1844: Jonathan Williams to Mary Ann Wentworth Palmer

What Jonathan Williams might have looked like

The author of this letter — who signs his name as Jonathan Williams of Quincy, Massachusetts — is otherwise unidentified. There are too few clues contained in the letter to match any extant genealogical records. It would appear from his remarks that he had either lived or spent time in Barnard, Maine — perhaps only as a visitor in company with his friend, John Prichard, who appears to have been from Barnard.

In any event, Jonathan seems to have been beguiled by 16 year-old Mary Ann Wentworth Palmer (1828-18xx), the daughter of Stephen Palmer (1796-1866) and Sophia Crommett (1898-1869) of Barnard, Maine. Upon hearing that she is engaged to be married through his friend Prichard, Jonathan writes Mary Ann this letter confessing his love for her hoping that she’ll feel the same about him. Apparently the feeling wasn’t mutual, however, as Mary married James C. Pullen (1830-18xx) about 1845. Unfortunately, the couple divorced in September 1862. Nothing more has been found on these individuals.

Stampless Cover


Addressed to Miss Mary Ann W. Palmer, Barnard, near Bangor, Maine

Quincy [Massachusetts]
October 3rd 1844

Dear Mary Ann,

Page 1

I take this favorable opportunity of writing these few lines to you hoping they will be conveyed to you with speed and safety and will find you enjoying your most valuable health the same as these few lines [find] us at present. Ever since the arrival of my ______ friend J. Prichard, I have been over flowed with ideas and thoughts of my past time in Barnard. Them black flies and abounding snow which serve very well for ____, and more especially the sweet company.

I was very sorry to hear of Henrietta Wing [1824-1844] and often shed tears when I thought of her sweet voice singing her sweet voice singing her Maker’s praise. Oh may she sing forever in the glory of her God.

Page 2

I was informed by Mr. Prichard that you had the news that I was about to get married but I will freely confess the truth, I never whispered love to any one. Neither have I thought that I saw any one that I would give my heart and hand to that measure since I saw the one above named dearest Ann. Most dearly have I loved you although I never made any confession before to you. I have long kept it secret, but Ah! at last it has betrayed itself. But everything will come to light as the man said about the stolen candles.

He also informed me of your much put out with me in not paying you a visit the time I was in Bangor. I much thought to come to Barnard but my health was rather ill at the time and my business also compelled me to return to Quincy immediately. I went to go up Sunday but I was afraid that I could not come back to Bangor in time for the boat.

Page 3

I am going to Bangor sometime this fall or next spring. Then will I come to Barnard and stay a spell. And I should be in hopes to get an invitation to your wedding whenever it shall be. Send and I shall come. I have learned that you was about to get married to Mr. J. P. [James C. Pullen] and I suppose that it is too late for my confession of love. However, I hope that you will excuse me if I impose upon [your] good nature. I have been sick a few days this summer but I am now quite well. The climate is not quite as agreeable to me in these parts as it is there but my business is much better as regard my prosperity. I never was as prosperous as I have been since I came to this town. I hope as soon as you will receive this that you will write to me. I can assure you that it will afford me more pleasure than you might imagine. Give my very best respects to Mary and to your parents, to Eleanor Miller, and to John, and please remember me to Alden & O. David. Benjamin is well and sends his best respects to you all. I have lingered long enough in prose. Now I will try poetry.

Tis said that absence conquers love
But O, believe it not,
I’ve tried Alas its power to prove
But thou art not forgot.

Lady, though fate has bid us part,
Yet still thou art as Dear
As first in this devoted heart
as when with you there.

Yes, still I love thee, time who sets
His signet on my brow
And dims my sunken eye forgets
The heart he could not how.

Where love that cannot perish grows
for one alas that little knows
How love may sometimes last
Like sunshine wasting in the skies
When clouds are overcast

The Dew drop hanging over the rose
within its robe of light
Can never touch a leaf that blows
though seeming to the sight
yet still will linger there
like hopeless love without despair
A dewdrop in the sun

A moment fairly exquisite
alas but only one
I would not have thy married heart
Think momentarily of me
Nor would I tear the cords apart
That binds me so to thee

No, while my thoughts seem ______
Like dew on the rose wild
I would not have thee know
the stream that seems to thee so still
Has such abide below.

Enough that in delirious dreams
I see thee and forget
enough when the morning b_____
I feel my eyelids wet…

Page 4

Hoping for a favorable answer. This from your sincere admirer, — Jonathan Williams

Direct your letter to Jonathan Williams, Quincy, Massachusetts. John Prichard sends his best respects to you and all of his friends in Barnard. Be sure to write as soon as you can conveniently for you cannot give me anything as much esteemed as our hand and heart. Please excuse the phasiology of this letter if I have intruded upon “good nature” please excuse me and keep this in your own circle.


One response to “1844: Jonathan Williams to Mary Ann Wentworth Palmer

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