This letter was written in March 1835 from Auburn, Cayuga County, New York by three members of the Erastus and Persis Pease family to their daughter, Persis Cordelia Pease. At the time, she was boarding with a family in Penn Yan, Yates County, New York, and employed as a music teacher at the “Yates Academy and Female Seminary” by Seymour Gookins, the principal.
The authors of the letter included her mother, the former Persis Chapin (1784-1861), who married Erastus Pease (1788-1891) of Auburn, New York. Her sister Harriet Maria Pease (1815-1837), wrote a second part; and her sister Catherine Eliza Pease (1819-1900), wrote a third part.
Several people who lived in and around Auburn, Cayuga County, New York in the 1830’s are mentioned in the letter. See the footnotes that follow the transcription.
Auburn, [New York]
March 10, 1835
My dear daughter,
We received yours of the 3rd [and] also of the 7th inst; and were glad to hear that you were so well pleased with your situation. I think that you must have had an unpleasant time in riding from Seneca Falls to Geneva on account of your being so sick. Your Father felt very anxious about you in not hearing from you sooner, but I thought if any accident had happened to you in going so short a distance that we certainly should have heard of it in some way or other.
Port Byron meeting house was burnt the 20th ult. [On February] 24th, Rev. J[osiah] Hopkins, Mrs. [Lavinia] Hopkins, and Mrs. [Lydia] Parsons visited us. Mr. [Oliver] Smith was married to Lydia A. Terry, a few weeks since. Your Aunt E. and I have visited at Mr. T[homas] M. Hunt’s since you left here. And I have visited twice at Henry’s.
The Infant School is moved to the Methodist Church. Mr. C. Taylor and Catherine called here. She wishes to hire your Piano. Our girls have called on Maria Gould and got some of her music which they have copied and are now practising on the Piano. And I think as far as I can judge that they improve very fast.
We should like to know how soon the term closes, and how long you think that they would like to want you. I hope that you will be faithful in giving instructions to those who are placed under your immediate care in music, and endeavor to please so far as you are capable, both in the school, and in the family where you reside. As to your studies, your father says if have a good French teacher, you might pursue that study. And if not, defer it until another opportunity. He thinks that it would be advisable for you to study Watt’s on the Mind, but perhaps that you had better ask advice of Mr. [Seymour] Gookins with respect to your studies.
Your mother, — Persis Pease [signed by Harriet]
March 11th. Ma has been called away this morning to Mrs. [Thomas] Hunt’s, so I thought best to finish the letter and send it on. Ma says I told a story in my letter, for you did write how many scholars you had and how many boarders there were. Cornelia sent me word that they were agoing to move to Romulus [New York]. Mrs. Palmer told me last Sabbath that they had got to housekeeping. I would like to visit C[ornelia] now [that] she is in her own house. I suppose we shall hear from you again before a great while. Your sister, — Harriet [Pease]
2nd Page of the letter:
Auburn [New York]
March 10, 1835
We have just received a few lines from you in answer to Pa’s letter to Mr. [Seymour] Gookins. We expected to hear from you the next week after you left here, but as we did not, we were rather concerned about you. You did not tell us how many music scholars you had, nor how many scholars there were in the school. How many board with Mr. G[ookins] and when does the term close? How large a place is Penn Yan? Give us all the information you can about your place of residence, &c.
There is a protracted meeting in Syracuse. Mr. [Josiah] Hopkins went out last week and has not returned yet. Mr. Spencer preached for us all day last Sabbath. Mr. Axtell is quite sick with the inflammatory rheumatism so there was no meeting at the Second [Presbyterian] church all day. Our [meeting] house was quite full, of course. Dr. Perrine was sick, Mr. Mills absent, and Dr. Richards preached in the chapel in the morning, so they could not get anyone to preach for them. We had 147 scholars in our Sabbath School last Sabbath — more than we have had in some time before.
Catherine has told you about the parties we have attended since you left here. Last Wednesday, you and I received an invitation to go to Mr. White’s. They had not heard that you had left town. I went. There were five or six ladies there and about as many gentlemen in the evening, the most of them strangers to me. Jane Slover had an invitation to go but was detained at home. Daniel came in the evening. Webb, Hayden, and two Mr. Bradley’s were there.
Amy invites in a few to see Elijah’s wife. I like her very much. Maria Wyckoff came out with them. Elizabeth Cumpston was married this morning to Mr. ______ (I have forgotten his name) from Albany [New York]. They shant for Albany today.
