This letter was written by Catherine M. Poole (1814-Aft1860) of Salisbury, New Hampshire. In the 1860 Census, she is enumerated in the household of Stephen Smith in Unity, Sullivan County, New Hampshire, and her occupation is given as “teacher.”
She wrote the letter to Elmira W. Bixby (1815-1889) — the wife of Thomas W. Currier of Manchester, New Hampshire. Elvira was the daughter of Daniel and Sarah (Blanchard) Bixby. Thomas was the son of Nathan and Sally (Carter) Currier of Wilmot, New Hampshire. Elvira later (1845) became the wife of Cyrus Hobbs of Wilmot. Elmira and Thomas Currier had at least two children: John G. Currier (1834-1913) and Sarah E. J. Currier (b. 1837).
Addressed to Mrs. Thomas W. Currier, Manchester, New Hampshire
Salisbury, New Hampshire
November 7, 1841
Dear Sister Currier,
The reception of your very kind letter one week ago revived anew the remembrance of the love of Christ and the victories achieved by his glorious gospel. Such wondrous love awakes the life of saints that were almost asleep. It has been my earnest desire in bygone days that you might experience what you now express. My eye has followed you with concern and my heart has prayed for your salvation. But I must acknowledge that unbelief and carnal sense did conspire to discourage hope in your case, while I saw no change in your appearance. Many times has my faith been thus tried. Had I not been a dull scholar in the school of Christ my faith would be stronger. I hope you will not be thus “slow to believe” Be not sp prone to forget that “praying breath was never spent in vain.” Pray in faith for your unconverted friends and though the blessing tarry long wait for it & wait in faith.
When I was first brought into the liberty of the gospel, I felt intense anxiety for my schoolmates & associates all of whom were in the broad road to ruin. Long & earnestly did I pray for their salvation, sincerely & firmly, believing I should see the power of God displayed among them. But two long years passed away and no change appeared — only for the worse. Often did I fear that my past exercises were not genuine work of faith [and] was ready to conclude that my desires amounted to nothing but enthusiasm. But the desired change at length burst upon my astonished vision. Many of these precious youth were brought (as I still hope) from nature’s darkness into God’s marvelous light causing seasons of unspeakable joy & satisfaction. I then thought I would never again trust appearances but trust in the Lord – never limit the Holy One of Israel but leave the fulfillment of my desires to his wisdom & power. Though I never wholly forgot the important lesson, I find myself still prone to the same evil.
You ask whether I am rejoicing in God, enjoying his presence &c. to which I answer I know of no other real joy; but find it often interrupted by earthly scenes & sinful inclinations. These I hope to conquer thro the Lamb’s redeeming blood. “I’ve listed and I mean to fight till all my foes are put to flight.” The consolations of religion in my past illness have been “neither few nor small.” My friends & neighbors have not infrequently congratulated me upon my patience & resignation under my numerous distresses & privations. If such is really the case, let sovereign grace have the praise for I am naturally an impatient, fretful child greatly lacking fortitude & courage. I have many times been constrained to exclaim upon a sick bed, divine power & sovereign grace alone could produce the calm serenity of mind & entire submission to the will of God which I enjoy in the deep affliction, when to outward appearance all things were against me.
“O to grace how great a bettor.” My situation has led me to pity the afflicted whose feet were not placed upon the Rock of Ages. Yes, I well remember my feelings soon after my removal to this town in hearing of a young mother whose children were very sick — the eldest given over, the anxiety & restless agony of the afflicted mother. O, thought I, could she enjoy resignation to God’s will, how greatly would her miseries be alleviated. That mother — then an unseen stranger — was no other than the beloved friend to whom I am now writing. Thanks be to God that the pity of the almighty & compassionate Savior has reached her case. Will it not be a part of Heaven’s felicity to look back & survey the many dangers from which we were saved in time even the sparing love & mercy of God while we were dead in trespasses & sins.
November 9. Have rode to the Centre Village & back for the first time in our waggon. Feel somewhat fatigued but not injured. So you discern evident improvement in my health. O, to tell the rest of the story though, I spun between 5 & 6 knots of stocking yarn yesterday. How thankful ought I to be for so many undeserved mercies!
A most sudden death took place in this town on Thursday last. Mr. Moses Sawyer ¹ fell dead in the field while at work with his brother. He had long been afflicted with a disease of the heart & died as many do in that complaint. It was not unexpected to him as he has frequently said he expected to die so, I understand he was a pious, exemplary young man [and] has left bright evidence that it is well with him. I saw his sister, Mrs. Wilson, today. She appears calm but deeply feels her bereavement.
Tell Elder Evan’s folks that Elizabeth Greene is recovering as fast as can be expected. She goes from room to room, walks to her Grandfather’s in pleasant weather & sometimes washes the dishes. The rest of the family are well. Olive is well. She calls on me once or twice a week. She is as vain as ever, placing her hopes of happiness in airy phantoms. Her Mr. E. has been very sick but from last accounts was fast recovering. She means to pursue study but has not decided where to spend the winter. Samuel is at school in Claremont under the care of his guardian who has lately moved there. No particular news from Wilmot.
I would not forget to acknowledge with kindest thanks the tokens of friendship I have received from time to time from you. There was an interesting pamphlet by the hand of Mr. Currier, the neat apron by Mrs. Webster, & the most acceptable letter by mail post paid. My visit of Mr. Currier was short. I fear he thought me inattentive to his company, but I was unusually fatigued & somewhat ill. I could hardly think or talk. I suffered an attack of dysentery immediately after.
Please tell Mary Chloe that my beautiful kitten lost its life a few nights since by means of a nocturnal mobocrat in the shape of a large savage cat. The family were awakened by its screams but too late for its rescue. The murderer was put to death the next day on the principle of self defense. I shall look for a letter from her soon. Letters from you will ever be acceptable. Tell the children I want to see them. I love them as much as ever. tell Mr. Howe to call here if he comes up. We are all about as we were when Mr. Evans was here. Tell him Mr. Stow is expected to preach here for N. London Baptists next Sabbath.
Love to his & your family from your affectionate friend, — Catherine M. Poole
¹ Moses Sawyer (1813-1841) was the son of Isaac Fitz Sawyer (1778-1846) and Rebecca Pettengill (1779-1834) of Salisbury, Merrimack County, New Hampshire. We learn from the letter that Moses died of a heart attack on 4 November 1841.