This letter was written by Mellis S. Tilton (1810-1891), the son of William Tilton (1778-1819) and Catherine Mellis (1771-1843). Mellis was married to Rachel Cook (1811-1886) in February 1835. The 1837 New York City Directory has Mellis S. Tilton identified as a “clothier” at 78 Cherry Street and a residence at 183 Henry Street. The 1850 Census has Mellis S. Tilton enumerated in New Rochelle, Westchester County, New York and laboring as a farmer. In 1860, he is enumerated in Harrison, Westchester County, New York, still laboring as a farmer. They later relocated to New Jersey. Mellis and Rachel were prominent in the Quaker faith.
Mellis wrote the letter to his oldest son, William Tilton (1836-1915). Their other sons were named Thomas Tilton (1840-1843), and Edward Tilton (1843-1864). During the Civil War, William Tilton worked as a salesman in New York City. He married Sarah Sherwood (1845-1918) in 1873 and relocated to Eatonville, Monmouth County, New Jersey, where he was employed as a commercial salesman.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Addressed to William Tilton, Care of John M. Davies & Co., 22 Warren Street, NYC
Harrison [New York]
9 mo. [September] 1st, 1861
First day, 3 P.M.
My Dear Son William,
What a beautiful day we have! The air is so clear and bracing and the sun shines so delightfully. We all attended meeting this morning and heard most excellent preaching from Daniel H. Griffen ¹ of Amawalk. We have dined and I will devote a little time to writing thee a letter. Thy slip of paper and the samples of sugar were received in Aunt Sarah’s letter to Aunt E. I will request thee to please purchase for us 28 lbs. of the dark brown at 7½ cts & 4 lbs. light now at 9 cts. and 7 lbs. of the white — or nearly white — at 10½ cts. and have them sent on board ship Jas. H. Holdane, Capt. [Thomas] Bird, for Port Chester, foot of Pike Street on 4th day next marked M. S. Tilton, Harrison. The sloop leaves on fifth day morning.
I also want thee to supply thyself with two gold dollars from bank or elsewhere and bring them up with thee when thee comes to Harrison. I will give thee silver or paper for them. I want to remit them to Aunt Gulie for a subscription to the Intelligencer which she has paid for me. I expected when I got her to pay it to have sent the money on by Aunt Ann Eliza, but she returned to Philadelphia direct from S____ upon hearing that H. Grew & wife had left; and we are therefore disappointed in receiving a visit from her.
One other item of business. Say to thy brother Edward, David R. Field wants him to send him by thee, when thee comes up, a box (1,000) of percussion caps. Ned told D. R. F. he could furnish him with a thousand cheap. He wants them to fit the gun Ned had of his.
Tell Aunt Satah the little Brown girl was very low until 7th day when she began to revive a little, and last night was more comfortable than she has been since she was taken sick.
Richard S. Collins has been absent from home lately as companion to David Lane, who has, after attending Nine Partner’s Quarterly Meeting, visited the families of Amawalk and Purchase Monthly Meetings.
William Sherwood has been absent a week on business in Hamilton County; returning yesterday. Rachel has been confined to her room nearly two weeks with something like a carbuncle on her foot.
I am expecting to work pretty hard for the next four weeks, digging potatoes, and getting my winter grass sowed, corn cut up, &c.
The potatoes turn out rather larger than I expected they would after so much dry weather. A little farther north of us, they had fine rains, and their potatoes grew larger, but I hear from the Captain of the sloop they are rotting badly so thee sees the thorns and the roses continue to grow together. I have not seen any rotten ones amongst mine yet.
Our maid leaves us tomorrow to go to Oliver Mathews. We hope she will suit them.
Thy Aunt Sarah and the young men made us a very nice visit and we enjoyed it very much. We wished several times for thy company to complete the little family circle.
I think thee must find it very pleasant walking to Rutherford Place Meeting today. We sent all thy Intelligencers to thee by Aunt Sarah up to 8 mo. 24th inclusive.
I have been out to take a walk since I commenced my letter. The top of the ground is quite dry again and although it looks green, it does not afford much pasture. I have to feed the cows plentifully with green corn every evening.
Thy mother’s eyes trouble her again. I have this afternoon applied the iodine to them as directed, and we will give it a trial. If they do not improve in a few days, I will have the advice of a physician who can see mother and if he thinks it proceeds from the liver, she can use Dr. Hyslop’s prescriptive.
Tell Aunt Sarah her letter was quite interesting to us all — particularly her visit to the doctor’s. We hope her finger will improve under the new treatment. When thee writes, let us know about Thomas’ visit to his father at Hudson.
Aunt E. bids me say, when any of you write, inform her if Thomas collected the interest money on their mortgages and she wants thee to please bring it up when thee comes. She desires her love to you all and is obliged to Aunt Sarah for her letter and will try and answer it soon. She says please remind Thomas about my merino dress.
