1836: Mary Miles to David Miles

This letter was signed by an unmarried woman named Mary who wrote the letter to her brother, David Miles, so my assumption is that her name was Mary Miles though I could find no record of her in Galena, Illinois. From the address on the cover we know that David Miles resided in New York City and was likely a partner in the firm, “Wells & Miles” but I could find no record of him or that firm either.

1838 Map of Galena

1838 Map of Galena

From the letter we learn that Mary has recently relocated to Galena from a town named Hurricane (not sure where that is) and that she has accepted employment with “Miss Andrews” to teach female scholars with the hope of establishing a female seminary in Galena. She says that, despite its newness, Galena offers many of the social and cultural advantages of the East but that she can’t enjoy them because of the “wickedness of every description” that prevails in the village. Aside from her brother David, Mary mentions brothers William and Charles, an Uncle Henry residing in Chicago getting ready to make a trip back East to Middletown [Connecticut, I presume, and possibly Mary’s home], and an Aunt Esther. It also appears that Mary’s parents are still living and that Mary is the only daughter in the family yet unmarried.

Mary seems to have been living with George and Emeline Fuller in Galena. The letter was written in September 1836 and county records indicate that George W. Fuller (1807-1884) first came to Galena in April 1836 after his marriage to Emeline Fowler (1804-1854) in 1835. He was a native of Boston, Massachusetts and was for more than 35 years a whole-sale grocer in Galena. Emeline was the daughter of Harvey Fowler (1779-1883) and Rachel Harrison (1778-18xx) of Guilford, Connecticut. Sometime after Emeline’s death, George married Sarah Webster Putnam (1821-1908) of Massachusetts, and together they had a daughter named Jessie Putnam Fuller (1860-1919). George W. Fuller died 1 February 1884 in Galena when he fell “from a load of wood to the turnpike in front of his residence” in Galena. Besides his grocery business, it appears that Fuller also was involved in smelting lead.

Emeline (Fowler) Fuller’s sister, Sally Harrison Fowler (1805-1870) is mentioned in this letter. She was the wife of Darwin Foote Bartholomew (1807-1860). They resided in New Haven Connecticut until relocating to Adams County, Illinois in the 1830s. It is Sally (Fowler) Bartholomew who suffered the wagon accident described in this letter.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mr. David Miles, New York, Care of Wells & Miles

Galena [Illinois]
September 13, 1836

Dear Brother David,

Image 55Are you aware that the summer has passed away & you have not written me one word, notwithstanding your promise when you left Hurricane, to write me as soon as you got to New York [City]? Now brother, I know not what has prevented you from writing, but methinks you might have done it had you been disposed. However, I will not say anything by way of reproof for perhaps you do not deserve it. But I must say, I have felt grieved that neither you, brother Charles, or William have written me this summer. True, I occasionally hear from you by the way of home, but that is not like having a letter from you. Maybe you think from my not coming home this fall that I have lost all interest in my friends, do not want to hear from them, or see them, but far from it brother. I think of you more & more every day, feel more & more anxious to visit you, but I see objections in the way of making you a visit, which perhaps you have hardly thought of.

Image 54When I think of the expense of going to the East & then returning, I feel that my limited means will not justify me in doing it. It will probably cost me over $100. I know the kindness of my brothers too well to suppose them unwilling to defray the whole, or a part of my expenses, but I do not wish them to. If any of the family were sick, or if my own health was not good, I would come home this fall, but I am very well now & have been earnestly solicited to take a school here. I hestitated some time before I gave them an answer, but so much was said to me that I finally consented. It is to be a female school &, if large, will support 2 teachers. The former teacher in this place will be connected with me for the present. If the school flourishes under our care, I think our patrons will build us a Seminary & we shall be the means of establishing a permanent female school in this flourishing town. After we get matters & things arranged, I can leave the school with Miss Andrews (my associate) who can employ an assistant, make you a visit, & then return to my duties here. Mr. [Aratus] Kent,¹ the minister of this place, & other friends think this a good arrangement.

I received a letter from Uncle Henry a few days since stating that he could not visit Galena this fall, that he should leave Chicago for Middletown [Connecticut] the 25th of this month, & if I was going home should like to have me come to Chicago & go with him. I answered his letter yesterday [and] told him my arrangements about keeping school. I suppose he will return by the way of New York & you will see him. He enclosed 2 letters — one from Aunt Esther and one from E. Bull — which he said he brought with him last Spring. The news were rather ancient.

