will give myself up to the contagion for the sake of the warming it gives ones blood. – I was on the alert & as far as possible in attendance from the time we peered through the darkness at the white horses that drew him on the evening of his arrival until the cannons thundered the final salute. –
His personal appearance somewhat disappointed me, - at first sight he was not so imposing, so perfectly spirituall & intellectual as I had imagined him, but a farther acquaintance quite reconciled me, the modest dignity that accompanies every action is one of his greatest attractions to me, & his eye in its very form is expressive of true eloquence.
Dr. Thompson & Mr. Dennison “fed the animals” with wonderful elevation of feeling, & sundry of the lesser lights kept very near the great luminary in the vain hope of reflecting some of his brilliancy.
This morning is bright & beautiful, the ground covered with a light mantle of snow seems to double the sunlight so that one cannot look out without shading the eyes. – We are praying for a continuance of mild weather & for your recovery from your cold do write in a very few days & tell us the true state of your throat.
I was glad your case had not yet been tried for than I should have feared that speaking had made you hoarse. – Mr. Page says he had not been able to find the work you want on Insanity. Mr. & Mrs. P. seem quite pleased with Gympsey’s good looks & fine spirits, - love her & success to you.
I am enjoying a great deal now – much in the ordinary way – my principal occupation is teaching Laura to execute music, & I think she will bring it to the block in a style worthy of her teacher. – I delighted her greatly with a view of the California panorama, - it is very good to laugh at – the whole scenery is dressed out in as gaudy colors as a Dutch belle, - I came home & read Bayard Taylor’s California which is not quite as pleasing to Laura but rather more to my taste.
Mar 25th 1852
Brother Dear –
My heart doth rejoice in your improving health, - the last cold weather made me shiver for you & this genial sun I welcome heartily for your sake. – There is but one subject I feel inclined to lecture you upon & that is care of your body & if you are not to enjoy a personal identity in the next world I shall be more than ever solicitous in regard to the shell which preserves it to me in this. – You will only laugh at me I know but am well reconciled to that, if any suggestion of mine should in any time to come enlist for one leisure hour your attention to Physiology. – With all your knowledge upon most subjects I think you are deficient upon this.
I don’t wish you to fly to the adoption of any particular set dogmas as my good husband is a little inclined to do but seek the knowledge of truths concerning the use & abuse of your physical powers.
Learn the nature of the digestive organs & how to eat, - learn the organization of the throat & lungs & how to speak. – I know you belong to a cold catching race but we are not on that account to declare ourselves independent of the laws of health we ought rather to deem ourselves the more amenable to them. – Do make them a part of your legal studies in the intervals of studying the Title in law books & you will become a better lawyer a stronger one.
The laws of nature & the laws of the land furnish an equally broad field of study.
You may laugh now, - this is the place for I have finished my homily.
I find that I must make the most of every spare moment or there will be no letter finished to you, - so I sit down to write a few moments while the baby is taking her morning nap. Yesterday morning I was interrupted by a call from Mrs. Kelly & Mrs. Bates, they told me Clinton Collins & his wife were visiting them & in the afternoon I called upon them out of compliment to your friends. – Mrs. C. is remarkably pleasing in her person & manners – her mouth is very sweet amiable feature, - if Helen’s were as good she would be a peerless beauty.
Harriet S. has been very ill – she has a little daughter! two weeks old (she & I intend to found a female seminary) has chills & fever & is quite feeble.
Helen Gregory is sick with measles in their worst form – we think her recovery somewhat doubtful.
My visits to the two places take up half of almost every day – then we have little Hattie here for a week & so many little ones together keep us all astir. – In the evening I must devote all the time I can get to Laura – she is very industrious little scholar just now & I help her with her music lessons Arithmetic & French, - she belongs to a small class learning to speak the language with an accomplished teacher.
Did you get a letter from Mother about a week ago? You don’t mention it in your letter. – We found Jenny or rather she found us about an hour after you left, - just as I was starting our to seek her I met her at the gate – she had taken a long walk & on her return was attacked with one of those spasms of pain which perhaps you know she is liable to – was obliged to stop in houses on the way two or three times – I was greatly relieved to find she did not “buy a rope & drown herself”. – She went to Circleville more than a week ago – we expect her back Monday.
You seem to be thrown in rather a transcendental atmosphere my speculations often incline that way but I begin to fancy it too rarified for my spirit to rest in. – With John Sterling I greatly sympathised, - in his struggles I saw many of my own reflected (if I may have audacity to compare my feeble mental emotions with his strong ones) – the long protracted effort “to believe that he did believe” is the sad experience of many of the faithless, but I will believe in an individual immortal existence, - else this life would be too bitter for me, - could I live & smile again without my Willie if I did not expect to see him again a noble man angel?
Write me again directly & say what has become of your Nancy case.
Blessings on you & Gympsey.
Have you heard of Mrs. Herman Hubbard’s death? It is truly a melancholy change for the distressed husband – after looking so long for a wife his happiness was complete during his short wedded year – every thought word & deed was devoted to her & with vigorous health & flowing spirits who could anticipate her being cut off so suddenly. – I saw her little infant in Annie’s arms when I was out at Mrs. Kelley’s yesterday – they are keeping it now & all pet it extravagantly. F.
April 22nd ‘52
Dear brother Ruddy,
Morning after morning I have set for writing to you but each one brought such urgent demands upon my time that you have been neglected for objects nearer home though not nearer my heart.
Jenny only staid a day or two on her return from Circleville. We recieved a letter from her to day dated the 19th – about ten in the morning of that day John Pease was seized with an apoplectic fit – at evening when she wrote he was sleeping quiet the doctor who had been with him all day still watching by his side.
If he recover from this attack he will live on like on with a sword suspended over his head by a hair. – She mentions that Uncle has left for Cincinnati, - which is probably no news to you by this time. We shall expect to have a call from him on his way home, - if you are not quite well or in the least need recreation come up with him. We have had no one to stay with us for a week & might have been lonely if we had not been crowded with work, all the Spring doings that you know nothing about such as housecleaning & fitting up the children for warm weather have been begging to be done & are still disputing the field with sundry accomplishments I am attempting to give Laura. We both take French lessons & when the master appears I have to leave the closet of woolen clothes & take up Madame de Stael or when I am picking up paper rags am called away to instal the music teacher over her new pupil. Thus I am constantly vibrating from the useful to the ornamental from the manual to the intellectual, one minute I sing the baby to sleep the next write an acrostic for a school girls album, - one evening cut out patch work for Laura the next hear Catherine Hay warble forth the sweetest melody. – By the way I was highly pleased with Katie’s singing – (Katydid I call her) – it was not spiritual like Jenny Lind it was not Heavenly – but very good mortal melody excellent opera music – very fine, very fine indeed.
