Lucius Parmelee 1802-1879
William, Dan, Lemuel, Nathaniel, Nathaniel, John, John
These two 1831 stampless, folded letters were addressed to Lucius Parmelee of Waterbury, Vt. They were found in a collection of papers belonging to Clarence Coy, who was born in 1862, more than 30 years after the letters were written. I do not know the relationship between the Coys and the Parmelees.
First, some background: Deacon William and Fanny (Royce) Parmelee had lived in Claremont, N.H.; they packed up their family -- except for son Lucius -- and moved by ox carts to Twinsburg, Ohio, arriving June 9, 1828. Five days after they arrived, daughter Sarah died. The couple had 13 children, including a set of twins at the end. The four children who died young were all deceased at the time these letters were written. The April letter was written primarily by Fanny, 48, in Twinsburg, Ohio, to 28-year-old Lucius and his wife, Ann, back in Waterbury, Vt., after the death of their baby. The November letter was mostly penned by newly widowed Fanny and 16-year-old son Joel. The tragedy in Fanny's life began before she was born: In 1782, during the Revolutionary War, British soldiers threw her father, Joel Royce, onto a burning log heap before his wife, Hannah (Jones), who was pregnant with Fanny. Fanny lived another 11 years after these letters were written. The family is buried at Twinsburg's Locust Grove Cemetery.
I was given typed transcripts of the original letters. The letters were written with few capital letters and almost no punctuation. Creative spelling has been left as is. Paragraphs and punctuation were added for clarity and readability; my own notes -- including family relationships -- have been added in brackets.
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Twinsburg April 5
I have long been wanting to write you and have thought every day for months that I would but I have had a very fatiguing winter.
[Twenty-year-old daughter] Fanny has been at home some but the singing school and writing school and sleighmaking has taken the most of her time and, of course, some company.
We all enjoy comfortable health. Your father's [William, who would have been 55] health, rather better than it is sometimes, but it is poor. The best he can work in the house but he cannot endure the cold at all. [Fifteen-year-old son] Joel's health is gaining and hope he appears better.
This spring, that as expected, we found your letter at the post office and I felt a mixture of pleasure and pain thinking what it might contain but little did I know of its contents until I read it as just yesterday and know comparatively nothing of your late affliction. [Lucius and wife Ann (Wallace) Parmelee's second child, George, died at the age of 2 months.] I know. Is grievous. I have tasted the same bitter grip and sometimes have spring from the inst. It is nothing less than from the chastising hand of our heavenly father but we are told that he doth not chastise willingly but to bring us nearer to him and we ought to learn righteousness there by. I am sensible. You are touched in very tender spot: A sweet babe torn from my dear children from your bosom by the cold hand of death. This providence calls upon us and more especially to you my dear children, for that testifying angel of death. But let us look beyond the grave to the glorious morn of the resurrection when those that are --?-- will be more incorruptible and death will have no --?--. There will be no more parting of friends, it ought to be and I hope is an eternity of rest, but this cannot be without supreme love to god Dan faith In the Lord Jesus Christ. O that we might be wise and consider this world cannot long be our home. I cannot say much for your instruction but I do hope we shall all be prepared to live or to die to meet or part as a wise parent may direct.
April 10. I must tell you something about the weather this spring. We have had a cold snowy winter and not much warm weather this spring. Friday we had a storm of thunder and much rain, in the evening snow. Saturday it snowed and blowed like winter and today it is snowing again, perhaps as much snow as fell anytime this winter. Rather warm this afternoon.
Hay scarce but we have enough for our stock. We have two cows, they both have calves this spring besides we have three young cattle, 5 hogs we raised corn to fatten and to keep our other hogs through the winter. We not as yet raised much wheat through the last 2 years. We hope get more into ground this year that he have any year before. We have had a poor growing season. We have got our wheat to buy now until harvest.
The money you sent will help us much. We were in the same situation last spring when you sent some. I wish Harry would consider what our situation must be in a new country or any with such a family. And your Father is in poor health and he has not been able to do cutting a little for nearly a year. If he owes us we most certainly need it, but I do not want you to send us any more than is ours. I have thought if Harry knew our situation, and he must think what it is, he would try to pay that debt. Our family [nine of William and Fanny's 13 children survived childhood] must be fed and clothed and now they are needing clothes to get to meeting. But I hope not to distrust a kind providence.
I fear myself as if I am past moving out but then as respects myself is no matter, but I think of my little children to be left in a strange land without parents and none that will likely come for them, this is painfull. With respect to your coming here, I could wish I felt to submit to him that knows better that I what is best. You know that I want to see you perhaps as much as a parent loves her children. And should you be permitted to come I hope you will be brought on in safety. Perhaps you will never see a time that you can come better should you conclude to come you must come this spring. I should not like to have you here the latter part of the summer when the weather's dry an hot. The spring is altogether the best time for strangers to visit this country. I wish you get away in May and then to go back the first July.
