Letter from John Strawbridge to Reverend Green, September 1, 1793

This letter comes from the archives at the Lorenzo historical site in Cazenovia, New York. The first paragraph below is the description added by the historians at Lorenzo; the text of the letter follows, as transcribed at Lorenzo, with spelling and punctuation left as they transcribed it:

This is a copy of a letter to Revd. Green from John Strawbridge, with a post script from his brother, James Strawbridge (John was father to Jane S. Ledyard). John died nine days later of yellow fever, on 16th of September.
Peel Hall Septr 1st 1793
Revd. Sir

I left the City last night with an intention of not returning again unless something pressing should induce me to alter my resolution. I have hitherto continued to return daily there. though business is so much at a stand as hardly to require attention & I have been sufficiently alarmed from the first appearance of the prevailing calamity, believing that deadly poison was wafted on every breeze, and a great number of thoughtless vain creatures have been hurried away by this calamity which as far as I have learned generally brings death with more than usual horror, for its effects are so generally known that dispair of recovery attends most of those who are taken – the Church bell has ceased to toll for sometime & it remains daily to be inquired in each neighborhood who has been removed the preceeding day. Still there are some places a considerable distance where little of its effects have yet appeared.

As I do not intend to forward that letter until monday next I shall not at present close it but reply to your esteemd favr which my last letter acknowledged the receipt of – by this I see that you have been no less observant of the dealings of heaven with you than heretofore & have experienced a continuance of that peculiar watchfullness & direction which you have heretofore known, so that you have just done what you were compelled to do- in the present instance I witness’d this, The call from Princeton to your old neighborhood is a continuance of providential interference & care singular indeed & worthy your attention. You may with the psalmish sing – my shepherd is the living Lord and it is safe walking where the path is so clearly pointed out – your influenza was severe & had you come into contact with the infection the probability is that in your bad habit you would have caught the disorder, a severe illness was the best you could have hoped for, perhaps a cutting short of that life which heaven has spared in mercy to your people, that you may yet warn every man if heaven smiles when humbled mortals weep. Who knows but the soil may be prepared in some instances on your return to this place – grief more proficents in thy school arc made than science or proud learning ere could boast. my wishes that you should not return here was natural, at present I am less solicitous, my text quoted for Mrs.Green in my last letter ought to have had more influence on my own heart, it is only by believing that any of us shall see the Glory of God, & all who believe will most assuredly. I will in future be less anxious about your return, believing that the God you worship now will guide you till you die. I will, however,drop you a line every few days, as you are concerned about those who remain here. I will leave room at the close of my letter to note any information I may obtain, if spared until monday morning. & at present request that my family & self may still occupy a place in your esteem & share in your prayers – a thought occurs while I am entreating you to remember us in your addresses, I did not instantly remember that I had as high priest an advocate whom the father heareth always, who is touched with a feeling of my infirmities. I will attempt to bring my offering to him, still I recollect that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much & still request your assistance, that I may also know with you how good it is to draw near to God – of which I have not had any doubt a long time, but have not experienced the Joy, which you have, in this precious exercise. Doctr Hutchison, who I believe I mentd [mentioned] in a former letter of his having the prevailing malady, is dead. several of the Physicians are still poorly _______ Saturday night late _______ having wrote thus far, I concluded on closing my letter on Monday morning, but as I may not be in the city seasonably enough & if there shall be as little with acquaintance as possible I have concluded on adding a few words more at present & close my letter for the present. My old landlord called on me again for share of this house late in the [evening?] – by him I learned a certainty of the melancholy truth, which I before believed, that the destroyer is on his way. oh that the posts of our doors were sprinkled – that we might be spared, not only from the destruction of noonday, but be safe in the day of the Lord. The disorder continues to brakout in spots. The foot of the messenger who carries it is not discerned. This day