1833: Martha (Shepard) Gurley to George Gurley

Martha Gurley, courtesy of Julia Paden

Martha Gurley, courtesy of Julia Paden

This letter was written from Mansfield, Connecticut by Patty Martha (Shepard) (Hovey) Gurley (1776-1848), the widow and second wife of Artemus Gurley (1769-1822). She wrote the letter to her son, George Gurley (1809-1897) at Richland, Oswego County, New York.

Martha also mentions her son Charles Artemus Gurley (1811-18xx), her step-daughter, Lovinia Gurley (1794-1882) — the wife of Irad Storrs (1788-1869), and her step-son, Uriah Brigham Gurley (1801-1873), who had recently lost a child, Mary Gurley (1831-1832).

George Gurley “was educated in the common and high schools of Mansfield and at an early age was apprenticed to learn the cabinet making trade at Windam Center, Conn. In 1832 he came to Pulaski and engaged in the manufacture of furniture, doing a steady, lucrative business and devoted his time to administering estates and attending to personal matters. In 1835 he married Melissa, daughter of Ward Dimock of Coventry, Conn.; one child, Martha, was born, who still survives. In 1841 he married Sophia A., daughter of Roderick and Anna Brigham Dimock of Coventry; their children are Mary R., Charles D., Anna B., Henry S., Roderick A., all of whom survive but one, Henry S., who died in 1879. In 1873 he married Mrs. Rebecca Frary of Pulaski; she died in 1891. Mr. Gurley has been deeply interested in educational affairs; he was one of the founders of Pulaski Academy, treasurer at the time of its erection, and was an active member of the board of trustees for twenty consecutive years, a portion of this time acting as president of the board. He has held many offices of trust in the community in which he has resided for over sixty-five years, and filled them to the entire satisfaction of those who reposed confidence in him – honest in purpose, true to right and just convictions, inflexible in honor, wide reaching in intelligence…” [Source: Landmarks of Oswego County]

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mr. George Gurley, Richland, New York

Mansfield [Connecticut]
March 26th 1833

My affectionate son,

I received your kind epistle in a few days after written, which I perused with no small degree of satisfaction. It gives me reason to believe that the distance which rules between us has not wholly eradicated me from your memory. You know not nor can [you] ever know until taught by experience the pleasing sensations it gives a tender-hearted parent to have communications from dear children by way of pen and paper when deprived of a personal interview with them and I sometimes think that I have the greatest reason to be thankful of any person living that all my children are rather peculiarly good in writing to me often.

I frequently receive letters from your brother Charles at New York. Perhaps he has written to you informing you of his situation. He has been out of business two or three months for no other reason as I can learn only Mr. Edy and Sparks were at variance and he boarded with Sparks. He had not yet got a situation the tenth of this month but may have before this time. I have felt very anxious about it but he has definitely lost his time. He has been studying book keeping which may be an advantage to him hereafter.

Through the goodness of our kind preserver, my health is now tolerable & very good. I have had something of a pain in my side but am free from it now. My time as been occupied a few weeks past in taking care of a sick cow, but I am now relieved from that cure for she is dead.

Your friends here, I believe, are all enjoying their usual healths. Sarah has been here two weeks and gone back. Mrs. Storrs was here last Monday. She was well and in good spirits. Your Uncle Turner and family are well. Aunt Jerusha yet lives and is smart. Mr. Dunham’s family are well. Loisa  is calculating to remove to Coventry next week and the other girls are all except Julia going into the factory to work. Their family will be small. I don’t know how people are agoing to get along. The girls are the greatest part of them agoing into factories and the young men to peddling. Mr. Chauncey Hamp____ and his wife made me a visit last week. He thinks he shall work out the ensuing season. He is calculating to go into York State next fall if Cynthia does not discourage him.

