He preferred death to slavery



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One of the resolutions proposed by Henry Clay to appease the interests of the South in the compromise measures of 1850, was the strengthening of the original Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. In the revised Act, adopted into law in September, 1850, the federal government was empowered to levy heavy penalties upon anyone who was found guilty of obstructing the return of runaway slaves to their Southern masters. Citizens found guilty of concealing slaves or aiding in their rescue, were subject to a fine of $1000, imprisonment for up to six months, and civil damages of $1000 for each fugitive. Needless to say, Northern contempt for the Act resulted in organized and flagrant resistance, much to the annoyance of the Southern slaveholders.

In a letter from her Aunt Mary Goodrich in Hartford, Connecticut, Augusta received news of the affairs in that vicinity. Her Aunt Mary mentions the fear that the "colored people" were living under, as the slaveholders, with the law on their side, began to infiltrate the Northern cities looking for runaway slaves.

Hartford [Connecticut]
April 20, 1851

My very dear Augusta,

Since the receipt of your last letter with one from your mother, we have passed from our old abode to the new. Of course you remember how I used to say I hoped our next move would be into a new house. How I should like to have you see that wish accomplished. We are near the corner of Buckingham & Hudson Streets in a new brick house, which was not commenced a year ago. We have two parlors, a small but pleasant bedroom, dining room & kitchen below. Upstairs, chambers accordingly -- but we have a good bathing room & a furnace in the cellar. We have rather more yard in the rear than in Asylum Street, & a yard on each side of the house as well as in the front.  We have 5 cherry, 7 peach trees, 1 apple, 1 pear, & 1 apricot tree.  Besides two grapevines, currants, & red Raspberry bushes. Now, dear Cutie, if we could have left our wicked hearts up [the] street as we have many other troublesome things, we should be perfectly happy. We try to acknowledge our kind Heavenly Father's hand in all our success & to value them as coming from Him, only undeserved.

While talking of ourselves, I have forgotten to tell you the news. Sister Sarah's little son, John Beach Knapp, was born on the 10th of March, and the weekly intelligence from Hartford brings favorable tidings of her & the little one. Mrs. Thatcher has a daughter. Mrs. ________ has a son.

May 12th. I resume my pen after this long delay as I know you will wonder why I do not write. As this is Election week, the children are both at home. Frederic is recovering from an ill turn & I think he shows some symptoms of the whooping cough, though the Doctor does not encourage the idea. Before we moved, after I had taken down the bedsteads, Aunt Lydia came & spent from Saturday to Tuesday & she has called to see us here & promises to make us a long visit. I saw Miss Webb not long since & she wished me to ask you if you had joined the church yet. She sends much love & wishes to hear from you again. Sarah Wright enquires after Cutie when I see her. She sent me some of her flower roots, violets &c. for our bed around the walks.

Mary [our housekeeper] has received $300 from her husband to pay her expenses to California & she will go as soon as possible. [Her] child is very intelligent & quick to learn & her Father will be surprised to see her so much improved as she was only a few months old when he went away. Eliza & her baby call to see me sometimes & they are both doing well.

The colored people here are very much excited about the Fugitive Slave Law. And James, the colored man who used to shake our carpets, has gone to Africa, leaving his wife & children here till he becomes settled there. As [his family] were never slaves, there is no danger of their being disturbed. James never would tell his real name -- he never told his wife -- for fear of an arrest. He told me that 1000 dollars had been offered for him by his southern master but that he never would go there alive. He preferred death to slavery.

Freddy [Goodrich] has long intended writing to you but has put it off from time to time.  His letter is very much his own, as you [will] perceive. He composed it in great haste as he does everything. I let him send it just as it is, for it will amuse as well as gratify you while you will "not disfuse the day of small things."

Your Uncle [Elizur] likes his new home so much better than the other, [so much so] that he does not mind the walk down here at all. He says it only requires 5 minutes to come from the store.

