This letter was written by 17 year-old Owen Benjamin Tyler (1826-1860), the son of Moses Coleman Tyler (1802-1885) and Mary French (1806-1840) of Montrose, Pennsylvania. Owen wrote the letter as a student at the Oxford Academy in Oxford, Chenango County, New York during the winter of 1843-44. Owen died in June 1860 at the age of 33. It is not known if he ever married.
Owen wrote the letter to his friend, Robert Craig Simpson (1823-1893), a native of Moffat, Scotland, who was (or later became) a merchant in Montrose, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. According to Census records, Robert was married by 1850 to Mary Avery (1822-1902) and had two children, ages 4 and 2, and still living in Montrose. By 1860, Robert and his family had relocated to Wellsboro, Tioga County, Pennsylvania and he was employed as a clerk in a law office. He was still in Wellsboro in 1870 but working as the “land agent” of the Bingham Estate that was formerly managed by William Bingham Clymer. Town records show that he was a member of the Odd Fellows and the local masonic lodge. Robert, his wife and two children are all buried in the Wellsboro Cemetery.
A history of Wellsboro says of Simpson that he was “a gentleman of rare business qualifications, methodical and accurate, and a man of high social characteristics.”
Addressed to R. C. Simpson, Esq., Montrose, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania
Oxford [New York]
February 19, 1844
I received your letter last evening and now proceed to answer it, returning my sincere thanks for the latter part of it. And did you know the feelings which the instruction awakened in my beast, you would never again preface a letter to me in that style. Tis true that a “change has come o’er the spirit of my dream.” For where I was in “Bonny Motrose,” I had nothing particular to do or to engross my attention. But since I have come to Oxford, I have a great deal to do and but little time to do it in, This is one reason why I have not written to you before. But I should have written if I’d done it in the night, had I not expected you to write first. You know you promised to the morning that I left. And putting implicit confidence in that promise, I have waited anxiously and patiently for the fulfillment of it. At last a letter came! And as I ___ed the hand writing on the back, I knew it was from you and I broke the seal with joy unspeakable. But as I read along the first page, my joy was changed to grief, And why? To think that you could for a moment doubt my friendship for you. Yes, Robert, I am your friend. And you have had too many and too frequent proofs of my esteem and regards to think otherwise. We have been more or less intimate for several years. And I always have, and ever shall, consider myself honoured, by being acquainted — much more by being intimate — with one who is as much esteemed and respected by all that know him as you are. I hope that if that erroneous idea which you advanced in your letter still lingers in your mind that you will immediately abandon it and always consider me a true friend. And I will endeavor to prove myself worthy of your friendship.
Well Robert, I am in Oxford (which by the by is a very pleasant place, situated in the beautiful valley of the Chenango [River]), studying hard. We have a first rate Academy and first rate Teachers. The Principal — Mr. John Abbott, A.M.¹ — is a graduate from Union College and a very fine man. There are about one hundred students including females now attending this institutionm and probably when the Spring Term commences, there will be more. About thirty young men are preparing for college, and about the same number of young ladies are preparing for a domestic life. I am very well suited with the place, like the school, like the inhabitants, and I believe that if this place was blest as Montrose is with pretty girls, I should be content to stay here. This place contains a great deal of wealth and consequently those who possess it have imbibed a spirit of aristocracy which even Montrose is not entirely free from. But there is much more of it exhibited here than there, And that is another objection I have to this place. Still it does not affect me in the least. But I always feel disgusted when I see one man, or a set of men, constantly desiring to be looked up to and feeling themselves a little better than any of their neighbors merely because fortune has favored them with an overplus of this world’s goods.
I am glad to hear that all are well and hope that when I return to Montrose, your indisposition will be entirely removed so that it will not be necessary for you to have the :mount of roses” on account of your health. I was sorry to learn that Esq. Hatch had gone but had been expecting it everyday. You mentioned that his daughter was “a good girl.” I believe you from what little acquaintance I’ve had with her and hope that although it has been the will of Providence to deprive her of her parents, that she may get along well through life and at last meet them where “parting will be no more.” That’s all!
I was glad to hear that meetings had been commenced in our church and do most earnestly hope that you will have such a revival there as Montrose has not seen for a long time. There is great need of it and I hope that Christians will pray much and no doubt there will be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
It is now eleven o’clock and before one, I ought to learn three lessons which I greatly fear I shall not do, Therefore, I will close this miserable apology for a letter hoping that you will pardon the writing and the mistakes as I have written in a great hurry, which you will readily know by the scribbling. Believe me as ever your friend, — Owen B. Tyler
P. S. Give my respects to all and tell Smith that I have commenced a letter for him which I should have finished had I not been anxious to answer yours. It will come before long. If you consider this worth an answer (which I do not), I wish you would answer it, If not, write to me and I’ll answer yours. At all events, write.
¹ The Alumni Records of Union College show that John Abbott received an honorary A.M. degree in 1842.