Now get your pocket handkerchief all ready. I have got some dreadful news for you. I hope you are prepared for it — it is this. Ebenezer Walker was married last week to Miss Warner from Skaneateles. He passed through here in the stage. Hinman saw him while the stage stopped at the Hotel.
Mr. Clark has got back. He called here last Thursday. I was not at home.
It has snowed all day, but it melts as fast as it falls so it is quite muddy walking. You would feel very bad if you were here for it is singing school evening. Harriet Cheever an Harriet Clary visited here last Tuesday. Mr. Robinson, the student that boards a Mr. C’s, came and took tea with us, and we all went to singing school in the evening — only 7 of us — there was but very few there. Lois Bennett was sent for to Seneca Falls last Friday. Some of her friends are sick. She has not returned yet.
— Harriet [Pease]
[P.S.] Catharine Green says E. Cumpston’s husband’s name is Hackley.
3rd Page of the letter:
Auburn [New York]
March 6, 1835
We received your letter today about noon and we were almost inclined to think you had been carried off. I suppose you wish to hear concerning the singing school. We have an organ in the back part of the ____ room, little larger than Mr. Hagamans. I have not heard anyone play on it, but expect to if I attend next Tuesday evening. Mrs. Gould had a party last Friday evening and Harriet, Laura, and I were invited. We accepted the invitation and spent the evening very agreeably. There were six gentlemen and seven ladies. Maria [Gould] played, Fruit cake was handed around, besides another kind. After that, wine, and raisons, almonds, and mottoes. The mottoes being wound around a kiss.
Monday we were invited to Harriet Cheever’s. There were about 19 there. Thursday, Amy had one. There were about 19 there also. Today, Ma, Aunts Chapin & Pease, and grandma have made a visit there.
I still attend school and the Doctor wishes me to continue to attend. I must tell you we are learning to play, and I have to take your place at the piano when there is company. We have borrowed 3 pieces of Maria’s musick and Laura copied [them]. We have larnt two. They are all fingered, but one, and that ____. If you do not want that book that the pieces are copied in, you may send it back when you have an opportunity as we will make good use of it. Pa and Ma want us to learn. We miss your noise.
The snow has nearly all gone. We have not received a letter from [our brother] Lorenzo since you left. Money is more plentious than it has been. I must leave you for tonight.
[In another hand…] Catherine has left her part of the letter without a name. I suppose you can guess who wrote it. — H.
- Persis Cordelia Pease was born 23 March 1813 in Auburn, NY, and she died in October 1894. She was married on 8 October 1844 to James Y. Brown, a tailor in the village of Windsor, Broome County, NY. The couple had four children before James died in 1860 at age 53.
- Erastus Pease (1788-1891) and his wife, Persis Chapin (1784-1861), lived in Hinsdale. Massachusetts, before relocating to Auburn, NY, in 1811. It is believe that Erastus was a merchant in shoes in Auburn, possibly in business with his brother. It is reported that he died in the state insane asylum at Ithaca, the circumstances and time of his admission not known. Erastus was the son of James Pease (1754-1844) and Lucy Meacham (1756-1846). Persis was the daughter of Martin Chapin (1738-1793) and Bathsheba Cooper (1749-1810).
- Erastus and Persis Pease had a total of eight children; the first two born in Hinsdale, MA, and the remainder in Auburn, NY. They were:
- Lorenzo Warriner Pease — born 20 May 1809 — died 21 August 1839
- Henry Chapin Pease — born 23 August 1810
- Persis Cordelia Pease — born 23 March 1813 — died October 1894
- Harriet Maria Pease — born 23 May 1815 — died 27 August 1837
- Laura Ann Pease — born 3 August 1817
- Catherine Eliza Pease — born 29 March 1819 — died 8 April 1900
- Christina Charlotte Pease — born 19 August 1821 — died 7 August 1848
- Theodore Dwight Pease — born 21 March 1829 — died 10 March 1830
- Of Persis’ siblings, we know that Henry married Amy Daly and moved to La Porte, IN; that Harriet, who wrote much of this letter, died only two years later and did not marry; that Laura married Rev. Addison Muzzy (Mussey?) and lived in Chenoa, IL; that Catherine married Rev. H.W. Gilbert; that Christina married Rev. William B. Worden; and that Theodore died when less than a year old. The oldest child, Lorenzo Pease, graduated from Hamilton College, the Auburn Theological Seminary, and attended Andover Seminary before becoming a missionary in Greece where he died prematurely in 1839. At the time of this letter, Lorenzo had been in Greece a little over six months.
