Colorado College Tutt Library

Helen Hunt Jackson 1-1-25 transcription

Ms 0020, Box 1, Folder 25, Letters to Deborah Waterman Vinal Fiske (HHJ's mother) from her father David Vinal, 1829, 1833-37, 1839, 1841, 1843, 1844
Transcribed by Erin Keenan, June 2002

Note: "Inst" means of this instant, that is, this same month.

Addressed: Mrs. Deborah Fiske to the Care of Prof. N. Fiske, Amherst

Saratoga Springs Aug. 12th 1829

My Dear Daughter

Received your letter of Aug. 3 with much pleasure and hope you will never omit to write me when you know where I am for there is not any thing of a worldly & I am afraid of any other nature that affords me more satisfaction than to know you are well & happy.

I am afraid my Dear Daughter that I have made you my Chief Idol among other worldly Objects and begin to think as I expect you do that the things of time & sense have too much occupied my mind but as God is a merciful being and knows the weakness of his poor frail mortal worms of the dirt I hope that in and through the mercies of my Saviour to be forgiven and at last to enter that world of Glory where Joy peace and happiness never end. I conclude my Dear Daughter from the tenor of your letter that you think I live a very careless and thoughtless life but that is not exactly the case for I have for many years felt the importance of making preparations for Death and my Great and last change when body & Soul will be separated and my body go to the Dust from whence it came and my Soul take its life to worlds that never end and their to be miserable or happy as the Great & righteous Judge of all the earth may reside. I suppose my Dear Daughter that you feel considerable anxiety respecting my Spiritual Interest and offer up many prayers to God in my Behalf and would like to know wheather I pray for myself. I assure you that I do and that it is my earnest and fervent prayer to God that he would enable me to Devote the Whole of the Short Span of time that may be allowed to me in this world of Sin and Misery to his Service.

I have been for some considerable time past cold and negligent in my Duties to God excusing myself of such neglect by supposing I have too many Worldly troublesome concerns to admit of my paying suitable attention to my Religious Duties and therefore commenced making such alterations in my Worldly Concerns as I supposed would in a great measure free me from my troublesome business and have in at leasure to attend to the concerns of Religion but I find myself Disappointed in all my Schemes and plans and now Sincerely believe that Servers of God must first of all things be attended to in preference to every thing is [?] or we cannot reasonably expect to in any of our Worldly undertakings. I felt that my probationary existence according to the corse [sic] of nature must b very short and that I have much to do in a little time but hope that by the assistance of the holy Spirit that has never forsaken me to commence a new life more devoted to the Service of God then it yet ever has bin. I expect to leave here the next [missing text] the weather Should be very pleasant and if it is I shall not. I think my health has improved taking the Spring Waters and intend to stay here so long and I think I receive any benefit from taking the Waters of Congress Offering. I wish after you have red [sic] my letter to your Self you would commit to the flames immediately you will not say to your self you have made me no promise to burn any letter I might write you and therefore omit to comply with my request. Give my Respects to Mr. Fiske and your aunt Vinal.

Yours affectionately

D Vinal

There are many people at the Springs. Dancing music fireworks and Shows of different kinds, eating and drinking appear to be the business of the Day and coming such scenes I think are likely to Dissipate the mind and make us careless both of our Spiritual and temporal interest.


Addressed: Mrs. Deborah N. Fiske to the Care of Prof. N. Fiske, Amherst

Boston Monday morning August 26th 1833

My Dear Daughter

Yours of 20th Inst has bin duly received with unpleasant Intelligence of the Ill health of your Self and family your sickness however I anticipated I thought it Impossible for you to remain any length of time so well as I left you although you appeared to be Cheerful and in Good Spirits and Called your Self well.

I must now tell you there is a kind of movement in your family affairs that is very much like perpetual motion an never ending effort to do more than can be done by your self and those that help you with ease and comfort which wears on you constitution an discourages you girls and makes them feel as though they had no rest. My Remarks are made from my own observation and not from any thing said by others. Such kind of hurried feeling if not over come will destroy your health and end in the desolation of life if you have much to do with but little help it must be done with moderation the mind must not be fatigued by a continued humid feeling which is more wearing to the constitution than bodily labour and will unavoidedly produce ill health. I think there is no need of such unceasing effort your must try to overcome such feelings it is your duty, a duty that you owe to God and your family. Your children need your care and protection therefore you should do everything on your power to preserve your health and live. I hope you will find a good strong girl and will pay such wages that she cannot better herself by moving and if one girl is not enough get two and make your self easy and comfortable and I will pay them if you find cash scarce.

