1849: Thomas Potter Wight to Emily Wight

“…she had such a sweet gaze from her eyes that were so beautiful & so full of intellect too…”

This letter was written by Thomas Potter Wight (1825-1880), the son of John Fitch Wight (1790-1844) and Jane Esther Kimberley (1800-1883).

Thomas wrote the letter to his spinster aunt, Emily Wight (1788-1877), in Girard, Erie County, Pennsylvania. He also mentions his younger sister, Emily (“Emma”) Jane Wight (b. 1833). Thomas would later (1852) marry Louisa Rowland Higgins in New York City.

The content of the letter pertains to the recent death of Thomas’ sister, Clarissa (“Clara”) Allyn Wight (1823-1849), whose “sweet gaze” expired on 12 August 1849 in Buffalo, Erie County, New York.

Stampless Cover

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3


Addressed to Miss Emily Wight, Girard, Erie County, Pennsylvania

Buffalo [New York]
August 17, 1849

My Dear Aunt,

I have so little time to write to you by [my sister] Emma, that I must expect that you will not be entirely satisfied with this, my present. Em is going to visit at Ellen K’s & it will be necessary for them to consider her health somewhat, as she is still very week — it may be considered a positive thing that she will not improve in this dismal city of ours.

Your request relative to Clara’s last illness I cannot entirely satisfy. You know that we always have such an unsatisfied, restless, longing to hear particulars, that we imagine must have occurred that the reality hardly suffices for the story. Clara was playfully delirious a good deal of the time. Then, and sometimes in her lucid moments, she was watching for my return, as they told me. She was worried that she was giving trouble, regretted the attendance of a physician on account, I suppose, of the expense, and in this way fretted somewhat that the house was neglected through her unfortunate illness. “Oh! poortith, cauld & restless love!” How many hearts ye have mangled! My feeling is one of regret that my dear, dear sister could not have been spared longer to have found some realization of happiness in this vexatious world of ours.

I met with some losses in the early part of the season, which with the load of anxious cares at home, made it apparent to Clara that I had more trouble than her kind heart could contemplate without sympathy. But this month of August brought prosperous returns & I have just made a thousand dollars, which were beginning to flow in when she was taken sick, and the remark may be singular, but characteristic when I say that I was anticipating her having a “jolly time” spending her part of it. Why couldn’t she be spared? is a query that I have groaned to myself many times. Those who believe in a “kind Providence” and guilty of a blasphemous creed, when they see such things overcome us as a “summer cloud” & wonder not at their mean ridiculous of faith in an allwise government in the moral world.

I had the satisfaction of a “long talk” as she used to call it, with our dear girl the evening that I went away, and I confess to a superstitious feeling of certainty that she would get well, in case that I went away, that proving to have been the event in Em’s case, and we both remarked it, as I took leave of her. I shall have some daguerreotypes taken for her friends. I can’t bear to look on the one we have for an original; her dear, kind face looks upon me with such a melancholy, mourning expression that it almost unmans me. My remembrance of her has pity for one of its ingredients. Pitiful! Wondrous pitiful that her life had been so full of sorrow, & stormy trial, and I had so little time or proper opportunity to build up for her that “Haven of Rest” elsewhere. You know that she had such a sweet gaze from her eyes that were so beautiful a feature with her & so full of intellect too — all mind — nothing of the earth, earthly, but I can’t write any more.

Your companion in sorrow, — Thomas

P. S. I will bring you some of her hair & some little keepsakes, perhaps, for friends, but in selfishness of grief can find nothing now to part with. — Thomas


From a poem by Robert Burns:

O poortith cauld, and restless love,
Ye wrack my peace between ye;
Yet poortith a` I could forgive,
An `twere na for my Jeanie.


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

"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

"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

The Letters of James A. Durrett

Co. E, 18th Alabama Infantry

Spared & Shared 15

Saving History One Letter at a Time

The Civil War Letters of George Messer

Company F, 107th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Jeff's Prayers are as Effective as Abe's

The Civil War Letters of George S. Youngs, 126th New York Vols

Soldiering is a Very Uncertain Game

The Civil War Letters of Lemuel Glidden, Co. K, 145th Indiana Infantry

Tough as a Pitch Pine Knot

Letters of John Whitcomb Piper, 4th Massachusetts Heavy Artillery

An Honorable Peace

The Civil War Letters of Frank B. Knause, 6th Michigan Infantry & Heavy Artillery

Looking for a Rebel to Give him a Pop

Letters to & from Sgt. John Henry Ward, 93rd PA Inf

Civil War Letters of William H. H. Kinsey

Co. H, 28th Illinois Infantry

Spared & Shared 14

Saving History One Letter at a Time

The 1863 Diary of Thomas Wilbur Manchester

A Rhode Island Soldier in the American Civil War

The Daniels/Stone Digital Archives

A Collection of Family Civil War Era Letters & Ephemera

Spared & Shared 13

Saving Civil War History One Letter At A Time

Dear Nellie

Civil War Letters of Thomas L. Bailey

Homefront Letters to Mark Rankin

Co. B, 27th Massachusetts Vols.

These Troubling Times...

The Civil War Letters of William H. Walton, Co. B, 3rd New Hampshire

Reluctant Yanks

The Civil War Letters of Joseph F. & B. Franklin Orr, Co. F, 76th Ohio Infantry

Hunting rebels as a dog would a fox....

The Civil War Letters of George W. Scott of Co. I, 46th Massachusetts (Militia)

The Civil War Letters of William Hunt Goff

Company H, 24th Massachusetts

The Charles Wetmore Broadfoot Letters

Aide de Camp to Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes

Spared & Shared 11

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Billy Yank & Johnny Reb Letters

Civil War Letters Transcribed by Griff

To the Front

The Civil War Letters of David Brett, 9th Massachusetts Light Artillery

Dear Jack

Letters received by Dr. John William Crapster O'Neal

For the Union

Civil War Letters of William Freeland, Co. F, 132nd New York Infantry

%d bloggers like this: