1848: Mary Elizabeth (Woolsey) Hubbell to George Henry Hubbell

This letter was written by 65 year-old Mary Elizabeth (Woolsey) Hubbell (1783-1858) who lived with her daughter, Alida Livingston (Hubbell) Taylor (1812-18xx), and son-in-law, Royal William Taylor (1808-1879)—a merchant in Fort Wayne, Allen county, Indiana. Mary was the widow of Wolcott Hubbell, Jr. (1778-1841) and the daughter of Melancthon Lloyd Woolsey who served as an aide to Governor George Clinton in the American Revolution and afterwards as a Major General in the New York State Militia.

Mary wrote the letter to her son, George Henry Hubbell (1818-1906) who was a law clerk and farmer in Trenton, Grundy county, Missouri. A biographical sketch states that George left his home in New York State in 1835 when he was 16 and became a student at Marion College in Marion county, Missouri. After three years he left college and relocated to Howard county where he taught school, studied law, and was licensed to practice in 1841. He made his way to Grundy county a few years later where he was elected clerk of the Circuit and County Courts in 1847—a position he held for many years. During this time he also purchased a farm in Grundy county two miles outside of Trenton.


Fort Wayne, Indiana
November 28th, 1848

My dear George,

Why do you not write? I have been waiting long, long for a letter. The last letter was to [your sister] Alida, all about Ohio and the days and scenes of your early youth. We thought your memory held good considering the long time and many changes through which you have passed. I want to hear from your family, how the little boys grow and improve, if William Woolsey goes to school and how you are getting along. You ought not to confine yourself to writing closely in the office. I hope you have someone to assist you [in the clerk’s office]. And how is your dear wife? I suppose as industrious and smart as ever. Oh how I wish it was nearer that I could visit you. If I was some dozen years younger I would attempt it, but it is too much for me now. If I could go all the way by water and had you to accompany me, I think I would risk the fears, fatigues, &c. but it is vain to think of it. You must try to come here and bring all with you.

Alida accompanied Mr. [Royal] Taylor as far as Oswego [New York] when he went for goods in August. She had a delightful visit at your Aunt Platt’s. She went with your cousin Catharine to see Mrs. Hauskins, another cousin, both your Uncle Henry’s daughters. Their father died in March in Press Isle where he had resided some years. Alida was absent about four weeks. I kept house—quite a change for me.


The Beecher Family. Rev. Charles Beecher (standing 2nd from right) was married to Sarah Leland Coffin (1815-1897) in 1840; he served as pastor of the 2d Presbyterian Church in Fort Wayne from 1844 until 1851.

Mr. [Charles] Beecher spent the summer with us. His family left in May to visit their friends & Mrs. Beecher, being in poor health, he went for them late in September so we had a good visit from him and enjoyed his society and family prayers very much. He is lovely—a perfect gentleman. Nothing stiff or formal. A holy, humble man. I can sit down and talk with him as I would with my own son. He is a close student and his sermons are very interesting.

A young lady—niece of Mr. Taylor, and a gentleman from Rome, New York—a connection of Mr. Taylor’s here three months, Maria too, so you perceive we had a large family. Two clerks, two girls, and Mortimer—Mr. Taylor’s nephew who lives with us. We have plenty of room. House all completed. Mr. Taylor’s business, I believe, is good. He made well on his wheat last year and has been buying all the fall and shipped it all off. He is now going to commence the pork business again but “what will it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul.” I wish that he thought more of another world. He is kind and what is called moral, but nit religious.

[Your brother] Wolcott [1825-1866] is still in Toledo in whole sale store. Gets 600 salary, a [    ] furnished room and [   ]. He is said to be an excellent clerk—steady and faithful. He has been up twice on a collecting tour this summer and will spend most of the winter in traveling for the firm. I went down [to Huntington, Indiana] to [your brother] Alfred’s [1816-1886] soon after Alida returned. Stayed four weeks. Alfred and family had a great trial of sickness fever and relapsed twice. He is now pretty well but very think. His business is good, He said you sent him a paper.

[Your brother] Woolsey [b. 1810] and family are well. [And your brother] Charles and [his wife] Mary and all were well last we heard. Do write soon.

Tonight there is to be a great procession—torch light illuminations in the houses of the victorious. We expect to light up every window. I suppose you and the good Whigs of your county are rejoicing. ¹

Have you enlarged your house yet? Made improvements? Alfred has a great variety of fruit trees and strawberry and has added two rooms to his house. There has been many large brick houses and stores built since you were here. Maria teaches in the Seminary. She is patient and lovely as ever and is much liked as a teacher. Alida joins me in much love to you and yours. I think of you a great deal and love you all and pray that the blessing of the Lord may rest upon you.

Your affectionate Mother, — M. E. Hubbell

¹ The Presidential Election was held on 7 November 1848 but General Zachary Taylor’s victory as the Whig Candidate over the Democratic candidate, Senator Lewis Cass, was not confirmed until weeks later.


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