Now you think the journey long, and it is, but there will be a multitude of people that will go and come the ground over this spring. You must take care of your little boy [William, who would have been 2] that he doesn't fall in the water. There is danger when boats go under bridges and people on deck. Do not be out on deck for you will likely to take cold. Take a Poincer boat. You will be likely to have good company when you get to Buffalo. I should rather take a "steem" boat though you could come cheaper in a sloop boat and set out in good weather. If the weather should not be good you could stop and Dunkirk and take the stage. You probably will be sick on the lake [Erie] but that will do you good. Now I have got you to Cleaveland. The stage comes from there, here, every morning but sabbath, and you will come almost to our door. Now I shall think of this every day and hope to submit, although I feall as if you would come and I should see you once more in this world.
Give my love to all of my Dear Brothers and sister. I want to see them. There is still a gleam of hop that I may.
I have become acquainted this winter with Luther Prentice a native of Atwater he has left our --?-- school. His home is 19 miles from here. Ann [Lucius' wife], you did not tell me when you see your death mother and her family or how they do. [Daughter] Fanny is not at home. She did not like well that you did want to come and live with us. I should like to have go and make a visit and stay one of two years and then come home and let me go. Mother. Sabbath evening. It is now snowing and blowing.
Although there exists a great difference from each other we converse with each other by writing and tell joys and sorrows. We live in this world where friends and friendships can contribute a good share of our happenings. And sometimes there is sutch enjoyment in the meeting of friends that it makes amends. In some good measure for the long absence. May the lord offer circumstances in sutch a manner that we may next meet here in this world as parents and children. If the lord should grant us this privilege it will bring to mind that there is nothing that can bind us together of any long term of time.
But the thought will occur to mind that we might --?-- and it may be to meet no more in this world -- if this be the case what a meeting shall we have beyond the grave this ought to be our chief concern & it ought to occupy our attention for if our state is to be unalterably first -- you have been called to witness a scene that that has called forth all the sympathies of a moment when you --?-- your babe in its last struggles and you could do nothing to alleviate its pains or whisk it from the iron grasp of death. Now we will suppose that you was to stand and see a child in the same distress. For one year and what campanion. Would that bear eternity -- now if we are not prepared to meet God in peace we must experience the --?-- of angry God be banished form his --?-- where them --?-- dies not and the fire is not quenched now if not already done. Repent and turn to God lest He take you with a snake and the a great man [?] cannot deliver you. I hope that providence will allow that you will visit us soon and if you shant I wish you would bring me an oil stone and I square cut both.
Sabbath evening 10th April 1831
Lucius, I do not think you can trace mother [rest has lines through it].
Samuel N. Parmelee
Twinsburg November 22
I received your letter more than a week since. I then thought that I should answer it before this. But for one reason or another it has sat alone. Our family are well except for myself. I have been unwell for two or three days. Today have not been able to sit up but feal a little better this evening.
Tommy [perhaps a farm hand] went to Marjorie Loomis for a week. I can hardly stay when she is gone. I do not intend she shall go from home much, for cannot stay without her company. I can assure that I feel lonely enough when she is not here. I do not know but we get a long as well as can be expected. Jack [perhaps another farm hand] is good boy does all he can. Makes some shoes but there is wood to get and a great many things to do for a boy and do not think you could find another boy that keep all the time to work as he does. I fear he will get discouraged so all I can do is to keep his courage up. I find I have a great care more that I feel able to have in any moment that I feel Jack is not a healthy boy. He cannot work at all kinds of work as some can.
Our threshing we are hiring done: Hayden Ward Lewis. Mr. Ming had lost it they were because they were owing us a little and wanted it out so that I might know how much we might buy.We have some flour to get out that I do not know if I can find to take it. If cannot I'm determined to keep it for it as good, yes better than you often find. Our hogs we shall kill next week. We have sold the white face steer to Mr. Ming for eleven dollars and a quarter. We was owing him some as it was fat. We thought best to let him have it.
Your fathers Sickness & Death, you know, would make some expense. I am determined to pay my debts and try to live upon what is left. The doctors bill I have not seen yet that I suppose will be something considerable but I know we can pay it if we have to sell a cow. I know we have more to spend but I am on the plan of paying my debts. I intend to settle up as fast as we can. We were advised by Mr. Ming not to go to the Law to settle our arrears.
