The author of this letter was Elizabeth Winslow Chase (1811-?), the unmarried daughter of Darius Chase (1782-1863) and Elizabeth Eddy Winslow (1795-1885) of Providence, Rhode Island. She and most of her other siblings are believed to have been born on Prudence Island in Narragansett Bay. These included James (1808), Mary Ann (1814), Edward (1816), Franklin (1818), Nancy (1821), and Rosina (1823). Only her youngest sister Adeline (1829) was born in Leicester, Worcester, Massachusetts where the family are found in the 1830 U.S. Census. An 1836 City Directory shows that Darius Chase had moved his family to Providence, Rhode Island where he operated a boarding house at 53 George Street, and continued to do so until at least the mid-1840’s.
In the 1860 U.S. Census, the Darius Chase family is enumerated in the Barrington County, Rhode Island community of Bristol where Darius (at age 78) is listed as a farmer. Living in the household, besides Darius and his 74 year-old wife Elizabeth, were the author of this letter, and her siblings Adeline, Mary Ann, Franklin, and Rosina — the wife of accomplished portrait painter, James S. Lincoln (1811-1888).
The recipient of this letter was Harriet Southgate (1792-1841), the unmarried daughter of Capt. John Southgate (1737-?) and Eleanor Sargent (1764-1825) who were married in 1776. Based on the content of the letter, it is conjectured that the author first became acquainted with Harriet Southgate while attending the Mulberry Grove Boarding School for young ladies in Leicester, Massachusetts around 1830. The school sat at the corner of Mulberry and Earle Streets and was operated from 1827 to 1839 by John Milton Earle and other members of the Earle family. Harriett’s mother’s maiden name was Earle so it is likely that the school was run by her relatives.
[Addressed to Miss Harriet Southgate, Leicester, Massachusetts]
Providence [Rhode Island]
January 1st, 1837
My Dear Friend,
You may possibly be induced to think by my long silence that I did not receive your letter, or else I needed a long consideration, but it was neither of those for I could have told you in a moment. I thought I would answer it that day as I received it in two days after it was put on the office and let you know how soon we could exchange how do you do.
Time passes so swiftly here & I have so little at my disposal that pleads my excuse. I attended church with Miss Clark last Thanksgiving Morning and was quietly spending the evening with company here, while it appears I was the conversation between you and your friends. Had I known it, I should liked to stepped in and assisted perhaps without Mr. W.B. chartering a private secretary, though where there is such a share of embarrassment is certainly very convenient, and it is seldom we could find one as well qualified to assist in this business as yourself. Without flattery, I think the gentleman is much indebted to you for such high recommendation, though I make no doubt but that he merits them all. I shall be half inclined to think you have the power of animal magnetism and was I not so incredulous in the science to influence another person, but as it is, to be candid, I am entirely unacquainted with the gentleman only by reputation except seeing him at the Post Office. I always supposed you had some claims on the gentleman. I should be very sorry to infringe upon your rights, or counteract your plans. You mention if I should concur to your wishes, you will visit us in a few weeks but that must not make any difference. I shall be very happy to see you and any of your friends. I can better answer the question from the person themselves than through a report. As you know, I possess a share of diffidence. It is extremely unfortunate as to render so much aid in an acquaintance, but; however you come down and we will talk more about it.
I very well know that a person of such high recommendations and an irreproachable character & kind disposition are seldom to be met with and tend very much to promote happiness. I was disappointed in your letter. I kept reading on expecting you would say something of Mr. Sisson, but not one word did you mention. He has called several times to see if we had heard from you, by way of a further acquaintance with you. He was delighted with his visit. He has now gone a journey & I hope he will return by the time you make your visit, and I can have you both form a part of the circle by the social fireside. I assure you, it will afford me much pleasure. He mentioned to Ma he had written to General Treat & I expect when he receives an answer, he will make some advances, and now would like to meet him here. I wish you to think of it seriously, and you may place all confidence in us as my Mother & Father are particular friends of his and feel an interest in the choice of a companion for him and selected you.
Our family will less this winter. Mr. Ullmann has gone to N. York. He went about 3 weeks since. His mother and sister are going this week. We are loth to part with them. We have some other boarders that are very pleasant since you was here. Mrs. Sabins is about as well as usual. Miss Eliza Peck is gaining. Capt. [Samuel] Snow appears to need a wife more this cold weather than ever. Mr. Townsend is sick in bed & Mrs. Townsend no better than last summer. Mother is well as usual but not quite as smart as Aunt Read. Mary Ann has been spending 3 weeks over to Somerset. Nancy has returned from school.
I have often wished I was up to Leicester in your chamber in your good society & your sister’s. I could have no better pleasure. I am very happy to hear your brother is better. I hope he will be restored to you again. Very often have we talked of you both.
And now my dear, do not think you are neglected for there are so many cures involving on me that I do not think I could be spared. Sometimes we have had two girls and sometimes none. Now we have one. As the day was so unpleasant I could not get out to meeting, I thought I would improve a part of it in writing to you. I am sorry to say to you we are about to loose our minister, Mr. Waterman. He has been unable to perform the pastoral duties ever since last spring except a few sabbaths. He has had a call to Philadelphia and the church have consented to let him go. I feel very sorry & all his congregation. At the [First] Baptist [Church], they expect to have Mr. [William] Hague of Boston for a pastor & I shall almost be induced to attend meeting there and only hope that his health may improve so we may give him a call when we get the new church built. I don’t know who we can have to fill his place. I feel he has been a ____ pastor and we must feel willing to let others share a part as we have heard good counsil and truth from his lips. As you know, I am orthodox. It will not be so pleasant to change, Indeed, I would not, so I will say no more.
Do answer this soon & do not follow my example. I will try to do better for the future. Please present my best respects to all enquiring friends. My best love to your sister & tell her we shall be happy to see her any time when it is most convenient for her to come. And your Nephew, Mr. G. F. B. [George F. Bigelow] — he must prevail on his mother to visit us when she returns & his father. We had a delightful ride home & a beautiful visit there. Nancy send much love to both of you [and] says she don’t know as she had enjoyed herself any better than she would with you but thinks she devoted more to studys as she boarded in the house and did not go out at all. But she thinks very much of the School and the young ladies. I brought the apples safely home and delivered them. They seemed pleased as they were from you. I think I must write to Mrs. Sargent soon. She requested me to. Mr. U. really thought he should visit Leicester but it was so late he deferred it.
Adeline in well & enquires about you. She has an addition of two little dogs wich occupy all her time except when at school. Edward & Franklin are engaged in attending cotillion parties once a week & Nancy [too]. Rosina is very much engaged in her day school as she has begun a new quarter & new school. She feels anxious to get her money’s worth as she pays eight dollars a quarter. She would like some time to come and board a quarter with you. Why can’t you answer this — this week you have always your writing utensils at home. Do remember the Capt [Snow] who I have told him of your sister [Sally] & she must come & look at for herself.
We have had extreme cold weather this winter so far this year. Looks dreary to see it come in so boisterous. The churches are decorated beautifully with evergreens — those I mean of the Episcopal order. At some of the churches last evening, they held meeting till twelve o’clock. James has gone to New Orleans [and] will be absent till spring. He has not concluded to spend his life in a state of single blessedness, but talks on old subject as much as ever.
I must close by wishing you a happy new year, is the prayer of your friend, — E. W. C.
“Rev. Thomas T. Waterman was ordained pastor [of the Richmond Street Church] December 12, 1826…and continued until January 2, 1837, when in consequence of protracted illness, he sought and obtained a dismission from his affectionate people. Mr. Waterman was born at Windham, Ct. and was graduated at Yale College. He is now pastor of the Fifth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.” [note: Rev. Waterman was pastor at Fifth Presbyterian Church from 1837-1843; then returned to Providence to fill the pulpit of the Free Evangelical Congregational Church on the east side of the river.] Source: The American Quarterly Register, Vol. 12, page 270 .
- Obituary of Rev. Thomas Tileston Waterman(1801-1873) He died August 2, 1873. He was the son of Rev. Elijah (Y. C. 1791) and Lucy (Abbe) Waterman, and was born in Windham, Conn., Sept. 24, 1801.In 1805, Bridgeport, Conn., became his home. Here he was prepared for college in a private school kept by his father, with whom, after graduating, he pursued a course of theological study. He was licensed to preach by the Fairfield East Association, June 1, 1825, and was ordained pastor of what afterwards became the Richmond Street Congregational Church, in Providence, R. L, Dec. 13, 1826.In Jan., 1837, he removed to Philadelphia, Pa., the change being made necessary by the state of his health, the result of a severe sickness. Here he remained until early in 1843, as pastor of the Fifth Presbyterian Church. Returning to Providence, he was instrumental in organizing the Fourth Congregational Church, and continued with them until the spring of 1852. He then removed to Galena, Ill., and on Dec. 15, was installed pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church. Leaving Galena early in 1856, he became acting pastor of the Congregational Church in Winona, Minn., and was active in securing the building of the house of worship upon which was raised the first spire north of Dubuque, and west of the Mississippi river. In 1857 he returned to the East, and became pastor of the Congregational Church in Danielsonville, Conn. In 1861 he removed to Spencer, Mass., and was installed pastor of the Congregational Church there, June 5, closing his labors in Dec., 1862. In 1863, he removed to Monroe, Conn., of which place he was a resident until his death. He acted as pastor of the Congregational Church there until the latter part of 1868. During this time and afterwards, he assisted in establishing churches in Springfield, Ill., and Marshall, Mich. In the last three years of his life, he was prostrated several times by severe attacks of a chronic complaint, but continued to preach occasionally, until very near the end of life. He died in Stratford, Conn., at the residence of his daughter, which he had made an occasional and temporary home for a year or more previous.He married, Dec. 11, 1827, Delia, daughter of Dan Storrs, of Mansfield Center, Conn. His widow, a daughter and four sons survive him. One son was graduated at this college in 1855; another at Beloit College in 1856. Yale College Obituary Record, 1871-1880. pp. 127-128.