This letter was written by Judith Sabrina (Lathrop) Grant (1814-1839), the wife of Asahel Grant, M. D. (1807-1844). Judith was the daughter of Erastus and Judith (Crafts) Lathrop and the adopted daughter of Dr. William and Sabrina (Crafts) Campbell of Cerry Valley, New York — her mother dying when she was but three days old. Asahel was the son of William and Rachel (Wedge) Grant. After his first wife died in 1831, Asahel married Judith in April 1835 and left soon afterwards for Smyrna where he volunteered his services as a physician to the American Board of Foreign Missions.
The Grants sailed from Boston aboard the brig Angola bound for Smyrna where they landed on 28 June 1835. They left for Constantinople on 2 July and arrived there two days later. They remained there six weeks and then journeyed on to Orrmiah, Persia, in October. Judith never returned to America. She died in Persia on 14 January 1839 at the age of 25. Many of her letters were published in the N. Y. Commercial Advertiser.
One of the Grant’s traveling companions was Miss Rebecca W. Williams, mentioned in this letter. She later married Rev. Story Hebard in October, 1836.
Addressed to Miss Frances A. Crafts, Care of Alfred Crafts, Esq., Cherry Valley, Otsego County, New York
June 20th 1835
My dear Cousins Frances & Cornelia,
I have thought much of you for some days & this afternoon determined to write you, though I do not recollect that any stipulation was made, or anything said about our writing to each other. Be that as it may be, I now commence and ask you, dear cousins, to become my correspondents — will you? I am confined it will be a source of mutual pleasure and I hope also of mutual profit. I knew not the strength of my affection for you until separation developed it. I find I love my friends far more that I thought I did when I left home. I hope too that they sometimes think of their far distant friend. Oh! it is delightful to think that those we love do not forget us. That perhaps at the same moment we are thinking of them, their thoughts are also with us.
Christian friendship has this advantage over those of the world — there is one precious spot at which all may meet — a throne of grace where hearts may be pound out in unison — a bright home in Heaven where partings are no more. Oh! dear cousins, that we could anticipate such a reunion! Then, it matters not whether the few days of the years of our pilgrimage are passed in America or Persia, amid friends & kindred or among heathens & savages, provided our course be “onward” & we finally arrive at the desired haven.
I often wish you were with me to enjoy the delightful scenes I witness, and engaged in the same delightful & glorious work. Oh! how I have desired to recall some of those opportunities of faithfulness which I so neglected & misimproved. I beseech of you, let not my inconsistencies be a stumbling block to you. Charge them not, I entreat, upon Religion. My past errors & omissions are irretrievable. God grant they may not be an occasion of evil to any.
We sailed from Boston, as you already know, the 11th of May. We had hoped to [be] present at the anniversaries in New York, where we anticipated many of our Cherry Valley friends, with others from different parts of the county. But were obliged to relinquish all these delightful plans and anticipations, to prepare for our final departure from the land of our birth. This is indeed an hour of trial — one which only those who have experienced it can realize. We can stand around the death bed of friends to bid the last adieu to the departing spirit, & by degrees become reconciled to it, but when in health with the prospect of life before us, to tear voluntarily away from everything the heart holds dear, to destroy all old associations, the recollections of home & childhood’s days, requires something more than the world can impart to calm the agony of nature’s anguish. Yet though the trial was severe, I would not have you for a moment think that I was unhappy under it, or regretted the steps I had taken. Far from it. The world never appeared smaller oo of less value than when I looked back upon it from the vessel as we receded from the American shores.
25th. We have thus far had a most delightful passage. Our sea sickness was very short and mild, & we have had no storms and very little contrary winds to retard our progress which for the most part has been onward. If all voyages were as pleasant as ours has been, I should not object to a sea life. To be sure, we are confined entirely to the company on board the ship and sometimes feel very sensibly the want of more room. It is almost impossible to take sufficient quantity of exercise, but we manage to accomplish this by walking, running, jumping the rope, calisthenics, &c., &c. Our company at table consists of Miss [Rebecca W.] Williams, our fellow passenger & sister missionary, Captain Cushing, Mr. Prier — the 1st Mate — & the Dr. & myself. I feel that I am highly favored in having Miss Williams as a friend & companion. She is considerably my senior in age & experience, both as a Christian and Missionary, having been engaged in teaching the school among the Mohegan Indians near Norwich, Connecticut. She is from East Hartford — a most lovely, excellent girl. [She] is destined to the Syrian Mission at Beyroot [Beirut] as Assistant Superintendent of female schools in that country [and] expects to reside in the family of Mrs. Smith [wife of Rev. Eli Smith], who is a friend of hers. I think she possesses eminent qualifications to render her useful in that capacity. I shall regret parting with this dear sister exceedingly, which we must do at Smyrna.
