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Catalog Number 2016.02.0023
Object Name Letter
Date 1836
Title 1836 June 4 Margaretta Mason Brown to Orlando Brown
Scope & Content Letter from Margaretta Mason Brown (New York, NY) to Orlando Brown (Frankfort, KY). Margaretta, along with her husband John and slave Mary are visiting family in New York. Margaretta discusses purchasing items for Orlando's new home. She writes about purchasing a piano for Mary Watts (Orlando's wife) and going to a wallpaper factory.

She also discusses furniture in general and describes a new and fashionable furniture style. She mentions John Goodman pianos (a piano maker in Frankfort) and the elegance of his designs. The style she remarks upon is Empire-style which Margaretta clearly dislikes. It can be inferred that she prefers Federal-style furniture.

Margaretta also mentions Mary Stepney, her slave that has accompanied her on this trip to New York. She discusses how Mary is unhappy in New York, because she is surrounded by white servants.

[Transcription]

New York Saturday 4th June 36

My dear Orlando,

Your letter of the 23rd May was received with with [sic] great pleasure two days ago, and if you only knew how gratified I was by your prompt reply, and minuteness of detail I am sure you would feel amply repaid for your trouble - We arrived here on Thursday 26th May; drove immediately to the Astor house, but were premature in our demand for admittance, as the house was not ready for company. We then went to the Clinton House, where we dined; after which your Father went to acquaint our relations with our arrival - and returned shortly after with Euphemia Knox, who was quickly followed by John Mason and his wife. It was our intention to have paid Euphemia a visit first, as their dwelling was more convenient to the places which I wished to visit first, but she had just moved, and they were in the midst of painting the Walls & wooden work of their house; and had no place in which to receive me; we therefore accepted Amelia's invitation (she had send a previous one to Baltimore, expecting we would be there first) and are now located in Washington Square, though we expect to go to Mr Knox's next week -- The very first old acquaintance which greeted me, on my arrival, was one which in all my arrangements I had studied to avoid - no other, than a cold, N. E. Storm-which has continued without an hour's intermission ever since, this being the 12th day since the commencement and no prospect of a change appearing - I have been down town frequently, but always with the assistance, of a Hack or Omnibus and an Umbrella - I have therefore done little in the way of business Amelia and myself visited two Piano Establishments yesterday but there were none of Chickering's make to be found - There are other Establishments however, which we will visit whenever the weather permits, in company with a celebrated Teacher of Musick, whom Amelia has engaged to go with us - I do not think that Mary W. will like the style of the frame work - It is all clumsy in the extreme - thick, straight, square, unornamented legs, to which those in Mr Goodman's shop are elegance itself - but all the fashionable furniture is of that stamp - Claw feet have crawled out of fashion -- & table legs, (except being square) resemble those of an Elephant more than any thing else - We have not yet visited the Paper Factory, but shall soon do so - All the walls, which I have seen, and those which are in preparation, (as far as I can learn) are painted in Art, and of light colours, I think such painting would suit your chambers, better than paper as they can be worked in the same manner as the wooden work - I am glad to find that your house is progressing so well; and hope Mary's health will be sufficiently established, by the time it is finished, to allow her to engage in the cares, and labours of house keeping without injury or fatigue. I was much surprised & grieved to hear of ELouisa Blaine's death, Did she leave another Motherless child to Mrs Morris's care, or is her babe in the arms of a heavenly parent? My Cousin Gibson was out of town when I arrived, and is not yet returned. I have seen her daughters and husband; and think them very agreeable people - I spent a delightful day on Tuesday, at Mr Johnson's - his family is charming - If you see Mrs Innes, tell her, that our Father delivered Mrs Adams' packet [?], but that the weather has been too bad to admit of any intercourse with her sons family - I wish very much to hear how Mrs Adams is - Robinson's trial is proceeding vigorously - Your Cousin John says, that publick opinion has changed greatly in his favour and it is thought that he will prove an alibi - I cannot however believe him guiltless - I hope the next letter which I receive from Frankfort, will give me some intelligence about the S. School teacher [?] either [?] from Mrs Love, or Mrs Thorp - though I [illegible] should prefer an account from the latter, as I know it will be [page torn; one word missing]. Tell Hannah that Mary is well, but does not like N. Y. as well as Phila - as she has been altogether with white Servants - A colourd [sic] woman however, who worked here, has promised to take her to church on Tuesday, and as she is a good Baptist, Mary expects much pleasure - tell her father, that Mary has been a great assistance here, Mrs Mason having lost her Cook, her chambermaid has to take her place, and Mary has been chambermaid and washer - Mrs Mason says she does not know what she would have done without her - She, (Mary I mean) returns ten thousand loves to all her kin - I also wish you to tell Miles that I remember him very kindly - I hope Joes amendment may continue until I return; but his fits of industry and good humour, are so [illegible], that I fear I shall recognize him too easily - Your Father requests me to Note that that he sent you some locks from Pa addressed to Mr Parker but that he has a prospect of getting you some better here, & wishes you to put those which he has sent in the upper rooms, and leave the lower floor till you receive the others -
The Com. arrives regularly
Dr. Parnely [?] is engaged in putting my mouth to rights, and I believe will succeed better than Fontane [?] - Tell Gratz that I shall write to him shortly, if I can hear that he does, what he knows I wish him to do - Tell Euphemia, that Grandmamma loves her very much - Affectionate remembrances from your father & Mother - to Morn - Moses - Aunt R -- & Hen W
Yours tenderly -
M Brown

[Address Block]
Mrs. Margaretta Brown [upside down]
[Postmark] New York Jun 4
Orlando Brown Esq
Frankfort KY



People Margaretta Mason Brown
Orlando Brown
Mary Watts Brown
John Goodman
Mary Stepney
Benjamin Gratz Brown
Euphemia Helen Brown II
Search Terms Empire Furniture
Federal Furniture
Pianos
Slavery