This letter was written by Benjamin Floyd Aldrich (1830-1914), son of Joel Aldrich and Almina Floyd. Benjamin wrote the letter from Walpole, Cheshire, New Hampshire. Not long afterwards, he became the President of the Walpole Savings Bank. By 1860, he had married Ella R. Safford. In the 1860 and 1870 census records, Benjamin is enumerated among the residents of Walpole, New Hampshire; his occupation is given as “dry good merchant.” By 1880, he had relocated to Springfield, Vermont, where he lived the remainder of his life. The following obituary was found in the 30 December 1914 issue of the Caledonian Record:
Benjamin F. Aldrich, 84 years old, died at Springfield, Dec 22. He was born in Lyndonville [VT], the son of Almina Floyd and Joel Aldrich. He was for 10 years cashier of the National Bank at Springfield [VT] and later held other positions of trust.
Benjamin wrote the letter to his boyhood chum, Edward Wheaton Buffum. Buffum was born in Walpole, Cheshire County, New Hampshire, 8 November 1830. He attended the school of his native place and the academy until 1849, when he entered Harvard Law School, and graduated in the class of 1851. He afterward studied law with Fredrick Vose, in Walpole and was admitted to the bar in Cheshire County, in 1852. He left New York City, January 20, 1853, for California, on the steamer Northern Light; came via Nicaragua, and took the steamer Independence at San Juan del Sur, the fourth day of February. At about 5 0’clock Wednesday morning, the sixteenth day of February, the Independence was wrecked off the south point of Marguerita Island. Buffum succeeded in reaching the island by means of a plank, and remained upon the island until about six-o’clock the following Friday. He was taken on board the whaleship, Meteor, Captain Jeffries, then at anchor in the Bay of Magdalena, and sailed out of the bay the third day of March, and arrived at San Francisco the thirty-first day of March- seventy days from New York City.
He engaged in mining at Auburn, Placer County, in 1853, and part of 1854, and was partially successful. He came to Mariposa County in the summer of 1854, and afterward engaged in building water ditch to the mines, and in stock-raising and farming. He entered into partnership with N.S. STOCKTON (BUFFUM AND STOCKTON) in 1854. Buffum has held the office of Supervisor since 1874. He was re-elected in 1877, and again in 1880, and holds the office now. We can say nothing stronger for his ability, integrity, and popularity among his neighbors, than this: That while he is a Republican, his district has a large Democratic majority. Source: Biographical and Historical Sketches, History of Merced County, published 1881.
Addressed to Edward Buffum, Esq., Cambridge, Massachusetts
Westminster [New Hampshire]
April 14, 1850
I received your kind and confiding letter of the 29th ult. and was very glad to hear from you. It gives me great pleasure to hear from those with whom I have been so intimately connected in schoolboy days. It seems to bring olden times back into remembrance again and to renew the scenes, which probably were the most pleasant in our lives. I like to think upon those days when we were schoolmates and see how entirely free our minds were from such thing as care. We did not know what it was to get along in this world – did not know or even think what it was to work or get a living or what obstacles would be placed in our path. But we took everything on the smooth side and seemed to care for nothing. We could go or come as we chose – was an independent as a fish in high water. But now, we are just entering the world as it were, we just begin to see the cares and troubles that beset us, and let us bear up against with a stern will and strong arm and I guess we shall weather the storm. For my part, I’m bound to keep right side up with care, sons or no sons, and go ahead.
Yesterday the snow fell 4 or 5 inches here, something rather uncommon at this season, and today it is flying and everything has the appearance of mid-winter. We do not seem to have so early a spring as was anticipated from the mildness of the winter.
Things in Walpole remain about the same as ever. However, I shall attempt to give you the news as well as I can. Workmen are now engaged in cleaning and clearing out the brick from the cellars to the old brick store of Capt. Cole’s part, and he expects very soon – if the weather admits – to begin to lay the foundation. And the faster they proceed, the better I shall like it, for I tell you really, I have got tired of staying in the shanty. Everything is in a heap so that it is very difficult to sell goods with any sort of spirit. But there are better days coming and when we do get into the new store, you may expect to see business move. I mean move from the shanty.
The Sons [of Temperance] are getting along as usual, occasionally adding to their number, which I believe is 42 now. They have recently got Percival L. Bellows, John Hayward, H. O. Clark, & Daniel Harvey enlisted with them. I did not suppose Percival would join, for I did not think he had courage enough. And on the morning he joined, he happened into the store and talking about it, he said he was agoing to join. I told him he wouldn’t, and he asked me why. I said he could not keep from drinking long enough, but it will be a good thing for him.
The school flourishes very well, I believe. The number is about sixty. The boys are round as ever. The school in Westminster gets along finely. It numbers about seventy. Which makes about 130 scholars attending school within 2 miles of each other and looks so the rising generation was very well cared for.
Your folks are all well. I occasionally have a good time as usual at back gammon &c., with Thomas or Fisher, who by the way, are all right. I do not think I shall leave old Walpole yet. Stick too is my motto when you like and I do not know as I can find a more healthy place or better situation at present if I should try. I had a letter from Charles Tudor a short time since. He is in Hartford, Connecticut, learning the jewelry business and says he likes first rate. Clint has been home a few days, (but has now returned) because he spraint his wrist. He is one of the b’hoys.
And now I must draw to a close, after trespassing upon your patience I fear already too long, but not without asking you to write me again at your earliest convenience. Please give my respects to C. S. Faulkner when you see him, and tell him a letter from him would find a hearty response in my bosom.
Truly yours, — B. F. Aldrich