What shall I read brother dear? Tell me something rather easy (not soft) that I can read while I am answering nine hundred & ninety nine questions by the hour from my little troop, as I have written this letter.
Write & I will be more prompt in answering & suppose you devote more than three seconds to your next epistle. Love to Uncle if he is with you & to Gympsey dear.
Your trip to Marietta does present a very tempting aspect but think like most of my journeys it will be enjoyed by me at home. I have written to cousin Mary & Charlotte to make me a visit this month & I expect they will be here during your absence from C.
I hope my new correspondent will not be greatly troubled by her conscience, I did not intend she should answer my letter unless she prefered to do so, - a sight of her own sweet self will be worth a mail bag of letters.
If you were not quite overwhelmed with boquets already I should like to send you some of my roses – we have a great many in bloom now of all kinds.
My after dinner nap is tempting me so forgive me for emulating you this time in the length of my letter.
July 20th 1852
Thursday evening I returned from Delaware & found your letter – every morning I have intended to reply but have diddled away my time basting Laura’s patch work, making dessert, mending a rent here & there, putting Minnie to sleep, looking over the papers or looking through the closets to spy out moths, ants & such like banditti, until the dinner bell rings, - after dinner I lie down with Margaret Fuller & mystify myself into a delicious slumber – then comes the evening toilet of self & the three bairns & though it is by no means as elaborate as the deity the “Lady’s book” might recommend consisting of the simply of clean clothes, (decent Mother would add) still twenty one buttonholes to be buttoned on each child, six strings (which are always broken, pulled out or in a hard knot) to be adjusted in as many shoes, three heads or uncivilized hair to be coaxed into curls, bands or braids, occupies some valuable time, as any woman can realize but I can hardly expect you to, nevertheless, pray have me excused or I will begin my next letter with a longer sentence than this.
I spent a week very pleasantly in Delaware, - most of the time with Sarah Kilbourn, teaing around at my old visiting places every evening.
Delaware seems to me improving as a place of residence, - the number of excellent men & fine scholars connected with the college give one the opportunity of enjoying the best of society & the return of Mr. Mc Elroy with his accomplished gentlemanly manners seems to tone down the asperities of sectarians & pour oil upon the troubled waters. He gave me a true Fatherly embrace, called me Fanny Hayes & proved his recollections of me did not all spring from the Irish blarney stone by naming the last book I had read under his instructions. I heard him preach a sermon commemorating the death of Henry Clay, - perhaps you remember the rich solemn tones of his voice in the burial service, these & the mournful melody of the funeral anthem, & the enapsody in Mr. Mc.s own peculiar style failed not to awake emotions fitting the great National event.
When I returned home I was expecting to find you here & had planned that if all were well I would propose to accompany you to Gambier commencement & then go to Fremont for a short time but probably it will be as well as it is for the children are so often ailing that I doubt whether my courage would serve me to leave them for so long a trip. Then too a trip to Gambier would be so full of associations with my noble little Willie that it would be fraught with pain, I cannot think of it now without recaling my ambitions hopes that he might before many years tread college halls a successful student, & your figure & his vision too real for mere phantoms of memory.
I had some reveries in Delaware which brought up panaramic views of the past, half sad, half agreable. As in the sunny Sabbath afternoon I sat by Mrs. Wassons window & sleepily rested my eyes on our old home I could see (not you & I, Mrs. Hayes & Mrs. Platt but) two simple hearted children Fanny Rutherford come out & lie down in the shade of great old cherry trees, with their books, - the books lie closed on the grass while they curl dandelion stems & hang them on their ears, string “four o’clocks” on long straws of timothy or dig mimic wells & fill them with water. Then the little children go away & a cold chill creeps over me at the thought that they will never come back any more, & I asked my own heart why all who loved those little children should not mourn that they are passed away even as I mourn that I no longer see my Willie, as if they are happy that these little ones exist in developed forms & with enlarged faculties having formed new relationships in life why should not I still more joy in my child an angel grown? – Then I turned my eyes to the constant, tried old friend in the rocking chair who sat dozing & nodding as she has done these thirty years or more & the bony sinewy arms folded in Sabbath rest recaled the strength & speed with which the long handed iron shovel was thrust in & out of the glowing oven till every nook was filled with savory pies, & the pies recaled the dinners, & the dinners the diners, who used to crack their jokes over Arsena’s bountiful dishes at our house at home. Almost before our memory were the days of that old bachelor club, Uncle Rheim & the Wassons.
But you will tire brother mine if I attempt to tell you these day-dreams of mine – they only come in Summer, or sweet Autumn days; - in the Winter when all ages & temperaments are shut in around the coal fire I become as practical as a sewing machine, & my letters are confined to short & simple annals but now I don’t like to be useful; - I don’t take cares kindly; - I long to be away among the mountains; or drinking in the beauty of some softer landscape; or sitting on the beach for hours & hours look out on the grand old ocean – oh fudge I hope I’m not writing like a book – then the baby cries – rock, rock; no she wont go to sleep again so come Minnie! Baby satisfied with her rice is sitting at play with her doll & amid the din of Laura’s piano
July 23d 1852
Dear Brother –
Our ride to Fremont was delightful – my spirit – self was in a most complacent mood with three gallant chevaliers devote to my pleasure. – What a charm there is in speeding away over the ground in the early morning hour – snuffing the pure air & exalting in one’s heart over lazy mortals who are almost suffocated in their beds, - how cheery the nice lunch which the night before I had put up with a housewife’s pride of light rolls, tongue & sweets, - then how pleasant the surprise ( at least to ourselves) when we reached Mrs. Valettes, & how grateful the lake breeze which came wafting to us strength & vigor as we sat in the evening on the piazza & regaled ourselves with the laughs & chats which must be part of Uncle’s entertainment, - & how pleasant the morning calls upon our Yankee cousins at Mr. Pease’s, & the afternoon study of Uncle’s picture gallery, oh! The reminiscences of this visit will be a rich store to me for many a long day & I hope will sustain & cheer that other sensual self which staid at home & slept most profoundly until ten o’clock then up & breakfasted on cold leavings, - the rest of the day dragged a weary languid body about after a teasing, half sick child – wore an expression half vexed, half disappointed which was intended for resignation of which seemed to say behold a perfect martyr to the rising generation”, - anathenatized Columbus air, Columbus dust & Columbus Summer complaints - & unpacked & shook out the articles of a certain trunk as if each particular one deserved chastisement for neglect of duty. But this abused notary of the fates has rallied today – taken up the domestic burdens with a willing spirit - & has even rejoiced that no worse ills had visited her. The little Minnie bright & laughing (joyous would sound better) as a bird more than repays all the anxieties & privations she has occasioned.