Mary was married in a few days after my return and my house is now undergoing repairs which I shall finish in eight or ten days. A Mr. Burrell has taken my house with whom I am to board and will move as soon as the house is ready. My health is not so good as it was when I left Amherst, but I think on the whole it is rather gaining. You mention of my coming to Amherst and journeying with you for the restoration of your health which I consider of much importance and paramount to everything etc. but at this time it would be very ill convenient for me to leave both on account of my poor health and having my house to repair but still if it is absolutely necessary I will come and leave things as they are. You will [write?] me and let me know exactly how you are and keep nothing back. As it is not convenient for me to gallant you on a journey. Hire one of the students and I will pay his expenses. How will it do for you to come to Boston, think on the matter and ask Doct. Gradley perhaps the salt air might benefit you. Your uncle and aunt has returned and I expect will stay at their house. I have three painters, a carpenter and mason to work on my house and am very busy myself and feel rather too much hurried to be comfortable. Yours in great haste

your affectionate Father


Give my respects to Mr. Fiske, burn this when you have read it.

Addressed Mr. Nathan N. Fiske, Amherst

Boston December 22, 1834

My dear daughter,

I received you two letter and immediately called on Mrs. Powers's sister in law who told me Joanna had got a good place in Cambridge St where she hd a dollar per week and hd the promise of a quarter of a dollar more is she continued to do well and therefore would not consent to go to Amherst. I sent you a box to the depot yesterday (Thursday) containing two drums of figs a quantity of tripe and smoked beef. Your sweet Marjoram I am sorry to say I forgot. The weather being quite warm I have not sent you a fish presuming it would spoil before you would receive it. Squabs I was told by the market man were not in the market at this season of the year.

I am very sorry ho have not recovered from your I am as you call it but think however if you are careful of you self that the soreness and lameness you are troubled with will soon leave you.

I have been very unwell myself with a bad cold. My neck and shoulders have been lame, my mouth and throat very sore and also a bad cough. I am now however better. My cough has nearly left me and am better of my other complaints and expect in a short time to have my usual health.

I think that dried smoked beef and halibut very bad food for a weak stomach therefore be careful how you use it.

Our friend and relations are well

Your affectionate Father D. Vinal

Boston 5th June, 1835

My dear daughter

Your favour of 6th Ins has been duly received and by its time I conclude you have been quite unwell and also careless of your self which undoubtedly was the permeable cause of you sickness.

I would give you some advise in respect to taking a prudent care of your self but for good reason I believe you have no faintly [?] that in ables you to learn any thing from observation and experience that relates the careful management of a frail constitution and there fore shall say nothing on that head but leave you in the hands of him who gave you existence who can and does sustain life apparently without the cooperation or assistance of those who have it.

Mrs [Snils?] dress was left at Mr. Ramond's store by my self and marked with her name and put with your things and Mr. Raymond says Mr. Dickerson took all the articles at her store that was to go to Amherst.

I expect to visit Amherst in the fore part of the month say July unless some unexpected occurrence prevents.

My health is tolerable good. I am troubled however with the rheumatism but shall not complain much where I can walk comfortably without a came or a crutch.

Give my respects to Mr. Fiske and other inmates of your family. Your affectionate father

D. Vinal

Your uncle Otis's family are all as well as they generally are. Please to write me soon.

Addressed: Prof. N. Fiske Amherst Mass

Boston 4th March 1836

My dearest daughter

Your letter of the 29th Inst. has been received and am very glad to know that you enjoy so good health and am so well provided for with help. You wish me to bring Caroline Prat to Amherst when I come there but when that will be I cannot exactly tell and therefore it will be best for you to make some other arrangement if you can to get her there. I will however give her every assistance in Boston she may need and if she can't get to Amherst with out my going there with her I will go or send someone.

I have three tenements that wants repairing and must be done either before I go to Amherst or at some further time in the course of the summer and it may so happen that I shall [missing text] it best to have my work done before I leave the city. [missing text] that case I can stay as long as I please and have nothing to hurry me back. I expect to leave Mr. Bard's [?] as soon as I can sleep comfortably warm with out a fir in my chamber and that probably will be about the first of April. My health is finally good and my former complaints of Indigestion seems to have left me and If they have I must attribute their removal to my riding on horse back. I have rode every day through the winter except when it stormed very much no cold weather has deprived me of my ride.

I want to see you and your family very much and shall not stay away any longer than I possibly can help. Your Aunt Vinal I know but little about as I have not spoken to her but once since you were here. Your uncle Otis and G Vinal are very well. Otis and myself say but very little to each other and not any thing unless business requires it. You will not omit to write me often. Give my respects to N. Fiske.

