This letter was written by Rev. Stephen D. Ward (1801-1858), pastor of the Congregational Church in East Machias, Washington county, Maine. Rev. Ward was a native of New Jersey and graduated at Nassau Hall [Princeton] in 1819. He studied theology at New Haven [Yale] and taught there for a time before relocating to Maine. He served as pastor of the Congregational Church at Machias from 1834 to 1844.
Rev. Ward wrote the letter to Benjamin Pearl (1774-1840) of West Boxford, Massachusetts. Benjamin married Mary Hovey at Boxford on May 7, 1807. After Mary’s death, Benjamin married Sally Ayer of Haverhill, marriage intention date being Dec. 1, 1820. He died aged 66 years [Died Sept. 3, 1840].
This poignant letter conveys the intelligence of the death of Stephen Peter Talbot (1811-1834), the son of Hon. John Coffin Talbot (1784-1861)—a judge and state politician of East Machias, Maine. Stephen was among several passengers aboard the packet schooner Sarah Prince who drowned when the vessel shipwrecked on the Seal Islands [Newfoundland] early in the morning of 2 October 1834 [see article published in the Norfolk Advertiser published on 18 October 1834]. The vessel blew off course during a storm on her passage from Boston to Eastport. His headstone states that his body was retrieved and buried at East Machias on 12 October 1834. Stephen Talbot graduated from Bowdoin College in 1831 and was practicing law at the time of his death.
Addressed to Benjamin Pearl, West Boxford, [Essex county] Massachusetts
E. Machias [Maine]
October 9, 1834
I wrote this to inform you of the melancholy intelligence which reached us yesterday morning, Mr. [Stephen C.] Talbot, my friend & fellow traveller has finished his earthly career & that too in a very sudden & awful manner. The vessel in which he embarked for Eastport was wrecked & lost on the Seal Islands during the storm on the morning of the 3rd October. Seventeen of the persons on board were drowned & six saved. His body was found & buried by the survivors. Thus he with whom I parted but a few days ago with the expectation of meeting in a short time whom we saw so lately in the full enjoyment of life & health, now lies hastily & rudely buried upon a rock in the ocean. The vessel in which he was lost was the one in which I purposed to set sail until the intelligence of the death of my child induced me to take a more direct route homeward. Thus by a special interposition of Providence, my own life has been spared & the death of my child has been made the means of my preservation. So I suppose my brother Henry has set out upon his journey and not knowing whither to direct a letter to him, will you have the goodness to transmit to him the above intelligence if you know his direction. Please remember me to Mrs. Pearl & your daughters & to Mrs. Hovey & Family.
Yours sincerely, — Stephen D. Ward
[to] Benjamin Pearly, Esq.