1844: William Deloss Love to Matilda Longworth Wallace

The Alexander T. Rankin home in Fort Wayne that Matilda Wallace rented while teaching school in 1844.

This letter was written by William Deloss Love (1819-1898), the son of William Love (1795-1864) and Lucinda Oakes (1797-1873). Love was born in Barre, N.Y. He was educated at Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, Lima, N.Y., Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y. (1843), attended Andover Theological Seminary, Andover, Mass., and graduated from Yale Theological Seminary (1847). He was ordained as a minister in 1847, and held pastorates in Connecticut and New York before moving to Milwaukee in 1858. Here, he was pastor of the Spring St. (now Grand Ave.) Congregational Church until 1871. A product of the Puritan tradition of Jonathan Edwards, he wrote numerous books on religion, was an ardent abolitionist, and wrote Child’s Book on Slavery (1857). He was a member of the Christian Commission Service during the Civil War, and was active in the Freedmen’s Bureau. Love was the author of Wisconsin in the War of the Rebellion (1866). He moved frequently after he left Wisconsin. Natl. Cyclopaedia Amer. Biog., 11 (1909); O. B. Blix, comp. and ed., 100 Years of Christian Service ( [Milwaukee] 1947); Berlin (Conn.) News, Oct. 20, 1898; Milwaukee Evening Wis., Sept. 6, 1898; WPA field notes. [Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]

Love wrote the letter to his future wife, Matilda Longworth Wallace of Clinton, New York. They were married on 9 September 1847.

Love mentions his Uncle Robert Love (1799-1877) of Wisconsin. He was married to Martha Barnett (1801-1874).

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Miss Matilda S. Wallace, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Buffalo [New York]
July 11th 1844, Thursday Eve.

Dearest Matilda,

Since closing my school, I have been to Deacon Goodell to get pay for my writing & my room getting dirty during my vacation so much so that it was quite unpleasant to me & I thought dishonorable to yourself. I have been cleaning it so now I am really tired, & instead of going out to the lecture, I think it my duty to write a little for you & Laura. Using this word duty reminds me that you have as little fear that a ___ I may be little slavish to the unbending rules of this stern master as you seem to regard it & am not enough influenced by motives of love. So let me change the phraseology. I think the Lord will be best pleased to have me stay here this evening & talk to you. I find the world full of this same or similar idea of duty. So when I am talking in the presence of those who may misunderstand me or who do not thoroughly know what duty is instead saying “duty” I say “God’s will” — “pleasing to the Lord” &c. &c.

How precious to the soul it is to come nigh & keep nigh to God & in everything, even in what are called trivial things, to ask the Lord, the blessed Savior, what will best please Him. I want to get to that state of living when in every circumstance & at all times I shall involuntarily as it were, tell my thought, my words, my actions by the will of God. Just as, & much more, than the lover desires in every thing to know whether his actions sweetly coincide with his dear one’s will. But I fear all this seems too stale & commonplace to you. The fact is, I don’t know as I can say anything worth saying that will interest you. So will go to matters of fact.

You want to know whether I kept the last Sabbath holy not only to the end but from the beginning. You have doubtless received the few lines I sent you from Toledo. I left Toledo 4 o’clock Friday P.M. I was unwell in the Boat — not seasick, but relished no food & felt accordingly. Was at Erie Saturday Eve. I feared I should have a fit of sickness, it would cost me 3 or $4 to spend the Sabbath there & then get to Buffalo. I had not a great sum of money _____ I had I could use many ways — might have to wait three or more days for another boat to ____ possibly if I kept the “Harrison” ¹ I might reach Buffalo before Sabbath daylight. Still I thought it would probably most please God to stay & trust Him. And I was about to have my trunk taken off (even though your good Mr. [Alexander T.] Rankin ² was on board & was going direct to Buffalo but he was not sure, he said, that he was doing right & had he enough money to last him his journey he should stop) when the Capt. cried out “All Aboard” & to prevent being separated from my trunk, I jumped aboard & was on my way to Buffalo to reach there after the Lord’s day had begun. Soon there took hold of me a good Christian brother & dear friend, Mr. Bryant, who had stopped at Erie on his way from Milwaukee & had just come on board after waiting 2 days for a boat to Buffalo. The good fellow comforted & ____ me one way and another most all night. The Lord bless him.

