Folded letter by US Navy Surgeon David Shelton Edwards
In 1835 the letter probably would have traveled overland or by steamboat to Mobile, Alabama, where it joined the Great Mail route north using combinations of horse, coach, steamboat and train. The circular date stamp indicates the letter was forwarded on 13 June from the Pensacola, Florida post office. The rate for a single letter (one sheet of paper) traveling more than 400 miles was 25 cents. The absence of the word "Paid" indicates that the letter was sent unpaid and 25 cents was collected from the addressee.
David Shelton Edwards begins the letter to his wife Harriet with news of his activities in Pensacola, including travels to the countryside and a new commander at the Navy Yard. He looks forward to her visit as "a sort of second marriage so far as actual presence is concerned." He continues with advice on what household items she should buy and bring with her and inquires as to the state of construction of their house at Sing-Sing, New York as well as gives some instructions for the layout of the garden and house structure.
This letter is part of the correspondence of David Shelton Edwards between the years 1835 and 1848. The 48 letters from this period held by the National Postal Museum are primarily addressed to Edward's wife Harriet; in 1830, Edwards married Harriet Eliza Henry and they had two children, William and Harriet. They kept up a frequent correspondence when his naval service kept them separated. Between 1835 and 1848, Edwards served as a Surgeon at the hospital in the Pensacola Navy Yard, Florida; Fleet Surgeon to the West Indies Squadron; and Surgeon aboard many vessels engaged in the Mexican-American War. His naval career spanned from 1818 to 1861 and his last sea cruise ended in October of 1859 after which he retired to his family home in Connecticut except for a brief time spent at New Bedford, Massachusetts recruiting for the Union Navy during the Civil War. He died in Trumbull, Connecticut on March 18, 1874.
National Museum of American History, Naval History Archives. David Shelton Edwards Papers. Accession Number: 1978.0652
New York Public Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division. "David S. Edwards papers, 1818-1865."
Pensacola June 8th 1835
My dear little wife,
I have just rec.d your very consoling letter of the 24 from S. S. - & after devouring the delicious morsel - I took up my walk in our spacious gallery enjoying the cool of the evening & indulging in those pleasing reflections which your good letter had excited - Wife & children well - & as I requested, have left the tainted atmospheres of the Metropolis, for one more pure & salubrious, and one now enjoying in the company of friends - rural walks & greenfields.
And I dare day my Dear scamp finds means to take a ride too - well that is right - I only wish I was with you - If you did scold me for driving slowly up hill. O! I wish I was there to take one nice little walk with you & miss Mary & the little ones -
Tho absent in person I am with you in thought - I can see you while you are reading this letter - your [inserted above: forehead] on one hand & your elbow resting on the table. & I hope you are not licking those lips.-I hope that glow upon your cheek does not mean - offended. now a kiss - and - we will go on again - well I am writing a queer sort of a letter - but no matter it is to my wife my own dear wife, & she loves to read any thing I write & altho she may meet with a good deal of nonsense it will be very strange if she dont meet with something worth reading. I rec.d 3. numbers of the Ev: Post. which were very acceptable. Altho you have met with some trouble. I am glad to find you are so well over it all, & so very comfortable. I pray no more bad luck may come in your way. Is your knee well please tell miss Mary her good will is highly appreciated remember me to all the Family - & my respects to Mr. Mead &c. - & Friends in the village. Mr. [written above: Col.] Snowden's family. - write me some more of the village news. or as Wm says, Ma, tell me some more stories. Did Mrs. Dr. Jackson think she had the Dyspepsia this time? I am glad to learn that Col. Crane is to take command of the Fort here. Mr. Hunt tells me that Mrs H. wrote him date 24th May I believe that Mr. Chew was going to invite you & accompany you to see her - at her request. that you might become acquainted- & come out together. Your having left N. Y. a few days previous of course prevented it. Mrs. H. will spent the Summer at Newport. Lt. Mac Intosh's Sister is going there too. So I suppose you will see them in Sept.-
I look forward to your coming as quite an Era - a sort of second marriage so far as actual presence is concerned for it seems an age since I have seen you. I want you here to smooth my pillow [which is now a bag stuffed with hay] and lay your head beside me - not on the hay-bag but its own long absent pillow.-good night Love & may we dream we are with each other.-
June 10th- I have been very busy for 2 days past in attending to a large number of Sick- and in making out Estimates for medicines &c. for the Station & W. I. Squadron for the next six months. They will probably be sent out from N. Y. next Sept. in a store ship- & then you can send our stores. You had better make up your Dinner set of [inserted above: Canton] China as complete as you can - Mr. Hunt has just opened his set. 148 pieces & very handsome Dont buy those shallow flat-trencher-shaped-pale refuse. rough as graters- like Coops which have been picked & culled over- first in New York & then in Brooklyn. You know where we got ours in Maiden Lane, there were very good & you had better get a nice little soup ladle- silver or composition- it is all the same to me. also a set of cartons - Mr. H gave [inserted above: $] 11 for his & they are very neat.
Mr. H. a few weeks since offered me his Liverpool Let. at cost . about [inserted above:$]30 including freight &c. &c. but I though I would not be a Goose. & and now I see his much handsomer Canton set which cost him about the same.- We have no tea set. & no tin oven- & toaster. ½ a doz black tin Dust covers willed also be requisite.- If you prefer buying a full set of China at once - do so. - I want you to buy me a good copy of Webster's Octavo Dictionary - cost about 4 or 5 dollars. if there is any late Edition get the latest. The map. & the gazetteer I believe I have mentioned before. I wish you would also get 4 silver labels for bottles - you know to tie on the necks. Brandy, Sherry, Madiera, Port. & if you choose claret & whiskey - which will make ½ a dox.- where you deal largely they will [perhaps throw in a set of these things, as an inducement for you to sell again. or send your friends to them.- always buy good articles but get them as low as you can - try the market & dont be a goose
There is a good deal of Sickness about the Country in Alabama & Louisiana - Cholera is frequent at Mobile & N. Orleans & it's Premonitory - Diarrhea, & also Dysenterry, is all about. Exposures - & Irregularities in Diet produce it. as it always has done before. So Take good care of yourselves -, my Honeys -
reflect upon what you [inserted above: have] seen, [behind]. & think of what is coming. [before]
June 12th. You say the house does not progress any. I hope the Scratch coat is on. for the different coats ought to dry well between each, or they will be very apt to crack. & to sperate from the wood. & the brown coat to stain thru the white coat. the scratch coat ought certainly to have been put on as soon as the Spring was certain - & the season of frost was gone. I do hope Mr. Orr will not put on the any of the finishing wood work about the walls until they are all finished- & that he will not hurry the different coats upon each other before they they are quite dry. much better that he should keep it [inserted from above: 3 weeks or] a month later. -
If the floor plank are as good as the Pattern House I will be satisfied. Where any of the alterations proposed are difficult of expensive, better to go on according to the original plan. It is probable that an Addition may be hereafter added on the North side of the Hall. to correspond with the one on the South side in the pattern House so as to give 2 more good rooms on the principal floor. & a chimney between that & the Hall breakfast room will be very desirable. When any change in the plan becomes requisite you must not hesitate to direct it. Find me your recipe for Tomatus ketchup. Dert[paper missing] is now very busy here - he sends his love to one or two [paper missing] & an ocean of love to his wife who is believed to be at Sing [paper missing] & if so, I would inform her that she will have plenty of time to write before he will leave here. — —
now who do you think I mean. His name is under the seal just like some of your writing. - If you are much of a yankee you can guess who it is. - put down come more fruit trees, peaches, pairs, cherries &.- & stick down currant twigs. & raspberries, along the Divis.n fence.- I think a fence across below the Petit so as to leave a small garden next the house would do well - to shut out cattle & poultry - by the bye if there are fruit trees - they will be destroyed by pasturing . how is the new street to run?
I am afraid Mr. Spencer has suffered the water to accumulate in the cellar & the cistern to get too high. I dont know as you can do anything better than leave it alone. After paying taxes & Insurance - I presume Mr. S. does not look to you also to keep it in repair particularly as he has the lease on very good terms. but still I would rather pay something than have the House injured by neglect. Adieu DS. E.