Family Letter

Date Written

April 8, 1861

William H. Potter was 34 years old when this was written.
William H. Potter died 25 years, 11 months, 20 days after writing it.
It was written 162 years, 5 months, 15 days ago.
It was a Monday.

Mystic river Monday Morn 7 o’clock
April 8th 1861

My Dear Little Kitty,

It seems a good while since I wrote to you ( I believe over a week) & I know you needed letters oftener on account of your father’s sickness, but you know I am not over strong, & when there was a few moments time, I was quite too tired to write, & if I had taken my pen, could not have written 6 lines without interruption. You cannot think what a stream of people have been coming and going since your father has been sick, a great many only to the door to inquire, & a great many coming in. Your Aunt Hanna has been of great service to me almost more than sister. She staid several nights and days helping me wash (or rather doing my washing), & taking all care of me. If it hadn’t been for her help, I don’t know but I had should have given out. Your father sits by the range reading, but his face is considerably swollen now. I think more about his eyes than it was Sat. He had a very hard turn of coughing last night which may have caused it.

We were awakened this morning by a ring of the door bell at 6 o’clock & when I had dressed, I looked out & saw a young fellow walking back and forth, tall, almost as Miller & very smartly dressed, but I included to make the fire & wait for another ring. As soon as he saw the smoke, he rung. It proved to be a Mr. Bently from North Stovington, wishing to come to school this summer. He apologized for coming so early as he had to leave the place very early. There, our mail boy, Ros, has just been in with the Bulletin. He has just been our carrier since your father’s sickness. And by the way, the government puts on a more warlike front of late & there will probably be something done soon. They are in great trouble at the South to know Lincoln’s intentions but he keeps a close mouth, & neither North nor South seem to find out much, except by his acts. The activity night and day at the Navy yards & the sailing of several vessels with sealed orders, after taking provisions & stores (an immense quantity) & working nights, as well as days in getting it on board, make people think something is in the wind. As the evacuation of Sumpter has not been ordered, & has not taken place, some think they intend to provision it, but those who sail in the war steamers do not know themselves until they get out to sea. We hope for the best.

10 1/2 I have washed the white clothes & got them in to scald. Your father wrote on the other page while I was doing it. Do you need more money that the enclosed & if you do, you must write soon. There is no 7 o’clock (evening) train from N. Y. this way yet, but I hope by the last of the week, your father will be able to go over to the depot & make inquiries. He says “tell her father wanders around, dreadful lonesome, tries to read, but is half asleep.” This pleasant days make him feel like going out. He did just step out yesterday, but it is too chilly today. Anna is in high glee, thinking of R. Island. She told you that Grandpa Potter was here last Sunday. Aunt W. & Prue staid here Thursday, Friday, & Sat. nights. Prue helped me iron & finish off my dress. Good bye Kitty.


My dear Kitty,

I don’t feel much like writing and have not much to write, my head feeling very dull since my illness. I can say, however, that Anna is expecting to go to Westerly tomorrow on the train, thinking to find cousin Joseph H. Potter’s house from her own wit, and then to go up to Potter Hill to stay till Friday. This has been a favorite plan of hers & we think it best to let her to try it. Did anyone tell you that Jo Fitch (Latham’s oldest son) was dead. News came to his father to that effect several days ago. They take it very hard. He was married at Head of Mystic, and had been whaling 3 or 4 years, and was drowned by the upsetting of a boat.

Whit Packer is said to be married or is about to be, I don’t know which. Ed Gates was in here this morning and speaks encouragingly of the meeting last evening. He says Anna was one of those forward for prayers last night. May God have mercy on my children.

Your aff. father

Scans of Letter