I am not confident of the identity of these correspondents, but I believe the letter was written by Sarah (Gilkes) Richards (1801-18xx), the wife of Robert G. Richards (1804-1875). Both Sarah and Robert were from Oxfordshire, England and came to the United States in 1843 aboard the ship George Stevens. They resided in New York City for a number of years before eventually relocating to Georgia. They had several children; Robert H. Richards (1830-1888), Charles Richards (b. 1832), Sarah Ann Richards (b. 1834), William Gilkes Richards (1837-1895), and Henry Richards (b. 1839). Two of them — “My Robert” and “my dear William” are mentioned in the letter. Sarah states that her eldest son, Robert, is about to go to work in Athens, Georgia, where he will replace “Jabez.” This was probably Jabez Judson Richards (1821-1906) — a relative — who came to the United States in 1831 from Oxfordshire, England.
The author’s parents were William Gilkes and Hannah Walford of Oxfordshire, England. She wrote the letter to her sister Mary (Gilkes) Goffe who was married to a farmer and must have emigrated either at the same time (1843) as the Richards or just prior to the date of this letter in 1847. It appears the Goffe family settled in western New York State.
Addressed to Mrs. Mary Goffe, Post Office, Buffalo (forwarded to Batavia, New York)
New York [City]
January 9th 1847
My dear sister,
On the reception of your letter it was my intention to write to you immediately but I have been laid by so much this winter with a violent headache that when I have been able, I could not find the time. I truly feel for you in your troubles and sickness but hope by this time you are all restored to health. I think every thing considered, it would have been well for you to have remained in this City for this winter for I do assure you I should have felt a great pleasure in assisting you in any way I could and no doubt you would have escaped most of your sickness. I thought much of you after you left for your stay with us was so short and your unexpected arrival surprised me so much that I had hardly time to recover myself from the shock and believe to you in that kind manner which I ought to have done.
I have not heard from John since I saw you but have been writing to him and post it with this. I expected Anna or Betsy one or both would have written to me before now. I think they might have got good situations here for six or 7 dollars per month and I should so much liked for them to have staid here. I want much to know what Mr. Goffe and your opinions of this country are and whether you think farming is good and whether you regret coming here. Most people are disappointed in coming to America, I expect. We don’t see much now, but sleighs in the streets, and are again alarmed at the multitude of fires. We had 3 considerable firs round us the past week. Trade in general has been very bad here this winter and everything very dear. With you I suspect it’s not more than the price as it is with us.
Where we shall move to at May, I don’t know but I think it’s probable we shall leave this city. Mr. R. wishes for farming business but as he has never been accustomed to that, I don’t think it’s desirable. And besides, I am tired of traveling and I have worked very hard since I have been in this country and I find my health and strength declining and want some quiet settled home for my few remaining days. I wish, my dear sister, we were both settled so that we could have frequent interviews with each other.
My Robert went into a situation the week after you left and is still in it but is going to leave to go South. Jabez is married and Robert is going to take his place in ___ store in Athens which I am glad of for he will be in the best of society there. New York is a bad place to bring up a family in. I hope you will write us soon as possible for I am very anxious to hear from you. Have you heard from England? I have no one there to write to me now. I have written this badly and made a great many mistakes but I know you will make allowance for it when I tell you that it was written in the night sitting up with my dear William. This is the second attack of illness he has had since you left but I trust the Lord will spare him. I pray that you may be well directed for this life as well as that which is to come. My husband and family join me in love to yourself, husband, and family. Likewise to Hannah and Betsy.
From your affectionate sister, — S. Richards