Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pearce and Chappotin families of New England

Three handwritten letters, 1820, 1823 and 1829. They all originally belonged to the Pearce and Chappotin families of New England. One is written to ship Captain Nathaniel Pearce of Providence Rhode Island from his son Thomas, also a ship captain. The second one, also by Thomas, either to his father or father-in-law. The third is written by Mary Ann Chappotin, Thomas’s wife, to her mother, Mrs. Leon Chappotin, in Meadville Pennsylvania. This third letter actually has several different writers.

In Part......

“Bristol, February 19th, 1820

Dear Sir,

We arrived here Wednesday at 4 P.M. after a pleasant passage and at 5 were married in church by the Rev. Bishop Griswold in presence of a small collection of very respectable citizens in the evening and were called upon by Messieurs Wolery, Collins &c &c. Have received much attention and pass our time very agreeably. We should be very happy to see you here if you can make it convenient but am sorry to state that it would not be convenient for Mrs. Mosher to accommodate you. Sarah is well and will probably return Monday with Sophia and Capt. Jennings who desire their respects to you as does Mary Ann. Give my best respects to all the family and believe me to be your very obedient son, Thomas Pearce.” Composed C.”

“Lima, October 9th, 1823

Dear Father,

I am happy to inform you that I am on the point of sailing for Guayaquil to procure if possible a cargo of cocoa for the ship with which I shall proceed direct to Providence. In case a very high piece renders it unadvisable, I shall go immediately to China but I hope that will not be the case. From the accounts you must have got from this side of the waters you will probably conclude that our voyage is not going to prove so profitable as was expected……It is unnecessary for me to say anything about Mr. Ellis or George as they have written themselves. I received your letter by Capt. Bowers. He sailed 23rd last month for China. Capt. Jennings is still here. Was one of the purchasers of my cargo and I hope will make something handsome on it….The President of Columbia, General Bolivar, arrived here about 1st of September and has been made Dictator, commander in chief &c &c in fact he has the management of the affairs of Government and much good is expected to result to this country from his presence here as this period…

The Patriots have met with success latterly in upper Peru and have advanced far into the country but it is uncertain what the result of the campaign will be. To the north an unhappy difference exists. Riva Aguero the former President refusing to acknowledge the congress’s President, established him after the evacuation of Lima by the Royal forces, but it is now that as Bolivar has been invested with authority to settle the differences, it will soon be done by words or blows. We seem in some measures to be out of the world on this side of the water as we seldom hear much about what is going on with you. It seems there is a war in Europe and we feel anxious to know some particulars. Whether there is a prospect of it’s continuance and if the other powers of Europe will be involved in it and above all with what…….Brother Jonathan is looking on. Give my best love to all and believe me to be your obedient son, Thomas Pearce.”

The third and final letter consists of 3 ½ pages but it really needs some archival repair. It is also a stampless letter and it looks like not only Mary Ann wrote but S. P. Bullock, daughter Cole, S. B. Wheaton, and possible others who have just signed their initials. The reason I think everyone wrote and is also there at Mary Ann’s house is because Cole, Mary Ann’s sister, is getting married to a Mr. Wheaton and they are all planning the wedding. The letter is full of wedding talk and very charming and in part reads…..

“Providence December 27th, 1829

My Dear Mother,

I was very glad to hear through Miss Humphrey that miss Crosby was better and I hope ere this that she is still better……….Monday afternoon, December 28th, The child waked up last evening and I had to give up writing……Cole was published for the first time yesterday at Mr. Edes. I expect this will surprise you. She prefers being married by him as she never goes to church and says she does not like Mr. Crocker……Cole is to be married a fortnight from this evening. They expect to leave the next day for Norton……I shall write Mrs. Edes as we took tea with them at my father Pearce’s just before Thomas sailed…..I am going to have the cake made by a Mrs. Crandall who is a cake maker for all the Nobility. I would not undertake it for fear of an accident………Your ever Mary…….Dear Mother,….Mary Ann has written you all the news but I thought I would spare one moment to write you a few lines saying I have got all that is necessary. I shall finish my wedding dress this eve. It is a white cambric with two deep folds, each over a quarter of a yard. Long sleeves, sets beautifully. Miss Tyler assisted me. Mr. Wheaton got me an elegant pair of silk stockings in New York and a pair of black Denmark satin shoes and white gloves marked with blue. You must imagine me in a fortnight from tonight at 8 o’clock all equipped with my hair dressed very high with puffs, standing before Mr. Edes, trembling like an Aspen leaf. Oh Mama, I hope I shall be able to command my beating but I am afraid I shall give out. Mrs. Wheaton requested me to say for her when I wrote you that she claimed me as her child and anticipated much pleasure in your society…..Not forgetting your dear self I remain your affectionate daughter Cole.”

