This letter was written by J. W. Elliot to his estranged wife, Zilpha (Torrey) Elliot 1810-1898). It is believed Zilpha was the daughter of Capt. Caleb Torrey (1787-1869) and Clemancy Hamilton (1792-1886) of Wyoming, Wyoming County, New York. Presumably after a divorce, Zilpha took Enos Dexter Gould (1817-1892) as her second husband.
I could find no additional information regarding J. W. Elliot — if that is indeed his signature. We learn from the letter that Elliot and his wife have been living separately for at least three years and that she has returned to her father’s household with one of more children to reside. He says he regrets leaving the children but that her conduct drove him away from his family.
Addressed to Capt. C. Torrey, Wyoming, Wyoming Co., New York
Moline, Rock Island Co., Illinois
April 12th 1847
With due respect do I sit down to answer your letter. I did think I need would write you, but thought that some future time of seeing you & could better tell you my mind than I could in a letter. But as you have written me, I will reply in short & hope not to hurt your feelings for God knows I wish you well.
After I left Wyoming, I traveled 3 years for my health. I had the dyspepsia & liver complaint & could barely earn enough to bear my expenses by working winters & peddling summers. But I can say I think by so doing, I have gained my health. I now am in Moline to work at my trade which will barely support me had I not received help from friends. My future prospects would appear ______. I have been started in business & hope by energy & good health to gain a decent livelihood. My health has been poor until quite recent but am able now to work.
You ask me to send you some money. If I could do it, I would but it would be impossible. Your father owes me 150 dollars from ___ & 150 dollars cash lent besides many other accounts. I shall not mention adding the interest to 300 dollars for 8 years would make 500 dollars. I will [give] you 300 of that & the remainder for _______. Your feelings I see are tender towards the children & should be so. Never did a father leave a child with deeper regret that I when I left Wyoming. Yes, the God of Heaven knows it’s true & never should I left had you treated me as I thought you ought. You appeared to court your father’s friendship more than mine. You know when I asked him to secure me of what he owed me — & it was all I had in the world — you thought I was hard & had better lose it than say much about it. You declined asking him for me & if you had pressed the subject & stood by me rather than him, we should never [have] witnessed what has followed.
I wished to leave & board out but you would not go. I was heart broken. And you disobeyed the command of God first in not forsaking father, mother & all & cleve unto your husband. You forsook me first & I was drawn to desperation. I do not say this to afflict you. No, far from it. You have a tender heart but you have erred in judgment in not following my advice & by so doing, you have brought all this evil upon yourself. Reflect & see if before God you can say you have always studied my happiness.
From once your loving husband, but now driven away by your own conduct, — J. W. Elliot