Your affectionate Father

D. Vinal

Addressed: Mrs Nathan N. Fiske Amherst Mass.

Boston 22 Nov 1837

My dear daughter

Received your letter of the nineteenth Inst (and box &c.). I bought cloth for your cloak but not the kind you mentioned that not being so handsome or fashionable as a cloth called [alepine?]. I could not get your cloak made immediately by any one except for Miss Cole but as you did not like her work I concluded to wait til I could have a Miss Hadly make it. She will have it completed by the first of December at which time I expect to leave Boston for Amherst and will take with me. Your bonnet cost $4 and the outside cloth of your cloak $12.25.

My health is finally good. Give my respects to your family &c. Your affectionate father

D. Vinal

Addressed: Mrs. Nathan Fiske Amherst Mass

Boston Monday 23 December 1839

My dear daughter

Your letter arrived at my post office box nine days after its date (Dec 5th) a long time on the road. I conclude however you made a mistake in the date.

I wish to have Mr. Fiske see Mr. Dickerson and request him to call on Mr. Bartlet for my [Sley?] and bring it to Boston. You will please to send my other buffalo skin also. I wish to have my [Sley?] left at Mr. John Limonds's stable in North Russel Street. I put the following articles on board of Mr. Dickerson's wagon, your hand basket, [missing text] your silk dress and bonnet, one keg of white brandy a box of raisins and a bundle of box [rollers?]. You will please to inform me of their arrival.

I am very well with the exception of being a little lame. Remember me to all your family

Your affectionate

Father D. Vinal

I shall be for starting for Amherst in ten or twelve days from this if I can get my [Sley?]

Addressed: Mrs. N. Fiske Amherst Mass

Boston 11th February 1841

My dear daughter

Agreeable to your request in a letter handed to me by your uncle O. Vinal I called on Mr. Crocket with your package of silks and ribbons who told me that he was not certain of returning to Amherst and if he should he could not go immediately.

I received your letter of Jan 29th on Monday 1 day of February and called on Miss Watson who told me Mrs. Moore had left for Amherst on the very morning of the day that I received your letter so you will perceive I had no opportunity of sending you package by here. I think you will be obliged to wait for your articles til my arrival in Amherst which I expect will be some time in March. My house is completed and I have not yet settled with my mechanics which will require some considerable time to examine their accts. and adjust Matters and things. I want very much to see you and your family and shall not delay visiting you as soon as I possibly can. My health is good and has been through the summer and thus far through the winter. [Gidron?] Vinal has lost one of his children and his wife and one other child is very sick. Remember me to Mr. Fiske and your children and write me soon. You need not send my cloak to Boston for the winter is so far gone I shall need it. I have not worn any outside coat this winter and have been very comfortable without. Your affectionate father

David Vinal

Addressed: Mrs. N. Fiske Amherst Mass

Boston April 6th 1841

My dear daughter

I received your letter of March 19th and delivered Miss Scholdfield her share of it who says she will buy you a shall with the greatest pleasure so when I am ready to start for Amherst I shall call on her. I have been unexpectedly detained and cannot visit you till the last of this month had I gone to Amherst in March I should have made you a very short visit. How will it do for you to come to Boston in the fore part of May and go back with me. Can you leave your family is the next question and if you can will your health admit of your undertaking such a journey. Should you decide to make me a visit you must consent to be wholly under my controls and obey all my reasonable commands and allow me to judge whether they are reasonable or not. I suppose your old weather button shall will keep you comfortable a few weeks unless your pride makes you otherwise. I want to see you very much it seems almost an age since I have been in Amherst and hope I shall not be detained much longer beside I am very much tired of anything that looks like business and wish very much to be where I can sit down and not feel hurried. March has been cold and wet through the month and it shall continue to be cold and more uncomfortable than January was. I hope you will not think of coming to Boston unless your health is pretty good and the weather comfortably warm. Our relations are generally well and send their respects to you. My health is very good and I believe that drinking and washing in cold water has made it so and believe that were you to practice it you would find more benefit from it than taking medicine.

Please to write me soon your affectionate father

D. Vinal

Remember me to your family

If any of you neighbor should be in Boston I will send your shall by them if they will take it.

