1807: Isaac Humphreys to Gov. Joseph Bloomfield

Gov. Joseph Bloomfield

This curious letter was written by Isaac Humphreys (1766-1850), a native of Ireland, who was married at the time to Elizabeth Montgomery. Isaac “came to America before the Revolution, was raised and educated in Philadelphia, was occupied as a farmer through life, and died in 1850 at Marietta, Ohio. He settled in Marietta previous to Aaron Burr’s conspiracy, and at one time represented Washington county as a Senator in the Ohio Legislature. Isaac’s wife was a native of Philadelphia, dying in that city in 1826.” After her death, Isaac married Mary S. McKenney in August 1830. In his will, made in October 1848, Isaac named the following kin: Children, Joseph Bloomfield, Henry Nelson Humphrey (the latter of Sheawassa County, Corinna, Michigan; Elizabeth, wife of Caleb Bates, Cincinnati druggist, Ann Mary, wife of Ives Deming, Polly, wife of William Walls of Tioga County, Little Marsh, N.Y., Stephen Newton, husband of my late daughter Harriett and their children Almira, Mary and Charles Newton; & Charity, who is the sister of my late wife Mary Humphrey, who is the wife of Ebenezer Lindenberger (Book 8, Page 447). The “darling boy…dangerously ill” laying in a Hotel bed in Pittsburgh was undoubtedly 5 year-old Joseph Bloomfield Humphreys.

Isaac addressed the letter to Joseph Bloomfield (1753–1823) — the fourth Governor of New Jersey. Joseph married Mary McIlvaine (1752–1818), the daughter of William McIlvaine (1722–1770), a physician from Burlington, New Jersey. After the death of his first wife, he married Isabella Ramsey (1779–1871), the daughter of John Ramsey. I could find no genealogical connection between the Bloomfield and Humphreys families leading me to conjecture that Isaac was only an acquaintance of the governor. Perhaps Humphreys served under Bloomfield during the revolutionary war days. In any event, clearly Humphreys respected Bloomfield for he named his first born son after him. Curiously, among the notes, shares and bonds enumerated in the will of Governor Bloomfield’s estate following his death in 1823 was a bond from Isaac Humphreys leading me to wonder if Isaac received the loan he asked for in this letter.

Stampless Cover


Addressed to His Excellency, Joseph Bloomfield, Governor of the State of New Jersey, Trenton, [New Jersey]

Marietta [Ohio]
11 July 1807

Respected Sir,

For years past, I have been accustomed to feel particular pleasure when I took up my pen to address you. My present sensations are of a very different kind.

Page 1

On the 5th June, we all arrived safe at Pittsburg. The river was falling and I found it impossible to procure a passage for my horse in the steamboat with my family, which placed me under the disagreeable necessity of going home by land, but not until I had procured a passage for my family on board a boat belonging to a Mr. Andrews of Limestone, Kentucky, and who engaged to put them as far as here.  A Mrs. Findley — the wife of a gentleman of respectability — was going down in the same boat, & some arrangements were made for the Ladies accommodation for which I paid Mr. Andrews.

In Friday the 6th at noon, I left Pittsburg & they were to follow me on Sunday morning. They could have reached this [town] in three days so that I had reason to expect them on Tuesday evening next after parting [from] them. Boats passed me without number for many days; my station was the bank of the river opposite my farm upon which I hailed 10-20 & sometimes more boats in a day — most from Pittsburgh, but could receive no intelligence respecting them. The post office was duly attended but no letters [came] until the 8th of June when Mrs. Humphreys informed me by post that some accident prevented Mr. Andrews from setting out as soon as he expected, but that he had procured a passage for her & the children in another boat. Her baggage was sent down to the boat and she went down to the waterside for the purpose of coming down, but it was a family boat and she ordered her luggage back to the Hotel where, after a stay of some days, she wrote to me directing me to come for her as she would not think of coming by water and informed that my son was unwell. Three days after I received that letter, another (on the 4th of July) came to hand informing me that my darling boy was dangerously ill of a Bilious fever as this is a disorder of the most active kind. I waited until the next mail arrived for further advice, but received none.

Page 2

This morning (I write by candle light), I leave this for Pittsburgh in quest of them. This measure would have been adopted in the long interval between the 6th ultimo & the 5th instant but I feared they might pass me in the night, or even in the day as the road does not keep close to the river. I wrote to Mr. Lane, or Spencer of Pittsburg for information, respecting them, [and] to Major Sprigs of Wheeling to make inquiry, & write to me by post.

The person who kept house for me left me four weeks this day. Since that time [I] have had no servant. This measure was in conformity to Mrs. Humphrey’s orders. Tis unnecessary to describe my situation; my feelings, Sir, I cannot describe.

Under those unpleasant circumstances, it would seem as if there could not be a great addition, but from my arrangements, I am left at present without money sufficient to go to Pittsburgh and pay the expenses accrued there during this painful & unnecessary delay.

Page 3

The liberty I have taken is too great. It is most sensibly felt, but a recollection of former favors conferred on me, induced me, from the great necessity I am under of drawing on you for one hundred & fifty dollars, in care of Dudley Woodbridge, Junior, Esq. ¹ — a liberty which no circumstance shall ever induce me to repeat.

Provision shall be made and the money transmitted by the 5th October next, and be assured, Sir, that your honoring this draft will be considered as a very particular favor conferred on  — your most obedient,

& very humble servant, — Isaac Humphreys


¹ Dudley Woodbridge, Jr. (1747-1823), the son of Dudley Woodbridge (1705-1790) and Sarah Sheldon (1721-1796) and married to Lucy Bachus, came to Marietta before Ohio became a state.


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