May 19th. Mary has started for California & I am relieved to think she will probably soon be under her husband's protection. She has had a hard time since he left here & I hope has learned some useful lessons, which perhaps she never would have done if her husband had remained with her. I have just received a letter from sister Sarah who says that her little Johnny looks like [my son] Jamie. Mrs. Shuck has another son, born the latter part of April. Her health is very miserable. She has had a distressing cough for several months & it has not abated since the birth of her child. Her friends fear that she must leave her little boys to the care of others. Your Uncle wishes me to say that he intends to send a package just as soon as he has time to attend to it. He has had no opportunity as yet to send anything & will probably send by Express. I wish I could make you something but I do not feel able just now. The children's spring clothes take time & strength & my little stock is soon consumed.

Remember us all with much affection to the members of both families & remember to write as soon as convenient for we are always glad to receive your letters. As ever, your affectionate Aunt, -- Mary C. Goodrich

In June, 1851, another acquaintance from Connecticut wrote to Augusta:

Portland [Connecticut]
June 6, 1851

My Dear Augustie,

I cannot let this opportunity [to send a letter back to Owego with your Cousin Hancie [Abbey] pass by without sending a few lines, as a feeble impression of my undiminished affection for you. Few [lines] they must necessarily be as my time is fully occupied of late. Although I never have expressed any on paper, yet I have had many thoughts of you since you left and [I] resolved many times that I would write. My dear A., have you become so inured to a western life, that you never think of making your home with us again! You will be received with a heart-felt welcome. I little thought you would stay so long away from us. But I see New York possesses more attractions than Connecticut.

There have been a few changes in Portland and vicinity since you left. Rebekah has found a companion and flown away from us. May she be very happy in her connection is my sincere wish. It seems to be a general time of weddings and while so many are practically expressing their opinion on this important subject, may I ask for yours? Have you made the acquaintance of so many and yet remain heart-whole? I hoped you would so kindly remember me as to tell me of your happiness in prospect. Will you not do so? Do not think Augustie, by this nonsense that I am love-sick -- far from it. But it seems the principal topic of conversation with us, occasioned doubtless by so many strange weddings with us. Hancie doubtless will give you an account of them all. I have some notes you wrote me which I often read and am carried back in imagination to those hours we spent in Hartford together, never to be forgotten -- never to return. But if those days have passed away, may I not hope that at some future time we may meet again and renew that acquaintance which to me is so pleasant. Your affectionate and sincere friend, -- Lucy

The following three letters were exchanged between James and Augusta before his return to Wesleyan University in the fall of 1851. At the time, James had concluded his Select School in King Ferry, New York, and was traveling in the Midwest, working as a map salesman.

Painted Post, New York
Saturday, May 24 [1851]

Ever Dear Augusta,

I thought I would commence a letter to you here but when I shall finish, I cannot at present divine. [Have written] four I’s already – guess that personage must be of some consequence or he would not appear so prominent right at first starting. Have had a very pleasant trip indeed thus far. And if judgment may be pronounced upon the future from the past, shall not at all regret starting from home. Nothing of importance has occurred along the way. Did not see Ruth [Stratton] whilst in Elmira [New York] although I staid there over night. Think certain by that her husband has located himself in a very enterprising and fast increasing place. Somewhat hope that she will not fall in with the spirit that seems to characterize the entire mass of community there. If so, I am afraid she will become so much absorbed in the cares of the world and the love of gain that she will entirely forget how to be sociable and almost disremember that she has friends.

Whilst in Waverly [New York], saw the celebrated “soap man” who has traveled so much in company with [Henry B. Smith,] the “razor strop man” [from Rochester, New York] and has obtained an independent fortune just in the sale of the “pearl soap.” He manages to collect a crowd about him by relating some funny story in which his soap will bear some very conspicuous part, after which he will get someone to come up to him having on old greasy clothes, when he will exhibit the virtue of his soap by removing some of the grease in which demonstration before the eyes of the many gazers on general causes the sale of several cakes after which he commences his stories again.

