Global Valley

1832.06.11 Mary Huntington to Elizabeth W. P. Huntington, Jun 11, 1832

Dublin Core


1832.06.11 Mary Huntington to Elizabeth W. P. Huntington, Jun 11, 1832


In this letter, Mary writes to her mother, Elizabeth, primarily about what is going on at school. She begins by sympathizing with her brother Frederic about being home-sick, and also reflects on the death of her sister, Catherine. She briefly inquires about visitors, including her brother Charles and his wife Helen, and feels selfish for wishing to be home. Mary then thanks her mother for the cake and books that she sent. Mary begins talking about her teachers at school and what she is learning. Mrs. Willard, the headmistress, is teaching the girls about manners and appearance. Another teacher, by the last name of Thompson, teaches the girls how to do the“honneurs of the table”. Exams are approaching, and the teachers dread it as much as the students. Mary then asks her mother if she knew a Miss [Hinsdale?] from Connecticut, and asks about others also before stepping away from the letter. She returns the next day to close the letter, and briefly mentions how she had been chosen to write a composition for the examinations and how nervous she is about it. She ends by mentioning that letters from home are always a great comfort and that she hopes to receive more soon.


Mary Huntington


Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers (Box 20, Folder 13)
Amherst College Archives and Special Collections


Jun 14, 1832


Public Domain



Troy, June 11th, 1832.
My dear Mother,
My roommates are both absent, and as I have not much to do in the way of studying, I purpose to devote a few minutes in endeavoring to answer your kind letter which came to hand, together with several others last Thursday evening. You speak of my French lines to William. I feel quite ashamed of them, and almost blame myself for sending them. It was surely a miserable epistle.
I was in hopes that brother F [Frederic] would enjoy living at Northampton, very much, but by something in your letter I conclude that like me, he thinks “there is no place like home”. With what joy shall I greet our sweet Elm Valley[1] again, if I live to return home. While I am writing this the thought forces itself upon me, I shall not find one, there who used to enjoy its charms with me. But I can think of her now as an angel in heaven, and this [crossed out] to be with Jesus the Bible assuring us is better than to remain here. Mr. [Atwell?] must be very deeply afflicted. The hymn that was sung when he requested prayers is the same that was read the Sabbath after our dear little Catherine’s death[2]. I have admired it ever since.
When I read that you expected Mr. [Stearns] and his wife and Charles and Helen to visit you, I was so selfish as to wish for a moment that I would be at home. But I did not think of it long for my studies if nothing else would prevent such a thing from disturbing me a great while. I hope their visit was both pleasant and profitable.
I thank you much for the books you sent me, and for the excellent cake. I have not eaten it all yet. It will last me a good while, and when we are absent from home such things are very acceptable.
Mrs. Willard talks much to the girls respecting their manners and appearance, and wishes us to endeavor to overcome any defects either in our person or manners; which she thinks may be done by great exertion. She thinks it is our duty to attend to these things as we [crossed out] a person who appears well has a greater opportunity for doing good than one of an opposite description. But really I have no very fine chance here for learning to “do the honneurs of the table[3] with dignity,” as my instructress is Mammy Thompson. How I wish not to say the least word against her for I really love her, but what I mean to say is that I might learn that art quite as well under your instructions as where I now am. I suppose the examination commences seven weeks from this very day. That is not a great while is it? We have now begun to review our studies already, and the teachers are urging their classes, to get their lessons perfectly, because the examination is so near. Mademoiselle de [Carval?] dreads it as much as any of the scholars. I suspect you have not yet written whether you were acquainted with Miss Hinsdale of Middletown. Please do [to] inform me respecting this when you write. How do Elvira and [Marian?] come on? I will thank you to give my love to them. I think I shall send this letter by tomorrow’s mail, and will therefore let it remain unsealed until tomorrow morning, for perhaps I shall wish to add something more. I must bid you adieu now, as I have something else
to attend to.
Tuesday June 12 1832. I must now close my letter to you my dear Mother, as it is nearly time for me to put it in the letter box. Miss Hudson has just informed me that she wishes me to write a composition for examination. I told her that I did not think myself competent. She told me she wished me to make [an?][missing because of tear in paper] attempt. How I dread it. She has promised [missing-paper torn] of a subject for me and when she [missing-sealing wax blocking words, paper torn] what it is, I shall let you know, as I was to [then?] [obscured] have all the assistance from home that is possible. I must now repeat my old song “do write often,” and I believe I shall continue to do so as long as I stay here for one of the greatest comforts I have is to receive letters from you. Your affectionate daughter
Mary D. Huntington

P.S. If I do not get a letter today, I shall be quite disappointed

[1] - the family often referred to their land in Hadley as “Elm Valley”
[2] - Catherine died of typhus on August 15, 1830, at the age of 13
[3] - French phrase “honneurs de la table”, refers to conduct and etiquette expected when at the table: table manners.