6 Stampless Letters, 1850-1851 Nyc Yale Class Of 1850, Sherman Converse To Son
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6 Stampless Letters, 1850-1851 Nyc Yale Class Of 1850, Sherman Converse To Son:
Traveling the Paper Trails of American History
"...a very nice little girl is my wife. Affectionate, domestic and industrious. A girl that can not only sing but make a pie not only laugh and chat but take care of the house."
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Six stampless letters written to George S. Converse 1850-1851: five letters written 1850-1851 by his father Sherman Converse to him at Yale College and St. Timothy's Hall in Catonsville, MD; and one letter written in 1851 by Gardiner Spring Plumley to him at St. Timothy's.
Interesting collection that provides details regarding the Yale College Class of 1850 and insight into the personal life of Sherman Converse, the publisher of the first edition of Webster's Dictionary.
Letter #1. April 11, 1850. Sherman Converse to George S. Converse 1 page. Letter measures approx. 8" x 10". Postal history: faded red New York CDS with integral 5 cents rate mark and matching PAID in an arc. Condition: age toning, holes in folds, small edge tears, small tear where seal removed.
Sherman writes to George at Yale reporting on his "loss of health and pecuniary embarrassments" - recurring themes in his letters. He wants to know when vacation will begin for George and vows to help him find employment after graduation. He includes an unidentified enclosure for "Professor Olmsted" - Professor Denison Olmsted (1791-1859), Yale Class of 1813, Physicist, Astronomer, Professor of Physics and Mathematics at Yale.
Letter #2. January 29 & 30, 1851. Gardiner Spring Plumley To George S. Converse 3+ pages. Letter measures approx. 8" x 10 1/4". Postal history: 31mm red CDS, NEW-YORK, with integral 5 cents rate mark. Condition: vertical fold, ink smears, soiling, age toning, holes in folds.
Gardiner Spring Plumley, Assistant Secretary for the Yale Class of 1850, writes to his classmate George passing along an update from Class Secretary Clinton Camp. Members of the Class of 1850 mentioned in the letter include: Albert Booth, Cordial Storrs, Ellis Henry Roberts, Robert Hett Chapman, Samuel Henry Edwards, Joseph Forward Foote, Stephen Adams, Willis Strong Colton, Curtis Justin Hillyer, William Ludden, Lucian Sumner Wilcox, Robert Bliss, and Leonard Woolsey Bacon. Gardiner informs George of his marriage: "...a very nice little girl is my wife. Affectionate, domestic and industrious. A girl that can not only sing but make a pie not only laugh and chat but take care of the house." He mentions performances by Madame Bothe and [Teresa] Parodi and reports that "Jim Hubbard has left for the West." He adds a postscript dated January 30: "There was a great excitement around the Herald Office last P. M. from the false report that the Atlantic had arrived. People begin to despair of her."
Letter #3. March 19, 1851. Sherman Converse to George S. Converse 3 pages. Letter measures approx. 8" x 10". Postal history: faded red New York CDS with integral 5 cents rate mark. Condition: FRAGILE - thin paper. Fold splits (with some loss of text) repaired with archival tape, foxing, holes in folds, small piece missing where seal removed, hole in page 3 (affecting 3-4 words), age toning.
Sherman writes to George expressing concern for his son's health. He passes on the news of Plumley's marriage and writes of his plan to combine a trip to see relatives with a visit to George. He expresses frustration and anger at family members who have neglected him in his time of ill health and financial need. He writes: "I was surprised to hear that Brother Sam has a son in the Episcopal Seminary. What in the world has made an Episcopalian of him? I must send for the young heretic and get acquainted with him." He describes his infirmities and the treatment he is receiving. He writes that he will be moving by May 1 and informs George that he will need to borrow $50.00 to $60.00 from him by the end of April.
Letter #4. March 27, 1851. Sherman Converse to George S. Converse 2+ pages. Letter measures approx. 8" x 10". Postal history: 30mm red CDS, NEW YORK, with integral 5 cents rate mark. Condition: FRAGILE - thin paper. Vertical folds, fold splits and small edge tears repaired with archival tape, holes in folds, age toning.
Sherman begins his letter to George: "I write you now to speak of my finances but not to annoy you..." He explains that his nurse has asked for $4.00 and he has 1/2 ton of coal coming the next day at a cost of $7.00. He requests that George send him $5.00 within a week and hopes that he will still be able to borrow $50.00 to $60.00 mentioned in his previous letter. He writes: "...as my work will be out in May I could be ready to repay at least a portion you have lent me by the time you will come on in August." He adds in a postscript: "...young Nott called on me from the Seminary. I had never seen him before and was much gratified with the interview...He expects to be in Baltimore early in July, and promises to go down and see you."
Letter #5. April 17, 1851. Sherman Converse to George S. Converse 3 pages. Letter measures approx. 8" x 10". Postal history: red CDS, NEW YORK, with integral 5 cents rate mark. Condition: FRAGILE - thin paper. Age toning, small tears repaired with archival tape, staining, holes in folds, hole in page 3 (affecting 1 word), small piece missing from margin of page 3.
