This letter was written by Maria E. Lancaster to Mary F. Cooke. They were friends who apparently attended school together in Gilmanton, New Hampshire in the 1840-42 time frame. Nothing more could be found related to them or their families.
Addressed to Miss Mary F. Cooke, Farmington, New Hampshire
Franklin [New Hampshire]
August 8, 1842
My Dear Mary,
I cannot tell you how much I was gratified in receiving the long expected letter from you. It was a long time dear friend, and yet I thought of so many excuses until Olive Bean said she had a letter. Then I began to calculate about the superiority of my claims to hers, and so on till I became almost impatient. Charles will testify that I felt disappointed in your silence, since when I saw him at Gilmanton, I complained somewhat.
But it came in good time — one of those still summer mornings, I received it (for it had been mislaid when I sent to the Post Office the evening previous) when you cannot tell why, but you are conscious of a real sadness of feeling. You know how it seems sometimes, dear Mary — as if one was quite alone. Well judge how doubly welcome your really kind, sisterly letter was. Oh I was rejoiced to hear from you and determined in my own heart that you had been too good to “be put down cellar.”
You ask me if the time does not seem long. I answer yes — truly it seems long, Yet not so dull as I had expected. But I was quite ill when first I came home. Now I am very well, and weight 97 lbs. I am quite well and consequently happy for I am so full of frolic. I wish you were with me, sweet sis Mary. We would have as much fun as the young ladies old in playing “fox and geese.” Yes, I miss you — always so affectionate — I miss you very much; a long time we have been separated. I hope ‘ere as long a time again passes away, I shall see you.
You are teaching, Mary, and you say it is “not like attending school.” I think so too. Yet this season since I feel so well, I have had quite a desire to teach for sympathy, I guess, for you and Fanny and ever so many more are thus engaged, and I am doing nothing but make and mend. I am glad your boarding place is pleasant. That makes much difference in your feelings.
Charles I was delighted to see at Gilmanton. You see that Emily and I were together as usual, and she says, “Why Maria, see there’s Charles.” I thought so strange, you know, for it was so unexpected and we were very glad, but sis Emily with her depth of feeling was perhaps not more glad than I, but she had her head on her hand and seemed distressed a moment and it was over. Now I have said what I did not mean to . You will never let any one see this. But as you know when at Gilmanton, that Emily was attached to Brother Charles, as he apparently to her. Oh I love them both. I wish sometimes that the slight friendship of the last term might become sacredly firm, but this is not for me to speak of. I am always sorry for my thoughtlessness, but who is like my Emily. Oh she is beautiful and good, and I never saw an individual kinder and better than she. I can never tell in words how dear she is to me. You know Sis Mary something of her lacking of character, but it is a long time since we became friends. And of strong foundation is our love for each other.
Miss Guernsey has been home, I believe. She is much prettier than she was. Perhaps her health is better. She always was very delicate. I am inclined to think in reply to your supposition with regard to Mr. Ordwey that the intimacy has ceased but did not know. He is a very excellent young man — a deserving one — notwithstanding his peculiarities. I was naughty and wicked to notice his p____ way, but I shall not do so again. I wrote to Miss Guernsey a few days since. Miss H. Bean seems to be much admired. I am not surprised for in my opinion she is remarkably pretty. There is a very sweet expression in her smiling face. Do you not think so? It seemed to be a pity that so many beaux were disappointed on the fourth that they could not have her as their companion of the walk.
Olive Bean looked very pale. I saw her at Gilmanton, but do not remember what she said she was well or not. Probably she has written you ‘ere this. E. Horne is better. Indeed, I believe she is quite recovered of her illness.
The school, doubtless Emily has told you, seems still to be the school of schools. Certainly were it not for music and so on, I should not go anywhere but there and I do not believe there is a better school in the world — I had almost said.
On the Fourth of July, Daniel Tenney ¹ gave us a rich treat. The towns of Franklin and Sanbornton met in a grove between their principal villages and he was the orator of the day. Oh I can never describe to you how he thrilled the hearts of his audience with admiration at his talents and energy in extempore speaking. I never heard him do half as well and you know he always spoke beautifully.
Tomorrow, sister Mary, or next day, I shall be at Concord. I shall make an effort to see sister Fanny, tho’ I believe she teaches some distance from her house. I shall hope to see her.
What do you think of Millerism? There is to be a camp meeting at Gilmanton, I have heard, some time about the 25th of this month. Strange is it not?
It is midnight, gentle friend. I am watching with a dear little sick boy. Would that you were near me, but do not forget how much I love you. write to me often and as soon as you can on the receipt of this. My love to Brother Charles. And believe me ever your sincere and affectionate friend, — M. E. Lancaster
Sister Mary. Shall you not be at Gilmanton at the close of this term to attend this examination, I wish if you do, you would ride over to Franklin with Emily. Will you not? Oh it would be a great happiness for me. Write soon. — M. E. L.
¹ Daniel Tenney was born in Chester, NH, 10 Dec. 1816, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College in 1841, and from the Theological Seminary, Walnut Hill, Ohio, in 1844, the same year he married. Ordained as the second pastor of Second Presbyterian Church, Oxford, Ohio, on June 30, 1844, Tenney served there for twelve years. In 1853, Tenney and 45 others incorporated The Western Female Seminary, according to the Mount Holyoke system, in the town of Oxford. Tenney presented the diplomas at the 1859 graduation ceremony, telling the students that their education had prepared them for “usefulness”, that their diplomas were “commissions to labor in the Master’s harvest grounds”; and that their education would help build the kingdom of God on earth. [Daniel Tenney Scrapbook, Western College Alumni Association Archives, Oxford, Ohio]