This letter was written by Levi B. Hitchcock (1795-1869), who was married to Lois Knapp (1801-1884) — the daughter of Comfort Knapp (1770-1850) and Tarzah Gillett (1774-1849).
Levi wrote the letter to his parents, Levi Hitchcock (1768-1853) and Olive (Warren) Hitchcock (1768-1850) of Johnsburg, Warren County, New York.
Mentioned within the letter is the suicide death of Clarissa (Barrett) Knapp (1804-1836) who was the wife of Hiram Knapp (1799-1872). Hiram was Levi’s brother-in-law. Hiram and Clarissa Knapp had five children born between 1823 and 1830 and were residing in Farmington Township of Warren County at the time. Clarissa’s death is recorded as 28 March 1837 (rather than 1836), raising the possibility that either this letter is improperly dated or her date date. One family record mentions that Clarissa “possibly hung herself” which is confirmed by this letter.
Conewango Township [Warren County, Pennsylvania]
May 2, 1836
Ever worthy parents and friends,
It is with pleasure that I improve this opportunity to inform you of our health is not so good as common. I have been very much out of health all winter. I had a pain in my stomach and side, was laid up for some time. I am better bit not well as common. Louis has been tolerable till about six or seven weeks. She was taken sick, has not been able to be round much since. The children are well as common. I have not received any letter from you since I wrote to you. I think that I wrote to you then that I expected to live at Wetmore’s Mill this year. He had a chance to sell and so I took his farm one mile from the city of Warren.¹
This winter has been subject to many sudden changes and a good deal unhealthy and many deaths for this country. And among all the rest, them most shocking accident happened on the night of the 27 of March. The wife of Hiram Knapp who had been in the state of derangement for several weeks broke out of the house, traveled 3 miles, and hanged herself over the edge of the Conewango [Creek] on a bush with a silk handkerchief. She has been a remarkable, fine, sturdy, industrious woman, and a professer of Christianity. But she is gone and left a husband and five children to mourn for the loss of a wife, and a mother, and neighbors the loss of her company in society. But alas, she is gone. Her spirit is fled we hope to rest. Altho she was guilty of suicide, we cannot believe this sin will be laid to her charge. But will let the dead rest and turn our attention to the living while we see them. Dead in trespass and sin and not in the least concern about themselves is alarming thought. And what is more alarming to see, the Churches of Christ all asleep and at ease while sinners are thronging the road to hell. It has been the coldest time in the Church that I ever see. But I hope the time to favor Zion is near at hand. The Church in Fredonia has received a refreshing season this winter and a powerful display of God’s power and some others have been refreshed, and the Church in Warren is very small, but is on the gaining hand. And the promise is when Zion travieth [?], she shall bring forth and my prayer is to God that the churches might rise and let their light shine. Key for us that we live to the glory of God.
The spring is cold and backward. Wheat is from two and half to three dollars per bushel. Corn 2. Pork from 14 to 16 cents per pound which makes the times very hard. I think much about you and want to see you all very much. Give my respects to all the brothers and sisters and all the inquiring friends and exhort them to stand fast in the doctrines of Christ and faithful to him who has promised to give us a crown of glory if we are faithful at the last day.
So I remain your faithful friend until death to his father, — Levi Hitchcock & Louis Hitchcock
I hope you will not forget to write to me. Hiram Knapp was brother to Louis. I have not heard from Betsey since Christmas. John was at my house. they was all well then. Send my letters to Warren post office.
¹ The “Wetmore farm” consisted of 192 acres. It was deeded by William Hodges Oct.ber 5, 1816, to Asa Winter and Harvey Conant, and by them September 16, 1835, to Lansing Wetmore. The year of this letter might be conformed by tracing the date of sale of the farm from Lansing Wetmore to Levi Hitchcock.