1832: Isaac Ward, Jr. to Prudence Harriet (Eaton) Ward

Isaac Ward, Jr. gravestone

This letter was written by Isaac Ward, Jr. (1791-1853), son of Isaac Ward (1758-1816) and Polly Thurlow (1765-1841). He wrote the letter to his wife, Prudence Harriet Eaton (1800-1870), who despite her health problems mentioned in this letter, lived until 1870 before dying of pneumonia. Isaac mentions his brother, Arthur Ward (1807-1878) — a merchant residing in Plymouth, N.H., in the letter. Also mentioned is Isaac and Prudence’s child, Harriet Ann Ward (1829-1909), who in 1852 became the wife of Isaac Duane Stafford.

In this letter we learn that Chester Field Ellis (1806-1893) and Hannah Morrison (1810-1886), the daughter of Deacon James Morrison (1786-1871) and Miriam Bean (1788-1845), have conceived a child (Sarah L. Ellis) out of wedlock. They would later marry and raise a family of at least four children despite her father’s stern objections to the union.

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Addressed to Mrs. Prudence H. Ward, Boston, Massachusetts

Plymouth [Grafton County, New Hampshire]
Sabbath Evening, September 9th 1832

Dear wife,

We are all well as usual. Arthur arrived safe Friday evening and handed me a line from you which I was very happy to receive.

Your health you say is better and that time seems very short. I rejoice to learn that your health has improved, and that you find friends with whom you can spend the time so agreeably as to have it seem short. You say if I wish you to come home, I must write, and if not, I must write. You know Harriet that I am never willing to have you absent from home long at a time, but still I will not be so unkind as to urge you to leave friends with whom time not only seems short but pleasant, for the sake of [of attending] to a husband and home which you cannot enjoy. I can only say that whenever you feel as tho you could enjoy yourself with your own husband and family, I shall be highly gratified to have you return.

Prudence H. Ward’s gravestone

You say you have thoughts of bathing in the salt water if I am willing. If physicians think it would be beneficial to your health, I should be perfectly willing. I want you to see Doct. Richardson as soon as possible. Perhaps he can be of service to you. I think you had better not stay long in Boston or Haverhill if the Cholera should prevail in those places. I fear that owing to your poor health, you would be in great danger if you were there.

Little Harriet often speaks about you, and says she does wish Mother would come home. Abram & wife were here yesterday and spent the afternoon. John Ward remains much as he was when you saw him last. Deacon Morrison’s oldest daughter has got the bunk on. Chester Ellis — who lived with the Deacon — is the rogue who has done the mischief. They both want to be married but the Deacon says no; not so long as he lives. So you see that the best of folks have troubles altho, Harriet, you fancy at times that your cup of adversity is nearly full. Still I think you will see some in the course of your travels with whom you would not be willing to exchange situations. Should you see others who appear perfectly happy, you must remember that you see the bright side of the picture only, but ever heart knoweth its own bitterness.

The sun is fast going down and my spirits seem to be going down with it, and I must draw to a close by subscribing myself your affectionate husband, — Isaac Ward

N. B. I wish you to write me immediately on receiving this.

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