This letter was written by Dr. Charles Farnsworth (1802-1851) to his brother Thomas Swift Farnsworth (1810-1845). They were two among at least twelve children born to William Farnsworth (1766-1845) and Deborah Rogers (1768-1840) of Franklin County, Massachusetts; later Madison County, New York.
Charles Farnsworth married Ann Elizabeth Bush (1804-18xx) of Elmira, Chemung County, New York. They had at least six children, some of whom are mentioned in this letter: Charles Mason (b. 1829), Roswell Randall (1831=1912), Thomas Swift (b. 1831), Francis S. (b. 1838), Anna Cornelia (1843-1880), and William J.E. (b. 1846). In the History of Hillsdale County, Michigan, published in 1879 (page 233), it is recorded that “Probably the first resident physician in this township was Dr. Charles Farnsworth, who was long a prominent citizen. He came about 1836-38, and died in 1851, while holding the office of township clerk.”
Thomas Farnsworth married Mary Wing in Glenn Falls, New York in 1842 but died three years later, leaving two children — Edgar Farnsworth (1843-1852), and Mary Wait Farnsworth (1845-1845), neither of them living to maturity.
Addressed to Mr. Thomas S. Farnsworth, Glenns Falls, Washington County, New York
Somerset, Hillsdale Co., Michigan
February 9th 1842
It is long indeed since any communication has passed between us. Many times have I desired to write to you and often I would have written but I have not known where you might be reached by a letter from me. Two or three times I have learned where you were just as you was to leave that place and under such circumstances I thought it would be in vain for me to write. I know I was in fault for not answering your last letter when I might have done it and I ask your pardon for that neglect. It is now almost seven years since I have seen any one of our family connections and it seems sometimes as if I were to meet with none of them any more this side of the grave. I am not, however, alienated in my affections from any of them nor forgetful of the endearing ties that once bound us together. And I am especially anxious to know something of your history since you last wrote to me and of your expectations and prospects for the future. And in this I trust I shall not be disappointed. I want to know particularly how you prosper in your spiritual interests.
I have resided in this place four years and during the whole time I have had my hands full of business of one kind or another. My professional business has averaged a little more than a thousand dollars a year on book since I have been in this location and my property here is worth a thousand dollars. But the large debts which stood against me when I left the state of New York are still unpaid and some of them are now embarrassing me very greatly. If I could sell property at any rate for cash I could relieve myself or could I collect my debts of which I have amply sufficient outstanding, it would make me easy in my pecuniary interests. But our Michigan paper — scarce as it is — will not pay my eastern debts and it is impossible to obtain eastern funds here at present. How I shall do, I know not but I trust the Lord will provide.
Our family consists of a sprightly little daughter [named Frances] three years old in addition to the number you are acquainted with. The fore part of December last, we buried an infant son ten weeks old which died of infantile convulsions. Our oldest son, Charles Mason, has occasional returns of epileptic fits and I sometimes almost despair of his ever being free from them. The disease has evidently had some effect on his mental powers but more visibly in injuring is memory. The other three children are healthy. My own health for the past eighteen months and my wife’s health for six months have not been as good as usual having suffered from the fevers of the climate but yet we have been confined but very few days at a time and we are now able to attend to our affairs in some measure so as to keep business going.
It is a time of considerable religious interest with us although we are at present destitute of the preached gospel. Twelve are propounded for admission to our church and a few more will probably unite with us. The Methodist and Baptists are also receiving small accessions to their churches. Amongst those about to unite with our church is my second son R. Randall who though but ten years of age gives us such evidence that he has passed from death unto life that we think it right for him to become a visible member of the church of Christ.
Do not fail, dear Brother, to let us hear from you upon the receipt of this. My wife and children desire you to accept their assurance of affectionate remembrance and I remain as ever your affectionate brother, — Charles Farnsworth