1844: Dr. Charles Augustus Terry to Julia Elizabeth (Woodbridge) Terry

This letter was written by Dr. Charles Augustus Terry (1810-1872), a son of Nathaniel Terry (1768-1844) and Catherine Wadsworth, who graduated from the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1833 and became the Professor of Obstetrics at Western Reserve College in Cleveland, Ohio. The letter was written to his wife, Julia Elizabeth (Woodbridge) Terry (1813-1871), a daughter of Ward Woodbridge and Mary Strong of Hartford, CT.

At the time the letter was written, Dr. Terry appears to have been looking to buy a house in Cleveland while his wife visited her family back in Hartford with their two daughters, Ellen (b. 1837), and Julia (b. 1839). The letter was addressed to his father-in-law, Ward Woodbridge, and then forwarded to Dr. Berry at Furnace Village in Easton, Massachusetts.

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[Addressed to Mrs. Charles A. Terry, Care of Ward Woodridge, Esq, Hartford, Connecticut, Furnace Village, Care of Dr. Barry]

Cleveland [Ohio]
July 26, 1844

My Dear Wife,

Your letter of Friday evening, I received yesterday and was happy to learn of your continual health and of my dear children. The knowledge that you are well is the only comfort I have for it is impossible to be happy when separated from all we love. I have hither to got along tolerably well, but the uncertainty I am under respecting a house gives me very great annoyance. It is very doubtful wheather I can obtain one of those Andrews’ houses, as the person who thought of vacating one will probably remain where he is. Had I eight hundred dollars, I could purchase the house Mr. Pomeroy lives in, as that now belongs to Mr. Woolsey. The price is $2800 and he says that $2000 can remain on mortgage as long as I please. But this is idle talk, for we have no friend to aid us, while living, tho many would be glad to pay our funeral expenses. It is only necessary to become a vagabond, to entitle us to an easy support. Has your father ever said anything to you respecting that business with me?

I wish, Julie, as soon as you have determined on what place you will visit at the sea side, you would inform me at once as you will probably need some more money by that time. And tell me where to send it. My last letter I addressed to Salisbury, and trust it arrived safely, but I think I shall send this to Hartford.

The chairs you speak of I should like much, and will try to raise money sufficient to purchase six of them. There is no need of sending the sofa before September.

You ask, dear Julia, what time I will permit you to return. Just as soon as I can feel as if it were best, and can obtain a suitable house. To see you is the first wish of my heart. I mention’d to you dearest that I had paid a number of debts, and tho relieved by this of this load, yet it has made my finances rather low for the present, and I thought perhaps it would be expedient not to come home too soon. You know, Julie, that this will be far more painful to me than to you, for you have the dear little girls with you, and I have nothing – not even a dog to love. But perhaps money matters will look up next month, and then we can decide.

I presume from what you say that Louisa has returned, but I have not seen nor heard a word from her. When did she leave New York? Mrs. Woolsey is anticipating much pleasure from your letter. Mrs. Benedict and husband, Miss B. and Mrs. Willsey have gone to Mackinaw for a few days. Mrs. Sterling goes the first opportunity to Connecticut where I hope you will ses her. Mrs. Leonard is quite ill, and has been so ever since the death of her husband. Doct. C. attends. Sincerely no, I echo your wish that the Munfrey’s would leave town. He is too great a fool to live. He thinks — if he can think – of going to Wisconsin to love. Mr. Mather, I have little doubt, will marry Miss Gayune (this is entre nous). I doubt if he returns with his brother.

Everything goes on as usual here, and it is dull, dull. Oh how I should enjoy meeting you at the sea shore! I am very much better in health than I have been but I think a week’s play spell would do me much good.

What can be the reason that George does not answer my letters? He owes me two and Ellen one. Do ask them when you see them. I think everybody at the East has given up writing to me but you. Cate [sister Catherine] must have forgotten me. Do you know anything more of Post’s affairs and did he obtain the desired aid of Uncle Wadsworth. Tell me about Uncle. Is he kind, and does he speak of me ever? What is Henry doing – building castles in the air as usual? I wish if you see him, you would ask him if the Arethusa Bulbosa has ever been cultivated, and if it can be obtained in Hartford.

Dear Julie, how much I love and wish to see you. It seems as if we could never again be separated in this world, for I cannot pass another summer without you and the children. Write very often and long letters. Love to all. Kiss the children. God bless you dearest. Yours ever, — Charles

  • Near the end of the letter, Charles asks his wife what “Henry” is doing. This is undoubtedly his older brother Henry Wadsworth Terry (b. 1799) who worked as a landscape gardener in Winsted, Connecticut. He would have been knowledgeable about Arethusa Bulbosa.
  • Charles also asks about “Post’s affairs” in the letter. He is probably referring to Richard B. Post of Princeton, New Jersey, who was the husband of Charles’ sister, Harriet Terry (b. 1804).
  • The Connecticut Historical Society posts the following information about the family:”The Terry and Bacon families of Hartford and New Haven were both highly respected. Nathaniel Terry, the progenitor of the family, married Catherine Wadsworth. Nathaniel was mayor of Hartford and a Congressman. His sons were also quite distinguished and most of them attended and graduated from Yale.  One son, Adrian Russell Terry, was a physician, and his most fascinating letters are those written while he was in Ecuador trying to establish a medical practice there. Great observations of the local land and citizens, plus a huge list of medical supplies he purchased in New York City are two of the highlights among his papers.Charles A. Terry, another of Nathaniel’s sons, was also a physician and when he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, he sent back vivid descriptions of that city. His brother, Alfred Terry, was the most avid letter writer in the family. His letters are mostly from his student days at Yale and later at Litchfield, Connecticut, where he studied law under James Gould.

