This letter was written by John Pawling (1823-1866), the son of Jacob Pawling (1787-1877) and Martha Russell. He was a graduate of Hamilton College which conferred on him the degrees of A.B. and A.M. He prepared for the practice of law and was admitted to the New York state bar. Later he embraced theology and was ordained a minister of the Baptist church. He married in 1844 to Evaline, daughter of Daniel and Susan (Holmes) Smith.
Pawling wrote the letter to his college chum, Thomas Samuel Searle (1821-1879), the son of Rev. Thomas Coleman Searle (1787-1820) and Annette Woodward (1789-1824) of Madison, Indiana. At the time Pawling wrote this letter, Searle was teaching at the academy in Indiana, Pennsylvania. By 1850, he had relocated to Berks County, Pennsylvania where he became the Principal of the Stouchsburg Academy. He later became a Dry Goods Merchant in Indiana, Pennsylvania. He married Mary Ann Moore (1818-1889) in October 1848. [Note: Thomas Searle was born Thomas Miller Searle. His name was changed to Thomas Samuel Searle at the request of his mother by an act of the legislature of Massachusetts.]
Addressed to Mr. T. S. Searle, Indiana, Indiana County, Pennsylvania
Rodman [Jefferson County, New York]
September 24th 1849
My Dear Friend,
Your long expected letter July 14th has at length arrived after the circuitous route of Watertown, then Henderson, then Rodman. I was indeed fearful either that death had overtaken you or that you had forgotten me, which last I could hardly credit. You develop [?] to me the glad tidings of your marriage. That fact was indeed unexpected from the fact that when we were at College you had determined to live a Bachelor. But what evidence can be placed in that pretended notion of young men? They are usually the first to get married. I congratulate you on your choice & although I have not the pleasure of your lady’s acquaintance, yet from an acquaintance with your taste & habits, I have reason to believe you have made a first rate selection & I am glad that you swell as myself have realized in a wife all that you could have desired. You find your anxieties have increased & your affections have taken a different direction from what they did in the days of wary youth. And should you ever be blessed with children, yours cares will still be multiplied. But still new sources of interest and enjoyment will be developed, and an increase of contentment will follow an increase of responsibility. You express a desire togo to keeping house. My opinion is, it is the only way to enjoy a married life. I would not live otherwise. Although boarding is quite fashionable, a man can only feel at home when he feels he sits & eats at his own table.
I congratulate you also on your flourishing school. I should think the occupation would be a pleasant one in which the students are so well advanced. As to myself, all I can say is that I am again at Rodman, my former place of residence, and shall continue here probably for some time. A year ago last spring, I moved from Watertown to this place and last fall I moved hence to Henderson where I remained till last spring and back thence here again. I had a hand in all the litigation that happened in the town of Henderson during my sojourn there. But being in a remote part of the county, I did not consider the location a first rate one and last spring I visited St. Lawrence County with the purpose of finding a location. I visited Hermon, Canton, Colombia, Waddington, Ogdensburgh, Gouverneur &c. & had picked upon Hermon as a location, remained there a fortnight, had obtained 2 suits in the Supreme Court together with small business and on my return to Henderson where I let my family I made preparations to move to St. Lawrence County. We came to this place to visit our friends & in the mean time, my father induced me to change my proposed place and to remain with him on his place. I have done so. The profession of law is at a low ebb in this state and the business of agriculture is on the advance. I have therefore rented my father’s farm and shall probably for sue time to come remain here in the capacity of a farmer so that when you come to visit me, you must take up with farmer’s fare.
We keep a small dairy of 18 cows which together with other branches of industry keeps us in business. I think a farmer’s winter evenings are enviable. Indeed, I know of no occupation more pleasant in the winter season. Besides, I find my health is decidedly better on a farm than any where else. This I regard an important consideration. It strikes me I have heard you say that you meant eventually to settle on a farm. With us, the business is very independent and reputable & with proper economy, a source of pecuniary interest.
With regard to Hamilton College, I know of nothing of particular interest. J. R. Boyd, my former principal of B.R. Institute, has been installed Professor of Moral Philosophy, and [Anson Judd] Upson of my class is also a professor, I believe, of Rhetoric & Elocution. I understand the College flourishes better than it did when we were there. I have not visited it since I saw you. I saw D. P. Wood, my classmate, at Syracuse some three weeks since. He is a lawyer there. I made application by letter to Simeon Worth for my second degree last spring & saw a notice in our class paper containing among other things that John Pawling, Erastus Doolittle, &c. & some others had received the second degree. I take it for granted, therefore, that the faculty have conferred upon me the degree of A. M. That is all I know about it.
There have been no cases of cholera nearer than Syracuse except one neighbor of ours by the name of Ralph — an old man who had just returned from the state fair at Syracuse. Was taken down suddenly and died and the physicians of Watertown pronounce it a clear case of the cholera. But I am glad to learn that the pestilence is subsiding.
Henry Clay was at our state fair ¹ & I regret that I was unable to attend. I am not an odd fellow yet and living in the retirement of a farm. I think probable I shall not join them at present. Our rainy season is setting in. The weather is somewhat dismal. I occasionally take a peep into Shakespeare or Byron or the classics but have too little time to make much progress. Give me an introduction to your worthy lady. Mrs. P. sends her respects and remember to write soon to your friend, — John Pawling
¹ Henry Clay attended the New York State Agricultural Fair at Syracuse on 11 September 1849. In a letter to his wife, Clay wrote on 5 September, “….I purpose stopping a day or two at Uyica, and as the annual [state] fair at Syracuse takes place next week, tuesday, wednesday, and thursday I fear I shall not be able to resist the importunities to stop there…”