1827: Mary Wellman to Capt. Oliver Kempton Wellman

This letter was written by a woman who signed her name Mary (@1780-@1860) and who called Capt. Oliver Wellman her brother so I assume her maiden name was Mary Wellman. We learn from the letter that she is living on James Island near Charleston, South Carolina. I believe she was married to someone named Virgil and had two sons, one of whom was named Virgil. She claims to be so poor that she only knows money by name.

Mary addressed her letter to her sister-in-law, Ursula Maxcy Draper (1791-1871), the wife of Sea Captain Oliver K. Wellman (1787-1836). Oliver and Ursula were married in November 1808. Their children were Virgil (b. 1811), Benjamin (b. 1813), and Ursula (b. 1815).

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Addressed to Capt. Oliver K. Wellman, Salem, Massachusetts

James Island [South Carolina]
June 2nd 1827

My Dear Ursula,

You need not take this as a comp lime to yourself — no, it is only a letter of convenience. I an overjoyed I received letters from my dearly beloved brother. He is well and in enjoyment of good health. Oh what a blessing. Its more than I ever expected to hear. You would not be the harbinger of such good news. What is the reason you could not answer the letters I wrote you last. I have a good mind to scold you but getting a letter from my brother has put me in such a good humor that I cannot find fault with anyone. He has communicated to me more news from all our relations in his letter than I have ever got from you since I left Salem. He has not left out one but has told me how they all are. As to you he says you look better than ever he saw you. I expect you have got fat and lazy is the cause of my not hearing from you. I am glad to hear from your husband but no thanks to you.

I received a letter from Susan last week. She complains bitterly of your not writing. Says your mother is in poor health. She expects her cough will wear her out before long. Now Ursula, remember you are a mother and how you would feel to be neglected by one of your children that you had done so much for in this infancy and to neglect you in your declining years. It will be a sad reflection to you after she is gone. Sit down and write this day to her.

My poor brother has been again losing his hard earnings but I hope the Lord will make it up to him yet. I think there is prospect of it by giving him good health as heretofore. He has been very much afflicted with sickness and he tells me that he contemplates leaving Salem. I can’t say but it makes me feel a little melancholy, and I know that Mrs. Henderson will feel bad and Mrs. Homar — particularly trust ____. I always thought she set great store by him. I hope it will be for his benefit. No doubt it will.

Virgil says it is one of the finest places for business and delightfully situated on the canal. My  only wish is he may realize the goodness of God towards him and when he does go that he may go as Moses did when he went into the wilderness with the children of Israel — feeling and depending on his maker for his guide and strength in all his undertakings. I fear I shall never see him again. There seemed some chance while he was in Salem he might have come out here possibly, or perhaps I may have gone there. However, as he gives up following the sea, I can not feel so selfish as to wish it other ways. Had I known that he was going before Capt. Bliss went to Europe, I would certainly have gone to the North. He offered to pay all my expenses if I would go so as to be there when he returned. He is very fond of me and Virgil. He has been to see us twice, is very partial to Elizabeth and her mother. Mary has gone with him. He is fond of a young lady on James Island. He treats me and claims me as a mother and was he a ___ in ____, he could pay no more attention to me than he does. You must not tell Mrs. Tuffs about the lady or anything else — perhaps she might feel disagreeable and I would not like to hurt her feelings, poor soul. Remember I told you to let me know whether you ever got those things I sent you, you wicked woman. If if you have not, send to Mrs. Cutter who keeps the boarding in the old Pronine [?] House. She will deliver them to you. I think you must be offended because I sent them to you. My intentions were good.

Remember me to your dear children. Tell them I long to see them. I wish you could see my poor little ___ and Virgil. They are two fine little fellows but I fear they will be spoiled by playing so much with negroes. Our girl I don’t care about. I shan’t trouble myself about any more but my two boys. I hope this will be no more. Mary is still nursing two years old. Remember me to all my friends and relations. Tell them I long to see them all but don’t expect to. I have no money to go with and my health is so feeble that I should feel unwilling to go alone. As to money, I only know it by name for I never have a cent — no more than a child two years old. — R. Mary


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