1835: Farrand Northrup Benedict to Aaron Ogden

This letter was written Farrand Northrup Benedict (1803-1880) and his wife, Susan Elizabeth Ogden (1810-1871). Farrand Benedict was the son of Abner Benedict (1781-1830), and Nancy Farrand (1780-1831). Farrand was born at Parsippany, New Jersey; was graduated from Hamilton College, and became principal of a school at Rochester, NY. He was professor of mathematics and civil-engineering at the University of Vermont in Burlington for twenty years (1832-1854), after which he returned to New Jersey for his wife’s health. He wrote many works of science.

The letter was sent to Elizabeth’s parents, Aaron Ogden (1783-1848) and Rebecca Farrand (1784-1848).

A third portion of the letter was written by John Ogden (1817-1885), Elizabeth’s younger brother, who was apparently attending classes at University of Vermont. John married Frances E. Ford in 1842 and was a farmer at Troy Hills near Parsippany, NJ. He inherited and inhabited the homestead of his father.

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TRANSCRIPTION

Addressed to Mr. Aaron Ogden, Parsippany, Morris, New Jersey

Burlington [Vermont]

My Dear Parents,

Mary’s letter of January 16th arrived safely. I was glad to hear you were all well, once more, from her. I had promised myself much enjoyment this winter in writing and receiving letters from Mary; am sorry she is so much engaged as to not be able to write oftener than once in 10 or 11 weeks. I sent to the office for that letter at least 50 times and when it came without one apology, I was more disappointed than ever. What does it mean? I wrote Mary a long, affectionate letter, I thought. But, when “Mr. ____” and she gets through sleigh riding, I shall expect answers a little more seasonally.

I have thought of you, my dear mother, during our coldest weather. You will be amused when I tell you I have wished you were as comfortable as we. I have not suffered at all. We have such nice stoves with the pipe through our bedroom. Oh! my dear parents, I wish you would come to see us. I suppose cousin Jane has told you all how we manage. Does she say I am a good housekeeper?

It has been rather a dying time — a number of distinguished persons have died very suddenly. But we, my dear parents, are still preserved. Almost everybody has been afflicted with severe colds. We have been almost entirely exempt from any complaint. I know there is much danger  of the mercies & blessings of God being forgotten, or received insensibly. Pray for us that they may lead us to repentance. Our Heavenly Father deals with us as children. He has sent afflictions and great mercies; our cup of blessings is full to overflowing. May we not provoke His righteous judgments upon us. John & myself have each a class in Sabbath School. I never felt as much interest in Sunday School as at present. I thank coz Jane for inducing me to engage in it. I am one of a visiting committee to search out poor children. The ladies here are engaged this winter in working for the poor a part of the time. There are a great many in this town and vicinity. This cold winter has been severe upon them. I went out one day and visited several poor, wretched families. Found 4 children whom we fitted up to attend one Sunday School. They are very regular. Nothing tends so much to make us prize our comforts as to see those who are suffering for the need of them. This place is so near Canada that it is thronged with foreigners. The people are discouraged in assisting them. They are so much under the influence of the Catholic priest. who expects every cent from them. The sins of these priests are tremendous.

I wish very much to hear about the small pox in our neighborhood. Also more about cousin Abbey. I wrote to Aunt’s Abbey & Polly some time ago. Do not know whether they received my letter. Are they in good health this winter? Is Aunt Susan quite well? I have thought some of visiting her, and Uncle Ben, but conclude they hear all about us from the letters we write home. I cannot tell you how much I wish to see you all. Tell Uncle Ben & Aunt Susan we expect them to visit us next Spring. I hope Mary will come with them. We did not like it much in Uncle & Aunt Smith that they did not come to see us when so near — halfway is most, you know.

