This letter was written by Dr. Nathan Avery (1792-1846), the son of William Thomas Avery (1764-1820) and Phebe Throop (1771-1844) of New Lebanon, New York. Dr. Avery became a Surgeon in the U.S. Navy during the War of 1812. He went to Tennessee about 1817 and married Rebecca Jones Rivers (1794-1847) in 1818. Rebecca was the daughter of a Virginia planter who came to Tennessee and settled there. The family lived on a plantation near Bolivar, Tennessee. He died at Memphis in 1846.
Dr. Avery wrote the letter to his friend and fellow physician, Dr. Ezra Fitch Pabody (1789-1871) of Vernon, Indiana. Dr. Pabody served on the Legislative Assembly of the Indiana from 1828-1830 and again in 1833, 1838, and 1839. He served as Associate Judge from 1831-1832 and was elected Probate Judge in 1841 where he served two consecutive terms. After that he was elected to the Court of Common Pleas. He married Mabel Butler (1799-1877) in October 1820 and together they had seven children.
Dr. Avery’s and Pabody’s names appear together under the list of subscribers from New Lebanon, New York, to a publication called “A Practical Discourse concerning Death” by Dr. William Sherlock in 1814.
This letter was probably written in 1821, possibly 1822.
Addressed to Doct. Ezra F. Pabody, Vernon, Jennings County, Indiana
Postmarked Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Christian County, Kentucky
July 24, 18[21?]
My Dear Friend,
Every time I sit down to write you, my mind is carried back to those juvenile days in which no serious troubles disturbed our repose, or trespassed on our minds, when disposed for contemplation. But no doubt you, like myself, find in the bosom of your growing family pleasures, tho’, not of the same nature as a youth feels, yet more solid and more endearing than are realized by the most intimate friends of the same sex.
Nature has so ordered things that each period of our different stages of life has its peculiar pleasures of retrospection, participation, & anticipation — and although we may, when we have formed connections in very distant lands & changed our relations & our duties in society, have sources of pleasure peculiar to ourselves — nevertheless there is an agreeable sensation thrills the nerves when we meet with our old friends or meet with anything that reminds us of them & of the periods when we so much enjoyed their society.
You request of me to give the news from New Lebanon [New York]. It has been some time since I received any letter from that quarter. You probably have ‘ere this heard of the deaths of Esqr. Davis, Widow Abbott, & John Tryon; of the marriage of Harry Ward Betts to Mrs. Sheldon — she that was Maria Tryon;² of the removal of Doct. Merriman to Pittsfield & Doct. Dwight Wright ³ taking his place of residence & stand in practice. Such are the revolutions of a few years.
You no doubt recollect Moses Y. Scott † (a brother of the Doctors) who lived a short time with Mr. Torry. He is now in this county with an uncle of his [named Samuel Longlove (1763-1846)] who is brother to Doct. [Moses] Younglove of Hudson [New York]. Scott has improved much since he was with Torry. He is a fine scholar & will be admitted to the bar in this state shortly no doubt. He has much the appearance of a gentleman.
I have recently got hold of a very valuable and handsomely written treatise of the Diseases of Tropical Climates by James Johnson. He has suggested some new ideas relative to the sympathy of the skin with the liver which he calls, “cutaneous haepatic sympathy” and traces dysentary & cholera morbus to derangements of the liver and as calomel is now admitted to act more specifically than any other medicine on that organ, you may hence conclude he uses it freely. Yes, his practice no doubt would be judicious in the torrid zone. But although I believe a physician who meets his patient in this country without his lancet & his calomel, he meets him wholly unarmed. Yet I cannot think it will do to use it in such large doses (to wit scruple doses thrice or more times a day) & so repeatedly. I have a brother in the field who is a follower of Johnson in his practice. He is called great by some because his is rash, not because he is successful.
If you have not read Johnson, you will find it a genuine practical work & I should be glad to have your opinion of the work should you meet with it.
Very respectfully yours, — N. Avery
Please inform me if Doct. Doubleday resumed the practice through necessity? Any information you may gather of the welfare of any of our old friends, please communicate. It gives me pleasure to hear from them.
P. S. Our fall complaints have made their appearance rather earlier than last year. I had several cases of unmanageable Bilious Fever as yearly as the 5th inst. Last year this fever did not appear till sometime the latter part of August.
My family is in good health & Mrs. Avery joins me in respects to your lady. Sincerely, — N. Avery
¹ Joseph Davis (1763-1821) died in New Lebanon, New York. 16 May 1821 Squire Davis of New Lebanon was buried.
² Henry Ward Betts (1789-1827) married Maria Tryon Sheldon on 26 June 1821.
³ Dr. Dwight Wright of New Lebanon, New York, married Polly Platt, of Stephentown on 21 October 1819. Polly died on 17 December 1829.
† Moses Younglove Scott (1795-1826) died unmarried in April 1826 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was the son of Dr. John Walker Scott (1765-1839) and Marcia Younglove (1765-1824). Dr. Avery’s letter suggests that Moses was pursuing a practice in law in Christian County, Kentucky. He had already published a volume of poems in 1819.