I hope Doct Rawson is quite well – I feel much obliged to him for the service he rendered us.
Love to the friends.
F. A. Platt.
July 30th 1852.
I am really reluctant to write you at all because I feel sorry to give up the Fremont visit wholly it looms up so temptingly before me, yet I must not say I will go, the health of our family is so precarious that I cannot lay my plans with any certainty. Willie Gilbert was quite ill for three days which would have been too much fatigue for Mother without my assistance. Last night Nannie was feverish & sheepless but to day all are well. If I should go with you, will take Laura if any of the children.
Come down after commencement & remain the rest of the week at least, & we shall have time to consider. We expect you to stay some weeks with us before you return to Cincinnati of course
Your letter to L.W. I mail to Chillicothe not having heard from her. Thanks for your racy letter.
Sept. 23d 1852.
My Dear Brother
Many a letter have I thought to you when I have not had the leisure to write one; - as I have been busy about household matters I would fall into one train of musing or another which served to lighten the cares, I do so heartily despise of “what shall we eat & what shall we drink & where withal shall we be clothed.” – This afternoon I write because an hour’s leisure offers itself but all my thoughts & musings have fled. – The morning was spent in directing the cleaning of my newly papered hall & in furthering the sports & settling the disputes of my own bairns & the young Solises who are spending the day here. Since noon Minnie has had a chill & I have sat by the fire toasting her feet until I am quite stupid – but now she is lying quietly in her crib – the little folks are out doors at play & Mother has gone to the Missionary meeting – William to hear Mr. Hale speak, - (the free soil candidate) so I may scribble to you. –We were quite waked up on Tuesday by Gen. Scott’s arrival, every thing was done by way of a welcome even to the blowing off by cannon of arms & legs & putting out of eyes – one would have thought they might have given a more novel entertainment to the Hero of so many bloody battles, it was like reciting Dicken’s own works to him at the dinners given him in this country.
Scott made a noble appearance of course & won all hearts by his bland courtesy, - let no man call him haughty or he will be challenged by all the ladies who recieved a bow from the Gen. & all the little girls whom he called “dears”, as well as by the widows of the arms & legs to whom he presented a twenty dollar note each. But as you take the paper there is no use in enlarging upon these public matters as far as little I take part in them, - I may as well go back to the fifty two cans of tomatos which I shall serve up to you next Winter as fresh as the day they were picked from the vines & thus prove to you that I am keeping within woman’s sphere which is to bake & brew & keep the children’s faces clean.
When Uncle was here I went with him to see the “Voyage of life” – I was disappointed in the painting – the figures which are the most prominent & interesting object in the allegory are so insignificant in the painting as almost to be lost sight of, - but the conception is full of truth & beauty.
25th What a fine time you must have had at Hillsboro – I glory in your pleasure & success.
Love to Lucy. Nursery in an uproar.
Oct 5th 1852
My Dear Sister –
The Summer has come & gone but its happy anticipations have not been fulfilled. – Is it possible that year after year will pass without our meeting again?
We may well repine if the years we have looked forward to as period of leisure, recreation & happy meetings are to be burdened with additional cares & redoubled toil.
For myself & my husband I may say that past Summer has been full of wearisome labour, & we are now quite lacking in the vigor & elasticity of spirit which we brought home from our journeyings last Fall. – Ah, if you had only come William would have torn himself away from his all absorbing business & we should have had some pleasant experiences to have talked over by next Winter’s fireside, -- now the tiresome routine of the long Summer days has left gray hairs & wrinkles to both of us. – Since we have had so much of the cholera here during the Summer our people have formed the habit of flitting away to the Upper lakes, Newport, the mountains of New England or Virginia or the more quiet seaside retreats so that all visiting is suspended, our friends houses are closed, their pews at church are vacant & we have all the loneliness of forest life without its beauties. -- -- I enjoyed one pleasant episode in a visit to my bachelor Uncle in the North part of the State. I have not visited him since my marriage but among the pleasant recollections of childhood were the weeks that brother & I spent with him from time to time, -- Now brother & I went again taking Laura - & spent two weeks of really childlike delight. – Uncle lives on a beautiful farm one mile from a pleasant village where we could all run about wild, - Laura rode on horseback & drove the well trained horses every day, - & at evening looked over the books & works of art, -- Uncle has indulged his taste by hanging his walls with fine paintings which he loves to exhibit as well as parents their children.
When we returned home I found our only maid ill with ague & the children not quite well, so I went to work & prepared my own supper & for the two months which have followed cooking & nursing have been my sorry occupations for the greater part of the time. -- The ague has even seized our rugged little Minnie – every day for a week she shook in every limb & now that ‘tis broken up her cheeks & lips are quite colorless.
William too has had several hard shakes but he felt so much improved that he left for Pittsburgh this morning – he said he was strongly tempted to proceed to N. York for the sake of seeing you but business will no doubt bring him home.
We have been enjoying Willie’s visit because it is pleasant to have one of your loved ones with us. Although we have not been able to contribute anything to his amusement he has seemed quite happy.
His is certainly the most considerate person I ever had visit my family, - I have looked with wonder & admiration at a young man humoring the caprices of a sick child, waiting upon himself & others as he had an opportunity to do in the deficiency of servants & all in such ready & efficient way as if he had always been accustomed to domestic offices. His kind heart ought to win him a way in the world. – It proves an unfavorable time for him to find a sitiuation here else we should hope to keep him with us, -- but I fear he will tire of waiting & push on farther West. – We should like to gather up one of the scattered links of your family chain, but I fear that it may not be.
