1830: Isabella Gottier Jones to William Jones

“The water came pouring into our cabin window…[and] some of the ladies screamed very much.” — Isabella G. Jones

This letter was written by Isabella Gottier Jones (1790-Aft1870), the daughter of Samuel Phillips Jones (1759-1836) and Jane Bruce (1764-1802) of Hartford, Connecticut who later relocated to Orangeburg, South Carolina. Isabella married Leonard J. Cross(1786-18xx) in 1832. They resided in Houston County, Georgia, in 1840; and in Dooly County, Georgia, in 1850, where Leonard’s occupation is given as farmer. Isabella is said to have died in Dooly County.

We learn from the letter that Isabella’s passage with her 71 year-old father from New York City to Charleston, South Carolina, was a rough one, causing both of them to become extremely ill. The Charleston Courier of 3 November 1830 reports that the ship they took passage on was the Line ship, Othello; Mr. S. R. Jones, Miss Jones, & Mr. Lee and lady, were listed among the passengers.

Isabella wrote the letter to her Uncle William Jones (1779-Aft1860), a storekeeper, in Manchester, Connecticut. He married Eunice Buckland, daughter of Aaron Buckland. Their son, Aaron Buckland Jones (1812-1892) is mentioned in this letter. He was a capitalist who married Frances Mary Sherman (1817-1856). Frances died in a tragic fire onboard the steamboat John Jay while sailing on Lake George in upstate New York in 1856:

The loss of life by the burning of the John Jay was greater than at first reported. Six bodies were recovered within a few hours after the accident and it is feared that two or three others were drowned. The fire was discovered when the boat had proceeded about eight miles from Ticonderoga. It is said to have been caused by the burning of pitch pine wood, which choked up the smoke pipe so as to drive the fire and smoke into the fire room, compelling the fireman to retreat to the deck for air without giving him an opportunity to close the doors of the fire boxes. The sparks quickly ignited the wood work overhead, and the boat was enveloped in flames almost instantly. The flames were kept in subjection for a little while, but it soon became apparent that they could not be subdued. The boat, when the danger appeared imminent, was headed toward the shore in the neighborhood of Garfield’s; but it being a rocky bottom, she struck, and was driven back by the concussion, almost upsetting by the rebound. It was at this time, it is supposed, that those who were drowned, were either thrown or jumped overboard. And those who remained on the boat — almost eighty in number — were in the highest state of excitement. The flames were spreading rapidly, and the passengers were rushing in various directions to escape them. It was impossible to preserve any thing like order; and, as the tiller ropes had been burned off, the boat became unmanageable. A few leaped overboard with chairs, and other floating material, and were rescued. The others were taken off in small boats. It is charged that the officers of the boat behaved badly, and that the small boat of the steamer was not launched as it should have been. This charge, however, should not be too readily credited. Five of the bodies recovered were brought down in the cars last evening. They were those of Mrs. S.C. Twing, Boston; Mrs. Edward Belknap, New York; Miss Renshaw, New Orleans; Miss C. Fleet, Brooklyn; Mr. Metcalf, Cherry Valley. Among the lost by this terrible disaster is Francis Mary Sherman, wife of Aaron B. Jones, of Manchester, Conn., and youngest daughter of the late Josiah Sherman, of this city. The body has not yet been recovered. — Albany paper

Stampless Cover

TRANSCRIPTION

Addressed to Mr. William Jones, Manchester, Connecticut

Charleston [South Carolina]
November 6th 1830

My Dear Uncle,

Page 1

I know you feel quite anxious to hear from us and as we have to stay here a few days, concluded I would write from here. We left New York [City] the 26th of October and arrived here the second of this month. We had a very unpleasant passage. We were both sick all the while. Papa’s face was very bad. He is a great deal better now and appears to enjoy himself very much.

There was a Mr. Lee that went on to New York in the same vessel that we did. We fortunately met him the day we sailed. He came on with us and was very kind and attentive. Indeed, I do not know what we should have done if it had not been for him.

We were very much frightened on Saturday morning about daylight. The sea was very rough [and] the water came pouring into [our] cabin window. Some of the ladies screamed very much. I was very sick indeed. The Captain helped me up on deck and there I staid until we arrived in Charleston. It was very much crowded in the cabin which made it very uncomfortable. Neither of us ate anything scarcely from the time we left New York until we got here. Mr. Coming advised me to sleep on deck as long as the weather would admit of it. And of all the dirty places I ever saw, that ship beats all.

Page 2

Papa has just gone from here. He says he is freer from pain today than he has been for some time. He stays at a Mr. Badger’s and I stay at Mr. [William] Capers. Mrs. [Lydia] Surr spent the day with me. She sends a great deal of love to you all. She says she intends to go on to the North next summer of nothing prevents. I heard from home this morning. They are all quite well. I hope, my dear Uncle, you will excuse the shortness of this letter as Mrs. Surr is now here and I expect some more of my friends this afternoon. When I write again, I shall write more fully.

Papa joins me in love to you all. Tell Cousin Aaron [Jones] I shall expect a letter from him soon. Do, my dear Uncle, write to me soon. We feel very anxious to hear from you all. Give my love to Mrs. Bull and Mrs. Goodwin. Tell Mary she must make haste and learn to write and write to me. Give a great deal of love to Aunt Jones and accept a pretty good share of it yourself. I shall have to bid you adieu as Mrs. Surr wants a good deal of attention paid her.

Your affectionate niece, — Isabella G. Jones

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