1839: Melissa (Phelps) Dodge to William Earle Dodge

This letter was written by Melissa Phelps (1809-1903), the daughter of Anson Greene Phelps (1781-1853) and Olivia Eggleston (1781-1859), from her residence at 37 Fifth Street in New York City.

William Earle Dodge

William Earle Dodge

Melissa wrote the letter to her husband, William Earle Dodge (1805-1883), the son of David and Sarah (Cleveland) Dodge. William Dodge began his career in the dry-goods business. In 1833 he and his father-in-law, Anson G. Phelps, organized the firm of Phelps, Dodge & Company, a dealer in metals. The company soon established a prosperous trade throughout the United States and abroad, eventually becoming the largest American importer of metals. Dodge’s extensive investments included timberland in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and elsewhere; a copper mine in Minnesota; an iron mine in New Jersey; and mills in Connecticut, New Jersey, and other states. Dodge also had interests in a number of railroads, several of which served his metals companies. In 1882 the company purchased the Copper Queen mine in Arizona, which signaled its entry into the front ranks of American mining companies, although metals extraction did not become the firm’s primary business until after Dodge’s death.

Considered an energetic and conservative man, Dodge was noted for his civic activities and his efforts on behalf of religious and temperance societies. He also served one term as a member of the U. S. Congress (1866–67), where he was an outspoken advocate of moderate postwar Reconstruction policies.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to Mr. William E. Dodge, New Orleans, Louisiana

New York [City, New York]
December 2d 1839

My dear, dear William,

I am sure I never felt more willing to have time speed its rapid flight than I do now. It has been a long twelve days to me. I cannot compare the effect of your absence upon me to anything but when I have been sick and tossed with pain at night I have longed for the morning dawn. But I must wait patiently hoping and praying that He who holds his people as in the hollow of his hand and who guards them as the apple of his eye will keep you in safety and return you in his own good time laden with the rich experience of his mercy. I intended to have written you last evening but (an unusual thing for me) I had a bad headache, owing I suppose to eating some baked beans, and the peculiar solemnities of the day made me feel obliged to go to bed quite early. I am well this morning and feel determined to attend to the advice which I can imagine you to give me not very soon to eat those things again.

You have probably noticed in the papers the death of Mrs. Owen. Her remains were taken into the church yesterday. Mr. [Charles S.] Porter preached a sermon from Roman 6th [Chapter] 9th Verse. Mr. Patten made a most affecting and interesting prayer. There were a great many strangers present. Mr. Patten prayed that God would comfort and support the bereaved husband not only then, but when he should have retired home to his own private chamber after the array of funeral ceremonies had passed [and] that then God would fill him with a sense of his glory and enable him to say, “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” I felt for him deeply and for those dear motherless boys. They always seemed to be a very affectionate couple.

Many thanks, dear husband, for your long and interesting letter received on Saturday. It was a real feast to me. I read it first and then partly again to the children and sent it up with the other one to sister Mary’s as Elizabeth was there and expected to go to Plainfield that afternoon for her to take over with her. She arrived the day before from Hudson. I hardly think that Elizabeth with her present feelings can settle down to what is necessary to her comfort and happiness. I was quite pleased with the account of your sea-sickness, though it was very unpleasant for the time I have no doubt. It will be of benefit to you to cleanse the bile from your stomach.

My heart ache’s for the poor slaves when I think of their being chained together and sold in the manner of which you speak. I expect when you come home, if God spares your life, you will be taxed to tell a great many stories. I heard William say to Anson the other evening, I mean to ask Papa to tell us some story of what he has seen every day for a great while. You would have been amused to have seen the position that I found little Anson in on Saturday. He had the large notebook laid on the chair before him with his left hand upon it and a hymn book in his right hand beating time with his foot and singing very loud — do, ra, me, fa, sol — with all the airs of a finished music teacher. I did not know that he knew even the names of any of the notes but they take singing lessons every day in school and I suppose he has learned them like a parrot.

