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Phelps/Ensign Family Letters
Isaac Ensign and Cornelia Phelps
Oliver Roswell Phelps and Georgia Phelps Family Letters
Phelps/Ensign Family Letters

Ensign Family Letters

Jan 12, 1845 to June, 1846

Letter #6

From: Abbey Ensign, Nathan Ensign also Ralph Ensign and Isaac's mother Mrs. Mary Tuller Ensign (Mrs. Moses Ensign)

To: Isaac Ensign, Forsyth, Georgia

Simsbury Sabbath afternoon Jan 12, 1845

Dear Brother,

I embrace the present opportunity of writing few lines to you. We received your letter some weeks since and were very glad to hear from you. I have been tempted to make you wait as long as we did for a letter so that you would be able to sympathize with us. I have been mad enough with you to bite a tenpenny nail in two. Methinks I hear you say what are you mad with me about. It is no more we tell than this because you delayed writing so long, but I will makeup and say no more about it if you will write oftener for the future. But enough of this, I will try to give you all the news. You of course have heard that Sabra is in Hartford and David is in Suffield. Sabra was home Christmas and spent several days. She would have written to you while she was home but she could not find a moments time. Mother was not very well also. Mary Clark and she was obliged to assist me. She likes her school very well but she studies very hard and has but little leisure time. I shall not write any more on this page but shall leave it for Mother. [This part was written by Abby Ensign.]

Dear Child--I should be more pleased to talk with you but must be content to write. My health is better than it has been. Today is the Sabbath. I have been meeting the test now be not weary in well doing but we shall reap if we faint not may we not be weary in serving God but be instant in season to do the will of our heavenly Father. May you ever be found on the side of the Lord. Let your situation be what it may, if you don't forsake Him He will not you. While friends and acquaintances are fast going to the grave. Betsey Mares Tuller Mrs. Ames Mrs. Abby Case and Hector Humphrey wife they are all dead. Dea Eno and wife and Elizer are sick also. Lucy Tuller she is so feeble it is feared she will not live till spring. Job family Jeremiahs and uncle P family saw aunt Sally yesterday. Give my love to Mrs. Phelps family. Write home often. M. T. Ensign (His mother)

[Abby continues] There was a donation party December twenty fifth at Rev and Mrs. Scofields, also January first at Rev. Allen McLeans. Attended both, they were very pleasant. Charlotte D. was married on Nov 27 (Thanksgiving Day) and left for New York immediately. She wrote home that she enjoys herself lots. Marion Newcomb was married Dec 4th. We all had invitations to her wedding. By all, I mean the young people in our street. Emily Phelps of Paqumock and Martha Clark were there attended by two young people of your acquaintance Mr. O. J. Phelps and Mr. John Marshall. The young ladies spent the night with Mary Ann. The gentlemen at Mr. J.O.P. They wished to be remembered to you. I should think she had done very well. She appeared to enjoy herself first rate. They were over here to church last Sabbath. I had almost forgotten to mention that Doctor White had caught the matrimonial fever and he too has taken a wife. (Ralph has been whispering something in the ears of Mary Clark and they won't either of them tell what it is and its funny) Mary is spending the winter at home. The boys are both at home.

John Reale and Caroline are at home. John has sold out in Springfield. Mrs. Hall has been in Springfield a fortnight returns tomorrow. Lydia is at home as usual. We have selected the New Doctor for her. Would not that be first rate. Truman is at home doing nothing as usual. You know that Laura came home from Boston Thanksgiving and is now attending Mr. H-------school. Celelia and Ann continue at New Britain. Mary T. is at home. Seymore is at home. I cannot tell what her business is. Dr. J. T. Leilibridge has taken house at Mrs. Tibbetts. Leavenia Baxtor was married December 24th. Mary Ann P. officiated as bridesmaid. They have gone to New York on a bridal tour. Alson Holcomb and wife--Holcome is married also Harriett Miller and Horace Bainard. She has gone to Hartford. We got an invitation to her wedding.

[Ralph Ensign writes] Abigail has been telling your story about me but don't mind her. Nathan has been telling some I suppose. I suppose you broke the rule some must excuse the mistakes. When you write I would like to know who wrote it. Yours, Ralph Ensign.

