1839: James Ingalls to Arathusa Ingalls

This letter was written by James Ingalls (1814-1842). He wrote the letter to his sister, Arathusa J. Ingalls (1817-18xx), who married Rev. Nathaniel Breed Fox (1811-1848) the following year (May 1840). Also mentioned is their brother, Lemuel Ingalls (1819-18xx).

James and Arathusa were the children of Warrren Ingalls (1783-1852) and Elizabeth Fay (1786-1847).

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Addressed to Miss Arathusa Ingalls, Andover, Massachusetts, Care of N. B. Fox

Northboro [Massachusetts]
June 14, 1839

Dear Sister,

I again take up my pen to continue our one-sided correspondence and inform you that your long promised, long expected letter dated May 31st and post marked June 5th, came duly to hand on the seventh and brought us the joyful intelligence that you were still in the land of the living which from your long silence we might have begun to question had we not incidentally heard that you were seen in Boston on the anniversary week from several sources though none of them had the opportunity of speaking with you – first by the way of Aunt Fay who told mother that Anna saw you, 2nd by Augustus Brigham who met you on the side walk, and also by Mr. Emerson who said he saw Mr. Fox and that he told him that you were there.

Rev. Charles Fitch

You inquire if our parents have been to Abington [Windham County, CT]. They have. They were there the last Sabbath in May and had the pleasure of listening to the Rev. Charles Fitch. He had come to take his parents home with him. Father and Mother went on Thursday and left Monday following. After they were gone, I received a letter from Lemuel stating that Grandfather [Lemuel Ingalls] was some better so that he could sit up on the bed and read some. But when they got there they found him quite low. So much so that his life was hardly expected from day to day. But they left him more comfortable and last week Lemuel wrote he was still getting better and was able to sit up some. [Lemuel Ingalls died 17 November 1839]

The rest of our friends were well or tolerably so, but I suppose you will like to know how they are situated and so I will tell you as well as I can. Aunt Nancy [b. 1796] has moved to Hampton on the Howard farm. She was at Abington on the Saturday that they were there but they did not see her. Miriam Ingalls is not expected till fall. She is still at Detroit and expected to teach school this summer and her Aunt Olive is there and is expected to come with her. Andrew has removed to the Corners and Pamelia is at Pomfret so that Aunt Dresser is left quite alone and has taken the death of Elisabeth very hard.

As Father and Mother returned, they spent one night at Worcester and in the morning they started with Elisa and Father went up to Mr. Halls for mulberry trees as they were to be ready at 8 o’clock and Mother and Elisa walked on to do some shopping and have him overtake them. They went down to the lower end of the street and waited and walked part way back, and the trees were not ready, and so he had to wait till they were. They brought Elisa home and she staid till the week Monday when we sent her back in the stage.

The canker rash has been very prevalent and very fatal among children in this town. There have been, I believe, 12 deaths since the first of May among which were Abram W. Seaver’s two children who were both carried off within a week and a week ago yesterday we attended the funeral of Caroline Davis who died the night before after a sickness of 5 or 6 days. The last day of her life she expressed a hope in the Savior and resignation to His will.

You say your term closes the first of July but did not say whether you should come home then or not. I hope you will let us know and as you had the honor and pleasure which I think must be ironical terms of boarding with Graham, I should like to know what wonderful lesson you have laid up in store for me. Do pray communicate as soon as possible for the science of human life is getting to be considered an important subject in Northbow. Yesterday I walked up to the town hall in the rain to hear a lecture upon it by Rev. Mr. Allen, but in consequence of the small number present, it was postponed till next week. And now then, for the love that I must send which I suppose if I were to specify, the whole would require some half dozen sheets and drain your coffers to pay the postage, but to begin Mother sends hers to you both and you may add mine too. Then we have some less than a cartload for you in particular, Grandmother sends hers and then from Mary Stiles whom Mother saw at Worcester, from Mrs. Lord also, and many others.

I am very glad you like your school but am also sorry that it confines you so close that it will not allow you any time to write to your brothers, plural, for Lemuel has complained bitterly that you do not keep your promise to write to him and I should like to hear from you as often as once in 6 months at least. But I have filled my sheet and must ask pardon for all mistakes which are neither few nor far between.

I remain your brother, — J. Ingalls

  • Reverend Charles Fitch, a noted revivalist, was installed pastor of the Abington Church in 1828. A very powerful revival was experienced in 1831, in connection with” a four days’ meeting.” Thirty-three persons united with the church the following January; fifty-nine during Fitch’s pastorate, which ended in 1834. He returned as guest speaker from time to time, however.

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