LOVE LETTERS FROM CHARLES D. ROSS
MISS ANNA VAN RENSSELAER
Below are transcriptions of three letters from Charles D. Ross to Miss Anna Van Rensselaer. C.D. appears to be in his 20s. He first speaks of having recently completed some preliminary medical studies but isn't sure of what he wants to do with his life. Although we don't know how or where C.D. met her, Anna seems to know well the Norway area people and they know of her. By the 3rd letter a little over a year has gone by; he no longer mentions pursuing medical studies, enjoys recognition for his teaching, and still has the leisure of not having to make firm plans.
C.D.'s letters document a well-connected family in the farm community of Norway, who kept up with activities and events occurring at a distance. One brother is a physician in Baltimore; another Ross relative ran for state assemblyman from Norway. Other relatives have settled a bit further west in Lewis County, traveling back and forth to the Norway/Fairfield area to visit and conduct business. The Ross's were prosperous by local standards, educating their sons (this one citing Latin quotations) and daughters (who go away to pursue musical studies) for lives and livelihoods that would take them away from their home and county. Where in the area might a local boy have had a classical education? Perhaps C.D. at one time attended Fairfield Seminary or the academy at Lowville.
Miss V.R.'s un-named aunt's largesse allowed her to move in a Utica/ Troy/ New York City/ Philadelphia circuit, be in no hurry to marry, stay at a resort in Atlantic City in the winter, etc. Taking the sea air was considered beneficial to health but there was a gentility to these places, at least in the movies. C.D. Ross makes reference to Miss V.R.'s urbane social world, so different from his own, and so I question if she eventually married him. Why did he hide his long-distance romance from his family? A check of the Troy papers in late January 1884 might explain what her publicized but mysterious "troubles" were and if that was a reason.
If he lived a long life Charles D. Ross should appear somewhere in the 1900 census. A check of the 1880 Herkimer and Lewis County censuses would reveal who some of the people mentioned were. Vol. 1, No. 4, page 4 of "Norway Tidings" (April 1887) contains a detailed family sketch about the descendants of Noble Ross of Norway, but I couldn't determine which son was C.D.'s father. One Charles Ross, b. 1813, was a resident of Lowville, Lewis County, at that time. A.M. Ross is noted as having represented Norway as Assemblyman in 1881 so he apparently wasn't re-elected in 1882. Vol. 4, No. 9, page 4 (September 1890) contains a profile of the Dodge family. Siblings from both the Ross and Dodge families (several members intermarried over the years) settled in Beloit, Wisconsin in the mid-1800s.
Spelling, punctuation and wording are as is. The original three letters were acquired and donated to the Kuyahoora Valley Historical Society by members of the Herkimer/Montgomery site staff in memory of Marge Foss, former director of the Newport Historical Center, who passed away in 1999.
LETTER #1 FROM CHARLES D. ROSS AT NORWAY TO MISS ANNA VAN RENSSELAER, 2031 ARCH STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA.
POSTMARKED THREE TIMES:
From C D Ross Norway Sep. 26, 1882
To Miss Anna Van Rensselaer
In respect to your generous or seemingly kind invitation to call at your place in Phil. I write a few lines to your honor. I can hardly think you meant it. And don't let me think no more of your becomingly appearance, and courtesy cast down to me, than to pass off well to a country green-horn. But I thank you for the interesting social chat which I was permitted to enjoy with you; It refreshed my spirits as though I were visited by an angel. It fixed more firmly incidents, & points of interest to my mind connected with my journey South last winter. It seems now best for me to go back to Baltimore to school. Success & prosperity seemed to crown every effort put forth in that line of study. But I did not feel like staying there during the summer, as I knew I would be stronger for it to take a vacation up North and study as leisure time would permit. So I left money enough with my brother in Baltimore to cary me through 2 years in College comfortably. Some time ago inducements were offered me by too different partires of good busines repute to return to my own native place to go in busines with them. I therefore sent to Baltimore for my cash. He refuses to let me have it and says my place is down there and that I must come and use my money in qualifying and establishing myself as a physician. He manifest much confidence in me for the help & care I rendered him when I were there. And the advantages I can get with him are perhaps superior to the majority of students. If I must go I will go soon or three weeks. I will stop to Phil. to see relatives one is a dentist one has a position in the Post Office.
But as to call to see you, I hesitate doubting the meaning of the invitation. I do not care to interrupt or interfer with the numerous friends you seem to have. But if you will just write to me the first convenient season after reading this I may think more of it. My call will be short. I would be pleased to find you at liberty. I suppose you reach home safe and found your aunt well. I think you must have a very kind and generous aunt to live with to enable you to take so nice a trip to the White Mts. etc. I love to visit such places too and do occasionally. In the county where my folks live there is more variety of natural scenery than anywhere in the state. It is also wealthy and fertile. I almost long to settle there too. You will plese recolect the last short evening call I made at Delevans. I write a postal card to have my friends ready to entertain us when we went to Barto Hill. I did not tell you my hurry to go was to take the card to the office that night. It was only acting the principle of business before pleasure. I anticipated the pleasure to follow or at least I would try to make it pleasant. I also intended to make a more lenthy call Wed. eve. the day you left. I wished to get some information from you. Sun. Morn. I started for Fairfield to see the wedding party of my sister. I expected them at Mr. Delevans Sat. I did not go far before I met them with my cousin & wife Mr. A. C. Wilson with his hack. I came back to cousin S.C. Delevans. In the afternoon we all went down to cousin Lecias (sp) & Ann Crandals. remember them as with us at the festivas in the pulpit. I wish you were here to see my sister & her husband they are jolly. I will be with them Th. & Fri. at Utica at State Fair. Would it not unfurl your dignity Please let me hear from you soon.
