This letter was written by Frances Mallambre (Grim) Freeman (1798-1885), wife of Dr. Isaac Freeman (1801-1885). The couple were married in June 1828 by the Rev. Thomas C. Levins. Their marriage record indicates that the groom was from Vernon, Oneida Co., New York and the bride was from Bonhamtown, New Jersey. Their children were: Catherine A. Freeman (b. 1826), Mary Jane Freeman (1830-1830), Russell Williams Rensselaer Freeman (1833-1866), Eliza G. Freeman (1835-1843) and John B. Freeman (b. 1838). Dr. Freeman attended Hartwick Seminary and graduated from Fairfield Medical College in 1824. He spent his entire career in Vernon, New York. He is identified as a Village Officer in 1843 and 1862.
The letter was directed to Martha C. Masters, the eldest daughter of Isabel Caldwell and Thomas Masters, a “distinguished shipping merchant” in New York City and Philadelphia. In October 1832, Martha married Henry Wyllys Thomas (1798-1888), an 1816 graduate of Yale College. After graduation, he studied law, passed the bar, and set up a practice in Canandaigua, New York. In the 1840s he relocated for a time to Michigan where he served briefly in the State Senate, but he returned to Canandaigua and was appointed by the Governor to fill an empty seat on the N.Y. Supreme Court. Henry and Martha never had any children.
[Mrs. H. W. Taylor, Care of Mr. Thos. Masters, No. 9 Clinton Place, N. York]
Vernon, [Oneida Co., New York]
June 19, 1843
My very dear friend,
Yours of the 15 ult. came duly to hand. Most welcome it truly was, after such a long, long time of silence. I take the first available moment to reply to it, being confined to my room at the time of receiving it with a severe attack of influenza, from which I am not yet fairly recovered. We have all suffered more of less from the same visitation but none quite so severely as myself.
I congratulate you, my dear friend, on being once again in the dear early home, and though shadows have fallen upon it which dim, I think they will not darken its hallowed light – that light which we turn in all our sojournings, and which cheers us though through the weary days and years of absence. Oh! how much of joy and sorrow, each intense in their turn, is concentrated in one such pilgrimage to the hearts earliest shrine.
My dear Mother has been with me for several weeks and intends remaining until November. It’s my present plan to visit N. Y. during her stay, which will leave me at ease with regard to the dear ones here, and free me from the necessity of taking them with me. I shall leave all at home, save Russell, who is pronounced by acclimation large enough for an attendant upon his Mother. The Doctor will not be able to accompany me down, but has some hope of being able to spend a day or two in N. York and return home with me. My sister urged me strongly to spend the month of June with them, but as my health forbade this, I thought to avoid the hottest part of the season and devote the month of September to the visit. A review of your letter seems to say that you will not be there at that time, and as I am most desirous that we should meet once again, I must beg you to write on receiving this, and I will try and make arrangements to meet yours. I give myself but three weeks absence from home – one week must be given to my country friends, and I will have but two for N. York. I intended to be quite ready, and take the first cool day of September. Yet I will go earlier if you will not be there at all during that month. The heat is all I fear, and there has, a yet, been little of that. Yet it is to be expected though all our weather wise here predict a cool summer.
My little Henry talks very fluently tho’ not so plainly as his early beginning promised. He is active and healthy, and a real little boy. He is much more independent and less of a baby than any of the others of his age, but his precocity is all bodily – there seems little of anything but frolic and mischief. Yet his father pronounces him the “fairest of the flock.” Literally he is so, for he is sweet and beautiful to look upon, but he may be too young for mental development yet. He gives no indication, at all events, more than every child does, except in talking perpetually.
Mr. Willard called a few days since and requested the Doctor to visit his daughter. He saw her yesterday, I think. She had recently returned from Buffalo. They talked a great deal of you, and it was very pleasant to hear of you from one so recently with you.
I am sorry that Miss Sherman has presented herself so unamiably in her new home, or visiting place. When here, I knew but little of her tho’ seeing her very often. Yet I never greatly fancied her, only I believe, because she was not pretty. Yet her family is much and deservedly respected here and she herself was considered the subject of very serious religious exercises not more than six months previous to her departure. The Doctor had occasionally had her for a patient and thought her gentle and amiable, so that I felt disappointed in her going astray from the right. I imagine the influence of her brother has not been favorable.
I said nothing of Miss Willard’s health. The Doctor says she has some bad symptoms, yet he thinks if she is faithful, there is hope of her recovery. He says she is, he thinks, inclined to Quaking, and has friends about her so inclined. But he required from her a promise of undeviating obedience and has undertaken to do what he can for her.
Evening. Being limited in time, I will only beg that you will take an early opportunity to advise me of your plans, or rather whether I will find it most certain to meet you in N. York and I will then decide upon the time of leaving home. If my health permits, I know of no insurmountable obstacle to my accomplishing the object of my wishes. But my head is so sensitive to all changes that I am sometimes almost discouraged in forming plans for the future. I am even now writing with one hand pressed to my forehead to help me steady until I close. The Doctor desires his most cordial remembrance and all the little ones are asking to share in love to you. May Almighty God bless us all and grant that we may see each other once again and soon. Yours truly, — F. M. Freeman
- Obituary From the: Utica Morning Herald, Friday December 4, 1885. ISAAC FREEMAN — The early morning hours of December 2, 1885, closed the long and busy life of Dr. Isaac Freeman, at his home in Vernon. His infant eyes opened on the snows of January 18, 1802, and the snows of December, 1885, will rest upon his grave. He was born in Warren, Herkimer County, near Richfield Springs, where his grandfather was an early settler, he was educated at Hartwick seminary, Otesgo county, afterwards studying at Fairfield medical college, where he graduated in 1824. In the fall of 1824, he began the practice of his profession at Vernon Center, removing to Vernon village in 1834. Here he remained until his death, except the year 1838, passed in Canandaigua. In 1828, he married Frances Mallombre Grim of New York, a woman eminent for her social and intellectual qualities. Their exceptionally happy union was broken by her death in May last. Of their five children, Mrs. Catherine A. Williams is the only survivor. (Note: gravestone has year of birth 1801 – Obit has 1802)
- The 1850 U.S. Census enumerates the Freeman family in Vernon, Oneida Co., New York. Unfortunately, young Henry — the “fairest of the flock” in the opinion of his father — does not appear. The Vernon Village Cemetery records show that Henry T. Freeman was born 29 May 1841 and died 21 November 1848 at age 7.
- The Willard girl being treated by Dr. Freeman remains unidentified. Col. Erastus Willard and his wife, Sarah Parsons, lived in Vernon at that time but their only known child was Ashbel Parsons Willard, the 11th Governor of Indiana. They were, however, the ONLY Willard family enumerated in Vernon in the 1840 Census.