I have transcriptions of two family letters that were written 8-5-1839 from Millport, N.Y. to Spencer, Mass. The first was written by Reuben Bemis Newhall, who was 17 yrs. old at the time. The second was written by his mother, Sarah Bemis [Newhall] Kingsbury. The "shop" Reuben refers to is the cabinet shop run by his father, John Kingsbury. The "Aunt White" he refers to is Sarah Kingsbury's twin sister, Lucretia. Sarah and John are both buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira. Reuben fought in the Civil War and is buried in Minnesota. Sarah's father was Amasa Bemis, soldier of the Revolution who was born, lived and died in Spencer, Mass. I thought that Reuben's letter especially was very interesting historically and gave a good picture of Millport at the time. His mother's letter made me realize, some things never change! Women always spend all their time taking care of children, no matter what the point in history. Here they are in their entirety: [the spelling and punctuation are theirs, not mine!]
It having ben a long time since we have heard from our friends in Spencer I take this opportunity to inform you that our healths are all verry good and should like to know how you are and as Mother has wrote once since we received any I thought I would try and see if I can get one and I want you to write me as soon as you receive this communication. Aunt White has got a son it is a week old. Mother has got a daughter four months old she says that she has got so many that she don't know but she shall give up writing at all. Tell the boys that I should like to see them. I should like to know what you are doing. I am at everything sometimes in the shop and sometimes in the Sawmill. I calculate to go into the shop and learn the cabinet trade. I should like to see you out here. I think that I shall come down there in a year or two. I should like to know how Grandfather Newhall's people are and what they are all doing. Tell Perses that I should like to see her and know what she is doing and whether she is married yet or not. Sarah has got to be quite a girl she says she should like to come down there to our busines, it is all together better than it has ben. Lumber that was worth five dollars a year ago is now worth eight and as to crops they are coming in good wheat is worth one dollar Hay five dollars which makes it altogether better for Lumbermen some of our heaviest farmers have got done haying and have commenced harvesting we have cut about ten tons of hay this summer but to return to our family concerns Aunt White says she should think that some of you might come out here and see us as we have so many babys that we cannot come down there, Aunt has got a pear of boys and Mother has a pear of girls she calls her last on Sarah Sofiah. I think that you can jump in to the stage at your door and come to Albany and there take the canal and come to our door with it costing but little for I think you will like this country. Our place is growing verry fast there is three stores one Tavern five shoeshops two sadlers two Blacksmiths Shops two Tailor Shops one waggon shop one tannery besides many other establishments and as my pen is getting rather poor I will say a few words more and stop I want you as soon as you read this to set down and write to me and tell me how all the folks are and what they are doing. Tell Uncle Allen that I should like to see him out here for I think he would like this country better than that. Pleas remember me to all my friends. I yet remain your affectionate cousin
Reuben B. Newhall
Reuben thinks he has written all he can think of to write and wishes me to finish his letter. My health is better this summer than it has been for some time I have written to you since I have received one from you. We begin to think you never received our letter or have entirely forgotten us Reuben mentions that Lucretia has got another son a week old she is getting along quite smart she has not named him yet as for myself it takes all my time to take care of my children I have one twenty two months and one one four. I have got very good help now we have been troubled sometimes to get good help I wish some of you would write soon and let us know what you all are all about I should like to know where Persis is that she has not written. We feel that some of you might come out here and see us Mother I suppose we may as well give up about seeing you and Father out here but I feel sometimes that I could not give it up I do not know when we shall visit you again as it would be very difficult to leave our families at present but I think we might all write of times if we cannot see each other we can hear. Reuben has been very impatient for some time to hear from you and thought he would write and see if he can get an answer. Mother I think I am ecuseable for not writing any more for what I have written I have done with a child at each elbow Pleas to remember us to all our friends We want to see them all. Lucretia and I often hope that some of our folks would come out here but our wish does not avail us anything. I must bring this letter to a close, wishing to hear from you soon,
I remain your affectionate daughter,
|Letter - From Veteran to Connecticut|
|Township: Town of Veteran, Chemung County NY|
|Transcribed by Jim Brown|
|Photo Source :|
We received your kind letter Saturday the 12th of March and was
happy to hear from you after an absence of 8 months, although we had heard
before that you had arrived home and boarded with a Mr. Sanfords, but no
particulars of your journey, nor the arrival or departure of your
mother. I have thought of writing several times, but delayed in hopes
of receiving a letter from you, or hearing from you some other way.
