Museum logo

Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Catalog Number 2016.02.0044
Object Name Letter
Date 1835
Title 1835 July 22 Alfred Beckley to Margaretta Brown
Scope & Content Letter from Alfred Beckley (Fort Hamilton, New York Harbor) to Margaretta Brown (Frankfort, KY) Beckley writes of the death of his mother Maria Prince Beckley two years prior (in 1833). He expresses his gratitude for the care Margaretta gave him as a child and discusses how Margaretta and John helped raise him in the absence of his own father [who died in 1807]. Beckley is trying to discern what decisions he needs to make in his life, and he discusses his faith, and spiritual life. He writes of obtaining land in West Virginia and sicknesses plaguing his family members.

[Transcription]

Fort Hamilton New York Harbour July 22d 1835

To Mrs Margaretta Brown
Frankfort Ky

My dear Madam
From my long delay in acknowledging your kind favor of the 22d April and the precious memorials of my lamented parents which accompanied it I hope you have not deemed me such as one that I have not from my inmost heart been tenderly affected by an instance of such friendly consideration. Well am I aware that time could not weaken your interest in these mementoes of them who were always your most devoted friends, and always shared a tender and cherished place in your bosom. Your surrender of them to me and mine partakes of self denial - none can appreciate more than the dear friend and second mother of the most interesting period of my life when infancy was merging into boyhood and principles to form the man were to be planted in that boy and diligently cultured. I remember no differences made between me, and your own boys, and can well attribute to our recitations of Hymns and spiritual songs; to our reading of Hunter-our regular attendance upon public worship, that respect to religion and attention to its outward observance became habitual and will in the end thro' God's free grace in Jesus Christ I hope bring forth in all three of your former Sunday school pupils it was a home, one and ah! how deeply are, the years I passed in my Kentucky home, engraven upon my recollections and whatever may have passed as shades over the pictures of the past. I feel now how much poor human sinners need to fear and forbear to forgive and forget I am aware my venerable friend and my father's dear friend was led to look upon the fatherless boy he befriended as ungrateful; yet could he now read my heart he would not as I fain hope he does not now view me as guilty of that base feeling or rather want of feeling. -Memory which I thank God with me, dwells only on bright sides of things, -which fain would discard the drop and retain the gold likes to dwell upon you and yours now a days [* is under "now a days', and refers to lines written sideways on page 1] when the season comes round which reminds me of God's chastenings -when that beloved and Sainted Mother from whom the chances and duties of my profession had separated me so much as to personal intercourse tho' not as to spiritual & intellectual communions was as it were to me from whom my dear disinterested parent had concealed her very low state untill the tremulous writing of her last letter to her well beloved children awakened me from my dream of earthly security a thunderstroke: but O how thankful to my God and Savior am I not so was it to my mother, -- her trust was in the Rock of Ages, and a very present help was His - More than child, daughter, & grandchild tho' hes almost sacrificed spirit yet yearned upon that son she had so loved, --upon that daughter she had placed within his heart and that dear unseen grandchild she had so fervently helped! - She was kept "in perfect peace" -in the words of her beloved & pious young friend Mrs. Agnew, "as calmly as if she was going to sleep she breathed her last" "without a struggle" - "her dear children" borne upon that latest health. None can better know than you the loss I have sustained - it is not to be replaced short of that eternal world where I hope you, my dear friend, & yours, I and mine, this the blood of the same Jesus will be reunited to her glorious spirit, --there to praise the Lamb for ever and ever!! God did mingle precious balm in the cup he gave his child to drink. I had looked upon many years of communion with my Mother as certain. I was thinking of quitting my wandering profession, and offering to my parents a peaceful modest asylum, in some, quiet corner - I stood too erect. I was in need of admonition, -- God sanctify it to me, & mine, --May we be made God's more devoted people, --May our sainted Mother's example stimulate Emily & I to a faithful rearing of our two sons for He who hath taken away hath given us another sweet boy "Neville" besides watching over and preserving our first born "John" upon whom went his Grandmother's blessing, in God's holy fear and Nurture.
