This letter was written by Elisabeth (Strong) Stedman (1813-1852), the daughter of Norwich merchant Joseph H. Strong and his wife Lucretia Fanning. Elisabeth wrote the letter to her sister, Cornelia Strong (1810-1859) who still lived with her parents in Norwich in 1840. The letter refers to the death of their sister, Mary Ann (Strong) Huntington (1806-1840), the wife of Oliver Ellsworth Huntington. Other children of Joseph and Lucretia Strong included: Charles Henry Strong (1808-1839), Harriet Lucretia Strong (1811-1820), and George Augustus Strong (1816-1820).
The letter writer, Elisabeth Strong, married Charles James Stedman (1812-1858), in September 1838. He was the son of James Stedman and Eunice Huntington Carew.
Addressed to Miss Cornelia Strong, Care of Joseph H. Strong, Norwich, Connecticut
December 2, 1840
My beloved sister Cornelia,
Your letter containing the painful intelligence of our dear sister was received yesterday morning. Though I felt that it was very possible I did not think it was very probable that she would so soon be taken from us & the news seemed very unexpected, I cannot realize now the truth of it & that that sweet sister’s face we shall no more see in the flesh. Lonely and pleasant we may truly say she has been unto us & the memory of her will ever be very sweet. I feel that though we have indeed occasion to mourn in view of our loss, we have the greatest occasion for gratitude & joy in view of her gain. Is she now in that world where there is no sin or sorrow & all ears are forever wiped from the eyes? O what rich consolation there is in the thought. Has she reached her eternal home & is she to know no more of the trials & temptations of this sublunary state? O we cannot wish her back. No, we will not. We will rather rejoice & give thanks unto Him who has given us such blessed “hope in he death.” That she was enabled to rest with such confiding faith in her savior in her time of need, I consider a most striking evidence of His faithfulness to his promises to all who “come unto Him” & I can see in it another motive for putting our whole trust in Him for time & for eternity. What but almighty grace could give that sweet composure in view of death which our beloved sister manifested. And shall we not make sure by faith of those same precious promises the truth of which were so fully verified in her. O, I wish we might all improve this affiliation. I fear for myself that I shall not. Though “often chastised,” I seem like Ephraim – to be “as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke.” I mourn that I do not more heed ________ this I know is not enough. They are sent in covenant love & mercy, I hope, & if so, it is most ungrateful not to profit by them. As a family, how often have we felt the rod in the last 2 years. May it not be in vain that it has been used. I think much of our bereaved parents & pray that God will give them a place & a name in his house better than of sons or daughters. Let us endeavour, dear sister, to make up as far as in our power the loss they have sustained by being more & more dutiful as children. Our dear sister who is gone set us abright example in that respect & I have often wished that I had more followed it. I cannot realize that you & I, my dear sister, are left alone of the 6 children which once were. It does indeed draw us nearer to each other. The truth struck me very forcibly & brought the tears afresh yesterday when I remembered that I was probably the only one to whom you immediately wrote to communicate the sad intelligence of dear Mary Ann’s death. Thank you for remembering me so soon. I shall look for another letter with more particulars with great interest & desire. I hope you will remember your promise not to wait for your time. I feel that you had a great privilege indeed in being permitted to minister to Mary Ann’s wants during all her sickness & in her last hours – a privilege which you will always remember with great satisfaction. I wish I could look back upon the same but I feel that duty called me here & that I have much cause to be thankful that I was permitted to be so much with her this summer & especially that I had that precious opportunity of seeing her in New York before I left. O, I cannot realize that I shall not see her again, beloved one. What a kind, sweet sister she was. I love to dwell on her memory. How does brother bear the bereavement? He has met with a great loss – great indeed. I trust he will be comforted from above, I cannot realize that those little children are motherless. It makes me, & I doubt not it does you, feel very tenderly toward them. They know not the loss they have sustained. I rejoice that they are to be with you at present. Write me everything about them & about all of you.
I hope ‘ere this you have received the intelligence of our safe arrival here by my letter of week before last, it seemed to me as if we had been here more than a fortnight but it is only 2 weeks yesterday since we arrived. I almost forgot what I wrote you about Cincinnati, the acquaintances I had formed, &c. I want to tell you of what a pleasant home we have for the present at Mr. [George] Carlisle’s & how hospitable the people here are. Mr. & Mrs. Carlisle do all in their power to make our stay pleasant & they succeed in making it so I can be alone as much as I wish as I have a good fire in my room all the time (made of the bright blazing coal which they use almost altogether here). Mrs. [Sarah] Carlisle is occupied with her little family in the nursery more or less. This opens into my room & we very sociably sit sometimes in one room & sometimes in the other. Mrs. Carlisle is a pleasant, good-hearted & intelligent woman – one whom I can enjoy & in most things I assimilate with her. On the subject of religion alone, I feel some restraint, as her views are peculiar (she is a Swedenborgian) but we frequently converse upon it notwithstanding & I cannot help hoping that she is a good woman. She had sympathized with me in the loss of dear sister & there are others here with whom I have become acquainted who will also. Since I commenced this, I have had a call from a Mrs. Wheeler (a sister of Mrs. Loring) on this account. She is from New York & is passing the winter with her sister here. She heard that I had hear of my sister’s death & she said she told her sister she could not keep my situation out of her mind & she would come to see her immediately – or something like this. I mention it to show her good will – she is a plain warm-hearted mother & speaks from experience of the consolations of grace. Just before she came here, she parted with a daughter to go on a mission. Mrs. Hart, who ____ at ______ _____ is passing the winter here with her sister, Mrs. White. She seemed glad to meet with us again.