Of the three Willie cousins, our own dear Willie is gone beyond recal, - Willie H. has just looked in upon us & soon will be far away to seek his fortune. Willie G. has staid long enough to seem almost like our own boy & before many years he too will grow weary under our quiet roof & flit away to some new scene of strife & toil. –
My husband would have written both of you & Dr. H. if he had more leisure as it is
let me tell you how disappointed we were that you did not visit us after the N. York Fair, we set day for your coming & while on a visit at Berkshire we grew so confident of your coming that we hurried home & the first question we asked was “is Dr. Hickok here?” --- William left in my care a draft for $200 which I will enclose – one hundred & seventy dollars he wished credited on the account of Hancock & Harding land – the remaining thirty are for my benefit if your Sister will undertake a little shopping for me. – I need some furs for the Winter, muffs were not in mode here last year, therefore I thought of for cuffs & tippet if they are not going out of fashion if they are, will you take the responsibility of selecting such an article & such a quality of fur as you would get for yourself, -- I thought $20 or 25 would get me quite good enough but William would send thirty so expend it if you choose for the fur or if there is anything over – a collar or undersleeves will meet my wants.
Thanks for the trouble you have taken & will take for me dear Sister, & thanks for the letters we hopefully? received.
William, your dear William went to Sanbury today.
Your loving Sister
If this letter reaches you late for you to do my shopping in N. York, no matter. I shall wait until another year.
Oct 7th 1852
Brother Dear –
I am a great economist of time & it is the only thing my friends say I do economise well – when the baby sits in my lap I read, when anybody is talking to me I sew & when I am left entirely alone (a rare luxury) I write. –
Now there is neither person or child to interrupt me & I shall sit here by the open window & write till the buzzing little ones come back. – I love solitude & ease with intervals of society & exciting pleasures but it seems to be a part of my life’s discipline to live in a bustle & often be obliged to exert myself for people whom I do not care for, & I do it with so poor a grace that I am constantly in disgrace with my own conscience for not loving duty better.
Willie Hickok has been staying with us a week or two hoping to get a situation here as clerk till he could become sufficiently acquainted to go into business for himself. – I wickedly hope he will not succeed for his is utterly disagreable to me, he is so self conceited & ignorant of every thing but N. York.
Pray burn this letter for that sentence might sometime be seen by your executors & respect to the youth’s Mother ought to restrain me from writing such a word. Oh “I’s so wicked.”
I don’t like to complain of your letters for they are an exceeding great comfort to us, but I do which they were a little longer, you have a faculty of condensing a great deal into a small space which would make you an admirable contributor by Telegraph to a newspaper but I wish you would spread your topics out a little thinner – take an hour instead of fifteen minutes to write them out.
Minnie wakes up a little cross – the children come from school – Mother returns from a visit, - I take the young ‘uns all out for a walk – we go up to the depot to see the cars come in, & look with great interest at all the short gentlemen because “Papa” has gone to Pittsburg, & although we have no reason for expecting him till Saturday night something might happen to bring him sooner, - at all events when he does come those same cars will have the honor of bringing him, so we will look at the cars any how; - Minnie says very prettily “want to go Pittburgh see Papa” Nannie admires the beautiful sky, - we come home & find Mother & Mrs. Hulburd very serious over the extraordinary gifts & virtues of Mrs. Hulme who has just died & for whom I was wondering if any body mourned. – Grace came in & teaed with us & played pussy wants a corner, - Willie brought me some books among them I found “Memoirs of Joseph Tinker Buckingham” don’t you remember hearing Mother tell a hundred times about his changing his name, - I told Mother I had a treat for her, - she was so delighted that while I read she kept awake until after nine o’clock, - I made judicious selections of deaths marriages & similar exciting incidents & finished the two vols. before she retired but I presume she will busy herself for a week reviewing the work. It is about as valuable as Father Findleys “Prison Life” – not quite as piquante as Judge Beardsleys reminiscences.
Mother will enjoy seeing your resurrected overcoat as much as yourself – she will stroke it down with genuine affection. I have spread in my brush drawer a daily paper containing your name in a paragraph naming the speakers at N. Bend, - so I see the beloved name every time I brush my own hair or the children’s.
I think with deep feeling of the loss that dear Gympsey is about to sustain, - the tie between brother & sister is so very precious, so fraught with ammingled happiness. – There is no other that is enjoyed on such equal terms, - there is none that in the natural course of things remains unbroken through the greater part of our lives, - it begins so early & lasts till old age. Then those three were brought up so much like ourselves that I can fully understand how much of happiness they have enjoyed together & that the love of a sister for two brothers under such circumstanced may be almost equal to that for an only brother.
Herron made me a short call the other day, I bid him observe Laura’s robust appearance as confirmation that I did not confine her to study too closely, - she only goes to school when she is inclined – her French class in an excuse for three or four little girls to meet chatter like so many magpies while their kind old teacher glances over a few simple exercises teaches them to pronounce mon pere et to mere, & the rest of the hour they chase each other down hill, climb trees & swing. Laura is entirely over the “drudgery” of music, now it is a pleasant evening recreation. – I value health much before scholarship yet I do not think the education of girls a humbug, both physically & mentally I would have them aspire after perfection. The active temperament of women makes employment nexessary & her domestic habits lead her to sedentary employments & if her mind is not cultivated she will busy her fingers with her needle – (very usefully in some cases but often in stitching over canvas with a thousand cunning devices; - wo to the next generation if our women have no resource on a rainy day but to her narrow her mind down to the point of a needle. – I believe I wrote you that William had a few shakes of the ague, very hard indeed, but he felt pretty well when he went away. All quite well now.
Helen K spent the afternoon with me a short time ago & opened her confidence in regard to coming events – you may expect an invitation here within a few weeks. She sent her love to you.
Good night dear brother. F
Oct. 24th 1852
I really prize your last letter & have been seeking a few moments leisure to reply but during the week I was more than busy & several letters having come to me which demanded an early answer the little leisure I had after “worship” last Sabbath was devoted to answering two of them & while Minnie has her nap this afternoon I wrote to Sarah Kilbourn & now in the short intervals between nursing my sick husband I coax her to sit quietly on my lap by telling her I will Uncle Ruddy to come & see her, - nevertheless she gives my pen many a zig-zag movement.
We were much shocked by the news of Harriet Darlington’s death of cholera in California the 9th of Sept. – she was sick but 15 hours. – She had sent Sarah her journal during her voyage & several letters after her arrival, - all teeming with happiness, - her sea voyage was delightful – no sea sickness – she gained 15 lbs during the passage – she liked California very much & thought the climate would restore her health but suddenly death appeared & she is not more.
Sarah grieves sorely, - though she was separated from her by such a stretch of sea & land her lively piquante letters came by every steamer & gladdened Sarah in her loneliness.
