1842: Martha to Elizabeth Camp Tuttle

What Martha may have looked like in 1842

This letter was written by someone named Martha who resided in Geneva, New York in 1842. She gives too few clues in her letter to  permit her identification but she is clearly a close, dear friend of the recipient and probably with family ties to the Newark, New Jersey, area.

Martha wrote the letter to Elizabeth Camp Tuttle (1819-1851), the daughter of Hannah Camp (1784-1824) and William Tuttle (1781-1847), who was a printer, bookseller, binder, and notary. Her mother died when Elizabeth was five. Two years later her father married Julia Ann Tuttle, the woman Elizabeth called Ma. Besides Elizabeth, William and Hannah had four other children, two of whom died in childhood. Joseph Nathaniel Tuttle  (1810-1886), whom Elizabeth described as “my dear, dear brother,” became a lawyer. William Parkhurst Tuttle (1814-1837) drowned when he was a student at Auburn Theological Seminary. Elizabeth had probably been educated at Newark Academy, originally a boy’s school that had established a female division in 1802. Shortly after this letter was written, Elizabeth married Aaron Carter (1817-1902), a jeweler in Newark, New Jersey. The couple’s only child who survived to adulthood was William Tuttle Carter, born in 1849. Elizabeth died two years later.

Stampless Letter

TRANSCRIPTION

Addressed to Miss E. C. Tuttle, Care of William Tuttle, Esq., Newark, New Jersey

Geneva [New York]
September 5th 1842, Monday P.M.

Dearest Elizabeth,

Page 1

Since the reception of your last three welcome letters, I will vouchsafe to say there has not been an hour when you have been absent from my thoughts, & no privilege would have been sweeter than sitting down & pouring out to you my full heart. At the reception of the interesting intelligence you so kindly confided to a heart that will cherish it as a sacred treasure.

Yesterday too, your vision was with me the day long & shall I tell you why? Well, we were fed, & richly fed with gospel truth by the venerable Dr. Fisher ¹ of your own state. My first glance at him brought very forcibly to mind your dear Father, for in his features (not his size), I thought I discovered a marked resemblance, & his voice seemed to me almost the same. His sermons were of a rich order & will not soon be forgotten by those who listened to them. One or two of his ideas I must give you as near as I can recollect them from the P.M. sermon on Faith — 2 Cor. 4. 18.  Among the many things “seen” to the Christian were the varied trials & afflictions the Father seems pleased to send upon him. At one time, we may see the broad scythe of the enemy b____lling with one sweep a mighty nation, & at another the small sickle entering our family circle & lopping the tenderly cherished branch of one heart’s devotion. Dwelling upon the same subject, he remarked again that in multiplying our connections, we but made broader the target at which death loves to aim his poisoned shaft.

Page 2

Dearest Elizabeth, when this thought came home to me, it made me tremble, & as never before when I have been writing you, I now feel that you can fully sympathize with me upon this theme, which doubtless occupies quite as large a portion of your attention as my own. Upon the mingled joys, responsibilities & tweaks to which one “new connections” may introduce us, I will not now dwell as I could not express to you by this poor medium the half I feel. In the course of a few months, we may meet & my heart throbs with joy as I think one sympathizes on all these points of tenderest interests to ourselves, may then be free & unresolved. I had thought before the reception of your last, Elizabeth, that I loved you with all the f_____ of affection of which I was capable, but when you confidingly told me your heart’s affections were beating in unison with anthers, & that you upon this point all was not at rest, I felt you were far dearer to me than ever, & I only sighed that I could not then clasp you to my bosom & tell you with the sincerity of a sister how much I rejoiced with you in your full cup of joy. It was then I felt I could not be denied seeing you, & here at my own home, but a moment’s thought convinced me you could not then leave Newark & the reasonableness of the fact reconnected me to the serious disappointment.

Page 3

That your affections are finally centered upon an object (whom from the very partial opportunities you know I have had of judging), I do think well worthy the warm true heart, My Elizabeth has to give him, gives me extreme joy, & if you can’t tell why, you surely can wait till I can inform you by word of mouth.

As I commenced the perusal of your letter & came to the first allusion of the all important subject, my mind immediately queried as to whom the favored being might be? Quick as thought, I rested upon the young gentleman who called upon my friend Elizabeth one Sat. eve on Missionary business & the following Sabbath eve. as Sec. of the Young People’s Missionary Society read its annual report. Do you not remember my expressed surmise that something more serious than you then imagined might be the result of the high mutual esteem I then saw existing. And your being d_____ denial of my charge? Oh! Lizzy, time & its change work wounded as you and I may well testify! I presume I shall have affirmed quite sufficient if I say that when in Newark last summer I came to the conclusion that the young gentleman who especially attracted my attention in the Lecture Room of the 1st Church was the most decidedly active young Christian passing in my review at least in your city. With the influence which will henceforth be over him, I presume he will never be inclined to grow weary in well doing & for yourself, beloved friend, with a kindred spirit assisting you, & a Father’s blessing cheering you, may you in nothing come short, the worth of your “illustrious predecessor” the Lady Elizabeth Carter.

Page 4

Evening. Directly after dinner, I sat myself down to writing hoping that I might finish my letter without interruption. But this hope was in vain, as company soon came in & prevented my continuance. After tea, till the hour of Convent, I was able to write some little more & now, almost ten o’clock, I am determined to close the sheet that it may be ready for the mail in the morning & ere long find its resting place with you. There is much — yea, volumes I wish to say to you, but I will only add that I hope you will write me very soon & if you ____ consistently, Elizabeth, tell me something of your plans for the future. As I can scarcely tax my patience to await to personal interview. To ask plain questions — Are you to become Mrs. Carter this fall or winter? When married, do you remaining Newark? And am I right in the vague impression I have somehow received that Mr. Carter is a student of some one of the learned professions? If I am presuming too freely upon your confidences, dear Elizabeth, do forgive — my love for you, & interest in you, alone prompts my enquiries. Ma says tell Elizabeth I am much disappointed that she does not visit us this fall. Charlotte is improving her health & had not written you hoping to see you face to face. I have not told her as yet what I know would so well please her, & await your permission. Once more I entreat you, write me very soon though I cannot promise a reply as you may well suppose. I am quite as busy as I can be.

You will think this sheet carelessly prepared for you, I fear not. Please attribute it to my fatigue, not neglect. The last two nights I have watched with the sick, & of course am disposed to retire tonight as ____ as possibly. Do remember me to all your dear family most affectionately & assure me still of your happiness — very, very soon. Your own devoted friend, — Martha

FOOTNOTES

¹ “Dr. Fisher” was probably Rev. Samuel Fisher , D.D., (1777-1856) of Patterson, New Jersey.


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