This letter was written by 16 year-old Wheelock Hendee Parmly, (1816-1894), the son of Randolph Parmly (1783-1864) and Elizabeth B. Murray (1782-1865). Wheelock’s mother was a niece of Eleazer Wheelock — the founder and first President of Dartmouth College.
Parmly graduated from Columbia College in New York City in 1842. About the time he entered college he united with the old Amity Street Baptist Church in New York City. Parmly was given a “license to preach the gospel” by the Amity Street Church on the 16th of July, 1844, and in the following month was graduated from Madison Theological Seminary. Years later (1867), Madison University conferred upon him the honorary title of Doctor of Divinity.
Soon after graduation, he sailed to New Orleans, where he began to preach, and while there he accepted the assistant pastorate of the Baptist Church at Clinton, La., which he filled “most acceptably for two years, declining during that period three calls to become pastor of churches in the North. He developed a strong friendship for the negro, frequently visited them in their cabins, took a fearless stand on the slavery question as an advocate of human rights, and afterward sheltered many a fugitive slave. During his residence in the South he also acquired that habit of great hospitality which always characterized his home.”
At the end of two years, Parmly returned to New York City, and on November 15, 1847, “he accepted a call to the Baptist Church at Shelburne Falls, Mass., where he remained two years, and resigned, the winter climate of the Berkshire hills being too hard for his constitution. Shortly after he accepted this pastorate he married Katharine Dunbar (1817-1877), daughter of Rev. Duncan Dunbar, of the Macdougal Street Baptist Church, New York City.” Parmly next assumed the duties of pastor of the Baptist Church at Burlington, N. J., in May, 1850, and remained there nearly five years, during which time the ” church grew mightily.”
“On the 1st of September. 1854, at the age of thirty-eight, he entered upon his labors as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jersey City, and ably, honorably, and satisfactorily filled that pastorate until his death, August 1, 1894,– a period of forty years, lacking one month.”
The relationship of Mrs. Angeline Pool — to whom Wheelock addressed the letter — remains a mystery. She is enumerated as “Angeline Poole” (b. 1795 in Vermont) in the Middlebury, Addison County, Vermont Census of 1850, in the residence of 32 year-old Justus Cobb (Editor of the Addison County Journal) and his wife Maria Powers.
Addressed to Mrs. Angeline Pool, Middlebury, Vermont
Shrewsbury [New Jersey]
December 8th 1832
My dear friend,
I am sensible of my neglect in not answering your letter but I hope you will forgive me and I will endeavor to do better next time. We are all in good health and I hope these few lines will find you enjoying the same great blessing.
One reason of my not answering it was because we bought a place and were very busy moving to it. This place is about five miles from the one we formerly lived on. It consists of about 30 acres and is very pleasantly situated. It is much more convenient than cousin Eleazer’s was. It is about a mile and a half from the churches and Post Office. We gave 1800 dollars for it and mother would be glad of that money from [paper fold] for we want all we can get and more too to pay for it. Our stock consists of three speckled cows and two horses. Speckled cows, you know, are my favorites — especially if they are good ones.
We heard from Ohio lately and father is as bad as ever. The rest of our relatives are generally well. We heard from [my brother] Ludolph about two weeks ago and he is well. Our friends in New York are well. Cousin’s children have become quite playful but they are not very healthy.
We wrote to Aunt Scott awhile ago and told her that she might take all the things (which Mother left in your care) that you had not sold. Whether she ever received our letter or not, we do not know as we have not heard from her since. If you see her, I wish you would tell her we want to hear from her and her family very much, and tell her we want she should write to us.
I cannot think of much news to write to you but I hope when you receive this you will answer it and tell us all the news you can think of. Tell us how your children come on in learning and tell us how Susan Owen comes on, whether they have found her or not. Now do not fail to write and let us know how you do. We all send our love to you and believe me your affectionate friend.
— Wheelock H. Parmly