"The Razor Strop Man"

Have you had much rain there? There have been some fine showers in this section. It does appear as if vegetation here was several days ahead of Owego. The cherries and plums begin to exhibit themselves in large quantities on nearly all the trees. Should think the prospect flattering for a large quantity of fruit in this region. We had a severe frost last evening which would have done much damage had it not been that the earth was very moist which caused an early heavy fog to arise and destroy the effect of the frost. I am almost afraid to hear from home, fearful of the great mischief it may have done there.

Were you ever at Painted Post [New York]? If not, it might afford you some pleasure to visit it sometime when you are traveling about to look at the country. It takes its name from a tall red post placed near the centre of the village on the summit of which is a huge Indian carved from wood. It is situated at the junction of the Chemung with the Canisteo and Conhocton rivers. Settled principally by Yankees and, of course, possesses real Yankee enterprise, Yankee genius, and Yankee customs, and you almost fancy yourself whilst jostling among the busy crowd [to be] right in the center of Yankeedom. Rap! Rap! Rap! Tunk! Tunk! Tunk! Co Thump! Co Thump! Co Thump! Rickity tack! Rickity tack! Rickity tack! Rattle! Rattle! Rattle!  [These sounds greet] your ears from every quarter. It disgraces itself how much supporting right amidst its thrift two liquor stalls [entice] the toil worn and weary after the hard days labor, depriving their family’s support of their representation and everything else life holds dear and plunges them prematurely into a drunkard’s grave where they are to await the drunkard’s doom. Oh inconsistency! Where is thy blush! Shut a man in prison for years for stealing only enough to meet the wants of a suffering family and ever stamp his name with perpetual disgrace. But allow to roam at large, and even consider him respectable, the man engaged in whole sale murder [by selling liquor], peopling the earth with more wretchedness and sending deeper sorrow into the breast of those almost unknown and anxious ones that gather around the lonely hearthstone, than almost all other influences combined. Oh could I but once have my wish. I’de wish!! But it will take up too much room to tell you all. Make me think to tell you next time I see you.

Sabbath, May 25, 1851. A lovelier day seldom dawns… Have had the pleasure of listening to two discourses – one Rev. Mr. Gardiner, Methodist Minister, from these words, “For God commended His love to us insomuch that when we were sinners, Christ was for us.” [Romans 5:8] This theme was the love of God for fallen man. The text is a sermon without note or comment and should call forth the gratitude of every one upon whom the sentence of death has been pronounced that such a blessed substitute has been provided, and the sentence averted if men will only avail themselves of its benefits. In the afternoon, listened to Rev. Mr. Young, Presbyterian Minister, from these words, “Give ear, oh yea Heavens, and be astonished Oh Earth, for my people have committed two evils. They have forsaken me the fountain of living waters and have hewn out to themselves cisterns – broken cisterns that will hold no water.” [Jeremiah 2:13] Is it not strange that God should call upon inanimate nature to witness such folly in His intelligent reasoning offspring? Ought it not to shame…

[page missing]

…In the history of one of these [young men], I have taken considerable interest. He was my scholar whilst teaching in Canewana and a very indecent, disagreeable, ugly scholar [named John Young] – the associate of Wes Tappan, ________ Sweet, and a very few others – the essence of all that is bad. Shortly after I closed my school his Father, who had broken his constitution working in _______'s sawmill, moved to this section, purchased a loom, and commenced weaving. He bound out his son to learn the tinner’s trade. By attention to his business, and faithfully applying himself for the good of his master, he secured his entire confidence, patiently worked his entire time out, after which he received from his employer regular wages, has done much towards supporting the family, has attained the confidence and respect of community and last winter during the protracted meeting here, he experienced religion, and is now a professed follower of the Blessed Savior. The family live about a mile and a half from town and I was in hopes I should have the privilege of meeting him at church today, but did not. Amanda, his sister – who was also one of my scholars – narrated to me some account of the [Jacob Young] family [1]. Oh what a striking contrast between the position of this young man and his associates, whilst two of them, Wes Tappan [2] and George Freeman [3], have stamped themselves with eternal disgrace and shame. He rejoices in all the dignity of manhood and in the prospect of forever participating in man’s highest honors [&] eternal happiness. Such is the power of association. Had he remained at Canewana, he might have been the first enrolled in the criminal’s calendar. Oh I do believe the power that one individual can exert over another of kindred spirit is almost omnipotent and if we would rescue a fellow from lasting ignominy and shame, we must bid him beware, and endeavor to rescue him from the power of his associates.