I always feel sad in these sweet melancholy days of Autumn, but my feelings are more than usual attuned to sadness sympathy with several friends, - Sarah’s utter bereavement - & our dear Lucy’s solicetude I cannot but grieve for, & Col. Swain’s family have met with such death strokes as one cannot witness unmoved. Two lovely girls – one Laura’s age & the other the age of my little baby Sarah have died & from the grave of the last the parents went to the cars hurrying to the bedside of their oldest son who is dangerously ill in N. Haven – by a coincidence, just as my pen finished the last word Willie G. spoke to Willie H. “do you know Daniel Webster is dead”! oh what a mighty sorrow should swell the heart of the nation – for long the sun will shine before its beams will fall upon such a gigantic soul. Oh that he could have lived as long as our Republic! -- Webster is one of the few mortals who might be content one would think to dispense with immortality beyond the grave because he has gained in the annals of his country – yet it is probable the aspirations of his soul were no nearer being realised than the veriest victim of misfortune. – The more I see of disappointment & sorrow the less willing am I to give up the faith in an individual existence to all Eternity & I resolve not to renounce to Prophets & Apostles (as your friend so boldly does) until I can find more satisfying truths than they transmit to us, - yet I must confess my faith to paint the light spot in the fourth scene of the voyage of life & I begin to think with Wardsworth that without it “life is an insupportable mystery.”
I feel truly obliged for the perusal of your friend’s essay, - it interested me much because my thoughts are often wandering to the Philosophy of life – while I am busy in the daily routine of domestic duties, I am revolving in my own mind the progress of the age towards a better state of things or sometimes its retrogression to worse, until the cook or one of the children observing my eye “on the visioned future bent” recal me to my myself by repeating a question in rather an irrutate
His views of the imperfections of present society meet my ready concurrence, - I sometimes in view of the burdens which factitious customs impose – especially upon ladies – long for the primitive days of tents, skin clothing & fruit diet, - but how idle this would sound to the busy utilitarian who deems working six days the nearest approach to the Creator. I should have more hope of happiness in the solitary tent of the savage than the Arcadia of a community which your author hints at, - is it Margaret Fuller says that the peculiarities of people render it difficult to unite them as crooked fagots are hard to bind into a bundle. But I am sure I shall not be clear enough in expressing my speculations for I have written in the intervals of packing my husband in a wet sheet – giving him a bath – putting the children to bed – having my hair combed by Sophia Wasson – listening to Willie Hickok’s romances of which “I’ is the hero, &c &c.
We have had a noise house full for a week Sophia Wasson (stop your ears!) Fanny Gregory & W. Hickok added to our own troop have tried the full capacity of the doors to slam, the strength of the carpets & the endurance of our nerves. I have felt like the matron of a young ladies school – I have given them line upon line & called them to order every hour in the day yet they have torn each others dresses & coats to pieces & I have stood with needle & thread in hand on duty most of the time repairing fractures in broadcloth & cashmeres. – The Kelly clan presented a formidable array at church today – De. Kelly & bride – Mr. & Mrs. William Collins etc. etc. It betokens something within the present week. I hope we shall see you up here on the occasion – if I had thought of it I might have spared you this letter. I have written very carelessly repeating words because scarcely a sentence has been finished at one sitting.
I think much of Mrs. Webb & Lucy these days – how is the invalid. By the way Mc Dowell’s wife was here last week, she described Lucy’s virtues with the enthusiasm of a school mate & said smooth things of you.
Mother is not quite well, but rest will cure her – the noise is going off in the cars tomorrow morning. William had a chill today he has had ague hanging about him for a month. Minnie’s ague returned last week but we have broken it up again Nannie is teased by the worms, - Laura sucks a camphor cigar for a cough – Willie Hickok is threatened with apoplexy from roast turkey – Ben the boy has vomitings from sleeping in the apple bin, I am well & hope this will find &c. F.
Nov. 14th 1852
Your sketch of Theodore Parker was interesting to me, - he must be like a Universalist in doctrine & that is a sect that I have no fellowship with, perhaps my dislike to them may be traced to an early prejudice against our neighbor Potter whom I regarded as Universalism personified & as a cruel old orge because he wouldn’t permit his children to read the bible.
Mr. Websters two letters which you named were read by me with satisfaction because they foreshadowed the treat we shall have in his familiar letters, but we shall be obliged to wait for the rest, as his literary executors have forbidden any others to be published until they come out in due form.
You have probably heard of Converse Goddard’s death, - last evening when the obituary notice struck my eye it sent a thrill of anguish through me, - the distressed Father & Mother came to my thoughts directly, - grief for promising sons meets with a ready response in my bosom I know so well the bitterness of such hopes crushed. – Henry Stanberry’s son who died last week in Cin. was a fine promising youth, - he has sat before us in church ever since he was ten years old & I could not look at his vacant seat today without emotion.
I am still much occupied with nursing – William has had a large boil under his arm which has been more painful & troublesome than any previous one, - last night it was lanced & he is feeling much relieved to day.
The many long raing days we have had have been days of real enjoyment to me, they gave me a quiet time for some duties & pleasures & this gloomy month of Nov. has been happier to me than all the bright weather of Summer & Fall. I have been “working willingly with my hands” to robe my children for the Winter & now “I am not afraid of the snow for my household for all my household are clothes with scarlet.”
And when my fingers are tired I rest them with a chapter from Wordswoth’s memoirs, - the excellent Wordsworth, - I really love him.
Do not neglect to call upon Miss Collins, she was hurt that you did not even speak to her at Helen’s wedding, - she said too I treated her very coolly & as I had been cordial to her before she infered that you were offended at her & had told me something to offend me against her. A time womans sensitiveness & you must exert yourself to remove the impression.
There is one thing you & I fail in & that is in politeness to persons we are indifferent to, - with me it springs from real humility, - I feel that if I don’t care for their conversation or society of a person I need waste no time on them for of course they don’t care for me, - but I intend to cultivate my self esteem & do more to make people comfortable in my company.
Love to our dear Lucy.
Dec. 11th 1852
Brother Dear –
We have been rejoicing over the contents of your letter & we have nothing to say in regard to anticipated even to excepting the expression of our hopes to be present with our heartfelt congratulations.
A letter from Uncle informs (Minnie is on my back) us that if his presence is necessary to ensure the legality of the bans it must be remembered that the 5th Jan. he must be at Norwalk.
