This letter was written by Mary Ann Carper (1821-1885), daughter of Benjamin Carper (1778-1855) and Elizabeth VanMeter (1784-1862). Mary Ann wrote the letter to her cousin, Martha Hester Sweetland (1823-1885), daughter of Eleazer Sweetland (1782-1838) and Sarah Hawkins VanMeter (1794-1881).
Though she appears to be suffering a broken heart from a broken engagement in this 1844 letter, Mary Ann married the following year to Nathan Myers (1812-1900).
Addressed to Miss Martha Sweetland, Pattonsburg, Virginia
March 18th 1844
My Dearest Cousin,
Having been compelled to let a good opportunity pass on last week without writing, I grasp this opportunity with great pleasure to write to my absent cousin of Pattonsburg. Yet I do not wish you to think it will prove interesting, for you will be sadly disappointed, for I feel confident it will not by no means interest you. I will commence by saying Fincastle has been very dull ever since your departure. We have had several parties given in honour of Mr. Pitzer and Lady. I was presented with an invitation to the parties but could not attend the festivities on account of my depressed spirits.
I have been very near dead and I think without a speedy recovery, my disease will prove fatal. Mine is a disease of the heart. I am afraid it will commence preying upon my frail system for my heart begins to pit-a-pat very often. If so, I will give up and yield the point. Oh! My dear cousin, I cannot describe the anguish of my bleeding heart. No one but God alone knows what I have suffered since I last parted with you – my only friend to whom I could breath my utmost every thought. But “Alass” I am left solitary and alone [with] no one to soothe my aching heart. Still, must remembrance oft recall those hours of past delight. Those scenes, those joys, that — lost to all – some memory’s painful sight, forgetfulness can ne’er reveal its proffered charms to me. No, years must pass ‘ere I can feel forgetfulness of the past, dear Martha. Oh! That I was in a mysterious world untraveled by the sun where the wandering tide of time has never seen. I would there dream my time away in painful recollections and oh no charms can ‘ere renew its faded tints again. Oh no, no often sun can ever one beam to it impart. No, then love can ever cheer this wounded, bleeding heart.
Martha, I imagine to yourself you see me poring over my stove in an exstasy. O such a dull time as I have had, no amusement whatever. I have had the blues and horrors completely. No one to sympathize with me in my sufferings. But I must stop this languishing strain. You doubtless know the cause of it. Could any one have told me this would have been the case, I would not of believed it. But I was forced to discard the doctor against my own desire and will. Oh! Mat, I am grieved to death for him. I am fearful he will reflect on me for it but God only knows how I was treated on account of my engagement to him. It was only the love I had for my parents that induced me to give him up, although they treated me shamefully about it. But you must recollect Mat that parents are very near to children. I never shall forget the treatment of some of my relations towards me though I freely forgive them the past. Old Mrs. Backen has not ceased starting reports. She always has something new to relate to some of my relations. I have not met with her as yet and hope I never may here on earth. She has been the greatest enemy I have had in this matter. She speaks of removing to Lynchburg. Joy go with her. I think our town will have some rest if the old gossip should be taken with a leaving.
My dear Cousin, you must come up shortly and stay with me for I do not expect to visit Pattonsburg soon. You know the cause. It will not be my fault. My friends do not blame you all with what has passed. Do not stay away from us on that account. You, Ellen, Sarah, Eliza, Jane and Sarah Sweetland must come up to the fair which will take place the first of April. Mr. Pitzer was over at our house several days since but I did not have the pleasure of seeing him. I was at sister Elizabeth’s. I stay with her a great deal of my time. Adieu, Adieu, dear cousin for the present is what is compelled to be said by your absent cousin, — Mary Ann Carper
P.S. You will not fail to come up to the fair. Tell Charles and VanMeter to be certain and come also. I am very anxious to see you all. Do come up some if not all. Martha, will you answer this scroll or not. Do for your friend’s sake and tell me where the Dr. is at this time. May heaven bless him wherever he may be.
I find after looking over my letter this morning that it is very badly written & I can but think you will excuse it as it was twelve before I finished it and I was so sleepy that I could scarcely see. I would copy it off this morning but have not time for I am wide awake but very absent minded. I may be talking to anyone but my mind will be wafted to Pattonsburg. – M. A. C.