This is a real partnership letter. Farrand & John are to write on this sheet. I wish when Mary writes, it may be exclusively to me, or to some one else. I want a whole letter, just as if no one else was to see it. You can understand, I suppose, mother. I must conclude, my dear parents. Please remember me most affectionately to Hyla, F. M. the little nieces & nephews, Uncle’s family, Coz. John’s and all friends. Your truly affectionate daughter, — Elizabeth

Dear Parents,

I told Elizabeth and John that I was about to write you and that if they pleased, they might take the paper first and write a few lines and then I would complete it. The consequence is as I might naturally have presumed that they have left me about room enough to write “finis.” Thus restricted, I can only state generally in respect to John that he has been uncommonly diligent during last term in his attention to study and to the various duties imposed upon him by the rules of the College. He has no superior in his class in mathematics and his standing in Languages is above mediocrity. Out of 200 recitations, he has been absent but from 2 and in these cases his reasons were altogether satisfactory. About the same degree of punctuality exists in his case in attendance on the religious exercises of college of which were 252 last term. He seems to enjoy himself well at all times, particularly in vacation when he is not so uncomfortably crowded by study. It gives me great pleasure in being able to give you so favorable account of John. Elizabeth & I will do all in our power to enable him to pass his time, both profitably and agreeably.

Remember me affectionately to ____ Mary, Cox Jane, Farrand, Hylan &c. Yours affectionately, — F. N. Benedict

Burlington, January 31st

Dear Father & Mother,

Mr. Benedict has kindly offered me a space on this sheet to fill, which offer I readily accept. As this is the only way that I can visit my dear parents during this vacation, it is folly to add with what ___  I engage in it. Times flies as glib now for aught that I can see as _____ time, hour succeeds hour, days succeed days, and week follows week, as rapidly as ever. Weeks have passed since I have been free from college duties. How my time has my time which when once lost, can never be found) been occupied? This question I put to myself frequently, and the answer that I sometimes receive would throw me into a fit of despair, had not a wise man said, he that is busily discovering how much less he knows than he formerly supposed he did, is in a way of finding something out at last. My time however, for the forst week was employed in the manner I wrote Coz. Jane; in systematizing _____ of our Hall. Since then multifurious duties have seemed to require my attention, although I cannot boast to have achieved one as I ought. I have _____ as a rule, to rise if possible so early as to spend an hour before breakfast after drawing wood (which is the best insurer of athleticity I know of). After breakfast which is at 7 o’clock, I rehearse my recitation, which I do in the presence of the whole family including father, mother, sisters, and his (my scholars) little brother. Anything for novelty! The remainder of the morning I spend in exercise and reading, but afternoon to study. I don’t know but I have said enough to Mr. but it appears he has been a falling off. I beg she will redeem her character soon, since this is only one, we can lean upon, for bringing our fences together. Tell her I shall call on her soon with a long letter; nothing serious, only every letter that she has written calls for a long, long one from me.

Was sorry to hear of T. Bondurant’s illness. Hope he has recovered. As spring is yet to come (I hope soon) and my coat is becoming a little worse for wear, I will have to get another in the course of a month. Have you any advise as to color? Why does not F. answer me? Tell Hannah and _____ I often think of and would like to be with them and you all, but the fates forbid, after the moon has gone his rounds a score more times, may I be permitted to see you my dear parents once more. Your son as ever, — John

P. S. The weather for 8 or 4 days past has been really _____, snowed a little, rained some; upon the whole it has been the most unclime part of our winter. A is well. Poor N____ seems to have been greatly encouraged. — John

[Elizabeth added the following on the letter margin.]

I will add a few more lines to this as I find room. I wrote the last on Saturday. It is now Monday. Mrs. Benedict has a fine son. She is very smart. We have delightful weather now. I am on the whole more pleased with this climate, and our situation every day. If it only agrees with our health (and it appears to exactly) we can hardly devise a better situation – unless for the purpose of being nearer our dear friends. Mother, you do not think I have been severe on Mary, do you? Only imagine how long a time elapsed before I received any reply. I suffered severely from anxiety ___ing a part of the time. We cannot think you lose any affection for us because so far from you all.

I would like to hear all the particulars of the fire in Newark. I am very sorry for Harvey Crane — suppose he has lost much…

FOOTNOTES

Newspaper article announcing the Fire in Newark that occurred in October 1836.

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