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010



Handwritten letter of James Eva, Aug. 31, 1892, SF, to daughter E. M. Eva at Mills Seminary, Alameda, CA with interesting commentary regarding the school head:

"Yours came to hand and was glad to know you were well and not sorry that Mrs. Mills sits on you sometimes as you may need all little correction sometimes and the old lady is not very heavy."

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Love Letters 1836

Two love letters written by John Cooley to his wife Lucina in 1836. John is on board the brig Sampson under the leadership of Captain Purkis. Lucina is staying at John H. Purkis’s house in Providence Rhode Island while John is away.

The first letter is two pages long and finds him at Brunswick in a frantic state because he has not received any letters from Lucina and is terribly worried because of it. The second letter, which is 3 pages long is written 3 months later, and shows that he has finally received a letter. In this one he recites poetry to her and in both letters you can see how much he loves and misses her and the children.

A few excerpts from each letter……

“Brig Sampson at Bruswick, 15 miles below Wilmington

January 19th, 1836

Dear Wife,

I with pleasure inform you that I enjoy very good health and hope that you and all of the family enjoy the same blessings. If you ever lived or died on suspense or ever knew anybody else to, consider my anxiety. 23 days ago I wrote a letter to you from this place and one from Havana on the 10th of last month and I have not received an answer from neither of them yet. What can be the reason of it I cannot imagine unless it is because you have not wrote to me. Capt. Purkis has received answers from his and our letters all were sent at the same time and by the same mail. You must suppose that it causes a great uneasiness and an anxiety that I cannot express. I cannot believe that you would neglect writing to me when you know how earnestly I entreated you before I left Providence and in my two last letters I made the request; and directed you how to proceed to get an answer to me in this place. Capt. Purkis went to Wilmington yesterday and as soon as he gets on board again (we expecting him every moment) we shall sail for Havana and if he does not bring me a letter from you------and if you did not write by Capt. Chambers, altho I have not seen him yet------what shall I do or what is to be done. I left a vessel last winter and came after a letter myself but I did not expect to do it this. If I accuse you wrongfully I humbly beg your forgiveness but I assure you that I am very uneasy about you all. I hear the winter is very severe in the North and I am anxious to know how you and the family fare…….Capt Purkis has come from Wilmington and he has not any letters for me. I am very sorry that it is so for it has disappointed me and increased my anxiety very much. We are under sail and shall leave the pilot in a few minutes. If you have an opportunity of writing to Havana as soon as the 8th of February write and you will unburden me of a load of uneasiness which is hard to carry…….Dear Lucina, I remain yours until death, John Cooley.”

“Havana, April 26th, 1836

Dear Wife,

I with pleasure sit down to inform you that we have commenced taking in cargo to sail for Boston on the first day of May. I received your kind letter of the 24th of March on the 23rd of this month and am very happy to hear that the family are all alive and well. It is a great disappointment to all that we cannot come to Providence with the Brig first as going to Boston deprives us of bringing home fruit and other necessaries which would be of some benefit…..I do assure you that there is no one in the family that wishes me at home half so much as I wish to be there myself for I might say with the poet, “How oft in the visions of night I desire thee, thy countenance attends thy form bent with grief with the fondest affections, endeavors to sooth thee but all my exertions trust fail of relief. Though for distant from thee perhaps at this moment, thy thoughts may arise with affections sincere and though cruel fortune so long keeps me distant, I still will be with thee and still will be dear.” For there is no telling how I long to see you all since I have heard the glad tidings that you wrote in your letter of our family and sister Mary. It is the greatest consolation message you could have ever sent me…..It is getting late and I have not time to say half so much as I wish to. Give my love to sisters Bowen and Mary and their children. Congratulate them for me on the happy changes that has taken place among you. I hope soon to be with you myself and then we can say more about it. Give the children all a father’s kiss for me. I hope they will not have long to look for papa……I remain your affectionate until death, John Cooley.”

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Warwick New York 1840

May 1840. Warwick [New York]. An unusual document signed by fifteen musicians, members of the Warwick Brass and Reed Band. The top portion states “We the subscribers members of ‘The Warwick Brass & Reed band,’ unwilling, that the time & money expended for instruction should be lost, (which must inevitably be the case unless instruction is continued) or that our Band should become inferior to any other in the Co. (of a like age). Therefore, resolve to hire Mr. J. Marsh to continue his instructions for six months from the termination of his present engagement, giving a lesson of two Evenings every four weeks for the payment of which we hereby bind ourselves collectively to Cornelius Henry Demorest, Benj. C. Burg & Gilbert W. Roe, who are hereby authorized to make the engagement with Mr. March. Dated Warwick May 1840.”

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sacramento California 1861

Letter dated Sacramento (California), Oct 9 1861, from "Nathan," a sheep rancher, to his brother, "Benjamin," with an excellent reference to slavery and the Civil War. It reads, in part, as follows.

