1847: Mary Palmer to Jane Wing

Miss Mary Palmer, the author of this letter, and Miss Eunice S. Williams established a boarding and day school for young ladies in the Pumpelly residence on Front Street in Owego, Tioga County, New York. The school was called the “Owego Female Seminary“and Miss Palmer served as the principal from 1843 to 1849, when it was turned over to others and Miss Palmer relocated to Binghamton. Miss Eunice S. Williams died shortly after the seminary was established, leaving Mary Palmer to manage the entire operation. The identity of Miss Jane Wing, a former student of the Owego Female Seminary, remains a mystery.

Source: Early Owego, by Kingman

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Owego [New York]
October 18, 1847

Dear Miss Wing,

Though years and cares, scenes delightful and painful — all the chequered varieties of Earth — have intervened since last we met, yet the re-appearance of yourself in your late, very acceptable sheet has revived in my heart that pleasing interest I formerly felt in your behalf. “Interest in the young” is said to be a strong phrenological development of mine. Be so or not, habit has cherished this disposition until it is indeed a part of myself. Many of my early pupils that live have passed from pupilage into companionship & have in return for my efforts in their behalf rewarded me with the sweetest consolations of friendly and abiding attachment. God bless them! and may their usefulness and personal enjoyment be adequate to the perpetually grateful expression of their hearts!

I appreciate the views you give in regard to location and with all my heart would assist you, if in my power. A few weeks ago, I might have recommended you to Elmira Academy as Preceptress, but a lady I then named now fills the place. I have also been locating some {others waiting} former pupils, all however in small places and at low salaries — below what you would accept. I may be able, and if so, will take great pleasure in notifying and recommending you.

I have three full, permanent teachers beside myself and another for vocal music, as far as required. My school is not large. My health rather indifference and I roll much of the active toil & class teaching entirely upon my teachers. General superintendence, the management & conduction of the entire household, as well as School and critical supervision of the public & private conditions of my children is work enough. — yea– I often exclaim, “Who is sufficient for these things?”

Yours very sincerely, — Mary Palmer


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