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 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 this letter by describing the process of mailing and receiving letters from the North. He writes mainly to tell his wife Harriet that the wife of the Navy Yard commander, Mr. Ward, may be coming down to Pensacola, Florida and that they could possibly stay together. He goes on to explain that Harriet may enjoy the company since society there is limited. He continues to give advice for Harriet to take care of her knee (first mentioned in his letter of May 22). He expresses concerns that the children may get too spoiled and concludes with a story of a man that stole money from an office in the Navy Yard.
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 22- 1835
12 o clock has struck & the mail carrier leaves at 2. & returns again at sundown with whatever mail may have arrived from the North this afternoon-the mail for the North which is closed at Pensacola this afternoon is taken on in the steamboat tomorrow. the same process takes place again every other day. My heart tells me I shall get a letter from you this evening unless the late heavy rains have so overflowed the country in Georgia as to stop the mail. & I think it will be no small matter that will stop them now- or they might have Amos upon their backs. I would wait until day after tomorrow to write you but I want to tell you the conversation which to[inserted from above: ook] place yesterday between Lieut. Ward of the Falmouth & your Hub:— Mr. Ward, & Doct. Ruff of the St. Louis called on me yest. in the most friendly manner & after some enquiries after my family Mr. W. expressed some solicitude that Mrs. Ward should come out with you in Oct. his object is to summon sea service on this station. he is yet uncertain whether he shall go home in the Falmouth - If he does - he says he can them come out with you & it will be all the better- He proposes that Mrs. Ward should (if agreeable to you, & you & Mrs. W. agree to it) that Mrs. W. should live with us. & Mr. W. & myself will make arrangements to provide for you all the necessaries & comforts in our power & if he goes home in the Falmouth that he will attend to it himself; & among other things a nice little covered barouche or carriage to ride to Pensacola in. The other affairs might be arranged jointly by Mr. W. & myself the same as on ship-board & you & Mrs. W. might be the later(?), in turn. as I am very much pleased with Mr. W. I told him I did not know what arrangements you may have made; but that I would write to you on the subject. & that Mrs. W. could learn from you - whether we could accept the prospect. he said he thought Mrs. W. had already become acquainted with you - & that she would write to you at S. S., & requested me to mention it to you - [inserted above: So] that a letter from Mrs. W. might not be unexpected to you. So now My Dear Wife - I shall be content to have you here - either alone or with company - If sister Delia comes with you - or if Cousin Delia comes with you - I shall be pleased. or if neither come, & you choose to accept Mrs. W. as a friend or companion (for you told me you was pleased with the representation you had of her)- I shall still be pleased & gratified. & as the society at the Navy Yard is very limited I think you would find it agreeable.-If you think it would not be so pleasant- you have only to say so to Mrs. W., & there is no harm done. & you could at the same time soften the refusal by expressing your gratification that the circumstances had been the means of your making her acquaintance.
You know the house as I have described it. You would probably have to give up your back bedroom & one or two of the garret rooms. The Basement room here is always surprised by the Cook. - If you have not yet - you need not to make any arrangement - for the mess stores. as I have already an arrangement of my own in view. between Lt. Mc Intosh & myself - but If you have done anything about it - still it is all right - for it will not come amiss; but I wish you to inform me about it - as well as about what you think of Mr. W.'s proposition. the Back Parlor you know will be the Dining room - & you will not have so much private company as to require separate parlors.- I have concluded to defer the letter until day after tomorrow - so adieu Dearest until I receive your- next.-Evening. same enough the mail this evening brings a good long affectionate letter from my Love. up to the 7th & where I had finished reading it. altho it told a great deal - I wanted it to keep on & tell more. It grieves your hubbin that his wife should suffer so much with her knee- especially in following his advice. well dear that is right & if it is swollen & inflamed at all or painful keep the blistered part well covered with salve. & apply all over & around the knee linen cloths constantly wetted with lead water- & occasionally a bread poultice made with lead water - & above all let the joint rest quiet. You know one ounce of preservation is better than a pound of cure - so take care and not make a permanent stiff knee, or while swelling better to bandage a splint - or some strips of pasteboard to your knee to keep it straight & walk with two crutches until it is well than to omit it from pride, & be obliged to do it all your life after from necessity. If - people laugh - regard it as the idle winds - & persons of good sense will admire your cause. If you supply a poultice never let it get dry & hard. - after the inflammation gets out of it when you may rub it with some [illegible] or some volatile liniment. & then you may begin to bend it a little. Dearest make everything else give away to care for your health. & if you cannot come out here without a sacrifice of your health, then do not come until you can come on better terms but neither remain where you are. I am very sorry to hear such bad news from Ma, & Capt. S. I think Mrs. R. would have soon got it well. I cannot pretend to decide here but have very little doubt that her management was very judicious.