1835: Caroline Burgess to Caleb Alonzo Burgess

How Caroline Burgess might have looked in 1835

How Caroline Burgess might have looked in 1835

This letter was written by Caroline Burgess (Abt 1820-18xx) who lived with her mother, Sarah (Everett) Burgess, the proprietor of a boarding house at 90 Fulton Street in New York City in 1835. Her father, William Burgess, Jr. (1777-Aft1820), was a publisher in the city but died around 1830.

Caroline wrote the letter to her brother, Caleb Alonzo Burgess (1817-1896), a cotton broker in Mobile, Alabama. Caleb was born on 22 October 1817 at Dedham, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts. He married firstly Harriet Louise Proctor about 1841, and secondly Mary Frances Murch in 1878. He is listed in the 1850 census for New York, New York, in the 1865-66 IRS tax assessment lists there, in 1870 in Westchester Co., New York, and in 1880 in San Francisco, San Francisco Co., California; he has not been found in 1860. He also is listed in the 1890 Great Register of Voters for San Francisco. He was a cotton broker and mining broker. He died there on 24 May 1896, having had four sons, three by his first wife, and one by his second.

See also: 1835 Letter CAB to SEB for Burgess family information.

In her letter, Caroline describes a disastrous fire in New York City that started at 115 Fulton Street in the early morning hours of 12 August 1835.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mr. Caleb A. Burgess, New Orleans, Louisiana (forwarded to Mobile, Alabama)

New York [City, New York]
August 16, 1835

My Dearest Brother,

It was with great pleasure we received your long looked for letter and were very much pleased to hear you had a pleasant passage. I was very sorry you had not received my letter for it must [have] appeared very lonesome to you when you first arrived and a letter from home might have cheered you up a little. We received a note from J. Osborn the same evening we received your letter saying that you had received two letters from home but declined answering them from particular reasons. We could not account for it why we should receive a letter the same day saying you had not received any letter from home and J. Osborn’s letter that you had. Mother was very much worried about Joseph, receiving no letter from him and you saying so little about him. She was afraid something had happened to him the reason of his not writing. Dear Caleb, do tell Joseph to write if not more than a few lines in your letter.

We had a dreadful fire in our neighborhood. It commenced in one of those six story buildings opposite Dutch Street. It destroyed all of that block except the property owned by Dutch Church. The store formerly occupied by Joseph was destroyed together with all of the buildings as far as the house formerly occupied by Doctor [Samuel] Osborn,¹ which was slightly injured. It crossed over into Ann Street, took the Catholic Church, and all of the buildings on that side of the way to Nassau Street and in Nassau Street nearly to Beekman Street. Among the sufferers were Mr. Hood and Mrs. Kelly. The loss of property is greater than has been known for many years. There was no one so much frightened as T. Cushman. At the first alarm, he had his Book Case ready for a start.

In your letter you wished me to write about our affairs. Things are going on about the same as when you left. We have very few boarders at present but I hope we will have more before long. We have never heard from George since he left. Lucy is writing to him this morning, and I hope we will hear from him before I write to you again and be able to let you know.

Dear Caleb, you do not know how much we all want to see you. Give my best love to Joseph. I must now bid you adieu as I have nothing more to tell you at present.

From your affectionate sister, — Caroline

P. S. Mother sends her best love to you and Joseph and would be happy to see you home and if you are not in business, she will expect you very soon.


¹ The 1827 New York City Directory shows Dr. Samuel Osborn’s office to have been at 116 Fulton Street. History records that he “proved his devotion to duty during the fearful scourge of Yellow Fever.”

Commercial Adv 12 August 1835


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