This letter was written by 15 year-old Eveline Octavia Hurlbut (1825-1904), the daughter of Ira Hurlbut (1802-1882) and Fanny Rickey (1805-1877). Eveline later (1851) became the second wife of Benjamin Benedict Freeman (1816-1875), the son of John Freeman (1780-1836) and Ruth Benedict (1788-1867). Eveline was born in Benson, Vermont. At age 11, she moved with her family to New York, and three years later to Racine, Wisconsin.
Eveline wrote the letter to her friend, Sarah Artemesia Talcott (1826-1914), the daughter of Wait Talcott. She later married Charles Smith.
Addressed to Miss Sarah A. Tallcott, Fleming, Cayuga County, New York
February 23d 1840
Perhaps you would like to know how the times are in Racine. I received your letter the last week in December but have delayed writing until this time (I must mind my pen or stop; I have minded it with the the scissors). I commenced a letter for you the 25th of January but was interrupted before I finished it. It soon got to be an old story & I thought I would have something new. You had a pleasanter journey than I anticipated — it being so very windy here about that time.
I have given up all hopes of visiting Ohio next spring (what an inconvenient thing it is to be poor). We now think of going on to a farm about 3 miles from here. Oh, won’t it be delightful. Then you can come and make me a real old fashioned visit & I will show you our chicks & ducks & pigs &c. O such nice times. But perhaps you will select a partner for life down there amongst them. To tell the truth, Sarah, I about half suspect that was what you went for. Just let me know if it is so.
I think I have not seen Charles but once since you have been gone. I suppose you know all of the news. Your mother told me a few days since that G— had just written to you so that you know all of the deaths & that dreadful fire. Does it seem possible that Sarah Norton & Dr. Birch are gone — two such healthy looking persons. I can hardly realize that it is so even after attending their funeral. It seems as if I must see them come into church as usual. We have had enough in Racine within three month past to make us all attend to our Eternal interests & not seek for the pleasures of this world any longer.
The Baptist Society have been holding meetings since the 18th of January. The Presbyterians about ten days. There has been a great many immersed. I will name some that you know: Alantro Clark, William Jones, Mrs. Johnson, Mary Ritter, Mrs. Parsons, C. Milligan, Martha Cather, Mrs. Lofflin, H. F. Cox has decided to be a Christian & Mr. Bump, Mary Cary, Mr. Rumsdel, your mother & a great many. I have been halting between two opinion almost persuaded to become a Christian. I shall go tonight & I hope decide. Oh how necessary it is that we should be prepared to leave this world and yet how little so we think on this subject and excuse ourselves from time to time thinking we will attend to it at a more convenient season. soon death will overtake us, prepared or not. It will then be too late to attend to such matters. It is obstinate pride that hold me back from seeking the Lord. I am convinced it is my duty. I believe 3 years ago, if I had have had moral courage enough to come forward and confess Christ before the world, I might have been serving him all this time. But I had not & soon gave up the hope I had then & now I must start just where I left off. I grieved away the Spirit & I feel that I can never have those feelings again until I cast myself at the feet of Jesus.
Dear friend, how is it with you? Are you prepared to leave this world? Is your heart fixed on high? If not, don’t delay — it is dangerous. We may leave this world as suddenly as Mrs. Strong and her babes. Oh that I could feel & realize the danger I am in but I do not or I should have decided before this. But I must stop.
Now Sarah, answer this. Don’t wait as I have done but write as soon as you receive this & let me know how you feel about this great subject. There has been a great deal of sickness this winter but not as much now for two weeks past. I don’t think of any news but that I suppose G— has told you. If you know how well I love cider & apples, you would not like to take the responsibility of eating for me. Tell me whether you intend to come home in the spring. The time this winter has seemed shorter than I anticipated.
The bell is ringing & I must stop & subscribe myself your friend, — Eveline O. Hurlbut