1817: Mary (Lyon) Douglass to Ephraim & Eliza Douglass

This letter was written by Mary (Lyon) Douglass (1757-1826), wife of Gen. Ephraim Douglass (1749-1833) of Uniontown, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Mary wrote the letter to her children, Eliza Douglass (1797-18xx) and Ephraim Douglass, Jr. (1800-1839), who were in 1817 residing in Nashville, Tennessee.

The following biography was found on-line for General Douglass:

Gen. Ephraim Douglass

“Ephraim Douglass was a carpenter, trader and soldier in the Revolutionary War. By 1769, he was employed in a variety of occupations at Fort Pitt, including carpenter, blacksmith, and clerk. Douglass spoke several American Indian dialects and in 1771 began trading with local tribes. Later that year, he established a business with Devereaux Smith that included trading outposts in the Indian Territory surrounding Pittsburgh. The partners opened another store in Kittanning, Pennsylvania, in 1776, where a fort was under construction. Later that year, Douglass joined the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment at Fort Kittanning and was appointed quartermaster. In January of 1777, he marched across Pennsylvania with the regiment to join the Continental Army in Amboy, New Jersey, leaving his business in the care of his brother, Joseph. Douglass became aide-de-camp to Major General Benjamin Lincoln, but was captured by British forces just four months after leaving Fort Kittanning. He spent three years as a prisoner of war, rejoining the Continental Army in 1780. In 1783, Douglass was called upon to act as a peace emissary on behalf of the United States government. He traveled to Forts Detroit and Niagara to meet with American Indian leaders, but failed to reach any formal agreements. After returning to civilian life, Douglass settled in Fayette, Pennsylvania, where he held several public offices. He was later appointed brigadier general of the Pennsylvania militia and fought in the Whiskey Rebellion. Ephraim Douglass died on July 17, 1833. One of Douglass’s associates, Richard Butler, briefly became a partner in the business at Kittanning. Butler, also a member of the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment, fought in the battle of Saratoga and the battle of Monmouth. After the siege of Yorktown, George Washington chose Butler to receive the sword of the defeated British general, Charles Cornwallis. In 1791, Butler was killed by American Indians during the battle of Wabash in the Ohio Country.”

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Miss Eliza Douglass, Nashville, Tennessee

Union Town [Pennsylvania]
April the 29th 1817

My dear Ephraim and Eliza,

I received your letter which informed me of your health. I understand that you have set into business with Mr. Keller’s brother. Oh ephraim, improve  your time [and] double your diligence. You know what is right as well as I do. All that is wanting is a resolution and let it not be shaken for a moment and be determined for the time to come. You will do better. Let ______ they will. Set this resolution and put it into practice every night before you _____, go to a throne of grace, and there commit yourself to the keeping of Him that careth for you, and when you awake in the morning, let your affection be raised to things above, and before you enter upon the business of the day, ask assistance and implore help on high. Take the Lord for your portion. Friends may fail and foes unite, yet He never will leave nor forsake you. His hand will guide you through all the scenes of life till with joy you shall finish your course and end your days in triumph. Oh, Ephraim, what joy and satisfaction would it be to your aged Father to hear that his son had become famous for piety. Oh, may the Lord bless you with every fruit of His grace, and Holy Spirit is the prayer of your affectionate, — Mother

My dear Eliza. While writing, my heart says Oh that I could see you. If the Lord spares us both, I shall expect you home this ensuing fall. We have had a cold and tedious winter in which I often thought of you. It seems a long time since I seen you. My dear Eliza, take care what company you keep and never associate with unprincipled young men. Oh may the Lord protect and guide you into the strait paths of virtue is the sincere wish and prayer of your dear Mother.  — Mary Douglass

Old Mr. Mecaghen is no more. He is consigned to the silent tomb.


One response to “1817: Mary (Lyon) Douglass to Ephraim & Eliza Douglass

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: