1847: Albertus Perry to Robert William Adam

What Albertus Perry might have looked like in 1847

This letter was written by attorney Albertus Perry (1824-1907), the son of Asa Perry (1788-18xx) and Philura Aylsworth (1792-1879) of Richmond, Berkshire, Massachusetts. He prepared for college at Lenox Academy and then attended Williams College, graduating in 1845. He then studied law with Judge Spencer in Utica, New York, for two years and was admitted to the bar in 1847. We learn from this letter that Albertus began his law partnership with Congressman Abraham Phineas Grant (1804-1871) in Oswego in December 1847. He later partnered with Marsh & Wright, and then practiced for many years on his own. Albertus married Eliza Grant, the daughter of Judge John Grant of Oswego, in June 1849.

Albertus wrote the letter to his friend Robert William Adam (1825-1911), the son of William and Charlotte (Lawrence) Adam of Canaan, Connecticut. Like Albertus, Robert prepared for college at the Lenox Academy and graduated from Williams College in 1845. During the winter after graduation, Robert taught a district school in Sheffield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. The following spring he entered the law office of Messrs. Rockwell & Colt in Pittsfield where he remained until 1849. During the winter of 1847-8, he attended the Yale Law School which is why this letter was forwarded to New Haven. After being admitted to the bar in 1849, he practiced law in Pittsfield until 1865 and then became treasurer of the Berkshire County Savings Bank. Robert married Sarah P. Brewster (1829-1897) in 1852.

It is interesting that Albertus had a brother named Edward Aylsworth Perry (1831-1889) who moved to Greenville, Alabama, in 1853. When the Civil War erupted in 1861, Edward joined the Confederacy and rose from the rank of private to brigadier general. After the war, he went to Florida, became a prominent lawyer, and in 1884 became the 14th Governor of Florida.

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mr. Robert W. Adam, Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Forwarded to New Haven, Connecticut

Oswego [New York]
December 11th 1847

Dear Robert,

You perceive that I have changed my place of residence — “no pent up Utica contracts my powers.” I arrived in Oswego the day before yesterday and have commenced the performance of the duties of an Attorney &c. Since you have heard from me I have formed a partnership with A. P. Grant, Esqr,, of this place. He is an established lawyer doing a large business and was formerly a member of congress from this district. As yet, I am unable to say how I shall like Oswego though if my business equals my expectations, I shall undoubtedly be contented. You will readily believe that I did not leave Utica without regret. I have resided there for more than two years, have formed many acquaintances, & upon the whole like the place better than any I have ever been in.

In forming the connection I have with Mr. Grant, I regard myself as exceedingly fortunate. I shall be able to make at once a comfortable living. He gives me one third of the proceeds of the business of the office, which he assured me would be worth from $1000 to $1500 per year; that is, my share. Even should I not make more than one thousand or eight hundred, I should be satisfied for two or three years as I am confident that $500 per year will support me as well as I wish to live.

I think this place one of the best locations for a lawyer in the state. The bar of this county is at present exceedingly weak (in two senses) compared with that of Oneida or Onondaga. The business facilities of the village of Oswego are very great. It’s flouring mills already rival those of Rochester both in number & extent. The amount of business in the way of forwarding is immense; a large portion of the commerce of Canada with the states being carried on by Oswego merchants in Oswego vessels. The population of the village (by a census recently made) amounts to about 9,500.

But enough of this. How are you getting on in your legal studies? I am very sorry that we could not have made an arrangement to go into business together either in this or some other place. My present position will probably prove more profitable for the first few years but is not as much in accordance with my wishes as that arrangement would have been.

You must write me soon on the receipt of this, notwithstanding my long delay in answering your last. Return good for evil & thus heap coals of fire on my head. I will not complain of the punishment. If you can read this, I shall be glad. I can hardly do so myself. When you write, give me a detailed account of everything that has taken place in Berkshire for the last six months. You shall hear from me again soon.

Yours affectionately, — Albertus Perry


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