But I soon learned from him of Uncle Robert Love. And dear Matilda & Laura, we are again called to mourn. Cousin Sarah Love is no more. She died of the scarlet fever a short time since. It appears she died suddenly. Uncle was not at home when she departed. But she died — blessed be the name of the Lord, in the triumphs of Christian faith. She was considered a young lady of much promise. She was much beloved. Funeral services were attended both at Prairieville — the residence of Uncle — & at Milwaukee where Uncle & his family had lived & cousin had been connected with a choir as a most beautiful singer. Her death spread solemnity through a large circle of friends & admirers. But her death created joy in Heaven for it pleased God to call her. How short lived we are! The light of life within us is burning we know not how nigh to its socket. Yes, yes, I trust we are ready for the exit. And how can we praise God enough for so rich a blessing? I am daily, yes almost hourly praying & so are you dearest & sister for the salvation of our relatives. O how I hope and I believe not one of our dear parent’s family will ever sink to Hell. O do pray for our younger brothers. Yes & for all. I am going, I think, to pray more than I have. God will delight to answer me if I ask aright. “He will be sought unto.” But to rest shan’t have to rest in Heaven.

From Erie to Buffalo we had a head wind part of the way & so we did not reach my journey’s end until Sabbath morning, 6 or 7 o’clock. I don’t think I shall be caught so again. The Lord forgive my sins. Sabbath Eve, I heard Dr. [George] Potts of New York who has had the discussion with Dr. [Jonathan Mayhew] Wainwright. I had the pleasure of seeing Rev. William [Henry] Beecher in Toledo & of saying to him that I had seen [Rev.] Charles Beecher & lady in Fort Wayne. I had much talk with Mr. Rankin. He thinks your new church will prove a failure. I trust you will so live as to secure God’s blessing & so disappoint him. He thinks you won’t get quite as much support as you would have received had you not joined the new church. Don’t yet know whether you can have his house next year or not. He may want to use it himself. Perhaps he will marry, though he does not intimate it. You must lookout in season for a house. After leaving you, I was sorry I did not think to ask if you did not wish me to leave you some money. I feared you had not enough for your present wants.

Well, dearest, how much I want to see you. I want to talk with you more about our love for each other & about our differences in character & try to become more like each other. I wish to agree with you in every thing. Where we differ in opinion we can’t both be right. I want to find out who is right & then both sweetly embrace the truth. When we are together, we do have an influence over each other. I find myself often almost involuntarily laboring with myself that I may think & do & feel as you do. And in some things I see that I am becoming like you. I am giving up my own ways for yours. But in reference to laboring conversing with sin ___, I do still think I am right. And I feel bad that you don’t agree with me. For it is a subject of much importance to ourselves & others. And now dearest, don’t think me like some who are perhaps fanaticals & who do not introduce the subject of salvation without creating dislike & contempt in the impenitents. I seldom if ever am received unkindly by sinners. Almost always find they are glad to have me talk with them. Now why do I think I am right? … I think I am right because the course I would pursue is in accordance with certain Christian efforts which God wonderfully owns in the salvation of men. For instance, the colportuers system…

Three kinds of labor I expect will be _____ instrumental in leading to the millennium. Viz. The preaching of the gospel, the church’s daily colportuer labors as individuals and the leading of infants to Christ. Again, how God’s blesses such labors in revivals. I defy you to point me to a revival where such efforts have not been greatly used. In revivals you can’t help or prevent such labor. Let men & women be engaged in religion & they will talk about Christ & that too on the first meeting. Fire will out. I have been ten years looking to see who were the most useful in the church, and I look through the wrong glasses or they are those who labor most in the way I advocate. Those ministers are most useful who labor thus. What is the principal confession of Christians on an awakening — that they have not spoken to sinners about salvation & urged them often to come to Christ.

I well remember hearing before I knew the faculty of Hamilton College make this confession to the students — especially Professor Smith. And he showed why he had neglected his duty in this respect. It was because he thought it would make the impenitent feel unpleasant. But sinners love in general to be talked with on this subject or they respect highly those who do it. At that time, or just before it, I performed I think more labor of that kind than all the students & faculty put together. And I think I had a better Christian reputation with the impenitent than any one else about the Institution at that time. True, at times they were a little furious against me but they could not rid themselves of respect for me. That revival was very promising until as I think the devil told one of us to say to the converted students that they had not better talk so much in private to the impenitent. They did not talk as much and from that hour the interest began to die & died. Had Christians held to their proper work, I suppose some strong ones in college would have been converted.

