This letter was written by Susan Ward (Miles) Swift (1814-1881), the wife of Milton H. Swift (1815-1886) of Ottawa, Illinois. Susan was the daughter of George Miles (17xx-1820) and Sarah Brown Blagge (1789-1842).
Milton H. Swift was from New Preston, Connecticut, and came to Ottawa in 1838. He was a lawyer by profession, but devoted his life mostly to financial pursuits. He was for several years President of the First National Bank of Ottawa and the Mayor of Ottawa.
Susan mentions her Aunt Elisa which was Elizabeth Jarvis Hall (Blagge) Caldwell (1800-1875), the widow of Charles Henry Caldwell (1793-1831) of the United States Navy who died at sea in 1831. Elisa’s sister, Susan Magee (Hall) Blagge (1798-1823) was Charles Hall’s first wife but after her death in 1823, Charles married Elisa. Charles Henry Bromedge Caldwell (1823-1877) was Susan’s son. He was married to Judith Emmeline Parker (1823-1881) about 1843.
Addressed to Milton H. Swift, Esq., Care of Dr. Johnson Hatch, Kent, Litchfield County, Connecticut
Ottawa, [La Salle County, Illinois]
June 25th 1848
My Dear Husband,
I wrote you a very long letter a few days since and trust you will receive it soon. Sent it to Kent as you desired. Your mother also wrote in the same envelope. I forgot to answer your question which you asked in the letter before the last about what was best to get for your mother. Indeed, I hardly know, but think a pretty fall or winter dress would be very acceptable. I have not said anything to her about it. She has bo handsome dress except her brown silk which has been in wear for some years and her black alpaca is beginning to look rather worn. You had better get what you think she would like for you know better than I do which would please her the most. I cannot think of anything but a dress that I think she needs more than anything else. If you get me a muslin, will you get a white ground and light pink stripe or figure and if you can spare the money will you get me a dark green parasol. You can get one much cheaper in New York or Boston than here. Do not get it if you cannot conveniently spare the money. I need one much — the sun is so powerful, but would rather not have it if you feel you cannot afford it.
If you go to Boston, will you ask Cousin Fitz [James Price] if he will tell you how much Mother’s estate is now indebted. I should be glad to know. I told you in my last where to find him and he will direct you where to find my other relatives or go with you to see them. Among those I wish you to become acquainted with besides the relations, I wish you particularly to see the Haskins and Parker’s. Also Judith — Charles Henry’s wife. We all think so much of him and love Judith also. She is a dear little creature. I think you will like Rebecca Haskins and her mother. I do hope you will see all I have mentioned in both my letters. I am anxious to have you know my relatives and most intimate friends and hope you will know in what estimation I am held by them. I hope Aunt Elisa (Charles Henry’s Mother) will be in Boston. I should like to have you know her. She is a noble hearted woman.
We are getting on well. Your mother is better. I think, dearest, you will be a little disappointed in regard to the future prospect of being a Father tho’ I fervently trust not. There is no such prospect now, at any rate. I dream of you very often and sometimes in the morning when I wake, can scarcely realize you are not by my side. Oh, how much I wish to see you once more and earnestly trust you will return entirely restored to health, I have written to Cousin Fitz and asked him to show you the papers relating to the Mexican claims. Also to introduce you to Mr. George [Stillman] Hillard.¹ I am anxious to have you know him. It may be of advantage to you in future. He is one of the most talented men, and first lawyers in Boston, and there is no one more highly esteemed and respected. He will probably introduce you to Mr. Charles Sumner and other lawyers with whom he is intimate.
The garden looks well. There are about 25 new plants from the Hovey’s seedling and about as many from the Cincinnata strawberries. The grapes look well. There are about 16 besides the large one. Altogether I think you will be pleased with the appearance of things. I have spared no pains to keep my part looking well and your mother has been untiring with hers. The tomatoes and melons look finely. I sent Mrs. Wade peas on the 8th of June a week before hers were ready to pick. Mr. Wade has both his let. He has not returned from Lake Superior. He came near being drowned before he left the Soult Ste. Marie for Copper Harbor. Mr. Shorewood is expected to return with him. Mr. Ryan has gone to New York. Almost all our friends are either going or gone. [Burton C.] Cook ² left last week to be married and Mr. [Joseph O.] Glover ³ leaves tomorrow. John Hoes † has gone to Galena and Ringwood. The land sale commences the first day of September at Chicago and continues down till all disposed of.
With much love and prayers for your good health and safe return. Your ever affectionate and faithful wife, — Sue
If your mother knew I was writing, she would send love. She is much better except the trouble with her pipes which keep her hoarse. I blotted this after it was written and thought best to send it. You must excuse the untidiness of the letter.
Catherine is well. Often speaks of you and is glad when a letter comes. She is a good girl and I am getting attached to her.
¹ George Stillman Hillard (1808–1879) was an American lawyer and author. Besides developing his Boston legal practice (with Charles Sumner as a partner), he served in the Massachusetts legislature, edited several Boston journals, and wrote on literature, politics and travel.
² Burton C. Cook was elected States’ Attorney for the 9th Judicial Circuit in 1846; the circuit embraced the counties of La Salle, Grundy, Kendall, Kane, De Kalb, Ogle, Bureau, Putnam, Stark, Peoria, and Marshall; after two years’ service he was again elected for four years; in 1852, he was elected to the State Senate and re-elected in 1856; he was a member of the peace conference in 1861, and was elected to Congress in 1864-66-68 and 1870, and resigned in 1871, since which time he has been solicitor for the Chicago & North-Western Railway Company, and has resided in Chicago. Cook married Elizabeth Hart, daughter of Hon. Onis Hart, of Oswego, New York.
³ Joseph O. Glover came to Ottawa from Oswego, New York, in 1835; held the office of Justice of the Peace and was admitted to the bar in 1840, and with B. C. Cook, under the firm name of Glover & Cook, constituted one of the leading law firms of the county for twenty-five years; in 1869 he was appointed U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and removed to Chicago. He married Janette Hart.
† John V. A. Hoes came to Ottawa from Kinderhook, N. Y., in 1836. A lawyer by profession, he practiced for several years, but has devoted his time mostly to financial affairs and real estate; he was Judge of Probate from October, 1837, to August, 1843. He married Fanny Reynolds of McHenry County, Illinois.