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Phelps/Ensign Family Letters
Isaac Ensign and Cornelia Phelps
Oliver Roswell Phelps and Georgia Phelps Family Letters
Phelps/Ensign Family Letters

Correspondance of Oliver Roswell Phelps and Georgia Phelps

August 9, 1849 to June 16, 1865

Transcribed from the original by Email link Sam Bunn.

Letter #22

From: S E Hough, Bristol August 9th 1849

To: Oliver R. Phelps (Probably at Forsyth)

Dear Oliver

I have just returned from church and not having much else to occupy my time I thought that I would occupy it in writing. It has been a beautiful day thus far and will continue to be so I think. I have attended divine service all day while Orlinda has whiled away her time in bed. What a girl she pretends that she is sick but I guess that it is the "Sunday Fever" if anything that ails her. She and I think of going up to Sarah Barnes's after tea to carry up something for the family as we understood

for days since that Mrs. B is sick and nothing to eat and not much of anything else of the comforts of this life. Sarah has not been home till last Friday sometime and then she came down to see us of course and said that her mother was better. I asked her what had been the matter. O said she, she has a shock of the cholera. Sal wanted to know if I had heard from O. C. yet. At first I would not comprehend what she meant. Finally she came to an explanation and I found that it was you. O yes! I said Maria has seen him then she asked Maria about you and she told her that you sent your best respects and she was so tickled that I did not know but what she would _ _ _ _ _ _. Well I cannot say what then she whispered to me and asked I should write to you and give you her love (but don't tell anyone of it) said she just tell him that I am up to "Wolcott doing well" and says we have been looking for you and Len and Oliver up there. This while I've got the front room all cleaned out and have got so that I can make cheese all alone. Well said of you are indeed doing well. You will in all probability make some "smart man a wife" that is if you don't miss of it. I work in the factory now. Sal went up stairs to see Edmund and could not find him so she asked the overseer where he was and they had quite a chat. I should think by the tell. Now let me tell you that Sal is "decidedly one on " and no mistake but you know that Sal always tells me all her sorrows as well as joys. She told me that she met Eliza on her way to our house and she would not speak to her. And now says she intends to tell you and thinks she has got a beau and that is all she cries for. Enough about Sal_________. I do not know but we shall have to forgive you this one time for not calling ____ "seeing that it is you". We were all very much [large corner missing]

here again we will take another walk or another snow ball fight as you will have it. And tell him that I say that he shall never come to Bristol without going up to see Sal Barnes to then he can hear news from her and have interest in them and we will have Sal come down and wash dishes for us so that we shall not turn the table over. I think that she will agree to that don't you. I have not been up to the mines since you was here. There happened quite an accident up there a few weeks ago. One of their Irish laborers fell into one of those holes under ground or was in one of them rather and a large rock fell in onto him and killed him instantly. He left a wife and 2 children.

I was very much surprised to hear that Cornelia had gone home as well as the rest. I do not think that gent was much out of the way when he advised you not to get married more than all that. It would have been very wicked for him to have advised any different. O I have got a compliment for you but will not tell you now for fear of making you vain. Say I think you are quite a smart boy for one 15 or 16 don't you. [Oliver was 19 at the time].Well, I must stop because it is Sunday, so good night.

S E Hough


The reference to Cornelia going home. Another letter indicated that Cornelia (Phelps Ensign) was in Simsbury about the time of this writing along with her baby Amelia. She must have gone up for a summer visit with her grandparents and friends in Simsbury. Not sure just who S E Hough was, probably a good friend from his earlier days in Simsbury.

Letter #23

From: Sally

To: Oliver Roswell Phelps, East Hampton, Mass

Bristol Conn Oct 1st 1849

Dear Oliver

It is Sabbath morning and a cloudy one too and as I don't attend "Divine Service" this morning I will have a little conversation with you that is if you have no objections. I have not been to work in the shop at all this week but have been out taking care of the sick. A week ago Thursday little Augusta was taken sick with the fever and has a been very sick since. Last Wednesday and Thursday we most despaired of her ever being better but she is now a good deal better. She is so that she sits up and now I think that if nothing more befalls her she will get well. Father has also been sick meanwhile but is now so as to attend to his business. It has been and still remains to be very sickly in this town. One of fathers workmen was called away very suddenly he was confined to his bed just a week before he died. He had the Typhus fever. He left a wife and one child.

