1845: Ralph Ashley to Rollin M. Ashley & Lardner B. Ashley

This letter was written by Ralph Ashley (1797-1852). He was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and died in Port Republic, New Jersey. He was the son of Leonard Ashley and Sarah Noble. Ralph was married to Sarah Blackman (1803-1879).

Ralph addressed the letter to his sons Rollin Mallory Ashley (1827-1915) and Lardner Blackman Ashley (1830-1852) who were at the time attending school at Groton Academy in Tompkins County, New York.

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[Addressed to Rollin C. M. Ashley, Groton, Tompkins County, New York]

Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]
Monday, 17th March 1845

Understanding from a letter Uncle Joe rec’d from Lardner a few days before I left home (a week today) that the quarter would end on the 25 of this Month – from the statement in the last I rec’d from you that the funds would not be sufficient to discharge the indebtedness of the Term, I shall include a 20 dollar note. Discharge of sufficient all dues from you. If anything more, take it between you for expense money. This mode will be safer than a greater amount sent at one time. Please drop me a line on receipt. I shall be anxious to hear if you get it &c, how you both get along with your studies &c. I wish you both to continue at school as long as we can find any means to meet expenses &c. Now if Lardner can be content with school a Term or two longer and then come home, seems to me would be as well. Perhaps I may have an opportunity to visit you and to benefit my health. Has been but poor this winter. Have had a gathering on the left arm at the elbow point – the suffering cannot be described. It is much better now. I think I shall feel and be better this spring than for years past. No doubt it was a concentration of the difficulties I have felt in my head for years. Have no doubt the abundant discharge from the arm will in some degree relieve my head &c. We were comfortable in health at home as much as usual.

I should have tried to have wrote a word before had there been any thing of importance to communicate. Cousin Adaline keeps no school a going yet. Little David can spell like a Hero. All goes on well. Mrs. May Blake was buried a week or 10 days since.

Business matters with me still slip along in the ch_____ of misfortune. During the affliction of my arm, one offered a spare dapple grey horses, cost $80 cash down. Have now 6 horses on hand, all fine & 2 yoke of oxen. We do a big business in the teaming line. Have all or nearly soon the whole frame of the new vessel in the yard. Have been for a week since I left home in the oak swamps near Pemberton. Have now completed the whole job. Will undertake this morning to wend my way to the shore. It is now 2 o’clock A.M.

Mother said the day I left home she should write you. If so, she has told you all about things at home. The Glass Works will be brought up Dutchacoo for the present. Peter Lane left before I left home. Has gone to Tuckerton to build a vessel. I shall now be alone for awhile. Store is closed this _____ & will have to be so till I het home. We are about building some addition to our house this summer. Are getting material ready &c. &c.  If my health is good through the summer, the new vessel will be off in October. Capt. Dick has & will advance $10000 to go on with. He will command Uncle David as no doubt you have understood has rented the mill for 3 years to Mr. Murphy & Brother will take possession on the 25 of the month. I have rented them the Pine House, having moved it down on the lot between John’s and the Smith Shop House.  Now have it fitted up in very good style.

I have had some good luck. Have collected from Joseph Endicott, Esq. on the note of Japheth Pine the money I paid in Camden Bank $287. Think I shall get $300 more from Sheriff on account of the sale of John Rims property when bid off by Doct. Piyney – the Old Doc having nothing more than my claim at the time. I am rowing & sowing up all the old affairs without reserve. Must and will have it if to be got from friend or foe.

We have suffered much loss of timber for 18 months past. The entire Oak Ridge on the 11 hundred acres has been destroyed by the land pirates before I found it out. I have after a consideration expense arrested and secured the ring leader and have him secured in jail to be tried in April Term next. The State Prison will be his doom, by the name of David Mason. Loss of timber $500.

Now, dear sons, I should write much oftener but there is so many to write. I wish you would write siss & Eliza a letter. You cannot think how pleased they would be, and write, both of us, as often as you can.

Now, never think of being homesick. Say I am bound to have an education that will be respectable. I am bound to keep you at school as long as a dollar remains in locker. Accept of a Father’s hand, full of love to overflowing, — Ralph Ashley


Rollin Mallory Ashley, born 24 July 1827 at Port Republic, New Jersey. He died 1 January 1911 at Port Republic, New Jersey. He married Elizabeth Cranmer, born 2 April 1831 at New Gretna, New Jersey. She died 15 February 1867. They were married 25 May 1851.

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