Now, dear Augusta, soon as you receive this, please favor me with a good long letter. Tell me just how you are; whether you have any troubles and what they are. And if you have received a letter from [your cousin] Hancie, Oh send it on with your letter and let me read it. It has been almost a fortnight since I wrote, and there will soon be a letter for me which I will let you read when I come home if … But what if she comes whilst I am gone? I certainly must know it, and I will endeavor to come home before she leaves. If you write her, please bear my regards and mention my absence as she may appoint a time for me to write during my absence and wonder at my faithfulness.

When you write, please direct to Dunkirk, Chautauqua County, New York. If you do not write within three or four days after receiving this, it will be in time for me to get the letter. But I should prefer that you would write the very earliest opportunity in order that I may be sure. Now don’t fail, for if you do, you know how much I will be disappointed. I will write you again shortly after receiving yours. I called at Father Nisbet's [4] just before coming away to bid them goodbye. Could not help but feel very bad to have them leave. In my estimation they are such fine people, yet I suppose John and Ebby [5] will be very glad to have them at Rochester. I hope to see and meet them many times yet. But I must close by subscribing myself yours.

Most affectionately, -- James

How do you do today? And how have you enjoyed its privileges? And how does time pass along with you? It has seemed like a long week to me, and the few coming weeks will appear longer still away from stationary home and friends, greeted only by the icy expression of strangers. yet at times I am happy to find happy exceptions. There are about a dozen individuals here at the post whom I have known formerly.

Owego [New York]
July 21, 1851

Dearest James ,

I received your letter this morning (Monday) and will try and scribble a few lines in answer to it. I am very tired having walked to my school this morning and back again at noon to attend the funeral of Francis Catlin [6], who was buried this afternoon at three o'clock. I cannot realize that she is indeed dead. She died quite suddenly. She went into the water about two weeks ago and was taken with chills soon after, but was not dangerously sick until a few days before she died, which took place Sabbath morning at four o'clock after a great deal of suffering. She was not rational, only at short intervals, for the last twenty-four hours of her life. Her poor father is nearly distracted, groaning and wringing his hands. He will never be Jacob Catlin of old, even if he lives through this. Perhaps it may be a blessing to him -- she was his idol. [Rev.] Mr. [Thomas Hall] Pearne [7], who is to leave for good tonight, preached an excellent sermon from Psalms 36, part of the sixth verse, "Thy judgments are a great deep."  He said that before she died, she was repentant and prayed for pardon, and said that they might hope that she was accepted by God. She looked mature but older than she was. I do not know that I ever attended a larger funeral in my life. I did not know that she was dangerously sick until the night before she died, but I could not then go and see her and so did not see her [before she died]. Hancie [Abbey] and I called there after she had been in the water and she was not well at all, but in good spirits.

Hancie [Abbey] and Maria [Wright] have been here and made a visit of three weeks, but started for [Connecticut] last Thursday morning between twelve and one o'clock because they did not wish to get into [New York City] in the night. The day they started, we had a great blow that laid a number of trees on the ground around here. I came from my school early and who should I find here but Uncle [Elizur Goodrich] and [his son] Freddie from Hartford. I was quite surprised as you may imagine, but rejoiced to see them. They will return sometime this week if Freddy does not stay a few months. You miss[ed] seeing the whole of them. Hancie and Maria felt very bad to think you were not here and went away disappointed. We watched and looked for a letter from you and began to think you were sick. I wrote you as you requested and directed to Cincinnati immediately after receiving yours and wonder why you did not write. And finally [I] got out of patience (nearly). Hancie used the expression, "It is too bad" very often, but it cannot be helped now. I am very sorry and should have written, but no one knew where to direct [your letters]. Hancie and I called at your mother's shortly after [your brother] Daniel came home. She wanted to see your people for she felt acquainted with them. Your Mother told Ma today that she had heard her sister [Margery Redfield Munson] in Cazenovia [New York] was very low and that perhaps she and [your brother] Daniel should go there [8].

[Your sister] Permelia is home now. [Her husband,] Mr. [Asa] Brooks preached last Sabbath afternoon. [Your other sister,] Mrs. Giddings is expected home tonight.  Almerin S. Warring and Harriet J. Hall are at last married and started west nearly two weeks ago. They were married at [Rev.] Mr. [Thomas Hall] Pearne's [7] .  I forgot what I wrote in my last letter but soon after I sent that pa was taken very sick with Erysipelas in the head. We were afraid he could not live, but he is getting better and is able to walk about now. But [he] will not be able to do anything this summer. I have not time (for it is nearly 11 o'clock) nor space here to write about our visits around, but will say we went to Elmira, Towanda, Athens, and Newfield for a short visit. We drove for ourselves to the latter place and had a delightful time. Wish you had been here to have gone with us. I should think that your [trip of] four or five weeks had lengthened quite a considerable, but I must say goodnight. May God protect and bless you is the wish of your, -- Augusta.

A few weeks later, James wrote the following from Dresden, Yates County, New York. It contains an interesting description of an attempted balloon ascension.

Dresden, Yates County [Washington County, New York]
Monday noon, August 11, 1851

Beloved Augusta,

I have not yet arrived at Bath [New York], but hope to by the last of this week and as I am obliged to wait here a few hours for a package from New York [City], I have concluded to occupy a part of the time in writing. I find that the time is fast – very fast – whirling around when I shall, Providence permitting, leave off my migratory life and engage in that which to me will prove far more agreeable. Just ten days and I shall be at my home [in Owego, New York] preparatory to a return to my New England home [in Middletown, Connecticut]. [My] brother Daniel will accompany me to New York [City]. I am glad that [my] sister Permelia this year is located so much nearer home. It will be so much more convenient for her to visit home, and our people to see her occasionally.

Oh friend A! Did you ever see a person ascend in a balloon high in the upper air until like a distant note in a sunbeam he appeared to the astonishment of all the gazers below? If you have not, Oh how I wish you were with me last Wednesday at Penn Yan [New York]. You remember what a fine day it was. Well the news was circulated for more than a score of miles around. Young and old, rich and poor, homely and handsome, high and low, all came right upon the tiptop of expectation. The balloon was truly huge extending thirty feet from the ground, shaped ovally, goose egg-like. At precisely four o’clock P.M., two small balloons were sent up to ascertain the direction and strength of the wind. Soon appeared Mr. [Ira] Thurston, the Aeronaut, dressed for the occasion with thick clothing to resist the exceeding cold temperature far above the region of the clouds. After bidding his friends goodbye, and seating himself in a small car for his reception, the ropes were cut, but ah, there was no go. There was not sufficient gas to buoy him away. Oh how disappointment began to crowd upon the vast thousands assembled. All had paid their quarter entering the arena and now they wanted their expectations met. But it was destined to be a failure. Faithfully and freely they mingled their acids and caused the evolutions of gas, but to the astonishment of all, instead of the balloon enlarging, it began to grow smaller. Oh how deeply chagrin settled upon the operators until near night they labored faithfully, but yet not enough gas. I was afraid there would be an excess, but here there was a failure. Oh how I was disappointed. Upon examining the balloon near the top, an aperture was discovered through which the gas escaped. It was then too late to repair as it was near night. Soon a crier mounted a housetop nearby with the following announcement, "Gentlemen! Gentlemen!! Gentlemen!!! Hear! Hear! By circumstances unavoidable by us, we find we are about to disappoint you today. We have got your money and you shall not be disappointed. The thing is perfectly feasible, has been done, and shall be done, here at Penn Yan [New York]. If you will only be present two weeks from today, everyone of you shall be permitted to witness it free. Come one, come all." Thus ended the balloon ascension and the assembled thousands, each with his head under his wing, made tracks for home. I think I shall remember it for a long time – a sight so uncommon, so full of interest, and gas. Well I hope to be home by the next ascension.

