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Susan Farley Letter to Mother, September 7, 1834

Susan Farley Letter to Mother, Detroit: September 7, 1834. Farley Family Papers.

                       Detroit, Sept. 7, 1834
      My dear Mother,
I have sent letters from this place by a Mr. Moore who was going to Boston wh. probably you receive about this time. The cholera had then begun to be prevalent, at least by the time I finished the letter. The first cases were a few days after we arrived in the place. Through the whole of August there were according to the official accounts 350 burials. The population of the city is 5000, but many, perhaps 2000 were absent much of the time. Some of these burials were of persons several miles above or below the city, in the country.  It was a time of gloom.  In our boarding house all were well, but a number of persons whom we visited or met in company were taken away.  General Larned, a man of the first standing here, at whose house we had visited was one.  He was a lawyer, a man of talents, kind in heart, & interesting in conversation, & very noble & prepossessing in person; but alas he was unprepared for death, & died as thoughtless as he had lived.  His wife is a pious lady, lately united to the church.  Mrs. Hastings, wife to one of the principal Trustees of the school, was another.  She was an amiable woman & a Christian.  Her last moments were full of happiness.  She said to her husband, “I love you, I love my dear children, but I love my Savior better.”  We had visited her not many days before, when she appeared well as usual.  Mr. Hastings lives under the same roof as Mr. Cleaveland.  He said to Mr. C. the morning before her death, “I have passed a most blessed night.”  It was spent in conversation with her, on her approaching departure.  Oh, my dear mother, if we can only fill up our short lives here in hearty & diligent service for God, it will be a joyful summons, come when it may, that calls us away from earth to serve in the heavenly temple above.  I desire to remember for myself that I must not ask myself what I want to do, nor where I wish to labor, but say, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do.  Two of the 12 Trustees, whom I had not seen, have also fallen victims to the disease.   It was no uncommon thing to see the hearse pass to 5 funerals by our house. Sometimes the poor carried their dead in carts, the coffins being of rough boards.  One day 27 deaths were registered, many days from 12 to 16. The Catholics cover their coffins with a white cloth, when they carry them to be buried.  We met two carts in succession, with coffins covered in white last sabbath, when going to meeting. The Dutch women carry the coffin of children on their heads to burial, followed by the mourners. In many of these funerals, no one follows the body.  In some, a short procession on foot, looking very unconcerned or some in wagons.  I believe the natural effect of so many deaths is to harden the feelings of people in a degree.  In the higher classes are some peculiar customs at funerals.  The female part of the family sometimes do not appear.  Sometimes they are in a back room, but do not go to the grave.  In some cases, none of the near relatives go.  The looking glasses are covered with a white cloth.  The minister walks or rides in front of the hearse; & when they come to the grave, thanks to the people for their kindness and attention, & addresses a word of exhortation to those present.  At the funeral of Gov. of Michigan [George Bryan Porter], just before we came 10 or 12 clergymen walked in front of the hearse.  Each one had on a scarf 3 ½ yds long, of white linen, fastened with black ribbons at the side, & descending from one shoulder.  The bearers had white scarfs tied around their waists, & white bands folded around the hat & hanging down behind. Mr. C. attended a funeral yesterday morning & he & the bearers had white cotton scarfs around the waists 3 yds. long & bands of the same on the hat, & descending behind.  These are kept by the person who wears them. This one of Mr. C.’s is pinked at all the ends.  Through all these trying scenes, my dear mother our party has been preserved in health & composure.  I wrote in my letter to Lucy that I had decided to stay here for the present.  Providence seems to have led me here.  I feel that strength & wisdom, such I have not in myself, are necessary that I may be useful there; but I rejoice that there is a promise, & direction; “if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally & upbraideth not, & it shall be given him.”  A fine brick building is in progress, with a yard around it, in a pleasant, open situation.  Mr. Hastings has directed

