The Personal Truesdell Letters
The archive has well over 900 letters that are very readable and probably another 400 hundred that are too faint to be easily read. I am still investigating if there is a method of scanning that can produce legible handwriting, in many case it is fine graphite pencil. The selection following is just a sample from some of the first letters that Mary Fessenden wrote to her future husband while he was working in Echo City, Utah on the Transcontinental Railroad. The accompanying photos are mostly unidentified and are from the Truesdell family or the Hering family.
3 x 5.5 Envelope, later date.
Not posted, notation made later: 2nd letter to Miss Fessenden Est. Apr 1867
8×10 Paper is chain laid with faint blue horizontal lines.
2 pages. No watermark, but an imprint of Philip & Solomon’s of Washington DC., a publishing house started in 1859.
Written in pencil.
That was a wide space between your last two letters, at least so it seems to me- bridged as it was by aux city, suspense and disappointment. What could you have been thinking of? Not certain of me? Or I am sure you would have found time amidst all your cares to have created one and of sympathy & good cheer to me. I own that I have fell a little vexed with you, & I manifested my spite towards your letter this morning by turning it bottom side up, and letting it lie till I had finished the business that I had in hand, deliberately filling my pipe, before I entered upon it’s perusal. And now I am vexed with myself for giving up the resolve that I had formed of not answering your letter till the same time had elapsed, whatever it might be, that you should keep me waiting. But in view of your promise to send me your photograph by return mail my wrath relaxes and my resolution fails me. In your letter from Jamaican Plain you say that you wrote to me the very day that you rec’d my letter. I have had only 3 letters from you, one from NY, one from Jamaican Plain, and this one from Concord. I have worried a good deal about this, and I hope you will not forget to explain it in your next letter. In your letter from home you are ever yourself of not doing right in carrying on this correspondence without your father’s knowledge, & in both your last letter you seem to think you are doing wrong. I have not time in this letter to discuss that subject as I would like to; but sometime, soon, I will give you my views upon it fully. Meantime I don’t think you are committing any sin in this matter, providing you are only sincere in whatever you say. You have my sympathies in your trials with the sick at home, and now I rejoice with in your escape from care, & in your present enjoyment. But that man! Who is he? Pshaw; no; I don’t care a snap who he is. If he sent a bouquet is all I wish to know about him. I am certain of one thing, ie, in any event he is wasting his ammunition! Let me see if you can interrupt that last sentence? Yes, a weeks fishing with you now would certainly be delightful, it is pleasant to even think about. But as the idea would be wicked in practice, why of course it must be sinful to even think about it! Do I recognize your old companion? Yes, I think I do since you have called my attention to it. I have 51 seen his footprints all along- in fact I have never lost sight if him, save once or twice & even then I suppose he was not out if sight, only that I was so blind that I could not see him. I despair of your getting rid of him, Mary, this side of the millennium. I too would like to see that place of our all meeting at the seashore carried out. Suppose you write to Fannie about it? You ask me cant I write to you every day & send it once a week- I will write as often & as much as you will. Now set me an example. Our ride into Virginia came off the week after you left. Mounted on two spirited noble horses we rode to Arlington, Munsons Hill, Sesson Hill, Falls Church and around home again via Bulls Leap Road. Geo pointed out to me the different places where he had camped, the dispositions of troops, etc. it was a lovely day and we enjoyed the rude very much. Geo remarked how pleasant it would be if Miss F & Fannie were along. Replying with apparent indifference, he little dreamed how earnestly my heart responded to the thought. Every day, when the weather will permit, I walk for an hour or two after dinner & I presume there us not a spot within a circle of 3 miles that I have not visited. But these walks are not so pleasant as the use to was. Since you went away I have been very studious, have read the 1st 4 books of the New Testament, a little pamphlet entitled “Footprints of Jesus”, as revealed in the xxx of the old testament, and Thoughts in Personal Religion by Goulburn. I thank you very much for leaving the latter work within my reach, & for leaving a request that I should read it. I cannot praise this book too highlyit contains many excellent ideas, and biblical references which are very interesting & have afforded me food for much pleasant and profit table reflection. Oh, how I would like to read and discuss such works with you! Which I might do you know if you were only my sister- and then how I could love you! The weather has been wet & cold all the spring till within a day or two, the chestnuts have put out their leaves and all nature has been attired in their summer garb for several weeks. We have moved our quarters in the office to the other side of the building there are now 2 front rooms and one back room, all very pleasant. There have been some changes at the house too. Several new boarders have come and gone. We now have a jolly minister, and Miss Tyler, in addition to the older set. Mrs. Hammersly left today, much to the relief of Mr. Bowyer. The minister is a Dr. Benedict of Philadelphia & a very interesting man, with whom I have had some pleasant conversations. Miss Tyler is- ah, wouldn’t you like to know- She is pretty and- but you shan’t know any more till I get the photograph!
Envelope 3 by 5.5 inches
Franked Apr. 5, Newburgh, NY 3 cent Washington stamp
Addressed to: Chas Truesdell, Div Engr Care EP North Div Engr Echo City, Utah
Single sheet, blue lined horizontal and vertical, folded three times even.
Written with fountain pen, very fine point.