Thurston article.jpg (1298624 bytes)
Article & Illustration appearing in Harper's Weekly, October 2, 1858
about Aeronaut Ira Thurston
See "A Man Lost in the Clouds"

The Genesee Conference opened on Wednesday at Penn Yan [New York]. Already the preachers begin to come in. Several were on the boat today, especially the young brethren who are to undergo the examinations preparatory to entering. I was at the house of Rev. Samuel C. Adams, the great revivalist last Saturday. I sold him a map of the state. Ask your mother if she remembers him. He held a protracted meeting once in Owego. He is very pleasantly located at Milo [Center], Yates County, New York. He is very kind to his family and provides for them and is very highly respected at home, if people do say such about him elsewhere.

1850 Census Record for Rev. Samuel C. Adams
of Milo, Yates County, New York
Samuel's occupation is "Clergy M. E. C" (Methodist Episcopal Church)

Have you heard from Hancie [Abbey] of late, or Cousin Mary? I shall be glad when I shall be again permanently located so that I can have a sure place for my friends to address me. If you could only give me an answer to this with the latest news and direct to Painted Post, Steuben County, [New York], it would be very gratefully received. I have written this in a shoe shop [9] with sugar ink and if it does not all blot so as to prevent an interpretation, I shall be glad. I would like much to see you. I very often think of you and sometimes allow my mind to glance into the future when I shall be permitted to settle down in some pleasant permanent space with my life’s choice, and try the pleasures flowing from domestic happiness. Well, well. Why talk thus. Perhaps ere that time comes, a kind Providence may release from the cares of earth and take us to that better home where sorrows never enter but happiness perpetual shall fully satisfy the aspirations of the immortal nature. Although absent, can I feel the assurance that I am yet remembered by you – not only in meditations, but when in silence you bow before our Common Father to breathe your daily thanksgiving. Forget, Oh forget not the one who will ever desire your present and future happiness. – James


[1]    The name of the "disagreeable, ugly scholar" was not revealed due to the missing page but was identified by searching the 1850 Painted Post, Steuben County, New York census records looking for a head of household with an occupation of "weaver," a son with an occupation of "tinner" and a daughter named Amanda. In 1850, 47 year-old weaver Jacob Young and his wife Esther, age 40, were found living in Painted Post. Living in the household was their 21 year-old daughter Amanda, their 18 year-old son John Young, a tinner, their 16 year-old son Sylvester, and their 2 year-old daughter Amelia. The 1840 Owego, Tioga County, New York census confirmed that Jacob Young and his family resided in Owego prior to moving to Painted Post, as described in James' letter.

[2]    Wes Tappan, nothing further found.

[3]    George Freeman (born March 1825) and Patience Hall (born February 1828), both of Owego, NY, were married on 11 December, 1847, by the Rev. William H. Pearne of the M.E. Church. Rev. William H. Pearne was the brother of Rev. Thomas H. Pearne (see footnote 7). In 1850, George and Patience Freeman lived in Owego where George was a "laborer." By  1860, George and Patience Freeman and  their three children, Charlotte, James and Charles, were living in the town of Clarksville, Allegany County, New York where George worked as a "farm laborer." In 1870, George and Patience Freeman were living in Portville, Cattaraugus, New York, with children James, George, and Charles. By 1880, the family had moved to Otto Township, McKean County, Pennsylvania where they continue to appear in 1900. George Freeman reportedly died in 1906; his wife presumably dying prior to the 1910 census. 

