Young woman writing friend about life in Leed's Point, N.J. as a school teacher


Date Written

Oct. 7, 1850

Mary R. Patrick was 10 years old when this was written.
It was written 172 years, 11 months, 26 days ago.
It was a Monday.

Leeds Point October 7th 1850

Dearest Carrie,

Here I am sitting in this cold schoolhouse, with only one scholar in the house. That large boy who comes to school is sitting in his corner ciphering away for dear life. The rest are out at recess, the boys are watching a kite in the air, and the girls are playing something, I can’t tell what. How rejoiced my heart would be, if I could see you ride up to the door as you did three weeks ago last Thursday. I did not see you at the dedication half as long as I wanted to. I staid at Mr. Reed’s till Monday morning, and I left Caroline very sick indeed. That night, Miss Wheaton & I sat up with her, and she had a very poor night. She thought she would not live, and told me that it would fall to my lot to take care of her things, and settle her bills. I did not sleep at all that night, nor anyone else in the house. I think she was worse that night than she ever has been before or since. She is now on the mend, and as soon as she gets able, she is going back to New York with her sister, and will spend the winter there. I shall be very sorry to see her go, but I know she is not able to stay here and teach this winter, and I doubt whether she gets able to go to New York, much before the 1st of December.

She has been very unfortunate, but she seems in excellent spirits. I was down there last Saturday, and she kept me laughing all day. She said she was as stiff as an old trotting horse. I must say a few words about Maria who is now at Leedsville. I heard last week that Maria was at Absecom sick with the dysentery. I heard no particulars, and you may know that I was in a fidget. I thought that Mr. Eells would certainly be after me to go and take care of her, but he did not come. I waited with great impatience for Saturday to come, and early in the morning I started alone and on foot to go and see the poor sick child. I walked as far as Mr. Reed’s in an hour, and stopped for a little while to see Carrie and rest my tired bones as Bodge says.

I soon heard the Doctor come, and presently something came bouncing upstairs, which I knew must be Maria. In she came ready to eat us up, and Caroline had to tell her to look out for stiff bones. She looked very well, and I could hardly believe that she had been sick, judging by her looks. She staid a little while, went back with the Doctor, and that afternoon, Mr. Eells took her to Leedsville, and she commenced her school on Monday. If she is my sister, I must say she is a dear good creature, and her good spirits conspired to raise mine more than anything that has happened lately. I wish I could be nearer to her. O Carrie, in two weeks after this I shall be free again, and how I will rest. I am very much fatigued. My school numbers over fifty, and I think they averaged forty last week or very near it. I get so tired that by night I can hardly speak. The people are determined to keep one here this winter and I dread the free school I know. I have not concluded to take it yet.

Those that attended the free school last quarter can not come next, so that this school will not be quite as large as it otherwise would be. I wish you would come down and see me during my vacation. You know you said you would, if you had to come after dark, and go away before sunrise next morning. But you must make calculations to stay longer than that. I must see you at some rate before you go home, if you do go. Have you heard from your Uncle since I saw you? I do hope he is better, so that you can spend the winter here. What shall I do, if you and Caroline Bodge both go. Bodge talks very plainly to me sometimes, and I don’t know but I need it, but she does not deliver her sermons exactly in a way to do me any good. However, I don’t like to think of her going for they need her at Tanner’s Brook very much.

I am daily looking for a letter from home–from my dear good mother, and I expect to laugh one day at last, for she promised to send me a copy of an Irish love letter. The Irish girl that lives at our house has received one, and Mother said in her last, that she had laughed over it till her jaws nearly ached. If she sends it, I will send a copy to you for your benefit.

Old Mr. Leeds is very low. He cut his foot the next day after you were here, and came very near bleeding to death with it. They tried everything they could think of and at last it stopped. It was in a fair way to get well, but because it was a little better he thought he must go out doors, and would go, and he took cold in it, and has been very bad ever since. He has not had his senses for more than three weeks and I think it will be the death of him. Day before yesterday, it broke, and we hoped he would be better, but he is not, and I think his foot will break again.

I am boarding around and I am enjoying it very much. I have a very good chance to get acquainted with the people, but sometimes when I get tired, I wish they were not sick at Mr. Leeds; there is no one sick but the old man, yet it makes a great deal of work for them. As you say, I have to talk, talk, talk, whether I am tired or not, and they are distinguished here for their long tongues, and some for their smooth ones. With such I do not care to talk, but there are some very nice people here. The family where George G. boarded are very nice people.

Mr. Leeds says that there is to be a trial at his house on Saturday and that Mr. Woodhull is to be here. I wish you would come with them.

I had a letter from Rebecca Walker last week, and I am sure I laughed all night. I was laughing when I went to sleep, and laughing when I woke up. It was all fun and that just suits me. I shall write to her before long and I have something for her to laugh at if I dare put it in.