Sherman opens his letter to George with: "This is my birth day. I have numbered sixty one years, the same number which had been attached to my father when he was killed." He reflects upon his life, describing it as "...one unbroken history of folly and sin." He admits: "I expect to go to the grave more or less an invalid as I pass along till the end comes, still I hope for comfortable health and to be again able to attend industriously to business." He writes that he is not sure where he will go at the beginning of May and is considering New Haven or Hartford. He questions whether George has sent him $5.00 and then gives him very detailed instructions on renewing a note held by the Treasurer's Office at Yale. He even supplies the wording to be used, explaining: "I have not given you this form My Son, because you dont record very well how to transact business, but to prevent accident from any inadventure on your part."
Letter #6. December 3, 1851. Sherman Converse to George S. Converse 2 pages. Letter measures approx. 7 3/4" x 9 3/4". Postal history: very faded red New York CDS with integral 3 cents rate mark and manuscript "Paid." Condition: vertical folds, small tears repaired with archival tape, age toning, ink smears.
Sherman writes to George: "Your caution, My Son, in regard to my present business and a new arrangement is very good, but there is no danger. I shall do nothing any way without consulting Mr Fanshaw. I have no objection to your changing your business if any thing should offer, with proper inducement. Please let me know if any special cause of dissatisfaction has occurred." He reports: "On my way from New Haven I dined with Col. Jessup, an old boarder at Mrs Wood's, and called on Mrs Mackey at West Port. Mr Mackey died last August very suddenly, and Mrs Jessup told me he had become a perfect sot. What a world this is!" He contemplates going to Philadelphia or Baltimore for the winter and closes with: "My lame hand and steel pen render my scroll hardly legible."
Sherman Converse (1790-1873) was the son of Chester Converse and Esther Green of CT. They moved to Monson, MA, around 1800. Sherman attended Monson Academy and graduated from Yale in 1813. Chester died in 1815 after being injured in a carriage accident. In 1820 Sherman married Ann Perkins, who passed away in 1821. In 1824 he married Eliza Nott Bruen, the daughter of Rev. Samuel Nott and widow of Barnabas Bruen. Sherman worked as an editor and publisher, producing The Connecticut Journal, the American Journal of Science and Arts, and the Christian Spectator. He worked with Noah Webster to publish the first edition of Webster's Dictionary in 1828. George Sherman Converse, the only child of Sherman and Eliza, was born in New York City on September 2, 1828. Eliza passed away in 1845. Sherman suffered a severe attack of rheumatism in 1850 and had health problems the rest of his life. He became an invalid just as he predicted and moved into George's house in Boston Highlands, MA, in 1863. He passed away there in December 1873. See Some of the Ancestors and Descendants of Samuel Converse, Jr., Vol. 1 (1905) and Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College... (1912).
George Sherman Converse (1828-1895) graduated from Yale in 1850 and taught at St. Timothy's Hall for 2 years. He graduated from the General Theological Seminary in New York and was ordained a deacon in the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1857. He was ordained a priest in 1859 and served as Rector of St. James Church in Roxbury, MA, for twelve years. In 1862 he married Ella Coles. In 1873 he became Rector of St. John's Church, Boston Highlands. He passed away in Boston in November 1895. See Biographical Record of the Class of 1850 of Yale College (1877) and Obituary Records of Graduates of Yale University... (1896).
Gardiner Spring Plumley (1827-1894), the son of Alexander R. Plumley and Hannah K. Haskins, graduated from Yale in August 1850. A meeting was held immediately after Commencement with Clinton Camp being elected Class Secretary. Plumley was chosen Assistant Secretary. On November 13, 1850, he married Emily Fisher, daughter of landscape artist Alvan Fisher. He lived in New York the next two years, teaching and working as music director and organist at the South Dutch Church. He attended Union Theological Seminary and was ordained pastor of the Bloomingdale Presbyterian Church in New York in November 1855. In 1858 he became pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Metuchen, NJ. He was New York editor of The Presbyterian and in 1874 published The Presbyterian Church Throughout the World. In 1876 he became pastor of the North Dutch Church in New York. He served on the committee that prepared and published the Biographical Record of the Class of 1850 of Yale College in 1877. He passed away February 21, 1894, and was buried in Metuchen.
Some of the relatives that Sherman mentions in his letters are members of the Nott and Hyde families. Eliza's sister Susan Nott married Rev. John Hyde and had sons Barnabas Bruen Hyde and Samuel Nott Hyde. Eliza's brother Rev. Samuel Nott had a son John Wade Nott who graduated in 1851 from the General Theological Seminary and served as Rector at St. George's Church, Mount Savage, MD. See Catalogue of the General Theological Seminary (New York, NY) (1888).
"Jim Hubbard" refers to James Maurice Hubbard, a professor of music in New Haven, who published in 1848 a song that became a big hit on college campuses: "'Twas Off the Blue Canaries, or, My Last Cigar." He moved to Chicago where he composed music, taught violin, and worked for the U. S. Postal Service. One of his songs was titled "A Home in the West."
The "Atlantic" that Plumley writes about in his postscript was the U. S. mail steamer Atlantic. It had traveled to Europe but had not been heard from and was believed lost. On February 17, 1851, the New York Daily Tribune announced that the steamer Africa brought news that the Atlantic was safe. It was explained that on her way back to the U. S., both engines had failed, leaving the ship disabled at sea. The sails were hoisted and she returned to Europe "under canvas" to be repaired at Cork.
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