Great letter about Cholera epidemic of 1832 & details of mercantile business


Date Written

Aug. 8, 1832

Edward Shepard Jr. was 23 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Edward Shepard Sr., was 49 when it was received.

Edward Shepard Jr. died 41 years, 9 months, 14 days after writing this.
It was written 191 years, 1 month, 25 days ago.
It was a Wednesday.

New York
8th August 1832

Dear Parent,

I received your kind letter by Mr. Cutter of the 3rd inst. & of the 4th inst. by mail & I had last evening an answer but did not send it, as I had a little more to add, but find now that the shut is full & cast it aside for this & which will, I presume, be a sufficient apology for the mammouth shut.

To day I received yours of yesterday by Mr. DeWitt & have this afternoon purchased & shipped by the Sloop Liberty, Capt.—to leave tomorrow morning for Wethersfield. Onions selling quick at $5. per hundred, at which I am surprised, but the demand for them is great at present.

I called on Mr. Alen but his store was closed & he gone; also, his yard, and many other Mahogany yards are also closed & the keepers gone. To day after much search, I found a lot of Mahogany which I have sent, as above. I do not know how the terms will suit you, but I think I have sent a good lot, & nearer your orders than I could find elsewhere, of equal quality article & also 2 or 3 cts. less than the other yards I visited. I have sent 5 boards or planks 1 ¼ inches thick, 18 inches wide & 6 feet long, as you were not precise in your order about the length. I have sent 5 boards 6 ft. long, instead of 3 boards 9 or 12 feet long, supposing you wish 3 feet length. I could have found boards of 9 & 12 feet long, but not at this price & also a 3 inch plank 8 feet long & 18 inches wide, this is the best I could get yet of the fine or good articles; there is an abundance of shaky stock to be had, but it required a workman to buy, who knows how to work it up.

The present article I purchased at 12 ½ cts. per foot. elsewhere I was asked 14 & 16 & some stock at 10, but very inferior.

5 St. Domingo Plank 1 ¼ inch, 57 ft. at 1/ $ 7.13
1 “ “ “ 3 “ , 28 ft. “ 1/ 3.50
Cartage 2/ .25

Also on board the Sloop Liberty is a bundle directed to Daniel containing sundry articles. Please say to D. that Mr. Buckar will write when he wants help, which may not be for some time as his warehouse is full at present.

My curiosity is a little elevated at the fact of a Mr. Buckingham’s calling on you as my friend. I am acquainted with only two Mr. Buckinghams, one is a merchant and a canal commissioner in Ohio & as one of his partners is now here purchasing goods, I am told by him that Mr. B. is in Ohio. The other is an officer at West Point Academy & I am positive has not visited Ct. this summer. I think you may have not the correct name.

I have now a friend visiting in Connect. who may have called on you, his name is Mr. F. H. Buckley. (I was to see him in Hartford, but did not) this gentleman is tall, spare, freckled faced, modest & retiring in his manners & withall, an agreeable friend, ([?] the road to Zion); if he has called on you, I trust he received your kind attention which he truly merits & in future it will be my pleasure occasionally to introduce to your society, my friends who visit Connect. & among them you will find some noble hearts.

On Monday morning, I was troubled with the premonitory symptoms of the Cholera, which I thought was only corn Cholera Morbus, but at noon this increased & at night was attended with cramps, in the eve I had business to do in Broadway & before I reached home was in intense pain & inclination to vomit & constant wish for the stool, this to me was the fast approach of the Real Cholera. I commenced with such medicines as my experience dictated & I am happy to say that yertermorn I was relieved of pain but extremely weak & am now improving & can eat considerable. This is my second attack, but as the disease is most fearful when neglected, that I was of the opinion that too much care was not entirely useless at these times.

My partners are not aware that I have had been unwell, as I did not leave my business at all & a diversity of corn sell in distress is not of somuch weight as our good candid judgement. I have had the full treatment of Cholera under my eyes & I am of the opinion, that to a good constitution it loses its fearful aspect, but the first symptoms must be attended to. At the request of my Physician, I visited about ten days since the Cholera Hospital in the park where were 27 souls sick with Cholera. This scene was a noble lesson to me. Here was the child in agony, its mother had just been nailed in the coffin at the back door, here and there the profligate and dying & others with evident signs of rapid death & in a distant corner a father just growing better & is visited by the gladdened face of his partner and child & the next cot contained an individual who perhaps might be called 50 years of age & found to be only 32; such is the rapid progress of the disease, for 3 hours will make a total change in the appearance. Thus thru the whole building was alternate sorrow & joy, groans & dying, noble nature reduced to a level with dust & the grim messenger busy in selecting his subjects. You may think I was imprudent, but I think the reverse as I had not a slight effect from the exposure. The disease is in every system & only requires here some exciting cause, such as fruit & etc. A young Doctor & friend of mine has been in the hospital since June & has not had one symptom.

Mrs. Headley was attacked a day or two since, is better.

Mr. Phelps leaves here tomorrow for Hartford & will see you in few days; please say as little about the wonders of the Cholera to him as possible as it will not amuse him, nor would it anyone going from here.

Mr. Lucas Dyer died on Friday last before I received Daniel’s letter.

Philadelphia is suffering much from the Cholera. Our city has lost the past month 3045 souls, by death; in all of 1831, there was only 6205 deaths and in the yellow fever time, only 388 persons died. What a sad comparison.
1831 6,205
In July 1832 3,045
1822 or yellow fever 388
The reports of this week are very favorable. Today 82 cases, 22 deaths.

Business is very dull & I am very fearful will be all this fall. I have intended to secure the insurance on your homestead, but I am sorry to say that I shall not be able to this fall. We have constant rain, yesterday 3 thunderstorms. Peaches very fine, pears & apples are in abundance in our market, but no customers.

I have partially secured a place for Francis at the tailoring business & should like to hear more from you about him.

I have matters in train & hope to send you the said articles for Brown’s Bible soon. They are about 200 miles from here.

This leaves me in my usual health & with my respects to all.


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