THE ATTIC

BOX OF 1830s LETTERS
Dr. Francis "Frank" Burdette Parmele 1815-1883
Henry, Joel, Nehemiah, Nathaniel, Nathaniel, John, John

In 2009, I received an email from Kathy Janke of Winnemucca, Nev., who found this box of stampless letters in a box she'd purchased at a garage sale. An Internet search for the names in the letters led her to this site and she graciously offered to share them with the family. Fourteen of the 15 letters were written between 1832 to 1840; one is simply dated "Aug. 9."

For years they've been kept in a box from Smythe's Books &Stationery, the Neil House Block, Columbus, Ohio. Written on the label: "No stamps in use then!!! Letters written in early 1800s and subsequently -- Mrs. Lydia Parmele to our Grandfather Francis Burdette Parmele and to Henry Parmele Smythe, George B. Smythe, Mrs. F.B Parmele & Sarah (torn).

When I was a kid in the 1960s, my family used to shop in downtown Columbus at Lazarus Department Store a few blocks from the statehouse. The Neil House hotel sat across South High Street from the Capitol; a bank building is on that site today.

These letters were written to and from Frank; his wife, Aurelia/Orilla/Arilla (Smythe) Parmele; his sister and brother-in-law, Caroline (Parmele) and Philo Cole; his mother, Lydia (Bosworth) Parmele; and one of Frank's mother's relatives, George Smythe. During this period, Frank had left his family in Albany, N.Y., and attended medical school in Utica, Ohio.

Here are the letters:

  • 1820s: Letter from a Francis Burdette Parmele to his mother, Lydia (Bosworth) Parmele, back home in Albany. Young Frank is staying with his aunt, Kelsey (Bosworth) Wadsworth, in Lennox, Mass.
  • 1823: Tary Clark of Philadelphia to Lydia (Bosworth) Parmele, telling her about the birth and death of her baby.
  • 1829: Francis Burdette Parmele, 14, of Albany to George B. Smith of Schenectady, N.Y., looking for work.
  • 1833: Starving artist P. Ostrander of New York to Francis Burdette Parmele, 18, of Albany. (Second letter was not found in the box.)
  • 1833: Letter from Francis Burdette Parmele to George Smythe.
  • 1835: Letter from Caroline (Parmele) Cole in Albany to her brother Francis Burdette Parmele in Utica, Ohio.
  • 1836: From Philo Cole to brother-in-law Francis Burdette Parmele about the latter's misgivings about going into the medical profession.
  • 1836: Another letter from Philo Cole to his brother-in-law Francis Burdette Parmele.
  • 1837: Letter from Frederick Cole in Albany to Francis Burdette Parmele in Utica, discussing politics -- the Loco-Focos! -- and religion.
  • 1839: Letter from John Patterson in Albany to Francis Burdette Parmele in Utica, and then forwarded to him in Newark, Ohio, concerning some medical books.
  • 1839: Letter from Fred W. Cole in Albany to Francis Burdette Parmele in Utica about some vague business deal.
  • Late 1830s: Caroline (Parmele) Cole of Albany to brother Francis Burdette Parmele in Utica.
  • 1840: Letter from Francis Burdette Parmele in Albany to brother-in-law George Bosworth Smythe in Newark concerning money matters.