1826: Elizabeth (Cromwell) Armour to Richard Cromwell, Jr.

This letter was written by Elizabeth (Cromwell) Armour (1802-1845) to her brother, Richard Cromwell, Jr.. They were both the children of Richard Cromwell (b. 1751) but I believe they had different mothers. Richard was born about 1777 while his father was married to Elizabeth Waters (1759-1794). Elizabeth was born in 1802 after her father had married Mary Owings (in 1800).  In her letter, Elizabeth mentions siblings Anna, Urath, and Frances.

Elizabeth married William Armour (1801-1860) in 1825. After marriage, they came to Jackson, Tennessee where Armour became a merchant (see bio below). The letter provides a wonderful glimpse of life in rural Tennessee in the 1820s where even a bear was kept as a family pet.

[Note: For another letter written from Elizabeth in 1829 to her brother Robert, click here. And for one written in 1828, click here.]

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[Addressed to Mr. Richard Cromwell, Jr., with Messrs. Hoffman Bend & Co., North Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland]

Jackson [Tennessee]
July 9th 1826

Dear Richard,

The gentleman who hands you this is Mr. Reynolds — a respectable carpenter who has been at work on our house. He is leaving Jackson for fear of sickness with which he has suffered severely for the last two seasons. He passes through Baltimore and has offered to take a letter from me and call to see you and answer any enquiries you may feel disposed to make concerning us. We are all well now.

George went this morning to Gibson port [now Trenton TN] — a small town 25 miles from here where Mr. Armour has established a small store. He has gone to let the young man who attends it come here to see his friends. He will stay only a few days. He was so crazy to go that Mr. Armour was obliged to let him go. He improves every day in his manners, is much more affectionate than he used to be, and talks a good deal about the accademy girls. And they praise his beauty and blush when they see him or hear his name mentioned. He only talks about them but runs clear off when they come in the store.

He has a young bear, which he calls the bar to plague George Smith. George Smith and our George are in partnership. A man brought the bear here for the boys. George Smith was fully under the impression that it was a present. When they went out to tye him, George Cromwell asked the man the price. He said three dollars and a half. They could say nothing after thanking him so often for bringing him and had to pay it down. George Smith was out of all patience with George Cromwell for asking the price and thinks the man intended it for a present until he met such a temptation and almost resolved to dissolve the partnership the price was [so] unreasonable.

The boys sent 7 dollars to [New] Orleans by R. Lake. He bought a bag of coat buttons for 2.50 which they have sold for 5 dollars cash, and eleven white feather fans for 4 1/2 dollars — 4 of which they sold have sold at 1 dollar a piece. They think they are making money. Mr. Lake has 20 dollars to lay out for them in Baltimore.

You would go into transports if you could see your little nephew. He is a sweet little fellow, improving every day. They all say he is the image of young Mr. Cromwell. The whooping cough is all over Jackson. I am afraid he will get it. He is middling troublesome all day but sleeps all night.

We have had a spell of very hot weather lately and thunderstorms every two or three evenings, but they do not cool the air. Mr. Reynolds will tell you any thing about our building you may want to know. It will not be worthwhile to take him to see the girls. He might be a little like Ellis Thomas, however, he is a very clever respectable man.

Ann gives me the most agreeable account of you and John. You have no idea, or rather you must know how much it gratifies us to hear that you are so clever. Your younger brothers, my dear Richard, will ever be obliged to you for the example you have set them. I hope, dear brother, you are very respectful and affectionate to Mama, and consider how many sacrifices she has made for the health and advantage of her children. When I think how lonesome she must be and how bereaved she must feel at having all her children away, it makes my heart ache. When she comes to town, you ought to endeavor to make her time pass as peasantly as possible and enter into any of her schemes and notions. If it had not been for her, you would never have been fixed as comfortably as you are.

I long to see you all. I pine to see you. I want to show John to you but I begin to doubt whether I shall be gratified this fall. Mr. Lake will be so late returning that it will be too dangerous to travel with John. Mr. Armour will put off his business in Baltimore till the spring if he can and I think we ought to stay here this fall to see to the finishing off of the house, yard, garden, planting trees &c. but cannot tell how it will be till Mr. Lake comes home.

Tell Frances and John to write to us. Urath is very negligent [about writing]. Ann is the stand by — give me her after all. I am very lonesome and always fretting because Mr. Armour will not stay more with me. He is with me as much as possible — never leaves the house except with me. But I have no woman to talk to and enter into my plans for housekeeping and sewing. We are constantly wishing for one or two of the girls. The married ladies here fairly quarrel for the young girls to keep them company. George Smith says he wishes Mr. Lake would bring one of our girls out with him. The boys tell me that Andrew has fallen in love with Mrs. Bradford’s girl that staid here and nursed John a month and wants to marry her. He has not mentioned it to us yet. She is an excellent girl. We are perplexed about it a little. He does not wish to come home, likes Jackson. He is very useful and obiedient.

Write to me frequently. Your letters are always very welcome. George is going to write every day. My love to all in Conway H. and over the river. Tell Ellen I could eat her without pepper and salt if I had hold of her. Mr. Armour sends his love. He has just caught two fleas — one in each hand. He is dreadfully tormented with them. He changes two or three times a day to get them off.

I am your affectionate sister, — E. Armour


Elizabeth Cromwell was christened 24 Jan 1802 in St. James Prot., Episcopal Ch., Baltimore, Maryland. She was the daughter of Richard Cromwell and Mary Owings. She married William Armour 18 May 1825 in Anne Arundel Co., Assoc. Ref. Ch., Baltimore, Maryland.

Wm. Armour was one of the most prominent merchants of Jackson in her early history. He was senior member of the firm of Armour, Lake & Co. This firm did an extensive business till it went down in the financial crash of 1838-39. The business house of Armour, Lake & Co. stood where the extensive establishment of Robinson & Botts now stands.

Nearly all business houses from 1820 to 1850 were general stores. Dry goods, groceries, hardware, etc., were all kept by each merchant. The leading business men from 1820 to 1840 were Armor & Lake, Armor, Lake & Co, …

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