This letter was written by Caroline Granger to her brother Miles Tobey Granger (1817-1895). They were the children of James L. Granger (1790-1870) and Abigail Tobey (1796-1882) of New Marlborough, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. The Granger family moved to Canaan, Connecticut in 1819 where both Miles and Caroline were educated in the common schools. Nothing more could be found regarding Caroline Tobey Granger who must have been born about 1820 or shortly thereafter in Connecticut and was teaching school in Ashleyville, Massachusetts, when she penned this letter. Her best friend, mentioned frequently in the letter, was Susan Van Deusen (1820-1899) of Johnstown, New York. Susan married John Hillyer (1817-1879) in 1855.
Caroline also mentions the visit of her cousin William and his pretty, young and affectionate wife. A note on the margin of the letter, added years later, states that this was William Ferguson who married Jane Lappin of Norfolk, Virginia.
Much more is known about Caroline’s brother Miles, to whom the letter is addressed. Miles graduated from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, in 1842 and moved to Louisiana in 1843 where he taught the children of surrounding plantations while residing with the family of Francis A. Evans — a plantation owner in West Feliciana Parish. From this letter, we learn that he was later teaching a private school while studying law in Pickneyville, Wilkinson County, Mississippi in 1844 where he was subsequently admitted to the bar (April 1845). He returned to Canaan, Connecticut, and was admitted to the bar in Litchfield County in October 1845 and practiced law in Canaan 1847-1867. After 1849, he was a Probate Judge, District of Canaan for fifteen of eighteen years. Miles served as member of the Connecticut General Assembly in 1857, and in the state Senate in 1866 and 1867. From 1867 to 1876, he was a judge of the Superior Court of Connecticut, and was elected judge of the Supreme Court of Errors (now the Supreme Court of Connecticut) in 1876 and served until March 1, 1887, when he resigned.
Miles T. Granger was elected as a Democrat to the Fiftieth Congress (March 4, 1887-March 3, 1889). He was not a candidate for renomination in 1888.
On October 21, 1846, Miles married Miss Sarah Caroline Ferguson of Sheffield, Massachusetts. They had six children, Bertha I., Samuel F., Mary F., Josie, Kittie M., Carrie Tobey.
Addressed to Mr. Miles T. Granger, Pinckneyville, Wilkinson County, Mississippi
Care of Mr. Francis A. Evans
May 26, 1844
I received your letter some weeks since but have been utterly unable to answer it until the present moment. If my ability for writing was as good as my inclination, I would give you something interesting. As it is, I can only pick up a little town news and call it a letter. In the first place, you must imagine yourself for a few moments in the schoolroom at Ashleyville surrounded by some 30 or 40 little urchins, rarely unruly by the way, and a thousand needless questions to ask daily. You will then be able to form some idea of the beauty of my new situation. (Methinks I hear you say preferable to a log cabin.) Not that I am at all discontented — far from it. The place I designate as home is good as heart could wish. A pleasant room and solitude with one friend near me in this cold and calculating world is all I desire. That friend I find is Sarah. Seldom a day passes without seeing her and her cheerfulness has a tendency to vanish all thoughts of loneliness. She often speaks of you wondering how you are busying yourself at that moment. Most probably she would give you a call occasionally to see, if you were neighbors.
We have had a delightful visit from Cousin William and wife. They spent the most part of 4 weeks at our house. Every moment I could spare from my school was devoted to them. She is rather young but appears to possess a very good disposition, very pretty and very affectionate. I like her much. I have promised positively to spend the winter with them, and if nothing happens, shall most probably take my departure for [Norfolk] Virginia in the month of September, amidst tears and lamentations. Mother is very desirous I should go, otherwise I should give it up at once. As you well know, I always follow her dictates. William we expect will be up in September.
I left my letter in an unfinished state to prepare for church intending to have finished it immediately upon my return, but was prevented by ill health having had a slight attack of the Scarlet Fever, and not so very slight either, if I may judge by my feelings one day. Imagination might have assisted me some in the belief that I was never so sick before. However, out of this seeming evil I am likely to extract some benefit for my health is now better than ever.
There has been quite an overturn at Philosopher’s Corner. Doubtless you take a lively interest in that place and ever will rejoice at the prosperity of its inhabitants. Mr. Deming has had a general slicking among his old goods, which resulted in Mr. Emmons being taken in to partnership. I fear it will be the ruin of the poor boy, so prodigal of time since. To my certain knowledge he has spent one half day. Think you that Uncle Sam will long survive it? Mr. Stevens’ affairs are in the same embarrassed state as usual. Various opinions are entertained as to the final termination, but Wheeler Green says there is no question but what Clark’s cause will at last be successful for there is not a man to be found on the wide airth able to cope with such a man as Stevens. Almira is teaching in the Ranney District.
You can hardly imagine how surprised I was to have you speak so lightly of my favorite, Hartson. I am confident had you been informed of his great reformation, you would have judged him less severely. A few months previous to his calling at our house, he became a convert to the Baptist faith and has followed preaching from that time, He spent a number of weeks among the Baptist brethren up north. In New Marlboro he was much liked — the discourses very interesting as I have been told — as he was giving a description of the many wonderful things he saw while in Europe and elsewhere. He looked and appeared quite ministerial, I assure you, with his white kerchief nicely folded about his neck.
The Trustees of the Sheffield Academy have become discouraged and desired Elder Jewett to superintend matters. Accordingly, he set Mr. [Lemuel C.] Holcomb aside and has now a Mr. Bollins from Middletown who is preparing for the ministry. Mr. Holcomb gave good satisfaction as a teacher but they thought his morals were not correct enough to have the charge of youth, and many of the scholars boarded with him. Report says Mr. Benton received a dismission from the school for misconduct, but whether correct or not, I cannot say.
The church in this place is to be dedicated next month and as I am preparing a new dress purposely for the occasion, should be extremely happy to see you here with your lady. Everyone in Sheffield & Canaan think you are certainly married with the exception of our family and Sarah. At times I am half inclined to believe it myself. Please inform me in your next the distance betwixt Sharon [Massachusetts] and Pinckneyville [Mississippi] that I may be able to satisfy the people’s curiosity. Sarah received your paper and often speaks of sending you one, but she is busily engaged in preparing for a journey westward. She sends her best respects.
Mother & Aunt Betsy are living entirely alone and very quietly together. Samuel is at A. Taft’s. Mother says give my best respects to Miles and ask him if he does not recollect the conversation about Celestia’s Cook’s melancholy. She thinks she was right in imagining Canfield as the cause. Well they are at last married and started immediately for the far West. I pity her sincerely. She little knows the trials that await her in that proud spirited family. Edward is forever ____ from Massachusetts. I have heard nothing from your people.
I have made Elizabeth R. a visit in company with Mahala that they might have an opportunity to contrast beauty with deformity. It was really laughable to see the restraint on both sides. A few common place remarks made no conversation for a long afternoon. S. Underwood is teaching school in the district where she formerly taught.
I should have shown you some mercy if I could have found an opportunity of sending to the office and not written so much about nothing. Uncle Jacob & family send their respects and wished to have me remind you of your promise of writing them. Pierce gets along very prosperously, He has purchased an elegant situation in Poughkeepsie that exceeds his wife’s property a thousand dollars. But that is nothing for one than can make 60 dollars in a few months by letting out a horse & carriage. Doctor [Amariah] Brigham is still in Hudson and succeeds very well in his new business, I believe. How do you manage to pass away time with only 5 scholars, I really desire to know. I should be happy to hear from you any time, but feel that my scrolls are poor compensation for your letters. Yours with much esteem, — Caroline