Letter from Frances Miller Seward to Augustus Henry Seward, March 18, 1846

  • Posted on: 16 October 2018
  • By: admin
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Letter from Frances Miller Seward to Augustus Henry Seward, March 18, 1846
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transcriber

Transcriber:spp:nwh

student editor

Transcriber:spp:jaa

Distributor:Seward Family Digital Archive

Institution:University of Rochester

Repository:Rare Books and Special Collections

Date:1846-03-18

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Letter from Frances Miller Seward to Augustus Henry Seward, March 18, 1846

action: sent

sender: Frances Seward
Birth: 1805-09-24  Death: 1865-06-21

location: Auburn, NY

receiver: Augustus Seward
Birth: 1826-10-01  Death: 1876-09-11

location: West Point, NY

transcription: nwh 

revision: tap 2018-07-20

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Page 1

Auburn March 18th 1846
My dear Augustus,
Your letter has come
so much sooner this time that I conclude
the river is open to Albany an event
which I always hail with much pleasure
Our village has again been the theatre
of a terrible tragedy – you have seen
in the papers some account of the Van Ness
murder but you cannot realize it as
you would do were you here – A murder
so barbarous has never been committed
in the United states except by Indians
three
x Birth: 1844-03-17  Death: 1846-03-12  Birth: 1816-04-15  Death: 1846-03-12  Birth: 1805-02-25  Death: 1846-03-12 
of the family died instantly one
Birth: 1775 Death: 1846-03-14

the next day and one
Birth: 1809 Death: 1880
wounded and still
survives – and this immense sacrifice of
human life the work of one poor degraded
half witted negro
Birth: 1824 Death: 1847-08-21
but recently liberated
from the state prison where he was confined
five years for stealing a horse and this
too without any adequate motive yet
made apparent – though he does

[top Margin]
regulations with
regard to money than heretofore
every report has that the caution appended
A Dieu – your affectionate
Mother
Page 2

not deny the crime his account of the motive
which influenced him is so incoherent and
and improbable, in many respects so untrue
as hardly to attain belief among the most
credulous – he says some of the Van Ness family
were instrumental in getting him in prison
he dont know whether it was this particular
family or some other – that he intended
to kill others if he had not been disabled
does not evince the least regret or manifest
any dread of punishment – The crime and the
motive are so inadequate that I cannot
avoid thinking with many others that something
remains untold – The popular indignation
was so roused by this unparalleled outrage
that when the murderer was taken through
the village it was difficult to prevent
his immediate execution, in violation
of the law, without judge or jury – I
believe many good men would have allowed
and witnessed this summary punishment
their moral sense had become so clouded
by the atrocity of the deed and the desire
of vengance – I thank God that this
wrong was not perpetrated in addition
Page 3

to the appalling murder – He is in prison
awaiting his trial. The hired man the
last person he stabbed is still living – hopes
are entertained of his recovery – he has seen
and identified the murderer – Bill Freeman
is a nephew of Luke
Birth: 1803 Death: 1863-04-09
the Barber – he has
some indian blood by the mothers side
has never been considered a negro of
ordinary capacity – Two days before the
murder he came to Mr McLallen
Birth: 1791 Death: 1860-11-16
for employ-
ment — I think when you saw your
fathers
Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10
name in the New York paper he was on
his way to Florida where he has been the last
three weeks – Mary
Birth: 1828 Death: 1905
was returning home
with him – he went down to attend the
sale of your Grandfathers
Birth: 1768-12-05 Death: 1849-08-24
real estate
and has not yet returned – I expect him
to night having heard of him at Albany
on his way home – Mary’s year had so nearly
terminated that she concluded to go at that
time – I have had no letter from your father
in three weeks which was so unusual a
circumstance that until I heard of him
indirectly I was very uneasy – he had a
very unpleasant and protracted journey
Page 4

there in consequence of the deep snow – As yet
I know nothing of the sale or the state
of affairs at Florida – Aunty Worden
Birth: 1803-11-01 Death: 1875-10-03

and Frances
Birth: 1826 Death: 1909-08-24
left here a week Saturday
Frances has been quite sick since she went
home – I think it would have destroyed
her health entirely had she remained here
much longer and spent every evening
in company as she did – late hours
are not conducive to health – I should
suppose there had been parties enough in
Auburn this Winter to last some
years at all events I hope there will
not be such an inordinate number
condensed into nine weeks again —
It is now the season of Lent – invitations
have ceased – Aunt Clara
Birth: 1793-05-01 Death: 1862-09-05
like myself
and all the family has been sick with
a bad cold – Willie
Birth: 1839-06-18 Death: 1920-04-29
had a very
alarming attack a week ago similar
to the one he had after we returned from
Rochester though the paroxysm was not quite
so severe – he is well again – Sister
Birth: 1844-12-09 Death: 1866-10-29
talks
a great deal but does not walk in conse-
quence of the weakness of one of her ancles –
She is very amusing – Fred
Birth: 1830-07-08 Death: 1915-04-25
writes that he
is well and contented – Your last report
gives you but 11/2demerit – I am glad Spring
has come again – I begin to think of the time
when I shall see you again which seemed a
great way off last Fall – Why are they
so much more strict about enforcing the