It is now Saturday P.M. I do not feel that I can say now what I felt I wished to say when I stopped last night for some of my thoughts have escaped. But a few words more on this subject. I talked with Mrs. Stone of our your place. You remarked that you should have waited a while. Why so? She may die before I meet her again. And she may die before your time comes to talk with her. I hope she is a Christian. If so, there is no harm in greeting one of God’s children though a stranger. If she is on the way to Hell, was I not right in endeavoring to snatch her from the burnings? I can’t see that silence has much power to lead to Christ. She will think more probably of her Lord for my speaking to her (I use the case of Mrs. Stone only as an illustration). She has an impenitent husband. I dropped a word hoping she might get concerned about him & so pray & labor until she is converted. The fact is you must get men concerned about themselves or they never will repent. And the ungodly won’t be concerned except the Godly are concerned for them. And Zion must travail or she will not bring forth. And be it with you as it may, when I realize even in a small degree the worth of the soul, I can not hold my peace unless I grieve the spirit. Now I would not for I can not speak with every one I see about their soul’s salvation. Yes, I would speak if I could, but I would seek the first and every opportunity to profitably introduce the subject. I think by improving in one case the first & what finally proved to be the only opportunity of speaking for the Savior I was instrumental in the salvation at least of one soul. But I must stop this subject.

Halbert came here this morning — has gone to the [Niagara] Falls. He wanted I should go with him but I thought I must save the money & spend it with you if with any body. He will be here this evening & stay until Monday, then meet Miss Avery at Knowlesville Monday evening — she is sick with the ague — & go on with her to Utica. She goes & he goes home.

How do you feel exactly about a visit in September or October? The fall term at Andover does not commence until the 24th October. If it is best, I might be with you from October 1st till about that time. You keep teaching — while you taught, I read — when you were at liberty then we visit. I don’t know but it would be a profitable school for us — both for head and heart. I paid from Ft. Wayne to Toledo only $3.25 instead of $4.25 & did not have board. Should I see you there again, think I should take line boat if I had time. Then a visit to you from Buffalo would cost only $11.00 beside board across the Lake, which need not be high. I want to see you in October very much. My recent visit wasn’t long enough. What do you think would please the Lord about the visit in October? We are poor.

Samuel Ringgold Ward

Monday Eve. Halburt being with me has prevented my closing before. He left this morning. He had a good time. For some evenings past, I have been hearing John B. Gough ³ — the celebrated temperance lecturer from Boston. he is young, a reformed inebriate & talented — speaks tonight but I must speak to you. The colored Rev. Mr. [Samuel Ringgold] Ward is lecturing in the city this week on slavery. Next Sabbath, Dr. [Thomas] Chalmers of Scotland, of whom I spoke & who preached here one week-day eve during my absence from the city, is to preach three times here next Lord’s day. next week comes off the Miss. meeting. I would that you & I could enjoy these ____ with me & I with you you & Laura.

I have just seen Rev. Mr. Rankin. He goes East as far as Utica soon. Will not be in Ft. Wayne until the first of September. Seems to think he will want to use the house next year. Can’t tell until he gets back there. If he does, he will do what he can to secure you another house. Wants your school to continue. Wants his daughter in it. I like the man quite well.

Halburt saw Father in Albion the 3rd and 4th of July.

Dearest, you doubtless recollect the many good talks we used to have in the old parlor & on the front steps. We used to read there too. You recollect one book in particular I brought & we read & so discussed that one subject & its connections & told all we knew of the subject to each other. I have recently taken into my hands a similar work from a French author. It is scientific. And what I find there leads me to judge that the little experiment I proposed once or twice when with you can never succeed. What say you to that? I speak not now of the anti-slavery question. We hear by the way of Marshall that Willard has been sick of the fever nigh unto death. Horace Greeley, editor of the [New York] Tribune addresses the Literary Societies of Hamilton College at Commencement.

Chittenden by whom you sent the note did not get time it appears to call, but wrote a few lines & left with the note at the Post Office. He says of you,  “She is one of the finest beings anywhere to be found this side of the far off regions of the blue.” It’s true, but don’t be proud. I leave that Albert [Gallatin] Gridley [of Clinton, N.Y.] has had another difficulty with another woman. The wife or the daughter of the blacksmith near the Universalist Church in Clinton — the woman who lived when a girl with Albert & wife just after their marriage. The difficulty is recent. News comes from a Miss or Mrs. Stebbucs of this city. Hope & hope its not true. What will Sophia [Hickox Gridley] do? Will it break her heart? Story says Deacon G. gave the husband $300 to leave the place with his family.

I am very tired & very sleepy. Will the time ever come when I shall not be obliged to be separated from you? Well you tell me to be happy. I think I am quite so. I hope to profit your exhortations. I’ll try to be happy. But I wish Dearie you would of your own account often talk & reason with me in reference to the subject which makes me trouble. You must bear with me in that I am weak & childish. I’m afraid you don’t love me with reposing confidence — the strongest confidence. Do you, dearest, love me as much as you ever have, with as much trust & respect? Are you as happy in that love as you anticipated at one time?