LETTER #2 FROM CHARLES D. ROSS AT TURIN, LEWIS CO. N.Y. TO MISS ANNA VAN RENSSELAER, 2031 ARCH STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA.
POSTMARKED THREE TIMES:
From C D Ross Turin Lewis Co. Nov. 14, 1882
Miss Anna V. R. Your letter of Oct. 2 seemed to express undue kindness and respect on the part of yourself and your aunt. You perhaps have expected me to call at your home and go to Baltimore. I did not go. You write that your Aunt wished me to call. I can read that she is interested in your welfare and cares who and what your associates and correspondence are as though you were her daughter. May God bless her for providing you with a good home as I trust you have. I am very confident that you appreciate her goodness by being good to her, for you seem to be good to every body. And should you feel that you were not getting your just reward for the service and good that you do in this world, I pray and trust you will in heaven. While at Norway I rec'd. notice that the first privileg to fill a position of trust would be granted me in a Sanitarium Institute located between Broadway & 6th Av. N.Y. A vacancy was expected. It is a fine place I have been there twice. Dr. Welch the proprietor is a special friend of W.F. Ross Baltimore. I would get board @ $15 or 18 per month. I told brother of it who feels as though I had deserted him. If I had went there & attended college this winter he promises me I would be worth much more than that to him for a year, and the experience & practice I would get would put credit to my success in completing my course the year after. Since I Rec'd. my last letter from him I am sorry I did not go. But I wanted to wait till the new large hospital & college is built next year. this will teach my view I think. It will be the largest in U.S. I am now teaching school & boarding with my oldest sister.
Mother offered me $100.00 if I wanted to stay to Bal. last spring. I would not stay in that hot place in Summer. I thought it better for my health to return to the rural districts of N.Y. State which is superior in science & skill in Agriculture and in which I have had experience & know all the ins, outs, crooks and turns to master it. During my stay 6 months in Norway I cleared $125.00 clear of expense and gained robust health and strength. I spent some time in visiting friend in that locality to retain my res. to vote for A.M. Ross Assemblyman I visited relatives at Utica Fairfield Ilion Newport Prospect and attended teachers institute one week at Mohawk. I was at Delevans when Martha Rec'd. letter from you. Tell me that you mean what you say. she wanted me to explain. She does not know now that you wrote to me. Why did you neglect her so long and write to me first she often spoke of you. Alice Smith the organist with 3 ladies of Norway went to Boston to music institute. My two cousins Oletta & Alma Ross went to Phil. to attend Music to stay with their sister for the winter. A gentleman to Dental college there too. Father wishes to establish me in busines in the spring. I don't think I care to engage there permanently. I may choose to go to Baltimore next year. I think you have enough of this stuff. If you ask for another it will be of different character.
At the top of the last page, upside down, he wrote with some misspelling:
At the top of the first page, upside down, he wrote:
Also in this envelope is a handwritten business card in beautiful handwritten script:
LETTER #3 FROM CHARLES D. ROSS AT TURIN, LEWIS CO. N.Y. TO MISS ANNA VAN RENSSELAER, 2031 ARCH STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA.
[The latter address is crossed off and re-addressed to her at "The Dennis", Atlantic City, N.Y.]
POSTMARKED THREE TIMES:
Turin Feb. 1st 1884
O My Dear Pussy.
I have been so tantalised and pulled over the coals singed and burned that I can not help think only of you. My attention has been aroused (underlined) in regard to you by others; it seems as though I had lately seen you; you (underlined) are more vivid (underlined) in my mind than ever.
I wish you could be here awhile. I know you would be well received and no pains spared to your entertainment as a strong desire is manifested to see you. I would be pleased to show you the grand scenery of Lewis Co. and 1000 Ils. etc. in the summer. It is numerous and very picturesque. Perhaps you will come in summer. I suppose you are back home on Arch St. by this time.