Oct. 12th – Last night I sat down to write in the interval of nursing but found it was of no use to attempt it & today I have no more time for besides the two children William is under a kiln of bricks & wet sheets trying to sweat off a severe cold in the head. Minnie was attacked on Thursday night with croup & through Friday it assumed so much the from of Willie’s that we were alarmed – but yesterday was relieved & is only very troublesome with combined mischief & fretfulness. Fanny we hope is better through we are a little fearful of Typhoid fever.
I hardly venture to lay any plans for a visit to Cin. but if the children & all are well Mother, Laura & myself intend to go – if Uncle will take charge of us – Wm. will reamin at home because we would be afraid to leave the little folks with the children. – Let us know when the happy day is fixed, also how soon afterwards you will visit us. Laura is perfectly wild with delight. Lizzie Baldwin has returned. Pat Hoge is in Cin.
We have been talking over the wedding & after an examination of the documents we find we have been rather fast in inviting ourselves to the nuptial ceremonies. Mother suggests that protracted illness in Mrs. Webb’s family & other causes may make it inconvenient to recieve any guests, even our family & we have had a good laugh over our readiness to accept before invited.
Don’t consider this as a begging for an invitation for it is extremely doubtful whether we could go at any rate.
If Mrs. Webb & Lucy have not expressed a wish to see us don’t take upon yourself to invite us. Best love to Lucy – we are hoping you will bring her here directly I am impatient to begin to sister her.
The ring is selected – I can send it in a letter if you wish.
Feb 13th 1853
Dearest Lucy W Hayes & the dear husband,
One prong of my pen is a trifle longer than the other but as you do not think genius or affection expressed by good penmanship I will venture to proceed if my own patience is equal to the management of such an implement. I find a married letter is altogether better than a single one though I was surprised to find that R’s letters were capable of abridgement.
Since you left, there has been a total suspension of disipation, & meetings are now the rage in the “best society”. They are held every night in all the churches & any body that would give a party now would be considered in league with Satan. So if you come up this week you can participate I the new movement.
I was sorry to hear of your Mother’s illness – hope by this time she is quite relieved.
You say nothing of your arrangements for living but we can talk that all over when you come up.
I am seated in your room & writing in the intervals of nursing poor Nannie, who has not been out of bed for three days, she has a violent attack of Pleurisy but we hope the disease is beginning to yeild. I have taken care of her every night & I feel really weary though I have had a long rest to day.
I am unfit for writing but wished to thank you for your letter & assure you of my love,
Adieu dear Lucy & dear Ruddy.
A boy! as Bulwer exclaims at the opening paragraph of one of his novels.
Dear brother I do congratulate you most heartily on you increase of blessings. Poor dear Lucy! how I do want to hear just how she is.
Pray do take care of her, Rutherford, - you have been here so often you must know something of the importance of keeping her quiet, don’t go in to laugh & talk with her for a week yet but leave her to the care of a careful nurse.
There was a great rejoicing Sabbath morning when your letter was opened – Nannie & Minnie flew about the room quite wild with joy – Mother settled at once that it would be stronger & handsomer than our boy, - Laura looked rather pouty that Uncle Ruddy should have any one but her to pet – but if he must have a baby she was glad it was a boy as it would leave still a place for her.
You did not tell the colour of is hair so we suppose it is red – William declares our boy’s is but I say it is a beautiful brown. How much pleasure we shall have comparing the little fellows, I am glad on that account that they are the same sex. What is Lucy going to call the young Hayes.
Do write directly that we may know how Lucy is.
Mother will want to hear every other day & we shall all feel the better for hearing she is gaining. A great deal of love to her from all. That dear precious little one! I can express all I feel for him. I think I shall him like my own children.
Dec 27th 53
How your kindness to me & mine touches me! Your hearty invitation to Laura would have put her in an ecstacy of delight if her holidays had not been already disposed of, - by invitation Fanny Gregory has come to spend them here, of course it will not do for Laura to leave her.
During her next vacation which will come in the Spring we shall be most happy to send her down, perhaps Mother will like to go too, unless you think she will do the best on her own responsibility as she calls it. ----All things considered I am glad you named little “Puds” after Uncle – I though it would be interesting to have the boy cousins names alike but it is well to have Uncle’s name perpetuated & my boy should have helped if I had not been afraid of losing the precious name of Rutherford.
Can it be that our two boys are only cousins & will only feel for each other the love of that cool relationship. – as it has always seemed to me? – though as between them it seems in my eye to assume the former of a nearer, dearer tie. Let us bring them often together & make them like brothers – let our affection for each other keep green in them.
Dear Lucy what are your reflections upon this time last year? Probably no other year will change your relations in life so much, - do you – oh hear, baby has waked & a truce to moralising or sentimentalising, you & I may be up & doing & leave letter writing to our husbands. Come & let us talk over the baby work, come! before Winter is over.
Rutherford my faith in our good fortune continues to strengthen without any special effort of your own you always seem to have all that any one could desire for you.
Success to the firm of “Corwine Hayes & Rogers.” Yes, yes, I’ll come to the baby now
More I do’s are wanted for this market – please send two I do’s & one meaty & I will settle for them at some future day.
Our children had the happiest Christmas this year they ever had we opened their treasures Christmas eve - & you ought to have seen Minnies airs & how they all talked at the top of their voices. – “Oh I wish Mother would take the baby.”
June 6, 1854
Oh yes dear Ruddy let us cherish recollections of “twenty years ago” – then shall our love for each other still retain its freshness & vigor even though other dear ties have enlarged the circle of beloved ones. – I believe you like me observe the anniversaries of events as they come around & indulged in a little sentiment quietly to yourself although it may not be always spoken out. – Your letter awakened a deal of tender emotion & drew a few sweet (not bitter tears.) Ah how differently we look upon the coming twenty years since the experience of the last twenty; I have sometimes truly grieved sadly over the anticipated sorrows of the next ten years. In Wordsworth’s memoirs I met the record which I have cherished pleasantly ever since, - he lived thirty two years, after losing two lovely children without serious illness or death in his family.
The precious sister you have given me & the lovely boy! (I wish you could see him now kicking on the floor) Love then, yes, dearly for your sake & theirs too. As L was writing I scratched this bit to thank you for your.
Mother is busy.
Fa A Platt.
Aug. 17, 54
My one brother & my dear sister
I have been thinking of you this evening & the wish to see you & the darling pet boy grows stronger while I think.
