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Letter from Sister to John
In 1835, twenty years after John had left his family in New York, he sent a message by a northbound traveler to tell them of his existence. This was the first word they had heard from him in all those years and two letters from his sisters in reply (one below) have been preserved.
New York March 28th 1835
My Dear Brother
So many years have elapsed since we heard from you that we had almost given up all expectation of that pleasure but was very much surprised and gratified today by hearing through a gentleman who has just arrived from the south that you are in health. I have not yet seen the gentleman, therefore have not heard very particularly, but the news of your being alive and well is a great comfort to me. You will no doubt like to know the circumstances of our family. Your mother has been dead rather more than seven years. She died of a prevailing fever on Staten Island. Your father is still alive and is in very good bodily health, but owing to an accident which happened about 10 years since, his scull was broken since which his senses have nearly left. Your brother Silas died about 6 years since, and your sister Sarah about two years ago. The rest of our family, are as far as I am acquainted in health. Some of your brothers and sisters having moved away, I have not heard of them very lately. As our lives are yet spared I hope you will gratify us by letting us as soon as you can hear from you. It was a source of great grief to your mother that you did not write, and many were the bitter tears she shed and anxious hours she passed on your account. My daughter of whom you used to be so fond has also gone. She died nearly eight years since, she left 2 children - one I have with me. I must again charge you to write, and hope you will not disappoint us. Your father is under my special care and is owing to age and infirmaty [sic] entirely helpless. My own health continues good. I now close with wishes for your happiness, in hopes of soon hearing from you.
I remain your affectionate sister