Folded letter by US Navy Surgeon David Shelton Edwards
All the pencil numerical notations on the letter (front and reverse) have no postal meaning. They were written on the letter after it was received.
The letter was sent unpaid and marked at the Washington, DC post office in the upper right corner "18 3/4" for 18 3/4 cents postage due, the rate for a letter containing a single sheet of paper going a distance between 150 and 400 miles.
This letter was likely written while David Shelton Edwards was living in Washington, DC circa 1839 given that he does not reference any plans to leave or any ships that he has been traveling on. He begins telling his wife Harriet of his plans to visit the post office and check for any letters from her. He makes a vague reference to an event that happened nine years earlier relating to this errand, but assures Harriet that it is a positive memory. He received a letter from her at the post office and after reading it writes that she should send another. He references the death of a man named Lach[lan] and worries how their friends, the McIntoshes, will handle it. Apparently, Harriet's last letter contained much bad news and Edwards advises her to go to his sister Delia's to rest for a while before she makes a trip to Philadelphia. He closes with instructions for their clothing and furniture when she comes to Washington.
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.
Navy Yard Washington D. C.
June 7th Friday eve.g
Well my dear wife - it is a week last Monday [illegible] since you wrote me & I am going to the P. Office now to see if I can hear any thing from you - I have not forgotten my going to this P. Office 9 years ago - to get a letter can you remember so long? but I will not at present refer to scenes of by gone days especially as I cannot now go into particulars
Dont exclaim now What does all this mean! but put the [written above: most favorable] construction you can upon it, as you know I always do it. Well I'll stop this now & begin upon something else
8. P. m. I have just been to the Post Office and have received yours of the 2d & 3d — & I want you to write me again as soon as you receive this. I dont think my letter will be half as good a one as yours - tho I am very sorry there is so much bad news - Poor Lac - how it will surprise Capt M.c and it must have been a severe trial to Mrs. M.c
It is our duty to do what we can for the living; but when Death comes we can do no more.
I think Lac's Fever must have taken the typhus character or form?
I am sorry you had such hard times in Chesnut Hill - if travelling will be of any service you ought to be well for you keep moving - I hope you will make your visit to Delia at once & then rest a little so as to be ready for Phil.a by friday or Sat.y next. Let yours [written above: after Monday] if it is only a few lines be directed to me at Phil.a so that I may be sure of getting it on my arrival there.
I suppose you will come by the Amboy line-let me know - for I might if I have time go on as far as Bristol & come on board & join you there ; but it is not very probable-
I think it very healthy here now on the hill where I am staying & if you was here I should keep you on the hill for the Summer - what say you? can you have your Summer clothing ready so that we can get James to ship it for us if necessary after you come to Phil.a I can buy furniture here I think very well - so you may sell your Sofa get what you can over 30. I offered it to Mrs. Martyn for 35 -
Take a little excercise daily & dont eat late Suppers - do what you think best about the children. - ever your affect.e D S. E