I made a pleasant visit last week at Dr. Aydelott’s. He and his daughter called very soon after our arrival. Perhaps you have heard Mr. I speak of him. He is exceedingly pleasant & good man & a very pleasant family he has. He is President of the Woodward College of Cincinnati. Our visit was a very unceremonious one (though they had some other company) & the visit was closed with prayer by him. Mr. Bishop, a brother of Mr. Newton Perkins (a fine young man who lives here) who called upon the same evening with Dr. Aydelott, was there & the family with whom he boards. Mr. [Samuel Richard] Davies, who is mayor of the city, & a Mr. Stores who has been in Congress – all pleasant people.
The first Sabbath after I came, I went to Dr. [Lyman] Beecher’s church all day & in the evening to the Episcopal church. Dr. [Lyman] Beecher did not preach & I have not yet heard him. Mr. Brook, the Episcopal clergyman of the church I attended is considered one of the best preachers in the city & a great many of the good people here attend that church.
Last Sabbath I did not go out as I was not well. The water (I suppose it was) made me sick again for I had not been prudent in the use of it. Charles thought I had better have the advice of a physician & went to see Dr. [Wolcott] Richards who prescribed for me Calomel & of course I felt rather poorly for a day or two. Dr. Richards made me 2 calls in a professional way & will, I hope, make me soon one in another way as he is a very pleasant man & a kind of relative you know. You heard me speak of him last summer. The water & climate affects almost everyone when they first come here, I find. John Foote was telling me his experience last evening & it was similar to mine but he is very well now. Beloved sister, I did not think of covering my paper so soon & before I had sad much that I wished to say. Charles proposes to write a postscript of 2 or 3 lines & I want to leave a little space for him. I wish to say something of the time of our return home but I know not what to say. We shall not leave here before the 1st of January & may be not till some time after. But now that we have not the expectation of seeing once more the face of our sister who is gone, I hardly know what to wish respecting our return before Spring. I don’t [like] so much the thought of crossing the mountains in mid-winter. I have not room to say all I would. My heart sometimes goes out so toward you dearest C, & other friends at home & I wish I could express my affection. With most affectionate remembrance to dear parents, brother A. E. & all other dear friends & particularly at the other house (Father C’s). I must close. You speak of dear kind Aunt N. Remember me particularly to her. You did not say anything of mother’s heath in your last & I hope by that she has recovered by her indisposition. Write me of that & how Papa is now. I want to thank you for those dried tomatoes. I had not the sick head ache on my way here & I believe it may was owing to the free use of those. They were invaluable to me in this light, I assure you. Goodbye my precious & only sister. Yours, — Elisabeth
Dear Sister Cornelia,
I have asked permission to add a word but it is only that I may, with my own hand, tell you how sincerely I sympathize in your one loss. Dear Mary Ann was one for whom I always had a very great regard since I have been one of you. I have loved her much, I think my dear Elisabeth like her in many respects. I hope she may be more like her. Remember me most affectionately to all my dear bereaved circle. Your affectionate brother, — Charles Stedman
P.S. Mrs. [Sarah] Carlisle has 4 children. The eldest is a very modest little girl of 10 years old who is almost unexceptionable in her behavior. The 2nd, a boy of 7 who is a boy. The 3rd, a bright black-eyed girl of 3 (who seems to love us very much) & the 4th is a good-natured little boy – a little more than 1 year old.
The Stedman children included:
STEDMAN, Elizabeth Strong, b. 16 OCT 1841 d. 12 AUG 1843
STEDMAN, Mary Ann, b. 16 OCT 1841 d. 15 AUG 1843
STEDMAN, James George, b. 12 AUG 1843 d. 21 OCT 1863
STEDMAN, Harriet Strong, b. 10 JUL 1846 d. 17 JUN 1861
STEDMAN, William Peck, b. APR 1849
The Carlisle family with whom the Stedman’s boarded were George Carlisle (1797-1863) and his wife, Sarah Blossom Loring (1807-1882) whose house stood at the SW corner of Fourth and Walnut in Cincinnati. They were married in 1828 in New York but came to live in Cincinnati prior to 1830. George was a well-to-do banker and venture capitalist. George and Sarah’s eldest son, George Loring Carlisle (1829-1832) died young. The next four children born to the couple are as described in Elisabeth’s letter:
Maria Rebecca Carlisle (1830-1874)
John W. Carlisle (1833-1903)
Susan Jane Carlisle (1837-xxxx)
and George William Carlisle (1839-1923)
The couple had three more children, born after 1840.
Wolcott Richards, born June 15, 1803; married May 22, 1827, Indiana Cordelia Twiggs. After her death he married, May 24, 1841, Susan Mansfield Strong (1. 3. 3. 4. 1. 1. 6. 1.), widow of Charles H., son of Joseph Strong, of Norwich, Conn. Dr. Richards graduated from the Yale Medical school in 1825, and began his practice in Brooklyn, N. Y. He removed to Cincinnati, O., in January, 1828, and was at the head of his profession there for many years, and until 1859, when his health giving out, he was compelled to retire. After a year of travel in Europe he settled in Waltham, Mass. He removed in 1866 to Boxbury, Mass., thence to New York City, where he lived with his uncle, Guy Richards, until his death, October 21, 1871.