"I have been in the City for a few days making a market for my wool. We sheared this fall about 6000 lbs., but the price is very low and it only amounts to $600, after deducting the amount paid for shearing. I hope by another spring we will get enough from our wool to pay the boys for herding the sheep and then the thing will begin to look like a paying business ... Emily [who had remained in the east with his son] is a real good wife (and here let me say I wish you had as good a one) and I am highly blessed in having her ... She is of a very happy disposition, not easily thrown off her ballance. Always disposed to make the best of everything and contribute to the happiness of those around ... I have not much to write about concerning the War. As you are much nearer the center of atrocities than I am, you must, of course, be better posted, but one thing I can claim an equal interest ... I am sure there is no one more loyal than I am and I would hang the last Rebel who resisted the laws of the U.S. I would wipe out the last Negro slave from the Sunny South [meaning actually that he would eliminate slavery) a year of jubilee [would] break any yoke and since the prejudice of this vile rebellion [is] so low in the estimation of the coming generation that Benedict Arnold's name would shine gloriously when compared with theirs. Of the final result I have no fears ... Think of me when you see the flag at the Elm Tree ... I would take off my hat and give it three cheers and perhaps I may do it when I get out to the Ranch ... [signed] Nathan."

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

William H. Anderson 1887

February 10, 1887. Southern Part of New Mexico near Rincon. An autograph letter signed ”W.H.A.” to his daughter about his travels from New England to New Mexico; William H. Anderson wrote to her in pencil:

“Altho I have written mama a card every day reporting how I was getting along I think you would like to have a letter from me. Now you get a map of the United States and trace along on it the way I came. I left Boston which you can find and by dark that night only got as far as Greenfield Mass. I crossed the Hudson River at Troy N.Y. in the night and Sunday morning just after I got out of my berth crossed the Niagara River not far from Buffalo. Then went on through the lower part of Canada to Detroit Michigan. There we crossed the river in a bog boat that took cars and all & after we crossed Sunday afternoon I changed into another sleeping car and that afternoon & Sunday night passed thro the states of Michigan, Indiana and Illinois to the Mississippi River opposite St. Louis. We crossed that river Monday morning about 8 on a very high bridge. At St. Louis I changed cars and during Monday rode all day across the State of Missouri to the Missouri River opposite Kansas City. We crossed that river on another very high bridge about 8 Monday night. I had to stay in Kansas City over night. As the city stands on a high cliff or hill above the river where the depot is we went up the hill in a street car drawn not by horses but a rope or cable which runs under ground. The hill was as steep as the roof of our house and it seemed funny to ride up so steep a place. I stayed at a hotel that night and about eleven Thursday morning I took this car in which I now am and started west again. We went through Topeka, Emporia and about the time I got up Wednesday morning we were at the eastern line of the state of Colorado. We had breakfast at La Junta in Colorado. That word is pronounced as tho it was spelled La Hunta as it is a Spanish word and in that language it sounds like H. Then yesterday we kept on thro Colorado & New Mexico & got to Las Vegas about dark, that is our dark, at home it would be two hours later because that is farther to the east where the Sun rises. We passed Albuquerque in the night and when I looked out this morning we were near Socorro, New Mexico. Had breakfast at San Marcian and shall get to Rincon, New Mexico about noon. There I shall have to change cars and wait an hour or two. Don’t you think I have given you a great lesson in geography? There are a great many cattle and calves along here and as the road is not fenced we have to slack up sometimes & blow the engine whistle so as to frighten them off the track and then they scamper good. Derring, N.M. Friday morn – When we got here last night we found we must stay here till 2 o’clock today – so I will send this now and write you again this afternoon on the train.”

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Johnston Colony 1854

Letter dated Johnston Colony, Jan 9 1854, from John R. Johnston to his daughter Mary, husband Stephen and sons John R. and Harry at Livingston, Crawford County, Ohio, with black Auburn CA, Apr 10 (1854) postmark, 10c stamped postal rate on address leaf. The content reads, in part, as follows, I wrote you the last mail, but I am not certain they were put in the office in time, we have to send our letters to Auburn by stage &c. to be mailed. We are all in usual health and living in a healthier part of the country and have a fair prospect of making money before another year goes 'round. We have 40 acres of barley sowed, which on the lowest calculation will yield fifty or sixty bushel to the acre. I will write you next mail. Your mother and all the family are in good health. Sam is yet in San Francisco, John is on the farm in Sacramento. He was up to see us and bought the boys each a new hat and fine blouse, and for myself he also sent us a fine lot of vegetables. David & his wife and the family are all living as one family and are prospering and fair ... [signed] Jno R. Johnston.

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Saturday, September 04, 2010


Ancestry announced today it has launched a collection of more than 1,700 recorded oral histories from immigrants who arrived in the United States through Ellis Island. This is the first time this collection of poignant recordings has been available online. To celebrate the new addition, Ancestry is making its entire U.S. Immigration Collection free through Labor Day.

Immigration Collection

Letters & Postcards on E-Bay