This letter was written by Calvin Waldo Marsh (1825-1873), the son of Henry Marsh (1797-1852) and Sarah Whitney (1796-1883) of Berkshire county, Massachusetts. Calvin’s father, Henry, died of cholera at LaSalle, Illinois in 1852 when he was 55 years old. By that time, Calvin had already graduated from Williams College (1844) and was working as a commission merchant in St. Louis, Missouri.
Calvin write the letter to his sister Clarissa (“Clara”) Dwight Marsh (1834-1899) who was attending the Cooper Female Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, at the time of this 1850 letter.
One large paragraph of the letter is devoted to a discussion of journals kept by Calvin’s older brother, Rev. Dwight Whitney Marsh (1823-1896), an 1842 graduate of Williams College and the Andover Theological Seminary who traveled as a missionary to Turkey in 1849. As mentioned is young “Charlie,” (Charles Francis Marsh) the thirteen year-old brother of Calvin’s.
Saint Louis, [Missouri]
June 1, 1850
My Dear Sister,
Although I am not indebted to you by way of correspondence, still as I have leisure this morning, I thought t’would be pleasant to spend it in holding a little chat with you. I presume ‘ere this you are having there as here delightful warm weather. For four or five days it has been charming here & except last Monday, none too warm for comfort.
On Monday the firemen had their annual “Parade” and of course Charlie was half crazy to see it all. T’was a beautiful sight and the bright colored uniforms of the men and the highly polished engines gaily trimmed with flowers and the streets in front of the different engine houses filled with flags suspended by ropes from one side to the other, the beautiful horses drawing the “machines” & the inspiriting music of six or eight different bands all tended to excite & please the multitude of citizens of all ages which thronged the sidewalks, church steps, balconies & windows of each street they passed. 1
The Butchers, each mounted & in a beautiful white shirt with blue scarfs paraded with the firemen. They were quite half an hour passing where I stood. They marched from eleven till three or four, &c., then dined at different hotels. T’was the warmest day of the season—the thermometer standing at 90 degrees in the shade.
I have had one or two letters from Sandusky from Jim Peck and John Massey. Kate spends the summer in Rochester & also her father & mother. We have not heard very recently from Racine but they were all well when we last heard. Lizzie seems quite anxious that you should remain at Dayton another year & I am also decidedly of the same opinion & when father returns from Illinois, shall talk with him about it. Should you do so, can you spend part of your vacation in Sandusky, pleasantly. If you should, I should think & advise that Lizzie meet you there & make a visit and then father or myself would meet here at Cincinnati or Dayton. It would be too hot for you to think of spending the vacation here & would cost too much besides.
I wish you would write me in your next what your expenses have been for the last year & what they probably will be for the year to come.
Monday, the 3rd. I stopped writing on Saturday to go to the post office & there found a letter from Julia to me together with Dwight’s journal “No. 4.” No. 3 we received a month since & after all reading it, I copied it and sent it to Henry with instructions to forward to you. As soon as you receive it & have read it, you must remail to “Julia” in New York. With the last journal came a letter addressed to the “family” & in it he says, “return the journal as soon as possible to New York to her.” His journal Nos. 1 & 2 have not been received as yet and I begin to fear they are lost. No. 1 contains his trip across the ocean & No. 2 his stay at Smyrna & journey to Beirut & stay there. “No. 3” is description of a week’s sojourn at Scanderoon & his journey from there to Aleppo. The last one, No. 4. contains description of Aleppo & journey from there to Aintab. & his reception there. I copied on Saturday about one half of the last journal, some four sheets (16 pages) and was quite tired before night. Journal No. 3 is 11 sheets—44 days—and it was quite a job but a pleasant one. I shall copy the balance today & tomorrow and send to Henry next day.
I received six letters this morning, one from Henry, one from you, from Thornton, from Henry Boardman, and two on business—one for Father however. Henry has just received the journal and will I presume forward it to you. Edward Smith has been dangerously sick & when he wrote, they had scarcely any hopes of his recovery. Maria & Clara had taken almost the entire care of him. His complaint is pneumonia & hemorrhage of the lungs. His father Canfield & John were both absent and he was very busy. All the rest well.
Thornton says Mr. L. S. Hubbard is to be married 25th of this month & he expects to be Mr. Hubbard’s right hand man & thinks they will take a trip to Falls of Saint Anthony by way of this city. He says also that Mr. A. M. Porter has bought the Hollister place where we lived. He speaks of “Ella,” Converse little child being sick or having been of which I believe you wrote. In regard to “Lizzie’s” going there with you, I like the idea myself but this morning Father did not concur at all. We had not time to discuss the matter but shall today or soon & then pressure Father & Mother will both write you. I still take my meals at the “Munroe” and room up on Fourth Street & Father & Mother with Charlie are at Mrs. Douthitt’s on Sixth Street. As to my business, cannot say much as in this business I have to first make the acquaintance of the men who send produce here to sell and then to get their confidence, all of which takes time, & it is both a dull season and near the close of the spring business season.
I see cousin Robert every day or two although I have not seen a great deal of him as he is pretty closely confined by his banking duties. Mother has written to Aunt Clara once or twice & I think I will soon. I am pretty confident I sent the paper you speak of & cannot now get another. I send you now the Republican with two quite pretty stories & a very interesting letter from France by their correspondent in Paris who is a lady & the suggestions in regard to dress I think exceedingly good. I like Mrs. Peters much. Of Belle I cannot judge but she appears well for what I have seen of her.
Charlie is happy as a cricket & is perfectly well. He goes to Mr. Wyman’s school & finds his way about the city without much trouble. I sent him from my office up home alone the other day, seven blocks off.
The painting of Adam & Eve by [Claude Marie] Dubufes has been on exhibition here for four weeks & leaves today for Louisville. Strawberries are getting quite plenty & will soon be cheap and abundant.
I went to ride with Mother a week ago down towards “Vide Pochí” pronounced Veed Poshe & called first at a Mr. Williams whose acquaintance I had made & who very politely took me out to tea with him one evening sometime ago & although his wife (a lady of twenty-two or three & very agreeable( was not at hot house, her house keeper showed us over the garden and gave us flowers and took us up on the back piazza where there is a most beautiful view down the river twenty-five miles & the river appearing to come out of the ground at the foot of the long descent from the house.
We called at Mr. Thomas Allen’s as came along back and there had a pleasant chat with Mrs. A., a romp with “Lillie” & “Russell,” and were refreshed with some nice cake. Lilla showed me her chickens & ducks & young Guinea hens, her flower bed in the garden, & found me one or two ripe strawberries, then into the house & up in the library to see her young canaries two weeks old, five of them in one next—little beauties. Russell showed “his” birds, four little young “catbirds” in a nest built in a evergreen bush not so high as my head near the gate & about ten rods from the house. Is Miss Claflin still your roommate & how does the Misses Osborn? Remember me to them should they enquire. With much love from Father & Mother, & from your own brother, — C. W. Marsh
Hubbard marries a Miss Livingston of Gainsville who spent part of last winter in Sandusky. I knew her very intelligent and quite handsome. A good match.
Father returned from Illinois Saturday night & will write you before he leaves again, I think. Write when you have leisure. I shall not be able to write you as often as I do after the [ ] commences. — Waldo
1 The city of Saint Louis had 12 volunteer fire companies by the 1850s.