This letter was written by George Millerd (1816-1910) to his sister, Lucinda C. Millerd (1824-1909). They were the children of Jesse Frederick Millerd (1784-1871) and Lucinda Loomis (1785-1861). George married first (1843) to Ann Delia Birchard (18201853); second (1850) to Rhoda Champion (1825-1878).
We learn from this letter that Lucinda was boarding with the family of Rochester merchant John R. Kennedy while attending a school for young ladies ¹ during the winter of 1840-41. Four years later, she married Edward Dwight Holton (1815-18xx), a successful businessman, railroad promoter, and politician. The following biography for Edward D. Holton comes from the Wisconsin Historical Society:
An avid abolitionist, Holton was an organizer of the Wisconsin Liberty party (1842) and of the Republican party (1854). He supplied arms and money to the Kansas Emigrant Aid Society during the contest for control of that area in the 1850`s, and the free soilers named Holton, Kans., in his honor. In 1853 Holton was the unsuccessful Free Soil candidate for governor, and was Wisconsin state assemblyman in 1860.
One of the early railroad promoters in the state, Holton, with Byron Kilbourn and others, was one of the original commissioners of the Milwaukee and Waukesha R.R. Co. (1847), which later became the Milwaukee and Mississippi R.R., and eventually the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul. He was one of the founders of the Milwaukee board of trade (1849), and from 1854 to 1863 was president of the Farmers` and Millers` Bank in Milwaukee.
During the Civil War, Holton served as state allotment officer with Wisconsin soldiers in the field (1862-1863). After the war he devoted himself to managing his extensive real-estate holdings and also served for several years during the 1870`s as vice-president and manager of the Northwestern National Insurance Co.
The last years of his life were spent largely in travel. He died in Savannah, Ga. He was buried in Milwaukee`s Forest Home Cemetery Section 27, block 10, Lots 3 and 4.
[Note: The family name is sometimes spelled Millard though George appears to have spelled it Millerd.]
Addressed to Miss Lucinda C. Millerd, Rochester, New York, Care of John Kennedy, Esq.
January 11, 1841
My very dear Sis,
Notwithstanding you would not devote any portion of your last letter to my benefit, I will improve the present opportunity of writing a letter exclusively for yours. You complain of my not writing immediately after my return home, and I will acknowledge that I should have done so, but owing to the press of business, in opening, marking and selling our new goods, I kept putting off writing supposing that some of the rest would write, and also thinking every day I should receive a letter from you. I know from experience the pleasure a person feels when absent upon receiving a letter from home. Any tidings from that endeared spot are read with interest. I hope you will not think because I have not written you before that I do not often think of you. No, Lucinda, we seldom gather around the fireside at home or go to church, or singing school, or ride, without thinking and speaking of you; and nothing would be more desirable than to have you with us were it not for your improvement and benefit to be away.
Mother has not expected that you would consent to remain in the State of New York this winter, thinking it impossible for you of your own choice to remain there, when you had the offer to come home; and was therefore disappointed when I returned without you. And indeed, she could not believe that I left you to choose for yourself, but insisted that I must have used some underhanded means to induce you to stay. Since the receipt of your letter, however, she is now at ease, and says she is glad you stayed, and thinks it better for you than to have come home. I hope you are making rapid progress in your studies, and that you will find in the spring that your winter has been profitably spent.
You did not mention whether you had obtained a piano in company with Mercy & Irene, as we talked. I should like it if you could have the opportunity of practicing this winter and hope you have got one.
I have sundry items of news to communicate and in the first place would inform you that a fortnight since, I attended Elder [James] Pyper’s wedding. Corydon and I were invited and attended. It was at Elder Gurnsey’s in Ann Arbor, the bride being the sister of the Elder’s wife. No one else attended from here except Mr. Romney & wife. We had a very good time. The Elder went the next day to Unadilla, and only returned on Saturday last. He is intending to commence keeping house in a few days in Mr. Page’s new home, next above his house & shop. We have a new Meth. Dist. preacher whose name is Elder Davis here who lives in the same house.
We have established a singing school in the Baptist Church, and it is doing very well. I have to lead it. Soon after we started ours, Ben & his clan thought they would do something by way of opposition, and have got a teacher from Ann Arbor and started another school. I imagine it will be a slim affair. We have Mrs. Kingsley, Sarah Hirst, the Copper girls, Miss Case, Miss Bailey, Miss Pressley, Elder Pyper & wife, Elder Davis & wife, Obed Taylor, William Pressley, and a quite a number of new beginners; and Bailey on the Bass Viol, Ford on the flute, and another on the flute, and Guest on the violin. We have procured a lot of those small books such as brot home from Detroit before you went away, called “Jones Evening Melodies.”
