This letter was written by Anthony Colby (1792-1873) and his wife, Mary Messinger (Everett) Colby (1796-1837) to their 17 year-old daughter, Susan Farnum Colby (1817-1919) of New London, Merrimack County, New Hampshire. Susan studied at the Academy at New Hampton, N.H., and later took a course at the Emma Willard Seminary in Troy, N.Y. After completing her studies, Susan took a position as secretary at the Young Ladies Literary and Missionary Society of New Hampton, N.H. In 1838, she was appointed as the first principal of New London Academy in New London, N.H. She married James Boorman Colgate (1818-1883) in February 1851. Colgate was a wealthy banker and one of the founders of the New York Gold Exchange.
The following biography was found for Anthony Colby:
Governor Anthony Colby was born at New London (NH). After a common school education, Colby went into manufacturing. He built a grist mill in town and (1832) established a stage line between Hanover (NH) and Lowell (MA). He was one of the founders of the scythe industry in New Hampshire — an important industry in 19th century agricultural America.
Colby came to prominence in the state militia. Appointed an ensign in the militia in 1814, Colby rose to captain (1819), major, lieutenant colonel and colonel (all 1825), and major general (1837). In 1828 Colby served the first of several terms as a State Representative (served 1828-1832, 1837-1839). He ran unsuccessfully (as a Whig) for the U. S. House of Representatives, losing in 1833 and 1835. Three times the Whigs nominated Colby for governor; he lost all three races to the dominant Democrats. In 1846, Colby was again nominated by the Whigs; this time the Democrats faced defections in their ranks and Democrat Jared Williams had to go into a runoff election. Democrat Williams (26,740 votes) lost the race to the Whigs (17,707 votes), who combined with the Independent Democrats (10,379 votes) for Colby’s win.
Colby served one year as Governor, during the War With Mexico. Resolutions supporting the War failed in the 1846 legislature, and passed only narrowly in 1847 — this at a time when U.S. Senator (and Democrat) Franklin Pierce was raising troops for New Hampshire’s 9th Regiment, U. S. Infantry. In the 1847 election for the U.S. Senate, Pierce lost his campaign for another term to John P. Hale, the candidate of the Free Soil Party and the Abolitionist Party.
Colby in retirement endowed Colby Academy (New London, NH). He was for twenty years a Dartmouth College trustee. [Compiled by Russell Bastedo State Curator 1998]
Addressed to Miss Susan F. Colby, Waterville, Maine, Care of Rev. Mr. Butler
New London [Merrimack County, New Hampshire]
July 24, 1834
Although rather weary with hard work, I shall write a short letter to you. Yours of the 19th is received and I expect you are now in Waterville, as you wrote for directions about returning home. I only say that when you are ready to come, you may take the accommodation stage and come to Portsmouth and direct the driver to leave you at Mr. Herrick’s with Cushing. Mr. Crawford will probably be keeping house, but you will not know how to find them until you have opportunity to enquire. You will like to stop at Portsmouth a few days. It is possible that either myself or Daniel may meet you at Portsmouth but it is by no means certain for we have so much to do that I am at home most of the time.
Amaziah Wood has been gone home almost a fortnight sick but getting better. Luther Wallace has been very sick 18 days with a fever. The poor fellow lays between living & dying and has for a long time. I have some hope that he will live but it would not be strange if he should not live. His Mother & Sister have been here more than two weeks to take care of him and we have one or two watchers every night. He is as helpless as an infant.
If when you fix on the time that you will be at Portsmouth you will write me a line and if I can meet you there, I will. But if I don’t meet you there, you will take the stage for Concord via Dover — not Exeter — and stop at Mr. Hutchins in Concord & the next day home. Say to Everett that he must see that all your bills are paid and furnish you with money to get home and I will settle with him sometimes.
You will excuse me for not writing anymore at this time for it is bedtime and I have been haying all the week.
Your affectionate father, — A. Colby
As your Par has finished writing and left so much white ____, I thought that it was ____ too bad not to write a few lines although I hardly know what to write. We seem to be in rather a confused state at the present as Mr. Wallace is so very sick he requires much attention by day and by night as your Par has mentioned. It rather seems to disconcert our business although his friends take the principal care of him. However, we have got along much better than I should have thought we could had I known beforehand that his sickness must have taken place.
Phebe is as good as ever; works with all her might. You must not give yourself any anxiety about us as his Mother and sister are very good to assist us about our work. I hope that you will enjoy your visit at Waterville and see and hear much to tell us about when you come home which will be for your instruction and edification.
Susan, I begin to think much about your coming home when you get through with your visiting. I shall be willing to have you stay as long as you think best and when that time is expired, I shall feel anxious to have you come. I sometimes hardly know how to wait until the time shall come that you shall return. You mentioned that it was uncertain whether E. should come with you or not. I should be very glad to have him come but if he cannot come, I think that you may come with all safety as you can come from N. Y. to Portsmouth in one day here. I think you will like to make a visit with Almira if she should be keeping house which they intended doing as soon as they returned. If not, I think you will like to spend a little time at some of those places which you called at when you was going down. I hope that you will take proper care of your things. You must recollect that you have not got mother there to see to them and be sure and not leave them by the way.
Please to give much love to Esteria Everett and Alonzo and accept of much yourself. I must leave writing for it is now almost twelve o’clock and tell you the more when you come home. We were very much pleased indeed with your miniature. I think it looks very much like you.
From your affectionate mother, — Mary Colby