This letter was written by Lucy R. Gale (1840-1864), the daughter of Circuit Judge Jacob Gale (1814-1900) and Charlotte Bartlett (1817-1868) of Peoria, Illinois.
Lucy wrote the letter to her fiancé William (“Willie”) Jarvis Gregg Nutting (1835-1879), the son of Rufus Nutting (1793-1878) and Marcia Manning (1797-1851). Willie graduated from Illinois College (1856) and the Auburn Theological Seminary (1862). He served as the principal of public schools in Peoria from 1856-1858. After seminary school, Willie became the pastor of a church in Unadilla, Michigan. Lucy and Willie were married on 8 October 1863 in Peoria but she died the following year of smallpox, contracting the disease during a visit to his parents home in Springfield, Illinois. Willie also contracted the disease too but recovered and lived long enough to marry again in May 1865 (to Emily Babcock of Unadilla) and then relocate to Gardner, Kansas, Winchester, Illinois (1869), to Arlington, Missouri, and finally to Kansas City, Missouri where he died on 27 October 1879. Willie was buried in Mosely Cemetery (now defunct) in Saint Clair, Franklin county, Missouri.
Addressed to Mr. William G. Nutting, (Care of Mr. D. L. Wood ¹), Ann Arbor, Michigan
Postmarked Peoria, Illinois
May 29th 1863
My Dear Willie,
I would give almost anything to see you today & yet I suppose I ought to be satisfied with the assurance that you are safe & getting well, when so many around me are in such terrible suspense as to the situation of their friends (more than friends). Poor Jennie is very sad & “down-hearted”—has not heard from “Dickson” for more than three weeks, but knows that he is at Vicksburg. I can partly sympathize with her but of course cannot fully realize her feelings. Please give my love to Mollie & tell her I do hope she won’t shorten another letter as they are all I have to depend upon now. Nevertheless, I will forgive her this time if she will keep her promise & let me hear from her soon.
Why in the world don’t [your brother] Dwight ² come home? Is it impossible for him to reach the North? I should think he would be so anxious to see his family that he could not content himself South any longer.
It must be a great pleasure to Mollie to be with you all again, though doubtless mingled with sadness.
I will tell you something of the [Presbyterian] Assembly, though, of course, I can’t begin to tell you the half, & for that reason have & shall continue to send you the Peoria papers, which please keep as it may be pleasant to refer to them hereafter.
Mr. L. G. Hay ³ from Indianapolis reached here last week Wednesday & will remain till the middle of next week. He has been a missionary in India eight years. Was there during the rebellion. His conversation is very entertaining. Father & Ned are perfectly fascinated with him & so am I. He was one of those who addressed the Missionary meeting Sabbath P. M. & his was considered the most entertaining & instructive of all the addresses. He came home from India five years since with health very much impaired & now has a severe cough, from which he says he never expects to recover. He has a private academy in Indianapolis consisting of fifty or more boys & young men which he has left with an assistant & is very anxious to return, but cannot before next week.
Mr. S. Van Nuys [Van Nice], Mr. Hay’s elder, is a very pleasant old farmer—nothing remarkable in any way—but he has a son here, a young minister from Henry county, this state, who comes quite frequently to see his father. He (the young man) evidently thinks he knows all that it is necessary for anyone to know. We have also been entertaining Mr. Barrett from Galesburg & Mr. [J. Ambrose] Wight of Chicago, both N. S. [New School] Presbyterians & very pleasant gentlemen; they left for their homes today as they have sermons to complete before Sabbath.
I heard the “opening sermon” by C[harles] C[linton] Beatty & was very much disappointed. Sabbath A. M. heard Rev. Wm. M. Blackburn of Erie—a young man. He preached a very good sermon. Sabbath P. M. went to Sunday School & Mr. Hay accompanied me & made and address to the children, afterwards at 3 P. M. attended the Missionary meeting. There were 5 addresses. In the evening heard Dr. Jacobs preach a splendid sermon. Have been into the Assembly 4 or 5 times. Went last night to a meeting of the U. S. Christian Commission at Rouse’s Hall & heard 5 excellent addresses. The hall was very well filled though it rained hard all the evening. I don’t know what we shall do when all the Assembly leave. Peoria will seem quite lonely.
I am reading with you in Joshua & think it a good plan to read there once chapter each day. Then we shall not be so likely to make mistakes. I will send you that Catalogue which please return as I presume Father wants to keep it. Please give my love to all & write very soon. Are you improving rapidly? Tell me all about it. I wrote a sentence here that got up into the clouds so high that I could not bring it down in safety so had to erase it. Pity wasn’t it? But that is the way with most of my brilliant sayings. Your own loving Lu
Sat, Morning. I read the 11th Chapter of Joshua this morning. I am obliged to send you rather a soiled “Roll of the Assembly” but I cannot easily get any other. Mr. Hay gave it to me at the table as it was passed around, thus collecting some grease which does not look very neatly.
¹ Daniel Leonard Wood (1830-1903) was born in Ovid, Seneca county, NY, the son of Abijah and Sarah Wood. In 1860, he was a merchant in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and also served as Secretary on the Board of Regents at the State University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1860. He was married to Martha Edgerton Nutting (1833-1921).
² Timothy “Dwight” Nutting graduated from the Western Reserve College in Ohio, where his father taught. Prof. T. D. Nutting taught music in Michigan; New Albany; Jackson, Miss.; and Jacksonville, IL. He taught music at the State Institution for the Blind, at the Illinois Female College, and the Illinois Conservatory of Music.
³ Lawrence Gano Hay (1823-1897) married Mary Landis (1838-1891). According to the American Presbyterian Society Records, Lawrence served as a missionary from 1850 to 1857. He labored as a Missionary printer in Allahabad until his health failed whereupon he returned to the United States and started a classical school for boys in Indianapolis. In his diary, Calvin Fletcher of Indianapolis noted on 1 December 1861 that he went to Roberts Chapel where he heard Rev’d Gano Hay preach a “dry sermon of ordinary import.” [CFD, Part 1, page 248]