Image 51In Aunt Esther’s letter, you wrote a few lines to Mr. Fuller which would have been answered had we received it before. Mrs. Fuller regrets that it has been so long delayed but it cannot be helped. She will write you a few lines in this relative to the Evangelist. Have you heard the Rev. Mr. [Edwin F.] Hatfield ² preach? He was in Galena 2 weeks since & preached for us on the Sabbath. [He] was very much like. It appears that he has a revival in his church, is now travelling for his health, went from here to St. Louis, will be in New York [City] some time in October. Wish you would hear him preach after he returns. He will probably give some interesting statements of the West. He told me that he saw Mr. [Cyrus] Watson ³ a few days before he left the city & that he was not coming back to Illinois. I was surprised to hear it. Do you know why it is so? Are Catherine’s friends unwilling she should come. I have heard repeatedly since I came to Galena that he would not return to Dubuque. I never asked why for I did not wish to know. Am sorry that he is not liked as a minister. He is a pleasant man & I believe a good one, but like all of us has his faults. Do you see much of him this summer? When you have an opportunity, you must treat him with attention for my sake. Give my love to him when you see him.

Image 52I must now tell you how my time has been employed for the last 4 weeks. Well, I have been keeping house for sister Emeline while she visited her friends in Fairfield. The reason of her going & leaving me here was this. Mrs. Bartholomew, her sister who came here last Spring, was so unfortunate as to be thrown from a wagon & break her arm & it was necessary for her to go to Fairfield where they expect to reside. The horse attempted to jump a ravine which threw her over the forward wheels of the wagon. She was so helpless when she left here that Emeline was obliged to go with her to take care of  her. Mr. Fuller had business at Alton & went at the same time. He was absent about 2 weeks. Emeline was to have returned with him but as the boat passed in the night, she could not get on board & staid 2 weeks longer. Miss Andrews staid with me during her absence & she with the clerk constituted my family till Mr. Fuller returned. I got along much better than I expected. It is just week since Emeline returned.

Father Baldwin sent me a beautiful watermelon & Mr. Bartholomew a peach which grew on his new farm. Emeline says there is abundance of fruit in Quincy — the finest peaches & melons she ever saw. They grew in the vicinity of Quincy. We have but little fruit in this place. This part of the country is so new the farmers do not yet realize any fruit from their orchards. Mother Baldwin’s health is very miserable. Emeline says she should not be surprised if she did not live long. Father told her he was daily expecting a letter from brother Charles. Mother feels lonesome. She wants one of her daughters with her very much & as I am the only unmarried one, I sometimes think I will go & take care of her. They are very much disappointed that you did not give them a call last spring.

When you come to Illinois again, you must stay longer & see more of the country. However, I never expect to see you here again. Neither do I wish you or any of my brothers & sisters to come if those who remain behind feel as unwilling to have you here as they are me. I should enjoy myself much better if I thought friends at home were more reconciled to my being here. It is time to get dinner & I must set the table so goodbye till afternoon.

P. M. 2 o’clock. I again resume my pen, dear brother, & I must immediately tell you some news I have just heard. Mr. Campbell, teacher of the male school in this place, called to tell me that he has received a letter from his wife saying that she with Mr. Watson & wife & Miss Pond were going to leave New York for the West the 12th September which was yesterday. It is a mystery to me how so many different reports about Mr. Watson’s coming & not coming get to Illinois. For my part, I shall not expect him till I see him. Hope he will bring me a heap of letters.

Galena in the 1840s

Galena in the 1840s

Where is Susy & why don’t the naughty girl write me? I do not like Galena half as well as Hurricane & perhaps you would be surprised at my taste after visiting the two places. Galena resembles many of our New England towns. Here we have our parties, sewing societies, Sabbath Schools, prayer meetings, Sabbath & sanctuary privileges, but there is so much wickedness of every description that I cannot enjoy all these privileges as I should in Hurricane. As Emeline wishes to write & I have taken most of the paper, believe I must close. Did you give M. her book & how did she like it? How did little sis like her sugar? Kiss the dear little creature for me. Give my love to brother & sister, also William. Tell William my next letter shall be to him. I sent Henry a paper the other day & enclosed an Illinois shell in it, Do you think he will receive it? Brother, I am not going to ask you to write, but if you do, I shall think you have not forgotten me. Your sister, — Mary

Mr. Miles,

Sorry there was delay in getting your letter, as your note addressed to Husband should have been answered long since. Also regret that you had difficulty in paying for the Evangelist. I wish you to say to Mrs. Leavett that when I first subscribed for her paper, that I was living in Quincy, January 1834, before I changed my name. Rev. ___ Turner was his agent & myself with other subscribers paid our money to him at the time. He did not give any of us a receipt for 1835. I am positive that I paid. It is possible I paid it to Mr. _____ before I left that spring. We called at the office of the Evangelist in July on our arrival in New York & changed the direction. I know very well that if I had not previously paid it to Mr. ____ that we then paid for it for it was an important object with us at the time….

