1863: Adaline Northrop Torrey to Mary W. Rowland

How Ada Torrey might have looked

How Ada Torrey might have looked

This letter was written by Adaline (“Ada”) Northrop Torrey (1840-1886), the daughter of John Torrey (1807-1894) and Rebecca Fuller (1808-1877) of Honesdale, Wayne County, Pennsylvania. Ada’s siblings included Edwin Full Torrey (1832-1924), Caroline (“Caro”) Nichols Torrey (1836-1930), Robert (“Rob”) Nelson Torrey (1838-1887), Henry Fuller Torrey (1842-1934), Thomas Fuller Torrey (1844-1905), John Torrey (1846-1937), and Frances Rebecca Torrey (1850-1944). At the time this letter was written Rob was serving in Co, G of the 141st Pennsylvania. He was married to Elizabeth Dodge Thompson of Port Jervis in February 1864.

Ada wrote the letter to her friend, Mary Wickes Rowland (1838-1910), the daughter of Rev. Henry Augustus Rowland, Jr. (1804-1859) and Harriet (Heyer) Rowland (1810-1891) of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey. In the 1850 Census, the Rowland family was enumerated in Honesdale, Wayne County, Pennsylvania where Mary’s father’s occupation is given as New School Presbyterian Clergyman. Rev. Rowland was pastor at Honesdale from 1843 to 1855 when the family moved to Newark.

Ada’s mother, Rebecca Fuller, was the daughter of Capt. Revilo Fuller and Rebecca Giddings (1769-18xx) of Kent, Connecticut.

Ada married Dr. James A. S. Grant (1840-1896) in 1870. Grant was born at Mayhill, Scotland about the year 1840. He was graduated at the University of Aberdeen and went to Alexandria, Egypt, in 1865. Shortly afterward he went to Cairo. Dr. Grant’s skill as a physician brought him distinction and he was selected as Court Physician with the title of Grant Bey.

1863 Letter

1863 Letter

Addressed to Miss Mary W. Rowland, Newark, New Jersey

Honesdale [Pennsylvania]
October 13th 1863
Election Day

My dear Mary,

You may wonder that I can settle down to writing on this momentous [occasion] for Pennsylvania. Well being a woman with no rights to sing bass or vote, I have to restrain myself & encourage quiet waiting. Really I suppose there is not much doubt of [Andrew G.] Curtin‘s election, only we want a majority as well — a sufficient one to show the feeling of the state.

Rev. Rowland, father of Mary Rowland

Rev. Henry A. Rowland (1804-1859), father of Mary W. Rowland

Everything goes on here in the quiet way except that we get up a little excitement every morning over the beautiful & changing colors of the trees. You cannot imagine how grand the hills are just now while the maples are in their prime.

Oh yes, there is another item in the Sunday School. Mr. Waller has resigned to our satisfaction, and Mr. [Stephen D.] Ward being unceremoniously elected has accepted the position. Mr. [Charles S.] Dunning has volunteered to take Mr. [Stephen D.] Ward’s Bible Class for a little but we all feel that its too much for his throat. But it’s so encouraging to have things take a new start & to have the dull routine varied a little in public exercises. Miles [L. Tracy] is to take charge of the singing & we are to meet him Saturday afternoon in the Lecture Room to practice. I am so glad to have him in the school and he is willing to take a class.

Mr. [Samuel B.] Dalrymple ¹ is a very great sufferer but so patient & cheerful. He cannot live long they think. I do wish you and Anna could be here thro’ this month. I never saw anything more beautiful than the views are from all about.

I suppose you have seen Ella before this & have learned probably more of little items than I could possibly recall to tell you. Really I am ashamed for not writing before but it has been an impossibility.

Lizzie [Waller] was here when your letter came. Two days after she left Maria Fuller came. She only left yesterday, then Mrs. Slosson of Kent & Auntie Fuller were here one week, [my brother] Rob home over one Sunday & Sarah Ireland with us four days before going to Mrs. Denton’s to board. So that since August we have incessant company & house cleaning besides just now. Carrie Kingsbury was here last week too. I forgot her. She has been spending several weeks here & seemed to enjoy it very much.

We had such a nice time with Lizzie. Sarah was here the last week of her visit. We had company one evening; had two brides, a Col. and two other strangers to introduce to everybody & I was entirely muddled before the thing was thro’. Introduced Kate once as Mrs. S____ & Geo. Foster once as Mr. Thompson. Had just said Miss [Elizabeth D.] Thompson & fastened her name on to him to the next one. But it all served to keep people laughing & the “awful pause” at a distance. We had the most beautiful bouquets we have ever had at this season. The hanging basket had flowers, snow balls, Mt. Ash berries, green grapes, & myrtle in it. I never enjoyed arranging flowers so much for I did nothing else to get tired with.

We are enjoying ___ ____ here very much. She is a very sweet girl. The Col. we liked very much. It was pretty hard for him to leave her but she is very brave in her loneliness, tho’ some days sad enough. He is in the 12th Corps, & Frank & Geo. in the 11th which have gone to reinforce Rosecrans. It is really pitiful for Mary. She is moved back to the house and is very miserable just now. If not sooner she will have another care when the baby is about eleven months old. I do think two a year is too bad for a Christian country.

I was glad to know about Mrs. Estabrook & it gratified her. She is quite relieved to hear that Dr. Lorrell is under arrest. Some of his actions have [been] very remarkable certainly.

I had a letter from William Richards from a hospital in Baltimore. He was wounded at Gettysburg in his hip. He wondered if I was sick or had perhaps been taking a companion to myself that I did not write. If the latter, he congratulated me. Wasn’t it comical? It was too thoroughly honest & simple-hearted to be anything but ludicrous. I hope you are not to be shut out of the hospitals entirely.

How sad it is about Mrs. Sayre’s illness. We have just heard from Kent. Aunt Fuller was stricken down [with] paralysis last Sabbath morning — is conscious but speechless & suffers intensely. They think some heart trouble probably. Uncle has been helpless since last February. David’s wife was confined the week before & as they live in the other end of the house it makes it very hard for poor Lavina. Three helpless ones under one roof & only David & Lavina to do everything. Her cup is running over. They have no doctor within several miles & none had reached her mother up to Monday morning. How little we knew the suffering under each morning’s sun. I think mother may have to go on to Kent immediately.

I do wish you could come up this fall but I am afraid it is wasting ink to ever mention it again.

Did you know Mrs. Theo. White had a daughter & Mary Lord a son?

I have just finished Ferdinand & Isabella & am reading Philip 2nd. I never read anything more interesting than this so far. Then I am eager for the Netherlands. Its the compensation for all sorts of forlorn aches & pain to be able to lie still so much & read. I have got a chronically lame back — the seal old lady’s style — but am doctoring severely.

Now do write me soon Mary. Caro is hoping everyday to hear from Anna. She has been thinking of going to Port Jervis but they are repairing their house so she has to wait till another time. Much love to all. If you will come after it, father has a nice box of honey for you.

Good bye, yours — Ada

¹ Rev. Samuel B. Dalrymple was the rector of Grace [Episcopal] Church in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. He was born in 1833 and died on 27 October 1863.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: