1818: Samuel Painter to Cynthia (Painter) Collins

Grave of Samuel Painter

This letter was written by Samuel Painter (1797-1845) to his sister Cynthia (Painter) Collins (1791-1880), the wife of Simeon Collins (1786-1866) of Westfield, Massachusetts. Samuel and Cynthia Painter were the children of Thomas Painter (1760-1847) and Hannah Candee (1761-1830). Thomas Painter was a sea captain/merchant who fought in the American Revolution and was twice held by the British on board the infamous prison-ship “Jersey.”

Simeon Collins was a merchant in Westfield, Massachusetts but later moved to Philadelphia where he helped set up two of his sons in the emerging daguerreian business.

In the letter, Samuel appeals to his sister to find him a wife whom she thinks their mother Hannah would like. Ironically, Samuel eventually married a woman named Hannah Maria White.

Samuel Painter is buried in West Haven Green Cemetery in West Haven, New Haven, Connecticut. His sister Cynthia (Painter) Collins is also buried there.

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TRANSCRIPTION

[Addressed to Mrs. Cynthia Collins, Westfield, Massachusetts]

New Haven [Connecticut]
August 28th 1818

Sister Cynthia,

I am at home today with mother. We are alone. Harriot has gone to New Haven, and Sidney to raking hay. I came upstairs to amuse myself by looking over my old letters. I have just laid my hand on one from you dated “Westfield, December 2nd 1816” [in which] you begged thus; “Will you not write a  few lines and tell me whether you have quite forgotten me? It would afford me much pleasure once more to receive a letter from you.” Now whether I ever answered this letter or not, I don’t remember, but for fear I never did, and in compliance with the promise I made when I last saw you, I will do it now. I am now determined to fill this sheet with nonsense before I rise from my chair, for if you continued of the same opinion now that you were when you wrote the above, my letter will be acceptable.

And first, as it respects village news, I must refer you to Harriot’s letter (for she told me some days since she was writing you). She will probably give you a list of marriages, births, deaths, or whatever else she may think proper. The most important piece of information I can give you at present is this. Sam’l Painter of the Town & County of New Haven doth hereby give you to understand that between this and the 20th day of September next, he will knock on your front door, and if you say “come in,” I shall there appear before you “as large as life.” I have, after careful deliberating on the subject three weeks, come to this determination: I will make my sister a visit this fall!!! Seeing that this is my determination, you will necessarily perceive that it is your duty to “set your house in order” and be in readiness to receive me. I should prefer deferring my visit until your exhibition but I can’t, as Sidney tells me it does not take place before November, and at that time I shall be otherwise engaged.

Sunday evening. Notwithstanding I said “I would not rise from my chair,” yet owing to my ideas not flowing fast enough, or for some other reason which I cannot now remember, I did and left my letter unfinished, and perhaps it was all for the best for I can now (and will with your leave) make you acquainted with Miss Mary Penham — a cousin of yours, who has come down from Tower Hill for the benefit of her health. She is a beautiful girl only 22 years old. She will weigh not over 160 nor under 150. the truth will lie between — certainly 155. You may think strange of me for being so particular in her weight, but with me I can assure you it is one of the best criterions I can have to judge by. In short, if you only tell me the weight of a girl, I am acquainted with her at once. I will describe her still further as you probably never saw her, nor is it very likely you ever will. To proceed, she has a beautiful pair of black eyes, a nose and mouth calculated to answer every purpose for which they were intended, her skin handsome, a little of the brunette which you know is a family mark. To conclude, there is a great degree of expression in her countenance — such kind expression as there is in yours when you smell something disagreeable. She intends staying with us three weeks and making us a friendly visit!!! Nail sacred friendship!! the thirsty soul that travels the sandy deserts of Arabia could be happy with a known, tried friend. Tis thou thrice sweet and gracious Friendship that smooths the rugged road of life… Doctor Young says, Without a friend, the world is but a wilderness.” Now tis not likely Doctor Young ever had a friend that would stick by for three weeks upon a stretch. I he had, he could never have found words to express his exalted ideas of Friendship. If I come and see you, you must when you get tired of my company read this part of my letter to me.

I have no wish to be married this three years, yet could you find me a girl that would like “Hannah and Hannah would like them” I would thank you to make her and sit her one side of me, for I should like to be courting about 4 years, as I have always understood that the time of courtship was the pleasantest part of a person’s life. Whether that is the case or not, I shall expect you to inform me when I see you as you have experienced, read, talked, and thot more on this subject that I have you will be capable of giving me an information I may ask.

Give my best respects to Mr. C. and love to daughter Ann and as much as you please for yourself,

Yours, — Sam’l Painter

FOOTNOTES
  • Without friends the world is but a wilderness. There is no man that imparteth his joys to his friends, but he joyeth the more; and no man that imparteth his grieves to his friend, but he grieveth the less. — Francis Bacon
  • I cannot find a Mary Penham, born @ 1798 in Ancestry.com though Samuel claims her a cousin.
  • Thomas Painter was 16 when he fought at the battles of Long Island and White Plains. While serving on a privateer, he was captured but escaped and was with Bradley’s Artillery at the New Haven Alarm.

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