Tuesday, 12th. Yesterday the Bishop ² was here on his annual visit and we sent a note of invitation to him & Mrs. Hirst to come and take tea at our house, which he accepted. After church was over in the afternoon, they came, accompanied by Rev. Mr. [Francis H.] Cuming ³ of Ann Arbor, and Mrs. Hirst & Sarah. Sarah felt about right to be at our house with the Bishop, & her father & mother. I presume nothing could have happened more cutting to Gray & his clan than this. In the evening after church, the Bishop retained the vestry and Mrs. Hirst mentioned the fact that Gray and others were offended because he had associated with one branch of the family (meaning King’s). The Bishop said that he had but one charge against Mr. Hirst and that was that he had not visited with our family from the first. This was a damper. Gray then sputtered out that Sarah had been walking out with a young man (meaning Corydon) at 7 o’clock in the evening. “Gentleman,” said the Bishop, “that is none of our business.” This silenced the clan. We have (that is myself, Corydon, & cousin Martin, Uncle Solomon’s son who has been visiting with us for ____) just received an invitation to Mr. Hirst’s at tea this afternoon.
Mother wants me to write a good deal for her but you must imagine what she would say and let that suffice. Mary Ann, Alfred, & Beriah was out to Adrian on New Year’s, and we are expecting Julia here in a day or two with Mr. & Mrs. Backus to stay a few days, and then Harris is coming after her. About a week since, the house formerly owned by Calvin Smith, when Mary &c. Sarah N____, took fire and burned to the ground. It burned about 4 o’clock in the morning. We have not got the full possession of the mills, and are going to keep them until the chancery suit is decided. Business is very good. We have all enjoyed good health this winter.
I hope, Lucinda, you are engaged in the cause of Christ, and are enjoying communion with God. Live near to His throne, and be regular in religious exercises. For myself, I have not enjoyed religion as much as I ought to have done, and as I hope to do. The Baptist Church are intending to hold a protracted meeting again in a few weeks. [Rev.] Mr. [M.] Hirst talks some of leaving in the spring. Mr. [Evander] Cooper and [Rev. Henry H.] Northrup have had a difficulty and Cooper says he will not sign again for him. Mr. Northrup has very small congregations here [in the Congregational Church] and I don’t think he will continue long. I guess they will let us alone hereafter.
Remember me kindly to Mrs. Kennedy and family, and Miss Walter. We shall look forward, with much pleasure, to your return home, and in the mean time, let us hear often from you. I shall endeavor to write as often as business will permit. Your brother, — George
[P. S.] John & Betsy are teaching this winter in the Academy and are boarding, having given up housekeeping. Mr. Loomis’ folks have moved to Ann Arbor and are living in Mr. Ward’s house. John Ward is not better.
¹ It isn’t clear which school Lucinda attended in 1840-41. There were two schools for young ladies operating in Rochester, New York, at that time.
It might have been Miss Seward’s Seminary at 45 Alexander Street, operated by Miss Sarah T. Seward, a graduate of the Troy Female Seminary. Or it might have been the Rochester Female Academy at 70 S. Fitzhugh Street, operated by Miss Araminta Doolittle.
² Though George does not identify the bishop by name, it was probably Bishop Samuel Allen McCoskry (1804-1886) — the first bishop of Michigan in the Episcopal Church.
³ Rev. Francis H. Cuming was born in Hartford, Conn. “His father was a Scotchman who came to this country during the Revolutionary war to assist in the subjugation of the “rebels.” His heart failed him at the magnitude of the task and he soon left the army, fell in love with a blooming American lady and married her. Young Francis was educated for the Episcopal ministry and took orders about 1820. At Rochester he married a Miss Hurlburt, who died a few years later, leaving him the father of two children. One of these children, a son, afterward was educated at Ann Arbor and went west, subsequently becoming governor of Nebraska. About 1830 Mr. Cuming married his second wife, Charlotte Hart of Rochester, NY. About this time, Cuming’s name became involved in the anti-Masonic move and the William Morgan disappearance and supposed assassination. He was a prominent Mason, and was credited by Thurlow Weed with giving the toast, shortly before the Morgan disappearance, at a Masonic banquet: “The enemies of our order—may they find a grave six feet deep, six feet long, and six feet due east and west.” Immediately after this toast was pronounced, according to Weed’s statement, a number of prominent Masons left the hall, and it is said then made way with the man Morgan. In 1839 he came to Ann Arbor where he remained for four years. In 1843 he came to this city [Grand Rapids] and took charge of St. Mark’s Episcopal congregation which was in its infancy.” Source: Michigan Pioneer Collection, Vol. 6; 1883; pages 328-338, Memorial Report by Robert Hilton, V.P., Kent County, MI