Chastenings too have fallen upon y dear brother Orlando & his sweet wife - I condole very sincerely in his grief - O may he learn to bless the hand which has wounded only to heal! -May it reach his & her heart and bring forth "peaceable fruits of righteousness."
I am writing to you from a solitary chamber, --My wife and brothers are in Pittsburg. I returned from seeing them as far as Phil. last week. John has suffered from chills and fevers of last summer & fall and this spring, and to has Emily this season so much so that change of air and scene become imperatives indeed. I was confirmed to my bed shortly after your letter came, and when convalescent had to nurse Emily thro' a return of Intermittent. This place is quite subject to fevers and again from ponds & swamps in the interior while on the water side magnificent prospects & fresh sea breezes seem to defy [illegible].
I know not if I shall bring my family this side of the mountains. My Uncle Prince has now an interest in my Virginia lands, and is disposed to settle upon them with me. I have suffered from dishonest agents and as there are lands enough remaining with judicious management to make a good estate & ensure all the comforts of a permanent homestead if not the [torn page] of wealth tho I only desire, this in proportion as God shall give me, grace [torn page] and use it to his glory in subserving my fellow beings & my own [torn page] I am more and more of the impression that it is God's will for me to give up my commission by a few years self denial, [illegible] and dependence under providence upon my own exertions to establish a fixed home for my family; to place myself in my relation to my fellows in a large sphere of usefulness than in the army I can expect, but I hope, strive, somewhat to attain. The climate is most salubrious and the range for cattle very extensive and rich -the country beautiful, rolling, & picturesque while the soil is just rich enough to reward good tilling alone, with wheat, rye, grass and corn enough for breads - As I am yet to learn how you all prosper you will excuse my being prolix as to my own lot and plans. Next time you hear from me I shall peradventure have changed my sword into a crook & become a West Virginia grazier and I will need your prayers that both spiritually and temporarily the change may benefit me & mine.
I hope you will not scrutinize my letter too closely I have written from impulse of feeling I wish I could gratify a most anxious wish to visit you and stay and wander about the old house as long as I pleased. -how many sweet reminiscences would come over me, how much interesting converse I could have. I hope I shall in many months be enabled to make such a visit, but it is uncertain. - I have many claims upon me now, a wife and increasing family [illegible] me that peregrinations must ease and my tent be permanently pitched.
Do write me my dear Madam & beg Mason & Orlando to write - Orlando promised me to write the last thing he said to me, in March 1832 when we parted; but his editorial duties have presented - why has he not sent me, an occasional, specimen of his sheet's [illegible] prize if not a letter from Mr Brown, I was glad in my Uncle's assurance of his [illegible] appearance
The box I obtained when in Phil, its contents are invaluable to me, --I regretted that I did not fulfill an intention in 1832 to have had a miniature painted from my Mother's dear features which little did I think were so sour to be removed from earth forever. This miniature is a most striking likeness and with aid of recollections paints my mother's image as she was in 1832 perfectly on her son's vision. Pray for me my friend. Give my love to Mrs. Love, Mrs. Tunstall if alive, Mrs. Innes, & all old friends -to Mason & Orlando. Mrs. P. Brown & family -With regards to Mr B
Dr Madam, Very Sincerely your obliged friend.

Alfred Beckley

[Written alongside page four] PS. If you write within August direct to me "Fort Hamilton, King City, N.Y." yours truly A.B."

[Written alongside page one] *This day two years ago I incited a last letter to my dear Mother after receiving her last 10 July. I placed it in the office and was handed a letter announcing her peaceful departure on the 17th. It was withdrawn and is preserved among other memorials for my children. My mothers' last words to me and mine were, "God bless you" M.B.

[Address Block]
Mrs Margaretta Brown
(Care of John Brown Esq.)
Frankfort
Kentucky
People Margaretta Mason Brown
Alfred Beckley
Maria Beckley
Search Terms Christianity
Fort Hamilton, NY
Frankfort, KY
Death & Mourning
Illness