1836: Catharine (Wadsworth) Terry to Dr. Charles Augustus Terry

Grave Marker of Hon. Nathaniel Terry

This letter was written by Catharine (Wadsworth) Terry (1774-1841), the wife of Hon. Nathaniel Terry (1768-1844) of Hartford, Connecticut. Nathaniel Terry was the Commissioner of the Hartford Convention that convened during the War of 1812 — a role that forever labeled him as a traitor by many Americans.

Catharine wrote the letter to her son, Charles Augustus Terry (1810-1872) — a physician residing in Cleveland, Ohio, and married (1836) to Julia Elizabeth Woodbridge (1813-1871). Dr. Terry graduated from the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1833.

Here is a link to a letter written in 1844 by Charles Augustus Terry to Julia Elizabeth (Woodbridge) Terry.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Charles A. Terry, M.D., Cleveland, Ohio

Hartford [Connecticut]
December 2d 1836

Page 1

I received your letter my dear Charles last week, and should have answered it before, but as I then wrote to Ellen, I though a letter of later date would be more acceptable. Much do I thank you for your letter, and hold you quite excusable for not writing sooner as I know you must be full of business. It is no small thing to take care of two young ladies like Julia and Ellen for as my Aunt Betsey told Henry when he was a baby, “Oh! Henry you take up all our time. When you are sick, it takes it all to take care of you and when well, all to play with you.”

I think you must have had quite a fright about your trunk. I had, and was afraid you would have no clothes to wear, but I rejoice that you have found it again, and hope your boxes will find their way to you after a while, tho’ I confess I feel a little afraid for them, and am glad you have insured them.

Page 2

We are all very well except Ann. She has kept her room for two days but it much better than she was yesterday. Sophia was confined last night, and has a fine little girl. She is very well and Edward and the children are perfectly well.

Our winter seems to have come, though unaccompanied by snow. The little river has been so frozen that the boys have skated upon it for some days, and today I am told the ice on the great river has stopped.

Today the Bee Hive ¹ commences. It has been a matter of great consultation if it would be possible to continue it this winter so many of the bees had flown away, but at length the Queen “by and with the advice of the council,” determined to have a meeting and yesterday she, with Caroline — the Secretary of State — went in person to beat up for recruits, and met with so much encouragement that the feel quite in good spirits, and think they shall get along very well. The gentlemen have appeared more eager for the meetings than the ladies — particularly the President. But whether he will attend to night or not I cannot say, for I do not know if he has returned from New York where Caroline says he has gone begging. But she says she does not know whether it is for the College, or for Maria Hudson, who is in New York.

Page 3

I received dear Julia’s letter the day before yesterday. Thank her for it. I intend to answer it soon. I hope she felt no ill effects from writing and tho’ I would have letters from her, I would never have her think it necessary to write when she is not well.

Your cousin Mrs. Roderick Terry ² has had a turn of raising blood, but since them she has had a swelling under her arm, which has discharged very freely, and her friends and physicians think she may be greatly benefitted by it. I went to see her the other day and there met Mrs. Spring, who you met at Guilford on Sachem’s Head. She was introduced to me and immediately enquired after you in terms of great regard, and spoke of you in such a manner as made your Mother’s heart leap for joy.

I believe I have mentioned in my letters that Alfred’s ³ family had been sick. I now have the pleasure of saying that they are well, tho’ little Harriet is still thin and weak.

Page 4

I expect very soon that [your sister] Harriet and [her husband] Richard [Post], with their children, will be here to spend the winter with us. They were well when we heard from them, except that Richard had the Rheumatism. Eugene has given up his plan of living on Long Island. His father-in-law has given him a farm near Baltimore and he is going there to reside.

[Jonathan] Trumbull Hudson has gone on business to some part of the State of Ohio, and it is possible — tho’ I do not think it likely — you may see him. The Court in New Jersey have given a verdict in favor of his claim to Pea Patch Island. Now if Congress will pay him a handsome sum for it, it will be a good thing.

I forwarded by a private opportunity (of which Mr. Hopkins was so good as to inform us) two Cook books for Julia from your Aunt Wadsworth and a little package for Ellen, and a letter from Catharine to Julia. I do not know the name of the gentleman, but he was President of Ohio City.

I want much to hear of [your brother] Adrian’s arrival in Detroit. I have written to both him & Louisa, directed to that place (not thinking they would remain in Cleveland so long) but have had no letter from either for a long time.

I have been all day yesterday and today preparing and making apple sauce, and I wish I could send you some of it as I know that Ellen and you at least would like it. We often wish when we have any thing that we know any of you like that you would join us, or that we could send you some of it.

Your Aunt begs me to give her best love to you all, as does your Father, Ann, and Catharine, and of mine. I trust each one of you is assured. [Your sister] Catharine says that after the Bee hive, she shall write to Ellen. They meet this afternoon with Caroline.

Adieu, dear child. May heaven bless and preserve you is the daily prayer of your affectionate mother, — Catharine Terry


Gen. Alfred H. Terry, grandson of Catharine (Wadsworth) Terry

¹ I suspect the “Bee Hive” is a reference to sewing circles that were common in the 1830s in Connecticut. It appears that Catharine Elizabeth Terry (1813-1882) was heavily involved in it. She would later (1847) become the second wife of Rev. Leonard Bacon (1802-1881).

² Roderick Terry (1788-18xx), the youngest son of Eliphalet and Mary (Hall) Terry, was a prominent merchant in Hartford, Connecticut. His first wife, mentioned in this 1837 letter, was Harriet Taylor (1794-1841).

³ Alfred Terry (1802-1860) was another of Nathaniel and Catherine Terry’s sons. Alfred was married to Clarissa Howe (1802-1874) and had at least five children by 1836 when this letter was written. Among them were “Little Harriet” — Harriet Wadsworth Terry (1830-1911) and Alfred Howe Terry (1827-1890) who gained distinction as a general during the Civil War after leading the successful assault on Fort Fisher at Wilmington, North Carolina.


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