1843: Joseph Whiting Marsh to Aaron Parsons

This letter was written by Joseph Whiting Marsh (1791-1882). He was married (1815) to Hannah Stow (1795-1843), the sister of Emily Stow (1800-1860), who was married (1820) to Aaron Parsons (1797-1866). Hannah and Emily were the children of Elder Zebulon Stow and Hannah Spencer who were married in 1794 in Middletown, Connecticut.

Joseph W. Marsh was the son of Gen. Isaac and Lucy (Smith) Marsh of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In this letter, Joseph describes the declining health of his first wife, Hannah, who died on 12 September 1843. He took the widow Sarah (Cowdrey) Paine (1794-1869) as his second wife in 1845.

Aaron Parsons was born at Canaan, New York, and learned the woolen manufacturing business with future President Millard Fillmore in the woolen mills of Isaac Curtis near Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where he eventually became a partner. It was wile working here that he met, and subsequently married Emily Stow. He then relocated to Wilson, New York, and in the winter of 1826 taught school in Niagara County. From 1835 to 1839, he returned to woolen manufacturing. In 1839, he was elected superintendent of public schools in Niagara County. We learn from this letter that his home in 1843 was in Lockport, New York.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Aaron Parsons, Esq., Lockport, New York

Curtisville [Stockbridge, Massachusetts]
September 7th 1843

Dear Brother & Sister,

You probably think it strange that I have not written to you before to let you know the state of Hannah’s health, but the hope that I might have something more encouraging to write has led me to delay. Her health has [been] very feeble for more than one year, but never has … She seemed to sink as though she could stay no longer until last week. For two or three weeks past, we have very hot weather, with heavy rains and it seemed to affect her very unfavorably. She is now so low that we have but little expectation that she can recover.

10th. When I had written thus far, I was called off for a short time and before I had opportunity to resume, there were indications of relax which has continued to the present time and is running her down fast every day [and] leaves her more and more feeble and we can hardly expect that she can stay but a little longer.

Sister Mary has been here about a week. [She] left for home on the 7th. She expects to return again the last of this week but I fear that she will not find her alive. I shall write her the first mail so that she may be here on Wednesday. I suppose you will have seen Father before you get this and he can tell you more than I can write. And as my time is wholly needed for Hannah’s care, you must excuse me. I will leave my letter open until tomorrow as we have no mail out today. If any change, I will write before I close it.

Monday morning, September 11th

Hannah still continues to fail though she has some quiet rest and is free from pain. Her Relax is not at all abated. She has but little strength left and that little cannot last long and unless some favorable change, we think she can hardly continue through the week — probably not more than 2 or 3 days. Her mind is calm and composed. She speaks of going with serenity and comfort — gives directions clearly and without distraction. She says she should like to see Emily again but suppose she must wait until another day. Faith bears the spirit up and takes hold of Heaven.

Your affectionate brother, — Joseph W. Marsh


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