1846: Lyndon Arnold Smith, Jr. to Frances Louisa (Griffing) Smith

How Lyndon Arnold Smith might have looked

How Lyndon Arnold Smith, Jr. might have looked

This letter was written by Lyndon Arnold Smith, Jr. (1828-1894) while a student at Williams College. He was a son of Dr. Lyndon A. Smith (1795-1865) — a graduate of Dartmouth College (1817) — and Frances Louisa Griffing. Frances was the daughter of Rev. Edward Dorr Griffing, D. D. — President of Williams College — and Frances Huntington. [Note: Rev. Edward Dorr Griffing routinely signed his name without the final “g” in his surname; he was a descendant of Jasper Griffing (1648-1817), emigrant from Wales, and an early settler in Southold, Long Island.]

Lyndon Smith, Jr. married Margaret Maria Robinson in November 1855 in Newark, New Jersey. They lived for a time in Terre Haute, Indiana, Washington D. C., and then later relocated to St. Louis, Missouri. I believe Professor Lyndon A. Smith was associated with the U. S. Department of Education.

1846 Letter

1846 Letter

Addressed to Mrs. Dr. L. A. Smith, Newark, New Jersey

Williams College
½ Past 2 o’clock PM
January 28, 1846

My dear mother,

Well here am I at last in the “land of my fathers” (and mothers too). I arrived here this morning at 25 minutes of one having been eighteen hours and five minutes on the way from New York via New Haven, Hartford, Springfield, & Pittsfield.

I left Newark “as you possibly remember” at ½ past one o’clock Monday afternoon. Arrived at New York at ¼ past 2. Took a porter to carry my baggage and me down to Peck Slip. Put my baggage on board the boat, got it checked, and then started for No. 124 2d Street. I found Aunt Sarah ¹ sick and had a youngster (not a youngstress) six days old. They seemed so much in disorder and confusion that I thought it would be inconvenient for them that I should stay.

I then came down town again to the United States Hotel (by the way I want you to send me Wednesday or Thursday’s Express, which has my name among the arrivals of the U.S. Hotel. Please don’t fail for I want to see how my name appears in the papers. Did Edwin ² or anyone of you ask the Hon. Caleb Cushing for his autograph for me?) and spoke for a room. Took a walk down Broadway till dark and then returned to my hotel. (The church bell has just begun tolling the age of some person who has just died, — I don’t know who it is that has died.) I retired early and arose on Tuesday morning at 5 o’clock (at least I was awakened by the waiter whom I told to call me in time for the New Haven boat.)

I left New York in the Steamboat Express at ½ past six on Tuesday morning and arrived in New Haven at ½ past eleven. Left New Haven in the cars at ¼ of 12 M. and arrived at Hartford at 7 o’clock & at Springfield at ½ past 3, & at Pittsfield at ½ past 6. The regular stage for Williamstown had left Pittsfield before the cars arrived but as the six of us wanted to reach Williamstown the same night, the tavern keeper offered to carry us for 10p ($1.25). So we though we would rather pay 10 p. and be in Williamstown that night than to stay and pay $1 for supper and room at Pittsfield and then pay a dollar for passage from Pittsfield to Williamstown. We arrived here about ½ past 12 (midnight).

My chum has not arrived yet but I expect him this afternoon. I am all settled calm and prepared for the spring campaign. We came near losing our tutor (H. B. H.) ³ this vacation. He went to New York and entered his name as a Theological student but he came back again in a week on account of ill health. I understand that he is to leave us next commencement.

(25 minutes of 5) My chum has just arrived “safe & sound in mind and body,” as he says. He sends his respects.

I came off and forgot those portraits of Grandpa [Edward Dorr] Griffing and Dr. Eddy. Please send them up to me by all means, by McBridge. He is coming the first of next week.

Mark Hopkins, President of Williams College

Rev. Mark Hopkins, President of Williams College

I called & delivered Pa’s letter to President [Mark] Hopkins and your book to Mrs. Lucy Whitman this morning. Mrs. Whitman was very much obliged.

I wish that you would send the Express & Dailies everyday and don’t forget to send the Express which has my name among the arrivals, &c.

I shall go over to N. Adams if nothing happens on Saturday and when I return, I will write again and tell you all the Adams news.

Till then, adieu. Yours affectionately, — Lyndon A. Smith, Jr.

I send for Pa, as he desires me to, S. Whitman’s receipt as also the term bill. I shall send him the board bill as soon as Loomis (the Steward) comes to Williamstown. If any letters come to me from Washington or any other place, please erase Lyndon the “Newark, N. J.” in the direction and put “Williamstown, Mass” in its place and forward them to me. Please write as soon as you receive this & send the papers everyday.

¹ The identity of this “Aunt Sarah” with a residence at 124 Second Street in New York City is not established. On his father’s side, his uncle was the Rev. Carlos Sanford Smith (1801-1877). Carlos was married to Sarah (Saxton) Smith (1805-18xx) in 1827 but held pastorates in the West, not New York City. The ancestral records on his mother’s side are scanty.

² This is probably a reference to Lyndon’s brother, Edward Dorr Griffing Smith (1826-1878), a graduate of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, who became a physician and practiced medicine in Newark, New Jersey.

³ Henry Brown Hosford (1817-1889), son of Stephen and Amy (Brown) Hosford, graduated from Williams College in 1843. He was Principal of Hopkins Academy, Hadley, Massachusetts, from 1843-4, and tutor at Williams College from 1844-8 where he studied theology with President Hopkins and Dr. Absalom Peters. 

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