1847: Sarah (Colt) Griswold to Elizabeth (Colt) Seymour

What Sally Griwold might have looked like in 1847

This letter was written by Sarah (“Sally”) Griswold (1778-1857) of Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Sally was married to Diodate Johnson Griswold (1773-1850) though she “found his society uncongenial” due to his “convivial habits” and his indulgence in the “irregularities of life” so she left him and resided in Wilkes-Barre until her death in 1857. Diodate died at the Retreat for the Insane in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1850.

Sally wrote the letter to her sister, Elizabeth (Colt) Seymour (1764-1850), the widow of Zachariah Seymour (1759-1822). Elizabeth was residing in Canandaigua, New York, in the household of her son, Charles Seymour (1799-1867) — President of the Utica Branch Bank and an officer with the Dayton & Rochester Railroad Company.

The correspondents were the daughters of Harris Colt (1731-1797) and Elizabeth Turner (1730-1824) of Lyme, New London County, Connecticut.

The Mexican army surrenders at Veracruz – a scene described by 2d Lt. Arnold Colt Lewis in 1847

Sally mentions a letter received from 19-year-old Arnold Colt Lewis (1827-1861) written in Mexico following the surrender of Veracruz during the Mexican-American War while serving as a Second Lieutenant of the Wyoming Artillery. Arnold was the son of Sharpe Delaney Lewis (1805-18xx) and Mary B. Colt (1803-1850). Arnold survived the Mexican-American War but was killed during the Civil War a few years later when he was shot by a member of his own regiment — Pvt. John Lanehan — who was later brought to trial and hanged. Arnold was Major of Company C, 46th Pennsylvania Regiment.

Sally also mentions the arrival of Mr. & Mrs. Cooper in Wilkes-Barre. This is believed to be Rev. Dr. Charles D. Cooper of Philadelphia who, for several months in 1847, served as rector of St. Stephen’s in Wilkes-Barre. He was not impressed with the “tumble-down village” at the time, however, and soon returned to Philadelphia.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Mrs. Elizabeth Seymour, Care of Charles Seymour, Canandaigua, New York

Wilkes-Barre, [Pennsylvania]
May 2, 1847

My Dear Sister,

I have within the week received with great pleasure Mary’s letter with the blessed assurance that her cough is entirely removed. God grant it may not return for her, and all your sakes. She writes that you are (as you needs must be in the Spring) very feeble. We have had a long, cold, prostrating season. The first of May is upon us, without a blossom upon the trees; not even on the Limeberae — commonly called shad blossoms — a circumstance I never remembered before in my life. It would be difficult in our street to find one person that would say they were wuite well. Most of them were sick in the Fall, and the Winter has not been — or rather the Spring, I should say — of a kind to restore them. For myself, I am suffering with one of the most stubborn cough and colds I ever had for more than 5 weeks. I take the usual remedies without effect, for the best reason in the world — that I am daily adding anew by exposure to the cold winds. Tis out of the question for me to shut myself up without one to get me a glass of cold water.

Harry has gone to the City. I have some hope that he will bring Emily Ashburner back with him. Though in truth, I can do little for her, but she will not care for that. I so long to see some one I care to ____ and love, that I think we can get on with plain fare. Though gardening and cleaning house, with this sad cold upon me, has made me miserable enough.

I have a letter from Arnold Lewis on the table by me (he writes often) to his Father. They — that is Henry Bean and he — has seen the bright side of campaigning. Their first effort was at Vera Cruz. “He says our regiment for the active part it took it the matter was present at the surrender, and the evacuation of the Mexican soldiers. It was a sight, Father, that I would not have missed for all the comforts of long, much loved home during the few months I have been in Mexico. The Mexicans marched out upon the plain (about 6,000) I should think to the time of their own music, stacked their arms, laid down every military article in their possession, and passed out in the direction of Alvarado.” The boys found Harris Colt in General Worth’s command. He had not heard from him for a long time and supposed he was among the slain.

May 9. Please say to Cousin Charles, with my best love to himself and family, that his favor [dated] 27 March was received in due time. I lost no time in paying my respects to Mr. & Mrs. Cooper and found them all that you describe, or rather he, I should say. I must say I think that they will find themselves out of place in Wilkes-Barre. I have heard that he has a handsome property. If so, it but adds to my amazement that he should come to this place to spend money. They have taken board at the F. Hotel at $16 a week. The income of the Church will not meet that so they must spend money.

Has Do White and the _____s gone to Philadelphia? If so, they will surely go and come this way.

My best love to all, — Sarah Griswold

May 9th, 1846

My Dear Aunt,

I arrived last evening and am reveling in the sweets of Aunt Griswold’s flowers [and] enjoying her kind hospitality. She requests me to add a line to her letter which I readily take the liberty of doing. I am sorry to say she looks very poorly, has a bad cough, as some other old lady with grandchildren told her that she had it. I fear you hardly will recollect me, dear Aunt. It is so long since you have seen or heard anything about our family, but I retain a lively recollection of yourself and family and am very sorry circumstances should have rendered any communication out of the question. I am separated from all my family, almost beyond their sympathy. I hear from my sisters some times. They were all well when I last heard. I am very sorry to hear that you are not in good health. Hope the balmy airs of Spring will restore you.

I left my husband and children (a son and daughter) in good health. We reside in Chester County in a secluded little place called New London where it would give me great pleasure to see yourself or any of the family.

With much affection, dear aunt. I remain yours, — Emily L. Ashburner


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