-You might expect your appetite to improve as your fare became less luxurious. I hope you never indulge the children in any luxuries. particularly highly seasoned food, sweet meats & confectionary. Be positive & [inserted from above: & finon(?) &] listen to no persuasion. but I need not say do not be rude when persons are well disposed. - I think you had better send all the heavy baggage mainly boxed up in the store ship which will come out in [inserted above: the last of] Aug: [inserted above: or"] on Sept.- I do not want my clothes until you come.- but if the Packet looks to land you here I suppose she will not come inside of the bar & we shall have to send a boat out about 2 or 3 miles for you & if you had much baggage it would be taken to Mobile. If boards are very dear I had as lieue have a post & rail division fence as any. I would like to own that division of the fence next the house & garden - I hope you will succeed in paying off the mortgage. Anybody in N.Y. whom you could trust could attend to it you have nothing to sign - you have only to give your check & take a Satisfaction piece -. the bond, & mortgage, should also be given you; but they are good for nothing when the Satisfaction price is recorded. if the man has the satisfaction price ready - anybody can give the check & receive the papers in one minute, but before giving the check- let someone who knows pronounce the satisfaction price correct - & then send it straight to the record. by the first mail & ask the clerk to send you a certificate of its being rec.d to Record. I hope you will not encourage Mr. C. in any extravagance.-better to have it done exactly according to the contract & the front fence simply replaced- without any division fence.-If the cost is not so much I think a pale fence (plain) around the house would be best.-It is a good time to sell [inserted above: property of any kind] now as every thing is high. a change & a great change must & will follow.-so be wise & foresee the Evil. —— for money will not be so plenty very long.
A black fellow here the other night - secreted himself behind the door in Mr. Hunt's office & when it was closed he was left standing there of course. he pried open the desk, rummaged it found the key of the Iron Chest. opened & took out about [inserted above: $] 500. mostly in silver - [inserted above: $] 7000. in bills was there which he missed in the dark. after two days he was discover.d by his passing some of the money & most of it recovered - So if you ever have money dont publish it for it puts rogues in pursuit of it who would not otherwise have thought of it. all the ships [inserted above: vessels I mean] are now here except the Grampus & she daily expected. I wrote Delia by her. I expect you will get the Cramp & asleep too before you read all this so good night— ——
[written in the top margin on the first page]
June 24th Who holds the mortgage now? I hope Mr. Cartright will be exact & act without fear or favor in his decisions upon the materials & workmanship of the house when he gives his certificates.-you ought out of respect to Mr. C's agency to consult him about renting it — & so of everything else. he will be better pleased, & you will be the gainer by it. a little respect shown & a few kind words, are sometimes worth more than a hard battle. Mr. C. I suppose is like most of us when anything goes against the grain. your wishes respecting the house I am sure would be his guide}
[written upside down in the top margin across the back two pages]
It will be time enough a month hence to write to Mr. Chew, — I think I shall not say any thing to him about mess stores. Mrs Ward you know has a son 2 or 3 months old, I do not recollect of having seen Lt. Watkinson. Arthur Breeze has I understand got a place in one of the insurance Offices N. Y. I have some bay Rum for you Mrs. Mc Intosh is about to have a little son. you may put your arbor in the centre if you choose.
[written sideways across the text of the first page]
After writing this letter I set about filling up all these edges & corners if you find it out you will do well. It has generally been my practice to communicate my ideas in very concise language, but I have gone very wide of the mark this time. the Fact is I dont feel very well. & have a touch of the Dysterry. a disease which is now very prevalent. but I am still attending to my duties. & hope to be well again in a day or two.-
If you have not engaged my clothes- I would remark that I do not want a uniform Dress coat- it is only a uniform frock coat, it is useless to have very many clothes here the moths & damp mould will destroy them. & you need not give yourself any trouble about any boots-the only require light shoes and a few pairs of light india rubbers. as thin as you please.
[written around the seal on the back page]
June 24th p. m. adieu, Dearest & accept all the love of your own hub.