1838: Andrew Lee to Nancy Lee

Ladies Fashion in 1838

Ladies Fashion in 1838

This letter was written by 18 year-old Andrew Lee (1820-Aft1880) to his sister Nancy Lee. They were the children of William and Nancy Lee of Lisbon, New London, Connecticut. Andrew married Esther Eliza Hitchcock (1823-Aft1880) of Geauga County, Ohio, in August 1844. In the 1880 Census, Andrew and his wife are enumerated in Northfield, Rice County, Minnesota where Andrew’s occupation is given as a “retired merchant.”

From the content of the letter we learn that in 1838 Andrew was an employee of merchant Samuel B. Stanton (1809-Aft1850), the son of Capt. Samuel Stanton and Mary Noyes of Stonington, Connecticut. Stanton was married to Lydia G. Conrad. It is presumed that Andrew was either Mr. Stanton’s junior partner, apprentice, or book-keeper.

The letter was sent to Nancy in care of Aaron Averill Crary (1803-1880) of Plainfield, Connecticut. Aaron was the son of Aaron Crary and Harmony Averill, and was married to Eliza Williams Lee — most likely a relative.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Miss Nancy Lee, Care of A. A. Crary, Esq., Plainfield, Connecticut

Columbus [Ohio]
April 29th, [1838] Sunday Evening

Dear Sister,

I have just returned from supper & happen to be alone. I seize the opportunity to write you a few lines. I have delayed writing so long that I shall not call it an answer to yours, but a document which I shall expect you to answer.

Now to come to the matter of fact, I am lonesome & e’en a bit homesick & I think you would have similar feelings in my situation. Sundays I am almost alone. We have a room, but  Mr. Wing (the clerk) does not stay here at all & Mr. Stanton — when he is here — is no company for me. I feel under a restraint in his presence which is worse than being alone. If I write in this strain much longer, I shall surely be homesick.

The Bible Class which I attended last summer was discontinued in the winter & has not yet commenced. Dr. [James] Hoge ¹ is getting old & can hardly attend to all the duties of his station. He gives us two good sermons on the Sabbath & a lecture Wednesday evening, besides monthly concerts, &c. I understand he is going to Philadelphia next week to meet the General Assembly, I suppose. He has two fine sons but they are away to school the most of the time & I am but little acquainted with them. Also three daughters but with them I never had the pleasure of speaking. You may judge that I do not go into society much. I have attended but one party since I came here & with that I was not pleased & if I go to another one, it will not be very soon.

I believe I have told you that I am a member of the Harmonical Society composed of the best singers Columbus affords who meet for their improvement in sacred music. Since I last wrote, we gave a concert in which we displayed our musical talent to the best advantage. We charged them 50 cents for hearing us one evening. Myself, with another boy about 15 years old, sing 2d Treble which is a pretty important part in some pieces. We give another concern on the evening of the 30th of next month. If you will come to hear us, I will give you a ticket. In the meantime, we meet to practice once per week, Tuesday evening.

I suppose you will think me rather egotistical but there is nothing else here that will interest you but Andrew so I must tell you how he gets along. He feels rather badly just now but will try & write a little more. We have had very cold & rainy weather the past month on which is nearly past. So much so that we have nearly despaired of having any fruit this year. Yesterday  it was very warm but today it is cold again.

It is very dull times with us now in the way of business. Were it not for a little good Whig news now & then, we should have the hypo. Connecticut acquitted herself nobly. I think when I left Connecticut, Mr. Crary was a Van Jack Democrat. I suppose by this time his eyes are opened, or rather he sees things in a different light than he used to in days of yore.

I must go to bed. Good night.

Friday, May 4th

Since Sunday I have found no convenient opportunity to finish my epistle till today. The weather is cold & damp, which is very uncommon at this season of the year. I like my business very well. I wish I lived near enough to sell you goods. I would shave you the worst kind of a way (that is) if you were not too sharp for me. We sold a silk dress for $12 or 13 dollars before breakfast this morning, which made our breakfast set well.

(Evening) Since writing the above we have sold $200 worth of goods which is pretty good days work. Besides that, I have been to see some of the non_____ [paper torn] -ful C[ircus] which this earth affords. I had rather a s__ [paper torn] time, as it continued raining most of the time & was very chilly. They have the largest elephant in this company that I ever saw. Tell sister Crary I am much obliged to her for the good advice which I received in her letter & hope I shall profit by it. The Society here is not as good as in Lisbon or I do not like it as well.

Steamboat_Moselle_explosion_(1838),_illus._-_ex,_Lloyd's_Steamboat_DirectoryI have just heard of another steamboat explosion on the Mississippi which makes 2 that have exploded within two weeks. ² It is getting to be very dangerous to travel on these western waters. Two hundred lives lost by the carelessness of the captains. Capital punishment ought to be the penalty of such carelessness. I believe they are not as frequent on the Eastern rivers. Supposing one should explode in the middle of the Atlantic!! What then!! Give my love to brother & sister Crary & their little cherub. Ditto to all of our folks when you see them. Answer soon if you please. Adieu.

From your brother, — Andrew Lee

Image 40¹ Dr. James Hoge (1784-1863) was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio for over fifty years. He was first appointed as a missionary to the State of Ohio by the Presbyterian General ASsembly in 1805. He promoted the education of deaf-mutes and is credited with founding the Ohio Institution for the Deaf and Dumb in Columbus.

² The names of the steamboats are not given but it is believed Andrew refers to the Steamboat Moselle and the Steamboat Oronoko.  Both exploded in late April 1838; the Moselle on the Ohio River near Cincinnati and the Oronoko on the Mississippi River near Vicksburg.


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