This letter was written by David Roberts (1792-1880), the son of Joseph Roberts (1742-1826) and Susanna Coles (1751-1828). He married Rachel Hunt (1791-1881), the daughter of Joshua Hunt and Esther Roberts, in February 1815. Their son, Elisha Roberts (1818-1905) is mentioned in this letter.
This letter describes a journey to Mount Pleasant, Ohio, where David Roberts and other prominent Quakers attended the Annual Meeting held there in September 1839.
Addressed to David Roberts, Moores Town [Moorestown], Burlington County, New Jersey
Near Mt. Pleasant, [Ohio]
9 mo, 7th, 1839 [September 7, 1839]
My Dear Wife & the rest,
On the 2nd inst., I received thine & Elisha’s welcome letter dated 22nd and 25th ult. The ost gratifying information it contained (and for which I feel thankful) was this — “I am again favored to enjoy usual health and all the family do at present.” This has been my primary concern when I have looked home (and I often do it) with sincere desires that the blessing of preservation every way may attend you. Do take care of thyself and not worry about cisterns & wells. I should think it well if a good hand can be hired by the month without too much cost, to get one.
In my last I mentioned being at Brighton with a sketch of the journey & future prospect as far as here. On our way, stopped a night at Elisha Cook’s & attended creek meeting the next day. That night got to B. W. Ladd’s, staid a night. His wife has been ill but was then and continues convalescent. Next morning, the 30th [August], we came here and have been agreeably & kindly entertained at James Kinsey’s about 2½ miles from town. Edward & R. Bonsall’s, William & P. Fisher, & D. & H. Harris have lodged here.
We found Priscilla & Ann Hunt spending their vacation in the family. Priscilla recognized me, she thought. They have been one session in the Boarding School and are to remain another. They appear to be nice girls. What a pity Ann should be subjected to such privation as she has. Says she had not been at a Friend’s meeting since she was 7 years old till she came to the school. Her home previous to this was at Caleb’s. He is said to be a professed and vowed Deist, approves [Thomas] Payne‘s writings, and says he (Payne) was a better man than many of the Quakers are, is now constable &c. She is near 17 — wishes when she leaves school — to live with her Aunt P. if her father will permit her. Their schooling is paid for by the grandfather. Nathan is said to be a nice boy, near 15, but is not put to any regular business, sometimes tending store or anything that comes to hand.
The meeting closed today about one & Friends have scattered in every direction.
Eve. Staying at our lodging, have a few hours of retirement but expect to leave in the morning for Harrisville Meeting and from thence take meetings on the way to Stillwater, leaving Mount Pleasant & some others of this Quarter till we return — which probably will be in two weeks, finishing in Ohio at Smithfield where a letter might meet us if sent immediately. Should there be no particular urgency, it may be better to send the next to Brownsville to J. Binns’ care. Esther will be likely to get there before us.
The meeting has undoubtedly been favored. The strangers have nearly all spoke the same language being prepared to harmonize together. The number has almost exceeded the bounds of moderation. If it would not take too much time & room, I would give a list, viz: D. Wheeler & J. Green, R. Hubbs, E. Evans, H. Rhoads & H. W. Joseph Hoag, Thomas Jones, Moses H. Beady, and John Wood from New England & New York. John Scott — Baltimore, James Hadley & Thomas Wells from Indiana, and one or two from Indiana without minutes. It is said 35 were noticed on the records from other villages who all had returning minutes. D. Wheeler ¹ returns directly for Philadelphia; late accounts from his children have induced him to return to England & if he finds when in Philadelphia that they are in London, he will sail directly from thence. He don’t expect to return his certificate but thinks he may as well spend the winter there as in Philadelphia (as he did last) and return to this country in the spring. J. Green, R. Hubbs & E. E. go to Indiana. D. Wheeler seems to have been liberated from his Gospel bonds — has been very extensive and remarkable in testimony in the Public meeting on 5th day and in the select meeting. He and J. Green paid the women a visit today.
Some of the members of this meeting are strong abolitionists, such as T. & E. French and David & Rebecca [Price] Updegraff and children. Esther has had her home with them, I fear to her loss. I think R. would like to be reinstated in her former rank & standing but would if possible cause the cross. Her fascinating manners and ardor in the pursuit of her favorable topic is very much calculated to draw in the youthful and unsavory. They have had a man there lodging this week from Philadelphia passing himself for a Friend who has come to this country [and] expects to hold lectures. Has had two or three in Mount Pleasant. He tells them he has applied for a certificate of his membership but it has not yet come to hand. The fact is, he came to Philadelphia from the eastward some years ago in debt and could not get a cent.
We dined at the [Quaker boarding] school on 5th day and looked around the premises a little. Jane Plumber desired her love to thee. They have had the school for a place of entertainment this week at $2.50 a head There are so few [many?] Friends in the neighborhood, they can’t accommodate the half that come.
I have nearly filled the paper but have said but little about our affairs or the concerns at home. Our horses have done very well except that Grey’s lazy & slow. Fillis was shod a few days ago and has become very lame. I had the shoe taken off today. The sore seemed to be in the heel of her foot. Whether she will be able to go on in the morning, I can’t tell. [Our host,] James Kinsey I suppose will permit us [to use one of his] if she is not. Have not seen anything that will match Fox as Elisha ____. We shall think of you about Quarterly Meeting time and hope you will have a good [one] for I think we have as much need of good meetings as anywhere. I had quite a time with our Hicksites the other night about their fencing off the corner for us & taking away the school house. Please tell me how the house gets on.
Love to you all affectionately, — Thy D.
¹ Daniel Wheeler (1771-1841) was a Quaker Missionary from London, England. “In America he attended a number of the yearly meetings [in 1839], visited the place where Mary Dyer and the other quakers were executed, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and returned to England in October 1839, hastened by the illness of his son Charles, who died at St. Germains on his way south in the spring of the following year. Wheeler sailed for New York to complete his mission in May, but was taken ill at sea, and died soon after landing, on 12 June 1840. He was buried on the 15th in the Friends’ burial-ground, Orchard Street, New York.” [Dictionary of National Biography]