- Rev. Josiah Hopkins (1786-1862) was serving as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Auburn, NY, at the time this letter was written. He was affiliated with the Congregational Church in New England from 1803 to 1830, but began preaching in the Presbyterian Church when he came to Auburn in 1830. He preached in Auburn until 1846, and then preached again in Seneca Falls, NY from 1851 to 1855. He died at Geneva, NY, while receiving treatment for asthma at the water cure establishment there. the time of this letter, Rev. Hopkins was married to Lavinia Fenton.
- Seymour Gookins was the Principal of the Yates Academy and Female Seminary in Penn Yan at the time this letter was written in 1835. He was born in 1798 in Rupert, Vermont. He died in Belvidere, Illinois, in 1879. He was married in 1831 to Fidelia Loomis (1809-1897) in Prattsburgh, NY, where he served as the Principal of Franklin Academy. He took over as Principal of the Yates Academy, as it was commonly called, in 1831 and operated it for several years before relocating to Terre Haute, Indiana. The academy was at the height of its popularity in the year this letter was written, with nearly 350 students paying tuition to attend.
- Port Byron, NY is a village that lies less than 10 miles north of Auburn. It was originally known as “Bucksville” but changed its name in 1825 when it became a port on the Erie Canal.
- The “Mrs. Parsons” mentioned in the letter was probably Lydia Parsons (born 1781), the wife of William Parsons (born 1769). This couple were members of the First Presbyterian Church in Auburn, NY at the time.
- The marriage announced in the letter between Oliver Smith (born 1808) and Lydia A. Terry (born 1811), took place in Manchester, Ontario County, NY on 22 February 1835. The couple were married by the Baptist minister, Rev. Noah Barrell (1794-1875). Oliver Smith was a farmer and the couple resided in Aurelius, Cayuga County, NY, following the marriage.
- The “T.M. Hunt” mentioned in the letter refers, undoubtedly, to 33 year-old Thomas M. Hunt, a Druggist in Auburn, NY. His wife’s name was Sarah.
- Maria L. Gould of Auburn, NY, is listed among the female students attending Cazenovia Seminary in 1835.
- Mention is made by Harriet Pease of “Mr. Axtell” and his affliction with rheumatoid arthritis. She is undoubtedly referring to Rev. Daniel C. Axtell who was for many years the pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Auburn, NY. Daniel died prematurely at age 37 in Patterson, NJ. His father, Rev. Henry Axtell, D.D., was the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Geneva, NY. He was also the first President of Geneva Academy (which evolved into Geneva College, and later Hobart College).
- Harriet Pease states in her letter that the pastor of their church, Rev. Josiah Hopkins, was in Syracuse attending a “protracted meeting.” This was the name given to a series of revival services conducted over a period of several days. Much like the “Camp meetings” of the Methodists, the Presbyterians’ version reached their pinnacle between 1825 and 1835, led in large measure by the great revivalist, Charles Grandison Finney.
- The Rev. Dr. Matthew La Rue Perrine, of New York City, was employed at the Auburn Theological Seminary in Auburn, NY, at the time of this letter. He taught Ecclesiastical History and Church Polity. The Rev. Dr. James Richards, a Professor of Theology at the Auburn Theological Seminary, is also mentioned.
- In her portion of the letter, Harriet Pease mentions the marriage of Elizabeth Grandin Cumpston to Alexander Wolcott Hackley that occurred on the morning of March 10, 1835. Elizabeth was born 3 September 1815 in Auburn, NY. She died on 5 October 1838. She was the daughter of John Henry Cumpston (1779-1815) and Sarah Grandin (1784-1817). According to family records, Hackaliah Burt became Elizabeth’s legal guardian after the death of her parents.
- Newspaper records show that Ebenezer [Mead] Walker (born 1810) married Miss Fanny Warner of Skaneateles, NY, on 26 February 1835. Notice of the union was published in The Columbian on 5 March 1835. In 1860, this couple were living in Skaneateles, Onondaga County, NY and Ebenezer’s occupation is given as “farmer.” Late in the Civil War, Ebenezer provided service as a saddler in the Union Cavalry. By 1880, he was widowed and living with his son, Gaylord Walker (a harness maker) in Ithaca, New York. At age 70, he was still employed as a shoe maker. It isn’t clear how Persis C. Pease was acquainted with Ebenezer but she must have considered him a beau in 1835.
- Miss Lois Bennett is mentioned in Harriet’s letter. The Cayuga Patriot, a weekly newspaper published in Auburn, noted her May 3, 1841 marriage to Rev. Ephraim W. Kellogg.