1846: Lucy (Bates) Smith to Eunice Judd (Smith) Wilcox

How Lucy (Bates) Smith might have looked

This letter was written by Lucy (Bates) Smith (1803-1890) to her daughter, Eunice Judd (Smith) Wilcox (1825-1902), the wife of Henry Hamilton Wilcox (1822-1896). Eunice and Henry were married on 29 October 1845. Henry’s parents were Austin Wilcox (1779-1856) and Clarissa Nettleton (1794-1829). Henry was a farmer in Genesee County, New York until 1843 at which time he relocated to Adrian, Michigan, where he went into the hardware business with his brother.

The Lenawee County [Michigan] HIstorical Society houses a bible that belonged to Lillian Wilcox — a daughter of Eunice and Henry Wilcox.  It contains the names of the children of Hervey Smith and Lucy Bates, who were married on 25 November 1824. Eunice’s siblings were: Lucy Ann, Eveleen (“Evy”), Cathareine (“Cate”), John, George, Marian, Jerome, and Gertrude.

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mrs. Eunice J. Wilcox, Bergen, Genesee County, New York

[Northampton, Massachusetts]
Saturday Eve, February 7th [1846]

Dear Eunice,

You say that a letter from Mother would be more desirable than from all the world. It is with pleasure I hasten to gratify your wish as I am left with only the children, for your Father and Mr. Faber have gone to Northampton to hear the learned blacksmith ¹ lecture on peace this (Saturday) evening.

Now I suppose you would like to know all the gossip and news of the day in this region. As to the former, I know but little. I hear that Amanda and Sammy have dissolved partnership. Likewise, Martha and N. Lyman, but I cannot vouch for the truth of the report. Amanda had a reading circle last Tuesday evening. Merwin called for Lucy. He wanted to know if I had seen that man recently who hated to beg so deftly. He said that he and you had had many a laugh right before his face about itm but he was so dull he could not take the hint.

Your Uncle Nelson broke his leg just below the knee last week. He and Father were chopping down trees. Father went to the house and left Nelson chopping. The tree lodged [and] Nelson though he could push it off a limb. [It] fell and broke his leg. He crawled out on the mowing lot and when Father went back, he was smoking his pipe.

Emerson and Sarah went to father’s the other day. They said he was getting along very well. Father and Mother were here about three weeks ago. Mother says, “Lucy, don’t you feel old to think that you have got to be a Grandmother?” Ha ha. What a queer idea that for an old woman.

I must say a few words about our school. It is my opinion we have a first rate school teacher. She has called here but once. I liked her appearance very much but she don’t take with the young people at all. She is too pious and old maidish. The scholars don’t lover her in the least just as I knew it would be if we had a stranger for a teacher. Milo’s children can’t bear her. Our children don’t say anything about her at home. And as far as I can judge from their appearance, they are improving very well. Lucy and Cate have got as far as cubic root in their arithmetic. Evy can’t keep upi with Cate. Faber says Cate is as good in figures as any child of her age he ever saw. Faber appears to be very much interested in their learning. He shows Evy and Cate almost every evening how to do their sums and goes on with a long explanation for fear they will not understand all about it. He is very pleasant and kind to us all, He has had a cousin, Dr. Faber ² from Charleston, here this winter. I wish you could have seen him. He is a perfect gentleman — so polite it would shame us common people out of what little politeness we have. He has spent several years in Europe [and] can speak six or seven different languages. It was very interesting to hear him tell of the different places he had seen — especially Herculaneum and Pompei.

Mr. Bennett visits us often. He is rather an interesting man. He is here tonight to spend the Sabbath as that is the only time he has as he is a teacher of the German language.

February 14. Saturday Eve. Thus far had I written when the men came home from the lecture. I did not think another week would elapse before I should finish my letter so you can huge by this how much time I have to write. The girls all go to school but Gertrude. She stays at home to help me and fine help she is too. She says Henry must fetch Eunice back again anyhow. She don’t like Henry at all because he carried you away. If we ask her if she wants to see you, she says it is not Eunice now. It is Henry Wilcox. She thinks you are transformed into Henry now. Mary says tell Eunice if she will come and see us, we will go and see her. Lucy says tell Eunice I want to see her very much indeed. She says she wants those eleven compositions you promised her. Evy says she will come and wash dishes for you. Cate says she will come and turn the grindstone for Henry.

I must just let you into the secret of what your Father and Mr. Faber are going to do this spring. They are going to build them a shop. Faber said if your Father would build one, he would go half the expense. They are getting their timber together so as to commence operations as soon as spring opens. Faber has engaged board here for next summer. He pays 4 dollars per week and extra when he has company.

You have probably heard of the death of Mr. John Street. He died very suddenly. I attended the funeral. It was the most solemn funeral I ever attended. Mr. Miller’s sermon from this text, “Man goeth to his long home and the mourners go about the streets” was very solemn and impressive — one of his best efforts. I thinkI never saw so much feeling manifested on any funeral occasion. I don’t think of any other death of your acquaintance.

Amanda has been to Haydenville this week [and] returned today via the railroad. She just dropped in a minute. Says they are all well at Uncle Bagg’s. Cousin Fanny is in the street. Amanda Lyman has another son. Cousin Susan was here last Tuesday. Aunt Samantha was down and staid all the week. Mr. Brown was here a few weeks ago. He said he should be very glad to see Molly Gray. He should love to laugh at her about getting married. Fanny says that it is Pliny Billings that is courting Harriet Cutter and Mr. Brown is courting a Miss Strong.

I know you will say I would not give one cent for such a letter as this. She has not written one word about what they are all doing in the street. Good reason why — I do not know. I have hardly been into a neighbor’s  house this winter. I have been over to Uncle ____ and Uncle Araph’s one evening each and that is all. Give my love to Henry. Tell him I shan’t square accounts with him for taking you off last fall unless he lets you come home once a year for three years.

Give my respects to Father and Mother Wilson, Mrs. Elyers, and Mrs. Wright in particular, and to all other friends. Tell Uncle K and Aunt S to come down this spring. Grandmother Smith is at Uncle Cyrus’ and is very well. Now do write as soon as you get this and tell me how you get along, what you have got to kep house with, and all what everybody is doing. — Mother


¹ Lucy is referring to Elihu Burritt (1810-1879). Elihu Burritt was largely self-educated and studied languages at night. He became known as the “Learned Blacksmith,” and was offered opportunities to speak in public. Burritt joined the American Peace Society in 1843, and soon gained recognition as one of the leading peace advocates in the United States. In 1846, Burritt traveled to England to found the League of Universal Brotherhood. Burritt served as the American consular agent there from 1865 to 1869. Burritt died in New Britain, Connecticut on March 6, 1879.

² This may have been Dr. John C. Faber (1810-Aft1880) who graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1828 and became a professor of languages. In the 1840’s, Dr. Faber kept an academy for boys in Charleston. In 1868, Dr. Faber joined the faculty at the University of South Carolina. He was a resident of Charleston in the 1880 Census. His father was born in Wurttemburg, Germany, and was at the time of his death in 1818 the president of the U.S. branch bank in Charleston. Dr. Faber was considered a man of “high character and scholarship.”


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