Letter from Serene Fosgate Birdsall to Frances Miller Seward, July 7, 1850

  • Posted on: 11 October 2017
  • By: admin
Letter from Serene Fosgate Birdsall to Frances Miller Seward, July 7, 1850



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Distributor:Seward Family Digital Archive

Institution:University of Rochester

Repository:Rare Books and Special Collections


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Letter from Serene Fosgate Birdsall to Frances Miller Seward, July 7, 1850

action: sent

sender: Serene Birdsall
Birth: 1805  Death: 1884-01-19

location: Waterloo, NY

receiver: Frances Seward
Birth: 1805-09-24  Death: 1865-06-21

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: hkl 

revision: msr 2016-11-04

Page 1

Waterloo July 7th 1850
My dear Frances
Long ere


Before; sooner than •
this, I presume you are
quietly settled in your delightful home at Auburn,
which after your long sojourn in the Metropolis you must
be well prepared to enjoy I can truly say I never found
my home so comfortable and faultless as the year fol-
-lowing my return from Washington. Of course I was
not so pleasantly situated there as yourself, as I have
understood you kept house, as we boarded, and I was
most of the time out of health, I was deprived of
many home priveleges necessary to my comfort.
This, together with the few heartless acquaintances
I made, and the unmeaning ceremonies of the city or
rather of the transient society that one is for the time
obliged to endure, made me yearn for my country home.
Strange as it may seem, for some reason I took
so little interest in everything in or about the place
that were it not for the deep impression made by
the disagreeable I should wholly forget I was
ever there for eight long months.
After this preamble my dear Fanny I will
return you my thousand thanks for your thrice

[top Margin] two before-hand. nothing would gratify me more, the
pleasure would be all to me, as I could not make it
agreeable to you any farther than myself is concerned
I have written so long a letter I am ashamed, could write ten
more quite as long for the want of paper I shall be compelled to say only
I am as ever your attached Serene

Page 2

welcome letter, which I trust I have not delayed too
long to be received I am not going to overwhelm you
with apologies-my family cares and the expectation
of being in Auburn some weeks ago prevented my writing
when I wished. I now, hope to see you in the course of
a fornight “face to face” but for fear I may be as
usual disapointed I am determined to tell you this
day your kind remembrance was not thrown away.
In reply dear Frances to your delicate and kind
enquiry as to the welfare of me and mine I can
freely say, that the cause of reserve in me in communicating
my fate to the few I love and the still fewer that love me,
arises more from the fear of untimely intruding my
sorrows upon them, than the w^i^sh to conceal them. I
know that ^the^ very happiest of us have more or less trouble
in this “vale of tears” and those who have a heart to
feel for others woes (and those I love have) I would
rather add to their happiness than to make them for
moment uneasy by thrusting my sorrows in their way-
unasked but you have asked me if it is “any more than
than a friend has a right to claim,” for you to enquire
as to my prospects. I answer, it is just the right a
friend has, which does not belong to acquaintances,
there are precious few that could ask me with impunity
I should know they done it to gratify an idle curiosity
either to weep over my good fortune or exalt in my
misfortune. That you my dear Frances may feel assured
that I have received in all kindness and been grateful
by the interest you express in my childrens
x Birth: 1842  Death: 1917  Birth: 1838  Death: 1907-12  Birth: 1840  Death: 1930-01-01  Birth: 1844  Death: 1894-05-17  Birth: 1836  Death:   Birth: 1837  Death: 1910-07-27 
Page 3

I will frankly tell you my exact condition.
My family now consists of my own children alone.
My husbands
Birth: 1791-05-14 Death: 1872-02-08
first children
are all well provided for, the
three oldest girls are all well married, and the youngest
lives with her sister in Buffalo, Edward is in the treas-
ures office with Ex Gov Young
Birth: 1802-06-12 Death: 1852-04-23
with a salary I think
of $ 9.00 pr annun. but here the good fortune seems to
end. Mr B for the last two years has done but a
very small business. I have six intelligent children
without any disagreeable prodigies, who with common
advantages would probably make good common sense
members of society. Sam is a boy in all respects
after my own heart, he will be fifteen the middle
of this month and will then be prepared in his
studies to enter college, which is now the goal of
all his ambitions and ^but^ one, I must fear he is not
destined to reach. he thinks when he is a little
older and larger in stature, he can accomplish
the matter by teaching school. it is possible he may
I think if a boy is determined to have an education he
generally succeeds. in order to keep my boy at school, I
have for the last two years
taken a class of young misses averaging from 6 to 10 in
number in music and drawing and have made between
4 and 5 hundred dollars. this employment has left me
but two whole days in a week to attend to my family
I do all my wash except my washing. but I find I am
sinking beneath it, it is more than I am able to do.
I feel a great aversion to have my days go into stores
with only education enough to sell tape if they do not
go to school now it is the ^a^ loss felt through life
Page 4

we have here an excellent school but to keep five boys
decently clothed and provided with books cost no small sum
even if the school be free all I want in this world to be
happy is merely sufficient to live comfortably and to ed-
ucate and bring up my little flock as I wish. this
is all my ambition and all I would accept if it was
placed before me. you may well suppos I have but little
time to devote to the proper culture of my children
to refining their minds and directing their taste in
early life agreeable to my desire.
Mr Birdsall talks some of leaving this place for the
far West. I cannot encourage the idea. I think he is
quite too old for any enterprise of this kind. I should
be glad to leave this place. I could never endure it
Is dear Lazette
Birth: 1803-11-01 Death: 1875-10-03
in Auburn I hope if I go there I may
have the good luck to meet her. I can imagine no greater
pleasure than once again to meet you and her with dear
Birth: 1793-05-01 Death: 1862-09-05
though years have elapsed since we have had
any intercourse still I think of you and love you with
all the tenderness and affection I felt for you in
younger and happier days. Remember me to them with
the kindest regards and to your children all Where is your
precious son Augustus
Birth: 1820-05-18 Death: 1889-05-08
. you must have been overwhelmed
to have seen him after so long an absence. I presume Mr
Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10
will soon be home. I watched all his movements
in the Senate during the past winter and sincerely
hope that the poor down trodden Slave may eventually
rejoice through him he seems to be combating
with unequal numbers, as his cause is just it must
prevail. remember me kindly to him.
I have written a long selfish letter, as you called
it out I trust you will excuse it
if I should not go to Auburn do dear Frances write me a long
letter it would be the greatest comfort I could receive. tell me
all about Clary. I should like to have you and her come out
this summer and make me a visit, only let me know a day or