And now you have written to us. I will endeavour to answer it and
state a few particulars, especially what has happened since your departure.
There has been quite a number of weddings here lately, I will give you a short narrative of some of them. I have no doubt but that you will be somewhat surprised on hearing that Mr. Harry McDougle choose a partner on the 23 of march, and likewise his brother Cyrus. They were both married on Thursday and on the same day, it snowed and was very blustery the day they were married, and it was muddy as it could be. But, however they went in first rate style. Cyrus had Mr. Sexton’s two horse pleasure wagon and likewise his brother David’s span of gray horses put before it and he and his sister and brother went in that alone and Harry went in a separate one by himself. I guess they had nobody to their infair (affair) but their own folks, and the wedding I know nothing about. They never even invited their nearest neighbors. I think they were very scornful about those days. They might have given us an invitation. Harry came here and borrowed our buffalo robe, and we told him then we thought he was going to be married, but he said we might think again before we thought right. But sure enough, the next day, about 2 o’clock, he went up grand as could be with his lady. He married a widow by the name of Bennet. She has no children, but quite a fortune. She lived in Pennsylvania, or near there I believe. Another Mr. Curtis Miles is also married. He married a Miss Scofield from Big Flats.
I can’t well mention all. I hope you will come out this spring as you say that is your intention. Then I will tell you all the particulars. I had almost forgotten to mention that Martha and Amy are married among the rest.
I suppose you would like to hear from James and Gloria. They went back to Lima to school this winter. And James writes that he has experience religion and joined the Methodist Church. There has been a great revival of religion here this winter in this vicinity and in there also which has had the tendency to check and draw the attention of many young and roving minds to the thoughtless condition they were placed in, especially young people.
Sickness has raged a considerable here lately. Mrs. Fanny Parsons has been very sick indeed for some time with the dropsy, a very dangerous complaint. She has not been expected to live for some time. Some days she is better and others worse. They know not how it will terminate with her yet. Mother’s health is quite poor and has been for some time. She keeps about the house but not able to do much.
I was sick for about 3 months after I came from Elmira. That was in the fall and the first frost of winter but am now very smart. Aunt Sally has likewise complained a considerable and had a sick spell lasted about 3 weeks taking it together. She and her family are now all well. And grandfather and grandmother the same. Uncle David and family are all well as usual. We all send our love and respect to you and to all inquiring friends. Aunt Sally and grandmother send their love and good wishes to you in particular and say they shall be glad to see you again. We are all well and in good spirits.
( Tis sweet to think there is a spot ) Your Affectionate Niece,
( Where friends have trod together ) Sally Banks
( And sweeter still to know twill not )
( Be ere forgot by either. ) Give my love to
( Though distance part or fetters bind ) my cousins, uncles
( Our frames alone they sever, ) and aunts, although
( Over change or realms or time, the minds ) I never saw them.
( Still cling as close as ever. ) SB
( S Banks )
(Written on Back)
Father has received a letter from Anna Nichols. They have
moved to Venango Co. in Pennsylvania, about 100 and 50 miles from here.
Mrs. Nichols and her mother are well they wrote. Anna sent her love
to you and wanted to know if you were married. I will tell you the
particulars when I see you. Yours, S. Banks
Miss Elosia Banks
Redding, Fairfield Co.
I was visiting my mother in Corning a couple of weeks ago and came across a letter from my Great-granfather Daniel Rumsey Doud to his father Munson Doud in Mainsburg. This was probably sent in the 1840s.
|Here is the text:
Millport Chemung County NY
It was addressed to :
Photo is Daniel Rumsey Doud at a later date.
Millport still exists and Havanna is now Montour Falls. The Chemung Canal went along that route (see http://chemungcanal.netfirms.com/Index3.htm). Do you know of any other young Tioga Cty men who went on this trip and do you know anything more about it? Do you think it was a coal shipment?
Looking forward to your reply.