Global Valley

1835.10.08 - Elizabeth Huntington to Frederic Dan Huntington, Oct. 8th, 1835

Dublin Core


1835.10.08 - Elizabeth Huntington to Frederic Dan Huntington, Oct. 8th, 1835


In this letter, Elizabeth writes to her son Frederic and updates him on daily happenings in hopes that he does not forget his family while away at school at nearby Amherst College. While the family misses him, they do not mourn, and life goes on. There are efforts to start a singing school in Hadley to be taught by Mr. Kingsley. Fanny, Elizabeth’s granddaughter and Charles’ daughter, appeared to be near death Thursday but is well enough to attend school the following Wednesday. Dan Huntington’s birthday on Sabbath day prompts a brief passage about how death should not be feared but rather considered a gate to endless joy. Several of Elizabeth’s children visit her over the course of the week, and Charles and wife Helen visit Mount Warner with the Clarke family while Harriet, daughter Elizabeth, and Mary visit along with Theodore. Elizabeth laments that she cannot see Halley’s comet very well and that she and Dan have conflicting calls for tea Wednesday. Edward writes that he will be away for several more weeks, and Elizabeth receives a letter from Mrs. Fisher detailing a devastating mill fire.


Elizabeth Whiting Phelps Huntington


Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers (Box 12 Folder 7)
Amherst College Archives and Special Collections




Courtesy of the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Foundation
For permissions contact Amherst College Archives and Special Collections





Elm Valley - Oct. 8th 1835 - Thursday Evening 7-
My Dear Frederic,
I am going to do what I recommended to you to do, keep a sort of record of the events of the day; and when I have a convenient opportunity send it to you, that you may not lose all knowledge of us, or interest in us.
We have visited you several times today in spirit, and in conversation, and I imagine you have arranged your furniture, and swept and dusted your room, and find yourself with your room-mate very comfortably situated, and ready and able to go on with your studies to advantage. I am quite happy in this persuasion; because we read in the Book of books, this direction, and promise united; "Commit thy way unto the Lord and he shall give thee the desire of thine heart;[1] In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."[2]
The two brothers have gone into town to collect, if they can, seventy persons who will be willing to unite in forming a singing school to be taught by Mr. Kingsley. This gentleman has agreed to teach three months in Hadley, twice a week, for the sum of 175 dollars; 25 less than they offered him at Greenfield. Your father is quite down with a cold, is now sitting by the kitchen fire, to avoid the chattering of five females; yes, five without your mother; by this you will understand that Mary and Harriette Mills[3] returned, (before dinner), with Theophilus who went this morning to N_n [Northampton] on business. We had a letter from Edward last evening dated Franklin Maine, between Bangor & Eastport.[4] He says nothing about Williams nor about moving home; the letter was written Sept. 28th.
Saturday evening half past ten. All gone to rest, in peace and comfort; what obligations are we under to our guide by day and our guard by night! The pillar of a cloud and the pillars of fire still attend us, though too often unnoticed.
We miss you often; at our social meals, and our social fire-side; at the morning and evening sacrifices, and also as we gather around or Saturday-evening table, with our religious books, and elevating employment. But thanks to God, we would not mourn your absence; we may hope for a meeting in this life. Some of our number have reached the end of their journey, when it was but just begun; and we are permitted to think of them, as the inhabitants of a world of purity and peace and love, where no discordant passions agitate the bosom, and no doubt or fears interrupt the communion of the blessed society. We are traveling on, as we hope, in the same path. May we often hear the voice of our great leader, saying, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."[5] Let us not expect or desire, uninterrupted enjoyment. We know from the word of God and our own experience, that difficulties and troubles are essential to our progress in virtue and holiness. Desiring this progress above everything else, let us leave with infinite wisdom and goodness, the means by which it shall be attained.[6]
Charles came over this afternoon and brought his family. The children are better; but Fanny[7] looks very sickly, and continues to have a pain in her ear and the sides of her throat. She seems about ready for heaven. Your friend Poor called here; he seems very friendly to you. Harriette will return tomorrow. May the Lord of the Sabbath, give us all a Sabbath blessing.
Sabbath evening - This is your father's birthday; we are descending toward the grave. But I beg you will not tremble at the thou[g]ht. Death is the gate of endless joy, And shall we dread to enter there? If we are christians we ardently desire to see God and Christ; but we cannot see them as we wish, till we die. We also long to be free from sin, to serve our maker without weariness and without imperfection, but this we cannot do till we die. Death then to the believers is great gain. It will bring us to the spirits of just men made perfect to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, and to Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant and to God the judge of all. We all attended meeting, Theodore and Ben, at the Hills[8], your father, Miss Paige, Mary, and Susan[9] at Hadley and the rest of us at N_n [Northampton]. Mr. Hearns preached in the morning to mourners, from these words, Job, Behold happy is the man whom God correcteth. [10] This afternoon from Proverbs 4th 26th Ponder the path of thy feet. On the failings of christians, and I found myself reproved; may it not be in vain. I hope you will have a blank book and keep a Sabbath record.[11]

