1855: Matthew Lyttleton Jones to Jane Baker Jones

This letter was written by Mathias (“Matthew”) Lyttleton Jones (1835-1914), the son of Dr. William Lyttleton Jones (1798-1857) and Eliza Baker of Natchez, Adams county, Mississippi — formerly of Maryland. He wrote the letter to his sister, Jane Baker Jones (1834-18xx). She married Rev. John Holmes Converse (1837-1904) in October 1868.

Matthew died in Philadelphia on 30 September 1914. His death record indicates that he died single and that his occupation had been a “mechanic.”


Addressed to Miss Jane B. Jones, Care of Dr. Wm. L. Jones, Natchez, Mississippi

Brooklyn, Long Island
May 21st 1855

Sweetest Sister Jane,

You must not think that because of my long silence that my love to you and all at home has in the least diminished. On the contrary, I may say with great emphasis, “though lost to sight, to memory deaf.” I received a letter from Father and Mother this morning and also a “Courier.” I also received on Saturday a long and interesting letter from Uncle Henry but you shall hear more of that hereafter.

I begin to answer your letters from yours of September 4th, received September 15th, in which as usual the very unwelcome fact on the first page of “we have not received a letter from you for so long &c.” greets my sight. Well, you there mention that as to the cause of my not writing for so long, that you suspect that I am enjoying my trip to Branton so much that I can not spare a moment to write home. Sweet sister! how sorry I am that you were so very much mistaken in your conjectures, for at that time I was in the hot city almost melting under the influence of the sun. That summer I was allowed but one week’s holiday and that was spent in the early part of June on the Eastern Shore. I really hope to get more this summer in order to enable me to take a trip to Boston, Portland, Chicago, or wherever I may list. I believe I enclosed a note from you to Mrs. Cannon sometime since having been forgotten by me to be delivered, did I not? I sent to Father on Saturday the “Commercial” and today the “Sunday Times” which I suppose will have been received by the time this letter is.

Your next letter is dated the 10th October which was received on the 19th and of course upon opening it, find the same intelligence conveyed to me in the first lines, which I have read, reread, and reread so often. However, it is just what I might expect. Now dear sister, just picture to yourself your very affectionate brother with his writing materials in the fourth story, left hand, front room of his boarding house situated at No. 81 Sands Street, Brooklyn, L. I., N.Y., U.S. Western Hemisphere and the Globe, in a pleasant location and neighborhood with the other boarders (board-ers) walking about being such a pleasant night and the city cars passing all the time giving a pleasant contrast to the street, but myself locked up in my room to prevent an intrusion, writing letters to his home in the far South and to his very dear and devoted sister. And upon opening some half dozen or more letters which have accumulated upon his hands until the news in them and the answers which are required to be made to some of the inquiries are stale — that he finds in every one of them, “Why do you not write oftener?” “We have not received a letter from you for three weeks” &c. Now really, dearest sister, do you not think it is enough to worry anyone? and just fancy yourself in my situation for awhile — but you cannot, for ladies have the whole day to write and can write when they please, where they please, what they please, and to whom they please. I hope that the next letters will not open with such a volley of invectives and really, if they do, I shall almost be tempted not to peruse them.

Next comes one fourth of a letter written upon the same sheet as Mother’s, and bearing date the 30th October, received on the 10th November in which you mention that as Miss Pickering seemed to have taken my heart, that I have forgotten Mary D. but I can not say that I have forgotten M.D. and I would like very much to receive her answer to your letter concerning that affair, verbatim, which you promised me in your last. As for Miss Pickering, I can say without the least egotism or vanity that she was very fond of me, which I could easily tell by the way in which she conducted herself in my presence, and by seeking me, when I returned from the store to play cards &c. But much to my regret, her father left Mrs. Stanton’s and removed father uptown since which I have neither seen or heard of her and as absence conquers love (in some cases), I suppose I shall not think much of her hereafter.

Your next letter is dated November 26th (and received on the 7th December) from Monclova where you were spending a few days or weeks at Miss Sarah Cooper’s. I could not help being amused after reading this letter by your saying that I am an early bird if I get my breakfast at 6½ o’clock and advising me to make good use of my time when I get down to the store so early, and in the same sentence you mention of your remaining in bed until 9 & sometimes almost 10 o’clock, and in the country at that. And I can not help thinking of the boy when his mother is going to wake him, says “Come, Sam, come, it’s time to get up, don’t you know that it’s the early bird that catches the worm” and the boy merely turning over says, “Serves him (the worm) right for being up so early.”

You ask me why should I be so much disappointed if the report of cousin A.V.’s being engaged to the Rev. Mr. Carson should prove true. We you must agree with me that cousin A.V. is certainly one of the sweetest and loveliest young ladies that we have ever met with and that the family is altogether a very happy and interesting one, and do you not think that if I was older and abler, that I would make her a nearer relation? I leave this to your own candid judgement although “while there’s life, there’s hope.” Still I do not depend upon ever leading to the altar her, the cherished object of my love, but most certainly would I consider it a very great privilege to see as much of her company and to be with her as long as I could before her marriage, after which it is quite a different thing altogether. When did you last hear from cousin A.V.? Lou, Hattie, Anna & Ma___ &c. Give my best love when next you write to them and do not fail to send me Mary D.’s answer.

I received a letter from Payne last week but he could give me no plausible excuse for not answering my letters other than he was too lazy (although he did not exactly say so). He returns home in June or July. I wrote him in reference to our mutual friend Hunter who I sincerely hope & trust has gone to a better world, but oh! I fear the worst.

You ask me how flourishes my mustache and I would say that I shave three times a week now and after the first of June intend shaving my upper lip every day until the Fourth of July and will then let it grow until the middle of August or there about. Louis Evans, whom I have frequently met on Fifth Avenue, N. Y. , has quite a fine mustache! As I do not wish to renew his acquaintance, I pass him as if I never knew him and “vice versa.” I think Mother told me he was engaged to a young lady in Virginia. I suppose Sister Anna has received my letter in answer to hers by this time. I will attend to sister Mary’s letter shortly.

I think that Mrs. Henry truly deserves to be sympathized with and indeed, it seems as if misfortune had marked her for its own. Kip Elizabeth is the only child she has now, is it not? Uncle Charles, Aunt Elizabeth & one of Uncle Charles’ sisters (I do not know whether it is Aunt R. O. S. or who) have been on here and to Boston the past week but I did not see them except Uncle Charles for the first night was too stormy to admit of my going over and the second night I made an engagement to meet Uncle Charles at the St. Nicholas [Hotel] where they were stopping and he told me the No. of room but getting there a quarter of an hour after the time found his room locked and the next day he told me that by my not coming at the time specified, he concluded I was not coming being very stormy, and so he went down into the drawing room. Which they ____ from Boston, they stopped at the Metropolitan but did not like the rooms as well as at the St. Nicholas. They only remained here one night after their return from Boston and on the day of the evening they left, I went over home, being sick with headache &c.

[unsigned, probably missing end of letter]

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