This letter was written by Eliza A. Morton (1817-1873), who married Dr. John Deming Ford (1816-1867) in 1845. Eliza’s parents were Charles Morton (1789-1855) and Polly Cleveland (b. 1792). Dr. Ford’s parents were Daniel Ford (b. 1774), and Esther Deming (1775-1837). The letter is dated 1846 but it was actually written in 1847. The two deaths mentioned in the letter – Alvan Bond and Sarah (Fitch) Parker – confirm the 1847 date.
The letter was written to Mrs. Elizabeth (Stanton) Buckingham (1780-1862) in Clinton, Middlesex, New York. She was the daughter of Adam Stanton (1749-1834) and Elizabeth Treat (1754-1805). Elizabeth Stanton married Giles Buckingham in 1805. He was a wealthy merchant in Norwich and uncle of William Alfred Buckingham, the Governor of CT during the Civil War. Elizabeth and Giles had no children. They apparently lived in the house later occupied by the Dr. John & Eliza Ford.
Dr. John D. Ford was born at Cornish, New Hampshire, April 18, 1816. He graduated at Dartmouth College, and subsequently from the medical college of the city of Philadelphia, in 1843. Soon after he commenced the practice of medicine at Norwich, Connecticut, and early attained a high position, ranking with the very first among his professional brethren. While a resident of Norwich he was much interested in the educational institutions of that city, and labored earnestly in behalf of its common schools. Excessive devotion to his professional labors, however, produced a sensible effect upon his delicate constitution, and after a successful practice of about eleven years he was compelled to seek a climate more congenial to his health, and he came to Winona, in 1856, while the young city was just emerging from wilderness. He here assumed his practice, which soon became extensive and successful in the highest degree. But the same earnest devotion to his work, which was an eminent characteristic of Dr. Ford soon began to weaken his frail constitution, and he was compelled to relinquish the practice of his profession and turn his attention to pursuits better suited to the condition of his health. Accordingly he accepted the agency of several of the old and responsible insurance companies of the east; with his great organizing and executive abilities, his quick and clear perceptions, and good judgment, he, within a short time, established extensive and important business relations between these companies and the citizens of this state. Bringing with him to his western home the same earnest interest in the cause of education which he had felt in New England, he early identified himself with the history and progress of the common school system of this city and state. His work was a pioneer work, so to speak. It was undertaken at a time when there was no public sentiment to sustain such efforts, and when there were difficulties and prejudices to be encountered which often appal the stoutest hearts. But the crowning labors in the life of this great and good man are those which he so unselfishly and nobly gave toward the establishment of the normal school system of this state. His work in the city of Winona will be thru all the coming generations a monument to his farseeing intelligence, and to his generous regard for the future welfare and greatness of his adopted state. In his relations to it he belongs to the state, and the generous people of the state will ever cherish as one of its best friends and noblest benefactors. He died October 29, 1867, at the age of fifty-one, and was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, near the beautiful city he so much loved, and a few years after his devoted wife followed him to the same resting-place. The Normal School Board and the Board of Trade both passed and entered on their files suitable resolutions of respect to their honored friend.
Addressed to Mrs. Elizabeth Buckingham, Clinton, Connecticut
November 15, 184
My dear Mrs. Buckingham,
Your kind letter was received with pleasure and I am happy to hear that your situation is so pleasant and that you are enjoying yourself so much.
I have been very much occupied since I came here – arranging things, putting the house in order, making sweet-meats, testing my skill in cooking, &c. &c., but I am now quite settled, and we begin to feel very much at home. The house we find convenient and pleasant. The parlor looks very nice since it is finished and furnished, and the room over it is pleasant. I have had that cleaned and the furniture arranged. The room you occupied as your bed-room, Doctor Ford occupies for an office. He thought when he first came it would hardly answer for that purpose – it was so dark. But he had a coat of white paint put upon it, had it white-washed, and with a new open coal stove, it looks cheerful and pleasant.
I am very glad you mentioned those articles Mrs. Marvin omitted. I shall try to take as good care as possible of everything in the house, and as far as our wishes are known to me, it will be my pleasure to comply with them.
Anne is still with me, and has thus far been very faithful. She has always attended family worship and complied with my wishes generally. I hope she will continue to do well.
This street has been much improved by a new side-walk on the opposite side. Mrs. Reynolds has returned to her house, and seems very glad to be at home again. She desired me to give much love to you when I should write. She always talks of you when I see her. Many of your old friends as they come into the sitting-room say it looks so natural. It seems as if they could almost see you here. Mr. Wilson has not been to see us as often as I hoped he would, but I suppose he finds a great deal to occupy his time.
You have probably heard of Alvan Bond’s distressing death. His funeral was attended this afternoon by a very large number of friends and acquaintances. He went on board ship at Savannah, feeble yet able to walk about. The passage was long, yet he seemed to enjoy it until within about three days of New York when, owing to an internal obstruction, he suffered great agony and became delirious. Upon arrival in New York, his brother William went down, hoping to return with him the next boat, but he found him too low to be moved, and on Thursday evening, Mr. Bond and Abby went down. Alvan lived only three hours after their arrival and did not recognize any of his friends. They returned with his body in the next boat. This affliction, so unexpected, and so distressing, seems to well-nigh overwhelm them. God grant them the richest consolations of his grace, for Earth affords no relief to such sorrow.
Mrs. Parker, Mr. Ebenezer Parker’s mother, died last evening. There have been quite a number of deaths lately. I suppose you have heard, of course, of the sudden death of Senator Huntington. His end was peaceful and happy.
Mrs. Johnson of Jewett City – Mr. Charles Johnson’s mother – is very feeble and is not expected to live.
I suppose you get all the items of city news from the paper and from Mr. Wilcox. I feel very much obliged to you for your kind expressions of interest and wishes for my success and happiness. Doct. Ford desires to be remembered to you.
Very truly yours, — Eliza A. Ford
Alvan Cyrus Bond, who’s death is described in this letter, was the son of Rev. Alvan Bond (1793-1882) and Sarah Richardson (1796-1834). William Bond, (b. 1828) is the brother who went down to New York City to meet his brother but found him too sick to travel. His sister Abigail (“Abbie”) Bond (b. 1823) is also mentioned. Rev. Bond was a graduate of Brown University and Andover Seminary. He was the Congregational Minister in Norwich.