This letter was written by Elizabeth (Sherer) Elder (1795-1860), the widow of Robert Elder (1791-1827). Elizabeth was the daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Sherer. Robert was the son of David Elder (1764-1834) and Ann Nesbit (1771-1854).
Mrs. Elder wrote the letter to her daughter Annie Elder (1829-1879) who had recently become the second wife of Pennsylvania congressman John Ferguson (1807-1886) of Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. John’s first wife, Nancy Adams (1807-1843), left him three children: Amanda Jane Ferguson (1834-1914), Daniel W. Ferguson (1837-1917), and Rev. William Adams Ferguson (1838-1939).
Elizabeth also mentions her son, Joshua Nesbit Elder (18xx-1874).
Elizabeth’s sister, Juliana (“Julia”) Sherer (1799-1879) is mentioned in the letter. She was married in 1825 to David Elder, of Indiana County, Pennsylvania.
Addressed to Mr. John Ferguson, Mt. Jackson, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania
Swatare [Swatara Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania]
December 3rd 1849
My dear Ann,
It was with great pleasure we received the very welcome letters you sent us. We were much pleased indeed to hear of your favorable journey and of the kind reception you met with from your new friends, that you had arrived home safely, and were in good health and spirits. Twas a great satisfaction to us all.
We received a letter from [your brother] Joshua yesterday. He tells us of your welfare and of his visiting around there. I was sorry to hear that cousin Joseph Sherer had been unfortunate at a raising. Perhaps he has recovered by this time. My Joshua is pleased with the place you live in. He has formed a number of very pleasant acquaintances there which he will be sorry to leave. I have thought a great deal about his parting with you there but he has a great number of friends where he is going to and I have no doubt he will form new acquaintances there.
I suppose by this time you may think it strange that you have found so many friends who a short time ago were strangers. It was very gratifying to us all to hear how much you are pleased with your daughter and sons (I suppose we may call them so now) as I know you thought a great deal about them. I must ask Mr. Ferguson how you perform your part but I suppose when you commence housekeeping you both will be able to tell us more about it.
We were at Paxtang Church yesterday. There were a great many inquiring for you. We all seem to miss you and Joshua there. Mr. Jordan has prepared your certificate which I send you. I hope you may be as comfortable in the church you are recommended to as you were in the one you have left. You know there is a great deal depending on ourselves to be comfortable in any situation. I wish to know how you are pleased with your minister, to what Presbytery he belongs, and the names of your church session. Describe to me if you can where you sit in the church. When you write, let me know how your brother Joshua left you. Did he appear to be in as good spirits as you could expect? I often think what a blessing to suit the situations he has prepared for us in this world.
I suppose sister Julia was expecting you, and withal would be surprised to see you. Does she appear much older than when you last saw her? Has your uncle changed much on account of the rheumatism he was afflicted with? Do they say anything about coming to see us? Have you heard of cousins Cochrans or M’Clure since you left us? I would like to hear from them.
Remember me in much affection to cousins Sherer [and] to old Mr. and Mrs. Adams. My Joshua informs me of Mrs. M’Crery and Mrs. Edgers being sister to cousin Joseph Sherer. If so, remember me to them. Although I have never been acquainted with them, I will ever cherish a friendship for my dear old Father’s relatives wherever I may hear of them. We join in sending much love to you all.
Your ever affectionate mother, — Elizabeth Elder
We have an idea that you should receive no blank paper in letters sent from here partly because we all like to have a talk at you, and partly because we want to set you the example on that score.
Esther Cox was married on Thanksgiving Day to Mr. [Joseph E.] Piolett. ¹ The ceremony was performed in the church after morning services were over. There were but a very fe present, none but the family and a few others. Margaret Hamilton and Bell Todd. They had a large party in the evening tho’. Did not go out of the connexion, however. That is very large you know. Martha Orth was there.
The Dr. brought old Mrs. Kerr and little Mary O. out here on Saturday morning and came for her again in the evening. Mother and she had a great day of it. We had the Mrs. Fox to call on Friday afternoon. They came over to the farm and got Mrs. B____l to come down with them. We had cousin Ann Elder and “Thomas, Junior” spending the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving Day. She, of course, made very particular inquiries respecting you, and was quite sorry she said that she could not have come down the day before your wedding to see your “affairs.” Don’t you feel sorry!
On Thanksgiving Day, Mr. Mitchell and Thomas and James Jordan were here to dinner. Mr. Mitchell has been writing the Lord’s Prayer within a gold dollar, and Minnie and I have been trying to get ahead of him. We have written it within my “E” letter stamp, and now Mr. Mitchell tells us he has it within the circle of one of those gold affairs that the gentlemen wear in their shirt bosoms, and that is about the size we have it, but suppose he will have it smaller one of these days for he is so terribly spunky.
A most “rousing” piece of poetry came out in the last telegraph addressed to “Lilla” — meaning Lillie M’Clure, for she has her [calling] cards printed, “”Lilla M’Clure.” The poetry refers to the report of her approaching marriage to Lew. Shroeder and the end of every line is “Sweet Lilla, we implore thee stay.” or something very much like it. The worst of it is no one knows by whom it was written. Lillie has just returned from Philadelphia.
John Elder’s remains were not brought up to M. as I supposed they would be in one of my letters. I have heard since that he was buried in that lot he spoke to us of having bought in the Philadelphia City Cemetery and Sarah, his aunts M’Cibbon and Stowe, and uncle Elisha, together with John Stowe went down and he was buried on Tuesday.
When you write, tell me all about cousin Jim’s being engaged to that lady in Indiana County, how you found out, and if his old folks know of it. I won’t tell who told me for the world, but I intend to have some fun about it. I must just give a hint or so to Aunt Nancy as tho’ I had heard of it in some other direction. It is too good to keep and I owe them one for having reported me at one time.
Give my love to Mr. Ferguson and the youngsters, not forgetting yourself. Ever yours, — Lizzie Elder
It falls to my lot to finish this letter and it is well there is not much room left for I suppose Aunt and Lizzie have told you all the news and left me nothing to write. I have been in town [Harrisburg] for nearly two weeks and have just heard of your safe arrival at your new home. Aunt requests me to tell you Eliza Barnet sends her love. I received a letter from Mother. She and Audie wish to be remembered to you. Give my respects to Mr. Ferguson and your daughter and accept my love for yourself. Yours cousin, — Verna
¹ We learn from this letter that Joseph E. Piolett (1819-1894), the son of Joseph-Marie Piolett (1773-1850) and Elizabeth Whitney (1786-1840), was marred to Esther Amelia Cox in the Paxtang Presbyterian Church on Thanksgiving Day, 1849. Esther was the daughter of John Bowes Cox (b. 1817) of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.