1846: Katherine S. Tracy to Levi Kerr

What Kate Tracy might have looked like.

This letter was written by Katherine (“Kate”) S. Tracy, the daughter of Judge Josiah Tracy (1796-1857) and Diantha Lathrop (1802-1840) of Painesville, Ohio. Adding a note at the end of the letter was Kate’s brother, Lathrop Josiah Tracy (1825-1897).

Judge Tracy and his brother carried on a mercantile business in Painesville until 1832. While at Painesville, he was appointed a colonel in the-old militia. In 1832 he removed to Vermillion, Ohio, and was the superintendent of the Huron Iron Works until 1835, when he located at Huron and became interested in a business enterprise there. He soon became popular and influential and was elected a justice of the peace, the mayor of Huron, a state senator and the county judge of Erie county. His wife died at Huron April 22, 1840, and in 1847 he removed to Mansfield, Ohio, where he died January 11, 1857, but was buried at Huron beside the remains of his wife. However, in 1897 their remains and those of other members of the family were taken to the Mansfield cemetery.

This letter was written to Levi Kerr (1822-1885), the son of Daniel Kerr (1791-1871) and Catharine Case (1790-1878) of Painesville, Ohio.

Stampless Letter

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Addressed to Mr. Levi Kerr, Defiance, Ohio

Mansfield [Ohio]
July 30th 1846

Perhaps you have imagined before this, my good friend Levi, that the last promise made you of writing was to amount to about as much as sundry others of the same kind — but I have only been waiting for the right time to come. And that I might be sure you had returned lest my epistle should find no owner and remain alike “unknowing and unknown” or take a trip to Washington.

I have had a very pleasant time among the rocks & hills. The goodly city itself will never be spoiled by flattery for its beauty as it has none whatever. It looks very rough compared to our own neat rural village. Yet it is quite lively, the society good & quite large, & a very interesting circle of young ladies. I have found them very agreeable. As for the gents, I have the mortification to say that I know very little of them. There are so few & such a surplus of young ladies that it is no place whatever to create a sensation or flourish as a “belle.” However, I bear my misfortunes with great fortitude and have arrived at the conclusion that the position of a “belle” is not at all enviable.

Riding on horseback seems to be the favorite mode here of “cutting through the world.” And I often see young damsels coming to market, surrounded by bundles, & shaded by a monstrous umbrella & occasionally two on the same “Rosinanti” — in short, it has a very primitive appearance & makes me think of the “good old times” of which we read.

Mr. & Mrs. Corning are in town. He is here on business & his wife is here to support & sustain, comfort, console, & amuse him, as is the duty of all good wives, you know — and woman’s particular province. Mrs. Corning does not admire Mansfield. They are going to Newark to reside & Delia is to spend the winter there.

The Beards (excepting Harriet) have returned to Painesville. William is going to New York with his brother James. Mr. Chambers intends opening a store in the dull town of Painesville. There seems to be a magnet about the name that attracts all who have once been its inhabitants. Lathrop has returned a six footer. He has been here about a week. Think we shall visit Columbus next week & then return to Painesville. Lathrop came home to stay a month or two but these “Lords of creation” do not seem to fancy long visits & even now he seems inclined to be on the move. This proves that they should be interested in sewing or knitting or something that might sure to amuse them indoors. I can, however, testify that you have an enormous talent for sewing, & to the assistance you rendered me in that line.

I received a letter from Mary yesterday giving an account of the wedding, party, &c. which you have doubtless received in full before this. What a shame we were not there. Mary said the bride & bridesmaid looked better than ever before. [and] that Laura looked beautifully. Mrs. Howden gave a ____ soirie — a real gem of a party. Your cousins — the Misses Stearns & Miss Sealey — have been visiting Mary. There was a New Yorker in at the wedding & Mrs. P. Wilcox had a brother in town with whom Nett has had a desperate flirtation. So you must see that there has been quite a stir among the good people. Two new beaux among us! You can imagine the excitement.

Moses dined with us on his way from Newark where he had a fine time with Mrs. Cass (Cynthia Bright). They have also had a general ride to the mountains, which while I think if it was before you left — I believe — though I do not know at what time you took your departure.

There will be quite a scattering at Painesville this fall I suppose. I hear Charles Foote is quite attentive to Cornelia again. These “young swains” are incomprehensible. But if his attention is directed in that quarter, you will have less cause for apprehension.

And now, Lew, how has the world gone with you since parted on the shores of Lake Erie? It is rather a suspicious reflection for me that the last I saw of you, you were “wending your way” toward a ten pin alley! Have you had another visit from the ague? And are you yet so much engaged that you have “no time” to “black your boots?” I never could have imagined that you would come to that — of all other beings — “no insinuations whatever!”

Did you & George choose your seconds before you left, or what is the posture of affairs there. It was such an unlucky hit — taking your buggy to come home from the mountains. If I had have thought as far there — so I have since — I should not have come — not upon your account so much — as I believe you were more reconciled than some others. However, that is all past. When we shall all meet there again, we cannot tell. But the “mountain house” will ever have a magic in its sound. We have had “happy, happy times” in those “green old woods” — more than we shall ever see again, no doubt. And the Memory of which will be ever dear. When shall we see you at home again? You will not shut yourself up there all winter, I suppose, without taking a look at us. Mary said in her letter to me she should write you the next day. As you have probably heard all news before this. Lathrop will add a Postscript & I must have leave him an inch of room. Think I shall go home week after next. I have fruitful imagination will supply. Your sincere friend, — Kate S. Tracy

P.S. Have you found any acquaintances among the ladies? If you have “the blues,” let us know and we will endeavor to cure ourselves or send something to comfort you, Mary writes that Matilda is quite low-spirited. Poor girl. This bidding brothers & sisters a long good-bye is sorry business. It makes me sad to think how we are all scattered but it is the way of the world. Friends must part, and youthful ties be sundered — but no associations in after life can have that charm or bring the same pleasure as the sunny days of youth. Adieu. [– Kate]

Levi, what a thing that is at no end, bride a circle. “Do you give it up?” A woman’s tongue! to be sure. Here you see, Kate asked me to add a postscript to which I most willingly assented, and here the apendance of scrips I have to scribble upon. But thats always been and I submit. I wish you & Moses both could have staid a little longer at Painesville. I should have been so glad to have met you there and think we might have had some :first rate times” again. But I presume you enjoyed it & I shall try to, but it is terrible dry here. Your old friend, — Lathrop J. T.

I should be happy to hear from you Levi, at any time and if you ever come near me you must certainly :give me a call.” I shall remain Honesdale, Wayne County, Penna. Lathrop J. T.


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