This letter was written by Edwin Rudolphus Alberti (1798-1862), the husband of Ernestine (Strong) Alberti (1811-1862). She was the daughter of Cyrus Strong (1777-1866) and Rosalinda Brooks (1784-1863). Edwin and Ernestine were married in October 1841. He was a former cadet at the Philadelphia Military Academy 1814-1817. In 1820 he was a 1st Lieutenant in the United Stated Army Light Artillery but later transferred to the 4th Artillery in Savannah, Georgia. In 1821, he was a member of the John Eatton Le Conte expedition charged with exploring the newly acquired territory of Florida. He resigned his commission in 1827. On January 23, 1823 he married Mary Sadler (died 25 October 1839), daughter of Henry Sadler of Camden County, Georgia.
At the time this letter was written in 1844, the Alberti’s lived on a tract of land known as the “Cabbage Swamp” fronting the St. Mary’s River in a heavily pine-forested area called Woodstock in Nassau County, Florida — just across the state line from Georgia. Alberti was the owner of Woodstock Mills, a steam sawmill operation that he started around 1837. Alberti was also the owner of as many as 52 slaves in 1850.
Alberti died in 1861, leaving Ernestine as sole owner of Woodstock Mills, located on the St. Marys River approximately four miles downriver from Kings Ferry. The “little village” included the Alberti mansion, a post office, schoolhouse, church, retail store and a two-room jail.
Edwin wrote this letter to John Clapp (1805-1886), a prominent and successful attorney who lived in Binghamton, New York. John Clapp was married to Ernestine’s sister Lydia.
Addressed to John Clapp, Esqr., Binghamton, Broome County, New York
New York [City]
24 July 1844
My Dear Sir,
Something very like a sick headache will prevent my writing much of a letter — & a promise to Mr. Strong that you should all be advised of our safe arrival in this abominably warm & noisy city compels me to write a little.
Just after sunrise yesterday, we found ourselves very comfortably quartered in the City Hotel & at 4 P.M. Mr. & Mrs. Strong took their departure in the Hartford boat. My wife says her sister appeared full as well as she had ever known her. Mr. Strong seemed quite comfortable all the time & I am happy to be able to say my dear Miss’s health has continued to improve ever since we left your delightful (but to her, dangerous) village. I am persuaded she would have been entirely too weak to have borne the ordinary stage traveling.
We had the pleasure of your brother’s company at tea at Mr. Wilcox’s. He gave me an idea of the contents of a letter to you which was received no doubt a few hours after our departure from Binghamton. The plan he had struck out & which he kindly wished us to participate in to Baltimore, via of Chicago, was very attractive, & had it been known earlier & accompanied by the assurance that Mr. Clapp and yourself would have joined in the management, I think there is but little doubt we should have taken that short route to Woodstock [East Florida].
At Oxford also your dispatch was duly received tho’ directed to Norwich.
With deep concern we heard of & notice the dangerous state of your niece’s health & fear she is ignorant of the extent of the danger. Ernestine urged her to go to Binghamton & be nursed but she thought her present isolated location preferable as it offers no temptation to talk or enjoyment, which is highly injurious to her. She was invited to accompany her aunt and yourself to Woodstock. That was the greatest inducement that could be offered for a sojourn in that entirely secluded, out of the way place — indeed, the only one except its fine air or a winter climate — unless the appearance of a very cordial reception & the desire to promote her health & comfort, might be considered somewhat additional.
Ernestine says something about love to your wife, her father &c. — after adding my regards, please make an equitable distribution — and recollect we shall confidently expect you (both) to dine with us at Christmas, if all our lives are spared.
Please say to Major __, I have a further remittance on account of sale of the Sterling’s cargo at St. Goyo, which will bring the loss entirely within my estimate — & this morning received a remittance of ƒ270 sterling for Levant’s cargo — which will bring a premium on the cost of about 9 percent per ƒ & yield $1300 for cargo. I will write him in a few days.
Very truly yours, — E. R. Alberti