Addressed: Mrs. N. Fiske Amherst Mass

Boston Thursday 15th of April 1841

My Dear Daughter

Your letter of the 12 has been duly received. I yesterday accidentally saw the name of fox on a box of goods in Otis Vinal's Store and inquired if he was from Amherst and was told that he was. I then requested Otis V. to ask him if he would take a small bundle to Amherst in case I could not find him. I then went to several of the boarding houses near the market and succeeded in finding where he boarded but he had just left the house and I did not see him but saw Mr. Hills who told me he had received no note from you but that himself or Mr. Fox would take your bundle to Amherst so on Thursday morning I called on the Miss Scholdfields and Miss Addiline and myself went shopping and bought you a shall one of the latest importations and newest fashion and the most modest looking one we could find for which I paid $21. Mr. Fox took you shall from O. Vinals Store with other articles that he head there. You will pay Mr. Fox for his trouble which I should have done had seen him. Yours Affectionately

D. Vinal

Please to write me a few lines on the reception of this that I may know whether you have(received?) your shall or not.

Addressed Mrs. Nathan N. Fiske Amherst Mass

Boston 4th June 1841

My Dear Daughter

It almost grieves me to have such pressing invitations to come to Amherst when it seems so much against my interest and reputation as it will be to leave at this present time. I have accounts to settle and money to pay which cannot so well be accomplished by others as myself. I know that life is uncertain but that should not prevent us from taking a prudent care of our property which we need for our support and the support of those we love but if you expect anything will happen to make your life in more danger than it has been for a few months past I will visit you immediately and let my business affairs take care of themselves. It is not possible that you want to se me more than I do you and feel sorry that I am to entangled with worldly concerns as to prevent me from leaving the city at any time when I have an inclination so to do. I have a house to repair and let before I can conveniently have but there is not much to be done to the house except a little painting and papering which I have commenced and shall soon have it in readiness to let I expect in a month from this you may calculate to see me in Amherst . Your aunt Otis Vinal is going to Amherst the next week if the weather should be pleasant. My health is tolerable good about the same as it has been for two years past. You will please to write me on the reception of this. I received you letter on Thursday morning 3 of June.

Your Affectionate Father

D. Vinal

When you write me give a true account of your self and keep nothing back. Remember me to Mr. Fiske and your children. I believe an Scofield intends going with your aunt Vinal. In haste D. V.

Addressed: Mrs. Nathan N. Fiske Amherst Mass

Boston Monday August 2 1841

My Dear Daughter

Received you letter this morning am very glad you are so well as you write me you are but am very sorry you are not more comfortably situated it is bad to be over burdened with cares when we are in good health but much worse when we are unwell. I expect to be at Amherst the next week and shall make you a fortnights visit after which I will gallant you to Boston If you can so manage as to leave your family.

My health is good and it seems hardly possible that I am so old as I know myself to be.

In haste yours affectionately

D. Vinal

Addressed: Mrs. Nathan N. Fiske Amherst Mass

Boston Wednesday 27th November 1843

My Dear Daughter

I Received your letter directed to your Aunt Vinal and myself and found that you had not received my letter written on Friday last nor the box containing articles for you. Indeed it could have been received at Amherst as it was put in the post office on Friday afternoon the same day the box was carried to Palmer and if Mr. Dickerson had been at Palmer on Friday you would have received you articles on Saturday coming.

I wish to know if my umbrella has been brought to your house. On my way to Boston I left my umbrella at Belchertown and gave the young man who drove the stage from Belchertown to Palmer 25 cents to pay to the old man who drove from Amherst to that place to take back to you house.

I am not so I am not so well as I was when I wrote you last week.

Your Affectionate Father

In haste D Vinal

Addressed: Mrs. Prof. Fiske Amherst Mass

Boston Thursday 4th January 1844

My Dear Daughter

I received your last letter am very sorry your strength has failed you I was in hopes you would gain strength in stead of loosing it.

I have sent you a package to Palmer I supposed has gone today containing a Dimojon of wine and some other small things and also an India rubber bed I could not find a pillow large enough for you to sleep on. You must be very careful for managing your rubber you will take to your warm room where it will become soft so as to admit of inflating it you will not put it too near your stove nor let you girls stick pins in it one pin hole could spoil it. There is no such articles as [Metheylin?] in Boston it may be had in the country of the farmers where they keep busy. I called on 4 or 5 of the princable [sic] wine dealers for unfermented wine who told me there was no such wine in Boston. It would not keep without some alcohol. They said they had Greek wine that was good for sick people it being very weak. I tasted of some and think it not stranger than common cider.

I am in hopes I shall visit you next week for I want very much to see you. I have been taking what is called white mixture for my cough and it has helped me very much indeed I am almost well. I have got 3 bottles of it for you which I shall bring to Amherst when I come. It is not a quack medicine it cured me of a cough 3 years since and have had no occasion for it til the present time.

Remember me to all your family.

Your affectionate father in haste

D. Vinal

Top of Page
Brown bar

Click here to return to the Colorado College web site.
Helen Hunt Jackson

Special Collections Home

maintained by Special Collections; last revised 7-02, jr