There is no great settlement to make only with Uncle Dan [William's younger brother]. Your father never since we have been here or since we built the house has settled with him. At present we have a deed of one half of the five acres that the house and barn stand on but how our accounts will compare I do not know. I think I shall not settle with him until you come. If I certainly may expect you. I am determined to [keep our] affairs sepperate from his and not have any thing to do with him. If you want to know the reason they would be to many to put on [pa]per. Let it suffice to say that I call him one old nobody. Some times one thing and some time another. Just as the wind blows or doesn't sometimes he tells people he has told your father that he should give him his part of the forty acre lot. He shall give his property to our children and sometimes he shall keep all he has got and clear out. Now I suppose if your father went and the boys had gone to work and let him direct, all would have been for work is what he most hates. I never heard one work of difficulty with them for as I said, I call him an old nobody. He gives us many directions without being asked and I do just as I please and do not think he takes care of his own. But such a man, you know, is not fit to have the care of others. Now I think he would sell his part of the house to you if you were a mind to buy and the house is large enough for us but if you do not come here I shall sell my part of here in the house I do not intend to live with him and that is the long and the short of it.
He says he would take Dan [10-year-old son Daniel] if he could have him away from me but I say they shall never have one of my children. [William's brother Dan and his wife were childless, however, they eventually did take in William and Fanny's son Edward, who was about 5 at the time this letter was written, and Mary Aurelia, daughter of second-cousin-one-generation-removed Zeno and Juliette (Post) Parmelee, who would have been about 2.] I gave Marjorie her charge and I charge you not to let them have any of the children.
Now, Lucius M., the reason that I do not urge you to come here is because I fear Ann [Lucius' wife] will not want to come. I have no doubt but you would like and do well here and better for us to stay. If you make shoes it is good and if you want a farm it good. I do not want you to come to support us for we can support ourselves. But you might advise and comfort us at any rate. You must come here early in the spring if it does cost you time and money. Now you must not wait long before you write and let me know what you intend to do. If you can tell how much property you will have. Joshua Redfield farm joins us and he would sell fifteen acres under improvement there is farms enough. There is the Gridchavels[?] place is as good a place for a mechanick as I should want. I have been sorry that we did not buy it when we first came on. I think I will have it yet. I am obliged to stay here. Why cannot Mr. Wallace [Lucius' father-in-law] people come here then we shall all be together. If you bring on a lot of good shoes and boots they would go well as I think as good as those that your father brought: good morocco shoes. Two there is a great deal of poor leather here. Sole leather at thirty-one cents per pound for good. Now Lucius you must not flatter Me that you are coming here and not come, you must come. I shall do all I can to keep what little we have got so that we can have a home. If you go had gone to Law to settle the estate it would have lost considerable as we are able to pay our debts. There is need of it. If the children can agree and you know we can. I have no one child but that will be willing to do what is right by each other.
[Unsigned, but written by Fanny]
Dear Brother and Sister,
Having now a few leisure moments I will avail myself of the opportunity speaking on morals to you through the medium of pen, ink and paper while the rest of the family has retired. I attended a protracted meeting last week in Aurora. It was solemn and interesting. Christians more engaged sinner unawakened but how many are truly awakened so as to flee to Jesus and the day of judgment only time will tell. Last Sabbath our meeting house was dedicated. it was a solemn day after communiun services were through. 25 more were received into this church and this church now contains between 70 & 80 members. 22 have united this fall and summer. God is and has been pouring out his spirit through the whole region of this part of country. Converts are becoming numerous almost as morning. Then I think that it is evident that God is hastening onward. This callersday I glory when all shall know him from lost to the greatest and shall not be ignore. Christians word with Gods words. [Brother] Samuel [now 14] will tell you.
All the news I can think of. Samuel E. Lane has gone to Cleveland after the bell weight 370. Mr. White's sawmill burnt last Saturday night together with some lumber. I said that you did not now. But you should come here to live. I think if I was in your place I should not stay in Vermont long. If you want a better farm you better come here. Perhaps you think it is unhealthy. But I believe it is as healthy here as it is in Claremont. The land is of good quality. It is not as good for wheat and corn as some places but it is the best grass land if ever I saw and if you want a farm I think you better come here but still I want you should act your judgment. I believe you would like it here and I should advise you to come early in the spring if you can sell for enough to suit yourself. It is late. I must draw to a close and if you can read it you are a good scholar and what words I have left out you must put in.
I am affectionately your brother Joel
[The rest was written in the margins of the letter:]
Samuel you will need to know many things that we have not written over winter. School has begun. The teachers name is Basset a stranger. And do not send any of the children for expect there will considerable of tax and I do not know if I can get money to pay for it. Samuel be a good boy. Do all the good you can. Write me soon and let me know how you feal and like. And Lucius you let me know how you like.
[Five-year-old brother] Edward was pleased to hear that W.B. Sikes. S for S [?] was a favorite of Edwards so had to read several times to Edward what you wrote about it.
That money I let Samuel have. It will take every cent of it to buy wheat with and wheat we must have, and the sooner I buy it the cheaper I shall get it. That is all that makes me want soon. It is now 75 cents a bushel. As soon as sleighing is good it will be higher, like a dollar, and keep up until harvest and I should know if you have got your pay of Harry [?] and how you and your father affairs are.
I will say that Jack has said what I have left out you may put in.