This letter was written by Charles A. Cook (1802-1854), the son of David Cook (1773-1835) and Hanna Riggs (1774-1817). Charles was married 1st to Anna Maria Cook (1804-1844), and 2nd to Maria Laidlie (1807-1856). Charles was the president of the Bank of Geneva in Geneva, Seneca County, New York, for thirteen years.
Charles wrote the letter to his cousin, Charles Axtell (1818-1891), the son of Rev. Henry Axtell (1773-1829) and Hannah Cook (1775-1840). Henry was one of the founders of Geneva College which later changed its name to Hobart College.
When a young man, Charles Axtell went on a whaling voyage into the south Pacific ocean where he met with many thrilling and strange adventures. He was put ashore on alone island where he nearly perished. After returning home he finished his collegiate course, studied theology, was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry in 1852, and continued until 1886, holding pastorates at Greenfield and Galena, Ill., Dubuque, Bellevue and Tipton, Iowa, Xenia, Ohio. He was twice married: (1) to Mary S. Maguire of Indiana, in 1848 (d. Oct.1849); and (2) to Elizabeth M. Campbell of Knightstown, Ind., Nov. 1853. He died at Mankato, Minn., Oct. 31, 1891.
Addressed to Charles Axtell, Esq., Greensburg, [forwarded to Indianapolis], Indiana
Geneva [New York]
January 26, 1847
Mr. Chas. Axtell
My dear Cousin,
Your very kind affectionately candid letter of 10 November last came duly to hand and the response of my heart was to reply at once. Yet over 2 months have elapsed and I have but just begun a letter to you.
You are welcome back to the bosom of the Church of “your Fathers” where I trust you will long enjoy all the light and privileges emanating from the Gospel and a church organization in our fair country ____ed by the fetters so often imposed by “King or Bishop.”
You can have full sco__ for the exercise of your warm and benevolent desires for the welfare of your friends and fellow citizens through the world — without fear of rebuke or dictation, from one who may assume the authority to be your spiritual guide without regard to the dictates of your conscience or your own views of divine truth.
I am glad that the Lord has so soon opened a door of usefulness which you have entered and are seeking by giving instruction to impart to the rising generation literary and religious knowledge to prepare them for usefulness in this life & for happiness for the life to come. You are also called to bear office in the Church of Christ where I trust you will show forth the power of the Gospel and reflect the blessed light which shines upon you from out Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.
You are found also in the Sabbath School, seeking to win to Christ and instruct in the great truths of God’s word those who though now in the morning of life will soon occupy the places of those who are now active upon the great creator of life.
The many labors in which you engaged show that you do not desire or intend to bury your talents. I hope you may receive the blessing of God upon all your labors, to encourage your heart & hand.
Since the receipt of your letter, we have learned of the deep and unusual trial to which the Lord has called you by the death of one whom you began to regard as the person who was to be your companion in the joys and sorrows through this changeful life. I trust your faith does not fail you in this hour. Why has your Heavenly Father ordered it? It seemed good in his sight. May it be sanctified to your good for time and eternity. You can thank God that you mourn not for her, but for yourself & friends. How rapidly the scenes change around us. How rapidly do follow each other, joy and sorrow, health and sickness, prosperity and adversity, hope and fear. But there us a rest to the people of God and you and I may look up and say we have dear friends there and with the grace of God assisting, hope to join them.
We have much regretted to hear of the sickness of your brother, Mr. [George] Hay, ¹ but trust he is quite well by this time. He has had the comfort of a good wife to nurse him for the first time and Harriet has thus early been called to show her patience and good traits in nursing one who was drawn to her than all other earthly objects. May this sickness but tend to cement them still closer in the bonds of affection and husband & wife.
Mary Jane and Harriet will be much surprised to learn that Barbara Black was married a few days since to Mr. Wilder (of the old castle) — a widower. Betsey is much grieved by it and mourns like a woman who had lost a husband.
You have probably learned that Dr. Hay has left us and we have now for our paster Rev’d. William Hogarth, ³ son of Richard Hogarth, late of Geneva. He is an ardent and spiritual man and the people are much pleased with and united in him.
My good wife and son, “Charles A.” are quite well. Henry & Anthony Axtell have severe colds but attend school. Henry Cook is now in the Academy at Canandaigua. My wife and the “boys” (Henry A. is ½ an inch taller than I am) unite in love to you.
I shall be glad to hear from you at any time. Give our love also to Aunt Riggs, Cousins Hannah & Elizabeth, and husbands, and all other friends.
Yours respectfully and affectionately, — C. A. Cook
If you can give me your brother Henry’s address, please write me by first mail and say what it is as I must write him on business.
¹ George Duffield Hay (1797-1851) was married to Charles Extell’s sister, Hannah Harriet Axtell, in May 1846 in Indianapolis where she and her sister, Mary Jane Axtell, worked as teachers in the Indianapolis Female Institute. The sisters opened the school in 1837. Harriet died in October 1849 at the age of 33. Mary Jane died two months later on her way to Florida to visit her brother.
² Mr. Elijah Wilder of Seneca was married to Barbara Black in Geneva by the Rev. Hogarth on 12 January 1847 according to the Geneva Gazette.
³ Rev. William Hogarth (18xx-1887) was the son of Richard and Julia (Seymour) Hogarth. He was pastor of the Presbyterian CHurch in Geneva for eight years. He also held pastorates in Brooklyn and in Detroit.