This letter was written by Rev. Charles Seldon Sherman (1804-1876) of Naugatuck, Connecticut, the son of Josiah Sherman (1769-1832) and Hannah Jones (1777-1861). Charles was married first (in 1839) to Martha Esther Williams (1816-1846), the daughter of Cyrus and Martha (Wheeler) Williams. He was married second (in 1847) to Esther Woodbridge Pitkin (1817-1893).
Charles wrote the letter to his brother-in-law, Rev. Isaac Pendleton Langworthy (1806-1889), the son of John Langworthy (1742-1826) and Altana Babcock (1755-1840) of North Stonington, Connecticut. Isaac was married in 1842 to Sarah Williams (1818-1893), the sister of Charles’ first wife.
Charles mentions the upcoming marriage of his sister, Francis Mary Sherman (1817-1856), who married Aaron Buckland Jones on 29 November 1849 in Hartford, Connecticut. He also refers to the “baby” — giving height and weight — which was Richard Sherman (1849-1853), the first child he had with his second wife.
In the letter, Charles informs his brother of his providential good luck in securing a new ministerial position in Naugatuck, Connecticut. He also asks his brother a favor, which is to see if a sea captain at Chelsea might take on a young 16 year-old boy named George Fowler Gardiner (1834-1889). George was the son of Capt. George William Gardiner, Second Artillery, an 1814 graduate of the military academy who was killed in December 1835 during the Dade Massacre near Tampa, Florida. Army reports indicate that Capt. Gardiner was one of the last to fall, pierced by five or six bullets. At the time this letter was written in 1849, George lived with his widowed mother, Frances P. (Fowler) Gardiner (1813-1896) and his grandmother, Fannie Fowler (b. 1789). George was still enumerated in the Naugatuck census of 1850 so it is unclear that he was taken as a sailor.
Addressed to Rev. I. P. Langworthy, Chelsea, Massachusetts
November 9th 1849
Dear Brother Isaac,
I write from this my old home which is very soon to become my new & permanent one, as Providence seems to tell me. I have preached here three Sabbath’s since my return from Westminster commencing the Sabbath after Mr. Teale was dismissed. Though there was not a little hard feeling existing between the members on the occasion of Mr. T’s leaving, from the friendship felt towards him, there seems to be now harmony. They have been unanimous & strong in their solicitation for my settlement. Finding them so united & cordial towards me & the prospects so flattering for growth in the village, having also a parsonage ready for occupancy, & pledges of support, I have accepted a call from them to become their pastor & am to be installed, Providence permitting, week after next, 21st inst. My family are still in Manchester & will expect to join me the Monday previous to installation. I have just got my goods moved from New Britain & expect them by the same car in which they were then loaded at noon today, & brought it to within 60 feet of my house.
I have heard nothing from Westminster since leaving there nor did I expect to hear again, tho’ Sabbath’s being so unfavorable & stormy during my stay there, & other things looking to me rather forbidding. I am exceedingly pleased with the course things have taken with reference to my resettlement & cannot but see the good hand of the Lord in it all. I feel that I have been kindly & generously led & have had a new proof of the blessedness of trusting in him.
I left New Britain without any place which I could regard as my probable home, but feeling just as satisfied as I knew certainly of one. The duty was plain of my leaving New Britain & the rest I put upon trust. I have lain by but one Sabbath since my leaving there & have had one Sabbath given me — that is one in which I received compensation in two places. I now give up two before my settlement for the benefit of a poor brother minister out of employ & with a large family in this place. Freely I have received, freely I ought to give. My prospects as regards a home & field of labor are at present more grateful to my feelings than any I have every enjoyed in other places. I hope I may be blest in leading many to Christ. Pray that I may.
I have now a special errand to lay before you in behalf of a youth here for whom his friends have been quite urgent I should make inquiries, leaving of your position in relation to finding a berth for him in a vessel. He is grandson of the woman with whom I have always boarded here, both she & her daughter, the boys mother, are widows. His father (Capt. Gardiner) was massacred in the Florida wars. This son, George, is a youth of 16, naturally smart, of a robust frame, has wanted greatly the tuition of a father & is beyond the government of his female guardians. He is just at an age & in circumstances to have his character bent for life, & wants a vigorous hand, or a place where subjection will be demanded to save him. I know not that he is addicted as yet to any profligate habits, but left to run his own course another year, probably will be. His mother is a woman of intelligence & refinement, a member of the Episcopal Church & I believe a truly pious person. George would be willing to enlist as a sailor & if he could be got into the hands of a sea captain who had Christian principle & decision (all sea captains have the latter) so that he would not be allowed to run at large in port, all think it would be the very best place that could be provided for him.
Now, among your acquaintance of this class, could you not learn of a place for him & write me particulars, of time, circumstances, credentials, & so on? Of course it would be premature to make any engagements, but I think arrangements could be made if opportunity offers without much delay to have him go. You will confer a favor on anxious friends, besides be befriending the boy himself, if you could interest yourself a little in his case, & obtain the needful information. They are looking eagerly to the result of this inquiry.
Am sorry I did not have the pleasure of meeting you & Sarah on my visit to Chelsea. Was glad, however, to learn through Mother Williams you were so well sustained under your some bereavement. The Lord add bountifully his grace, that your comfort may abound in this twofold & heavy trial. Bro. Thompson has experienced a like one, having lost recently two of his children — the eldest & youngest. When he wrote me, his remaining one was lying dangerously ill.
Please say to Grandpa that if he is coming this way anytime within a month or more, we should consider it a great favor if he would bring Sarah with him & let us see them both in Nangatuck. You may have learned Mary is to be married about Thanksgiving time. Any time after that Sarah might come on, or if more convenient to Mr. Williams, before. Esther would send love if here. Saw her & children last week. All well. Baby [Richard] grows finely. Is now 5½ inches & weighs 19 lbs. Mary’s friend I meant to say is Mr. Jones of Manchester — a cousin of ours.
Give a great deal of love to all from me & write me to this place as soon as convenient. I expect to be here till Wednesday or Thursday of next week, then go to Manchester & bring Esther & children the following Monday.
Ever & very affectionately, — Charles