[Abbey continues again] Minerva Gillett is married so it is a gone case with you but take courage there is a chance for you. Miss Thilomelia Squires an her(?) maid at the farms was married to Mr. Godard of Granby (a Methodist Ministers family) a few weeks since. Moses St. John has been to Marcellas and spend three or four weeks, we think to find him a wife. How successful he has been time alone will reveal. Perhaps next spring. Mr. Dan Moses, a cousin of his, is now in Simsbury. Report says that Mr. Moses will not return until he gets him a wife. Now who do you think is to be the happy lady? Now guess. Do you give it up? Well I guess if I must tell I must. Orphea Holcomb is the one which has been selected for him. The bell has just been tolling for five. Chancy Eno he died this morning, Monday Morning, about 7. Elizus they think is recovering. Last evening went out to Sidney Tullers. Jeffry, Bernard, Sam Holcomb, Mary, Lydia, Orphea and myself. First rate sleigh. Had a very pleasant time. Mariette is well. Bidwell has got out the old teack (?) again they say. Lucy Tuller is failing. She will not probably live a great while. She is resigned and cheerful, willing to meet Death. Sabrina Allen died quite sudden. Louise Leatham has gone to spend the winter in Canada. I have not been to Granby but think of going this week. Shall call on Betsy D and perhaps Laura D. Cousin Samuel is going to be my beau and I hardly know where I shall go. Give my love to Cornelia and tell her I am afraid she has been missed. Love to all of Mr. Phelps family. Please remember me to Mr. & Mrs. Dibble. I have written you almost everything I could think of. It is almost time for the mail to come now. You mind and write soon. We have not answered Mr. Phelps letter yet. Mary P commenced (?) me in return some time ago and it has been her move these three weeks but I cannot find time. I reckon he will get it some time next spring.

Your affectionate Sister Abbey

P. S. I should have thought you would rather have gone to work for Mr Dibble than to have to taken a school for such small wages. You should look well for self. I know nothing about it but if you had worked for him you would have had certain wages. All I want is to have you make as much as you can and not have another New Jersey trip. Mother says I should not have written so, but it is written and it cant be helped.

[Nathan writes] I suppose you want to know how that I get along with the fiddle. I have not got along very fast for I go to singing school two nights each week so as to learn to read the notes to play. I shall learn before you get home, I think. I am in grandmothers room and she is most of the time a calling for Abigail or Sabra. I get along very well in school. I went out to the farms Saturday. I suppose that you know that Abbie Merrit teaches school here. As Abigail is a going to tell you the news so I will not undertake to tell it to you. I hope you will please so that you may be well renumerated. I must leave the rest until next time. Yours, Nathan Ensign


Letter #7

From: Sara C. Goodwin, Bloomfield, CT

To: Isaac W. Ensign, Forsyth, GA Feb 28, 1845

Thank you friend Isaac for your very interesting communication received a few days since. So you enjoy yourself finely down in Georgia, do you? Faring sumptuously every day, as your indications of "corn dodgers", "sweet potatoes," and "chicken fixings" can testify. Well, you are welcome to the dodgers, etc. but just bring home a sweet potatoe for us, will you?

You cannot but be suited with your temporary domicile, since it was erected under your special superintendence. Your description of it would answer for many I have seen in the valley of the Miss. Many eastern people would think the sparing accommodations of a log cabin incompatible with happiness, or even comfort. But I have no doubt of the existence of much real contentment and enjoyment too among the inhabitants of these humble dwellings.

Of course you wish to know what is "going on" in the "valley of Turxis(?)". You are probably aware that the Congregationalist are endeavouring to revive church music under the instruction of Mr. Brace of W. Hartford. Our schools are very interesting-two a week usually. I attended one last evening at the Townhouse. Saw Abigail and Sabra. John Hall & Caroline-Lydia Preston, Mr. Tibbets, Juliett Goodrich and I believe Helen Chapman from Tolland etc. And lots more that you would enjoy a chat with, very much. Am going again tonight at Weatogue. There was a meeting of the "Mason & Hastings Musical Association" at Canton last week. Mr. Lowell Mason himself met us there and his admirable remarks and critical observations upon vocal music, afforded us a rich treat, as you may well imagine.

Mr. McLean has been unwell and not able to preach for two Sabbaths past. I learned last night that he is gaining--sits up four hours a day. Ashbel Moses is continuing unwell also-- I believe has a fever. Lucy Tuller is quite low with consumption. Mother has been sick for a few weeks with a very severe cough. She is now much better almost well. Your cousin Hoyt Whiting has been teaching school in Doucester this winter. His school closed this week I believe. Hueason (?) had a tall exhibition week before last. Some 200 attended. The second story of Weatogue Schoolhouse was literally jammed.

