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Family Letters: Isaac Ensign and Cornelia Phelps

December 27, 1846 to April 13, 1851

Transcribed from the original by Email link Sam Bunn.

Letter #11

From: Cornelia Phelps Ensign

To: Susan Phelps, Hartford Connecticut

Culloden Dec 27, 1846

Dear Susan

We received your letter Christmas day and have been so busy as is usual you know Christmas that we have not had time to write you before this evening. We have not heard from Forsyth for some time only as some of the citizens of that remarkable place pay our quiet village a flying visit. The last one who honored the place by his presence was no other than Mr. Patterson principal of the school at the college. Mrs. Mann & Miss. Johnson have entered into a partnership in the school and are going to teach some kind of painting. Mrs. Mann learned at the north among the other valuable accomplishments they are accustomed to initiate their cherished pupils. You will have to read the "Little Georgian" to find out the name of it for it is so much Indian I cannot get around it with my tongue much less my pen unless I had it ready spelt before me. We hear Miss. Hayden is a little homesick and presume you can conscientiously and feelingly sympathise with her having the same blessing to enjoy yourself. Since church we have been thinking about our good friends in Conn and should not wonder if in our dreams we should visit the land of our nativity, hoping it may be possible once more to see them face to face. So it seems the teachers have little respect for the high blood of a Southern in thus correcting you for some fancied misdemeanor. Such is the lot of school girls. Bear it and profit by it. It seems as if we could now see your wild look faithfully daguerreotyped as they were performing the operation, and really wish we could preserve it for you to look at when you come home. You are aware we can not give you much news of what is going on in Forsyth but perhaps we may be more fortunate in our next. Thomas King is checking in the place but of course he makes little difference with us. If there should at any time a wonderful affair happen here or in Forsyth we will dispatch a letter forthwith to apprise you of the circumstance. We have now left boarding at the tavern and taken lodging at a boarding house where we can enjoy ourselves without the luxury of sitting down to the table in the honorable company of hogdrovers etc. etc. a luxury you might appreciate if you had only once experienced it. There is no telling where we may be when you may come home perhaps be keeping house and if you do not find a bean in the land of sturdy habits just come to Culloden. The girls of the place are few and not remarkable for beauty or talent.

Monday Morning. We have no news this morning. Wish you would write as often as you can we are all away from home and like to hear from each other. We do not care how often. We expect a good school here next year. If we do our business will be much better.

Give our love to all. Isaac & Sarah C

I trust Susan that the time will fly fast and that you will soon come home and see all of your folks. Learn all you can. There is a certain doctor in Culloden says he wants to see you. He thinks perhaps from my description you would suit him. Cornelia

Letter #12

From: Parker Johnson

To: Susan Jane Phelps, Simsbury, Ct

Forsyth March 8th 1847

Dearest Susan,

Yours of the fourteenth was duly received and read with great pleasure by me and I am in hopes it will not be the last that I shall receive from one whom I love so dearly. You I recon have received a paper which I sent you not long since and you can take that piece of poetry which was in it as the true sentiment of my heart for they are I assure you. You know my fault in writing very fast so you will excuse bad writing if you please. There is nothing new here of any importance. Hudgings will be hung about the second week in April if not before. I do not exactly know what day but the Judge will set the day for his execution some day this week. Mary Fackler is not married yet but Oliver is taken with her now. Albert Drewry has returned again and he and Salome were pretty thick for a while but I believe they have left off now. I suppose you have heard of the death of Chester. He had a great many friends here and his death was shocking to the young people of Forsyth. Susan I hope you will not forget me though we are far apart but my heart is with you wherever you be I cannot help but think you have forgotten me but then all at once something rises to my view and says hope still. You long will be remembered by your humble lover and admired and almost worshiped. We have had two parties since you left but I was lost at such a place and why!--because my lovely Susan was not there. I scarcely enjoyed myself any only in seeing others enjoy themselves and then I thought that if you were only there I could enjoy myself as well as the rest, but there will be a time when we shall meet again and I long for that time to roll around and then I shall once more be happy. You must write as soon as you can for I want to hear from you if I cannot see you and may these be our words when we do meet--

No, Never more from this hour to part

Will live and love so true

The sigh that sends thy constant heart

Shall break thy lover too

Your lover, forever yours forever,

P. E. Johnston

Transcribed on September 9, 1991 by Sam R. Bunn from the original owned by Cornelia Sheppard.

