1851: Emily Byrd (Chapin) Bartlett to Phipps Waldo Bartlett

How Emily Bartlett might have looked

How Emily (Chapin) Bartlett might have looked

This letter was written by Emily Byrd (Chapin) Bartlett (1822-1902) to her husband, Phipps Waldo Bartlett (1815-1900). Emily was the daughter of Phineas Chapin (1792-1857) and Nancy Gibbs Somerville (1798-1843). Phipps was the son of John Berkley Bartlett (1784-1858) and Pauline Waldo (1791-1885).

Phipps and Emily Bartlett had several children; three of the oldest five were still living when this letter was written in 1851. They were Irving Chapin Bartlett (1842-1893), Mary Bartlett (1846-1884) and Nannie Bartlett (1850-1914).

The Bartletts had only recently relocated to Cincinnati. The 1850 Census shows the family residing in Flemingsburg, Kentucky. The firm Bartlett, Chapin & Co. does not appear in the Cincinnati business directory until 1851. From that directory, we learn that the firm was in the wholesale grocery business with their store at 38 Walnut Street in Cincinnati. Phipp’s partner was Stephen G. Chapman.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mr. P. W. Bartlett, Care of Bartlett, Chapman & Co., Cincinnati, Ohio

Clarksburg, Virginia [now West Virginia]
May 14, 1851

My dear,

I have been looking very anxiously for the last few days for a letter from you and shall be homesick if you don’t write often. Yesterday the ____ had a procession. Mr. Badell delivered an address in the Methodist Church. We all went — not that I cared to hear it — but just to be going & seeing. In the afternoon, Rach, Mary, Chapin, little Molly & myself went calling. I sent Chapin over to Waldo’s to stay till we came back. I suppose you are saying they have not gone to the country yet. well your father said he would send for (or rather come for us) anytime. I said the word & I told him the last of this week I would like to go down. Don’t you think Rause has not been near me. Sylvester was up last Saturday.

Papa has not heard a word from the Old woman since she left Lewisville. They all treat Will Roy like a dog. I fel right sorry for him some times. I think the baby begins to pick up & looks better than she did. You will not look for another letter from me so soon, but I can’t be satisfied unless I am writing. All my friends have been to see me. We got up yesterday morning & took a walk before breakfast, & after supper our girls, Cassy Adams, Chapin, Loyd Moore & myself went to Mrs. Judge Jackson’s. It commenced raining after we got there & we had to stay till bed time. It is very lively here — so many girls. And if you were here, I could enjoy myself very much. Carry Jackson, Harriet Goff, myself, &c. &c. are going fishing at three o’clock. It is now two & I must go and get ready before they come. You need not send me those handkerchiefs I wrote for in my last letter. I can do without them very well.

(Thursday 15 May). My dear. I would like to step in and see you this morning but as that is impossible, will write a few lines to you. Yesterday evening we all went fishing. I caught three fish & Sophronia two. We had a delightful walk, got home about suppertime. When we parted with Harriet, the understanding was that we go again today as soon as we get our dinners. Jane Criss sent me a nice plate of fried fish this morning for my breakfast. Last night prayer meeting was out at Tom Horner’s. Papa, Buck,Carry & myself went. We had a good many there & a very good meeting. [Rev.] Mr. [Ezekiel] Quillin ¹ holds a sacramental meeting the first Sunday in June. I wish you could be with us. I think a trip would do you good. I feel uneasy about you when I hear the cholera is in Cincinnati. Am very much afraid you will put off coming home. I know if you was here you could enjoy yourself very much. Chapin says his lessons every day. I have kept him in very well so far. Mary is quite delighted [and] has been no trouble yet. And the baby the children nearly pull her to pieces fighting over her. Papa gave Chapin some money this morning to buy them some candy. He has gone with his Aunt Sophronia out to Barnes’ this morning.

Doc Smith said he tried his best to find you oit the other day in Cincinnati. He bought about forty dollars worth of groceries of some one he did not care anything about. [He] intended buying them of you but could not find your house. He had been west to hunt a situation but could not suit himself & will remain here for the present. Aaron says he thinks of going to Cincinnati this summer if the cholera does not break out too bad. Thinks that will be the cheapest place to purchase groceries. The merchants are just getting on their good here.

Well, we all went fishing this afternoon. Harriet Goff beat me today but I caught the prettiest one in the crowd. It was a flat fish like a sun fish, but the prettiest bright yellow you ever saw. We went at one o’clock & got back about six. Harriet is coming down when I go to the country.

Mary says there has been a suit gained on our side so that there is several hundred dollars coming to us. I will ask Burton about it as soon as he comes home. His wife told me this morning he had gone to some court. I thought I would ask him before I said anything to Papa about it. I have been writing on the dock. Don’t expect you can read it. Oh! dear I would not close this till Papapa came from the office & no letter at last.

Some of the ladies have been talking of going to the Glades. Would you have any objection to my going? Tell Mr. Chapman I hope he is well. I miss Mary too.

Now won’t you be here in the course of a few weeks? I should be so glad to see you. I feel uneasy about the cholera though I know you are not afraid of it.

The young folks are making a wonderful to do downstairs. Chapin is with them, & Megs Jackson, Caroline’s little boy. Mary has gone to bed. She sleeps with me. Chapin [sleeps] with his grandpapa. The baby [sleeps] on my old cradle, as happy as a king. She is the best child ever lived anyhow. [Rev.] Mr. [Ezekiel] Quillin does not preach here next Sunday.

Good night from your ever affectionate, — Emily


¹ Rev. Ezekiel Quillin (1808-1889) was pastor at Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia) from 1838 to 1852.


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