Two weeks ago Monday we were called to follow the remains of one of our factory girls to their last resting place. She left the shop 3 weeks ago last night expecting to return again on Monday morning but this she was never permitted to do. She was suddenly and unexpectedly called to close her eyes on the thing of time and sense just 2 weeks ago today about half past 4 in the afternoon. One thing is very striking concerning her death, the day she died if in health she was intending to have been "published" and married this evening. Her name was Adelia Todd. You have often times seen her. She used to work next to Murra. Perhaps you recollect her I have heard her speak of you. Her sisters and friends mourn her loss but not as those without hope for we have great reasons to believe that she is now in the "mansions of the Blessed."

I had most forgotten to tell you that I had the pleasure last Sabbath evening of seeing a couple while the knot was tied in the Baptist Church. One of the party, Harriet Church, from the Factory. The gent that she married was a Jackson from the "Screen Shop". I have been in company with him lots of times and was some acquainted with her. It is most noon and I must leave my writing and prepare both mind and body for church.

Having just returned from church I will set down again to my task. I listened to a man this afternoon that I never had before. A very young also a very sincere speaker. This eve if the weather permits I expect to go up on the hill (to the same place where we went when you were here) to hear a Mr. Marsh from New York that will lecture on Temperance this evening. If I go I shall want to hear as good a lecture as I heard then. Father has got an apprentice boy in his employ. He lives with us. He came last Wednesday and went home last night to spend the Sabbath. I reckon that he is of the "Bohor's". I have not got much acquainted with him yet. He is a lad of about "17 Summers". His father is brother to the one that Sarah Barnes lives with. The name is Burret Bucher. Orlinda Rotumner and myself gave him a name before we knew his given name and what do you think it was? It was this Brother NeverTheLess. It may be "very wicked" for us to call him such an awful name but howsomever we cannot help it. Don't think that by my description of the chap that I mean to insinuate that he is green or anything of the like for he is far from that. He is a real fellow to work and try to set him some about, but he can't make out much. I told him last thing when he went out to give my love to Sal should he see her. He lives a mile or more above Sallys. The last I heard from her was this. She and Elvya Nortlock can ride around in a carriage with her fellar but she is up to Wolcott and Orlinda and I am down to the Factory to work as hard as we can but after all says she I guess she shall have the best Ends. Now you shall not laugh for the girl means well enough. My best respects to Ariel. Write soon and a long letter. Excuse all mistakes and I will do better next time.

From Sally


It is not clear who this letter is from. It is only signed From Sally. Perhaps just a friend of Roswell Phelps.--

Letter #24

Roswell Phelps Eulogy

July 22, 1862

All of Monroe County was shocked and grieved at the passing of Oliver Roswell Phelps, altho "Ollie" had told us some two weeks ago there was now no chance of any type of recovery. He had been provided with every type of medical treatment and all doctors available. It was all to no avail as the same disease that had claimed his mother and other relatives laid its claim on him--consumption. He was loved by all that knew him and was a friend to every man whether he be white or colored. He had operated the largest merchandise store, along with his father, in Monroe County and no one ever went lacking because they had no means of paying for their wares.

The funeral service spoke more for Mr. Phelps than any words could convey. The hot July sun was bearing down with only a few clouds drifting by as if they were angels letting us know that one of their beloved had been called to his heavenly home. A light shower had fallen the night before and there was a freshness to the earth that seldom happens in July in this part of the country. The church was packed and people were standing on the steps and under the shade trees. The show of food was unbelievable. The long picnic tables that are used for the protracted meetings were spread with an abundance of fried chicken, string beans, fresh corn, loaded down with cakes and pies, squash, okra, butterbeans, irish potatoes and even some sweet potatoes, garden lettuce, corn bread, biscuits with sliced tomatoes and garden lettuce were all piled high. Ice tea and butter milk filled many pitchers. The colored folk had all brought their best to put on the table for the last meal in honor of Mr. Ollie. Everyone ate too much, even tho the sadness of our friend's death hovered about us.