Why cannot you come up the first of next month – we shall be cooled off & healthy by that time. If you once get settled to housekeeping you will be so enamored with its novelty that you will not stir from home next Winter & I shall not get to Cin. before next Spring, - all that time without seeing Birchie & his dear mama? no, no, that wont do at all. Then you don’t write me & keep me informed of his progress, I expect he walks talks & has a mouth full of teeth & you don’t tell because you want to sprize me (as Minnie says.) Mr. Platt started Tuesday for Vermont leaving us quite shrunk in numbers. We sit at the little table which we have not used for years. Mary has been away four weeks – Sarah takes her place & I nurse Ruddy. He has been very fretful, some of the time unwell. His first tooth made its appearance yesterday & he has three more keeping him in a worry. We recieved your letter R. saying you were going to spend the week with Lucy so I fancy you happy & well.
Mrs. Sparrow has a daughter two weeks old with the richest Auburn (not to say red) curls & ever so fancy colors are the fashion. Lizzie Stewart was here yesterday, her boy is a most delicate frail little creature. Only think Lucy that great splendid boy – Johnnie Miller died last week at Hart’s Spring. They have had him there all Summer, but the whooping cough broke out among the forty children there & he was the first victim. Mrs. Ware is in great trouble – Robert has been confined in the Lunatic Asylum a week, - I believe he has been out of health & melancholy some weeks & suddenly became wild & ungovernable so that they could not manage him at home. Poor fellow how he suffers! Mr. Platt will be gone about two weeks - he will be glad to see you too. We would like to have a visit from your Mother I shall not be sent off next time she comes. Remember me to your Aunts love & kisses appropriate to you own use.
I have ever so much more to tell you & I feel just like writing a long letter though I did not begin until after nine o’clock & every body in bed – but I shall not send you anything but this scratch – you don’t deserve it.
Kind regards to brother James & his chickens.
Feb. 18th 55
Dear Sister Lu & Brother Rud,
Today one half the family are staying from church to nurse the other half who are ailing. - Laura came from school Thursday evening with a severe headache & has had a good deal of fever every day since, but we expect to break it up soon.
William is agueish & miserable to day in bed, - Nannie had a chill day before yesterday & we are looking out for another but at this present time 10 o’clock A.M. she is bright & well. Minnie was croupy last night & is bragging of not feeling well this morn, Ruddy a little hoarse but up to mischief, Mother & myself quite happy dealing out blue powders & gruel.
I am so glad the cold weather is over that a little thing can’t disturb. We had no serious mishaps during “the reign of terror”, vulgarly called the cold snap, but we were obliged to keep stiring as well as yourselves.
The coldest week Mary was gone & we had for visitors Walstein, Cyrus Platt & his little boy & Mrs. Solis also a sewing girl, & to lodge them all comfortably those cold nights required skill & comforts.
Harriet was perfectly brilliant, - as much more so than she was at twenty five as her intellect is more cultivated, she talks like a British review.
Mr Saxe visited us last week going & returning to & from Chillicothe. I liked him better than last winter – he is an entertaining companion when one gets reconciled to his egotism. I infer that the old fashioned diet of poets, nectar & ambrosia, has fallen into disuse, at any rate, I think Mr. Saxe would give the preference to sausages, the back bone of a turkey & a generous glass of Cognac.
The first piece of dissipation I have been guilty of this year, was attending a small party at Mrs. Bates last night, - my husband cheated me into going without him which I don’t like to do, but there were only a few there & those good talkers, - so I enjoyed myself hugely.
By the way, Mr. Saxe was greatly delighted with your native place Lucy, thinks the society the most cultivated he has found in the West, - Mrs. Douglas entertained him with a blaze of hospitality & captivated him with her literary stores. – We have had lectures from Starr King & Bayard Taylor, treats to us who don’t read books, you who drink deep of bookish lore may despise such shallow streams but our weaker digestion is better suited with these diluted draughts.
Helen Collins is still quite ill confined mostly to her bed no fears for her life but she may not recover for months.
I expect to be busy with my family cares the rest of the Winter Mary will be here only about half the time until April. The children are industriously wearing out their clothes & I must industriously supply their place with new ones.
Write often as you can all the little things that happen you in the meantime I’ll love you all most heartily & think of you most cheerily, as happy a household as any in the land. Birchie dear, love your Aunty.
Love to Mrs. Webb & the Doctor.
If you see a pleasant little story “Heartsense” buy it for me, - please - & I will lent it for the first reading to you
Oh our boys how smart they are! Bring Birchie up & shew him
June 7th 1855.
I have pleasant thoughts about you & your dear ones, - more than ever since that cheery visit I enjoyed so much in your own home, & your affectionate note reminded me that I might write & tell you so. – We are having most comfortable times, - children all well & gleesome.
Ruddy was a good deal weaned from me during my absence & depends much on his little sisters to wait on him, - Nannie always puts him asleep in the morning & Laura at night. – I must acknowledge he did not look as well to me when I first came home as I had always thought he did before; - Birchie’s large, dreamy, soul lit eyes quite eclipsed Ruddy’s astonished blue orbs, - nevertheless I consider him a fine child & smart! – he is learning to call every body & thing by their names. He has an appetite that cannot be appeased, & grows fat every day, he is to Birchie in size as Mr. Corwin is to you.
I am glad Lucy is going to Kentucky, she deserves all the pleasure that life affords. – We shall anticipate your visit with the darling boy & his mama with impatient eagerness. Only think it is a whole year since they were here.
We were all disappointed that Dr. Webb did not come last week, - the children made great ado about it.
He must come in time for the Delaware commencement & bring his Mother up.
We have had quite a tea drinking revival here lately, - several favorites of our society who have been absent a long time have happened to return on visits & thereupon the visiting ball has been set rolling. – Clara Baldwin & her minister husband are here, - we had them to tea with Moses Hoge & wife, Mrs. Dennison & Mrs. Clarkson & others.
I like Mrs. Hoge, Lucy, she talked kindly of you & lovingly of John Herron & his wife, - how splendidly she plays, & when Moses accompanies her with his rich melodius voice – it is music.
Lizzie Baldwin gave her first party last week, - a small select one of talking, agreable people & it passed off most delightfully. The little cottage & its pretty grounds were touched up by Lizzie’s tasteful hand ‘till they were most lovely & attractive, - her husband was very useful in waiting at table but did not presume to enter the parlor & mingle with the company. Mrs. Barry of Hillsboro was there – talked of Mrs. Webb as one of her friends, - asked me if Lucy were a beauty? No matter what I said.
It has rained all day & is now pouring, - very cold – a large fire in the grate.
Our roses are out & the honey suckles, - I wish I could send you a basket of them to decorate & perfume your parlors.
