1839: Richard Offley to Mary (Offley) Sharpless

This letter was written from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, by Richard Jones Offley (1800-1842), the son of David Offley (1779-1839) and Mary Ann Greer. In it, Richard acknowledges the impending death of his sister, Ann Powell Offley (1811-1839).

Richard wrote the letter to his aunt Mary (Offley) Sharpless (1793-1865), the wife of Blakey Sharpless (1787-1853), of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mary O. Sharpless, 253 Pine Street, Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]

Mayaguez [Puerto Rico]
July 11th 1839

My dear Aunt,

I have before me thy kind & welcome letter of June 2d received about 3 weeks after its days. Its contents afford me a very pleasing proof that I am still remembered by thee with all thy pristine kindness.

Thy narrative of the sickness and sufferings of my poor sister leave me the most paindul feelings, obliged as I am to consider her a tenant of the grave, altho’ yet in this breathing world. I can only pray the Father of Mercies to restore her, & feeling if his direct interposition would avail alone, thy arrangements & forethoughts respecting the many I had appropriated for her ___ are wide and kind. ___ hope, as it was offered without reservation, that she may have the full benefit of it, as far as it is capable of conferring.

I trust my good friend William Allen has received the ___ fund from which the amount was to be drawn and has paid it over to you.

Thy kind enquiries embrace a good many formal matters & minutiae of my “economical ways” descending even to the culinary department. I shall give thee something of a detailed description, but not today, as I am really hurried, writing for three vessels which have ___ left me time, but I will tell thee in a summary way that the chills and I have now been strangers for some time past, and I can assure thee I have no desire to renew the acquaintance. I was well attended during their visit by my only servant & that was a Colored woman, possessing only one eye, frightful to look upon, but possessing many excellent qualities. Severity I have never used toward them whose lot has been to be subjected to me. I have sometimes met with ingratitude for kind treatment, but it left no disappointment or angry feelings — not calculating on gratitude. But I must confess too, that my “policy” (if thee is not disposed to allow a better motive or impulse) of kindness has generally been a good one. I live all alone frugally. For instance, a beef steak & potato, or fish, or broiled chicken and a vegetable, with a cup of coffee for breakfast, & dinner — soup, meat, fowls, fish & vegetables, alternatively composing it.

I am now well and as satisfied with my lot as can be expected.

I am glad to learn you were all well at home. I suppose the travelers are prosecuting their western. I am, much to the satisfaction of my friend — & cousin Offley especially. Uncle Blakey in his kind note appended to thy letter quaintly calls it an excursion of 800 miles — to traverse such a distance here and be dignified with a more sundry name. The distance would embrace about 4 times the circumference of an island and the traveler, particularly during the present rainy season would be stopped by “the powers of mind.” But in our happy country of steam & machinery, surpassing the strength of the lion & the swiftness of the antelope, such things are not cared for. “Time nor tide waits for no man.” Now no man would wait for time or tide.

Please give my love to grandmother & cousins. How does Anna get on with French & how is Patty?

Thee asks if there are any family matters I would like to be made acquainted with. I cannot specify on that I wish to know, but all I can assure thee would interest me and if thee will please suppose me profoundly ignorant & enlighten me, I will be obliged.

I must here terminate, wishing thee, dear Aunt, all thee desires. I am truly thy affectionate nephew, — Richard


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