two more of the physicians are taken ill. the names of those of the faculty who are sick with this complaint, that I have heard, are Kuhn, Wistar, Dorsey, McIlwaine, Duffield ______ & Tate & Hutchison, who is dead. How many others I know not, as I have not been in the City near forty-eight hours. yes, I forgot, Doctr. Carson, who of your Congregation, may be ill, I really do not know – a Mr. Nash was ill one or two days ago. the mayor has tryed to collect i instances to get any to either make a coffin or assist at interments. The African Society have offered their assistance & will, I hope, be serviceable. this otherways unfortunate class of people are, it is said, free from the effects of this disorder. ln the countenances of the people there appears a concern, & in many, a seeming seriousness. Oh, if it was to produce a general acknowledgement the Lord God omnipotent reigneth & looking to him. He who is spared Ninevah, would also spare Philadelphia. But it is not this City alone that is infected, him who gave the commission has now extensive work to accomplish. It is wonderful to think [as?] how short a time it should find its way into so many houses in the City but it is now in some places to my knowledge calling it’s victims more than 30 miles from this place & is appearing in many places. I suppose people caught the infection here & might not be so ill as to prevent their returning home. This visitation may be to many such as old Eles thereís no doubt it will make both the ears of many who hear it to tingle ~ has already cut off root & branch of some familys. Oh it is terrible meeting with God in judgement. I am free to acknowledge that. I believe many of your friends are not so much alarmed as I am, perhaps few are. However, my apprehensions may be awakened. I have not knowingly exaggerated & anything stated as facts are true – with respect to the light I saw them in. I have, without reserve, expressed the thoughts as they occurred perhaps I would have been more guarded in writing to most of my friends. altho I have once more opened the doors to my old landlord, I am not happy at the prospect of the intercourse which it may, & I suppose it will, occasion & though I have no thought of attempting to flee from Jehovahs presence, yet I may possibly determine once removal of my family some distance. On this subject I have not only now but heretofore been concerned & have made up my mind much on Christian duty from the fourteenth Chapter of Exodus& fifteenth verse your opinion of this passage I must [?]__, for until I have the pleasure of seeing you, which I hope may be Tomorrow that blessed day of rest, your flock will no doubt have your frequent remembrances. Many of them will be mourning in secret & without an agreeable comforter. while you are publishing the Glad tidings of salvation to others – may it be a day of Joy where you are, may you be strengthened to carry to the hearts of your bearers the precious invitation. [Tho?] every one that thirsteth come ye to the waters. Happy they whose [loins] are girded & whose lamps are trimmed & who are waiting continue to entreat your master that we all may be found clothed with the robes of his righteousness. I have insensibly gone a length in writing, which you deserve not, & I did not intend it will oblige you to pay [double?] justice for much less than one short word contain of the information you desired. I am not, however, so much concerned for trespassing on your patience as to offer an apology -devoting the mind to such a train of thought may benefit myself. all my family continue in health & hope this may find yours restored. If you have leisure I will be glad to read another letter ______
I am very respectfully Revd. Sir
Yr Mst. Ob. Sevt.
John Strawbridge

Sept. 10th my brother is now down with the complaint which prevails in the city and appears in a very dangerous situation. James Strawbridge

Sunday evening – this afternoon Mr. Byron came out to this place. Doctr. Sproat preached in the forenoon to a very small audience. no service in the afternoon – I think Tuesday the congregation meet at the church for prayer. No one of my family have been in town today. Mr. Byron mentions the names of several persons who died last night and this morning, who I had not before heard were sick. Doctr. Morse(?) & Wm. Whiteside & some others I suppose you are unacquainted with – this morning about four o’clock a fire broke out in the back buildings of Andrew Kennedy Tallow Chandler 2nd [?] all of which were consumed & some of the adjoining buildings were injured. the falling of a wall killed one man & injured several others & it is now feared some children & a woman perished in the flames. All the information I have given you is very affecting for me to detail & I doubt not will excite all your sympathy – I proposed tacking a small piece of news paper which you will see, I have been told & I believe it is true that in the potter’s field twelve coffins have at one time lay unburied. I remain J.S_____
Letter to Revd. Doctr. Green
now at Princeton