This letter was written to Charles Chauncey Dwight (1830-1902) of Richmond, Massachusetts, the son of Congregationalist minister, Rev. Edwin Welles Dwight (1789-1841), and Mary Sherrill (1801-1839). When both of his parents died while he was still a child, Charles was raised by his mother’s older brother, an Ithaca lawyer by the name of Augustus Sherrill (1789-1853) and his wife, Clarissa (Whiton) Sherrill (1791-1854) — the author of this letter. Clarissa’s parents were John Whiton (1763-1827) and Mary Griswold (1764-1848). The Sherrill’s had only one child of their own — Mary Sherrill. She married (1836) Hezekiah C. Seymour, an engineer who performed the survey for laying the railroad from Owego to Ithaca.
Charles C. Dwight entered Williams College, at Williamson, Massachusetts, at age 16, and graduated in 1850. He studied for the law, and was admitted to the Bar in N.Y., first practicing in Coshocton, Ohio, and then, because of ill health, returned to NY, and practiced in Auburn, NY. He became a Judge in Auburn in 1859, but in 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War, he took off the judicial robes, and put on the Union blue, serving as Captain in the 75th Regiment, New York Volunteers, and Colonel of the 160th N.Y. Vols. He also served as a Provost Judge in New Orleans, was an eminent NY jurist, and served on the N.Y. Supreme Court for 31 years, retiring in 1901.
Ithaca [New York]
September 23d 1850
I received your kind letter a few days since and intended to have answered it immediately but have waited hoping i might write to you the exact amount of what is still owing to you from Lisle. Husband has not had time to examine particularly but thinks it is not far from 30 dollars. It is not due until the first of January but your Uncle says if it will be an accommodation to you, he will advance the money for you.
I feel thankful that you have got through with your College course, because I think you have acquired that which no reverse of fortune (if your health is spared to you) can take away. I have no doubt that the sundering the ties which have bound you to your Classmates and the officers of the College is a great trial, but thus it is in this life. All, all is change. O, for a sure portion in that blessed world ‘where they shall go no more out’, and where every blessing is Eternal. I feel that the God of your parents, who is a covenant keeping God, has thus far in life taken care of you. I had hoped ere this, that you would have been brought to yield your heart and all your powers and acquirements to the service of that God who is your parents’ God, and so deserving your love.
Does it not seem strange that we should have been so near several times and not known it? We had a very pleasant visit with Henry at Piermont and I wrote to him after he left inviting you to visit us at Piermont as I did not know where to direct to you. I afterwards heard that he was probably in Berkshire County when I wrote, and suppose you did not get your invitation. I sent by him 2 shirts for you which had been made more than a year. Had you not better come and spend a while with us before you go South? We should be very glad to have you in you think it will do for you.
Your Uncle’s health has been more than usually feeble ever since last winter, but I think since our journey rather better. He attends to business, walks his usual rounds about the village, to the P.O., Market, &c., but seldom goes out in the evening. Josephine has spent the summer here and when we returned, we brought Clara and little Henry — Mary’s youngest boy – so you see we generally keep some family about us. Mary has now 7 children, and a good deal of care with her large family, out doors and in all devolves on her as her husband is so much absent. I think if you conclude not to come here, you could stop on your way south at Piermont and make a little visit. Brother Franklin’s family lives there, and lovely people they are. The girls continue the same business for the R.R. their father did, which gives a handsome support. They are very sweet girls, and much beloved, and Mary would be very glad to see you at their house.
There are a good many changes in Ithaca since you left, but I could not begin to tell you – you must come and see. You can now come from Piermont after breakfast, and arrive here before tea, for 6, or at the most, 7 dollars. Should you come here, your best way would be to go from here to N. York on your way south by the N.York & Erie R.R., as it would be cheaper and more expeditious. I saw by the paper that your Aunt Fanny was on the cars at the time of that terrible accident. What a mercy that she was spared.
Remember us kindly to our old friends at Stockbridge — especially sister Persy, your Aunt Fanny, and Mrs. Dewey. I wish you would write again soon and tell us your plans. we do want to see you very much and shall always take a deep interest in your welfare.
Brother Doct. Ingersoll from Illinois has been here on a visit this summer in fine spirits, and both he and sister appear to enjoy living there with their children and grandchildren. The last heard from Edward, he was in good health, digging in the mines, averaging 16 dollars per day. How much it took of it to live, I do not know, and I fancy it will take a good while to make up all it has cost.
Adieu, dear Charles.
Your affectionate aunt, — C. W. Sherrill