This letter was written by Caroline Moore (1825-1847) to her sister Amanda Zenobia Moore (1817-1895). They were the daughters of attorney Robert Moore (1778-1831) and his wife, Mary Stibbs (1783-1829), of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, who moved to Canton, Ohio, in 1808. At the time this letter was written in 1838, both parents were deceased and Amanda appears to have been residing with her Uncle Joseph Stibbs (1817-18xx) — a farmer in Wooster, Wayne County, Ohio. Amanda married Isaac Harter (1811-1876) in the home of her Uncle Joseph Stibbs in 1838.
The letter informs us of the suicide of Lemuel G. Davis of Mansfield, Ohio, who slit his throat with a razor in front of his wife and kids while enroute to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. Lemuel was married to Catherine Reynolds, daughter of James and Mary Reynolds. Lemuel and Catherine’s two children were Margaret C. Davis and James Reynolds Davis.
The Canton Repository issue of 7 June 1838 carried the news:
Suicide. — Lemuel G. Davis, Esq., of Mansfield, Ohio, and formerly of Shippensburgh, Pa. committed suicide a few days since at Economy, Pa. by cutting his throat with a razor in a fit of insanity, while on his way with his family to Shippensburg.
Addressed to Miss Amanda L. Moore, Care of Mr. Joseph Stibbs, Wooster, Wayne County, Ohio
Sewickley Bottoms, Pennsylvania
29th May 1838
My dear Sister,
I have been wondering for some time what was the cause of your silence. You have not written for so long. I received a letter from Mr. Agnew nearly two weeks since and he had then heard from thee, but I suppose you have written before this time, and I hope you will not forget to write to me for I am anxious to hear from you. I am a little afraid that you have been sick again.
I am now at Sewickley again and have been here about three weeks and a day or two. I have been studying Comstock’s Philosophy, Watts on the Mind, Malte Brun’s Geography, and Grammar, and today for the first time this session, I recited a lesson in Comstock’s Botony and Grimshaw’s U. States, though as it was the first time, I did not know my history lesson. I think I cannot complain of not having enough to do.
We have a new teacher from Utica — a Miss [Rachel] Hooker. ¹ I think I shall like her very much. There are about forty-three pupils now including little Maria Whippo who is here at present but I do not think she will stay all winter.
The swelling under my chin that I spoke of in my last letter is still rather large and if it is decreasing, it is very slowly. However, I hope it will not turn to scrofula.
I heard a few hours ago of an occurrence that took place in Economy [Pennsylvania] yesterday, Mrs. Way — who lives there — wrote to her daughter stating that a gentleman and his wife and two children, the oldest a girl about twelve or thirteen, and the other a boy about nine, stopped there to dine. They were shown into a room and while she was untying her bonnet, the gentleman opened a cupboard, took out a razor and cut his throat from ear to ear. The whole transaction did not occupy more than five minutes. She says she need not attempt to describe her feelings when she went in to see the lady sitting perfectly deranged with her clothes dripping with blood, and her children clinging round her with their hands and faces covered with blood. He was formerly a lawyer at Mansfield, Ohio. He became melancholy and they were on their way to Shippensburg. His name was [Lemuel G.] Davis.
Ellen received a letter from Amelia Ann. She said her father had gone to Henry’s encampment. Dr. [David] Hunt ² — a dentist from Pittsburg — plugged six or seven teeth for Ellen yesterday, and pulled one but he did not clean them.
They have a boy’s seminary here in that house that used to be the tavern. I believe it is doing very well. Tell Uncle that would suit him very well. Give my love to Uncle and every person. Ellen sends her love.
Your affectionate sister, — Caroline
Edgeworth Seminary ³
May 25, 1838
¹ Miss Rachel Hooker, the teacher from Utica new to the Edgeworth Seminary in 1838, married George H. Starr. Starr was born in Ballston Spring, New York, and came to Sewickley Bottoms to teach in the boys academy, referenced in the letter.
² An on-line Directory for the City of Pittsburgh, PA, in 1837 lists Dr. David Hunt (1808-Aft1850) among the seven Dentists advertising their services. His residence was given as 70 Fourth Street. The 1850 US Census enumerates him as a Dentist still residing in Pittsburgh.
³ Edgeworth Borough was founded in 1904 and took its name from the Edgeworth Female Seminary, a small school for girls that had moved to the community (then called “Sewickley Bottoms”) from Pittsburgh in 1836. The Seminary was named for Maria Edgeworth, a well-known Irish writer of the period who was much admired by the founder of the Seminary, Mary Gould Olver.