1845: Luther Melancthon Schaeffer to Ann Rebecca Late

A First Edition copy of Schaeffer’s Book

This letter was written by Luther M. Schaeffer (1821-1870), the son of David Frederick Schaeffer (1787-1837) and Elizabeth Krebs (1790-1837). Luther wrote the letter to his future wife, Ann Rebecca Late (1826-1906), the daughter of Michael Late (1787-1827) and Maria Hoff (1792-1870). The couple were not married until February 1853. Between the time of this letter and his marriage, Luther spent three years in California (1849-1852) during which time he contributed sketches to a religious newspaper under the pen name “Quartz.” The sketches provide descriptions of mining conditions on the Feather River, Deer Creek, and at Grass Valley. Additionally, it contains his commentary on social patterns of the area, the creation of local governments, and legal disputes in the society. The collection of sketches were later published under the title: Sketches of Travels in South America, Mexico and California. New York: J. Egbert, 1860.

Stampless Letter

TRANSCRIPTION

Addressed to Miss Ann Rebecca Late, Frederick City, Maryland

Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]
December 1st 1845

My dearest, loveliest, and most valued friend,

Page 1

On Friday last, I had the pleasure of receiving your extremely brief letter, which as you well surmised, relieved me of intense anxiety, for alone and without suitable protection I saw you seated in a car about to separate from me and travel in a dark hour of night over the meanest and worst conducted road in the country. Surely then I much have grown intensely anxious of you. The cars moved on, time passed away, and dark night came, and I — a dejected and miserable man in the city of Baltimore — and who otherwise had not a friend, whom I have sworn by ever honorable sentiment to love, cherish, protect, and keep only unto, left me? Was I not deprived at once and probably for a long time of her sweet companionship and lovely conversation? Oh Anna, it seemed as though part of my flesh, part of my bone, were severed from me, when I saw you pass from my sight. And how different would have been your journey to Frederick had I been permitted to have accompanied you. Those tedious and unhappy moments which you endured on the road would have been agreeable and joyful. The very fact of sitting together would have been a pleasure; but so it was.

To have gone to Philadelphia that night would have been unwise, for apart from the loss of ___ it would have occasioned. I would have arrived to early in the city for all purposes, so thereafter I concluded to remain with friend Lewis during the evening. Nothing of the slightest moment occurred in Baltimore worth to be told you. At nine o’clock the following morning, your own true lover was seated in a car for Philadelphia. Soon the shrill locomotive whistle was heard and away we went to the city of brotherly love. With ease and safety the trip was accomplished, and having no baggage to attend to, a very short time elapsed ere I was at 18 South Second Street at which I found brother William, evidently improved in health. He is is now in the city of Baltimore. Not being as yet in the possession of any letter from him, I of course cannot inform you of his circumstances.

Page 2

You are doubtless curious about the leisure time I spend and would like to be advised constantly of it. I will with pleasure now give you a brief account of the manner in which I have employed my leisure hours since you left me. My first evening for recreation was spent most of the time with William; afterwards with my usual readings. The second evening for recreation, I attended Solus — the Walnut Street Theatre ¹ — to witness, as I told you I would, M’lle [Madamoiselle] Augusta ² tripping upon the light fantastic too! It is really surprising to see how such a person whose only talent is in dancing and showing her inexpressibles! can fill a large theatre with beauty and fashion! For once in a long while, as many others doubtless did, I took a seat in the Pit. I had an excellent view of everything going on and so many almost nude women I have never before seen.

What a contrast to the following Sunday. In the morning I attended the Presbyterian Church [on] Seventh Street near Arch, and listened to a highly interesting discourse relating chiefly to the Presbyterian Church in America. The Rev. Gentleman, among other things, discussed at length about the Theological Seminary at Princeton — which needed funds. This he deplored since the Institution was the glory and pride of the church. Its alumni were preaching God’s holy precepts in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Savannah, Norfolk, New Orleans, Mobile, St. Louis, Louisville, &c. &c. and in heathen lands — in all countries. That fourteen hundred graduated from the institution whose professors were not only celebrated for their learning and piety in this country, but throughout Europe. The Reverend Gentleman earnestly called upon the church to sustain the seminary to which they might point with pride and joy.

