1849: Lizzie Wright to Mary White

What Lizzie Wright might have looked like in 1849

Few clues exist in this letter to aid in the identification of either Lizzie Wright, the author of this letter, or Mary White, to whom it was addressed. From the content of the letter, we learn that Lizzie Wright is spending the winter at her home in Columbia, Tolland County, Connecticut, after having spent the previous summer (1848) residing in Colchester, New London, Connecticut, where she made the acquaintance with Mary White. The reason for Lizzie’s residence in Colchester is not revealed, but it seems unlikely she was attending school. Rather, it appears that she found employment there with other young women. It is a conjecture on my part, but I think it likely that Lizzie was one among many young men and women who were recruited from the surrounding counties to work at the Hayward India Rubber Company that was established in 1847.

When James S. Griffing, a Wesleyan University student, visited Colchester in December 1847, he wrote that “the building of an India Rubber Factory has brought among [the people of Colchester] a great many young people, many of whom are religiously disposed.” See “Gathered into the fold of Christ.”

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Miss Mary White, Colchester, Connecticut

Columbia [Connecticut]
January 30th 1849

Dear Friend Mary,

With pleasure I find time this morning to address a few lines to you by way of reminding you that though I am now at my own loved home in Columbia among my friends and surrounded by old acquaintances, that I have not forgotten the new acquaintances which I have formed in Colchester — particularly the sisters, among which you know I reckon you Mary.  Yes, I often think of the many pleasant hours we have spent together as well as some few sad moments we used to experience now and then = as was impossible to be sad but few moments at once.

Page 1

I have heard by way of Harriet Fuller, although I did not see her, ably as she passed by her sisters, that you and Almira are boarding at Mr. Foote’s and that you like them so I think they are pleasant people. I hope so certainly as we do like to be treated kindly when we mean to do right, do we not Mary. I heard some other news but not half what I would liked to have heard. I have been home two months and more. We have had good sleighing and I looked in vain for you and Almira. The weather was very cold and the roads were drifted bad some part of the time, I know. But then we had some pleasant days and I felt as though you would come as Almira gave me such a good promise that she should certainly come. And I had anticipated so much pleasure in receiving a visit from you but have thus far been doomed to disappointment. Oh Mary, if you had only known  what a nice dish of consarves and spice cake a pound cake made after Hannah recipe. It might have been some inducement for you to come. But never mind. You will come yet, will you not? I am a little encouraged in thinking you have and have had an idea of coming as I have heard since Harriet return back that you told her you intended coming the week she was home. I did not know it then, but was looking for you almost as much as the rest. The winter has not passed yet and as I have no doubt you jave some good excuse for not coming then, I will pardon you for once if you will come soon. Now do come for you do not know how much I want to see you and Almira.

Page 2

Lucina goes to school this very steady. Do not see her as often as I would be glad to. Intended to have seen her before writing you. Whenever we meet, we speak of Colchester and our old counsellor and faithful friend Mary, and the rest of the girls. Perhaps you would like to know how I have employed myself since I have been home. I have visited some, played some, and been about various kinds of work such as sewing, knitting, and some housework. Have made me one new winter dress and have another to make. Not a changeable silk by a great sight, but a light blue Delaim. Have a new shawl with a green ground work and you will say it is handsome, I know you will, when you see it. I mean that it does very well for me. I do not tell you this because I felt so proud about having new clothes, you know Mary, but because I wanted to tell you all the news just as I used to do. I do not know more to write about myself — only that my health has been very good this winter and am endeavoring to get ready to return to Colchester the first of April. I can write you but little news that will interest you but I think as you are somewhat acquainted with Mrs. Palmer’s courtship and her intended, it will do no harm for me to say I have heard the wedding suits are made and have been more than a week. The publishment was not read last Sabbath so I may venture down this week. Presume she would tell me all if I should see her as she is very free-hearted, you know.

Page 3

Some of our neighbors, Henry’s sister Caroline, was married a few weeks since and going to Maine. She was 40. Her husband in 60s. So do not despair, Mary, but hope on hope ever. This reminds me that I have attended one wedding this winter. Mr. Dwight Loomis’ on Thanksgiving. Is Almira near you while you are reading this letter. If so, I think Henry’s name must have reminded her of former laughs for surely it does me, and of that mourning shawl. I knew it was wicked thus to make fun about and know it still. Yet I cannot help laughing whenever I think of it. Henry very much needs a wife now so I think I shall send him along yet Almira and let you see him if Mrs. Palmer doesn’t think he has so good mind as Johnny Horn. I should like to happen unexpectedly in your a Almira’s room after your work is finished at shop. You would be glad to see me, wouldn’t you? I understand Hannah is in Colchester again. Supposed she was going to school this winter. Should like to see her very much & do the girls sing songs as much in the shop as they did last fall, or has Olive forgotten her parasol and Susannah ceased her song, eat up her buckwheat cake, and gone to the south. Have you heard from Nancy Palmer since she left the shop? Should like to hear from her and Sarah Kingsley. And is Amanda Taylor married? I feel as though I have written more now than you have had patience to read but you must pardon me for  doing no better and answer this immediately. Write all the news and give my love to all the girls — particularly Hannah and Harriet. Tell Harriet I am much obliged to her for her call. Respects to Mr. Hughes. Tell him him Lou and I are expecting to keep our board at the shop the first of April.

Mary, you can read this [to] Almira and tell her where I have said you I have usually meant both of you. Was disappointed at not seeing Almira again before I left. Have looked for a letter from her as she thought she would write and tell when she found a new boarding place. Tell the girls write soon and I will close this by wishing a long life, joy, and contentment. From your affectionate friend, — Lizzie Wright


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