This letter was written by Alexander C. Watrous (1821-1914), the son of Pomeroy Watrous (1785-1860) and Ethelinda Hurd (1788-1865). Pomeroy Watrous operated a grist and sawmill in Chester, Connecticut, where the “Brushmill by the Waterfall” restaurant is located today. Alexander married Amanda Whitfield Bowne a few years after this letter was written. An on-line biography of Alexander C. Watrous follows:
Alexander C. Watrous of Atlantic Highlands died Friday afternoon of gangrene. Mr. Watrous was 93 years old. His health had been feeble, but he had been able to be up and about until three weeks before his death. The funeral was held Sunday afternoon and the burial was at Fairview cemetery. The sermon was preached by Rev. Frank Shermer. Mr. Watrous was born at Chester Connecticut. He moved to New Monmouth in 1853. He was a school teacher and taught at New Monmouth, Middletown, Navesink and Englishtown. After some years he gave up school teaching and bought what is now the Price farm on the Chapel Hill road. For several years he conducted a store at Chapel Hill. He retired from active life about 22 years ago and moved to Atlantic Highlands, where he had since lived. Mr. Watrous leaves a widow and four children. The children are Miss Blanche Watrous of Atlantic Highlands, Cornelius Watrous of Red Bank and Mrs. F. H. Warrlow and Samuel Watrous of Brooklyn. He also leaves a sister, Mrs. Emily Gorham of Chester Connecticut. [Source: Red Bank Register, Wednesday, August 19, 1914]
Alexander wrote the letter to his sister Emily R. Watrous (1829-1925). Emily married Rev. George W. Gorham (1820-1875) in 1853. Rev. Gorham served as a chaplain of the 46th Massachusetts Infantry and the 2d Massachusetts Cavalry during the Civil War.
Addressed to Miss Emily R. Watrous, Chester Connecticut
English Town [New Jersey]
January 24th 1853
Dear Sister Emily,
After delating for a long time to write to you feeling confident you would excuse my neglect knowing you are ready to look over my faults knowing one of my faults is to put off to morrow what ought to have been done today.
My health is better than it was last fall. I still continue to teach at the old place. My school is large when the weather is pleasant & the walking good. In the summer most of my school is made up of girls. My school this winter is made up of boys. Some pleasant days I will have about twenty girls & 36 boys. I have a number of large boys but get along with them very well. I do not go out much nights though once or twice a week when the moon shines bright and the walking good.
I have no relation to visit about here & when I see those about here visiting their friends & enjoying themselves in having a social party, I then think of my friends who are far away. The people here think a great deal of their relations but treat strangers rather coldly. After all, I enjoy myself very well. I have a good boarding place & have a fire in the sitting room all the time I am at home. I have plenty of papers & books to read & segars to smoke & an old maid to kiss to say nothing of nuts, apples &c. My supper tonight was composed of beef, baked apples, honey, & good bread & cake.
I expect you have fine times this winter riding about in the sleigh. That is pleasant when the weather is fine & not very cold. We have had about a week poor sleighing & the way the bells rattled was not very slow. If it is not first rate, they can get along with speed for most all about here drive a span of stout horses & you know that a span of stout horses can take two persons along in a sleigh with speed if the ground is bare by spurts.
Will, I expect, is in Chester. He got along very well with his school & I think will make a good teacher. I think it was a good school to him in coming out to Jersey. I expect you have Elizabeth’s company — I should have said sister Elizabeth. When I look back, it seems but yesterday when I was a boy playing with my schoolmates or sliding down the hill by the barn. Where are my schoolmates now? Can I find them in Chester? Alas, how few remain there. A number of them sleep the long sleep of death that knows no waking till the judgement. Mortal man has his appointed destiny to fulfill. His life is a life of toil. When idle, he longs for something to do and is not satisfied to eat the bread of idleness. Let me labor as long as I live rather with mind or box. if at all, it must be with my mind for my bodily powers weak. I find mankind are a selfish set. All are looking out for themselves. They do not stop in their pursuit for gain to ask themselves whether others are injured in their business transactions if they can make money by the operations.
But enough of this. Your brother, — A. C. Watrous
N. B. My respects to Father & Mother, Sisters & Brothers, Friends, &c.