Letters from Samuel Welsh to His Sister, 1859

The following letter is one I have delayed transcribing, partly because three pages of it were written over an earlier letter. That is, presumably because writing paper was scarce or expensive, the writer of this letter wrote some parts of it over earlier parts, writing the new parts in lines perpendicular to the old ones. This, not surprisingly, makes the letter unusually difficult to decipher, though fortunately the handwriting is unusually clear and the letter is in excellent condition.

I think the letter was written by Samuel Welsh, born 1843, died 1893. He and his sister Anna were children of John Welsh, my great-great-grandfather, the father of Alice Welsh Strawbridge. I don’t have a birth date for Anna Welsh; I believe she died in 1914. She married J. Somers Smith.

Samuel Welsh married twice, to Elizabeth Conrad and Helen Johnston. In this letter, Samuel says that he is traveling with Osgood. I don’t know exactly who that was, perhaps a cousin. Samuel had an Uncle Osgood Welsh, but I believe that Osgood lived only from 1801 to 1818. The text of the letter, as well as I could make it out, begins directly below.

Zurich, Aug. 28th, /59

My dear Sister

Well here we are at a beautiful place which with out a doubt you have often heard of, Zurich. Last night we slept at Fluden at the end of the Lac Des quatre cantons and this morning took the Steamer at 8 1/2 for Lucerne, we were all more or less disappointed with the lake having heard always before that it was the finest lake in Switzerland. It is a very pretty lake indeed but so are all the lakes I ever saw.

We staid at Lucerne 2 1/2 hours, just time enough to see the leading things, one of which is one of the finest things I ever saw. You have heard of it no doubt, it is the Lion cut in a solid rock by some great artist, whose name at present I cannot recall. It is truly magnificent, and also its situation which adds a great deal to it. The rock is perhaps 70 feet high at the foot of which is a small pond, around are very pretty clusters of trees. They are not planted there by man but all by nature. But indeed if I was to undertake to describe the scene with my poor descriptive powers I should only make a “mess” (word used by the english) of it, & so all I can say is I only wish you had been here to enjoy it with me.

After having seen that and one or two churches we repaired to a Restaurant, where we took a french breakfast (a young Dinner). Then walking to La Grande we hopped into the cars for Zurich which was reported to take 5 hours. It was very true with one half an hour more added on to it. This evening we had a very fine display of fire works on the lake at Zurich in honour of some Russian princess. But my gracious if every hotel keeper should give a party or fireworks to every Russian prince or princess that came to his hotel I do not think his house would pay him very well, for really all the Russian travellers that one meets with are princesses or have been before being turned out of there country for stealing or some such “petty larceny.” But never mind that, the fire works were very fine indeed.

Well my dear sister do you not think it is very strange Mr. Stiller or Cousine Sophie have not written to us or some such thing so as to give us some idea of there movements & were we will meet them. I have written to Mr. S, and have as yet received no answer to it but hope to find one on our return to Lucerne [?] tomorrow waiting for us, also our American letters for the last 3 weeks which we have not as yet received.

When we were at Milan we met Mr. & Mrs. Kuhn of whom I have spoken before, so on Thursday last we started in company with them for Como and the lake of the same name, near the town of Como and in fact and it is the scene of some of Garibaldi’s struggles (He has left his old troops and has gone to Florence and there about to raise his new army of which he has now about 20,000 men.). We saw all his old troops parading on the plains there; it was a very pretty sight indeed.

The lake at Como is the most beautiful lake I have ever seen; all the rest think the same thing. But Mr. Whittaker says that this must be in this evening as the post is open just til 10 o’clock and so I will hurry and say a few words more and then say Adieu.

Were you ever at Milano, if so have you ever seen the Cathedral there, the most magnificent specimen of art I believe in the world, I was up to the tip top of the steeple.

Osgood says I must fold my letter up now so I must say good bye until an other time.

Give a great deal of love to father and all the dear ones at home and keep a great deal of love for yourself from yr ever aff Brother,

Samuel Welsh, Jr.

Monday Morning, Aug. 29th /59

Tell Willie I will answer his letter very soon I am very glad to hear that his goat go so well. I don’t know whether John has told you or not of our meeting with the Sturgeses. It was very pleasant indeed and they are very nice people. But otherwise we have met with no one that we know. We start this morning at 10 o’clock for Thoune & I shall be very glad indeed to be there once more. We expect a small carriage full of letters. When at Milan we saw the original picture of The Last Supper; it is a most magnificent work but now it is very much destroyed, for once the troops made the place where it is into a stable and cut away part of the picture underneath but never the less it is quite distinct. I send you a description of it. Uncle Wm I believe has an engraving of it in his house if I am not mistaken.

Hotel Baumgarten

Thoune   September 4th, 1859


My Dear Sister

I have just come from church having been there with Mr. –, John, Osgood & Cousin Sophie. But of course you want to know how we met them and all about it.

Coming from Church to home last Monday at one of the stations here we changed cars, who should we meet but he & Miss Biddle [?] who were going to Thoune to see if Osgood was still there, so we — — & traveled together & arrived at Thoune 3 o’clock p.m. same day. Where to our great pleasure we found waiting for us a great quantity of letters. Also card from Cousin Sophie telling us how near they were to us &c. One was from — saying on Monday they started for Fribourg expecting to be at Berne on Tuesday & to see us at Thoune Wednesday so as we arrived here Monday afternoon I made up my mind at once to go to Berne the next day to try and find them & bring them here so as to have more time to spend in their company. (We find out what it is to have cousins & co. at present after being more than 1 year by yourself. I think one gets tired of ones self very easy. Dit-moi si c’est vrai ou non?) so I went to all the hotels in Berne to see if they were there but finding they were not there I came back to Thoune to try y luck the next day in going to the Depot every time a train came in from Berne but it was “no go” for it was raining hard nearly all the day, so the next morning they came just when we did not expect them but never the less I was none the less glad to see them. So after all the kissing was got through I had so many hundred questions to ask them all of which were answered by Cousin Sophie so kindly & it was something so new [to] me. (Too John & Osgood will never take the trouble to go into any detail to relate anything to me & now I am so used to it now that I actually did not expect it from Cousin Sophie. But I was very agreeably disappointed; she told me every thing I asked about Eddie so kindly to but I have hundred of more things to ask her but I do not like to give too much trouble. About the — that of Johns I do think so sweet it is you over & over again / the one with out the bonnet — I have the one with it) with mine I am very well content also but I do not think it so good as John’s.

I have the red slippers for which I thank you over and over again. Tomorrow we leave Thoune for Paris as Cousin Sophie & all are going to Interlaken and we shall meet them in Paris in the month of October so that will be delightful. Also I think it is likely we shall meet Mr. — there also, who I have so often spoken of in my letters. How is grandfather & Grandmother (Has Aunty not received my letters.) Give a great deal of love to them all. Also to father’s Lillie Willie. Thank Lillie & Millie for their last letters & the Little childrens & keep a great deal for yourself from yr aff Brother

Sam’l Welsh, Jr.