1830: Henry Gregory to Elizabeth Gregory

This letter was written by Henry Gregory (1803-1869), the son of Matthew Fitch Gregory (1778-1869) and Nancy Seymour (1781-1858). It was directed to his grandparents, Elias Gregory (1750-1842) and Elizabeth Raymond (1760-1846).

Henry graduated from Geneva College (later called Hobart College) in Geneva, New York in 1826 – the first class to graduate. He married Elizabeth Post on 10 September 1830, some eight months after this letter was written. He went to a very successful career as a missionary and a rector in the Episcopal Church (see biography in footnotes).

[Note: A History on the Campus Buildings at Hobart claims that Harris House was built in 1827 by Miss Catherine Post who kept it as a college boarding house. It also says that “she married Henry Gregory of the first class that graduated from Hobart.” This conflicts with family genealogy records that say his wife was Elizabeth Post. More research needed here.]

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[Addressed to Mrs. Elizabeth Gregory, Wilton, Fairfield Co., Connecticut]

Fayetteville, North Carolina
January 14, 1830

My Dear Grandparents,

I believe it is a long time since I have written to you or since I have heard from you. That I have not written oftener is not, I assure you, because I have forgotten you. But, roving and unsettled, and occupied as I have been, something has occurred to induce me to defer a little and a little longer.

In my last letter which was written from home, sometime I think in October last, I intimated that there was a probability of my seeking a southern clime this winter. You will not, therefore, be taken by surprise when you see that I write this in North Carolina about nine hundred miles from Auburn. I left home in the latter part of October, in a one-horse waggon, and the first place at which I made any considerable stay was Baltimore in Maryland. There I spent a fortnight, engaged as Agent of our Sunday School Union. After visiting several other places in Maryland, I came to Washington and spent a Lord’s day in that interesting city.

I next visited Richmond, the capitol of Virginia, where I had an opportunity of seeing Judge Marshall, the Chief Justice of the United States, Ex-President Madison, and many other distinguished men. I was there about the middle of December and there for the first time I saw oranges growing upon the trees.

From Virginia I came into this State in which I have been about three weeks, engaged in the business of my mission at different places. The country here is very different from that at the North and a traveller merely passing through it would suppose it to be a poor, dreary country. The soil is mostly sandy, the timber principally pine, and the lower part of the country level, but the people are kind, hospitable, and except the lower classes, live in comfort, and often in affluence. The climate is a mild one, but full of frequent and sudden change. The first two days of this month were very pleasant, the air pure and serene, and he ground warm and dry. No snow has fallen here [yet] and though there has been frost and some freezing weather, it lasts but a short time and again becomes mild and warm. Yesterday was so cold as to freeze a little ice; today is warm and it rains.

My health has to all human appearance been gradually improving, and I am now quite hearty, but whether it is a substantial and permanent improvement, time must determine. If God preserve me, I intend to go on to Charleston and afterwards return gradually to the North. I hope to see my friends again in the month of April or May. I have heard from home once. All were well as late as the 19th of December.

From you I have heard nothing since I saw you last June. I hope to see you yet again, if God spare us. If we do not meet again in this world, O may we meet in Heaven, and if we do, may it be nearer Heaven. The things of time and of sense, how fast, how soon do they pass away, but it is a comforting reflection that the transitory nature of all sublunary things shows in a stronger light the unchangeableness of those things that are Divine and eternal. Our days soon pass away and are ended, but God is still the same, and his years shall not fail. O Eternity! how vast, — how fathomless thy mysterious sound upon a mortal ear! O Father of Mercies, grant us grace to make our calling and election sure, that when time shall cease, our eternity may be an eternity of happy peace, and ______ly love in thy presence.

My prayers, dear Grandparents, are for you. I desire an affectionate remembrance to all my relatives and friends who may enquire after me. It will gratify me to hear from you, and I think if Grandmother can write me a letter directed to “Norfolk, Virginia” I shall get it sometime in March on my return. May the blessing of Almighty God be ever with you is the desire of your affectionate grandson, — Henry Gregory

  • The Rev. Henry Gregory, D. D., died at Syracuse, W. N. T., April 5th, aged sixty-two years. He was born Sept. 22, 1803, at Wilton, Fairfield Co., Conn., and graduated at Hobart College, in 1826; was ordained Deacon by Bishop Hobart, June 29, 1829, and Priest by Bishop Onderdonk in 1831; he officiated first in Moravia; in 1833 he was called to Calvary Church, Homer, where he built a Church; in 1836 he went as missionary to the Menomonee Indians, near Green Bay, Wis.; in 1838 he returned to Homer, and in 1840 he was elected Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Syracuse; here a new Church was erected, and a Chapel which, in 1848, was organized as St James’ Free Church, of which he became Rector; in 1867 he resigned, in ill-health, and accepted the Presidency of Deveaux College; here he remained two years, when he established the Church Book Depository at Syracuse, where he remained until his death. In connection with the Free Church system, he published, in 1850, a Tract on the “Christian Tenth;” and in 1845, he published a Sermon, “The Church not a Sect, though everywhere spoken against” The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him in 1847 by Hobart College. A Funeral Discourse was delivered in St. James’ Church, Syracuse, April 10, 1866, by the Rector, Rev. Joseph M. Clarke, D. D. Source: The American Quarterly Church Review, Volume 18.
  • The following passport application gives Henry’s vital information and distinguishing features:

Passport Application by Henry Gregory, 1854

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