me to come to him in any difficulty. I trust God will raise up friends who will strengthen my hands in my work. We staid a fortnight at Mrs. Snelling’s; then took passage in the steamboat Michigan for Mackinaw. The arrangements for the commencement of my school are not completed, & when the cholera came, it deranged every thing, & I was advised by all means to go to Mackinaw, as the air is there very pure & healthful. So we all went to Mackinaw. The sail up through Lake St. Clair, river St Clair & Lake Huron is very delightful. On river St Clair we stopped to take in wood, & here we walked up the river some distance. On the opposite shore was one uniform extent of forest. On the western side, where we were, runs a pleasant road & there are some houses & farms. These waters are pure as crystal, & reflect the light in many charming tints – dark green, light blue, brown & rich purple. The distance is about 300 miles. We departed Friday at 9 P.M. & arrived Sat. night, Our accommodation in S. Boat. were excellent. A gentlemen of Detroit whom we had met, Col. Whiting, was on board, & we were recommended to his care. He was very polite to us, & agreeable in conversation. On Sabbath morn, after breakfast we went on shore. Mackinaw looks beautifully from the harbor. This is semicircular, of a perfect curve, & the clear waters show the stones & bottom to a great depth. Several little wharves run out into the harbor at the eastern & western end. A road runs around the island next the harbor. At the Eastern side is the Mission house, painted yellow. Then the chh. a neat white building with green blinds. Then, the Catholic chh. painted yellow, a handsome white house occupied by a Catholic lady, a very pretty cottage like house, in wh Mr School-craft, the Indian agent, the traveler & writer, lives. Farther to the west is the village, consisting principally of cottages, thatched with bark, & some decent houses intermixed. The public house is of one story, with many antiquated additions. The small parlors were however very neat, & well carpeted. I was telling you how the island looked from the water. Between the Mission & the village extend the gardens of the Mission. Mr. Schoolcraft & the garrison, looking rich & flourishing. Directly behind these rises a steep ridge 150 ft high extending to the Eastern end of the island ending in a bold rocky point, & to the west as far as the eye can see. The harbor is on the S. side of the Eastern end, & a little to the left of the centre on this steep ridge are the fortifications & houses of Fort Mackinaw, of a dazzling whiteness. Most of the island is a high limestone rock, covered with scant soil, but still eno’ to give nourishment to much wood of a low growth, to plenty of wild raspberries & gooseberries, & to the vegetables of the gardens, wh. are very fine. Potatoes are better than in any place hereabouts. We have not had any good ones, scarcely any either good or bad, till we came here. In one walk, I eat more raspberries than I had ever seen in my life before. We had scarcely tasted fruit for the summer, & they were very grateful. – We had been at the public house only a short time when Mrs. Stuart came & took us all home with her, & here we staid all the time we were here 10 days. Mary Stuart, their daughter, you know, was at Ipswich 3 yrs. She has this summer married a surgeon in the army, without her father’s approbation, consent, or knowledge. He considers it a direct violation of the law of God for her to marry one who is not a Christian, besides being in direct disobedience to himself. He thought it was necessary to treat her in such a way as to afford a warning to the younger children of the family. She therefore has no intercourse in the family, tho. she sometimes sees her little brothers & sisters. Her father & mother feel this trial deeply, & it is no doubt doing violence to their own feelings to avoid seeing her. Mr. & Mrs. Stuart are two of the kindest & most interesting people I ever met. Their frankness makes you immediately at home. Their manners are perfectly refined, & they have cultivation of mind also. Besides this they are devoted Christians. Do you wonder that we had a most charming visit? On our return Miss Grant & party went immediately to Ohio. I am staying at Mr. Cleavelands. They are very kind – I thank God for providing me such a home. I shall not board here after the school commences; it would be too far fr. the sch. room. The school will not prob. commence for sev. wks. I long to hear of your health & dear father’s your aff. daughter Susan

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I wish Lucy to give my love to my S.S. scholars & to Aunt Hannah Heard, & tell me how she is; to Aunt Farley – br. Rogers & family & E. Farrington, & Mrs. Heard. Also tell E. Caldwell, that I received her letter, & it was a great comfort to me; my love to her. I shall write her sometime, but she must not wait. I shall send my Journal by Miss Grant. I want her to keep it, & send it to me if I shd. stay longer than till spring. Will you read it as [ ]

Have you heard any thing fr. br. Henry? I want you Lucy to think if you had not better find out a way to write to br. Joseph’s children & do it. If you decide you had better not, then leave it. But if you decide you had better, wh. I think you had, then, I hope, my dear sister, you will do it?

How does Lucy’s SS. class come on? & John’s?

Give my affectionate remembrances to Amy & her husband & kiss for me the beloved little Jabez. Tell A. she must bring him up in the nurture & admonition of the Lord. I hope he will be a blessing to the world.

I hope Mary Clarke is a very good girl. Does she read her Bible & obey it?

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I am very anxious to hear fr. brother Thomas. Has he gone to New Orleans? May God ever keep him from evil, especially from turning against him.

why, why have I not heard from home? Do you know I have not had a line since I left? Sometimes I fear of some dreadful evil, that has happened. It is a comfort to me that I can go to the throne of grace & every night & morning pray for the temporal & ever lasting happiness of my beloved parents. Give my best love to my Father. I sometimes long with intense desire for one hour in which I might wait on him, & help to make him comfortable, but I trust Lucy will be to you both instead of all the daughters wh. were once with you.

My dear Lucy, do you live every day as if you might be called into eternity to answer whether you have been a faithful steward? & done all you can to bring the promised kingdom of our Savior?