Letter #13

From: Cornelia Phelps Ensign

To: Susan Jane Phelps, Simsbury, CT

Forsyth March 27, 1847

Dear Sister Susan

Norman starts from the North and we presume you will expect a doz or two letters but to be certain of your having one I have commenced. You see I am home again. We are all well and almost froze. The weather is so cold for Georgia how do you keep from freezing up in old Conn. Oliver says he thinks he shall wait as long as you did before he writes again but perhaps I can persuade him to write his dear sister few lines. I hope you will satisfy all of your friends in Conn as regards visiting this year as I failed to do it while there. Perhaps you would like to hear of some of the doings out here in Ga. Your friend Julia Colwell is married to a gentleman by the name of Cozart, a horse drover. He has taken her to Lexington Kentucky. They wrote on and made inquiries about his family. His family are wealthy his character good. Mrs. Nelson has a fine heir. I have forgotten the gender whether neuter or common I am not able to say. Miss Martha Hollis is married to a gentleman from Culloden--Mr. Sneed. I forgot to say that Mary Colwell is at home that Uncle Charley has sold his place and bought in Houston so it is probably we will hardly ever see them much more.

Mother says don't forget to write that Parker has been quite sick with the chills & fever which is probably the cause of his not writing more punctual. They are always inquiring about you and feel a good deal of solicitude on your account. Mother intends sending you a dress or two. Papas summer goods have not come as yet so you must not expect anything very pretty. As regards the quilt, Mother thinks it was a good idea you may do all you can for Grandma for perhaps it will be the last opportunity that you will have. I wish there was some way for us to make an exchange you come home and let me visit in your place for it must be you are getting tired or will before Papa gets North and I am tired of looking at the old red hills of Georgia. But stern poverty prevents us from visiting the land of steady habits this summer. I suppose we might scrape together thriss enough to go if we had anybody to make some to get us back. Oliver he sails about as large as life he went down to old man Facklers the other night with his high heeled boots on. I don't know who he went to see (do you). Huggins left his pleasant home the jail the other night he was gone just a week. He had quite an airing but they brought him back again safe and sound where he will probably stay until he is carried to the scaffold. If you had given a Yankee that much time I think he would hardly been taken. They are about to establish a female college in Forsyth. Mr. Darby principal Mrs. Mann assistant & Mrs. Smith music teacher so report says. We hope you will come home qualified to enter and graduate. I have some notion of going myself... Miss. Mary Johnson is dead she died about two weeks ago in McDonough at her sisters of the consumption, I think. She has been confined to her room since Christmas...Chester and Miss. Johnson are both gone--two with whom we have been much together. It does not seem as though they were both gone never more to return. We expect you received 10 dollars in a letter you received. Pa says he hopes you will be careful and not fall down and break all the plates the good folks have got. Don't indulge feelings of homesickness it is a bad plan. It will not be long before Pa will come and you can ask Norman all about us which will be almost as good as a short visit. Mother has cleaned out the flower yard. We have a few flowers in bloom now Jonquils have finished blooming some time since. We have a small orchard of fruit trees set out which will bear in a year or two. I don't know as I can think of any thing more to write. Georgia grows and learns a little. She wants to see Susa right bad she says. I have been home 4 or 5 days and think I shall stay a few days longer. Isaac is in Culloden behind the counter. Give my love to all and tell them to write to us. Write often. I shall expect a long letter myself directed to Culloden and you must write a long one home. I would write to Grandma but you can tell her what I have written. Cornelia.

We send you 4 dresses 3 pair stockings 2 hanks 1 pair gloves 1 silk tie. We hope they will suit you. Cornelia

Transcribed on September 6, 1991 from the original by Sam R. Bunn. Letter obtained from Cornelia Sheppard. This was written only a few months after Cornelia and Isaac married.

Letter #14

From: Oliver Roswell Phelps, New York, Aug 18, 1848

To: Susan Jane Phelps in Forsyth, GA

New York Aug 18, 1848

Dear Sister

I believe that the day has come and gone in which it was my privilege to write to you. I have received one letter from you since I have been in the great city. But as it is now over in Brooklyn permit me to write on some new subjects. You may be anxious to know how I am enjoying myself in New York. I can assure you that it affords me considerable pleasure to inform you that I am enjoying myself better than could be expected. In the daytime from 9 to 5 past 5 my mind is troubled and perplexed about buying goods. And as it has been very warm weather it makes it almost impossible to enjoy myself. But after the last of the day is over I go over to Brooklyn and spend the evening with my many pleasant cousins, for you are already aware that Cousin Charia Hubbard & Sarah Hough are at Uncle Symans together with the others make quite an interesting group. We occasionally take a stroll through Broadway through the Park and not infrequently drop in some brilliant saloon and take some ice cream & ice water which is not at all out of place in a warm summer day. But during these many pleasant hours my mind often wanders to you with an ardent wish that you were here, and I am not by any means the only one that expresses such a wish for Cousin Rachel & Cousin Sara Hough and in fact all very frequently say so. Cousin Sarah Hough is going back when I do so you see I shall have company as well back as I did when I came. I shall in all probability leave the city Monday afternoon and may spend the rest of my vacation in Simsbury, but it is hard telling what I shall do as I have some notion of going to Essex also to Bristol. I have not yet been to the meuseum but intend to before I leave the city. [large piece missing] the privilege of making my vacation longer than the not think that I shall. As I am equally my studies as I am to visit my friends that it is very essential that I should mind as long as there remains so much room for improvement. Cousin Rachel thinks that you must have forgotten her as she has not had a letter in some time. I also hear others complain of you in the same particular. I am in hopes that my ears will not be grated by hearing any more complaints of you but I advise you to write to your friends for I think that many of them merit your correspondence. I should be highly gratified if I could hear from you still oftener, but if it is not convenient for you to write, then I will be content. I received a letter from our folks yesterday which stated that Mr. James Lake was no better and I am fearful that he never will recover. As you say that you know of no one more prepared to die than him, yet it will be a severe loss to the family, for I always thought that James was the smartest of them. I do not hardly know which one could be your ____ but think that it must have been Thomas R or Mr. Statham. I am sincerely glad that you had a fine time for it is a rare thing for you to go off in the country to meeting.

I am sorry to learn that Mary F is to be married so soon, as I do not think that her acquaintance with the Gentleman can be very good. As it is someone I have never heard of before I am very anxious that "Mary" should do well by marrying because I and her have been for the last two or three years very intimate "friends", but before I came away I became convinced that she wanted to get married and if she marries this fellow my opinion will be confirmed. I have a letter from her which remains unanswered. "If" I answer it I "may" tell her that she had better wait a year or two- [piece missing]

...time may be old enough to enter into the wedlock" I shall be very happy to comply with your wish about Parker and will do as soon as I reach Suffield. Please to go up stairs and see who is the author of that "Southern First-Clap Book". I do not recollect which room it is in, but think that it is in the room where Cornelia stayed when I came away. And after you have done this I wish you to write and tell me. Do not delay writing immediately as it is very essential that I should know before I go to Suffield. Address the letter containing the desired information to me at Simsbury. O yes you must go at any rate to the lower camp meeting just to do as you have for years past done. In all probability you are correct in your belief that some of my letters would not do to be read for such is the case. For I have some that I intend shall never be read and sooner than have them read I would lose my "right arm". You have before this time seen a letter from me recommending a young man by the name of Ballard. You have seen him several times but perhaps have never been introduced to him. He will suit our folks in many respects though not in all. As I never have seen a young man that would in all respects suit all the family. I think that it is a pity that Cornelia cannot find a word to write to me. The reason is that she has in a great measure "quit" writing letters. It is time that I should be buying goods. Write as -"soon"- as you receive this. Excuse haste I remain aff yours

Oliver R. Phelps

Written by Oliver when he was 18 and visiting and working in New York for the summer. His sister, Susan, was 15 at the time. The mention of Cornelia (who married Isaac Ensign) who was 24 at the time had a 5 months old child, Amelia, which may explain why she had not written!

A letter written two days after this from Susan to Oliver must have been written before she got this one, as she did not answer his question.

Letter #15

From: Susan Jane Phelps Forsyth Aug 20 1848

To: Oliver R. Phelps (location uncertain, probably New York)

My dear Oliver

It is Sunday, a dark and gloomy day and well do my feelings correspond with the weather for I must acknowledge they are none other than sad. How could I be otherwise when I relate the circumstances that have transpired during the past week. We have had four burials this week. James Lake is no more. Agustus West died last Thursday after an illness of eight days. He could not be convinced that he was going to die until about an hour before his death he requested his brother to pray for him. It is a severe stroke on his dear old mother. You know the character of this young man better than I. Even were I to attempt to describe it his death bed was not to be compared to Mr. Lakes who was perfectly reconciled and said he had no desire to live in this wicked world. When will we have another James Lake in Forsyth. Never I fear. Mr. Williams infant daughter and Dr C.---son about four years old, the oldest and only child they have buried. This summer it seems very hard to them to have both of their children taken from them. He is a Roman Catholic and some think it will be the means of his conversion. When it was struggling in the agonies of death he knelt down and prayed, then said it was the first time his child ever heard him pray.

Mother fell down and sprained her ankle very bad. The doctor says there is no bone out but I can hardly believe it. She will not be able to step on her foot for at least one month. It is very painful and requires a great deal of attention. She was coming out of the kitchen door and the step moved. She fell her whole weight on her ankle. It was by great exertion on our part that we carried her into the house before she fainted. The neighbors say that Mrs. Phelps is the last person they could think would fall but you know that accidents will happen to the "best of families". She bears it with great patience and fortitude.

Sister (Cornelia) has been far from well for the last week but feels better today. Says she would have been confined to her bed if Mother had been well, but as it was not designed to her she has braved it out knowing that it would be impossible for me to attempt to all. I have again commenced that bad practice of taking pills but will not follow it longer than I deem necessary for you are well aware that I think it no pleasure. I now resume my pain after bathing my head in cold water and taking a very small swallow of wine. Now do not think that I indulge myself in the habit of drinking any thing of the kind, but rather believe me when I say that it is the first time since your absence and also it was the actions of our dear mother but enough of such nonsense.

There was a democratic mass meeting in Atlanta and Mr. Harden was one among the many that went. Report says that he indulged most too freely with the bowl so much so as to get into a fight. It is very mortifying to Catharine is now causing her many sad hours. Father says he will be excommunicated from the lodge and if he is I fear the consequences. What a pity that he should so degrade himself lower than brutes. We still hope for the best. Cannot you place confidence in your sister and let her know the name of that young lady who has written you a letter on that all important subject--matrimony. Rest assured it shall never be lisped. I must confess that I had no idea that a young lady in this city was so anxious to launch into the whirlpool of matrimony as to offer her heart and hand unasked for. It is a bold and daring piece of business. There is no telling the motives and designs of some. I can hardly refrain from giving some advice although would not think it prudent unless trusted with the name. I have none in my mind the very course I should pursue. As it is your warmest wish that I should give you the name of that young gentlemen and Sister I will do so. "William Brantly and Lilly." Her name is very appropriate. I will now relate to you a circumstance of last week. I went to the funeral of James Lake and called by for Martha Harris to accompany me. While there, was introduced to a young gentlemen, distant relation of Martha. He went with us and returned with me. I asked him to walk in, (no thought that he would by the way). Hesitated for a moment and then came in (it was 6 O clock). We chatted away pretty merrily until the supper bells rang. He said he must go. I said nothing but waited very impatiently for him to leave. He again resumed the conversation. Sister called me and said "don't talk to the fool" and certainly he will leave. I followed her advice and said nothing for a long time. At length says he, have I said anything to offend you? If I have do forgive me, Miss Susan. I made no reply but immediately mother called "Frances as loud as she could hollow, set the table for the bells have rung". Still he did not take the hint (provoked beyond endurance) I said "father will be home soon" still he remained. Our folks concluded he was not going to leave so they prepared supper and called us to tea, but he said he was not hungry but felt sick. Wishing him to the bottom of the red sea I persisted that he should take a cup of tea. He said I could go to supper and he would remain in the parlor. I would not comment to that arrangement thinking he would prolong his stay. He remained until the late hour--when to my infinite relief he departed leaving a thousand apologies for detaining me from supper. Rejoiced was I when I heard he was to leave in the morning for home. You are well acquainted with his sister. I am ready to exclaim, Oh Lord deliver me from such a chap. You will be entrusted with his name provided I learn that young ladys but I do not most sincerely hope that I never will be in another such a pickle. Amelia weighs nearly 17 pounds. Yes I think myself a pretty good nurse now and Georgia is finally improving in the art. Father says if you wish to see James Sharp you must go to Robins, a hardware store across the way from Lee and Case. I think I have written about enough. I expect it will test your patience to read all my nonsense, nevertheless you can read it in spells.

Give my profound regards to Uncle and family. Tell Rachel I intend writing before long. I hope that your selection of goods will suit Mrs. . Mom thinks your taste remarkable good and certainly she must be a judge.

I must close by subscribing myself Your most affect Sister Susy

They all send their love

Letter #16

From: Susan Phelps, Forsyth, GA

To: Oliver R. Phelps, East Hampton Mass "Charge 54"

Jan 20, 1850 Old Man Phelps White House

Oh! Holy night! thy stars are beautiful! I look up to them as to bright things of hope. I gaze upon them and pray, if indeed, they be the "eyes of angels", they may rest cheeringly on my beloved brother. The dim sunbeam has passed into twilight and naught but stillness, awful and profound reigns within our peaceful village--yes, hark a bell is ringing to call the people of God to the Temple of Jehovah. Indisposition has prevented my attending the drapings of the sanctuary today and so this delightful Sabbath evening I must again remain at home. No friend calls in, no dear confiding Oliver, to converse with, and as in former days advise and sympathize with one in my childish and petty sorrows. So I will try to half-way make myself agreeable on paper. It will also serve to while away the tediousness of an hour before retiring to my lonely pillow.

