1841: Martha B. (Willson) Fales to Sarah Sabin Hayden

How Martha might have looked

This letter was written by Martha B. (Willson) Fales (1808-1873), the daughter of Calvin Willson (1755-1809) and Submit Denslow (1765-1840). Martha was the wife of William Fales (1805-1863) of Bristol, Rhode Island. The couple were married in Camarioca, Matanzas, Cuba, in 1829.

She wrote the letter to her niece, Sarah Sabin Hayden (1816-1894), the daughter of Dr. Anson B. Hayden ¹ (1790-1842) and Laura Willson (1790-1821). Sarah married Amos Fowler (1796-1880) in 1854.

It is the 10 December 1840 unexpected death of Martha’s mother, Submit Denslow, that dominates the first paragraph of the letter.

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Miss Sarah S. Hayden, Windsor, Connecticut

Matanzas [Cuba]
May 18th 1841

My Dear Niece,

Your favor of December 21st came to hand and the contents quite incapacitated me for writing, however, at the time. I requested Susan to do so, which she did, and I hope you received it and now beg you will excuse my long silence. Although you had written before that Mother was very low, still I could not divest myself of the hope of once more seeing my poor Mother in this world. But God’s ways are not our ways, and I feel confident that it is all for the best. Poor Soul; I hope and pray she is better off. In this world, she had her share of trouble. Your kind attentions to her in her last moments must have been gratifying and I feel greatly obliged to you for your kindness in writing me the particulars. I assure you it was a great consolation to me. I was grieved that sister Emma had not been permitted to visit her before her death as I am sure she will regret it very much indeed. I have not heard a word from her for a long time and intend writing her by this opportunity and hope soon to hear from them as I feel anxious to.

Susan has been with me now two months. Her company is always a great comfort to me. I hope the time is not far distant when you and Susan will meet for I think you would like one another. I am now looking forward in hopes to be able in a year to visit my native land once more if nothing unforeseen occurs to prevent. My boys are now of an age that it is very important they should commence their education and we have no good schools in this country. I feel that the separation will be a great trial to William and myself. Still when we reflect it is for their benefit, we must sacrifice our own feelings. I am anxious that my children shall reap the benefits of an education for I am persuaded it is far preferable to money. In myself, I feel the want of it everyday of my life, which makes me more anxious that my children shall not feel what I do constantly.

You must give my love to Eliza and tell her I sincerely sympathize with her in the loss she has sustained, and hope it will serve as a warning to us all, that when we are called upon, we may be in readiness. I hope they will have a monument erected to her memory. I think that is all we can do to the memory of a parent.

I have lately had my two girls quite sick but am happy to say they are better. I have also been sick. We are afraid we shall have a sickly season as we have had an uncommon long spell of dry weather and now the rains have set in and are incessant.

Susan desires her best love to you and says she is daily expecting a letter from you. She has just had a little flirtation with a Spanish gent but it all ended in nothing. I do really wish I could see Susan married to a good man, but not a Spaniard for I do not admire their moral characters and I think a man without moral principles will not make any woman happy.

I hope this will find you enjoying health. How is your Father’s health now and where is he now? I presume in the South still as you have not mentioned his return. How are uncle Denslow’s family? Please remember me kindly to them when you see them and also to your Aunts give my best regards. Miss Isabella de Wolf is here on a visit for a few days. She is sister to the one that married Colt. ² She is making Mrs. Thomas Fales a visit, who by the way is soon expecting to be confined. She has recovered her health entirely and grown very stout and looks very well indeed. You must excuse this as I am in a great hurry and cannot possibly copy it. The vessel is ready to sail.  Wishing you health and happiness in which all unite. I remain as ever your affectionate Aunt, — M. W. Fales

P. S. I have just had a good laugh. Instead of sand, I was just pouring the ink on this letter.

CDV of Theodora (de Wolf) Colt

¹ Family records say that Anson B. Hayden died in Savannah, Georgia, in 1842.

² Christopher Colt, Jr. (1812-1855) married Theodora Goujand de Wolf (1820-1891) of Bristol, Rhode Island.


4 responses to “1841: Martha B. (Willson) Fales to Sarah Sabin Hayden

  • Barbara

    The Windsor Historical Society in Windsor, CT has a collection of letters written to Sarah S. Hayden Fowler by various family members including her aunt Martha B. (Wilson) Fales. We would be interested in hearing about the location of other correspondence or artifacts related to this Wilson family.

  • Linda Friedlander

    Oh to have lived during this period of time.

  • Griff

    Dear Mr. Griffing, In the course of doing family research, I came across your wonderful website. I enjoyed reading many of the marvelous letters you have rescued from the dustbin of history. In particular, I was overjoyed to see this letter which describes the relationship (rather humorously) between my then-future great great-great grandparents (Susan Reynolds Wilson and Jose Martinez-Fortun), written by my several greats aunt after whom all the Marta’s in my family are named . I know your intent is to donate the letters, but I hope you will consider selling the original to me – at least for your own cost, shipping, and to help you save other letters. I would greatly appreciate having this in our family collection. Thank you for your consideration and response. Kindest regards, Marta van Dam

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