1831: Eunice (Porter) Pawling to Augustus Porter

Judge Augustus Porter

This letter was written by Eunice (Porter) Pawling (1766-1848), the daughter of Dr. Joshua Porter (1730-1825) and Abigail Buell (1734-1797). Eunice’s first husband was named John Bud; her second husband was named Joshua Stanton; and her third was Col. Albert Pawling.

Eunice wrote the letter to her brother Judge Augustus Porter (1770-1849) and his wife, Jane Howell (1778-1841) — the daughter of Hezekiah Howell (1741-1815) and Juliana Woodhull (1736-1815).

The first third of the letter, addressed to her sister-in-law, is a rather coldly worded query as to the fate of a couple of articles Eunice had previously sent to the Porters at Niagara Falls (though I could not learn what a “Mersales Humm” is or was). The remainder of the letter, addressed to her brother, captures the awakening of religion in the vicinity of Troy, New York, which has affected the residents in large numbers. Though difficult to decipher, the names of several prominent Troy citizens are mentioned.

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Augustus Porter, Esqr., Post Master, Niagara Falls, [New York]

Troy [New York]
January 7th 1831

Dear Sister [Jane Porter],

I was called on the other day for information which was not in m power to give. You could probably help me to it if it is not too much trouble. In a letter from Sarah Barnard which I received a few days since she enquires, “what has been the fate of the Mersales Humm?” I was not able to tell her. On my return from a visit to Sheffield and Salisbury last fall, I wrote you a lengthy account of occurrence, supposing it might be read with some interest, and indeed in my letter the “Mersales Humm” — a present from Sarah to Lavinia. Some time afterward I sent [your son] Albert a “Temperance Lecture” to read to his Society, but have never been able to learn either directly or indirectly whether you ever received any of them. With regard to the Lecture, I will not trouble you for information if Albert received it, — — well, if not, it has gone to do good somewhere, it is probable, and effected the purpose for which I sent it. But being an agent in the other business, I should like to render some account of the article.

Respectfully yours, — E. Pawling

Saturday Morning

My Dear Brother,

I wrote Mrs. Porter last evening on the other side of the page in a style you may think of not my usual affection. If I have, it was because I felt a regret at not being able to keep up a degree of feeling and interest between the different members of our family. Perhaps I ought not feel as I do. We shall soon pass off & another set of connections rise up and other affections take place. On further reflection last night, I felt that I had still a duty to do “whether you bear or whether you forbear” and are more becoming my age & profession. Those who feel that the Lord has in mercy opened their eyes to a sense of their sins & their dangers feel & believe that they have a duty to do in warning their friends & connections to flee from the wrath to come, and not stop or rest until they have reason to believe they have reached the ark of safety.

My dear brother, the spirit of the Lord seems to be abroad in the earth, spreading a more deep & general reason to rejoice & be thankful that we have been permitted to live & see these days, and should we fail to improve the peculiar blessings of the day, we must suppose it will increase our condemnation. You may say “how can we hear except we have a preacher?” — “You have the Law and the Prophets, hear them.” The Prophets have deemed that the hand has swown by himself that he delights not in the death of a sinner, but rather, that he turn from his wickedness & live! And our savior ______ all the ends of the Earth to come unto him & be saved, and sends his Holy Spirit to those who ask it, to ____ them to come in an acceptable manner “in sincerity & truth.”

A refreshing from the presence of the Lord is now manifesting itself in this place, and were you here would fully understand all it means. Also “Sinners being pricked in their hearts.” Other scriptures are equally manifest for God has indeed “been found of those who sought him not.” A reveal of Religion as it is called commenced here about three weeks since. It came on like a shower without any special exertions by minister or people other than faithful preaching the gospel & one lecture & prayer meeting in the course of the week. None except the Sabbath preaching was attended. Those who first appeared impressed with a sense of their sins were among our first gentlemen here — both merchant and professional men. The first who came out grieving and [confessing] of his sins was Sarah Pitcher’s brother to the ______ immediately followed. Mr. Sacket, John Hall, Asa Halley (?) & Albert Fla_____ — all mong our young & most opulent merchants. During this time, among our lawyers there appeared an equal excitement, perhaps quite as many in proportion to their numbers, among whom are Gen’l. Davis, a Minter Yates, & Mr. Hainer (unmarried) & Mr. Huntington. Those are lawyers. Among the physicians are Doct. Carpenter, Doct. Spoon, Doct. Frier, & one other whose name I do not recollect. It could not be the effect of sympathy as one lived here & another there & there are no particular friendship among any class of those mentioned.

It has gone on almost in silence, without any of these almost hourly prayer meetings [we] had here formerly. There is a meeting every [paper torn] …

Jane (Howell) Porter

And in the morning from six to seven precisely, the session house is opened again for prayer when you will again see the house crowded with men, women, & children from among the first families. The greatest number are men — the merchants & mechanics go to their stores & shops & the women & children directly home while yet  it is candle light. The greatest caution is used to have none of the noisy shows of Godliness — the feeling of the people being so sensitive on account of former proceedings.

This is undoubtedly the Lord’s work. It has taken hold of men like Capt. Can__ (who married A. W. Can (?) — a man tolerably moral but like to eat & drink & sleep and attend to his own ease & he has been but twice in a house of worship in half a dozen years. That his wife is a profession, he appeared to among “the dry bones of the ____” but the Lord has breathed on them & _____. All the Churches of the different denominations are much waked up, but the greatest stillness & demeanor is observed.

Perhaps you may think that my life & example is not such to justify me in admonishing others. I am far from feeling that I am holier than others or in coming forward like the Pharisee to thank the Lord for being better than others, but necessity of an atonement for our sins other than we can make ourselves & that Repentance tower God & Truth on the Lord Jesus Christ is necessary. — E. Pawling


One response to “1831: Eunice (Porter) Pawling to Augustus Porter

  • ckpalbany

    First husband was John Bird (1768-1806); they divorced. Second husband Joshua Stanton, Jr. (1770-1806), third husband Albert Pawling (1750-1837).

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