    Daughter Catherine Terry married noted minister, theologian and author Leonard Bacon. All of their children (and there were plenty) wrote to mother about their activities, the development of their children, their relationships with other family members, etc. Leonard Bacon and his son Leonard W. traveled to Europe and the Middle East from 1850-1851 and they wrote long, detailed letters of their impressions of the familiar and unfamiliar.

    Catherine and Leonard’s son, Francis Bacon, a physician, wrote from Galveston, Texas where he tried (unsuccessfully) to get established in a practice. His letters are filled with disparaging remarks about the lack of culture among the population there. He also could not stand the weather”.

  • While researching the people mentioned in this letter, I found the following letter posted on the internet that was written in 1842 from Charles A. Terry to his wife in Hartford. I’ve posted it here as background to this letter.

Cleveland, [Ohio]
August 17 1842

My Dear Wife,

Your dear kind letter of the 12th has this morning been received and tho I wrote you on Sunday yet as you gave me a little scolding for not having written the week before. I feel in duty bound to vindicate myself instantly from so unmerited a charge. I did write, dearest, a long letter & what is more, paid the postage. I believe I stated in my last letter that I had written on friday of week before last but I believe I was mistaken and that I wrote it on Sunday evening, the 7th. I think it was mailed Monday, certainly the day after I wrote, and I paid the postage myself to save you as much expense as possible as I shall always do in future. I think you must have received it the next morning, as I have never had a letter fail since I lived at the west.

I have been very busy thus far this month and have charged nearly $200 already. And I have sometimes been so busy and so tired that I have on that account not been quite so punctual to the day as usual. But I have written oftener than once a week ever since you left me, so no more scoldiness, Madam Dearest wife. How warmly do I respond to your wish to see me once more. I begin to count the days which will elapse before I can leave here, for leave here I will if it is possible to do so.

I shall find no difficulty in the procuring part of it and the only question will be whether I shall not be too busy. If I am very much occupied, of course I shall not come, but I trust I shall not be, and that it will be in my power to see all my treasures safely back to their western home. How little do they know of true love such as ours who imagine for a moment that absence can ever weaken one particle of its strength. Soberly I look forward to the moment of our meeting as the happiest any of my life, and Julie, ‘till we get home, let us when we meet put aside as much as possible all the cares of life and for a few days at least be carelessly happy.

With you and the dear little girls I never can be wholly unhappy, but I pray Heaven I may never again be the prey to such pecuniary anxiety of mind as I have suffer’d from for some years past. It has injured my health, and worse than that, my temper; for I think I naturally had a good temper, and since I have taken the grand step I have had better health and more equanimity of temper than I have known for years, and I think you will find me quite a decent husband. If I have my health we can never again be embarrassed as we have been, if we go upon the principles of never getting in debt. How hard I will work and how happy we shall be, when with our little ones about us we can sit down at evening and commune together.

Dear Julie, I want to see you so much that I feel as if it was impossible to wait ‘till October. You said in one of your letters that you hoped I had left off tobacco. I have left off that and spirituous liquors, and I don’t think I have smoked a cigar this two months. You know I used tobacco for my health, and certainly it did me much good, but now that my general health is so good I have no need of it.

I wrote you in my last letter that I was somewhat unwell. Since then I have had a slight return of my illness but am much better to day and I think have seen the last of my troubles of that kind.

To day I rode out to Cables to see his fruit. He has hundreds of bushels of peaches and plums just ripening, and certainly it is a beautiful sight. If I could give you one basket of them I would consent not to eat one again this season.

I had a letter from Louisa this morning she says they have had no fruit at all there They are all well. [My brother] Adrian never writes to me.

My patient is still ill at the American house and I am yet without money to send you. But my next letter will no doubt contain it as the lady is convalescing. I shall make about forty dollars from it. Part of it I shall send to you, and part lay aside for your return. I was compell’d to get fifty dollars advanced by Uncle out of the $600 as I could not otherwise be sure of paying my bill to Butts and I would not be in debt to him any longer. It makes no difference, as it saves the money I should have otherwise paid him from my practice. I have made about 800 dollars already this summer, and shall probably make four or five hundred more before I come on for you so you see I have not been idle this summer.

I think we shall live a great deal happier than ever we did before, and the less we mingle in gay society the better. One of these days, Julie, if I am prosperd, we shall be well off, for I have a good practice and many kind friends and industry and frugality are sure to succeed.

I had been hoping that Caroline did not intend coming out ‘till October, and that in the event of my not being able to come for you, she and Mr Grant would be your escorts. I hope they will not come to the Falls [Niagara Falls] without coming to Cleveland. It would be a very great pleasure to me to see them, and they will be in the midst of the fruit season. Tell Caroline I will show her peaches but little smaller than Eliza’s load!! Do urge them to come. I could write to Caroline if I thought it would have any affect.

Did you know Henry Ritchie was married to someone in Buffalo? I dont know who. You ask me about the story of George Kingsley’s pocket book being found. Henry took an old one of his brothers on to the cart with him and at Rochester had his pocket picked and the thief took this old pocket book – I wish dearest I had any news to tell you, but there is none stirring here.

When I commenced this letter I was quite low spirited, but writing to you as usual has put me in good spirits again. Give my love to all and tell the dear little girls father thinks of them all the while. Tell Nelly I should like to hear her say Bache bache once more and Julie sing [?] Uncle John.

Good night dearest dearest Julie,
Your affectionate husband, Charles A. Terry

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