[4]    Father Nisbet was 69-year-old Alexander Nisbet, a native of Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland who came to Sanford, Broome County, New York in 1834 with his wife Margaret Rae, and their several children. One son, John R. Nisbet, became affiliated with the American Baptist Foreign Missionary Society and would be sent briefly to Burma as a missionary in 1853-54. Another son, James Nisbet (born 1828) became a lawyer and is mentioned elsewhere in these letters. The following character reference document for Alexander Nisbet was prepared in 1840 by associates living in Sanford upon hearing that Mr. Nisbet intended to relocate to Owego in Tioga County [where he appears in the 1840 US Census]. One of the character references is William McClure, who was an original settler of Sanford in 1787. It is represented to be a "true copy" -- probably written in Alexander Nisbet's own hand. It was retained by Silas Goodrich of Tioga, Tioga County, New York and was found among the papers in his home. Apparently by 1851, Mr. Nisbet intended to relocate again, this time to Rochester, New York, where two of his sons were living.

 Nisbet_reduced.jpg (382390 bytes)
Character reference document for Alexander Nisbet
 dated, "Sandford January 4th, 1840"

[double-click on image for enlargement]

[5]    "John & Ebby" probably refers to John R. Nisbet (born 1815) and his brother Ebenezer Nisbet (born 1828), two of the sons of Alexander Nisbet (see footnote 1 above). John and Ebenezer were both living in Rochester, New York in 1851.

[6]    Francis Catlin was the daughter of Jacob Catlin, age 58, and his wife Elizabeth, age 57, of Tioga, New York. According to the 1850 census record, she was the eldest of seven children still living at home. She died July 20, 1851 at 4:00 a.m., according to Augusta Goodrich.

The Owego Advertiser carried the following obituary for Francis Catlin: "Died. At the residence of her father, Mr. Jacob Catlin, in the town of Tioga, on Sunday morning, July 20th, Miss Francis A. Catlin, aged 31 years. Possessed of elegant and fascinating person accomplishments, and admirable disposition, and a fine and well developed mind, she attracted to herself that love and affection, the purest elements of which were so fully diffused in her own benevolent heart. Her unexpected demise has cast a gloom of sadness not alone over a devoted family and loving relatives, but over a widely extend Owego, preached an eloquently appropriate sermon from the word of the Psalmist, "Thy judgments are a great deep."

[7]    Rev. Thomas Hall Pearne (1820-1910), a Methodist minister. According to the Maritime Heritage records, "Rev. T. Pearne and lady" arrived in San Francisco as passengers aboard the steamship, S.S. California, on October 6, 1851, after a voyage of 17 days and 8 hours from Panama. The couple had apparently taken a steamer from New York City to Panama and made the overland crossing of the Isthmus. They journeyed on to Oregon where Rev. Pearne served as presiding elder  from 1851 to 1855. While in Oregon he was editor of the Pacific Christian Advocate and lobbied for the abolition of slavery. For those interested in ships, the S.S. California was the first steamship to arrive in San Francisco Bay. She was built to carry cargo, not passengers, but the gold rush resulted in her being pressed into duty as a passenger ship shuttling forty-niners between Panama and San Francisco until about 1854 when she was overtaken by larger vessels.

[8]    Lydia Redfield Griffing's sister, Margery Redfield Munson, born on 5 December 1777, did indeed pass away on 19 August 1851-- less than a month after this letter was written.

[9]    There was only one shoemaker recorded in the town of Dresden when the census taker canvassed the village in September 1850. Perhaps James wrote this letter in the "shoe shop" of 38 year-old Levi Cadwell.