Have you heard of the marriage of Augeline Prosser and Gaylord Hitchcock, "both of Bloomfield" as the papers have it. They were "tied up" the 6th of February. It was a very stormy night. It had snowed for two days previous almost constantly and continued snowing all the eve and the snow was badly drifted. John Phelps accompanied me. We started in a sleigh and soon found ourselves on the warmest side of a snowbank. However we were not hurt at all and the sleigh being uprighted we went on down the mountain and then at the corners took passage with 8 or ten others on an ox sled and thus we safely arrived at the Prossers. The bride looked interesting of course. All things passed off pleasantly. There were not more than half the expected guests there on account of the storm. So much for Augeline's wedding.

Hariett G. has tall company again Sunday nights. Whether this renewal of attention for the fourth time will amount to any thing more than any previous effort--I "not knowing could not state".

I have sent one paper to, and received one from Mrs. D. P. Ely. I hear she enjoys life finely in New York. Your account of Southern weddings was quite amusing. How such proceedings would appear in sober old Conn! Bub is a bright laughing little creature, "full of fun & frolic", quite a pet with us all, you may imagine.

Oh, about watchpapers. I have not painted one this winter and have none that is fit to send you. I'll have some ready by the time you get to Conn again.

I have received two or three papers from you and have answered them. I don't know as you get them. Humason has commenced another term. I have learned that he expects to continue teaching in Neatogue through the year. He has had 30 pupils through the winter. Pretty well, ain't it? Considering it is a select school in Simsbury. John Phelps was in here a few moments since, I told him I was writing a letter but didn't say who to, and he said I may send about five respects!

The young people in Simsbury have been quite still this winter. All the parties are donation visits, and the meetings of the far famed sewing society. Said society meets next Wednesday at your Fathers--Abigail requested me to come, but I do not know as I shall be able to. You would enjoy it finely were you here no doubt. I have never attended but just one of them, that was at Mrs. Goodrich's last summer when you knit for me, you know. Abigail talks of coming over to spend a week with me, but she has talked of it so long that I don't really believe she means it all. Well, I've filled this sheet, I have told all that I think would interest you, but do excuse its dullness, for I have a severe headache today. Well, now you must behave yourself down there!! Good bye

I remain your friend,

Sarah C. Goodwin.


Letter #8

From: Isaac W. Thompson, East Granby Ct

To: Isaac W. Ensign, Forsyth, GA (Age 25)

East Granby April 9, 1845

Good Afternoon Brother Isaac

How do you do Sir? I suppose you are enjoying the genial warmth of a New England Mid Summer sun, while we are enduring the cold of an almost wintry day. When I arose yesterday morning I found the ground covered with snow which had fallen during the night. It was a very bitter cold, blustry day for the eighth of April. I almost wish myself in the extreme South part of Florida where I could not see snow enough to say snow, for I can stand warm weather very well but cold weather strikes through me like a "Carolina Chill" before the fever. We have had quite an open winter to spring here notwithstanding the coldness of weather now. I suppose you would like to hear some of the news of the day. Very well, it is mostly politics. You of course are aware that just before & after an election of State officers you can hear of nothing but politics;;politics. Well we held our election yesterday. Simsbury elected two whigs, viz Dr Hanford & Tuller. You of course will hold up both hands & say "Three cheers" for my native town. May other towns do likewise. Well Granby has & also Suffield. While Granby has elected two whig representatives she has given a Democratic majority on the State ticket, but you ask how could that have been? Why I will tell you. The Democrats were divided in their candidates, while the Whigs pulled with a long pull and a strong pull and pulled altogether & succeeded. It is thought by the whigs that they have carried the State ticket throughout & reelected Mr. Baldwin VC but it is doubted at present, it is most too quick to have correct returns, but enough of this..

You said in your letter that you hoped "those members in the Church would have discovered the error of their way & returned". I do not certainly know what ones you alluded to, but if you had allusion to the opposers of Br. Reid I can only say that they are no more pleased with him now than when you left. They seemed to have done their utmost to destroy the influence of their pastor, but I think they are getting deeper into the mud than they are on the mire for they are losing the confidence of the brethren & sisters very fast. I said losing, I might have said, have lost, for they have almost if not entirely. There have been other trials in the church since you left. Painful as it has been with all of our trials we have had to withdraw the hand of fellowship from some four or five members. Some for not filling their place in the Sanctuary & refusing to support the ministry; others for continuing in the practice of dancing, attending dancing schools, etc. Perhaps you ask their names. The former are Wm McRoy, Henry Barrett & Mrs. Allen Winchels. The latter, Chloe Barrett, George Befs. Pray for them Brother that they may yet see the error & sinfulness of their way, & return to the fold of Christ. But while we have thus been pained, our hearts have been made to rejoice in God for the mercy drop that has fallen in that Mrs. Edward Thompson as we hope has been brought into the kingdom of God, Dear Son, & united last Sabbath with the visible Church of Christ in Tariffville. Our Sabbath School is very interesting now, & has been through the winter and notwithstanding the pernicious influence that appears to be shed abroad, we have a very full congregation on the Sabbath.

Our prayer meetings here are not very interesting at present, probably on account of the feelings of some of our brethren & Sisters. But I hope & pray that the time may soon come when we shall be of one heart & of one mind & that we shall fear lest we offend one of Christ's little ones, for it has been said of such as do offend "that it were better for them that a millstone be hanged about his neck and drowned in the depth of despair."

You said that you hoped we should not do any improper or rash act, to which I respond Amen. I hope we shall have the Spirit of Elijah's God to guide & direct us in all of our deliberations & that we shall do nothing but what will be for the glory of God & our souls good.

I was glad to hear that you are situated among Christians & where you could enjoy the preaching of the gospel. As it is almost time to go to the office I will close by wishing you health & prosperity in this world & life everlasting in the world to come. I have enjoyed very good health the past winter but my mind has been dark & dreary most of the time. I should be glad to receive a letter or paper at any time. And while you remain absent from us pray for us that we may be firm & steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the good work of the Lord realizing that these slight afflictions here will only work out for us a far more exceeding & -----weight of glory.

Yours in the hand of Christian love,

Isaac W. Thompson


Letter #9

From: Sarah C. Goodwin, Bloomfield, CT

To: Isaac W. Ensign, Forsyth, GA

Bloomfield Conn July 12th 1845

Respected Friend,

Will any apology be accepted for my thus long delaying to answer your very interesting letter received in April last? Please excuse me this once. My correspondents all complain of unwanted neglect of late. You know I used to be a "pattern of punctuality" but to owe the truth I do not love to wield my pen in letter writing as well as formerly. It is not because I love my friends any less, but it is merely a disinclination for expressing my thoughts and feelings on paper. But even at the "eleventh hour" I will write all I think will interest you. Perhaps you have heard ere this of the lamented death of John E. Prosser, which occurred June 27th. As you may not have heard of it I will briefly recapitulate some of the circumstances connected with the mournful event. Undoubtedly you were informed of his marriage May 6th with Harriet Cornish of Bloomfield. The disease which so suddenly terminated his existence was typhus fever. He was sick but two weeks--delirious nearly all that time, of course no sense of his alarming situation. All that medical aid could do to avert the stroke was done but alas without success. His funeral was the most solemn and affecting one I ever attended. An immense concourse of morning friends followed his remains to the "last long home". His widowed bride was color & tearless doubtless her grief was the more intense. His father feels deeply his irreparable loss. John had faults it is true, but he also possessed many redeeming qualities. His untimely death spread a gloom over the youth of his acquaintance, for his friends were numerous. His sister Selina was married to Jay Cadwell a little more than two weeks previous to John's departure. A large & pleasant wedding party. I met your sister Abby both at the bridal & funeral. John E. was well as usual this eve of the wedding-he was the last one to whom I said "good night" as I left for home. But he has gone "to that house from whence no traveler returns".

You inquire after E. F. Lord. I see her occasionally. She is well, single & likely to be for ought I know to the contrary. Old Simsbury changes but little. Evelin Brocket & Cordelia were married Election week and it was a lively, pleasant time we had at their wedding. Rodney Cass & Esther Pettibone were married July 7th Monday morning wedding. Cake & cards circulated. Rev. Charles McLean was invited to a Miss. Williams of Wethersfield Wed morn July 9th. & started immediately for Saratoga & Niagara. Thus much for Cupid's doings. Maryett's Bidwell still passes her every second sabbath evening. Burton has a daughter added to his family circle recently. Aurora Case & wife are spending the summer at home. She is a lively pretty girl & does not suffer from contrast with Eastern girls. Edward Case is also at home. Simsbury has considerable company this summer. Mrs. Amos R. Eno & family have arrived. Miss. Sarah Peck is at the parsonage. Mrs. Milton Humphrey & Mrs. Jane Lewis are at Chester Eno's. Maria Tuller is again with us. Charlotte Ely also spends the summer at home. The glorious 4th was celebrated by the meeting of the Sunday School Union. I rode in another direction. If one cannot be independent on that day when can they, I ask?

Pray how did you pass the day? And now I must inquire how your school prospers & when you are coming home & so on. And moreover Isaac are you going to show us Mrs. I. W. Ensign when you return? We conjecture that Sarah Cornelia P--- will be Sarah Cornelia E. ere long. How is it--you may tell me in a whisper & "I won't tell anybody". Be right but I shall positively expect some cake & a card. The current report now is that Humason will be married to Eunetia Eno in the coming autumn. He visits there, that is certain. He continues his school yet. Moses is at home & quite steady for him. The sewing society is still sustained. I have attended but one of their meetings & that was at Mrs. Goodrich's last September when you helped me knit. Do you ever hear from "our Tim" or Dewey? Levi Prosser is at home & has been for two months. I reckon you know something about hot weather but it has been pretty considerable warm here for several days past. The mercury has ranged from 92 to 98 degrees in the shade. I have received two papers from you & answered them since you last wrote. If you deem this worthy of a person read it & destroy it. Sarah

Edwards saw mill is in operation but the grist mill is still in progress of building. Harriette & Evelin remain exactly the same.

Your friends are all well I believe. Abby has not been here to make her visit yet-ridiculous isn't it! Yours in considerable haste

Sarah C. Goodwin

Transcribed from the original on April 28, 1990 by Sam R. Bunn. The original was found in Oliver Roswell Phelp's bible by his great granddaughter Cornelia Sheppard.

Isaac and Cornelia did not marry until September 1846.


Letter #10

From: Moses David Ensign, Simsbury Ct June 1846

To: Isaac W. Ensign, Forsyth, GA

As I did not finish the letter the other night I take it up again tonight though I am not much in the spirit of writing which by the way is easily discernable without the aid of glasses by the various hooks I transmit. Though the land is filled with wars and rumors of wars yet Simsbury, good old Simsbury is safe!!

Young Jeff is making rapid advancements toward the land of double misery. The other half is no less than Jane Humphrey eldest daughter of Austin Humphrey of North Canton, but the consumation of his hopes will not be till the sire and yellow leaf covers the autumnal forest if as soon as that still I am not certain.

Moses St John is engaged to Nancy Lee of Granby so the old folks say. Maryette Gilbert is still a spinster I suppose. Bidwell has not served his seven years yet. The girls say that Mary Phelps thinks that a Peck is about as good as a bushel. Mary Williston is engaged to be married to someone in Britain, I forget his name. As for the rest of the young men and maidens of Simsbury I am unable to tell whether there is any hopes of their doing anything to populate the world or not

Mothers health is about as usual. She is around and able to do some work. Abby and Sabra are quite well but your honorable correspondent is under the doctor's care. Now don't be very much frightened nor alarmed for I am able to work yet that is to do enough to pay my board. So you need not consider it a very serious malady but rather as following the good old maxim "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"..By the bye before I forget it I want to inquire if there is a young lady in Forsyth or anywhere near or in Macon by the name of Sarah C. Coombs that you know of and is there a Seminary by the name of Montpelier Seminary any where in that region. If you don't know I wish you would inquire. Our folks want to have you send your photograph or likeness by Mr. Phelps when he comes. Please bear it in mind. I don't know exactly when I shall start but if I do go it will probably be sometime in June. I expect our folks will make some objections but why then I may as well go this summer as any time, don't you think so. We don't have much to do in the shop. We have no peddler but Ezekiel Case.

They have given Mr. Chapin of Ireland parish in West Springfield to come to Tarriffville and he has accepted the call so you see we shall have a minister. He is quite a balanced and smart man. The difficulties are all settled now so that it all goes like clock work but how long it will continue so God only knows. For my part I have but little respect for such fickle madness as some manifest so as to admire every newcomer though perhaps Mr. Chapin will do as well as Mr. Reid. I hope so at least that is that he will try to do what is right. Sabra says she shall write before long. Write often and full letters. Mrs. Barber and Mrs. Palmer are up here now. Remember us to all. Don't forget that likeness. If I go West I shall go in two or three weeks. I must stop for this is quite long for me, so write. We are sorry you are not coming home this summer. David


Courtesy of Email link  Sam Bunn
225 Durham Road
Milner, GA 30257-4004