1847: Hepzibah Ann Tenney to Sophia (Tenney) Hale

Gravestone of Alice Little (Hale) Marsh

This letter was written by Hepzibah Ann Tenney (1826-1893) to her sister, Sophia Cutler (Tenney) Hale (1824-1901). Hepzibah was yet unmarried when this letter was written; she married James Davis White in January 1851. Sophia was married to Capt. Joshua Hale (1812-1894) in January 1844. Their only child, Alice Little Hale, was born 27 August 1845 and eventually became the wife of Rev. John C. Marsh.

Capt. Hale was the son of Thomas Hale (1773-1836) and Alice Little (1775-1819). Capt. Hale’s brother, Rev. Benjamin Hale, was the President of Hobart College in Geneva, New York at the time this letter was written which may provide an explanation as to why Joshua and Sophia were visiting Geneva.

This letter is undated but I believe the letter was written on 2 September 1847 because of the references to the 27 August 1847 wedding of Edward Carlton Johnson (1816-1878), the son of David Johnson (1778-1865) and Lucy Towne (1785-1820). Johnson married Delia Maria Smith (1827-1881).

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Addressed to Mr. Joshua Hale, Geneva, New York

Newbury [Vermont]
Thursday Morn

Dear Sister Sophia,

I just finished a letter to Martha and your kind letter has just come in and now I hasten to answer it fearing you will not receive it while you are at Avon. How do you do? You spoke of being very tired &c. Of course you would be; but are you sick? I should have written you before this had we not had company all the time. Caroline Wetherbee did not leave until this week Tuesday, & John Barber is here now but will leave tonight. Then we have been preparing the Dining room &c. &c. The two mothers — i.e., Martha Smith & sister ______ are down to Haverhill to school. They have been a little homesick but have got almost over it now. Ann is at home.

Last Friday evening, Mary, Asa & myself attended a wedding party at Mr. David Johnson’s. I believe we mentioned in our last sheet Mr. Edward Johnson & lady were in town. I was very much pleased with her. He has certainly a pretty wife & I presume a good one — at least he thinks he has. She is quite young — about eighteen, I believe. William [R.] Shedd is not married yet. I called at Mrs. [Susan] Shedd’s this week & she said she didn’t believe he was intending to be this Fall or Winter, but I guess he is.

Sophia, John wants I should give you a great deal of love for him; Caroline too wished me to tell you how badly she felt in not seeing you when she came up & desired her love &c. to you. Since you left the Irish City has grown very much. We have not been in the least troubled so far on account of the new settlers, and presume we shall not be.

Sophia, I presume this is the last letter you will receive from us until you get back to Belleville for I shall not know where to direct. I am indeed sorry I have not written you before, but we have had so much to do, I hardly could. When you come home, I hope we shall be looking quite nice. Our house will not be in quite such an uproar. Oh Sophia — down to Mr. Johnson’s last Friday evening, Mrs. Bassett — she that was Harriet Buxton — came & spoke with me and called me Mrs. Hale & was really quite delighted to meet me again. I told her of course that she had made a little mistake. Then I told her all about you & [your daughter] Alice Little [Hale]. What a nice visit we had when you were up &c.

This week is Camp Meeting down to Newbury. I haven’t been down but I should think they would have been down but I should think they would have a wet time as it has rained now nearly a week most part of the time. It is, however, quite pleasant today, but we have very cold mornings & evenings. Last night quite a frost.

I must now begin to finish this for I have promised to call over to see Esther with John & Mary this forenoon & I have not yet brushed my hair.

If I hear from you again telling me where to direct, I will write but until I receive a letter I shall not think of writing. My love to Mr. Hale & wife. They are all well over there. Ellen is enjoying herself well. She comes over now & then & appears to be doing nicely. Love to brother Joshua. Please write soon & excuse this short & poorly written letter. With much love & a kiss. From your affectionate sister, – H. Ann Tenney

Father is away from home today or else no doubt he would write a line. All send love.


CAPT. JOSHUA HALE, Joined the Marine Society Nov. 25, 1845. Died April 18, 1894, aged 81 years, 4 months.

In a letter written to the secretary of the Marine Society March 4, 1891, Capt. Hale says “I was born in Newburyport in December 1812, and went to New York in 1829, was clerk in an insurance office agency of Washington Marine Insurance Company of Boston. By a law of the state of New York, agencies from other states were prohibited from insuring in New York and the Atlantic Marine Insurance Company of New York was formed and organized in November 1829, and I was chosen secretary. My health failed me and I went to sea in the brig America in 1830 on leave of absence and at the end of my voyage returned to the office. I soon found that I could not confine myself to office work, suffering very much from severe headaches. In 1831 I resigned my position as secretary and concluded to change my business and went to sea in brig Alice and was in her as mate and captain, taking command in May, 1833, in Savannah, and remained in her till taking charge of the ship Persia in 1835, in New Orleans. The ship was sold in 1836, and again I tried to live on shore and was chosen vice president and inspector of the Union Marine Insurance Company of New York, and held the position only six months before I was again compelled on account of health to leave the office work and have more out door employment. As health was now the main business, and being at sea suited me, I took command of the ship John Barring of New York and went to New Orleans and Liverpool and into the Baltic to Gothland to bring home the cargo of the ship Milo (wrecked there) to Boston. The ship Geneva was built in 1837 and I took charge of her and was in her until 1843, when we built the Pacific, and in 1844 I took command of her and was in her until 1846; then took the new ship Huguenot and was in her only one year, when my family was sick and I gave up going to sea, for the time, which proved to be all time. Since then I have lived in this “our good city by the sea” in the house in which I was born. My health since 1870 has not been strong and I have had several cases of very severe sickness and been confined to my house over a year at a time, in consequence of which I resigned all positions of trust in which my friends had placed me, in Mechanicks bank, Institution for Savings, Bartlett Mills, etc., and now am trying to live quietly and do what good I can while here and await the call we all must hear and be ready when the summons shall come, with I hope, a perfect trust in Him, whose I am. With my ardent wish and prayer for the welfare of each and every member of our society. Your respectfully. JOSHUA HALE.”

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