I got to the church early hoping to get a seat knowing that I was going to write about Mr. Phelps in the paper. There was no place for me to park my buggy as every one else had the same idea. Wagons, horses, buggies and mules were everywhere, tied to the big old oak trees and some had to be left out in the hot sun, there were more people at his funeral than I saw at Camp Meeting last August. Even tho the shower had fallen during the night the dust was so thick it covered everything. As I was getting out of the buggy, Rufus Collins came up in his wagon and it was loaded with his first watermelons of the season. He said he planted his patch a little late this year. I did not see how many people ate of the melons. Knowing Ollie so well, I knew that this, his last journey, would be pleasant and he would be happy to see all of his colored and white friends bringing their vittles together for a meal. As I entered the church I looked back towards the dusty road and it seemed that wagons, buggies and people on foot were still streaming towards the little church. I tried to mingle with some of the ones on the doorsteps and hear what they had to say but they were too anxious to get inside for the service and out of the heat. Fans had been brought by the undertaker and were a welcomed by all. The mosquitoes and flies were rather bad and a fan was almost a necessity.

The funeral party came on time, the grieving wife and her mammy, holding on to her as she had done since childhood. The casket was black and draped with a royal purple pall with the gold cross in the center. Flowers were everywhere. I finally took my stand by an open window so that I could not only get some air but could hear and see all that took place.

The Scripture was taken from the 23rd Psalms and the 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians then the preacher made a petition to God for comfort for the young wife and children as well as for his father who loved him so well. As the young pastor read: "I will fear no evil for thou art with me" I could not help but wonder about the tiny widow with the two small children. Just then I head a baby cry, no doubt it was the little daughter of Mr. Phelps but her voice was soon quieted and no other sound was heard. The whole congregation inside and out sang: "Abide With Me" and "On Jordan's Stormy Banks". The voices of the colored rose higher than that of their white brethren, they were singing to God because their master had "gone and left them" as one was heard to say. Then the casket was born with loving hands to the cemetery and the waiting grave where Ollie was to sleep with his relatives. The pallbearers seemed to carry the body with unusual love and tender care as they made their way to the burying sight. The throng of people followed from the church and its grounds to watch as the pastor read a few passages of scripture and the clod of earth was dropped on the casket and everyone repeated: "Ashes to ashes and dust to dust".

Ollie was a hard worker and not just a dreamer as so many of our young men of today seem to be. It has always been said: "The Good Lord gathers His jewels first", and in Oliver Roswell Phelps he took a diamond to heaven.

May God bless his young widow in her sadness and the loss of a loving and kind husband and father.


Copied from the Monroe County paper regarding Oliver Roswell Phelps death.


Letter #25

From: Georgia and Fred Ellsworth Bloomington Heights

To: Ella, Amelia and Charlie Ensign in Forsyth Circa 1860's

Dear Nieces & Nephew,

I would most assuredly have written you before but I supposed that there was an interruption in the United States mail and that I could not get a letter into the Confederate States but I find that this is not true for Fred has received a letter from his Aunt May today, but perhaps if we can not write to each other and send by mail we can send by express. I hope for the best. I had a very pleasant trip up here and was not very tired when I reached here. The scenery through a part of Tennessee was splendid. I know you would have enjoyed seeing it with me but it was night when we passed through there so we did not have the opportunity for seeing that we should have been glad to. Everything looks very different here from what it does with you. Have not had any vegetables and does not look as if there will be any soon. I went to walk on the prairies yesterday and found some pretty wild flowers. Saw two rabbits and a young blackbird that could not fly and found a lark sitting on his nest with two eggs. I would have enjoyed it finely to have had Amelia Ella & Charlie with me. Do you go over to see GrandPa often? I hope you do for he is lonely and would enjoy your company very much. I would like top go with you and stay all night next time you all go and hope I shall some time, but it will be a long time first, if I ever do. I am out on the prairies visiting some of Uncle Freds cousins. There are two brothers and two sisters living together. They are past middle life and are none of them married. Seem to be perfectly contented. They love each other very much. It reminds me often of Amelia E & C. I hope you will always love each other just as much. Uncle T is in town waiting for the mail in hopes he will be able to hear from our friends in Forsyth. When you write me write all the news.