It pleases me very much to hear from the sea-shore. It gratifies me to know that you can enjoy such privileges. I almost begrudge it myself. But although my duties at present are quite arduous, yet I am enjoying the vocation as well as the blessings of good health and society. I feel assured you are enjoying social relations as well if not in health. Please not let this letter distract your care or attention from your sick aunt. I hope I have not. But, I feel very much like writing and would like better to see (underlined) and pet (underlined) and hear my pussy (underlined) pur to me. I reckon (Feb. 4th) your birthday is close at hand and a letter might be acceptable by this time. I did not go to spend my birthday with my parents and friends as perhaps I ought, as I have not been to Lowville but once (thanksgiving day) since I saw you. Fred had previously requested me to come out for the occassion Mo. Jan 14 I did not think much abouat it then. I would like to have went out Fri. night and staid till (14) Mo. night or Tu. morning (only 11 miles) But Teachers Association was appointed to be the same week Fr. I was so interested in my work I did not care to take two days out of one week, and thought more of the association. Late in the week I learned of the postponement of the Ass'n. one week. After closing at 4 Fri. 11th I had a chance to ride to my sister Eugenia 3 mi. Sat. rode to Glendale. Sun. rode back to meeting with Dodge to Turin. Of course I was around in time for school Mo. Mo. I rec'd. letter from mother sensuring me for not being there. I was sorry for it and would have been there if she had written before. I was inclined to think they was up to surprising me had I came some way perhaps by a party to flog me. This was my first visit at Dodge's since Oct. Fri. 25-26 and Sat. The semi-annual meeting of the teachers of Lewis Co. as an association met at Port Leyden, Essays, discussions, and practical teaching was before the association.
The postponement of one week was necessary to procure Dr. Hoose Pres. of State Normal School at Courtland to lecture Sub. The New Education. Port Leyden is 2 mi. from Lyons Falls 5 mi. from my residence on U & B. River R.R. Ass'n. closed Sat at 4 P.M. On returning I found an invitation for me to spend the evening with young people near by, which I enjoyed very much. Mo. afternoon as I was about to close school Brother Dennis & wife from Carthage drove to door for me to go to Mr. Dodge's with them. They came from Ann's and calculated to see me before I was away from school. The roads were drifting full, had the horse down in the snow all over and could not get up till was unhitched. I enjoyed the ride very much but had to walk too much. But we had an exceeding good visit. An organ and a first class piano was in use accompanied with my nephew Herman with cornet.
This Herman has been living at Fairfield and married Mary Wilson. Although they lived here last summer they have been in Herkimer Co. several weeks this winter settling up business and returned a few days since. They visited Sam. Delevans where all (underlined) that could (underlined) be was revealed (underlined). They are all good at pestering and a lively set of folks we were that night. Dennis & wife had seen U. Flo has improved in music very much a lady cousin from Vermont (a music teacher) is living with them. Mary plays well. Solo's was passed around. Herm wish me to sing Where is my Wandering boy with Mary. I see what they was up to. I would sometimes say Where is my girl to night echo answered in Troy. I excused myself from that. I think they had this planned for me. I wish I could of absented myself. I was offuly teased. I had to take it alone. I paid but little attention to it and brought up other subjects to change as much as I could. I let them go on but said nothing pro or con but learned from where it came from without questioning. I told them they were in darkness and could not read clear. Dear pussy, my folk have not known this before as I have been silent in regard to you (underlined). They ask when I will bring her around. As cousin Atwater said: Why dont you show her up. I shall try and keep your letters unknown. Mat could not make out that we corresponded when I were there. I told her I did not know here you was when she asked me. (And truly I knew wether U were in Utica. Troy. N.Y. or Phil.) So I told that is what I came to find out she showed me the Troy paper. I appeared as surprised and asked her privately all about your trouble in Troy as though I was ignorant and left her with that impression. Mrs. Ives aluded to me about the Troy matters. I was surprised and said I would go and see Mat to get the particulars. I told them when I left Norway in the fall I left it all and took nothing with me to think of it. I am often asked what I will do when school is out. I dont tell but I will have plenty to do. I am not looking for a position and need not I have had an offer to teach in Herk. Co. Ives wants me. I have just had a letter from the city wishing my services. Partnership has been proposed to me. I am liable to west. Sam & Jay Delevan will move to Frankfort. George will run the cheese factory.
Tues. evening I was unanamously elected and insisted upon to take the office of recording secretary in the Rechatie society. I dont like to as there is so much to do. We talk of having a public entertainment soon. The society called a special meeting in my behalf Fri. evening.
You wished to know who WFR married. Well he married the Jennie the oldest daughter of Hiram Mills a retired farmer living in Lowville on the wealthiest street. The other Julia married a druggist and lives in Brooklyn. Mills & wife has been in Col. a year with a son. Now why do you ask. I should like to of seen you before going to that wedding. I went to a similar occassion about the same time. They have been quite numerous. I have been on the list.
So you took that horrid picture to Atlantic City. I dont think it is fair I want you to put one of them with your own picture and send it to me. I shall hesitate to write again till you do. I admonish you to do this. I am just enjoying life having good times. They tell me I look much better in health than I did last Winter. I feel so to. If you will send me your picture I may represent it to you. Dare you not write till you do.
I would like to hear of your Aunts health and yours after being at the seashore. My further sentiments are expressed in No. 231 Gospel. H. combined your name & lover substituted. Thinking I have answered your two letters I close. Wish I could see you on your birth day. I hope these lines will please write a big letter to Chuck.
To the side of the last page he wrote:
"How sweet the name of Anna sounds
Enclosed with the above letter is an ornate handbill for:
It was located at 205 N. Howard Street, near Monument.
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