Thursday Night
The last chicken has gone and I am alone, once more. I have had forty one today, and my lungs are tired out. How I would like to see you and Maria tonight. I know I could talk if I am tired. What is the news at the Landing? I have been expecting to hear something about the dedication. I think it will be rather cool when it comes off, if it does before spring. Carrie, I am looking with perfect dread upon my winter’s work. All the big boys within six miles are coming, I should think by the talk, and there is wickedness enough about here to make one shudder. I expect to lose all patience and forbearance, and what I shall be by spring, I can’t tell. I sometimes wish I was going home, so as to get rid of it. I would not mind having a large school of small ones, but such great, saucy, swearing wicked boys and young men as there are here, I don’t care about teaching. I guess though, after I have rested a week or two, I shall feel differently. I hope I shall, at any rate. Now Carrie, if you will stay in New Jersey, I won’t mind it at all, but what if Maria had gone home and you and Carrie K. had both gone. I should have been crazy I know. Have you heard from Mr. Page since he went away? I suppose that Maria M. has heard if no one else has. Peaches are all gone down at Mr. Thomson’s I suppose and you have not the pleasure of sailing down there mooney nights.

I have a favor to ask of you and that is that you will remember, and put into operation your plan of coming down here when it is vacation with me. I will do all I can do to make your visit agreeable, and you must not be content with coming for one night, but stay as long as you can. I am intending to send this letter by Mr. Woodhull if he comes here on Saturday.

Friday night

Dear Carrie, I wonder what your thoughts are tonight. Have you got to keep school tomorrow as I have, and are you tired enough to rest? I know you are, and I know I am myself, but I have to put up with a great many things that I don’t like to, and I presume you do. I went to the office last night really expecting a letter from home, and only think there was just one letter in the mail, and that was not for me. Well, if I was disappointed, I had one consolation and that was, that their hearts are made glad tonight by a letter from me. What do you think I did this forenoon. I turned two boys out of school or suspended them rather. They are ____and make no mistake. Boys as large as men, and large enough to behave like men, coming here, and doing as they please, quarreling all the time, in school and out. O Carrie I wish I was a thousand miles off tonight. I really do, but if I was, I shouldn’t be here, should I? I never saw a school before but what I could make some impression on, but I am afraid this is a hopeless case. How many scholars have you? I have a thousand questions that I would like to ask you. I could talk two hour steady if I could see you. How is Mrs. Woodhull, and those dear little children? Give my love to them and will you kiss the baby for me? My scholars are making all the noise possible on their way home. Last night they held a camp meeting out here in the woods, so I am told today, and in the midst quarreled whether it should be a Methodist meeting or a Presbyterian one. It was finally decided in favor of the Presbyterians. Eunice is well as common and very cheerful. She is a kind woman, and fills this place of Mother to me as well as anyone I ever saw I think. I call her my Jersey Mother, and she calls me her Yankee daughter.

Carrie, I often dream about you, and it is generally a repetition of what I wrote to you once before. I dream something every night, and I often have a good laugh in the morning before I get up. How do you and Mr. Patterson get along? And where on earth is that teacher in the Methodist Church? I hear funny stories about her at any rate. She is a cousin of Sally Wheaton’s and she does not think much of her. But I hear down here that Mr. Brown is paying attention to Wheaton. Is it so? Keeping company as they say. I should laugh if it was so, but Mr. Brown cannot speak to a lady without a thousand stories being made, and ladies down here, fall in love with him. He had better be careful what he says to them, for one woman loves him “better than her own life” she says. Is not that great? I don’t think that Mr. Brown would think any better of himself if he knew who the woman was, but don’t tell him or anyone else of it, for if the woman had heard that I had been telling it, I should have to suffer, for her tongue is as long as from here to May’s Landing. Now Carrie, you cannot say this is not a long letter but you might say there is not much substance about it for I feel as much like a fool as I ever did. I hope you will answer it whether it is worthy of an answer or not. Give my love to all of my friends and reserve a large share for yourself–your sincere friend,

M. R. Patrick

Remember me to Maria Mattor and do write as soon as you can.

I wonder how much postage they would put on this letter if I should send it in the mail. How I wish I could be at the Landing on Sunday to go to Meeting. There is to be no preaching here, and when there is, I don’t enjoy it much, for all the babies around here are brought to Meeting, and there mothers let them run all over the house, and it makes me fidgety enough. I wonder that Mr. Eells did not get angry last Sunday. There was one youngster here that talked and cut up at a great rate and its Mother just sat and laughed at it. O I was so vexed with her. She ought not to have a chance to attend Meetings except Camp Meetings, shouting will do them very well. O Carrie has the Doctor gone! If he has I am sorry to pity you, for you must be lonesome. My love to Mrs. Endicott when you get near enough to her to make her hear. Now do burn this and don’t expose me, for mercy’s sake.