I am Affectionately, Aunt Georgia


My dear Amelia Ella & Charlie

Aunt Georgia has left a part of this sheet for me to write you which I do with very much pleasure. You have already learned when we arrived in this place and as Aunt Georgia says, we had a pleasant trip. In passing through some portions of this country as we look off over the country it looks like one vast sea studded here and there with white sails. In other portions the country is rolling with heavens there---------call it here but in reality many of them are pretty heavy timber. In some directions you cannot see a tree but there is always patches of timber in sight some large and some of them small. This particularly of this section and above here. I have seen the country over a circuit of 6 or 7 miles from town and am very well pleased with the general appearance of what I have seen. The winters are so mild that they don't stable their stock much. I would very much like to see you all and would like having you here with us, but as you cannot be with us you must write and tell us all the news--how you are getting along with your studies and all about Grandpa. I wish we could step in and see him this morning and tell him all we have seen and heard since we left there. You must go over and see him often and make it as pleasant and comfortable as possible for him. Tell your Pa I will write to him soon if there is any chance to get letters through.

Your affectionate Uncle, Fred Ellsworth.


Letter #26

From: Georgia and Fred Ellsworth Simsbury, CT

To: Charlie, Amelia and Ella Ensign in Forsyth, June 16, 1865

Dear Children:

There I cannot take that back, but the children are gone. Amelia they say you are almost a young lady. Ella is stepping on Amelia's heels and Charlie I presume you would surprise me with your last speech. I wish I could take a peep at you all just from behind the door. Susan has gone out to a ride. She is a dear little girl so we think. Your Aunt Abbie has a little girl six weeks younger than Susan. Mattie goes to school in Hartford is an excellent scholar, and is going to make a pretty woman. Nellie & Natie go to school in the school house opposite-side of the road from here. Mary Seymour called here a few weeks ago is as gentle & graceful as ever. How is your Farther & Nath. Are either of them coming on to buy goods this summer? Uncle Ralph is very pleasantly situated I expect to go over there soon for it is now four o'clock and Capt Dumas Frederick & I have an invitation there to tea this afternoon. Uncle Ralphs little baby is quite as heavy as Susan, but is much younger. Uncle Ralph says bless the baby. How are Mr. Wilders family. I should like to see many of the Forsyth folks. There is much I want to say to you but it is getting late and I must say good night. With much love

Your aff Aunt Georgia.

Your Uncle Ralph & Fred have brought some articles for you all.


My dear Nieces and Nephew

You will excuse me if I don't write you much at this time, it is very late and I have much to do, yet, tonight. I can hardly realize that you, Amelia and Ella are almost young ladies grown. Jeff Davis tells me how some of the little girls & boys that were 4 years ago are grown up to be young ladies & young men. Four long years & more have made many changes. How many of our dear friends & acquaintances have gone from earth to eternity. I learn from Mrs. Du--- of many that have been dead years & we have but just learned of it. We are thankful that we may, in all probability, be permitted to have frequent correspondence with our friends. Charlie I suppose you have got to be quite a lad perhaps almost a young man in size and quite a gentleman in appearance. I should like very much to see you & the girls & Robert & Sallie, your father & Uncle Nathan with all others & hope to some day before long. Well children I am in a great hurry & must close for this time but promise to write you a long letter as soon as I can. Give much love to your Father & Uncle Nathan.

Your Aff Uncle

Fred Ellsworth

Courtesy of Email link Sam Bunn.

225 Durham Road

Milner, GA 30257-4004