C. H. Halsey to Samuel McCorkle
October 8th, 1861
I now sit down to write you a few lines to inform you of my health which is good at this time, hoping this may find you enjoing the same great blessing. I received your last letters which was dated July 25th in due time, and was glad to hear of your good health and that of your crew. I am now looking every day for a letter from you on your arrival at St Helena and hope you may have been successful in taking some of those large sperm Whales which are sometimes taken on that ground. I hope you may have received those letters which was sent by the way of England to St Helena, on your arrival at that port. I think we mailed them in February. It was but a short time after that my dear Brother Jesse was taken sick with Bilious Intermittent Fever, and died after a short illness of 8 days. He had taken a hard cold some too weeks before, but thought he was much better even the day before he was taken down to his bed. He was handled very severly [sic] and had his reason only at intervals. You Dear Sir can better imagine than I can describe our feelings as we stood around his dying bed and saw his eyes close in death, Methinks I see him now as he reaches out his hand and calls Mother Father. You to have lost Brothers and a dear Father and know by experience the feelings of those who mourn the loss of dear departed friends. I feel assured of your ready sympathy and it affords us much consolation to think he was with us and that all was done for him that could be both in Medical attendance and nursing to save life. God has in his Providence seen fit to sumon [sic] him, perhaps from the end to come, and we hope although his body lies moulding in the dust his spirit is now singing the praises above. He was indeed a lovely youth, beloved by all who knew him and I need not tell you how much we miss him, at the family alter, at the table, on the farm there is an empty seat, a vacant place. God has said he does not afflict willingly but that it is for our good that we may profit thereby.
Our hearts were made glad by the safe return again of our dear Brother Willie on the 18th of August last. He is very well and thinks to go up to N. York with uncle Edward tomorrow. Father’s health is somewhat better than it was last spring, when he was very unwell and I was afraid [sic] he would never be much better.
Your Brother Robert has gone out to Pikes Peak and I have not heard from him since he left. I am very anxious to hear how he stood the journey and of his health. I hope it may have improved but it seems like a great undertaking for one to go so far and that to with a team. Father and Mother wrote to your Mother a few days ago and informed them of this opportunity to send letters. I received one last eve directed to you and shall send it in care Mr. S. P. Reeves. Mr. Phillips still occupies the House—and has been punctual in paying the rent. He was making enquiries a few days ago what you intended to do when you go home. I told him I could not tell until I had heard from you. I have fenced off six acres in the east Lot joining the pasture Lot in Sabboick Lane and hired it out on Town Meeting day for pasture for $21.50, West Lot $16.25, Barn Lot $8.25. The mowing grass which was sold 25th of June last amounts to the sum of $57.18. I am in hopes to have some money to send to your Mother this Fall if Mr Lincoln does not take it all to carry on the war. The taxes will probably be very high this fall on account of the $150,000,000 loan which you and I have got to dig and delve to pay. There is a certain class who love or whose object it is to free the Blacks South only to make slaves of us, for I consider that slavery enough to be burdened to death with taxation and this question has been the sole cause of the present state of things. I hold to maintaining the Government but I want it done on Constitutional grounds, that is—give the South her rights as they are under the constituion. There is now about 400,000 men drawn up against each other, in nearly equal numbers in and around Washington and it is said that a struggle between these immence [sic] armies cannot long be postponed. James Post has joined a regiment and expects to go on to Washington when called for. He has been home to bid his friends Good bye. Charley Bishop is agoing [sic] in one of the Gun Boats on the Mississippi. I recieved [sic] a letter from Charley Fowler dated St Helena July 25th I thought to have recieved [sic] one from you but I supose [sic] you have anumber [sic] to write and could not get time. I hope you will write however before you leave port and let me know when you expect to be home and what you wish me to do about hireing [sic] out the pasture land &c. If you should get home by the first of April you could attend to that your self; if you do not I shall not hire out the Barn Lot as you may wan tto use it your self. Good Luck Much Love Good Bye
Yours as Ever
Chas H Halsey
P. S. Your secret is safe as is my slave as yet.
From Incident on the Bark Columbia: Being Letters Received & Sent by Captain McCorkle and the Crew of his Whaler, 1860-1862; ed. Helen Halsey, New Haven, April 27, 1941; The Cummington Press, Cummington, MA.