Vine Lea Newburgh,
NY 4 Apr 1867
I have yours of the 18th of March my dear Charlie and although it was a right nice letter it made me very blue because you said in it that you would not be home before the last of May. I have been hoping that the middle of April would see you started to my path, perhaps you will hurry up a little when you get General Bodmores offer to build that truss bridge. Oh Chas I am weary of waiting to see you, my courage has held out until now but every day it seems to grow less and less. I do not think you are wise to urge me to go to Syracuse where there is no one there I know but still I shall go as soon as I can after hearing from them. If all could see through your eyes dearest it would not make any difference, but no mother thinks any woman good enough for her son and so I am afraid you will hear some pretty hard criticism about me. I suppose you think I ought to trust your love by this time. I do and therefore am going as you desire, that is to say, if I have another invitation. This last week the weather has been lovely so I have spent nearly the whole time out on the place, children and all, burning brush, sowing grass, xxxx, and having a nice time generally. One day we cooked up onions and potatoes in the ashes and had a very dirty repast. Clarence has four men at work and is out himself a great deal. Oh Chas how I love this country life. I made Fan’s butter for her last week, it seemed so funny not having seen to my thinking of the kind for so long. There is a good half hour has passed since a wrote that last word and here I have sat bemusing, wondering why I ever loved you? Why I do love you? And if you will always love me? With every vulnerable query, making me feel more than ever that we are nothing but little boats upon a mighty river floating ever on towards, the only dire thing in this world, the harbor of death. God grant we may float together hearing each others burdens and loving and trusting each other fully. What makes us so long in getting our letters now, the snow is certainly gone by this time and last November I used to get them in eight days. Often I hope you will never get this one if it it going to take twenty days to go, but that you will be on your way home to one who loves you more and more every day. I am so glad you have Mrs. Britten with you. Don’t fast again all day and give yourself nervous headache for the sake of yours.
Mary B. Fessenden
3 x 5.5 Envelope
Not posted, sent through a friend
Notation made later: 3rd letter Est. Apr 1867 Miss Fessenden Care of John H. George Concord, N.H. 3.5 pages.
Paper is chain laid with faint blue horizontal lines.
No watermark, but an imprint of Philip & Solomon’s of Washington DC., a publishing house started in 1859.
Written in ink.
So after having a good laugh over my letter you concluded to feel hurt did you? Well I must laugh at the idea & in my turn feel sorry for anything that I may have said that was naughty. Now what was there in my letter that should have caused all this agitation? I do not know anything that was very bad. I am sure there was several sugar plums in it. On this while I think it was more sweet than some- at least I intended it to be so. You must not, like Father sir, take offense from my jokes, for you know that I would not intentionally wound your feelings or cause you a tear for all the world. I could not for a thousand pangs would pierce my own heart before one could reach yours. You know I am a man, no xxx in this business & having to learn by experience, it would be strange if I should not make some mistakes. But while liable to xxx, it is a hopeful point in my case that I am not apt to repeat my blunders when made aware of them so that after awhile, with a little of your help, I may get around into the right channel. My first letter was all sweet, unbelievable strain of sweetness I noticed it was a long time before I got an answer & still longer before I got another; when they came they were so short, so restrained, so mysterious, that I, that you had become frightened and that I had made a mistake. & so concluded to try another tack. Xxxx that it xxxx again it should not be in the same direction as before- very likely I have over done the matter & xxxx quite afar the other way; so now I will try to slip between the two extremes. You wrote me a real good letter this last time- all except that “hint”, which was rather rough, & at first I had a notion to feel bad about it, but have that better of it, concluding as it from you, it must be all right. Did you really think that if I had “a settled plan of life, & something definite to look forward to” that I could get a wife- the only one in all the world that could be my wife with my circumstances be what they would? It would better accord with my taste & feelings to commence married life rich- of course I would not begin without something- to wait for wealth would be to avoid many little inconveniences; but then however short the time, how long it would seem and however much might be gained, how much would be lost! But I beg pardon- you have no interest in the matter I believe. You ask what I think of your idea of speaking to your father about our correspondence I of course can have no objection to his knowing about it independently of your feelings in the case; but it seems to me that it would be better not to tell him too much till we shall have settled the matter more definitely between ourselves. I hardly know what answer to make to your proposal to tell your father about our correspondence. With regards to your proposal to tell your father about our correspondence I hardly know what answer to make. I have so much to offer on that point that I would rather say nothing than not say it all. I am so afraid that it will result in your persecution or in your giving up the correspond acne that I dread to have you speak of it. It seems to me that it would be better to wait awhile. But I will not advise you to do anything that would seem underhanded or wrong towards your father. The fact is I am incompetent to judge of the case from your stand point; & must then fall back it allot your own good sense, tact and heart. Mrs. George very thoughtful and kind to suggest that invitation & I am sorry that we cannot avail ourselves of it. One of these days, after you get away, I shall need a little recreation & may stroll around then to pxxxx Mrs. George about you & your Concord flirtations. But wasn’t that a pretty caper of yours, to lay me under an injunction of secrecy, and then run off and tell Mrs George all about our affairs. Now to make the thing even will you let me tell Fannie? She is going home soon & I can arrange to have her invite you to cxxx & visit her- then we will have a nice time! Did even read the “philosophy of the Plan of Salvation”! If not please do me the favor to read it at once- it is decidedly…
Envelope is 3 x 5.5, not posted.
Notation later: Letter to Miss F Concord, N.H. June 3 of 67
Paper is 8 x 10,
This letter appears to be a combination of several drafts. The posted letter was sent and burnt by request.
Written in pencil.
Your father would like to have you marry, if at all, some one who is rich, distinguished, who holds a high social position- very high- so high that even he would benefited by reflective honor. This may a very lauded desire, a desire for mutual benefit & would be all very well provided such a person could be found & all the parties be mutually agreed & satisfied, otherwise of course it would be all wrong. There is a class of persons in this world who have by their virtues, intelligence & learning having attained experience. There is another class who are rich by inheritance or otherwise, who are parasites of the firm. They have common interests, confer mutual benefits & generally go together. But this is often all little better than a mutual admiration society. & the difference ever beloved, is more imaginary than apparent or real. That kind of aristocracy which is a protection against contamination with ignorance & vulgarity & which allies itself with virtue, intelligence, refinement, then worth wherever found is good- anything more than this is false, pernicious & bad- it would not have had the foundation of this glorious Republic, nor have saved it when not to have done so would have turned civilization & Christianity back a hundred years- it is an evil spirit- the spirit which carried Christ to the cross, but not that which animated & was taught by the savior of the world. I am glad, Mary, that you are not an aristocrat. But I did intend to argue & will not. A few months ago I would not have said this much; but I am different now- so much has love & a new spirit softened & changed me. But you say you are not going to give me up. This means that we are to be life long friends & perhaps just possibly, sometime way in the dim future, when youth is gone, we may be nearer to each other. Well there is some comfort in this & yet what a sacrifice. Oh Mary, this is a mean position for me to occupy & I feel it hourly, one moment I am surly with offended pride & the next I am melted with tenderness.
The weather has been hot, and we have had a busy, hard week, closing up work for the fiscal year. This is why I have not written to you before. I was so glad to get your dear little note & am so thankful to you for it. As it was evidently written with much feeling, it, of course, affected me deeply. Anything which seems to stir you heart, Mary, moves mine almost as much, as if it controlled by the same xxxx & pulsates through the same artery. Oh, Mary, I am so sad, and yet so happy. Sad that we cannot be united in fact, as we seem to be in heart and soul; & happy in your love, which for comfort, for peacefulness, for sweetness & purity transcends. Everything that I have experienced of life. Oh, if you could look into my heart now, Mary & see these conflicting yet harmonious emotions that, like the strains of some sad sweet music , are playing over my soul. And so you are to tell your father & to be guided by his feelings, which you have already anticipated? Yes, we know what he’ll say. Learning as I did from a year sojourn in a wilderness of ignorance, wretchedness & depravity, when I had been cut off- banned from all intercourse with the world & was surrounded by troubles, sickness & death- a year of hardships, misfortunes & war- just from these experiences, sad & cheerless, to occupying an inferior position here. I must have appeared to great disadvantage to your father. He does not know me nor my people, nor will he care to know us— Yes, I see it all now. I have felt all along that it would be so, but have not before realized it as I do now. You tried to break it to me softly & by degrees, but it has come all at once, with fullest force, & I understand it all. But you say you are not going to give me up. This means that we are to be friends & are to live in uncertainty & perhaps, just possibly, sometime, way in the dim future, when youth is gone, we may- something, we don’t know what! Well, there is some comfort in all this seen in the worst view of the case. & yet at best I must not argue. I must not complain. I cannot urge you to share my lot. With you I believe it would be prosperous, peaceful & happy- but it might be otherwise, & so I would not urge you against your father, against yourself, to intrust your happiness to me. You wish that you knew me better. I wish you did: that you knew me just as I am, no better no worse. It is why I wished you to visit Fannie at my old home, among my relatives & friends. You wish to know my feelings. Well, I have told you in this imperfect way; & yet I might go on for hours in a similar strain if you were by my side to listen to me- But I will write a little more. I wish to know you better; but I am not doubtful- I can only think of you as a good thru and thru. I am satisfied, Mary, that you love me, at least that you think you do. It is not in your nature to have wantonly deceived me, no, you have too much soul for that. To say that I love you, Mary, would be but iterating a tame experience. I have thrown out the very anchor of my soul & it has struck deep, & will cling fast throughout all the storms of life. There, Mary, you know me better now, if not as well as you would like to. Others may know more of me generally; but I have shown you at least one place in my heart that no other mortal had seen or known it is the innermost recess, the sanctum sanctorum, a sacred place & consecrated to you. I feel now that no other person can ever see in that place & that you must ever reign there, this idol of my heart. Oh, I wonder if there is such a place in your heart & if you have given it irrevocably to me. Oh tell me this Mary, & I’ll ask no more- But no, I ought not, will not ask that, you had better love someone who will suit your father- But no, oh, I cannot say that either- I can only turn to God & say thy will be done. I have no idea that I shall be here next winter. I may be out west, but more probably in New York. If in the latter place it would of course give me great pleasure to come here or go anywhere else to meet you. But the horrible will be that you will not like to see me on account of your father. What an undignified &
mean position for me to occupy! Six months ago I would have scouted the idea; & even now sometimes I feel such a sense of injured pride that I am inclined to throw up everything; but then when I think of you I am melted with tenderness again. So much has this new and mysterious influence changed me- so much, Mary, have you demoralized me. Letters directed to care of Wheeler Truesdell, No. 94 Montgomery St., or J.W. Truesdell, Salt Springs National Bank, Syracuse, NY will also reach me. But I hope it will not be necessary for you to even ever resort to either of these addresses, but that you will always know mine. I can’t believe of being deprived of your letters- of not hearing from you as often, at least as I have before. But you know my feelings now, as you will. Please destroy thus letter, Mary, I would not have other eyes see it for anything. It will not sound to others as it will to you, because they will not know what we do. I have written on a full heart, & I fear more like a baby than a man. Overlook a weakness of this kind from one who has sacrificed his pride & now lays his own will & fondest desires upon the alter of his love for thee. Now, God bless you & farewell
3 x 5 envelope, later date.
Not posted, notation made later: July 7/67 Miss Fessenden Care of John H. George Concord, N.H. 8×10 Paper is chain laid with faint blue horizontal lines.
No watermark, but an imprint of Philip & Solomon’s of Washington DC., a publishing house started in 1859.
Written in pencil.
7 July 1867
We’re it not that you might be disappointed & inclined to retaliate the delay, I should feel disposed on account of the intense heat to forgo the pleasure of writing to you today- a pleasure which, under ordinary circumstances is only excused by the sweetness which I derive from the perusal of you dear precious letters. But after all I might as well be writing as to be incessantly thinking of you. But why should I be always thinking of you? Ever pursuing this wild fancy that has hardly a hope to hang upon? What folly & madness is this which has come over me! Sometimes I try to shut out of mind all those peculiar charms which draw me to you, & invoking the aid of reason & appealing to Wisdom for counsel. Try to crush out all those feeling which I hold exclusively for you. “Bold Wisdom, with her sunlit eye, Retreats when Love comes whispering by- for Wisdom’s weak to love! “ And so since there is no speaker I may as well gracefully sing with Schiller- “Blessed through love are the Gods; though love, Their bliss to ourselves is given; Heavenlier through love is the heaven above, and love makes the earth a heaven.” Mary, what do you mean by saying you think of me differently at different times? Are you fickle, & do you sometimes forget- perhaps hate me? Why do you wish that we had never met? & why are you boxed because you sometimes like me?
