1847: Luther Allen Kingsbury to Seth Dewing, Jr.

How Luther Allen Kingsbury might have looked

How L. Allen Kingsbury might have looked

This letter was written by Luther Allen Kingsbury (1818-1913), the son of Luther Kingsbury (1785-1858) and Almira Morse (1795-1879). Kingsbury married his first wife, Mary Jane Dix (1818-1854) in November 1848; he married his second wife, Charlotte Matilda Sawyer (1833-1916), in October 1872.

Kingsbury wrote the letter to Seth Dewing, Jr. (1820-1895), the son of Seth Dewing (1788-1883) and Olive Haven (1791-1882). Dewing married Mary Tucker Ware Beale (1832-1881) in 1863. Dewing taught in the academy at Wrentham with L. Allen Kingsbury; at Wcstboro, and for twenty years the grammar school.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Seth Dewing, Jr., West Needham, Massachusetts

Wrentham [Massachusetts]
January 23d 1847

Dear Dewing,

I am sitting here contemplating. I am calculating prospects & devising operations. I am partly in mind to do things and partly in mind not. I have some thoughts of proposing to teach for you in the languages for 2 years for about $250 per year & study a part of the time in the Law Department & at the end of that time give the whole concern into your hand. Then again I think of settling down as a teacher for life. What think you?

Then again I think of hiring a house & be ready to take boarders the Spring Term. Do you think we can get ready by that time? I have been talking with Mr. Mann about the place where Dr. Atkinson lived & I suppose I can have it if I choose but I don’t like it very well. I meant to have seen Mr. Fisher before this time & perhaps I may today. It will be a great undertaking to get ready by next term but if we think favorably of the project, I shall wish to do so.

Suppose we do conclude to open a house like this, I shall intend to get married as soon as I can do so satisfactorily. I am aware that you will smile when I state this but you may smile if you choose but I am in sober earnest. Now if we should think favorably of the first idea, we could open the house or you could furnish to suit yourself. I think if I should teach the languages for you & perhaps Grammar, you & Sophronia [Kingsbury] would be able to get along & make more money than you now can even during the 2 years. Then you will have the whole concern in your own hands. Now soberly, what think you of this? I shall be here for 2 years & we can get as many scholars if I should spend my whole time. Consequently, you must make more but will be obliged to work harder. Sophronia can work (teach) all the time. Now in the course of this time matters & things will become well established and you can go on like clock work. I am satisfied this would be money in your pocket but now will it be as well for me? Please state fully what you think of it. I can loan you 2 or 3 hundred if it would be any object to you. But to return; if we do anything in boarding line we must do a great deal towards it before vacation.

It will be well to have our plans laid to get scholars from Boston & Providence & to do this we must get references in Boston & make exertions — such references as John Wells — Dana Snelling — Moses Grant &c. — so far so good. If I should marry, what are you willing to allow Mrs. Kingsbury for taking charge of things? As a matter of course such a person will be essential and her situation will be a very responsible one. I know it sounds c___ for me to talk about getting married but stranger things than this have happened & will probably again.

We may as well talk about these things now for if we do anything they will soon be upon us. How much will be the expense of furnishing the house? This is another consideration & one on which I feel rather green but I have estimated it at $5 to 7 hundred, but if you or I both think of making a business of teaching, we shall want all this whether we teach here or elsewhere. Altho the school is not very profitable this winter, my hopes of success are much stronger than before we came. Only look at it. We hardly dared expect over 40 scholars in the fall & when they said they shouldn’t wonder if we had 50 our hopes were 95 above zero, but now in the very worst time we have almost that number. I do make great calculations on boarders & I do think we can clear our own board if no more.

Now, to conclude, let me gather my questions and put them in form. What think you of paying $250 — about ½ what I asked you — and let me teach the languages & Grammar for 2 years & you have all profits — boarding house & all — except allowing my consort a situation and having everything in your hands at the end of 2 years? If we go on & hire a house together, what compensation will you allow my helpmeet? What will be the cost of furnishing house for 25 or 30 boarders & can we get ready for next term? Which house should you prefer — where Atkinson lived or Fisher’s if we could have either?

You see I have written over 2 sides and have but little more room. Matters & things have not changed since I saw you. The Dr.’s wife came home last evening. Her father is dead & buried thus making 2 deaths — her father & mother within a few weeks. Please write as soon as convenient & enlighten me upon the several topics of this letter.

Yours, — L. Allen Kingsbury


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