Monday evening 7 o clock - Marianne[12] and the younger Miss Dane[13] called here this afternoon. Marianne is going, when the Misses Dane return, to make a visit of a few weeks at Cambridge Port, and Boston. Turn to the first page, by mistake I began on the wrong side.
This letter begins at the second page.
On Saturday afternoon, our girls, Harriet[14], Elizabeth, and Mary, visited Mount Warner. For want of a better conveyance they rode with Theodore part of the way in the old red wagon, and in the cart. Elizabeth came home much delighted with the refreshing sight of the coleges [colleges] & particularly of the door of the chapel, as she thought possibly you might be standing in it. - Her evenings last week were apparently not very pleasant, we thou[g]ht she wanted you at her left hand, to help her about her studies. As Mary was fearful that something you said to her about not being married, the day before you left us, gave her some uneasiness.
I suppose you have seen the comet.[15] It is visible all this evening, just above and very near the great Bear.[16] The train is not very brilliant. Indeed to my dim vision it is hardly perceptible.
Wednesday 'forenoon yesterday afternoon Charles and Helen accompanied Edward Clarke and wife and sister, and Mrs. Christopher Clarke[17] to Mount Warner. They [Charles and Helen] left little Charles with us while they were gone. Fanny is so well as to attend school. This morning your father, Theophilus and Ben have gone to the mountain to pick up apples. Theodore stays at home, is husking corn I believe. Your father and mother had an invitation last night, to drink tea this evening with Widow Maj. Smith, in company with Doct. Brown[18] and lady. This morning Mrs. Doct. Porter sent a note, requesting our company and Bethia's, at their house to meet friends at tea today. What a pity; as calls of this kind are so rare, that there should be two for the same time!
I intend to leave this at Doct. Porters store, to be sent to you. I hope soon to receive a long letter from you. I hope it will not be a task as irksome as writing home is to me of the girls in our family. I feel a kind of satisfaction in [the thought] that your writing desk is the same which was used by your gr. [added in pencil] brother [19] who is now a glorified spirit, and is perhaps permitted, as he himself hoped might be the case, to witness your faithful efforts in duty, and even assist you in their arduous work - with the most earnest desire for your happiness and improvement I am as ever your truly affectionate mother,
Elizabeth -
We had a letter last evening from Edward dated
He said he might be absent 3 or 4 weeks longer. We also had a letter from Mrs. Fisher. She says the mill in which Mr. F. secured a share has been consumed with some other building by fire. The loss to the firm, is eight thousand dollars.[20]

Mr Frederick D. Huntington Amherst Amherst College

[1] Psalm 37:4, King James Bible, reads: "Delight thyself in the Lord; and he will give you the desires of your heart"
[2] Proverbs 3:6, King James Bible, Cambridge Edition reads: "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths"
[3] There is little mention of Harriette at this time, but Harriette Blake Mills was the mother of Helen Sophia Mills Huntington, so this may be referring to her.
[4] Franklin, Maine is between Bangor and Eastport. It is unclear what Edward is doing in Franklin, as his permanent home in 1835 was in Northampton.
[5] Revelation 2:10, King James Bible reads: "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life"
[6] Elizabeth was excommunicated from the Hadley Congregational church in the 1820s, so that is old news when this letter was written. However, Dan Huntington was censured by the Hadley Congregational Church in 1835. Not only did this trouble with the church cause Elizabeth much hardship because of her faith, but it also disrupted her social life and status, as the church was the center of the town. It seems that Elizabeth is referring to this turbulence are she writes about the "difficulties and troubles" she is facing, but she seems to equate this suffering to that which will give her the strength and experience to become closer with God and go to heaven when she dies.
[7] Charles' and Helen's daughter, Helen, was nicknamed Fanny. She is mentioned later in the letter as having recovered from her illness.
[8] At this time, Frederic is living in Bedford Hills N.Y. so this may what Elizabeth is referencing here.
[9] Perhaps, Susan Davis Phelps (1827-1865), youngest child of Charles Porter Phelps, who was living in Hadley and was eight years old when this letter was written.
[10] Job 5:17, King James Bible reads: "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth"
[11] Most likely referring to Dan's getting censured by the Hadley Congregational Church.
[12] Marianne, Born September 13, 1810, was a child of Elizabeth Phelps Huntington's brother, Charles Porter Phelps.
[13] Hannah Dane Sargent Huntington (1822-1910) spent each summer on the farm at "Forty Acres." She was 13 at the time, while Frederic was 16, and the two eventually married in 1843. She was the daughter of Epes and Mary Lincoln Sargent. Hannah lived in Boston at the time.
[14] It is unclear who Harriet is referring to, as Elizabeth did not have a child of that name. May be referring to Harriett Butler Clarke, daughter of Christopher Clarke, as the family is mentioned later in the letter.
[15] Halley's Comet passed earth in 1835, and was best visible on November 16.
[16] Also known as Ursa Major. Notable for containing the stars that comprise the asterism The Big Dipper.
[17] Likely referring to Edward and Christopher Clarke of Northampton, sons of merchant Samuel Clark.
[18] It is unclear who Doct. Brown is. It is most likely not the famous John Brown, although Elizabeth knew him.
[19] Although there is as yet no other direct mention of the writing desk in question, it is likely that Elizabeth is speaking of Frederick's brother John Whiting, who died while a student at Harvard in 1832.
[20] Mr. and Mrs. Fisher refers to Elizabeth Porter Huntington Fisher (1803-1897) and George Fisher, respectively. Elizabeth was the second child of Dan and Elizabeth Huntington. George was president of the North West Insurance Company in Oswego, New York.