1843: Harriet Pond to William Henry Parkhurst

Utica, New York, ca. 1855

This letter was written by Harriet L. Pond (1826-Aft1850), the daughter of Lewis Pond (1784-1854) and Harriet Angell (1798-1866) of Utica, New York. The 1850 Census shows Lewis Pond to be the proprietor of a boarding house at the corner of Broad and John Street in Utica.¹ Harriet was still residing with her parents at that time.

Harriet wrote the letter to her cousin, William Henry Parkhurst (1822-1887), a son of Henry and Susan (Angell) Parkhurst. He was active in raising troops in the Civil War and was captain and brevet major in the commissary department. From 1880 to 1883 he was Indian Agent at the Lower Brule Agency in Dakota. [Weaver Genealogy, p.104] William married Sarah Tanner in 1845.

Harriet’s mother (Harriet) and William’s mother (Susan) were sisters — the daughters of Job Angell (1767-1853) and Susan Bennett (1772-1836).

We learn from this letter that Utica had three military companies in 1843, one of which was called the Light Guards; the other were called the Utica Citizen’s Guard and the Utica Union Guards. The grand military encampment that Harriet mentioned to her cousin in this letter was announced in the 18 July 1843 issue of the Republican Farmer:

There is to be a grand military encampment at Utica, to commence on the 20th inst. At least ten uniform companies will be present, and it is expected several other companies will join them. Among the companies from abroad, are to be the Light Guards of Hartford, Ct.; the City Guards of New York, and corps from Rochester, Troy, Schenectady, &c., all with their fine bands of music. Capt. Barnum of the U.S. Army, it is understood will take command.

Following the encampment, the 26 July 1843 issue of the Auburn Journal and Advertiser wrote:

Gen. John Ellis Wool (1784-1869)

The people of Utica have been up to their ears in sight seeing and military glory. The encampment there of some 9 or 10 uniform companies was the cause of excitement and enthusiasm. There was a grand review on Wednesday, which the Gazette says was witnessed by several thousand spectators. Gen. [John E.] Wool was the officer in command. Of this scene, the Gazette says: “We are unable to speak of the display otherwise than as a whole. Every one appeared to be highly gratified with the gorgeous spectacle, presented by an array of between three and four hundred men, in beautiful and various uniforms, their banners fluttering in the wind, and their burnished armor glistening in the sun. The evolutions were, to eyes of ordinary experience, perfect. The whole scene — the soldiers — the snowy tents — the immense concourse closely surrounding the camp ground, and collected in large numbers on the surrounding hills — the adjacent city — enhanced by the rich strains of martial harmony — made, we doubt not, an impression on all that will not soon be forgotten.  — Abany Citizen.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Mr. William H. Parkhurst, Providence, Rhode Island

Sunday Eve, July 9, 1843

Dearest Cos,

Page 1

Not feeling in just the right mood for attending church, I came to the conclusion that I would stay at home & write you all the news that I could possibly think of. In the first place, let me tell you that with a bad pen, poor paper, and a trembling hand, you will not receive a very delicate letter. This is one of the loveliest days we have had this  summer — comfortable at church or at home. The reason I have not answered your letter before this is this, feeling as if I could not afford to write you two letters, I would wait till after the 18th & commencement — and then there be plenty to tell you about. But now I have altered my views of things amazingly. I have now sit down for the purpose of inviting you up here to spend two or three weeks with us (now don’t stop to look wild but wait till i get through telling you all that is going to happen). On the 18th of July, there is going to be a great military doings here. There is to be companies from New York, Rochester, Auburn, Buffalo are all to be here on that day to visit our three companies, and they are all agoing to encamp in the fields here three days. Oh! it be terrible times for little Utica, and I would love to have you come up dearly. Oh!! if you will only come, we will make it very pleasant for you, and we would make you stay awhile after commencement at Clinton and then I would go home to Providence with you and stay a long while. But if you do not come, why it is not probable that I shall go down having no one to go with — only as far as New York. But if you would come up, we’ll have the nicest times here and then going back we would have nicer times yet according to my ideas of thinking. And now, Bill, if you conclude to come, do not write me a letter. But if cannot come, write me a answer immediately. But I shall not expect any letters, but shall expect to see you the latter part of this week or the first of next. And now the best way for you to do is to make up your mind to come and then you will. It will not cost a great deal and only think how you would enjoy yourself. Now do not fail to come.

Page 2

There was nothing uncommon here the fourth [of July] — a very small procession and but a few hundred in from the country. Spent the day myself very pleasantly, however.

[My brother] James has just joined one of the companies called the Light Guards & he is very much of a military character at the present time. One of them died last week and he was attended to the grave by the three different companies and indeed, it was the most solemn funeral that I ever attended.

My letter looks worse but how can any one write when they is about a dozen around. James and Jane say that you must come without fail. Why, I should think that my promise to go back with you would be enough of an inducement for you to come. I talk as if I were some great person instead the insignificant Harriet Pond.

Page 3

The last time I hear from Clinton, they were all well. Mary is still teaching [and] has about 40 scholars. Louisa & Susan are at home as usual. Julia Barnes is married to Mr. Thomas. That is news for your mother. Give my love to her & Ellen and all the rest of the good folks. Why cousin William, you certainly would come if you only knew how much we thought of you. Well I do not think of anything more to write. Do not fail to come. Do not.

From your cousin, — Harriet

P.S. Are you not ashamed to answer a cousin that will write such a looking letter, but remember above all things that I am in earnest about you coming up here. I am a noisy, rattle head creature and therefore it would be an impossible thing for me to be particular in writing, but then you are so good and you love me so well that I fancy you overlooking my numberless faults, but nuff ced. N. C.


¹ The location of Pond’s Boarding House is given in an advertisement placed in a Utica newspaper in September 1849 by Dr. Parsons, a “surgeon dentist” from New York who states that he taken rooms in the boarding house and is seeing patients there.


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