1848: Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet to Rev. Lavius Hyde

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

This letter was written by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787-1851), best known for establishing a school for the deaf in Hartford, Connecticut. Later in life, in a lesser known role, Gallaudet served as the visiting chaplain in the Retreat for the Insane at Hartford where he held vespers, officiated at Sabbath services, and personally counseled the inmates. The “Retreat”, as it was called for short, prided itself in “Christian stewardship — a mix of medicine and ministry” in treating the patients.

Dr. John S. Butler

In the letter, Gallaudet refers frequently to Dr. Butler. This was Dr. John S. Butler (1803-?), the superintendent of the Retreat from 1843 to 1873. Dr. Butler was a graduate of Yale College and earned his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.

Gallaudet’s letter was written to a contemporary minister, Rev. Lavius Hyde (1789-1865), who had inquired as to the progress of two women patients at the Retreat with whom he was acquainted. Hyde was an 1813 graduate of Williams College and afterward studied theology at Andover. He became a Congregational minister and was serving in the pulpit at Becket, Berkshire County, Massachusetts at the time this letter was written.

As to the two women patients who are the subject of this letter, we can only conjecture as to their identity as they are simply referred to as Miss Adams and Miss Huntington. However, two years after the letter was written, the 1850 U.S. Census enumerated the patients at the Retreat and it seems likely that the women were Amanda Adams, a 48 year-old female born in New York State, and Mary Huntington, a 52 year-old female born in Connecticut. They are the only two women among the patients with those surnames.

The Retreat for the Insane at Hartford as it appeared in 1848


Hartford, [Connecticut]
September 5th 1848

My dear Brother Hyde,

I should have answered your letter of August 29th before, but Dr. [John S.] Butler being absent on excursion of relaxation for a few days, I have waited for his return, that I might write more satisfactorily.

Miss Adams, the Dr. thinks is, in the whole improved, mentally, but he has some fears of disease of her lungs. He regards it as a case of moral insanity, affecting principally the disposition & feeling. Just now, she is calm & quiet. She attends our religious exercises quite regularly, & I have frequent conversations with her on religious subjects. She listens to me attentively & seriously. But, while she asserts to the truths of the Gospel, as yet I see no evidence that she feels their power in her heart.

Miss Huntington, the Dr. regards as better than when she came. He thinks her case one of difficulty, though he has much of hope in her final restoration. Sometimes, she has had turns of decided, maniacal excitement of short continuance. At other times, she has been much depressed. She does not seem to have given up, by any means, her trust in the Savior. For the most part, she has been reserved in her conversation with me, though I occasionally hear her say that her strong hope is in the Lord. The truth is, in a case like hers, the religious trains of thought, & the religious feelings are much disturbed & beclouded by the disease. Miss H. has attended our religious exercises pretty regularly, & always conducted with seriousness & propriety. I could not but notice this, a few days ago, at a time when, in the hall where she is located, I had seen her, as once or twice before, a good deal excited. She shouts out, occasionally, as well as Miss Adams.

I feel no small degree of interest in both these individuals, & I ask your prayers that my humble efforts to do them good may be accompanied with the divine blessing. It is now more than ten years since I have been connected with the Retreat & become familiar with its changing & __________. I wish my brother in the ministry, and the churches & followers of Christ would not forget us in their prayers at the throne of grace.

Commanding you in your private & public relations to the guidance & blessings of our common Master & Lord, I with affectionate regards to Mrs. H & your family, I am yours sincerely, T. H. Gallaudet

P.S. Miss Adams wishes me to give you & her friends her kind regards. As Miss Huntington has, within a few days, been rather more excited than usual, though now she is getting calm again, Dr. B. thought it best not to have me, at present, tell her that I had heard from you.

Gallaudet's Signature

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Spared & Shared 21

Saving history one letter at a time.

Spared & Shared 20

Saving history one letter at a time

Notes on Western Scenery, Manners, &c.

by Washington Marlatt, 1848

Spared & Shared 19

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Recollections of Army Life

by Charles A. Frey

The Civil War Letters of William Kennedy

Co. B, 91st New York Infantry

The Glorious Dead

Letters from the 23rd Illinois Infantry, the 111th Pennsylvania Infantry, the 64th New York Infantry, and the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry

Cornelius Van Houten

1st New Jersey Light Artillery

Letters of Charley Howe

36th Massachusetts Volunteers

Sgt. Major Fayette Lacey

Co. B, 37th Illinois Volunteers

"These few lines"

the pocket memorandum of Alexander C. Taggart

The Civil War Letters of Will Dunn

Co. F, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers

Henry McGrath Cannon

Co. A, 124th New York Infantry & Co. B, 16th New York Cavalry

Civil War Letters of Frederick Warren Holmes

Co. H, 77th Illinois Volunteers

"Though distant lands between us be"

Civil War Letters of Monroe McCollister, Co. B, 6th OVC

"Tell her to keep good heart"

Civil War Letters of Nelson Statler, 211th PA

Building Bluemont

The Origin of Bluemont Central College

"May Heaven Protect You"

14th Connecticut drummer boy's war-time correspondence with his mother

Moreau Forrest

Lt. Commander in the US Navy during the Civil War

Diary of the 29th Massachusetts Infantry

Fighting with the Irish Brigade during the Peninsula Campaign

"Till this unholy rebellion is crushed"

Letters of Dory & Morty Longwood, 7th Indiana

"I Go With Good Courage"

The Civil War Letters of Henry Clay Long, 11th Maine Infantry

"This is a dreadful war"

The Civil War Letters of Jacob Bauer, 16th Connecticut, & his wife Emily

Spared & Shared 16

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Lloyd Willis Manning Letters

3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, Co. I

The Yankee Volunteer

A Virtual Archive of Civil War Likenesses collected by Dave Morin

William Henry Jordan

Co. K, 7th Rhode Island Infantry

No Cause to Blush

The Bancroft Collection of Civil War Letters

William A. Bartlett Civil War Letters

Company D, 37th Massachusetts Infantry

The John Hughes Collection

A Virtual Archive of his Letters, 1858-1869

The Civil War Letters of Rufus P. Staniels

Co. H, 13th New Hampshire Volunteers

This is Indeed A Singular War

The Civil War Letters of Henry Scott Murray, 8th New York Light Artillery

%d bloggers like this: