following letter was written by Esther Livingston Pratt of Tinmouth to
her grand-niece, Ellen Maria Doty Schermerhorn, who at the time lived in
Effingham County, Illinois. Ellen was the daughter of Aaron Vail Doty of
Wallingford and Lucretia Salsbury of Tinmouth. The Dotys left Rutland County
about 1850 and settled first in Hillsdale County, Michigan, then in Effingham
County, Illinois. Ellen married Algernon Sidney Schermerhorn in Michigan,
then moved with her husband and children to Illinois. Their eldest son,
Algernon Vail Schermerhorn, was my Grandmother Broom's father. Maria Clark
mentions several relatives, including her sisters, Sally Barnum and Mary
Salsbury Verplank, her brother-in-law Darwin Barnum, and her son Elias
E. Clark, who was in Company I, 5th Vermont Infantry.
Feb 13th 1863 On the Hill . . .
Algernon & Ellen & the little Ones –
have all been the subject of much thot lately by those who yet live on
this old Hill. We want to hear from you & your dear Parents & all
the family connections & we think you would like the same & I will
try to tell you.
[ Fanny Livingston Salsbury ] is still alive but she is so poor & her
teeth all gone & she is bowed over so I think you would not know her.
I am changed more than she is for I cant walk but she can. There is no
one to write but me. Aunt Sally [Salsbury] is in Brooklyn with Aunt Mary
[Verplank]. Uncle Darwin [Barnum] has enlisted and gone to Baton Rouge.
Uncle John [Salsbury] is in the army. He helped get up the 9th [ Vermont]
Regt. & they went off & then the Gov wanted him to help get up
another Regt so he did so & went with them. He was first lieutenant
in Co. C.
Regt went to Washington & from there to Poolsville where they are now
... So you may write to Capt. John A. Salsbury, Co. I, 10th Regt. Vt. Vols.,
Washington, D.C. & right glad will he be to get a letter from his darling
little Ellen as he used to call you ... Poor old feeble Granma feels at
times as though she should never see him [ her son John] again & she
prays for grace to support her & says "Thy Will be done." You knew
Elias [ Elias Clark, Maria's son] was in the war. He was mustered into
service September 16th 1861. He has had the measles & some other sickness
& endured great hardships. Was wounded in the knee at Savage Station
& taken prisoner & remained a prisoner forty days & lived on
soup made of Mules meat & thick with maggots. Elias said he drank it
because he thought it would keep him alive, but very many of the feeble
soldiers starved to death. When Elias was exchanged he was carried to U.S.
Hospital, Chester, Pa where he is now ... New Years was very lonely with
us. We had taken supper & were sitting back round the room in the lonely
twilight hour & the door opened suddenly & "I wish you all a happy
New Year" broke the deathlike silence & Elias stood in our midst. One
simultaneous scream rent the air. I believe that scream would have driven
a brigade of Rebels without Bayonet shot Powder or Ball ("teapot or kettle").
An hour was devoted to tears of joy & gratitude before we could settle
down & appear rational.
stayed 13 days and returned to Chester . . . Poor
boy, how he did enjoy his visit at home after being gone almost sixteen
months & seeing death all around him in all its most hideous forms
we want to know all about yourself & family. The good letter that you
& Algernon wrote & told us all about dear little Fannie's [ Ellen's
sister] sickness and death & all about your folks is kept choice &
we read it a great many times & it is a great comfort to that feeble
old Granma & me. Sometimes we have a real cry over it but love it &
we love son (as your mother called him) because he was so good to gratify
us old folks that he never see. Now will you write once more & tell
us all about your Father & mother & Salsbury [ Ellen's brother]
& Jane [ Ellen's sister] & family & Mr. [ ?] and the darling
little ones & your own precious selves. The little fellow [A.V.?]
has outgrown the picture I have of him I suppose but it is looked at &
kissed a great many times now ...