Letter to Dr. Charles P. Livingston - August 25, 1826
Typed & bound mss, in Dr. Thoms's collection.
Copy of an original letter.
Letter written by Henry Livingston, to his son, Dr. Charles P. Livingston at Painesville, Ohio.
An example of some of Henry Livingston's personal characteristics (his dislike for politics, his
family affection, interest in farming) and containing local news items. Note trend to move west.
Poughkeepsie August 25, 1826.
Dear, Dearest! Son!
I have delayed too long in answering your
interesting letters, I ingenuously confess. The languor of old age,
I think, must be the apology: It cannot be laziness, for I never was lazy It certainly
cannot be want of affection, for, Heaven is my witness that I love you dearly.
Your last of 22d ult. came to hand the 2d instant. The sunshine which irradiated this & Eliza's letter
reflected its gleam on all our faces. Go on, my boy, and prosper. You have industry and talent and
hintegrity and if heaven blesses you with health and protracted existence honors and wealth will follow.
In due time you will form an item in your state legislature. To this I have no great objection.
But beware of Congress: never consent to go there, except your fortune becomes tip-top-i-cal. While
in active business you can never afford to spend half your time in Washington.
Fighting shadows with a vengeance, my good Father, perhaps you will exclaim and perhaps exclaim
justly. I finish. I am much pleased with your Grand-river country because you say that you are
pleased with it. From your opinion, I have long been sensible, it is not safe to appeal.
Others have heard tidings in its favor and enquire. I conversed 2 evening since with my neighbor,
Balthus Freer, on this subject & he appeared to wish to be informed of the price of land at different
distances from Grand river harbor; of land entirely new, as of land partially cultivated He has money &, I believe, wishes for information.
If your prices are no t too topping. I should not be surprised if old Dutchess shall pour some of her surplusesages
into Granger. Say something encouraging about your harbor at the mouth of G. river. Is it now tolerable?
Will it probably be soon convenient? Will it ever be excellent?
The facilities of the Hudson have spoiled our people. Marine advantages are among the first enquiries of
our speculative emigrants. As our Hudson is now carried to Buffalo & Buffalo is in your neighborhood,
these enquiries cannot be wondered at. When the great national highway becomes compleated from the Hudson
to Erie, one more avenue will be opened into your vicinity. This ensuing winter it is hoped and
believed the measure will be carried. There is soon to be a meeting of delegates from, say, a dozen
counties at Delhi, to confer on this subject.
You, who have been domesticated in so many different parts of the American world, may be tolerably
pleased with almost any situation, but that Eliza should be pleased with her novel abode is
gratifying to us. From the whole tenor of her letters and yours I am led to believe that
Paynesville is a pretty desirable place.
Our spring drought was severe. with difficulty our corn ground was plowed & we planted. The dryness
continued & at length we abandoned all hope of a corn crop. At length, however, the rain descended in
copious showers and every green thing felt its genial influence. Indian corn particularly showed its influence.
In two words, our corn is called one of the best in the vicinity & bids fair to shoot up above mediocrity.
The clover field (opposite Mr. Allen) was much parched; we mowed it
early & had not more than 6 or 7 indifferent loads of hay. We immediately replaster'd it & in about a fortnight
shall try it a second time. The 2d culling promises to be far superior to the first. Our flax is pull'd
and houses: -- crop, so so. The oats in the meadow will be, say, 40 bushels. Wheat, ab't 130 bushels.
Low meadows rather better than usual. Potatoes everywhere promise well. Garden does well.
On the 20th of May Pennsylvania dropped Sidney a horse colt, which is admired by many & approved by all.
Will be a dark brown, perhaps black; two white hind stockings & a star; moves elegantly & is quite large
enough. In fact it is a fine animal.
The first time I go to town I will give your address to Mr. Barnum,* who unquestionably will gladly forward
his Observer. It may operate as an opening wedge for his paper into your quarter of the country.
It is generally pretty healthy here, altho there has been a few cases of choler. The Sages(?) children
at the upper house have had it but I believe have recovered. Their mother, too, had an attack but has
recovered. At the lower house all is well. In the village, the illness of Walter Cunningham has created
some interest. It seems he had been complaining some weeks since, but now within a few days past has become quite
delirious and requires constant attendance. Within a few weeks past a Presbyterian congregation has been
formed here & the foundation for a house for worship laid in Cannon street to the west of and adjoining the
Academy. A Mr. Walton is the minister, -- say, 30; rather small but good looking; -- preaches, it is
said, quite well. Was born at Canojoharie; staid a short period at Hamilton College in Oneida County; travell'd for his
health into Virginia & there married a daughter of a certain Judge Snyder (formerly speaker of their
house of burgesses). This Mr. W., his wife and child of 8 months are now in the village at board. Until the new
temple is ready he officiates in the court house. We have recently had a 5 days visit from my Grandson (of 53),
his wife, formerly Susan Breese, & their little son, Edward Carpenter Stout. He is an excellent & sensible man,
she very clever, & the child fine and robust. They reside in Waterford.
Edwin has had an attack of cholera at the Valley, altho not violent. He is here now (Sunday the 6th). Is there
an opening in Granger? If so quickly tell.
You mention the name of Peter Tiebou. That man is most necessary to us at this time. After his return from
Canada he hired here for one year at $4 a month, say, to the middle of next May.
I now, on Monday morning the 7th of August, seal this letter, carry it myself to the post office & will speak to Mr. Barnum.
Your mamma, myself, sisters, brothers & all, send to dear Eliza and yourself loves and affections in
Your ever affectionate parentH. Livingston.
* Charles P. Barnum, one of the owners of a Poughkeepsie newspaper.
Mary S. Van Deusen:
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