1840: Charlotte Sophia Dexter to Simon Newton Dexter

Charlotte's Father, Andrew Dexter

Charlotte’s Father, Andrew Dexter

This letter was written by Charlotte Sophia Dexter (1812-1878), the daughter of Andrew Dexter, Jr. (1779-1837) and Charlotte Althorpe Morton (17xx-1819). Charlotte mentions her brother, Andrew Alfred Dexter (1809-1854) and her deceased brother, Samuel Dexter (1815-1837), who died in Texas.

She wrote the letter to her Uncle Simon Newton Dexter (1785-1862). “Newton” and Charlotte’s father were the sons of Andrew Dexter, the first manufacturer of cotton goods in America.

Charlotte’s brother Alfred married Harrieta Sarah Williams in 1837. Alfred was trained as a civil engineer. He surveyed the first railroad from Charleston SC to Augusta Ga laid out the town of Aiken SC later he removed to Alabama and engaged successfully in cotton planting in Macon County AL. He was engaged in the survey of a railroad from Mobile to New Orleans La in 1854 when he contracted yellow fever and died in Montgomery [where his parents also died].

Addressed to S. Newton Dexter, Esq., Whitesboro, Oneida City, New York

Aiken [South Carolina]
June 26th 1840

Dear Uncle,

I have relinquished all idea of a journey to the North for this summer.

Brother returned ten days since from Alabama and left us again for Washington, District of Columbia, last Saturday for the purpose of attending to business for the Selena Rail Road Company. He will at the same time attend to some business for Mr. Williams, his father-in-law, and also some affairs of his own.

Father’s property, real estate in Alabama, is about to be sold. The proceeds will hardly, not by any means, I should say, pay his debts, which are large. Father had conveyed property, real estate to brother, which will now be secured to him. Brother says he proposed father’s making a settlement upon me at the same time with himself; but he thought it better not, as I being a woman, was unable to take care of it for myself. This property which my dear father conveyed to brother had debts to be paid upon it which brother was to discharge and perhaps any settlement which my poor father might have made upon me, at the time, would have been in the same condition, and therefore I should have been unable to have managed it. I feel assured my father intended to have provided for me and not to have left me dependant.

Brother says he will resign all claim upon Grandfather Dexter’s estate to me, which as you write me, will bring me in a little income. Upon this income I shall depend defraying my expenses in clothing. Brother’s claim with mine will suffice.

Brother hopes to redeem a part of father’s property and perhaps will preserve and secure me something.

Charlotte's Uncle S. Newton Dexter

Charlotte’s Uncle S. Newton Dexter

The estate in Texas is also to be sold, excepting that which belonged to my lamented brother Samuel. You have no idea, dear Uncle, of how much I loved him, and of how kind and devoted he was to me. My afflictions — particularly the loss of my father and brother — have been almost more than I could sustain. My distress has been almost unparalleled. But God gives strength for endurance and fortitude for the occasion.

When the brother who is left to me is with me I am comparatively happy. He is more to me than ever. He expected when he left Aiken for Washington to return in the course of two or three weeks. He said he expected to leave this place for Alabama the last of August or first of September. He says I shall accompany him to Alabama. His wife will, I believe, remain here with her mother for the winter. The baby is a fine little fellow now — 16 or 17 months old.

Love to Aunt and Cousins. I hope my Aunt is now in better health. Your affectionate niece, — Charlotte S. Dexter


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