I received an affectionate letter from your brother Brigham at Port Bay in January stating the exercise of his mind. He said that he thought that he had the greatest trouble of anyone in the world and he felt very unreconciled to the providences of God with him. But he found when he was called to part with a dear child that his former trials was nothing to that he had then to pass through. But he believed the Lord meant it for good and had in tender mercy seen fit to remove the scales from his eyes and to enlighten my understanding. He says, “Dear mother, I think I have enjoyed that peace of mind and reconciliation to the will of God, and his providence to me for a few weeks past that far exceeds in value all the comforts we can receive in this life. Should we live beyond the common age of man, good many indeed has he reconciliation to the will of our heavenly father. He has great and desirable riches that will not take to themselves wings and fly away. O, may you to seek that which is more substantial than all earthly enjoyments, seek first the kingdom of heaven and all necessary things shall be added unto you.

In your next, I wish you to write what kind of meetings you have there, whether you have your ____ preaching or not. Mr. Storrs has now received a letter from B. He has written to his wife and children. Will come down here soon if it would be agreeable to the friends and stay a few months until he can harvest and secure his wheat to pay Doc Hovey what he owes him and then he would go out into Madison County and live or take a farm and go to housekeeping again. He thought that Phila could help her mother about silk worms and spin silk. Lovinia talked with Mrs. Barrows about it and she appears to be pleased to have them come. She said she did not know what she should do for she did not know how to take care of them herself. Lovinia says she will keep little Sarah while they stay. B has been unfortunate and his friends here will try to assist him all they can. I presume by this time I think you will be glad to know how I have arranged my business and what my calculations are. I have been thinking much of visiting in the State of New York if I could have them in such a manner that they will not run down but I expect to make some sacrifices if I should go. I think I mentioned in my last letter to you that I sold my lot by the W. Gurley’s to your brother Irad Storrs. I have not sold where I live but have hired it out to your cousin, Ebenezer R. Gurley for thirty-five dollars and keep the two rooms in the old part to myself. I expect his father [Ebenezer Gurley, 1776-1864] and mother [Sarah (Balcom) Gurley, 1774-1864] will come with him. Emily [Gurley, 1806-1841] and Sally [Gurley. b. 1815] do not expect to be at home much. Sally works in the factory.

Ebenezer talked of buying his Uncle B. Gurley’s far, where his brother Baker now lives, but he concludes to go to the southward again in the fall and thought he had better hire a small farm than to buy at present. I expect he brought home a good deal of money with him.

I find as the time draws near and it ever has looked like a great undertaking to start for a long journey and no one to lean upon for assistance and company, Eunice Pierce has gone back to Bridgewater. If I go, I shall expect Caroline Gurley’s company. I shall go by the first of May if God in his all wise providence sees fit, and may I ever look to him for wisdom to direct me in the pathway of duty.

Charles Artemus Gurley; made fortune selling pickaxes to 49ers in Gold Rush, photo courtesy of Julia Paden

Charles Artemus Gurley; made fortune selling pickaxes to 49ers in Gold Rush. Courtesy of Julia Paden

If you are calculating to come down in a few months and think best for me to wait and go with you, I will wait. I received two papers and read with pleasure. I likewise understood that you wished your money to be Hartford Bank. Your brother’s friend think you had better have it all paid in to Hartford Bank and have a check on the Bank where you live. I can pay you the first note and let you have one hundred dollars more which will make not far from two hundred and fifty. I wish you would be particular and write as soon as you receive this without delay and let me know what you think about my coming and in case I should not come, how you want your money sent.

You can write anything to me you wish and no one will be wiser for it, you may depend. Mr. Spofford says you got into a country where the fever and ague is prevalent. It is now the most healthy season. Do inquire before you build but I have not much belief that it is so. Do be careful of your health and not expose yourself to evening air. I must leave writing for the present by wishing you prosperity in all your pursuits and subscribe myself your affectionate mother, — Martha Gurley

Loisa wishes you to write what you will take for the looking glass you made for me. She wants it.


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