Mary, I am inclined to think that you have an unfavorable opinion of Mr. Geo. Reason this way. He can have little energy, pride or spirit to hold a paltry clerkship under his younger brother. Why does he stay? Why don’t he get into some honorable paying business? All these are very natural thoughts & I can confess, apparently just; but I am sure you would think better of me if you knew all. How keenly I felt all this when you are here, I have felt it all the while since. To think that you, of all the persons in the world, should see me only under such disadvantages, only such disparaging circumstances. You have a right to know my history and I ask to tell it to you, but I cannot attempt it here. I wanted to tell you when you were, but was afraid you might consider it weak & egotistical in me, if not designing. After one walk to the Soldier’s Home the subject became ever more delicate, & so I passed it by. I would not mention it now but that there is little prospect of my seeing you soon & I cannot fear to have you longer think me the Spiritless, aimless being that I have seemed to you. I don’t wish to convey the idea that there has been anything great or remarkable in my career, but I do wish you to understand that I never occupied such a position as this before & never expect to again. Do you really think my letters cold? Are they colder than you wish to have them, Mary? I think that they were as sweet as circumstances would permit, & as sweet as your letters warranted. They have not been proceeded from a cool heart & if they have seemed so, it was only on account of restraint. This restraint business, so that my poor grieving heart could find rest is expressing, it would sing you one perpetual song of love of sweetest melody. But you know, Mary, the load that weighs down my heart; & you know to how tender that heart is towards you. But I feel that you are no more to me than a spirit now, which I am fated to love and can only hope will love me in return. Oh if I could only know your heart as you know it- if you would only write to me as you feel without fear or restraint. Oh if you would only trust me, Mary, as I trust you- with a faith as strong as my love. Mary, if you have not told your father about our affairs I would not tell him at all. You seem to feel certain that he will oppose us & you are determined not to act contrary to his wishes. So while nothing could be gained by such a course it would only surpress us. You seem to know your father so well that you can follow his will without consulting him.
8 x 10 paper.
1.5 sheets, blue lined horizontal and vertical, folded three times even.
Written with pencil.
14 July 1867
I have just read your last letter and burnt the one you asked me to. How can I answer them? I must not write from my heart and how cold and unfeeling to do otherwise and yet Charles there is after all a common sense view to take of it, imagine your sister in my place, would you like her to have gone even as far as I have with a gentleman she had known for only months in a strange city of whom she knew literally nothing 58 except she loved him I do not think you can blame me and I do not see as we can do anything but wait, let us go on therefore writing as friends, perhaps trusting each other more than most friends and then when you have some settled life or home, no matter where, come to me even if I do not tell you to, I am promising that if I love you, so I do now & “thy home shall be my house and thy life my life” Can’t you trust me and even if either if us found out our love was a mistake, would it not be better for both to do so before marriage than after. Oh Charlie if you could only be in this house where I have been for the last nine weeks, you would realize what a fearful mistake marriage us sometimes even if there was love. Mrs G_ is now sleeping on my bed after a frightful scene in which she accused God of cruelty in ever having let her meet her husband and calling on Him to let her die to get away from this life. I think she is the most retched woman I know and almost entirely through her own faults I feel so disheartened that after all the months I have spent with her I have not been able to make her better and now as she is getting jealous of the love her husband children and friends show towards me I think I must leave soon. But to return, you forget that it is the woman that ought and has always to give up her ways and wishes, and what a fearful strange life it must be if she does not look up to and respect her husband as well as love him. Have I written too plainly, I hope not unwomanly, at any rate, you now will understand me better and after all with hope to aid us, I do not think that two or even five years will xxx my love, at any rate, I am making the most of the time for the great happiness I expect and look forward to, and I can promise that if we ever are engaged if I have anything to do with it, it shall be no long engagement as I dislike that very much and could never see any good in them. Since I wrote last we have moved all to the farm five miles from Concord on very high land, with a beautiful view from all most every point. my room is a tent pitched under a butternut tree on the edge of a mowing field on which the men are now at work. I am very comfortable and enjoy the outdoor life. Such on these moonlight nights you can not think how beautiful the view is from my bed. I do not shut the fly of the tent, and the country boys stretch before me for miles while at the foot of the hill is a little lake glittering in the moonlight, I have a bed bureau washstand and very comfortable armchair in which I often imagine you sitting, smoking your pipe and enjoying it with me. Father came last Thursday and I haven’t a young lady rooming with me for the lady few days so it had not been as cozy for me to write and would not write now with a pencil if I could go to the house to get ink without questions being asked and how I hate all this concealment but I have done as you thought best and have not told him, I think had better send your letter to Mr George’s xxx as usual and he will know where I am and send them to me. Father goes tomorrow to find us a seaside place in York’s Beach. Does not promise quite well enough to try it if we are to find any nice place, I am going to write to Fannie and try to persuade her to let you bring her for a little while, would that not be nice, but I feel so blue this afternoon that I cannot think that anything I attempt will succeed. Oh Charlie if you were only here more and would love me a little bit would not I be good to you? I would not tease a bit but just cry the blessing of being with love and believe you me, though I do wander so far from what is right. But I must not indulge these thoughts, so good bye. Mary B Fessenden You must not expect my letters quite so regular now that Father is with me, and above all though do write me as you proposed a little sketch of your life, you could not please me more!
3 x 5.5 envelope
Not posted Addressed to: M. F. Concord Aug 16/67, From Washington
Single sheet, 8 x 10.
Written with pencil, very fine point.
