East Hartford, Connecticut to New York City: circa 1851. Envelope or Cover. Four-page letter with its mailing envelope, circa 1851. The envelope bears a circular East Hartford CT postmark and a circled “PAID 3” handstamp indicating post was prepaid for deliveries up to 3,000 miles. Both are in nice shape. Transcript included.
In this interesting letter from a married woman to her brother, she touches on many things including family, weather, her hopes to purchase a hat and mantilla from a friend in New York who has opened a millinery, a concerning “growth” under one eyelid, but most interesting a recently hired young servant with a fondness for alcohol. HW, who was caring for her mother, had hired the girl as a live-in washerwoman with hopes that she could teach her also to cook and perform other house hold tasks:
“With Mr. W, [I] started for the City, and met Mary on the bridge. She spoke to him, he took her in . . . and got her trunk. I liked the appearance of the girl. . .. The first day she came she done her work very nice, and indeed every day until Monday. We had a small wash I thought I would let her manage herself and not interfere. I should then know how she went on and if she was a good washer. I got the dinner and . . . told her she could come up to her’s when she was ready. She came up but did not appear to be very hungry. She complain of a disiness in her head, previous to that she complained of her wrist and thumb being painful in consequence of a fall she had in January. At three o clock her clothes was not out, but I said nothing I was in the front room about that time, and I heard in the cellar the bottles nock together, and I ran down to see if it was Mr W. and to my surprise I found Mary so intoxicated that she could not walk. She went out doors, and fell down. The man that was working for Mr. W. saw her fall. You don’t know how bad I felt. We had some currant wine, and little cider put into a very retired bin, and very dark, but she found it. I found a pitcher of cider on the table, and I began to look around and I found in the pot room, two bottles of cider, one of wine, now I want you and brother to tell me what you think. If she is not a drunkard do you think she would have found that, and got drunk. I am very much disappointed. I had just begun to think I had got a good girl, and I would learn her to cook and take care of the milk, things that she knew nothing about, so that I could . . . make brother a visit but now I do not see how it will be possible. I shall have no more confidence in her and never dare leave her with Mother. . .. I cannot leave Mother without Mr. W is in the house. I never saw a girl that knew how to do as much as Mary, that was so poor clothed, all very ragged. I hope she will be able to get the washing out in the morning.”. Very good. Item #009429
Depending upon your point of view, a possibly humorous letter that raises the question, why didn’t HW simply fire the young alcoholic servant girl?