1841: Martha B. Rutherford to William Collier

What Martha B. Rutherford may have looked like

This letter was written by Martha B. Rutherford (1803-1851), the daughter of Col. William Rutherford (1776-1850) and Sarah Swan (1779-1852), of Paxtang, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. William served two terms in the Pennsylvania Legislature. It does not appear that Martha ever married.

Martha wrote the letter to her cousin, William Collier (1806-1889) — the son of James Collier (1752-1844) and Martha Rutherford (1765-1849) of Greenfield, Highland County, Ohio. It’s not clear that he ever married either.

The common ancestors of these cousins were their grandparents, Capt. John Rutherford (1737-1804) and Margaret Parke (1737-1810).

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Mr. William Collier, near Greenfield, Highland County, Ohio

[Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania]
November 15, [1841]

Dear Cousin,

Page 1

I now take this opportunity of addressing you a few lines which I intended to have done long before this but for some time back circumstances would not admit. We are all well at present through the mercies of kind Providence, except Father. He has been laid low on a bed of sickness. He has been visited with a paralytic stroke which affected the left side and rendered powerless. He had not been very well for some time before the attack. He was troubled with a shortness of breath but had got better of it but looked very ill. He was attacked on the 9th of October in the morning about 4 o’clock. Mother noticed something wrong with his speech. She asked him if he was awake. He said he was. She got alarmed and got up and found his arm hanging out over the bed rail. She lifted it and found he had no power of it. She told him there was something the matter with his arm. He told her there was not and got up but could not stand.

Page 2

Mother called me up and when I got in, he was attempting to put on his clothes. I saw he could make no use of his arm. His mind was very much affected and his face drew all to the one side. We sent for the doctor immediately and he bled him and applied mustard to his feet and legs and wrists and blistered him almost all over and his features came to and the leg has come to a little. He can move it. He lay for nearly three weeks that there was no life expected for him. The Doctor said when he saw him he would not live more than three or four days but it has pleased the Almighty to spare him over us yet. We have hopes of him getting better but I think he will never have much use of his arm while the blisters kept running, his mind was kind composed. But since he has been in a state of derangement at times and keeps very weak. We have to lift and lay him like a child.

William, I can’t tell you much about the times for I have not been from home but very little since Father took sick. I must tell you that Wilson Rutherford was married on Thursday last to Miss Crane. There was none of us invited to the wedding but one of her sisters bridesmaid and Sarah and a Mr. Brian was waited on and old Elenor Young was married about two weeks ago to a Mr. William Dale. I believe I have told you most of the news. We would be very much pleased to see you in this country this winter. I think I must soon come to a close for I feel very sleepy and it is getting late. Give my best respects to your Father and Mother and all enquiring friends, not forgetting to take a good share yourself.

Farewell, — Martha B. Rutherford

Please to answer this soon. You must excuse this scribble for it was done in a great hurry.


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