Aug 16, 1867
Yours of the 12th Augst was forwarded to me from Syracuse and reached me today. I presume you had mine, written at Syracuse by this time. I cannot understand why my last message here should have been so long in reaching you, unless Col George was unreasonably dilatory in forwarding it. You must wake him up. Oh Mary, you can’t begin to realize how much good your letters did here. Your letters are usually so cold that when you do thaw out & let slip a sweet word the effect is something like that of a sunbeam in winter weather- only for me dazzling more grateful, more enduring. Oh, tis such a comfort to get such a word from you. Tis not the words but their source which makes them sweet to me; believe me, Mary, I drink them in with a relish, a satisfaction that I had never known before & which I am sure I could find from another. I have to laugh whenever I think of your account of telling your father about that letter. I would give a good deal to have seen him at that moment. How his eyes must have stuck out. The danger to his spectacles must have…I think they must have pushed off his spectacles. But you are mockingly reserved as to what he said. Come now, you must tell me all about it, every word, good or bad. Geo left last night for Cleveland, where he will stay two or three days. When he and Fannie will go to Syracuse & then to return here together the 1st of Sept. I shall go to Rochester, NY within a day or two after he returns. Shall not be so confined in my new place as I have been here. Because I have shall not have so much to do, & will be my own master. The State Engineer is very friendly to me. & my immediate superior, an officer, is one of my most intimate friends, so that I shall be able to manage the work so as to work for a day or a week or longer when ever I choose. So now I give you fair warning 61 that you cannot send any more invitations to me without great risk of them being accepted. I wish to see you awfully, Mary, & yet somehow I dread it for fear that you will not like me as well as you used to. Another thing, not withstanding… With all my independence, I shall feel somewhat uncomfortable on account of your father. Can’t you dispose of him someway? When I see you again we must untrammeled & at likely to roam & talk without ashame. Geo tell…Mrs Heap has gone to the Country with Maggie, who is in very delicate health. They will return soon. I have read on that argument or inspiration which you sent me. It accords with the views that I have always entertained & I hope with yours also. I am sorry that you read so many novels, It unfits the mind, for more useful reading- but pardon me- I intended nothing authoritative , only a friendly suggestion- which on reflection I am satisfied is not needed, as you are such a great reader that chose six novels have probably only moderately secured the far greater am’t of solid matter that you have gone through with. Haven’t I got out of that well? Mary, it seems to me that you might write to me a little more often. Can’t you come down to once a week? Geo told me that he had a letter from Fannie every day. I know there is some difference in the cases- vastly different than I wish there was, but then two weeks is do long a time, so dreadfully long! Come now, be good & write to me at least once a week, if only a line, just to let me know that you are alive & love me a little.
Paper is 8 x 10, blue-lined, two folded sheets, imprint on the upper left corner after fold. Apparently a draft copy that was never sent and was the source for the next letter.
Written in pencil.
Oct 7, 1867
Yours of the 30th only reached me this morning. How provoking that it should have been so long on the way, when I was waiting for it so impatiently to arrive. How stupid you were about your must have been not to have recognized the propriety of my use of the prefix Dr. In addressing you! Don’t you remember how you doctored me last winter? It does not not seem that I could have omitted to give you my address. I am fraid that you do not read my letters very carefully. Just to please me now suppose that you look again. But to be sure I will write it again Drawer 77, Rochester, NY Aren’t you getting very critical all of a sudden… How very dull you are in your interpretation of the prefix, my abbreviation I used in…. My dear little abbreviation Dr. But I am glad you can’t understand it as I prefer to write it out in full, only I that the shorter I made such little titles of endearment the better you liked it. Oh, it will be such a relief to write it all out & to laugh on it. How stupid you were in your interpretation of my dear little Dr. But I am glad you cannot understand the abbreviation, as I prefer to write out in full, only I that the shorter I made such little titles of endearment the better you would like it. Oh what a relief it will be to write that word at full length- especially as it is the only one that you seem to reciprocate. The thought if you going west fills me with sadness, and to be gone so long! I had anticipated so much pleasures in meeting you in Washington this winter that I do not know how I can give it up. I had made arrangements to spend several weeks off this winter; but now I shall not go. Oh what pleasant days those were last winter, the pleasantest that I’ve known. I cannot think of the past without wishing to renew those tomes, but I feel now that should never realize this again. What beautiful weather we are having! I am going to Mount Morris tomorrow and to Portage the next day- amid wild beautiful scenery. I shall think of you as I always do at such times, but I shall be lucky if I am more happy than sad. I should be delighted to send you Renan’s Life of Jesus if I knew when it would reach you by express. Let me know, if you could send me the watch case, I should value it you know how much. Anything from you, Mary, is simply better. I shall always keep as my choicest. My impressions from reading Renan’s Life of Jesus are briefly and imperfectly these- it is a queer work. Very poorly written often obtuse & vague, one is forced to the conclusion that the author had no clearer idea of his subject than than he conveys to the reader. He assumes Christ to have been merely a man. He assumes Christ, he denies the trinity… Without professing any particular faith, he denies the divinity of Christ in at least a general way, & yet ascribes to him a character almost Devine. He is portrayed as one of those great grand souls like John the Baptist, Francis d’Assisi & whose works have marked the progress of religion in past ages; only Renan’s Life of Jesus is a queer work. Not very well written, often speculative, obtuse and vague, one is forced to the conclusion that the author had no clearer idea of his subject than he conveys to the reader. Without professing any particular faith he denies the divinity if Christ in a loose & general way. & yet ascribes to him a character almost divine. He is perhaps as one of those great grand souls, like John the Baptist, Francis d’Assisi etc. whose works have marked the progress of religion in past ages. Only Jesus is made greater & better than all- a sort of beacon light, unsurpassed & unsurpassable, which has led the world for 18 centuries & will continue to lead it for all time. It asserts (which is entirely new to me) that the family of Jesus did not recognize his authority & were not on very friendly terms with him. Thinks Jesus was honest in claiming to be the Messiah, tho such conviction did not possess him til after the death if John the Baptist. Claims that Christ erred in pretending to prefer xxxx, but yielded to the demands of his disciples & appears to justify it on the grounds of necessity- in order to work conviction! Says but little on this subject & that little in a loose & general way, but conveys the idea that no miracles were actually performed. On the whole it contains many good ideas, but as an argument I consider it a failure. It winds up as follows: As for us, eternal children, condemned to weakness, we who labor without harvesting & shall never see the fruit of what we have sown. Let us bow before these Demi-gods. They knew what we do not know, to create, to affirm, to act. Shall originality be born anew, or shall the world henceforth be content to follow the oaths opened by the bold creators of the ancient ages. We know not. But whatever may be the surprises of the future, Jesus will never be surpassed. His worship will grow young without ceasing; his legend will call forth tears without ends; his sufferings will melt the noblest hearts; all ages will proclaim that among the sons of men there is none born greater than Jesus. I should be delighted to send you this work if I knew when it would reach you by express. Let me know & I will send it at once. If you could send me the watch case I should value it. You know how much any item from you, Mary, the more simple the better. I shall always prize & keep as my choicest treasure.