When you next write Mary, tell us about it. Much love to you all, It is so dark I cannot see.

Yours respectfully, — E. F. Fuller

P. S. My Home Missionary continues to go part of the time to Quincy. I wish you to say to the Editor to direct it to G. W. Fuller, Galena, Illinois.


¹ Rev. Aratus Kent “long served the American Home Missionary Society; first as its charter Northern Illinois missionary; and then as its first agent for that state’s northern three tiers of counties. Before there were stage roads, he traveled the Indian traces and along the rivers on horseback and on foot. When the stage roads came into existence, he traveled them all in his buggy, wearing out many beasts and machines in the process, but never exhausting his own ecclesiastical energy. He rode “the cars” of the rail roads from their inception, stopping at the little depots to “prospect” for spirituality among the new populations. If he missed the “cars,” he “jumped” the freights (charming the stern train superintendents into looking the other way at his “bending” of the rules).

When an image of the weary traveling frontier preacher is conjured, Methodism is the stamp that comes immediately to mind. Aratus Kent was Presbyterian to his marrow. He frequently chided the missionaries in his charge to live amongst their flocks, not at a distance. Yet he himself was prone to itinerate, sometimes to the consternation of his superiors in New York. He always kept Galena as his home, but his letters were post-marked from Lodi, Haldane, Nora, Garden Prairie, Orangeville, Wayne, Little Fort, Crete, and Chicago, to name just a few of the hundreds of places where he preached and proselytized for the American Home Missionary Society. Doubtless there is not a single spot in Northern Illinois where Aratus Kent did not pass within a few miles.”

² Rev. Edwin F. Hatfield (1807-1883) was the son of Oliver S. and Jane (Mann) Hatfield, and was born in Elizabethtown, N. J., January 9, 1807. He graduated at Middlebury College, Vt., in 1829. He studied theology at the Seminary in Andover, Mass., 1829-31, and was licensed to preach the gospel by the Third Presbytery of New York, October 6, 1831, and ordained by the same Presbytery at New York, May 14, 1832. From October 1831 to February 1832 he preached at Rockaway, N. J., as an assistant of the Rev. Barnabas King, D.D. From March 1832 to September 1832 at Orange, N. J., he was an assistant of the Rev. Asa R. Hillyer, D.D. He was pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of St. Louis, Mo., from October 1832, to February 1835. He was pastor of the Seventh Presbyterian Church of New York from July 1835 to February 1856 and of the North Presbyterian Church of New York from February 1856 to October 1863. He resigned and retired from the pastoral work on account of loss of health. He remained one year in retirement when he became special agent of the Union Theological Seminary in New York, December 1864, and in the following year obtained for the Seminary an endowment of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Two years were then occupied in writing and preparing for the press a “History of Elizabeth, New Jersey.” In May 1868 he took the place of Dr. Kendall, Secretary of the Presbyterian Committee of Home Missions (abroad for his health), until October 1868, from which time he was Secretary of the Freedmen’s Department of the same Committee. In January 1870 he again became special agent of Union Theological Seminary, in order to raise five hundred thousand dollars. He was Stated Clerk of the Third Presbytery of New York, since October 1838, and of the General Assembly, since May 1846. He was elected Moderator of the General Assembly which met at Saratoga, N. Y., in 1883.” [Source: Presbyterian Heritage Center]

³ “The cornerstone of the first Presbyterian church in Dubuque and in the state of Iowa was laid July 18, 1836, though no church society was organized until May 12, 1839. During the winter previous to the laying of the corner stone. Rev. Cyrus Lewis Watson, a Presbyterian, preached in the Methodist church. But probably the first Presbyterian services held here were by Rev. Mr. [Aratus] Kent, pastor of a Presbyterian church in Galena. The Presbyterian society here was organized in the log meeting house, nineteen being the original membership.” [Source: History of Dubuque County, Iowa]

Another book says that, “The first missionary commissioned by the American Home Missionary Society for Iowa was the Rev. Cyrus Lewis Watson [1800-1881], December 28th 1835 for twelve months… Mr. Watson remained at the mines but about four months. It is not unlikely that he was discouraged by the conduct of the disorderly, graceless and vicious squatters around him, and abandoned the ground in despair.”

Prior to the appointment to Dubuque, Rev. Watson served as a home missionary in the “military tract” of western Illinois between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. At the time Rev. Watson was appointed to Dubuque in 1835, he was married to Catherine Pond of Medford, Connecticut. She died in Bloomington, Illinois in April 1837.


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