In the afternoon I attended the Episcopal Church — St. Luke’s, 13th Street — where I heard the organ discourse the sweetest notes and where only it so elegantly played upon. The Reverend Mr. [William W.] Spear, a particular favorite of mine, delivered a sermon on …. yes …. on … I fell asleep!

Page 3

At night I attended the Unitarian Church — 10th & Locust. Rev. Mr. [William Henry] Furness, Pastor — the church we attended you recollect. But Oh Anna, how different were my feelings. How changed the scene then, and when we were there. The same unequalled ringing, the same minister, the same aisle we sat together on, but my own beloved one was not there! No, I was alone. I was melancholy. I had been walking much, through rain and snow. My feet were damp. I felt chilled. I wrapt tight about me my overcoat. Still I continued cold. You were not there! The same eloquent divine preached, but strange I felt, and soon discovered that my head was acting as a pendulum and that I had been like at the 13th Street Church, more engaged with somnus than with the preacher!

After service was over, I immediately directed my course to the store, as soon as possible was snugly sleeping in bed, dreaming of sunday things — and of you Anna particularly. I was sorry to learn your mother had not enjoyed good health. I sincerely hope she is now fully recovered and will live to a good old age and that her life may be happy, prosperous, and undisturbed by any painful event. My sincere love is tendered to her.
In conclusion Anna, let me hope for a speedy and lengthy written letter. Speak to me as your heart feels. Surely you will not be diffident towards me for whom you _____ only propitious circumstances and proper time to link us forever as one, and for whom you are now as I am to you — one. May health, happiness, and the blessings of Heaven forever be with you.
I subscribe as usual, your dearest, your own one, — Luther M. Schaeffer
FOOTNOTES

The Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia

¹ The Walnut Street Theater still exists in Philadelphia, standing at the corner of Ninth and Walnut Streets. The following history is provided by the theater management:

“When the theatre opened its doors on February 2, 1809, the pounding of hooves mingled with the shrieks of delight from the crowd as teams of horses circled a dirt riding ring. A few years later, an 80-foot dome was added to the theatre, making it the tallest structure in Philadelphia at that time. The theatre’s career as an equestrian circus did not last long, however, and by 1812 the building had been converted to a legitimate theatre, featuring a real stage where the ring had stood. The Walnut’s first theatrical production, The Rivals, had President Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in attendance on opening night.

In 1820, Edwin Forrest, a young Philadelphian who would have a profound impact on American drama, made his professional debut on the Walnut stage at age 14. In 1828 John Haviland, the most prominent architect of his day, designed major renovations to the interior and exterior of the building. The present façade is based on his original design.

A lithograph of Madamoiselle Augusta dancing in the 1830s.

Walnut Street Theatre is home to many firsts in the American theater scene. In 1837, the Walnut was the first theatre to install gas footlights, and in 1855, the Walnut became the first theatre to install air conditioning. The first copyright law protecting American plays had its roots at the Walnut. The curtain call, now a tradition in every theatre, started at the Walnut with the post-play appearance of noted 19th Century actor Edmund Kean.

In 1863, the theatre was purchased by Edwin Booth, a son of one of the most famous theatrical families of the day. Unfortunately, fame would soon turn to notoriety for Booth when his brother John Wilkes Booth assassinated the President at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. Edwin Booth, with his business partner and brother-in-law, John Sleeper Clark, managed to hold on to the Walnut in those dark days and go on to guide it for many years.”

² A notice in the 15 October 1845 Daily Atlas says that among the passengers in the Great Britain, from Liverpool for New York, “Madame St. James (formerly Mademoiselle Augusta) the celebrated danseuse, and Madame Otto [Goldschmidt], the charming vocalist.”  “Madame Otto” was Jenny Lind’s real name. “Madame St. James” was Caroline Augusta Josephine Therese Fuchs, Comtesse de Saint-James (1806-1891). She retired from the stage in 1853.

Luther M. Schaeffer’s Grave Marker


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