This letter was written by Eliza (Barrington) Cooke (1771-1833), the widow of William Cooke, a merchant who died in 1821 in Charleston, South Carolina. She mentions a daughter “Kate” in the letter which was Catherine Ann Barrington Cooke (b. 1813). Eliza died a few months after writing this letter.
Eliza wrote the letter to her daughter, Maria R. M. Cooke (1804-1863), the wife of George Bradford Gilbert (1794-1872). George was the son of George and Ellen (Pierce) Gilbert of Norwich, Connecticut. At the time this letter was written in March 1833, the Gilbert family resided in New York City and had three children: George Barrington Gilbert (1827-1905), William Robert Gilbert (1828-1908), and Caroline A. Gilbert (1832-1916). The 1850 New YOrk Census says that George B. Gilbert was employed as an accountant.
Addressed to Mrs. Maria R. M. Gilbert, care of Mr. George B. Gilbert, Fulton Insurance Office, New York
March 3rd 1833
My dear Child,
Your esteemed favor I duly received. I thank you for it. I had got very anxious to hear from you. Do write oftener. I am indeed delighted to learn that your health is better and that the winter has been mild and that your dear little ones are well as also Mr. Gibby. This comprises all the family. Well I hope you all may long continue to enjoy this blessing. Kate with myself enjoy good health thanks to our heavenly father. Oh how much does it excite my gratitude when I think how you have all been preserved when you were in the midst of pestilence. Oh let us keep a firm faith and trust in him who is able to save his children under all circumstances no matter how gloomy. His promises are always sure. He changes not. But the wicked he will surely perish.
How glad would I be to see you, my dear Maria, but you know I have not the means to go about. Dear Evy too, I would be glad to go to see her now that I am so near to her. I have been here two months within a few days. I shall soon return to Darien so when you again write, direct as usual to Darien. The Lords — John & Philo were here when I got your letter. They had seen the mention of their father’s death in the paper but had no particular account of his death. I give them you letter to read. They appeared pleased wit the manner in which you mentioned him. I feel much for Mrs. Lord. Do remember me and Kate affectionately to her.
Well. Maria, I suppose you begin to think of moving time again or do you intend to save trouble by being stationary. I know but little of New York, therefore do not know where your residence is. Do give me your street & No. Mr. Hand’s mother and brother from Albany are in Darien. I should like to see you on their return. I suppose they would not stop more than a day and night. Miss Hill is now here. I was very sorry she could tell me nothing of you. She arrived about a fortnight ago. Sophia Cooper and Miss McNeil are with Isabella at this time. She could tell me a little about you but said she saw but one of the children that I believe must have been Robert from what she said. Do write to the boys and urge them to become pious. I do not know what to attribute their slight to me to. James wrote me twice when the cholera was in Philadelphia. It is now a length of time since I have had a line from either of them. Poor fellows; little do they know the anxiety I feel for them and grieve that it is not in my power to serve them in any way. I can only carry them in prayer to the throne of heavenly grace and there leave their care with him who alone is able to direct them.
How is Mrs. Stevens & family? Are they sociable or do they live too distant to visit often. Pray remember me kindly to enquire after me. How is Miss Gilbert? I suppose she visits you sometimes. Give my love to also. You know I think well of her.
My fingers are now so cold that I begin to think that you must now have some cold with you. Today is the first cold day that we have had for some time. If you could have got as far as Charleston this winter, I would have made an exertion to have got that far too. Do try to come to the South if we are spared this next winter. It will do you good, I know. They all say I h___ [paper torn] fatten since I have been in Savannah. Well I don’t doubt it for I have had a very pleasant time. Kate has enjoyed it. Dinner and evening parties. Still I want some quiet time but I won’t say I am tired while I am partaking of so much hospitality. Your Aunt left here a few days after I came. She had been five weeks with William’s wife who has presented the twentieth grandchild to the old lady. Isabella has just called in. She sends a great deal of love to you. So do your other relatives.
I must now conclude and may you and all yours, my dear Maria, be the kind care of oour heavenly father, prays your ever affectionate mother, — Eliza Cooke
P. S. Kate says much love to you, Mr. G., and the dear children. Kiss them over & over again for old grandmother. Isabella leaves this on Thursday to visit Darien and St. Simons with her sister Sophia.