Master David gets along about as usual — sometimes an uncommonly good boy; at other shows self will. I read him your message in the letter. He said tell Papa I am a good boy.

As for little Sis, I have said many times what would Papa give to see her rosy cheeks and bright eyes. She is as sweet and pleasant as ever, sits for a long time together on the floor singing da da. She makes fine use of her little tooth making a little piece of apple look as if the mice had eaten it. I have seen no more coal since that one ton of which I wrote you. Father and Mother Dodge sent me both quite a long letter the other day. It was quite uncommon to be thus favored from Father. I suppose you have received the Thanksgiving Day letter.

Mr. Boot called here this afternoon to get the Sailor’s Magazine. It was quite a Christian call. I really enjoyed his conversation. I have been to Monthly Concert this evening. It was very interesting. Mr. Porter asked if anyone would volunteer to take your place until you returned, but no one did. Mr. Porter called in the other day and said he was very busy but he thought he must come and see how the widow did. I told him she was as well as could be expected. Mrs. Porter has been quite sick but is better.

William went to concert with me and wanted me to leave a place for him to write here but I must wait till the next letter and let him write first and I fill it up. After you left I thought to myself the only thing you hae forgotten is a book and blame myself for not asking you which you would take. I was very glad you had taken Bridges. No doubt in it will be a comfort to you.

Now dear William, it is late. I must send a kiss with good night and believe me your ever affectionate wife, — Melissa

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Yankee Volunteer

A Virtual Archive of Civil War Likenesses collected by Dave Morin

William Henry Jordan

Co. K, 7th Rhode Island Infantry

No Cause to Blush

The Bancroft Collection of Civil War Letters

William A. Bartlett Civil War Letters

Company D, 37th Massachusetts Infantry

The John Hughes Collection

A Virtual Archive of his Letters, 1858-1869

The Civil War Letters of Rufus P. Staniels

Co. H, 13th New Hampshire Volunteers

This is Indeed A Singular War

The Civil War Letters of Henry Scott Murray, 8th New York Light Artillery

The Letters of James A. Durrett

Co. E, 18th Alabama Infantry

Spared & Shared 15

Saving History One Letter at a Time

The Civil War Letters of George Messer

Company F, 107th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Jeff's Prayers are as Effective as Abe's

The Civil War Letters of George S. Youngs, 126th New York Vols

Soldiering is a Very Uncertain Game

The Civil War Letters of Lemuel Glidden, Co. K, 145th Indiana Infantry

Tough as a Pitch Pine Knot

Letters of John Whitcomb Piper, 4th Massachusetts Heavy Artillery

An Honorable Peace

The Civil War Letters of Frank B. Knause, 6th Michigan Infantry & Heavy Artillery

Looking for a Rebel to Give him a Pop

Letters to & from Sgt. John Henry Ward, 93rd PA Inf

Civil War Letters of William H. H. Kinsey

Co. H, 28th Illinois Infantry

Spared & Shared 14

Saving History One Letter at a Time

The 1863 Diary of Thomas Wilbur Manchester

A Rhode Island Soldier in the American Civil War

The Daniels/Stone Digital Archives

A Collection of Family Civil War Era Letters & Ephemera

Spared & Shared 13

Saving Civil War History One Letter At A Time

Dear Nellie

Civil War Letters of Thomas L. Bailey

Homefront Letters to Mark Rankin

Co. B, 27th Massachusetts Vols.

These Troubling Times...

The Civil War Letters of William H. Walton, Co. B, 3rd New Hampshire

Reluctant Yanks

The Civil War Letters of Joseph F. & B. Franklin Orr, Co. F, 76th Ohio Infantry

Hunting rebels as a dog would a fox....

The Civil War Letters of George W. Scott of Co. I, 46th Massachusetts (Militia)

The Civil War Letters of William Hunt Goff

Company H, 24th Massachusetts

%d bloggers like this: