1844: Ephraim Holmes to Dr. Ephraim Holmes

This letter was written by Ephraim Holmes (1780-1848) and his wife Harriet Potter Bowen (1790-1868) of Bridgeton, New Jersey, to their son, Dr. Ephraim Holmes (1817-1895) of Philadelphia. Dr. Holmes graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1844 and practiced medicine for most of his life in Greenwich, Cumberland county, New Jersey.

Mentioned in the letter is Ephraim’s brother, David B. Holmes (1823-aft1876). David married Caroline Elizabeth Gibbon in March 1847 at Cumberland county, New Jersey. We learn from this letter that David was being apprenticed to learn the “Segar” business. Other children mentioned were Margaret, Harriet, and Edward.


Addressed to Doct. Ephraim Holmes, No. 76 Vine Street, Philadelphia

[Bridgeton, New Jersey]
Sunday Afternoon
October 13th [1844]

Dear Son,

I have been intending to write to you for a long time but have had so many other things to do since I have got better of the rheumatism and having no help but Leah that I hope to be excused. I still feel it in my shoulder and hand tho nothing to compare with what I have had. Harriet told you, I suppose, that I was 3 weeks that I could not dress myself — my fingers being swelled and stiff in the morning but much better in the afternoon.

We have just received letters from Margaret & Harriet. They are very well and Margaret says she would not change places with any lady in New York and Harriet is is much pleased with the place. You will be surprised to hear that David is learning the Segar business. he has gone to try it for a couple of weeks. The time has nearly expired. He was at home last evening. Says that he likes it very well. If it was anywhere but there I should like it better. He is to stay one year and they board him.

Our family is very small — only four of us. It seems very strange that you are all gone but I suppose you are all old enough to act for yourselves. We are pleased to hear that you are getting some practice. I hope you will succeed, become a great physician, and do much good in the world. I think you must have a pleasant family to board with. Give my respects to Mrs. Reed and Canfield and love to Edward. tell him that [   ] says send her parasol to Bowentown instead of New York as it is so late in the season she will not want it. I suppose you know you have a good vest and pantaloons here and we have also found the old Will and letters you were looking for so long. Come over and get them — it is but a step. I suppose you have heard of Mr. N. Pierson’s death and James Brooks before this time, I do not recollect any news. Write soon. Give my love to all enquiring friends and accept a large share yourself. From your mother, — Harriet P. Holmes

Tell Edward we are much pleased with his choice of paper.

My dear son,

You will have seen the result of the election in Jersey and how thoroughly we are beaten. This in part is to be charged to the unpopularity of our Tickets from the Governor down to our assemblymen. I conversed with a number of our party and everyone was dissatisfied with the selection that was made. We should have been beaten, perhaps with any set, but not so badly. Our candidate for Governor was killed by his having been an officer of the Railroad company. The Whigs industriously  circulating a report over the State that if he were elected, the State would be saddled with 10 or 12 millions for the purchase of their unproductive concern &c.

We all thought the Governor and the Electoral Ticket safe but I now conclude New Jersey is certain to go to the Whigs. It will make but little difference to me and as I did not suffer myself to become excited, I shall feel the less mortified at the result.

David was at home last evening and mentioned that a young man by the name of Marion Dubois ¹ had accidentally been dangerously shot while out with a party gunning.

You may be assured we feel lonely at times since all of our children have left us, but hope you all will all do better for yourselves than we could for you. This consoles us for the loss of each of you, hoping and anxiously desiring that you all will do well.

I hear from you frequently and that you meet with encouragement that eventually you will succeed in obtaining a good practice. I sincerely hope you will. I should press you to come down and spend a week with us but I heard you lost one or two profitable cases while you were here last so I think you had better be at home and ready when any person calls on you.

I can think of no news that will interest you and as you frequently see people from Bridgeton they will tell you more minutely all that is passing.

Give our warmest love to Edward and the same for yourself. Your affectionate father, — Ephraim Holmes

P. S. In your letter you say you are learning Latin. I am glad of it. It may be useful to you and you had much better spend your time in useful study than in useless reading or in idleness. Let your reading be such as will be useful and improving. — E. H.

Sgt. F. Marion Dubois

¹ Francis Marion Dubois (1823-1894) resided in Bridgeton, Cumberland county, New Jersey. He served as a sergeant in  Co. G, 24th New Jersey Regiment during the Civil War.


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