1830: Julia L. Ripley to Mary (Palmer) Root

This letter was written by Julia L. Ripley (1802-1888), the daughter of Horace Ripley, Sr. (1772-1856) and Esther Clyde (1778-1860) of Cherry Hills, New York. In her letter, she mentions her brother George Burbank Ripley (1811-1891) and also her sister Catherine (“Cate”) Clyde Ripley (1815-18xx).

This letter was sent to Julia’s cousin, Mary (Palmer) Root (1790-18xx), the wife of Harvey Root (1791-1850), of Feeding Mills, Massachusetts. Harvey was the son of Joseph Root (1753-1825) and Elizabeth Pomeroy (1763-1825). Mary and Harvey had three daughters; Lucy Clark Root (b. 1822), Julia Ripley Root (b. 1824), and Abiah Pomeroy Root (b. 1830).

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[Addressed to Mrs. Mary Root, Feeding Hills, Massachusetts]

Cherry Valley
November 13, 1830

My dear Cousin Mary,

I determined this week should not pass without answering your welcome letter. I need not tell you that this is a busy time – that, I presume, you know well. But you may not know that I am very industrious. I find it necessary to be so. Mama’s health is not good this fall and I feel it a duty and a pleasure to make her task as light as possible. We have had a delightful rainy week and the mud is a foot deep. There is one comfort in such weather – it keeps all vexatious intruders away. I have not had a call this week except Tuesday — ____ Wheeler (of whom you have often heard me speak) spent the day with me, and yesterday Mr. Abe Dean called for the first time since the death of his wife. Perhaps you do not know she died the week after I wrote you. She was a very pious, good woman and is a loss to our society, and a very great loss to her family. He has much trouble at this time. His son Thomas, a wild youth, sailed from NYork a short time since for New Orleans and was ship-wrecked off Havanna. And a daughter, quite young, is determined – in spite of her father – to marry with [some] barkeeper. And if he mentions the subject to her, she has fits. Is it not dreadful to be so in love?

We have letters from George frequently. In his last he told us that Mr. Berge and children were going immediately to Philadelphia. Her brother James was to go with her. Mr. Berge is said to be worth more than 100,000 dollars, George says there is no doubt of it. [Rev.] Mr. [Alexander M.] Cowan returned last Saturday after an absence of 9 weeks. Part of the time our pulpit has been vacant. It was pleasant to see his face there once more and to hear the Gospel from his lips. He has come home with a heart warmly engaged for the Western Country and brought with him a nephew 14 years old that has always lived in St. Louis, Kentucky, and yet never heard a sermon – not even part. [It] leaves us to feel how great are our privileges and how great will be our account. There will be no excuse for us, who have all our lifetime sat under the dropings of the Sanctuary.

Mr. Cowan __ to ______ upon us, that in it, we should not speak our own words, nor think our own thoughts. I felt for one that I had come far short of keeping the Sabbath. In the P.M., we had a prayer meeting at the church for the special purpose of asking God to remember this People.

Cherry Valley is very green this season. The early object seems to be to out do each other in splendor, bushes & trees. A dancing school commences 9 weeks since with more than 10 scholars. Catherine is one of them. I think it may at least improve her manners. Cousin Frederic left the Valley on Monday. I shall miss him very much for he was a daily visitor.

Mary, you ask me in your last letter to tell you all that concerns me. I will do so, trusting to your own good sense to hide from the eyes of others what is designed only for yours. Last Sabbath, he accompanied me home from the Sunday School and stayed to tea. I thought it singular as he is very strict indeed in observing the Sabbath. In the evening, he went down with me to meeting and on the way to ____ what was his object. On our return, I kept Cate at my elbow until he requested her to retire. He then expressed his wishes in full. Said his attachment had been from childhood and stated he had never thought of another (I thought of Harriet but asked no questions) and though he often alluded to the subject before, yet as [ripped page] …had never been such that he could [make a] connection, he felt that it would be unwise to make known his feelings &c. &c. The Philadelphia Savings & Loan Division offers him an agency and a salary of 500 dollars, and if that does not agree with his health, he will return to Cincinnati and practice his first profession. Perhaps it would have been well for me to have accepted his proposals, but I would not – I could not. He is devotedly pious, has a highly developed mind, and polished manner, yet there are objections – some of them I have already expressed to you. He did not seem to expect a negative answer but I could give no other, and I believe it cost me as much feeling as it did him. I expect one more offer and then I shall have done with offers of this kind.

Mr. Hetherington has gone into business with Dr. Wheeler. Geo. Clyde and wife spent 3 days with me last week. They had just removed from Chatham, New York….she expresses a great attachment for Mary Root and desires her love, to which I am hoping to add mine. So remember me to your husband. Tell him I have not forgotten him on the first Monday of every month. How is it with your two girls?

Mary, do not mention one word of Frederic, nor his business. I must not omit telling you we have a town clock to number our hours. The half not told you. Have you heard from your brother yet? He was well in N. York. Stayed there some days.

Your cousin, — Julia



  • Oct. 25 — Rev. Alex. M. Cowan, agent of  the Kentucky colonization society, collects  $5,000 to purchase a district of country 40  miles square in Africa, to be called “Kentucky in Liberia,” as a home for colored colonists from Kentucky. The first colony  for its settlement leaves Louisville, Jan.  7, 1846.


  • The first U.S. savings and loan was established in Philadelphia in 1831.


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