1836: Nathan & Rachel Kimball to Solomon Sherwood Kimball

Durant's 1834 Balloon Ascencion in Boston

Durant’s 1834 Balloon Ascension in Boston

This 1836  letter was written by Nathan Kimball (1767-1849) and his wife, Rachel (Sherwood) Kimball (1772-1852), to their son Solomon Sherwood Kimball (1806-1890) was then residing in New York City. Solomon married Emily Ann Close in November 1839.

There is considerable mention of Solomon’s older sister, Julianna (Kimball) Vassaler (1796-1844), the wife of Philip Vassaler, and their children Amanda and Hudson.

A cholera outbreak in New York City raises the concern of Solomon’s parents and a balloon ascension catches their notice. From the papers, we learn that the French aeronaut, Louis Anslem Lauriat (1786-1857), launched his balloon from Castle Garden on the Battery about 6 p.m. on 18 August 1836. He landed thirty miles to the east on Long Island about an hour later. Lauriat is credited with making the second ascension in a balloon ever made in the United States. The first ascent is credited to Charles Ferson Durant who launched his balloon from Castle Garden in September 1830.

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Addressed to Solomon S. Kimball, No. 90 Maiden Lane, New York [City]
[Favored I. S. Frost]

Charleston Four Corners [Montgomery County, New York]
September 3d 1836

Dear Son,

Image 5I now devote a few minutes in writing to inform you that I am as well as usual. Your mother has been complaining some for a few days past but is now about as well as usual but has not been so unwell but what kept about the house. Juliana has got a felon on her right thumb which has been very painful for some time but is now come so near to a head that it has run considerable and she is more easy, but the corn has yet come out. Four of her youngest children have the whopping cough but have none of them have it as hard as I have seen some have it. Amanda Louisa began cough first & has it rather the hardest but has not had it long enough for it to have a turn. The most of the family are well as common except Philip is some complaining but keeps about his work yet. Amanda & Hudson are well & hearty except Hudson is afflicted with a boil. The rest of our relations are enjoying as good health as common.

There has nothing particular occurred since you left here worth noting except we have had three white frosts. But by the blessing of God, they did but little if any damage to the crops. Cucumbers are some scorched on the edges of their leaves & it still remains cold and I fear we shall have frost when it clears off as it is now cloudy & chilly cold so that a fire is very comfortable to sit by — especially morning & evenings.

I have received two papers — one on Wednesday last and the other the Wednesday before, which by your token informs me that you are in good health. I leave the remainder of the sheet for your mother to fill up. I remain your affectionate father, — Nathan Kimball

My Dear Son,

Image 7I take my pen to try to write a few lines to enquire after your health and calculations and the events of your return to New York. How do you do? Is your health spared to you and has the Lord permitted you to return in safety and to find all things agreeable and pleasant? Or has your visit to Middleburgh among your friends and acquaintance been the means of making you tired of a city life and determined you to return and settle down where you can be more happy and contented? I want you to write by Esqr. Frost ¹ and answer me all these particulars and whether tis healthy in the city at this season of the year.

I have no news to communicate. Your father has wrote you the particulars of the family circumstances at present so I must bid you adieu and think I feel to commend you to God and to the word of his grace which is able to keep you from falling and to present you before the throne of his glory with exceeding joy which is the sincere prayer of your affectionate mother, — Rachel Kimball

September 5th

Image 8As your mother has not filled up the sheet, I take my pen to finish. The weather is more mild yesterday & today. We had a little rain last night and this morning but is now cleared off pretty much and is fine and warm (11 o’clock A.M.).

Julianna and her family are rather better on the whole. Her thumb is much better but the corn has not come out yet. But it does not pain her so much but that she can rest and sleep tolerably well.

I observe by the Weekly Inspection Report of the deaths in the city of New York that deaths has increased about forty in number the last week to what was the week before and the week before about fifty from what was reported in the last paper that I received before. Is there prevailing sickness in the city more common for the [season] of year or is it common for such an increase at this season? I have some fears that it is a prelude to some pestilential disease.

I see an account of a balloon ascending from the city to a great height & traveling thirty miles in the air and landing safe. ² Is it so?

Do write to me by Esqr. Frost as he tells me that he will call on you and I calculate to send this by him as he tells me that he, in company of Mr. J. G. Eaton, will start tomorrow morning for New York [City] so I embrace the opportunity of sending this. Your mother has been complaining a few days some but is bette today but was able to attend meeting yesterday.

Adieu. May God preserve and keep you safe [from] all the pestilence [that] may rage in the city is the prayer [of your] affectionate father & mother. — N. Kimball


¹ Isaac S. Frost was a merchant in Charleston, New York. He later relocated to Canajoharie, New York.Isaac was also a postmaster of Charleston Four Corners (1828 & 1833).

² Mr. Lauriat’s balloon ascension is described in the following newspaper article:

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