1835: William Martin Lewis to Ichabod Colby Bartlett

This letter was written by William Martin Lewis (1798-1881), the son of Col. Moses Lewis (1770-1836) and Hannah Sally Martin (1776-1853). William was married in 1828 to Mary Bartlett (1802-1831) and removed to Gainesville, Alabama, where she died on 31 May 1831, probably from complications of giving birth to their son, William Frederick Lewis (1831-1891).

William wrote the letter to his father-in-law, Ichabod Colby Bartlett (1779-1860) — a merchant in Bristol, New Hampshire — who was married in 1801 to Ann Sleeper (1784-1869).

1835 Letter
1835 Letter

Addressed to Ichabod C. Bartlett, Esqr., Bristol, New Hampshire

Springfield [Alabama]
May 29th 1835

My honored Father & Mother,

Amidst life’s busy round of cares we should soon loose a sense of the uncertainty of life and all that is before us would soon so absorb our attention that we should not profit by past experience. There are periods in the life of every man at which he would do well to pause and reflect. There is no period of my existence which left such feelings on my mind as the anniversary of this day. My soul seems melted down with tender emotions that run through every nerve. A solemn calmness fixes the eye of my mind on a trial that bowed my head to the grave & looking back to my native village, I feel I have friends who still sympathize with me in a sorrow which time may have softened but which time, nor place, nor change, nor years cannot obliterate, cannot efface the remembrance of one most lovely in life & who perhaps was removed for our good.

At such season my heart would give vent to its emotions by saying Oh that I were holy — that the calmness of a heavenly morning dawned upon my soul, and though yet on earth, that I may be permitted to unite in one feeling of praise with those whole souls are not dogged with earth & who do not feel a weight of corruption sufficient without grace divine to sink the soul in painful apprehension of never reaching those blessed mansions which we have confidence our Savior has prepared for them who love him.

The last 4 years have seemed to pass away to me like a shadow scarcely leaving impression to replace those of former years which have faded from my mind. But fresh as yesterday is Bridal [?] hour. It seems to hear so sweet sound as I enter the gate, “Welcome dear husband.” I seem to see the evening smile of affection & eyes expressive of an attachment that thing earthly could dissolve.

Pardon me my honored parents for touching a tender chord. To forget the departed is one of the sins of the living when it is our privilege as well as our duty to follow all their good examples & by _____ anticipate a happy meeting again in that Kingdom where there is no sorrow , no sighing, no tears, no separation, for those we love.

Little does my lovely boy think what the feeling of his Father is when he runs to the gate to meet me with all the playful joy of youth & health. Little does he know how I feel when he very solemnly closes his little hands and says, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” He knows not yet he has lost a Mother who gave him her dying benediction & which nature was dissolving prayer the blessing of “Israel’s God might rest upon him.” I told him I was writing to you & asked him what I should send for him & with infant earnestness & simplicity he said a “sweet kiss.” We all enjoy usual health. All join in love to all.

Your son, — Wm M. Lewis

5 thoughts on “1835: William Martin Lewis to Ichabod Colby Bartlett

  1. William Martin Lewis & Mary Bartlett Lewis were my 4th great grandparents. Their son Frederick was born on May 2, 1831. Mary did not pass away until the end of May of 1831. She is buried in the Mesopotamia cemetery of Eutaw, Greene Co., Ala.

  2. Griff, I would like to know more about this letter-where is it from; who has it now. Thank you for posting this letter on your blog. I have let my other gene loving Lewis family members know of this letter’s posting on your blog. We are all quite impressed! Before now all we had knowledge of was letters from our Tenney family members who married Samuel Castle & became missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands.

    We wish to deeply thank you for posting these letters on your blog. Most the time when you are doing family history research — all you can find is dates & times of events & places lived. But, when you are able to read a letter that you ancestor wrote, you can understand that ancestor better. The grief that W. M. Lewis was feeling several years after Mary’s passing really is shown in this letter to her Father. We greatly appreciate the time & effort that you have put into this project.

    1. I transcribed this letter for an acquaintance who later sold it on e-bay. It was probably sold at least six months ago. I’m pleased you found this letter and trust you found the one Mary wrote in 1830 to her father on Spared & Shared 4. — Griff

  3. I’m researching for my friend who is a direct descendant of William Martin Lewis and looking for other descendants of this line. We are trying to determine the oldest available ancestor to this family line and would love to chat with anyone who may have knowledge concerning the Lewis family.

    1. I am only in my 60s, but I have been researching this Lewis family line for several years. I have been in contact with several other researchers/descendants of this Lewis line on Ancestry.

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