W1026 TO DR. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his sister-in-law Louisa [Lerned] McAllaster
Aug 14 1855
To: Dr. Calvin McQuesten, Hamilton, Canada West [Ontario]
When Howard returned home city last eve from his daily task of distributing papers he handed me a letter for Louisa--I did not even look at the post mark [sic] but broke the seal and such an unexpected sight a draft from Dr. McQuesten!1 Oh! sir, you cannot imagine our surprise as I read over your letter--I did not know she had written you, or even thought of so doing--she had often begged me to write, that we be might kept from [sic]--I did so six weeks since, but had not courage to send the letter and burned it about two hours before the reception of yours--my first thought were "Blefsed [sic] is he that considereth the poor"--yesterday (Monday) I wrote Henry a long letter, telling him all I could portray on paper of our sufferings of the past summer--I never experienced so dark a day--my husband unusually deprefs'd [sic], very poor, almost a skeleton,--weak, yet working all the day--obliged to lie down looking so sad--no word--no smile for even Lucy--constantly wiping his eyes--I felt yesterday my cup was full of sorrow--I feared that my husband was about to give up, & go join his dear Mary!2 In my distrefs [sic], I cried unto the Lord and he heard me--I plead with him for help--I besought him as the Great Treasurer, that he would send us help from some source, my eye pointing to N. H. Osgood who so cruelly robb'd [sic] us--I felt that my prayer would be answered, but not once thought you, dear sir, was to be the Almoner of god's bounty--
We have not prospered in one thing since we left Concord--I murmured [sic]--I complained--now I feel that it is God that is doing this for our good--amid all our disappointments and privations, I have felt none more keenly that the lofs [sic] of a church to attend--We have not been able to attend church only to go from place to place--I know not a Clergyman in the city, Mr. Smith has moved to Buffalo this summer have not attended Church as we are a mile and half and I have not had a bonnet since a year ago last January--Louisa has also been destitute till last week, Mrs. Tilden fixed one for each of us--Mrs. Tilden did not know of our extreme want till Louisa told her then, what a quantity of sugar, coffee, tea, more &c was sent. Oh--I wept aloud, I forgot the instrument I was so grateful to my Father, who has promised the righteous should not be forsaken, nor his seed begging bread--I felt my mother's prayers were many--my sister--my child--all had prayed for me--I have looked to God--have put my trust in him & say,
"Be still sad soul, cease thy repining
"Behind the cloud is the sun still shining"
My dear brother & true friend, let me thank you--I sent your letter into city this morn to Judge Tilden's office for Louisa, but did not have time to write Louisa a word, she may write you also as she is spending a few weeks at East Cleveland--
We are on a farm very pleasant situation--but from our three hundred fruit trees not a plum-sherry-quince-or peach about ten bush--of apples--Yet with the help of such friends as we find, we shall yet see brighter day, I trust--
I sympathise [sic] with you in your sorrow for I know how to weep with the afflicted mother, mentioned you had buried your youngest3--truly the hand of the Lord hath touched you, and you mourn the lofs of your darling boy--God has plucked that lovely bud--he is transplanted in Paradise--What a family of friends you have there--what a joyful meeting! Mother & babe--what a treasure you have left--what a wife--a Christian--surely you have been blefs'd [sic], you are blefsed, and you have the promise that the Lord will deliver you in time of trouble--I had not heard of you lofs [sic] by fire--but would like you to give me the particulars also please let me know about your family, Calvin & the other son4-- What was the matter with you babe?--Louisa had her things all packed to spend two or three days with you last summer but had a chill the day her cousin John Gilmore left--he was going to give her a free pafs [sic]--She was sick all summer--has been well this summer but very low spirited--I presume when she wrote, she informed you our lofs by boarders &c--one reason for our great drawback. Sister Flanders writes they are prospering--have enlarged their house by a back parlor chamber long entry &c--I do not wish my friends to know how much we have suffered--I think Mary never was obliged to live as we have, on indian meal cake & salt & potatoe [sic] & salt--no butter--sugar--no flour( as we have) for weeks & weeks. Now we have vegetables that serves to heighten the taste of our food--
Since L. wrote you our landlord (an old Irishman) has given us notice to leave the premises in three days-- this was Saturday P.M. I felt that I must sink--no home or money to pay the rent which is due monthly--I sent to Judge T. [Tilden] unknown to my husband, and he sent the 18 dollars down to the man who was ashamed enough--he had not even intimated his design, though he asked Hugh if he could him then--his last month's rent--my husband said he must be easy with him---he would pay fast as he could sell his potatoes--no more till the summer came--Alfred is a first rate good boy and takes hold of work like a farmer--his health never so good as steady as a clock--much love to your dear wife & excuse this hasty written [sic] epistle as I must send it to the city this P.M.
With gratitude & respect
your truly obliged friend.
Cleveland Aug 14/55
[P.S] My husband is not at home today
1 Louisa's and Hugh's daughter, Louisa-Jane, had written to Dr. McQuesten approximately one week earlier, describing the family's poverty (W1021).
See footnote 1 in W0889 for a comment on the McAllaster family.
2 The McAllaster's daughter Mary had died in either December 1853 or January 1854, see W1174.
3 Likely David McQuesten, born to Dr. McQuesten's second wife, Estimate R.E. Baldwin. He lived only from November 12, 1849 to December 8, 1854. The cause of his death is uncertain, but he may have died in a housefire.
4 Isaac Baldwin, Dr. Calvin's second surviving son, also born to Estimate R.E. Baldwin.