Envelope is 3×5.5, not postmarked.
Notation later: Copy of letter sent to Miss F, North Conway, N. H. Oct 11, 1867
Paper is 8 x 10, blue-lined, single folded sheet.
Apparently a draft copy that was never sent and was the source for the next letter.
Written in pencil.
Address Drawer 77
Rochester, NY Rochester,
Yours of the 30th only reached me the 7th inst. How provoking that it should have been so long on the way, when I was looking for it so impatiently. It does not seem that I could have omitted to give you my address. I am fraid that you do not read my letters very carefully. Just to please me now suppose that you look again. But to be sure I have written it above. I should have answered your letter sooner, but was obliged to go away Tuesday & only returned late last night. I am so tired & sleepy now that if it was any one else but you I should put it off, but I feel that I cannot afford the delay that it would cause to your next letter; & besides I owe something for your promptness in sending your last one. How very stupid you were in your interpretation of my dear little Dr. But I am glad you don’t understand the abbreviation, as I prefer to write out in full, only & that the shorter I made such words the better you like it. I had noticed in several of your letters that you left out the address all together. I did not exactly like that & so I offered the abbreviation as a compromise.
Envelope 2.5 by 6 inches
Franked Oct 29, Concord, N.H. 3 cent Washington stamp
Addressed to: Mr. C Truesdell Drawer 77 Rochester, N.Y.
Single sheet, blue lined horizontal and vertical, folded three times even.
Written with fountain pen, very fine point.
Concord October 28,
I don’t feel a bit like writing and yet I want to, now if you can understand that it is more than I can, so let’s “give it up,” and start again. I found yours of the 25th writing for xxx here and it is just the nicest letter you have written me and I have actually read it over twice!! Many thanks for the description of your friend. I hope I shall see him with you this winter. Of course some of his ideas I do not like at all, but then every thing can be excused from his being so unfortunate as to be an old bachelor. You know I never could bear them, and then the idea of his or any man’s criticsing women, they don’t know anything about them. They are every one different where as men are all very much alike, except one old fellow I know or rather don’t know but would like to. We left Keasarge Friday at five in the morning, it was very cold on top of the coach but never the less those that were up there had a jolly time, and our sail across the lake was lovely, as you say, “What weather” it seems a pity to lose a minute of it in the house, yet it always makes me sad and gives me a longing for something I don’t know what and I suppose never shall in this world. Charlie, you do not understand me in the least when I say I want to cry, it is not because I am not happy. Why I have been so happy this last year, so free from xxx and trials, have made so many friends, so many to love and be loved by that I actually dread every change in my 66 life, it seems as if I could hardly have any happier life than I have, of course the future is uncertain but what future is not and sometimes I long for a home, but when I look round it seems as if my lot just now was a good deal better than any of my friends. And what can one ask more, so you see it is not my circumstances or surroundings that gives me that wish, it is, well perhaps, some day I may tell you. But we shall have to be a great deal nearer to each other than we are now before I give you the key to that closet as there is only one person in my life that can ever have it. I have not read enough of Besson yet to criticize but have enjoyed very much what I have read, it is not near so frenchy as I thought it would be. The papers I read with a great deal of pleasure especially the marginal notes. Do you know if Mrs Steep has changed her house yet? Perhaps I had better write to Fannie, I suppose she could tell me all about her and her rooms, Father wants me to make some inquiries but not to say much as we may still go to San Francisco, and now goodbye, forgive all this nonsense and believe as much of it as you want to but do not forget one who is glad to call herself your friend.
M B Fessenden
J M Fessenden, Warren, Rhode Island
Envelope 2.25 by 5 inches
Franked Nov 25, Warren, RI 3 cent Washington stamp
Addressed to: Charles C Truesdell No. 74 Montgomery St. Syracuse, NY
8 x 10 page. Single sheet,
Watermarked Lacroix Freres.
Written with fountain pen, very fine point.
