Category Archives: Rochester, New York

1862-64: Dwight Whitney Marsh to his Family

Rev. Dwight Whitney Marsh in later years

These two letters were written by Dwight Whitney Marsh (1823-1896), the son of Henry Marsh (1797-1852) and Sarah Whitney (1796-1883) of St. Louis, Missouri. Dwight had several siblings; those mentioned in these letters include, Calvin “Waldo” Marsh (1825-1873), Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Willard Marsh (1829-1882), and Clarissa (“Clara”) Dwight Marsh (1834-1899) who married Samuel Watkins Eager, Jr. (1827-1903). Dwight’s father was an attorney in St. Louis at the time of his death in 1852 at the age of 53.

Dwight was born in Berkshire county, Massachusetts, and graduated from Williams College in 1842. He studied theology at Andover Theological Seminary in 1842-3, and then taught school in St. Louis, Mo., from 1843 to 1847. He continued his theological training at Union Theological Seminary and graduated in 1849, after which he was ordained and sailed in December 1849 from Boston to Mosul, Turkey, as a missionary for the A. B. C. F. M. In 1852 he returned to the U.S. and married 19 October 1852 to Julia White Peck of New York City. He then returned to Mosul where his wife died in August 1859. He finally returned to the U.S. in 1860 and began a lecture tour on missionary life. He was married on 21 August, 1862, to Elizabeth L. Barron in Rochester and then accepted charge of the Rochester Young Ladies’ Female Seminary where he remained five years. While there, he also preached for the Wester House of Refuge. He then went on to serve in the pulpit of various churches in the midwest before his death in 1896.

Letter 1

Osburn House
Rochester, New York
Thursday, August 21, 1862

My own ever dear sister Lizzie,

I am very sorry that our marriage comes off so suddenly that you & Mother could not be present. I think of you all much. It is now about noon & we are to be married at 3:30 & at 9 shall be at the [Niagara] Falls if all goes well. We have a charming day & I wish you were here to share in our delight. How often in this life our affairs move differently from our anticipations. I think we are about to be happy; but only our Maker knows what trials of sickness or partings are in store.

We are in war times. I think I never saw a city so stirred with enlistment excitements as this day. A regiment has just gone & 15 tents are camped on the pavements in the very heart of the city & the roll of the drum calls not an ordinary crowd. At 3:30 stores are closed & the strength & enterprise of the city is at work & will meet with wonderful success. They will probably avoid any resort to drafting in this county.

Coming from New England here, having heard Parson Brownlow 1 here, I think I can safely [say] that the North is wholly in earnest & will give promptly all that the government asks. This interest grows with every friend that falls & does not for a moment falter at any reverse. This is a great country & I am getting more & more proud of it. Should you come from St. Louis here, you would breathe a purer air & feel a new patriotic thrill & exult in living where to be living is sublime. “In an age on ages telling.”

“We shall have no lasting peace till we are ready to do something in the name of God & liberty for the slave. There clanks our chain.”

Rev. Dwight Whitney Marsh, 21 August 1862

Lizzie, I hope you & Clara all all at home will not think that my heart loved you any the less for the happiness of my new relations. I think that I love each of our dear family with a true & abiding love. I want your sympathy & your prayers. At St. Louis, where tiresome abounds, you must feel sad & discouraged at times. We shall have no lasting peace till we are ready to do something in the name of God & liberty for the slave. There clanks our chain.

Do give my best love to Anna & Clara & Sam & Waldo & kiss the children. When shall we meet? I cannot go to St. Louis for the present. I shall have to go look after Charlie again, as soon as October 1st, if not sooner. I shall try to write more at length soon. I hope Katy will not forget “Uncle Dwight.” Remembrance to all friends.

Your ever affectionate brother, — Dwight

1 William Gannaway Brownlow (1805-1877) was a preacher in the Methodist Church and a Tennessee newspaper editor. A Unionist despite owning slaves himself, Brownlow criticized the Confederacy even after Tennessee seceded. He was briefly imprisoned by the Confederacy at the beginning of the war. After leaving the state, he began a lucrative lecture tour in the North.

Letter 2

Addressed to Mrs. Sarah Marsh, Care of S. W. Eager, Jr., Esqr., County Clerk, St. Louis, Mo.

Rochester, New York
Saturday, November 12th 1864

My own dearest Mother,

Your kind letter written just before election came yesterday & now we can rejoice & thank God together. This state and Nation are safe. God has heard the prayer of thousands of His creatures. He has been very gracious & to Him be all glory & praise. The world does surely move on towards the glad day when truth shall no longer be trampled down in the streets. The Nation, by God’s inspiring decree & influence, has asserted the heaven given rights to live notwithstanding rebels in arms & traitors at the polls would have assassinated the nation.

Rochester Female Seminary—pillars repaired in 1864

I am almost too happy in the defeat of the intriguer [Horatio] Seymour & hardly less in that of the weak tool McClellan. I think McClellan was a well-meaning little coxcomb—fooled to the top of his bent by larger and meaner men. The sun has set upon [Samuel S.] Cox & [Alexander] Long & poor Fernando [Wood] has not even traitors enough in New York [City] to elect him. All lovers of liberty & truth must rejoice in the result of last Tuesday’s election. I have some curiosity to know how [brother] Waldo voted. I hope that he is under good influences. I want very much from time to time to hear just how he is situated.

Lillie & Miss Eaton are well. Were they in the room, he would no doubt send love.

Our school continues full. We have about eighty. We had lately a singular case of theft by one of the girls of silver spoons & we were obliged to send her home. She was only fifteen & lived some thirty or forty miles away.

Please tell me any news of the dear ones in Racine. Love to them too if you write.

We have been repairing considerably. Clara will remember that the pillars in front of the house were very shabby. We have had them freshly covered and they look now very well indeed. We have expended over $200 in repairs since Mr. Eager & Clara were here & they would no doubt notice great improvement, This change has been essential to be decent.

Rev. Augustus Walker and his bride, Eliza Mercy Harding—Congregational missionaries to Turkey

Mr. & Mrs. [Augustus] Walker 1 of Diarbekir made us a very delightful visit of nearly a week—only it was too short. We put on Turkish dresses on Wednesday afternoon & the young ladies had quite a treat. One day the girls took a vote & found 58 for Lincoln to 12 for McClellan, & besides the teachers all for Lincoln.

Our city (I am sorry to say) gave some 80 majority for Little Mac. He must feel very small. Little Delaware was just large enough to vote for him.

Old Kentucky started wrong in this war (only half loyal)—that is, loyal with an if—and she has suffered & may suffer far more for it. I hope she will consult her own interests well enough to give up slavery. It is idle to attempt to maintain it longer & will only delay what is inevitable.

Please give much love to Waldo & Mr. Eager & all their families, kissing the little ones for me. Thank you for remembering & writing to me on my birthday. I see God’s hand more the longer I live & I hope am grateful for His goodness & love. Every affectionately your son, — Dwight

1 Rev. Augustus Walker and his wife, Eliza Mercy Harding, were missionaries to Diarbekir, Turkey, where they spent 13 years. They had six children, two of whom died in Turkey. Only one child, Harriet, was born in America during a furlough. In 1866 the Reverend Augustus Walker died of cholera in Turkey, and Mrs. Walker returned to America with their four children.