This letter was written by Rev. Chauncey Booth (1783-1851), a Congregational clergyman and teacher residing in Coventry, Tolland County, Connecticut. He was the son of Caleb Booth (1751-1830) and Anna Bartlett (1750-1803).
Chauncey wrote the letter on behalf of his niece, Harriet Booth (1826-18xx), the daughter of his brother, Gaius Booth (1785-1855). Harriet’s mother, Clarissa (Dewey) Booth (1785-1845) died in November 1845. Gaius Booth lived in a house that was built about 1725 by Benoni Blodgett, two miles east of the Connecticut River near the Enfield line.
It appears that Harriet Booth, as well as another sister named Selina Booth, did indeed labor as teachers in Farmington, Iowa in the late 1840s and early 1850s, though she is later enumerated, yet unmarried, living with her sister Clarissa (Booth) Treat (1831-18xx) — the third wife of Harris Henry Treat (1818-18xx), a farmer, in East Windsor, Connecticut in the 1880 federal census. It is said that she later married Larned Haskell (1831-1896), the son of Larned Haskell (1800-1848) and Eunice Chapin Dewey (1808-1892) — probably a cousin or second cousin.
Of Selina Booth, Harriet’s sister, the following biography was found:
John W. Newell was married a second time in 1857 to Miss Selina Booth, whose parents were natives of Connecticut. Her mother, who bore the maiden name of Clarissa Dewey, was born near East Windsor, that State, and was married to Mr. Booth at Suffield. The father owned an estate of four hundred acres at East Windsor, where he died when seventy-six years of age. The mother passed away when sixty years old. Their family comprised nine children who lived to manhood and womanhood. Mrs. Newell was reared on the home farm and attended the early schools of the district. At the age of seventeen years she entered Mt. Holyoke Seminary, where she took the regular course. In company with her sister Harriet she went to Iowa in 1845 and taught a select school in Farmington two years. Thence she removed to Toulon, Ill., and organized a select school which was later merged into the Toulon Academy. In 1850 she came to Farmington, this county, and taught in the high school, which was supported through private enterprise. It prospered from the first, and in 1853 Prof. Churchill, of Galesburg, was called as an assistant. He has for the past thirty-six years been connected with Knox College as professor. Mr. Newell made the acquaintance of Miss Selina Booth while teaching at Farmington. She had friends at a ladies’ seminary in Henry, Ill., and being frequently solicited to accept a position as teacher in that institution, she finally accepted the offer and went there in 1854, taking charge of the seminary. At that time there were about one hundred students attending the seminary. Mrs. Newell is a lady of rare intellectual endowments, and is conceded to be one of the most intelligent ladies of this city. She reads extensively and possesses the happy faculty of retaining the information thus obtained. Her reputation as a teacher was extended, and she still keeps informed on all topics of general and local interest.
Rev. Booth wrote the letter to Sarah Tuttle who seems to have been an early-day female champion of education and reform. She wrote books on a variety of causes ranging from Indian Missions (the Arkansas Cherokees) to the American Colonization Society. One of her publications, entitled, “Female Teachers for the West” was written on behalf of the Ladies’ Society for the Promotion of Education at the West. In it, she wrote, “To aid their friends at the West…the women of New England are willing to do all that becomes their sex; and some of them have organized a society in Boston” with the aim “to send to the western states competent female teachers of unquestionable piety belonging to Congregational churches in New England.”
The Ladies’ Society for the Promotion of Education at the West was organized in the Mount Vernon Chapel in Boston on February 4, 1846 and it appears that Sarah Tuttle was a member of that Congregational society.
Addressed to Miss Sarah Tuttle, Boston, Massachusetts
East Windsor, Connecticut
April 26, 1846
I hasten to return an answer to your letter which I took from the [Post] Office yesterday respecting my niece, Miss Harriet Booth of East Windsor. Coventry, my place of residence, is about 20 miles from East Windsor where my niece resides, and upon the receipt of your letter, instead of writing to her, I concluded to ride to East Windsor and have a personal interview. I have known for some two or three years that my niece has been looking at the great western valley as a most promising field of labour for well educated females, and has had her heart very much set upon going into some past of that field as an instructor. I am persuaded that all that Dr. Osgood has said respecting her literary & moral qualifications for such a field of labour is true and that more might be said with truth.
You speak of wishing to engage a teacher for Davenport “capable of teaching the higher branches of mathematics, instrumental music, drawing, ornamental needle work, & also the solid English branches” & that French was added. My niece has had a good deal of experience in teaching French, and is well qualified to teach all the other branches you name with the single exception of instrumental music.
In consequence of present engagements, she would much prefer not to go to the West until September. Still, if there are any urgent reasons why she should go out this Spring rather than next Autumn, she thinks she should be able to effect such an arrangement & would be able to ascertain with certainty very soon after hearing from you again.
The Rev. Shubael Bartlett of East Windor is the Pastor & would be able to answer any enquiries respecting her which you might wish to make.
Should my niece go West this spring, would it be necessary for her to go to Boston? As East Windor where she resides is but 12 miles south of Springfield, why could she not take the cars at Springfield for the West?
The following is her post office address: “Miss Harriet Booth, Ware House Point, Ct.”
You speak of a Miss Goodrich. In relation to her I would say rather confidentially that while her literary qualifications would be entirely satisfactory, the same cannot by any means be said with truth of her religious sentiments & views. While nominally a member of the Congregational Church in East Windsor, she is a Campbellite and besides, I suppose it is quite certain that she would have no disposition to enter upon such a field of labour.
In haste. Very respectfully yours, — Chauncey Booth
As uncle has not quite filled the sheet, I would like to make a few enquiries. You will be very particular (in case I meet the company going out at Springfield) to inform me when they will arrive there. You will not suppose that I am unwilling to go to Boston. I am perfectly so, if necessary.
You will furnish me with all necessary information in regard to the route. Also any in regard to books needed or whether they can be purchased there. I have nearly all that I should want probably. Will it be best to take them out? And does the climate require any different clothing from this? I can furnish all I shall need myself.
I would repeat what uncle has said in relation to waiting until autumn. My mother [Clarissa] died last November & the family arrangements are such that I am needed at home unless some change can be effected. My father (I think) will feel more willing to have me go in September than he is at present.
Yours in the desire of doing good, — Harriet Booth