We are in the Mediterranean Sea off the eastern coast of the Morea. If you will look at the map you will see just where we are. We have seen today the Island of Berigo (the ancient litherica opposite the southern coast of the Morea), [and] Cape St. Angelo — its eastern point — which is now in sight in our stern. Last evening we saw & passed Cape Matapan — its western point. During the night, we passed Navarino — the sight of the famous battle between the Russians and Turks. We have several ships of war in company. Saw a number — probably a dozen — supposed to be the Russian fleet. Have spoken but one vessel — an English Brig on the passage, though we have frequently passed in sight at a distance of 2, 3 & 5 miles. Today is the 45th since our embarkation & we are now within 3 days sail of Smyrna, It is worthy of remark that we have had no thunder during our passage with the exception of a few distant peals today. This is very remarkable for thunderstorms are very frequent & violent in the Mediterranean. We had a fine view of Mt. Etna when opposite the coast of Sicily. Could distinctly discern the snow on its summit and perceive the smoke as it issued from its immense crater. As you will probably see Pa’s letter, I refer you to that for a more minute account of our voyage as the circumstances occurred.
My time has been chiefly occupied in studying, reading & writing. I have been perfecting myself in Latin, by translating my Syrian grammar, the definitions & explanations of which are all in that tongue. Oh! I do long to get at my work, to commence the study of the Syrian. You have doubtless read Mr. Perkin’s Journal in the May number of the Herald. Is it not ___________ing? It seems as though we have every inducement to urge us onward. Oh! that we may also have the impulse & guidance of the eternal, unerring Spirit, that we may do nothing rashly but all things in the fear of God.
I think of you all very often and wonder what you are about. Tonight is the evening for Bible Class. Is it still continued? Do many attend? Those seasons will yet appear “exceeding precious” to me when in a heathen land. I begin to real it a little now but nothing to what I shall. I entreat you, dear cousins, while they are within your reach to improve them. The time will come when you will wish you had done so. You must write me all the particulars. Tell me about Sabbath Schools, Bible Class, Sewing Society, &c. &c. Anything you know will interest me. How is my Sabbath School on the hill? I often think of them and wonder whether they have a teacher. I suppose John Smith is not in town. Is Miss Harris still in Cherry Valley? If so, give her my best love. If I have time, I shall write her from Smyrna or Constantinople. My love to all — to everybody. I love every thing belonging to Cherry Valley — even the very dog days would be welcome visitors. Dear delightful home. How that word thrills through my very soul. But where is my home? This is not my home. Persia is my only tempiral home. Heaven, I trust, my eternal one.
Girls, I have a proposal to make. By & by when I get to Persia, I shall have a school of little heathen children. I shall wish to teach them sewing, knitting &c.” Now I’ve been thinking it would be a fine thing for the little girls in Cherry Valley to do as the little girls in Hartford and other places have done — viz., make up a number of little bags for the work, needle books &c., which they might furnish with needles, thread, thimbles, patches, &c. together with any other little articles to please & attract children. What do you think of it? Such girls as Hannah, Elizabeth Beardsley and others. I merely propose it to you. Miss Williams has upwards of 50 of those bags made of calico, silk, or anything the girls happened to have among their little stores. I think something of this kind could tend to excite in these girls a spirit of benevolence which would grow with this growth & strengthen with their strength. Ask your mother what she thinks of it. Do write soon to your affectionate cousin, — Judith
Smyrna, July 1st.
We arrived here on Monday after a most delightful passage of only 48 days from Boston. Found our friends all in usual health. We are staying at the [Rev. Mr.] Temple’s [house] where we experience every comfort & kindness which love & benevolence can bestow. Your affectionate cousin, — Judith