This letter may have been written by Frederic Augustus Sherman (1823-1908) who was enumerated as a clerk residing in Hotel kept by Samuel Lockwood in Niles, Cayuga County, New York in 1850. This location wasn’t far from Kelloggsville, New York where the letter was written. Perhaps he worked for Daniel D. Westfall (b. 1815), a merchant who resided in the hotel as well. Sherman later moved to Groton, Tompkins County, New York, where he became a miller.
Sherman wrote the letter to his uncle, William Ranney (1785-1858) and his wife, Betsy Alden (1789-1870) of Elbridge, Onondaga County, New York.
The letter includes a transcription by Sherman of the Last Will & Testament of Sherman’s aunt, Mary R. Huggins, who must have recently died in Lodi, Wastenaw County, Michigan, leaving her husband, William Huggins, and three brothers — Thomas R. Belding, Roswell Belding, and Ansel Belding. The 1850 U.S. Census enumerates William Huggins (b. 1802 in England) — a farmer — residing in the household of Obadiah Priest and his wife Eunice. Two Huggins daughters, (b. Sarah 1829 in England), and Elizabeth (b. 1834 in Michigan) leads us to conclude the Huggins family came to the United States in the early 1830s.
I could find no genealogical resources on-line connecting these Sherman, Ranney, Belding, and Huggins families so this letter may prove useful to someone trying to do so.
Addressed to Mr. William Ranney, Elbridge, Onondaga County, New York
Kelloggsville [New York]
November 1, 1849
Uncle Wm. Ranney
I owe you an apology for not doing as I agreed in relation to making you a visit this fall. I assured you when here that I would be there in about three or four months, I have failed to do so on account of the absence of one of our firm a part of the time & the consequent increase of labor devolving on myself. When in the employ of others we cannot always do as we might wish & when engaged for ourselves, self interest is very oft to prevail.
When home last sabbath, my mother informed me that you were desirous and that she had promised to advise you as soon as she learned herself the contents of Aunt Mary’s will. We have recently received a copy of the same & can but inform you by transcribing the same to yourself as tis handed us. Here it follows:
Know all men by these presents, that I Mary R. Huggins of the Town of Lodi, Washtenaw County and state of Michigan, being of sound mind, do constitute and ordain this my last will and testament in manner following, viz:
To my dear beloved nephew W. C. Belding, minor son of my brother Roswell Belding, I give and bequeath the sum of one hundred dollars. To my dear beloved husband I give and bequeath all my right, title, and interest to the personal estate now in possession of my said husband except the notes in my own name arising from a distribution of my father’s estate. The interest arising from said notes I give and bequeath to my said Husband William Huggins during his natural life except the interest on the one hundred dollars given to Wm. C. Belding. The said notes arising from a distribution of my father’s estate, amounting to about ten hundred and seventy-two dollars, I give and bequeath in equal parts to my three brothers, Thomas R. Belding, Roswell Belding, and Ansel Belding except the one hundred dollars given to Wm C. Belding.”
Thus, concludes Aunt Mary’s will after which she appoints her executor & virtually gives to a few of her friends sundry items of clothing by way of keepsakes probably. To my mother she gave a very good black silk dress, to Rebecca a good _____ dress, a bonnet & a shawl. Her gold beads she gave to Mrs, Hull while she lives & after her death they are to revert to Roswell’s wife or little girl — am not sure, &c, &c.
Excuse me for the present — customers are coming in & tis probable I shall be busy from this time (Eleven O’Clock) until bed time. Tomorrow morning I will endeavor to close & mail what I have written.
Friday, November 2. As I predicted yesterday, we had a busy afternoon & on looking over in the evening I found I had sold a little over fifty dollars. Amongst other customers came my mother who informed me that Uncle Ansel arrived the evening previous with a pair of horses and fourteen heads of cattle, most of them working cattle. His wife has been with us about three weeks. Now it has become such bad traveling tis uncertain when we may pay you a visit but will endeavor to this winter at all events. When we repeatedly ask the payment of a debt & get only an old promise renewed that even gives a small degree of satisfaction. So in this case you have my promise renewed however much it may be worth.
Please give my respects to Aunt Betsy and also the girls. Say to your stone cutters that should they come this way, it may be to their benefit to call on me. Very respectfully yours, — F. A. Sherman