Kisses to the beloved – bring them up - & till then write about them.
Love to Mrs. Webb & Doctors.
Did I leave my rubbers there?
I am intending to stay at home this month, - thinking the cool weather of Sept. may restore Ruddy so that I can leave him safely, - then I shall be ready to flit with Lucy to the North if she likes. If we could make our visit to Uncle I would be glad to do so while Mrs. Valette is away, - not that it would be more than half as pleasant without her genial presence, but on her return the excitement of company may not be good for her.
Ruddy is not well enough for me to leave now, & the middle of next week William will go to N. York & I must take care of home affairs during his absence.
I hope you will be released from office duties soon, - between cholera & the threatening cornice I should be uncomfortably anxious about you if it were my nature to be so.
We are every day wishing for Lucy & Birtie, - let us hear soon that you have fixed the day for coming.
We are having a fine healthy season, - I never enjoyed a Summer more.
Mrs. Clinton Collins is visiting at Mr. Kelley’s.
Mrs. Perry was at Mrs. Dennison’s all last week, - I saw her frequently – I am sorry Lucy & she don’t meet oftener – they would be good friends I know, - drive out with Lucy some evening & she will tell you such pleasant things of Columbus that you will come up directly.
Dear Lucy did Mother tell you the news about Lizzie Baldwin I guess not, so I will. –
While on a pleasure excursion to Hart Springs ten days ago she presented her husband with a fine daughter! how people did talk! & how some people did laugh, & what a deal of gossiping was the consequence you can imagine. Seven months & a day leaves her a clear conscience even if it does shock the propriety of those who are not so smart. –
Mother & Laura are enjoying their visit at Delaware exceedingly, especially Laura. They will be home next Wednesday.
Perhaps Laura will go with her father as far as Elyria when he goes East.
A kiss to the dear boy & love to the family.
Much obliged to you & dear Lu for your kind invitation but the weather is so severe that none of us can think of leaving home ‘till “Shadowasee” resumes his sway. When a thaw comes you may expect William but his visit will be so short that it would not satisfy me, so I will go down with Minnie another time.
We are having great sport now with “Hiawatha” – William is so well pleased with Ward’s “Higher Water” that he would read the poem, & he gives us a canto every time he comes in, - you can judge how it would strike his straight forward, practice views of truth & beauty.
Ice on the window panes ice in the pitcher, ice in the pumps & ice on the pavement, - how the very word makes one shiver Wish I had one of the July numbers of the Knickerbocker, - couldn’t one get a warm idea out of them?
Affec’ly but not warmly
Dear Lu, - Ruddy can repeat the immortal stanza, “shoe the colt” without stumbling & to night has learned O & W developments of genius which please “make a note on.”
Give darling Birtie a kiss from his Aunty.
Last night Fanny had a severe chill – followed by fever and this morning seemed to be shaking – We gave up all hope. Oh! that so much perfection – such a fountain of happiness should die! During the morning she lay still moaning as if in suffering. Once or twice she slept sweetly fifteen or twenty minutes at a time. She says “yes” and “no” to questions as to her wants and feelings – looks anxiously from the face of one to another – as if she would speak but cannot. She kissed those who kiss her, but hardly seems to know others. When asked by Mrs Bates or William, or me if she knows us she replies no with a steady anxious look. Her pulse is now full, and I cling to one forlorn hope! such a hope! that she is insane! and so will recover.
After this Fanny seemed to grow stronger and to gain. On Friday her mind was wandering. She knew her children and returned their kisses. I sat up with her Friday night She soon showed that her intellect was disordered. She seemed to dislike me and to dread my presence – at one time she said in a clear firm tone “I do despise” and after a pause of some minutes she said “Spiritualists” – “Spiritualists” “I do wish my brother would let them alone.” –
Seeing her aversion to my attentions and that she was quite gone in her reason I on Saturday at noon returned home to Cincinnati supposing her chances of recovery to be better than I had before thought but that she was for the present deranged –
On Wednesday July 2d in the morning I recd a dispatch from William telling me to come up – that they expected me the day before. There was no train until 6 P.M. I reached Columbus at 11. found the door open – and walked in to the lighted hall. From the accounts given me I almost gave up hope of Fannys recovery. The Dr. feared that the excitement of seeing me would be injurious and I did not see her to speak to her until Friday about 11 A.M. On Thursday I stood by the door and listened to her answering questions as to her food, medicines &c. Her voice was clear and natural. I looked at her sleeping. She was greatly changed. Her forehead looked massive, her features beautiful but sharpened and almost masculine. Her complexion always clear white was really “transparent of hue” like alabaster. She had frequently expressed a desire to see me and had injoined upon her physician to let her know her condition before it was too late to send for me. She has no fear of death – no dread of the future – thought she could be better spared now than ever before – that Laura was now old enough to take her place, and be a mother to the younger children. She asked Dr A. to give her his candid opinion as to the prospect of her recovery. He was taken by surprise and gave an evasive reply. She again put the question “are my chances equal to six in ten?” and upon being answered affirmatively remarked that she would pretty certainly get well, if that was the case. On Friday she inquired for me and being told I had come she desired to see me. Mother immediately called me in. She looked up with her sweetest smile and raising her arms to embrace me said “Brother” – and in a moment – “Kiss me” – this she repeated and after looking at me pleasantly a moment she said “there you may go” “Kiss me” and I left her. After this I went into the room and soon became one of her attendants sitting by her – fanning her – rubbing her hands – and other little attentions which seemed to please her.
Friday night she again had chills and Saturday morning another. Saturday about 10 A.M. her fever left her and she appeared to gain and rally most encouragingly. This improvement continued until Monday about 2 P.M. when grew faint and thought she was dying. She desired to have her children brought in. She turned to me and said “Dear Lucy and the little ones. I wanted to talk more to them” again she said “I wish I could see dear Lucy and the boys but I never shall” – She spoke of others – “dear Uncle and so many kind friends Mrs. Wasson & Sophia”. She looked so sweetly and lovingly at her children and kissed them. I took little Ruddy to her. “Dear Ruddy – dear child” – She wished his apron taken off and put her hands on his round shoulders and arms – He seeing me rubbing her hand took one of them and rubbed it in imitation of me. She seemed much pleased with it – Soon she said “I am going this time.” Ruddy asked “where are you going?” She said “I am going up to Heaven where I hope to meet all my dear children soon”. Several times she said “I am going to heaven” – She gradually grew quiet and fell asleep.