1804: Charlotte (Williams) Porter to Dolly Williams

Charlotte (Williams) Porter Gravestone

Charlotte (Williams) Porter Gravestone

This letter was written by Charlotte (Williams) Porter (1768-1842), the wife of Dr. William Porter (1763-1847). She wrote the letter to her older, spinster sister, Dolly Williams (1765-Aft1804).

Charlotte and Dolly Williams were the daughters of Rev. William Williams (1735-1808) and Dorothy (“Dolly”) Ashley (1750-1808) of Dalton, Massachusetts.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Miss Dolly Williams, Dalton [Massachusetts]

Hadley [Massachusetts]
March 29 [1804]

Dear Sister,

Image 12We have received two letters from you within a few day, the last of the two this day. Since you have lit upon so good a reason for our silence, it will save me the expense of an apology. When Sally gave us the account of our Father’s sickness, I thought we would go directly to Dalton but attending to her saying that he was not thought dangerous, I gave it up & we soon heard he was better. But from all accounts we have had, ’tis probable he was much more indisposed that we thought him to be while he was sick. But he is spared & I hope to see him again in health.

Image 14Mr. Taylor was here the Tuesday before the great snow. He was returning from Enfield home to preach the Centenary Sermon — it is now an hundred years since Deerfield was destroyed. ¹ He told us that Grandmother was so feeble that he should not think it strange is she died soon. We determined to go & see her as soon as there was a path. According[ly] we went on Thursday [and] found the complaint had been a swelled leg. It had given much pain & was very alarming but she was much better when we were there.

Image 10Uncle Doctor has been a good deal indisposed since his recovery. There is a serious impression on his mind which I hope will not leave him short of an interest in Christ. Aunt Dickerson has wanted much to see Mama this winter both on Grandmother & Uncle’s account. They set up Conference meetings there, but not from any visible attention to religion; our visit was agreeable tho’ short in opposition to our plan & judgement which was to come home in the afternoon. We followed our inclination & went to Conway. We found Uncle William standing in the path before his house. He said Sister Williams was there & we must go too. You will naturally think we wanted nothing but liberty to do it. His company & table were rich.

Image 13We stopt at Brothers & as our judgment directed. ___ out in a most violent storm on Friday morning for home with difficulty. We got to Speers but it was surprising to see the bunch of snow which the horses beat about with their feet before we stopped. After we had taken time to warm & dry us, we set out to go some where towards home but the horses plunged so much in going a few rods it [was] necessary to have help to get them out & us back to the tavern. We then staid till Saturday afternoon when on hearing there was a path, we made another attempt to come home. But finding it impossible, we returned again to the place of our destiny. I really thought there must be an errand for us to do & so would you if I could tell you all that occurred.

Image 9Sabbath afternoon we went again to Deerfield & to make the matter short, we got well home Monday evening.

Tuesday afternoon, Mr. & Mrs. Taylor & little Mary came here. It was their design to have gone home that day but our Wednesday lecture was providentially altered till Tuesday that week. That, and some other reasons influenced him to stay. He preached & in answer to the question what shall we do to be saved? said he must repent & be baptized. One of our people said he should like to have heard him all night. Their visit gave me pleasure & I hope is an opening to future friendship.

Image 11Mrs. Dolly Dickinson is yet in darkness & will not be comported. Mrs. Timothy Hopkins deeply impressed. Betsy Marsh & others have not obtained Faith. Marma Kellogg was here yesterday; she looks ple___[paper torn] thinks she will not give up religion but don’t ___she has any hope. There is statedly a meeting here on Monday evening. The last evening there were seventy persons here & probably as many more in some house below the Meeting House. How many trophies of redeeming love  there may be in consequence of the attention I know not but it appears as if God would lot leave Himself without a witness amongst this people. If you are disposed sometimes to sing the 18th Psalm first part &  72 hymn first book, possibly some friend may be in concert with you.

Your black-eyed boy devoured your letter today. Surprisingly, he is a fine boy. If Mr. William grows in knowledge & grace, we shall have reason to be thankful. I have been unfaithful to him about his clothes & ask his pardon. We wish you to do what is most agreeable to you about coming at present.

Yours affectionately, — Charlotte Porter


¹ In this 100th-anniversary sermon about the 1704 raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts, during Queen Anne’s War, Reverend John Taylor first compared the attack with the destruction of Jerusalem and then went on to illustrate how no town in the Commonwealth suffered “from the depredations of the natives equally with Deerfield.” Taylor focused more, though, on condemning the French rather than the Native participants, perhaps because he was a staunch Federalist who mistrusted the motives and policies of the French government in his own time. The first to describe the 1704 attack as a “massacre,” Taylor revealed in his Century Sermon the still powerful psychological influence of that event.


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