How do you, Laura, like the place & your prospects — as well as you expected? Are you homesick? How is your health & yours, Matilda? Be careful with yourselves. Has it continued to rain there as much as usual? I suppose you have written me ‘ere this. Anxious to hear from you. My love to the Beechers, Han___, Tylers, Forbes, Worthington Hough &c, &c. Are there any conversions recently?

I am yours, — Wm. Deloss Love


¹ “The Steamer General Harrison was built at Perrysburg, Ohio, in 1840, during the height of the Presidential campaign of that year. Her first trip to Buffalo was heralded long in advance, and when she was sighted the long wharf began to fill with enthusiastic partisans of the old hero, after whom she was named. Several hundreds were soon assembled to greet the steamer and her passengers, who like those on the wharf were composed mostly of Whigs. A miniature log cabin was hoisted to the foretop, while a live raccoon was perched upon the crosstree. As the General Harrison touched the wharf the multitude broke out singing:

I’ve been a loco foco these dozen long years,
Spending my money for rum and strong beers.
But now will lay by my money in store,
Resolved for to play the loco foco no more.”

² “Alexander T. Rankin was born December 4, 1803 in Dandridge, Tennessee and spent his whole childhood there. He graduated from Washington College in Southeastern TN in 1826 and then moved to Ripley, Ohio. While at Ripley, Alexander lived with his brother John, who trained hi, for the Presbyterian ministry. Throughout that same year, John Rankin had become nationally known for his abolitionist views. In October of 1829 Alexander T. Rankin married Mary Merriweather Lowry. Mary Merriweather Lowry was from a family of abolitionists as well. In 1830 Alexander was hired to lead the Presbyterian congregation of Felicity, Clermont County, Ohio. Once settled in there, he became involved in Clermont County abolition activities.

In the mid 1830s, Alexander Rankin made trips to lead worship services, but many believe he visited these sites as he lectured against slavery, introducing himself to the Fort Wayne area, as an abolitionist. In 1837, the Presbyterian congregation at Fort Wayne hired Alexander T. Rankin as their pastor. In 1838 Rankin was one of the first organizers of the Indiana Antislavery Society. By this time, Alexander was gaining a reputation as an abolitionist himself, like his brother John Rankin had established.

In July 1841, Mary Merriweather Rankin died, leaving Alexander to raise their four children alone. Within a week of her death Rankin purchased the site of 818 Lafayette Street, and either constructed the home or moved into the already constructed home. Rankin’s church at the time was adjacent from the home located on 334-336 Berry Street. Rankin’s new home at 818 Lafayette Street was made of both wood and brick. The wood section of the home was figured to be built around 1835 and the brick part around 1841. The side door currently on the home was actually the front door at the time during Rankin’s tenure. Once ARCH had begun to restore the home, they found two plastered up cupboards on both sides of the fireplace mantle. These cupboards could be reached through the crawlspace of the basement.

In 1842, the Fort Wayne Sentinel quoted, “…Our pastor is likewise an abolitionist, strong and ardent in his feelings of opposition to the institution of slavery and bold and independent in the expression of his views on this delicate subject.” Alexander Rankin preached at his Fort Wayne church until 1844; then moved onto New York to continue his preaching career. Rankin’s home at 818 Lafayette Street had been converted into use as the first school for women in Fort Wayne. However, the school teacher, Matilda Wallace, had ties to the abolitionist movement. This indicates that the home was still used by abolitionists until the end of 1844, following in Rankin’s footsteps.”

³ John Bartholomew Gough (1817-1886), “born in England, Gough immigrated to the United States when he was twelve years old. He learned the bookbinder’s trade and later took to the stage. His mother died of a stroke and Gough, despondent, began to drink. He married in 1838. The couple had a daughter but both mother and child died within days of each other. By the age of 25, Gough was unemployed, homeless, and a confirmed drunkard. In 1842 he attended a temperance meeting in Worcester, Massachusetts where he took a pledge to totally abstain from liquor. He began to tell his story to eager audiences and soon embarked on a career of lecturing against the evils of drink. During his career, Gough delivered some 9,600 lectures to more than nine million people in America, Canada, England, Scotland, and Ireland. Gough made three overseas tours and traveled extensively throughout the United States becoming the most sought-after temperance lecturer in the country. When he died in 1886, the New York Times wrote that he was probably better known in this country and in Great Britain than any other public speaker. Mr. Gough was one of this country’s most influential social reformers who helped to solve one of America’s most pressing problems.”


One response to “1844: William Deloss Love to Matilda Longworth Wallace

  • tom taber

    Just found I own an 1847 letter to his future bride from his sister LaVancha. Very depressed after finding tragedies that struck descendents in 1967 air crash (flight 22 Piedmont).

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