This letter was written by Caroline (Underhill) Cromwell (1803-1848), the daughter of Joshua Underhill (1765-1839) and Mary Sutton (1767-1820). She wrote the letter to her husband, William Cromwell (1800-1871), a farmer of Monroe, Orange Co., New York, who also kept a dry goods store in New York City. He was the son of James Cromwell (1752-1828) and Charlotte Hunt (1762-1839). Caroline wrote the letter in the late summer of 1832 during the cholera epidemic in New York City. While the epidemic raged, victims were quarantined and residents were advised to stay out of the city, if possible.
Caroline mentions her brother-in-law, John Cromwell (1803-1883), a farmer who was married to Letitia Haviland and lived in New Windsor, Orange County, N. Y.
From 1860-1863, William Cromwell’s NYC Dry Goods business was located at 118 Chambers Street in a an Italianate-style, store-and-loft building that was constructed in 1855 and owned by Luke H. Holmes, a merchant whose business was located on Maiden Lane. The 1850 and 1860 Census records enumerate William Cromwell residing in New York City. Perhaps he relocated to NYC after his wife’s death in 1848.
Addressed to William Cromwell, No. 24 Street, New York
Monroe [New York]
8 Month 19 Day 1832
My dear William,
I received thy letter last evening bearing date the 12th, also on the 15th one from sisters Elisa & Mary. Also on last seventh day two letters from thee — one from J. S. Potwin dated Burlington, Aug 2, in which he states, “I am informed that Otis Loomer & Co have stopped payment, and I presume the small account which they accepted to you for me they will not honor, I do not wish (to save expense) to have it protested and wish you to have it withdrawn, and within thirty days after it becomes due, I will forward you a draft without fail for the amount — perhaps sooner. Money here is very scarce. The cholera along the Lake has ruined business, or I would send it to you without a moment’s delay. Yours truly, — J. S. Potwin.” A protest of the said bill I received with this letter.
The other [letter] from Samuel Fisher dated Troy, August 4th, as follows, “My losses and misfortunes are such that I have been obliged to stop payment, and I have made the communication to all my business creditors in Troy with the request for them to extend their payments one, two, or three years without interest on my own personal responsibility. This is the best that I can do and I think it will be much better for my creditors than for me to assign over and have all sold at auction. My creditors here have agreed to do as above stated rather than have me assign over, or to take their pay in such real estate as I can turn out, provided my creditors in New York will come into the above proposed measure with those in Troy. There are recent failures by which I have lost a large amount for me, and it is the great reason that I have to stop. The gentleman who will hand you this is from Troy and can give you any information you may wish. Yours with much respect, — Samuel Fisher”
I do not know how thee will like my sending copies instead of the originals. My object was to save the postage and as I have copied all their contents, concluded this would answer the purpose. Should have sent before had I known positively when thee would be in the city. So much for business. Now for something else.
I am much pleased with the disposition of thyself as regards lodgings and also as regards board except in one particular. I fear there are many things brought upon their tables which (I must not say Graham for that would not please thee) but which the physicians at the present time disapprove of, and which thy own experience has taught thee does not contribute to thy best health and comfort. And excuse me my dear William if I have not that confidence I should wish for in thy self denial in diet, at the present so all important. How many instances we see in the papers “an error in diet was the cause of this man’s sickness or this woman’s sickness.” I believe I cannot impress it too strongly but why do I attempt it? It cannot be but thee will consider thy health paramount to any considerations of this kind, because thy food is of good quality and sweet.
I hope we shall soon be allowed to return to the city. Also, I am ready at any time thee directs. Perhaps John & family may go down at a proper time for us. If so, and thee does not wish to come up, suppose we come in their company if they go from Newburg as I should think they would. I hope the weather has been pleasanter in New York [City] than it has been here for the last few days. A storm commenced here fifth day night and still continues without much appearance of stopping.
I have not been to D. Bull’s since thee left but think of going next fifth after monthly meeting and stay till first day. D’s girls left here last 4th day for their grandfathers. D and Betsey were here fourth day to Preparation Meeting. Left the same day. S and R Brown were here last first day. R quite well again.
Our friends here eat cucumbers and get sick, get well, and eat them again, When they are sick they say, “I shant eat anymore cucumbers.” When they get well they say, “I am sure a few can’t hurt anybody.” However, none of them have had more of the cholera or cholera morbus than the premonitory symptom except Letitia had quite a ____ with vomiting &c. and a chill quite smart. The next day had not eaten anything they thought could hurt her except cucumbers. All well at present — thy own family included.
I had like to have forgotten one thing — do not chew much tobacco, Has thee sent for Lindley and John? Get plenty of help to assist in putting thy store to rights and not over fatigue thyself. We enjoy ourselves but we have been so long from home. Shall be glad to get back again to New York [City] and our homes. John has not felt quite so well contented since thee left.
Mother endeavors to keep her large family in order but poor dear old woman, she has to scold sadly sometimes to make it out. I endeavor to maker our children as trouble as possible, go to school steadily, &c. Now they are going to meeting and want my letter to carry so I must conclude. Take good care of thy own dear self and thee will promote the happiness of thy affectionate — wife
Write when thee has leisure.