24 Nov 1867
I do like your last letter very much, anything that shows me you are in good spirits is a pleasure to me, but the last three or four words I do not like, fortunately I do not have to take all that is offered me. 67 Charlie remember we must meet as friends only, now do not get provoked, but think it over and you will find it is best so, I wrote to Mrs Tress a week since for rooms but have had no answer yet, is your brother still with her? I wrote him a little note asking him to forward my note to Mrs Tress as I did not have her address. Have you my plans after January, I suppose the elections have changed everything. Now I’m thinking of the west, I know so many young men that are xxxx engineering so as to go, but there in fact they say it is the only opening now for anyone, but of course I know nothing about your plans or wishes and on my advising in the work. And shall expect my advice to be taken as all advice is that is to say as nothing. My week in Boston was spent in shopping and now I am with my aunt and Uncle getting ready for the winter. How glad I shall be when it is all done. I have a splendid list of books from Mrs Watson who is one of the best mod woman I ever met and I assure you I am not going to waste my time this winter as I did last. My aunt wants to know who I am writing to. I tell her a real good fellow, she says, ask him to thanksgiving, perhaps you are not New England enough to understand how much that means. She is the one who thinks I ought to marry a widower with five children, she says now that us not enough, he ought to be a poor clergyman. What a fate! Now do write a good long letter and scold me well, I am xxxx xxx that I am getting utterly spoilt Affect yours Mary B Fessenden
10 x 16 paper. Single sheet, blue lined horizontal, folded three times even. Written with ink. Estimated date 1867
My experiences in civil engineering began in the capacity of rid man under Mason Loomis and preliminary surveys. (draft letter)
Col. J. M. Fessenden
My dear Sir, In answer to your inquiries as to my experiences in civil engineering, that’s to say, that I commenced as roman under Mason Loomis in preliminary surveys for a road (—-) railway from Ontario to Chippewa in Canada; twice we went to the American side, located, & built the Lewiston & Niagara Falls Railroad; thence or went to Jacks Reef under Hon. Geo. Geddes on the Seneca River superior. Here my connection with Mr. Loomis ceased and I was appointed leader and then asst. engr. in charge of a party on the Erie Canal Enlargement. Where I remained from 1854-1863 when the work was completed. Then, following an interval of two years, during which I was engaged in other business. After which I made as chief engr. I made a survey and estimates for a railroad from Chittenangi to Cazenovia, NJ. This road was not built. Next I had a charge of the extension of the piers in Cleveland harbor under General TJ Cram. From that place I went on into the Pacific Road & took charge of a division in Weber Canyon and from there came home where I have been resident Engr. of the Montclair Railway for 2 1/2 years. On the Erie Canal I had immediate charge of the Seneca Ricer Aquaduct and many other important structures where I’ve been familiar with piling, sheet piling, dredging, and the construction of coffer dams, cribs, masonry, etc. My railroad experience for the greater part had been in unusually heavy work, involving tunnels, important bridges, arch culverts, high trestle works, etc. Much of which I have planned and specified by myself. My references are as follows: (—-) 69 I would refer to the following named gentleman as those with I have been associated.
Hon Geo Geddes, Faurmount, NY
Van R. Richmond, Lyons, NY
WB Taylor, Utica, NY
JN Sweet, Albany , NY
ML Kimball, Fulton, NY
Jb Reid, Joliet, Del
DH Wood, VHF Engr Montclair Railway & the Midland Railway
Mason Loomis, VHF Engr. of the Manister Branch Railway
I would also refer to Silas Seymour who has a general knowledge of my history.
Gen TJ Cram
Envelope 3 x 5.5 inches
Franked Feb 15th, Washington, DC 3 cent Washington stamp
Addressed to: Chase. Truesdell Div Engr U.P.R.R. Care Joseph A. Young, Mouth of Weber Canyon Salt Lake City, Utah
Note: Joseph A Young is Brigham Young’s son.
8 x 10 page, with fine blue lines both horizontal and vertical.
Single sheet, written with fountain pen, very fine point.
Feb 14, 1869
252 F Street
My Dear Charlie
No letter this week, the first I have missed for some time. But I ought not to complain I have had them so regularly lately. I long to hear that you receive mine again, it takes so much zest from writing to think that you will probably not see it. I had a letter from Dannie yesterday, she reports all well in Syracuse. Your mother has a family gathering, she said she only wanted Charlie and Mary there to make her perfectly happy. George has no position yet that he likes, and Fannie is still in terror of go70 ing west. I have passed a very busy week the debates in both houses have been very interesting, the first part of the week in the Senate for the constitutional amendment and there is the house commencing with Butlers objections to the votes being read, it was really exciting and with my great dislike for Butler very gratifying. I send you all the papers by today’s mail. My friend Mrs Smith enjoyed the debates just as much as I do, her husband being a diplomat we have nice seats no matter how crowded the house is and often I do not get home to dinner. Saturday I spent at Brentwood in the country with my friend Mrs Farley. The winter has been so warm and it is so long since we have ever had any frost that it seems as springlike as when we went to Georgetown last year, tomorrow we have a party headed by Senator Morrill to go to Rock Creek to gather May flowers. It is a dreary sort of pleasure going to these old affairs where we have been so happy together. I seem to live two lives, one of the past and future. But for the most part rich and in which my dear Chas is the most prominent thought, and one for the present. They must both be pleasant lives for Mrs Col. Tucker told me that it did her good just to look at me. I looked so truly happy. So Chas, you see I am not pining outwardly at any rate, but dearest I do long for you as I never longed for anything before on this earth. Fannie writes that you expect to come home in April or May, is it really so? Fortunately I shall be in Newburgh about that time do we shall not be separated by many miles, Fannie also writes that they want me to come to Syracuse while she and George are there, so perhaps when I go to my sisters as I expect to do on the 20th of March, I will run up there for a few days. Should you like me to? Or had you rather take me there yourself the first time? Mrs More asks after you often as my “husband” she says. Puget Sound is lovely worth going to just for its natural beauty. 71 Oh Chas I wish you could go there, nothing I should like better then to spend my next summer there with you but it is no use for me to make any plans or look forward to for us that I have it all to you only hoping some day be they sweet never more to be separated, ever lovingly yours, Mary B Fessenden
Envelope franked Mar. 8, 1869
Addressed to: Chas Truesdell Div Engr Care of E.P. North Div Engr UP Echo City, Utah
8 x 10 page, with fine blue lines both horizontal and vertical.
Single sheet, written with fountain pen, very fine point.