With much love to you all in which thy mother unites, I remain as ever thy affectionate father, — Mellis S. Tilton
2d day morning
P. S. Tell Thomas & Edward our friend “Little David” has gone to the Colored Asylum in New York. We quite miss him from the stone wall opposite. Pat White has come to help me dig potatoes; Little Pat
¹ Daniel H. Griffen (1811-1891) is buried in the Amawalk Quaker Burial Grounds in Westchester County, New York. He was married in September 1831 to Amy Walters Carpenter (1812-1890).
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Addressed to William Tilton, Care of John M. Davies & Co., 22 Warren Street, New York
March 13, 1862
5th Day, 3 P.M.
Dear Son William,
We are invited to tea this afternoon at Albert Sutton’s and before going feel it best to send you a few lines to inform you that we are both well.
We received thy affectionate and interesting letter yesterday and read it with much satisfaction. We do not feel thy love any lessened for us of latter times. As I think thee has thyself expressed it, “the supply of true love is all sufficient for everyone os us to bestow it without measure upon our fellow creatures and when a new channel opens for it, there is no need for any of the old ones to dry up or sustain any loss.”
As to the telescope, I have nothing to offer as an objection. We have no need of the kind assistance this year, in prospects, but are thankful for thy interest, and kind enquiry. In purchasing, if $15 would procure one of one-yhird greater magnifying power than $10, I should want it, and I would not sacrifice that power for the sake of having a small instrument for the pocket. B. Pike & Sons ¹ are No. 1 Opticians but I think they ask high prices. I enclose thee an advertisement of Semmens & Co. under La Farge House, Broadway. We are 12 miles from that part of the Sound where the vessels pass going up and down, and it would be interesting to be able to see persons on board & read the names on large steamers.
I believe I send word I would purchase the tea when I go to the City next month. I want fifteen postage envelopes (buff). I bought the last at the P.O. on Nassau Street, Winden 15 for 48 cents or 3 1/5 cts. apiece. Please have them ready for me when I get to Aunt Sarah’s and also put Aunt E. in mind of a Friend’s Almanac for the same time. Meeting for Sufferings will come on the 7th of next month.
I wish to pay the note thee holds of mine for thirty odd dollars so that thee can have the money to deposit the 1st of 4th Month [April]. I have the money and forgot yesterday when Joshua Sutton was here to give it to him for thee. Please say when thee writes whether my interest money will be paid time enough for thee to deposit. It is due, I think (the Dutchman’s) the latter part of this month. Mother would like to accompany me to the City and if thee does not come up before this, perhaps thee can pay ½ of her expenses (fare). We have many expenses & must be economical.
I received a very interesting letter from one of our members today. He is in the 36th Regiment Illinois Volunteers. He has lost sight of the important testimony we hear against war but his heart appears to overflow with patriotism and devotion to his country. To the natural man it appears a beautiful effusion of candor and love of country but to one “born of the spirit,” it must appear in a different light. He ends, “In conclusion, wishing and hoping for a speedy termination of the present sad state of affairs, please accept the kindest regards and well wishes of your sincere friend, — David G. Cromwell.² To Elnathan Carpenter and Mellis S. Tilton.” He is a son of William Cromwell and lost a brother at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek when Gen. Lyon was killed.
Tell thy brother Edward we have not been near the scarlet fever since 3d day afternoon and there are no new cases in our neighborhood that we knew of, not nearer than King Street.
I expect to go to Darien by railroad on 2d day next (passage paid) to see about the Meeting House property. B. Fitch has backed down.
Tell Aunt my next epistle I intend shall be addressed to one of them. Do not forget to have the plain envelopes thee wrote thee had purchased ready for me.With love to all, in haste, farewell. From they ever affectionate father, — M. S. Tilton
¹ The partnership of Benjamin Pike & Sons operated in New York City from 1841 to 1867. The partnership from 1841 to 1843 consisted of Benjamin Pike, Sr., Benjamin Pike, Jr. and Daniel Pike. In 1843 Benjamin Pike, Jr. established his own business. From 1844 to 1849 Benjamin, Sr. and son Daniel were in partnership as Benjamin Pike & Son. From 1850 to 1863 the partnership of Benjamin Pike & Sons consisted of Benjamin Sr., Daniel and Gardiner Pike. After the death of Benjamin Pike, Sr. in 1863, his sons Daniel and Gardiner continued the business under the name of Benjamin Pike & Sons until 1867.
² David G. Cromwell (1833-1897) resided in Little Rock, Kendall County, Illinois. In the 1860 Census, he is enumerated as the head of his household. Residing with him was his father, William Cromwell (b. 1802), his brother John Cromwell (b. 1840), and his wife Jane (Janette K. Hunter) and two young sons, William and Oliver. David enlisted as a corporal in Co. E, 36th Illinois Infantry on 20 August 1861.