The following letter was written by Jane Strawbridge Ledyard, who wrote a much longer letter to her daughter about their family history in 1852. The recipient of the letter, John, lived from 1780 to 1858; he lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was a successful merchant. A brief biography of John Strawbridge appears elsewhere on this site.
Cazenovia Sept’r. 20th 1854
My dear brother
After a pleasant summer and much occupation from company (all young except aunt Fanny) we are beginning to settle down quietly and are reminded by high winds and chilly nights to prepare for winter. At my age, after a very active life, and with increasing deafness, retirement is very grateful, but I find it difficult to secure this enjoyment — my children require my presence on all occasions at home, I take part in all that is going on and am about as busy a body as I ever was. I suppose it is best so, and I am thankful for the ability to contribute to the comfort and happiness of my family. Mr. L. has excellent health is very active in his habits, but rarely now leaves home having been absent but one night in 18 months.
We learn to-day from a letter from Paulina to Clarissa that Sarah Strawbridge has gone home on account of her father having had a return of chills and fever. This she threatened to do in a late letter to us. I am glad she has gone — she is devoted to her father and seemed very uneasy when here. Fanny will remain to see her sister who leaves Newport next Tuesday. It seems Mrs. V. is quite comfortable, but her disease unchanged.
I had a few lines from Anne last evening and was very glad to learn that your large family circle were all well. She must be delightfully situated. From her description her establishment must be everything that could be desired. Thank her for her kind invitation for us all to visit her this fall in her pleasant new home. We would enjoy seeing her and partaking of her hospitality, but at present there is no prospect of any one of our household going to Philad’a tho’ it may be possible, but not for me.
Henry Ten Eyck has just taken possession of his father’s house,– after altering and making many improvements and in part new furnishing. It is now very complete and handsome, he has a pretty wife, but no children. Mrs. Litchfield has 3. We do so miss our old friends, Mr. and Mrs. T. E. and their daughter. Mr. Williams’ family is entirely broken up here — One daughter a widow and rich remained, but she is now an inmate of the Utica Lunatic Asylum and the only single daughter declining in consumption.
Mr. and Mrs. Stebbins live quietly and happily with their two sons. Their daughters are well married. Our village improves in appearance tho’ not in society — nor is there as much business done as was transacted 8 or 10 years since. Everything comes from N.Y.– and everything is monopolized by the metropolis, so that we can hardly get a turkey for Thanksgiving or eggs for a pudding. Every body travels and all get their outfits in the city. Of course our mechanics suffer. Our sons are all industrious and steady, Lincklaen relieves his father in the office. Bert is a sort of clerk there — Denise manages the farm and never comes over empty handed and G– is at the factory. This last concern at present, is only kept going by economy and good management, as there is no demand for domestic goods. They have made money and hope for better times. Their farm and buildings, etc., etc., are very neat and complete, a son of Mr. Stebbins and Mr. Williams’ eldest son are partners with G. It is very pleasant having Denise so near us. He and his wife seem very happy and well suited to each other, and their little 7 months old Jane is a lovely infant. Little Helen Lincklaen is 9 years old to-day.
I believe I have given you all the details of our little circle except to name my Helen who is a comfort and refreshment to us all.
Your children seem alll to be prosperous and your grandchildren promising and I rejoice my dear brother to learn that they render you every affectionate attention and endeavour to make you as comfortable as possible. In this respect we hardly realize how blessed we are, for I suppose ill conduct in a child causes much grief to a parent, as we have never known. For yourself, I am pained that you are so much of an invalid, but most thankful that you are sustained in a calm submissive state of mind, a condition uch to be desired at all times but especially under the infirmities of age. I pray that you may continue to be thus supported — and will endeavour myself to cultivate a similar disposition and avoid yielding to irritation and complainings — for I, tho’ active and useful feel daily admonished that I am an old woman, that I ought to be weening myself from the world and its vanities; at the same I hope to enjoy to my last hour all that God has given me of mercies and blessings. My love of Nature increases, and I am so situated that there is a great deal to please the eye and taste spread out before me — all my children enjoy these pleasures and this doubles mine and is an everchanging source of interest and pleasure. I have written a long letter but hope it may not weary you, if it does not I will write again. Please remember me to your whole family great and small as their affectionate Aunt and your attached
Mr. L. desires to be kindly remembered.-
Our aged relative Major Forman now in his 87th year, went to Jersey last summer to attend the celebration of the battle of Monmouth — he has sold his place near Syracuse for a handsome sum and is now living in the city with his daughter. He always enquires after your welfare.
Mr. Del Prat was here last week and had a great deal to say of yourself and family. He looks very well.
[NOTES: Mr. L. was Jane’s husband, Jonathan Denise Ledyard. Clarissa was the wife of Lincklaen Ledyard and the sister of Horatio Seymour, the Governor of New York. The Anne mentioned in the letter may have been the daughter of John Strawbridge, the recipient of this letter. Lincklaen, Bert, Denise, and George all were sons of Jane and Jonathan Ledyard. Denise and his wife, Elizabeth Fitz-hugh, died by drowning when they leaped from the burning steamer Montreal in the St. Lawrence River. Their daughter Jane, who was 7 months old at the time of this letter, died within a year or two of birth. Jane Strawbridge Ledyard died February 4, 1855, just a few months after writing this letter.]