Your well filled, written, and composed sheet received a joyful welcome. It was thought by me that it would immediately get an answer. You seem inclined to say that I am not punctual. This last epistle has become misplaced. I have looked again and again but without success. So you must pardon me, if I do not reply to all of your inquiries as I presume to say that I shall ship over some as it so happened I had not (as is my practice) perused its previous pages but will. It was ______ from the beginning to the close with sadness so sad despairing desponding and sorrowful your heart (or rather the one Carrie has given you) that I must acknowledge it acted as quite a damper on my feelings. I was feeling a little lonely just then! but have passed many sad moments within the last few days and eyes amused to the "melting mood" have shed more than one tear. Yes, one dear friend although not endeared to me by the ______ ___ of relationship but whom I regard with high esteem and the purest friendship has offered me conversation and soothes my breaking heart. So I have not but a little news I must fill a portion of this sheet as I always do in speaking of self! Well, perhaps you would say "what is the cause of all this grief" Why only because this willful wayward one must consult her "dear Papa" about going to school and he says nay! you must wait until they finish the college they are pretending to build and if you go now it will be without my consent, so I have no other way of revenging but in tears as it is beyond my begging and beseeching to get his approval. Mr. Thomas commenced his school last Monday has between fifty and sixty pupils he is teaching in the Baptist Church it is not a convenient or appropriate place but after having the promise of going I was anxious to fulfil, beside it is always so much better to commence with the rest and at the beginning of the year. I could assign many other reasons for wishing to attend now but it is useless and fruitless. I was favoured with a letter from Griffin indited by those dear friends of mine "Sallie and Sue". I jested a little with Sue for her "climbing hills" with Mr. Low but she evaded the subject entirely so I am no wiser than before. Oh yes I have a bit of news you must keep very silent. It is strange to relate but Miss Emiline or Ling (as she is called) Reese is to become the help meet or help ear of a certain young man who is a mechanic and one of the workmen on our slow progressing building. I understand they are to be married the seventh of next month. She has said "Parker and Sussi" should be attendants. His name is "Spain" it is said by some he is very intelligent and ambitious. Oh do you not wish that the sister of our Cousin Paney may live a life of happiness and bliss. May heaven's choicest blessings rest on them. Mr. Ensign speaks of starting for New York next week to purchase the spring goods for Phelps & Ensign of Fanch Phelps & Putting of Barnesville. Papa has gone in company with Jimmy or rather will the first of March. A cash store not one cent of credit. Pa is going to furnish the goods and have half that is made. Which in my opinion will not make him rich if he has to depend on the efforts of "James Furbelow N_____"

Cousin Nancy gave a party during the Christmas holidays.

I do not think it is decided by our dear father as to whether you must meet Mr. Ensign in the great city or not in order to assist him in selecting and buying. I hope for your sake you will be deprived of the pleasure. Old Mr. Mitchell departed this life last week. Our folks are preparing to go to bed so I must close. Do try to be more cheerful when you write again and let it be very soon. Susan

Transcribed from the original by Sam R. Bunn on April 6, 1990. Original owned by Cornelia Sheppard.

Letter #17

From: Susan and Georgia Phelps, Forsyth, Georgia

To: Oliver Roswell Phelps, Simsbury, Connecticut

Sabbath morning March 4, 1849

My dear Brother Oliver--

A longer time has elapsed since I last indited an epistle to you than I intended but time with the "eagles rapid flight" passes away almost before we are aware of it & in fact I have been quite busy since the reception of your kind & affectionate letter. I attended the wedding of Miss. Susan Hayden last Wednesday eve who was united in the Holy bands of wedlock to Professor Loomis. They were married by an Episcopal clergy from Macon also several of his (Loomis's) friends came with Mr. Bragg. The evening passed very pleasantly there being but few present a real yankee wedding all were inhabitants of the "land of steady habits" but 2 and I enjoyed myself finely "if" one that contributes so much to my happiness was about. From Father I learn that uncle Lymen has the small pox. I am very sorry for you are aware how catching it is and we can see no other alternative than that you too must become its victim--Mother has passed several sleepless nights in great entreaty about you. I tell her she cant derive any possible benefits from it but who can help it when one we love so dearly is in danger of being sick & Oh the "awful thoughts" that this malady may prove fatal. What agony would be ours. I cannot dwell longer on this (to me) painful subject only to warn you to be quarenteed and if possible to escape--

Our mean contemptible town has been one scene of confusion & excitement for the past 2 weeks in view of a party that was given by the Sons of Temperance to celebrate their anniversary. Father did not approve of it therefore didn't contribute and we did not assist in baking the cake so I did not participate but heard from those that did it was a very dull affair. Gaulding (a gifted fool) said every body and his dog was there. A person that heard the remark said all that was necessary to make him one was a tail. "Do" excuse the expression it is so vulgar. There were several who were very anxious to have a party & their poverty would not let them make one out of their poorly filled purse so they went to the sons for assistance & some were so foolish as to lend a helping hand so far as their means would allow. The managers were Thomas Thing & Gaulding beside 1 0r 2 other poor scamps. Do forgive me for making such a remark but it is the sentiment of my heart. Parker received a letter from you last week also another was enclosed, a very rich and valuable communication he handed it to me & I will promise to take good care of it until you may return it--shall then come in your possession. It is really worth keeping is it not?

I write to you so often that it is impossible for my letters to contain much information & we are entirely destitute of news. The winter has been very mild and the gardens were just beginning to put on their coat of green when Mr. Frost made his appearance and nipped every green thing so nature now presents a very gloomy aspect. Georgia says do reserve part of a page for me as I think you will be better edified in the perusal of hers than mine I will just close as she will be certain to give the news.

(The above written by Susan Phelps. Following by Georgia)

Dear Brother

For the first time in my life I got to school to Mrs. Mun. I study Geography Arithmetic definer spelling reading and writing with grammar we fifteen schoolers Amelia is very mishervous when she comes over to her Grandmama banbox and pulls out mothers bonnet. Sister Cornelia expect to go to the North this summer. Mothers uncle has got most well. I had forgot to say that Amelia got to teeth. This is not written to well as I have written before if you laugh they hear you over to the baptist church. Mother sends her best and says that you must be a good boy. Your sister,


Transcribed from the original by Sam R. Bunn on October 9, 1989.

This is one of the few letters written by Georgia and was written when she was about 9 years old. Susan and her brother, Roswell were obviously very close even though he lived most of his life in the North rather than in Georgia.

Letter #18

From: Rachel

To: Susan J. Phelps, Forsyth, Ga

Brooklyn Feb 28th 1851

My Dear Cousin,

Are you looking for an answer to your letter directed to Brooklyn? I think it is full time it went, but fear it will not be much news carrier or of much interest, but will I trust be valued by Susy as a token of remembrance from a dear Cousin. Your dear brother staid with us last night. Oh if Susy had only come with him. I am quite sure Susy and I should have had a pleasant time. I have not the least doubt but that if I could go to Forsyth we should enjoy it. I dare not think of that, my going to see you, but I think you will come to see me. Cousin Maria came to see us in January. I enjoyed it myself very much and trust she did. She went from here to Bloomfield, then back to Bristol. She left a sentence for me to put in this. I trust you will forgive my forgetfulness as I cannot repeat it. Do not judge wrong of Maria you are far from being forgotten by her. She said when she first came here she must write to Susan. She confessed it was over a year since you wrote to her but she went considerable and had much sewing so the letter was not written here. It is but dreadful few that I have received from her. You and I are pretty regular correspondents, are we not? I trust we shall yet be sometime to come. You asked if I spent a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year? Christmas was no different than other days only as I attended church in the morning. New Years day I had to with my Mother and sister receive the numerous calls from the Gent. Many call then that do not any other time during the year. I had not one single invite to a gay party as you did. I have but a very few acquaintances indeed that I should expect an invite. You did not write any thing about Santa Claus. Did you hang up your stocking? I did not mine, can that be the reason why I did not receive something? I cannot mention one single gift. I am mistaken in writing I attended church Christmas. It was Thanksgiving day. If I remember right Christmas was quite dull to me. How swiftly time flies. Today is the last day of Winter month for another year. Oliver tells me you have left school. Have you graduated? or left for a short time? I often wish I was a school girl but if I should commence now I fear much or all would be new to me. Mentioning our teacher recalls the remembrance of many pleasant hours and days. I very seldom hear of her but she is I think still alive, but much afflicted. George and Emily and little George came down week before last staid about a week. You must excuse me for not having this letter as long as most of them are perhaps I shall sometime make it up. My Mother and Sister an of course Eddy send much love with mine. Write soon and a long letter

to your dear

Cousin Rachel.

Transcribed from the original on September 6, 1991 by Sam R. Bunn. Letter obtained from Cornelia Sheppard. Letter was written the day Ella Ensign (my G. Grandmother) was born!

Though he may have been a prolific writer, only one letter survived written by Isaac W. Ensign and that was to Cornelia. She had gone to Simsbury for the summer to visit her grandparents. His letter, #19, gives some humorous insight into his dependency on his wife as he tells her he cannot find his nightshirts anywhere! Cornelia's letter back to Isaac, #20, is full of news from Simsbury. From it we glean that perhaps Isaac's brother David was suffering from epilepsy or something similar as she mentions his "spells" where he falls. Letter #21 is the last available written by Cornelia Phelps Ensign. It is a very interesting letter written in 1851, giving some insight into life in 1951 Georgia.

A pause here before you read these three letters completing this page will give some insight into the descendants of Isaac and Cornelia Ensign. Their first child was Sarah Amelia Ensign who was born March 28, 1848 in Forsyth. Amelia, as they called her, married John Lewis Ponder on December 12, 1877. They had two children: Ralph Ensign Ponder who married Laura Bloodworth and Evelyn Ponder who married Herbert H. Swasey.

Their second child, Ella Maria Ensign, was born February 28, 1851 in Forsyth. When Ella was 18 she married James Monroe Ponder, a brother of John Lewis who married her sister. A copy of their marriage license is included in the appendix. It is interesting that they were married on December 14, 1869 in Forsyth and their only child, Abigail Elizabeth Ponder was married exactly 28 years later! James Monroe Ponder was a very prominent businessman and banker in Forsyth, and also a Captain in the Confederate Army serving with the Quitman Guards. Their daughter, Abigail was born in Forsyth September 22, 1877 and married Samuel Rutherford on December 14, 1897. Their two children were Juliette Rutherford born 3 March 1901 and Eleanor Phelps Rutherford born September 28, 1905. This line will be amplified in a volume on the Rutherford family.

The third child was Charles Albert Ensign who was born May 21, 1854 in Forsyth. Charles married Nancy Sutton Proctor on September 28, 1882 and had four children. Addie M. Ensign born May 17, 1884 married Mr. Kendrick on October 4, 1904 and they had two children: Louise Ensign Kendrick who married Robert Ogden Persons, and Josephine Ensign Kendrick who never married. Oliver Phelps Ensign was born March 17, 1889 and married Lolla Bright Cannon. Their children Oliver Phelps Ensign and Charles Joseph Ensign were the last to bear the Ensign name as descendants of Isaac and Cornelia. The third child was Charles William Ensign born November 30, 1892. He married Mary Leila Patterson and no known children came from this marriage. The last of Charles Albert Ensign's children was Cornelia Amelia Phelps Ensign born February 14 1901. Cornelia married Hamilton Cabell Claiborne on September 23, 1924 and they had one daughter, Cornelia Phelps Claiborne.

Cornelia Phelps Ensign died at the age of 32 on March 12, 1857 and was buried with her parents in Forsyth, Georgia. Isaac lived to the ripe old age of 87 and is buried in the Ensign Mausoleum in Forsyth. He died on November 8, 1907 and his obituary is included in the appendix. It is interesting that Cornelia's mother, Sarah, died on May 12, 1957, exactly two months after her daughter.

Letter #19

From: Isaac W. Ensign, Forsyth, Georgia Tuesday Eve

To: Sara Cornelia Ensign, Simsbury, Conn June 27, 1849

Dear Cornelia

I received a letter from you just last night and now will devote a few notes to you by way of inditing a reply. Tis but a very short time since I wrote you and nothing of much importance has happened in our worthy village since the protracted meeting closed Sunday Evening under the auspices of Messrs Keith & Atkinson. The meeting commenced cold and cheerless and instead of preaching to the church and uniting them by pointing out and enforcing duty or preaching repentance and faith in Christ the meetings commenced and were carried on urging sinners to come to the altar and showing the advantages of being a church member. One of the arguments used in the exhortation I will relate. It may serve to show the spirit of the meeting. One night they were invited to the altar and just before the prayer one of the preachers says come and kneel round the altar no matter how many there was. Once a young man who came up to the altar when they were three or four deep and knelt with the mourners. He now is President of Emory College. Become a Christian and you are in the road to distinction. Those are not the precise words, but they convey the idea to me it is a matter of no surprise that the effect produced was so small. There was so much of the "man work" and too little of the Spirit of God. I would like to see the Spirit moving on the hearts of this people and hope we may yet be favored with the genial showers of Divine grace. On Sunday the Presbyterians Baptists and Methodists all united at the Methodist Church---

Mrs. Reafe Banks is very sick. Consumption. I do not think she will live but a short time. Mrs. Cohran is getting better. Mr. O C has been up to the store yesterday and today and is going to the High Falls tomorrow if nothing happens. Business is only tolerable. Am very sorry Amelia should be so much trouble. But Suppose it is hard to wean children any time. Has Oliver changed much in appearance? I am sorry he is not coming home, as I should like to see him. Presume he is doing as well as he can.

So Sabra is to be married tomorrow night. Well then she will not visit Forsyth soon. How do Nathan & Ralph get along. Do they grow? Write me the particulars of Sabras wedding after it is over. Farewell to letters from her now. I suppose I have no reason to complain as I am faulty in that very particular. Who will do the work now. Sabra & Abigail are both gone. Abigail must work I suppose to be contented as I reckon she is but if I was her I would keep house. I do not believe in living with the old folks anyhow. They are generally first rate neighbors, and I believe that is the place they ought to sustain. I do not think you are making much by weaning Amelia now. I have not been able to find those nightshirts yet. They were not in my trunk and I have scuffled along thus far without them. Several of our good folks have gone to the Temperance Convention today and some go tomorrow. IW Gaulding & Lady make it their wedding tour. We are to have a glorious 4th here if the Sons can make it so. Give my love to all. Tell them to write one month of the time gone.

Yours Aff I. W. Ensign

Letter #20

From: Cornelia Phelps Ensign

To: Isaac W. Ensign, Forsyth, GA

Simsbury August 7 1849

Dear Isaac

I received your letter today and also one from I. F. N. saying that he should be in N.Y. in about 3 weeks. Oliver is here anxious to go to the city if he is going so as to be back to East Hampton by the 28 of the month. I wrote to Mr. N. that I thought I should not return with him I wrote also your wishes about the cat but whether he takes the trouble or not I think is doubtful We are all well here as usual your mother has recovered I think from her hurt with the exception of her being a little more nervous. Amelia's syrup that I have given her has helped her a good deal. She is I think going to talk before she has any teeth to eat with as she has not had but two since she left. Tell Susan that I will answer all her letters if it is 2 a week. I am in hopes that Mr. Keiths visits will be beneficial to some of the inhabitants of the promising town of F. We have had dry weather here all summer for the last 2 or 3 days we have had rain. I am sorry that you are not going to have any peaches. I don't know how you will get along. What has got in to old Mrs. Cromwalks head to sell out? is she going to California? Caroline Ensign Husband, Rhodas sister, has gone to stay 2 years and left her with 3 little children and only about 2 dollars a week to live on. She takes tayloring and lives in Middletown. Oliver says this is the first of his knowing anything about Mr. Morse's affairs he thinks the good man is jealous because he has to write so many letters. The R Road is now in the works in Simsbury plenty of paddys about. I suppose you have a great deal to do I am afraid you & papa will both give out. David likes his gun very much. Sabra moves to Granby this week. Rhoda is here yet--they have not heard from Erastus or John for a great while. June Keston is not married she teaches school in Wheatogue close by Grandpas. Grandmas health is quite poor. I don't know but I shall be sorry that I wait until Oct before I go home but the folks here were so much opposed to my returning this warm weather said it certainly would make Amelia sick if not me. It will only be about 4 weeks longer to wait. I should think Father would be afraid to offend such a dangerous man as Willis should not you? You say you are about the same. I was in hopes your health would improve but I suppose you have too much to do. Cibella intends going to N Jersey this week to assist Mary in her school she is not very well, Mary I mean. Oliver was a little sick Sunday night but I gave him a good sweat with sage tea and drafts on his feet and cured him so he is well as ever. Oliver & Amelia are having quite a time with Amelias little wagon. She has the greatest time at family prayers in the morning. She has a little stool to sit on & her Grandpa sits it by him and tries to have her sit down. She will sit and read in her book all the time the rest of us read them at prayers. She goes from one to another shakes her head and bows and dances about lively. Tell Georgia her hair has grown so it hangs in little curls. I have made her a little linen sacque trimmed it with braid.

I am glad to hear you have disposed of the Black flour. I suppose our house will be pretty dirty when I get home. You know it leaks in that little bedroom. I cant understand about Mr. Morse & Oliver can you? Davids spells are not so frequent but much harder. He now falls when he has them out of his chair. He fell last Friday hurt him quite bad hit his face against the piece of marble under the stove. I fear he is beyond recovery. He is very cheerful though but must not talk much for fear of bringing on those spells. Did they have a bell in the shop when you was here which was connected by a wire so they could pull it in the back room when they wanted from the shop? It is quite convenient. I hear them pulling it now as I am up in the library writing. Well I have been down and eat dinner. Expect to go over to Abby's this afternoon. I have sprinkled a lot of clothes to iron before I go. I had quite a lot for Oliver and Amelia dirties a suit every day so you see I have something to do. Have you received Davids letter which he wrote about the first of July? He is expecting an answer. I want to see you all very much. I want to go to Bristol but I have had no opportunity to go as yet. Don't think that you are wasting time writing to me if you know how anxious I am to hear from home this is written without lines as you might suppose.

Good Bye, Yours aff


Love to all

Transcribed from the original on September 5, 1991 by Sam R. Bunn. Original letter in the possession of Cornelia Sheppard and found in her Grandfather's Bible

Letter #21

From: Cornelia Phelps Ensign

To: Grandparents (O. C. Phelps) Simsbury Ct

Sunday Afternoon Forsyth April 13, 1851

Dear Grandparents

Perhaps you think that I have forgotten you because I write so seldom but not so. Oliver has returned. He arrived last Thursday well and in good spirits. We are all well at present but Georgia. She is not very well complaining some. I think if mother takes her from school her health will improve. We have quite warm weather now the gardens are in a flourishing condition. Mother will have green peas this week. My garden is not quite so fortunate. The rabbits eat up my peas and made them bitter. We have a plenty of lettuce & radishes. Roses are in full bloom. Our house is covered with rose vines. You have heard I presume that I have another daughter 6 weeks old now. She is more like the Phelps family than Amelia. Her nose is just like her Grandpa Phelps. Her name is Ella & I think I have my hand's full although Amelia is 3 years old she is a great deal of care & trouble. I have a very good servant hired but Negro help need a great deal of watching. The most I prize this girl for she is an excellent hand to take care of children. Amelia has gone with her now go preaching. They preach to the blacks after dinner and Mr. Ensign has gone to Bible class and I am trying to write and rock the baby. I should like very much to see you all. Oliver says he thinks Uncle Jeremiah and perhaps his wife will come out next fall. I should like very much to see them & many of their Northern friends. Mr. Ensign will come on in June or July after goods but I don't know that I shall try to come with Ella. She will be so much trouble if I should come I should leave Amelia at her Grandpas. Oliver tells me you have no liquor in the house. I am truly glad for Grandpas sake, not only his health is better for not drinking but his mine is freed from its injurious effects. Mother has had her teeth taken out. They pained her so much she could not stand it. I will try and write more next time but now must close. Love to all. Do write if it is not more than two lines.

Yours affectionately,

S. C. Ensign

Transcribed on September 6, 1991 from the original by Sam R. Bunn. Letter in possession of Cornelia Sheppard. Baby Ella mentioned in letter is my Great Grandmother.

Courtesy of Email link  Sam Bunn
225 Durham Road
Milner, GA 30257-4004