March 7, 1869
I will write you a short letter today my Chas because I have two. I must answer one from Mrs. Dr. Watson in Germany and one from Mary Perley. Mary desires to be remembered to you while Mrs. Watson says if you are not a happy man it is your own fault and then runs on with such a string of compliments that I am going to keep the letter to read whenever I am snubbed as a sort of salve to my pride. How fortunate our friends do not know us as we really are and are willing to invest us with all sorts of good qualities. But the chief reason dearest I shall not write much is because another week has passed without a letter from you. I see by the papers that the western mail has been stopped by the snow and a hundred tons are waiting to be transported so a great many are suffering as well as myself. The great event is over and the city is fast clearing of it’s hundred thousand strangers though even now every place is uncomfortably full. I saw the procession from Col. Fillers windows and then went up to the capital in time to see Grant take the oath. It was a splendid scene, such a mass of human beings with that splendid building for a background. The excitement about the cabinet is not over. Stewart has had 72 to resign Baesirn does not want his appointment and Washburn’s health is too bad to keep him long. Frank More is in high glee he actually danced all the way home from church this morning. Oh Chas, we had such a glorious service this morning from Dr. Bellows of N.Y. The sermon was a hour long, a perfect treat to mind/heart and soul. I am going with Mrs. Woodbridge this evening to Wells Opera House to hear him again. I send a paper with every letter, shall send two or three this week, as you will be interested to know about the appts. Good by dearest, God bless you and take care of you and bring you safe home to your loving Fezzie.
Enveloped franked Mar 29, Newburgh, N. Y.
Addressed to: Chas Truesdell Divs Engr UPR Care of E.P. North Div Engr Echo City, Utah
8 x 10 page. Single sheet,
Written with fountain pen, very fine point.
Newburgh March 28,
My dear Chas
I got yours of the 7th yesterday and also one from father in Boston telling me he had also received one from you. He will attend to the railroad affair in Washington by letter and do all he can. It is unfortunate he did not know about it before we left. I asked Senator Corbet from Oregon about the road but he did not seem to know anything about it. I supposed it had fallen through. Oh Chas, how I wish we could spend this lovely Sunday afternoon together instead of this dreary writing. I can almost count the days now before I can begin touting expect you, in one month more your wife have been away a year, was it not fortunate we did not know it when we parted, it would have made it so much harder. 73 I had an awful dream about you last night. We had met again but yo were raving crazy, it has hung over me all day though we have been having a very jolly time. Fannie’s house is always full of company. Her mother, Mrs. Gordon went yesterday so two young men, her nephew and cousin came last night to spend today. We all walked two miles to church and back this morning and intend to roast unions outdoors this afternoon, a great Sunday. This country life is so delightful after the city it seems as if I could not enjoy it enough, I only hope someday we shall have a nice long stock farm somewhere ever lovingly yours,
Mary B Fessenden
Envelope is 3x 5.5, franked March 22, Newburgh, NY
Addressed to: Chas Truesdell Divs Engr UPRR Care of E.P. North Div Engr Echo City, Utah
Paper is 8 x 10, blue-lined, folded with imprint on upper left corner “Iron Mills”
Vine Sea April 11th/69
I have yours of the 21st and 28th of March, and for cool audacity I never saw their equal. You date from Devil’s Gate and then calmly ask me, a dignified lady, to join you, a bachelor there, and never say a word about marriage. Devil’s Gate indeed! I am afraid it is his innermost sanctum. Ah, that I ever should have received such a letter from my “best beloved”. There is only one excuse for you, the air of Salt Lake has turned your head and- Why if I should think of doing such a horrible thing I should expect to find at least two or three other C.T. there before me and never be astonished at any number being added after you posted yourself a letter tired of me. No, if you don’t want me enough to come get me you can’t have me, but seriously Chas, don’t arrange any plan on the ideas that I could come to you, though my love would lead me to you anywhere. Father would not think of letting me do anything of the kind and if you do I have to go to Puget Sound without coming east I shall spend the summer with Father in the mountains. Oh dearest it makes my heart ache to think of such a thing, surly you can take two or three weeks leave for such an important step in your life as that. I think instead of Mr. H coming home you had better and we will take Mrs. North out with us. My sister sends you word you had better resign and come home and be married comfortably. I have heard nothing from your family yet probably they are busy with spring cleaning, dressmaking or something of that kind, which men never take into consideration and know nothing about. I shall go as soon as I hear from them. Do not think it is any sacrifice on my part dearest, to go among those you love best. I have only put it off in hopes that you might take me there yourself, which would certainly be pleasant for all. Good by dearest, come soon to me who loves not wisely but too well. Mary B. Fessenden Write me what you want to do about the Miss Bridge. Gen’l Rodman has had a million dollars appropriated principally for a bridge across the Mississippi at Rock Island, I’ll. It is to be 17000 ft long of 7 or 8 spans, water about 20 ft deep, draw 160 ft clear each side to turn on a pier say 50 ft wide. Whole super structure to be of iron Pay $300 per month, Father thinks $500 or more if he gets the right man. The Engr must be able to calculate the strength and stress of material and present plan for the bridge. 75 Write immediately to Gen. TY Rodman, Rock Island, Illinois if you will undertake it, or how much of it you will undertake, your experience in coffer dams, etc The Gen’l wants it done by next Dec but Father thinks that will be impossible.
Envelope franked Nov 19, Newburgh, NY Addressed to: Chas Truesdell, Montclair, New Jersey Single sheet, Paper is blue lined, with Iron Mills imprint. Written with fountain pen, very fine point.
Dear Chas, I expected a letter from you yesterday, suppose I should find it tomorrow. I have had to set the hour for our wedding so have said quarter to twelve, which leaves us time to take any train you think best. I have thought a good deal about it and have come to the conclusion to leave it all to you. Take me when and where you please Chas, it will make very little difference to me. Clarence says twenty dollars is plenty for the wedding fee. When you drive up here Wednesday don’t forget to retain the hack to take us down to the train. Of course Chas, it would be a great comfort for me to see you Tuesday but I can’t come unless convenient. We expect cousin Annie and cousin Charles Tuesday evening. I have heard nothing from Syracuse, have you? If I get a letter tomorrow and there is anything to answer, I will write by return mail so that you will get it by Tuesday morning, if not, this is the last time I shall sign myself Yours forever Mary B. Fessenden