Howe Letters - Courting Letters

Addressed to: Miss Hannah R. Gould, Northfield Falls. (Northfield Falls is just North of Northfield 1 mile. It was later called Gouldsville for Hannah's family.) Married 22 Sept 1859.

Feb. 26th /59
Friend H.
It is not yet fully determined what day to have that sleigh ride; but please expect me about two o'clock next Thursday afternoon. Should business or other circumstances prevent this, I will call next Saturday evening with a reasonable excuse.
With many thanks, I remain truly your friend, I.B. Howe

Northfield, April 2nd 1859
Friend "Rebekah"!
Genesis XXIV,-49. (Genesis 24:49)
Yours sincerely, I.B. Howe

House April 4th 1859.
Friend Howe
I received your short message, and in answer will say if you will give me a call this week or next anytime that will be most convenient for you, I think I can give you a satisfactory answer much better than I can write one. Suit your own convenience as to the time and let me know and I will be at home.
Yours truly
H. R. Gould
Note: On the back of the envelope it says: "Mama's first letter from Papa & the answer. "

Northfield, Thursday.
Dear Hannah!
I have just returned to Northfield and found your reply to my somewhat unceremonious quotation. Being obliged to go to Burlington this afternoon I will just say that I shall hope to see you tomorrow or Saturday evening -at any rate, the first evening I can be in Northfield.
Yours most truly, I.B. Howe

Burlington, June 23d /59.
Dear Hannah!
A few days business here, prevents my going to Boston, this week, so I shall hope to see you next Sunday afternoon if you are not at church, or do not inform me to the contrary.
Yours ever truly, I.B. Howe


Wednesday Evening. [29 June 59]
On back of letter this is written: "Papa to Mama before they were married while he was building their house." This house is still standing in Northfield on Highland looking down on Elm St. and Tana and Greg and Mark & Ann have seen it, but owners must have been on vacation. It's white with pillars & majestic looking.

I arrived from Boston, last night, or rather, this morning, and start for Barton tomorrow morning, to be absent till Sunday or Monday. We may get home Saturday night, but it is very doubtful about it. I am not very particular about being here to church, next Sunday, for good Parson Stone & Lady came from Boston to Nashua with me last evening & said they should not get here to preach to us next Sunday, so you may hope to hear Mr. Smith read again. I hoped to see you this evening but couldn't get away.
If you do not see me before, please expect me next Monday, after tea, when I wish to take you "home", to see our house, then I will walk home with you in the evening. Should you have a chance to ride up here, in the afternoon, please do so & I will find you at Hannah's (Han Jones his sister) instead of going after you; but at your own pleasure & convenience. Next Tuesday,[5 July] I start for Chicago, to be gone only about ten days, as I conclude to not go to St. Pauls this time.
Ever yours, "Ike"
Note: Burlington is on Lake Champlain in the Northwestern part of Vt., Barton in Northcentral of Vt., Nashua is in the very Southcentral of NH.

Chicago, Thursday Evening, July 7th /59.
Dear "Mary",
Here we are at ''Hard Scrabble'', covered with dust, if not honor.
My "chum" [James?] not being ready to leave home on the morning train caused failure to connect with the Grand Trunk at evening, so we were obliged to stop at Ogdensburg till nearly noon, Wednesday; but since that time we kept moving & arrived here at seven o' clock, this evening. No events of interest transpired on the way so I write this in my room, with a pencil, that it may take you a long time to read it, however dull it may be.
This afternoon we passed the scene of the recent dreadful disaster on the Michigan Southern R.R. near South Bend and the fragments of the engine, cars, &c. scattered about the ravine, even now, are enough to send the cold chills over one. How horrible it must have been on that fatal night when the mad waters were rushing over them, and the shrieks of the wounded and dying were heard on every side, calling in vain for help.
Fortyone dead bodies have been taken from the wreck. The newspaper accounts of the disaster are very nearly correct.
It is a pleasant time to come west now. The farmers are harvesting the wheat, of which I am told there is an unusual crop in this region. -- Very good news for young house-keepers! The great west, is now magnificent with its thousands and thousands of acres of luxuriant corn and golden grain; but the green hills and murmuring sparkling waters are not here. - They have the wealth - we the beauty of nature.
Last fall when here, I thought I would see London, Paris and Rome, before seeing this place again --I would compare the old world with the new.
How people do change their minds!
Tomorrow morning we start for Milwaukee and I hope to go to Janesville and get back here Saturday night as I must start for Toledo Monday night.
I hardly think we shall get home as soon as the 15th. Do not expect me before Tuesday.
Have our Northfield friends at the depot discovered their mistake?
Good night! Ever truly yours, I.B.Howe

Written on a slip of paper the following:
I tried to forget you but struggled in vain.
Like the bee in a rose-bud imprisoned, I lie.
O gentlest of captors, but bid me remain,
Vain then all attempts to induce me to fly.

Each hour in your absence expands to a year.
Years seem, in your presence, mere moments of bliss.
O darling, I pray that three words written here,
Unchanged may return, as your answer to this.

Note: This is I.B. Howe's handwriting and probably his original to Hannah.


Addressed to: Mrs. I.B. Howe, Northfield, Vt.
New York City. Sunday Afternoon, July 29th /60.
Darling Wife!
Agreeable to promise and inclination, I proceed to report ourselves thus far ---
Thursday noon we left Burlington on Steamer United States & had a pleasant run to Whitehall, & reached Saratoga between six & seven o'clock, P.M. Brought up at the Franklin House and answered a great many questions asked by landlord & wife & "brother" Austin, concerning "our" family -- drank a great deal of water -- heard a great deal of nonsence -- saw a great many rich and fashionable people -- admired Saratoga till Friday afternoon, then went to Troy -saw rolling mills, bell-foundry &c. and at 8 o'clock at night left for N.Y. on steamer ''Francis Skiddy". The river was low, the boat large and we ran aground twice and instead of arriving here at 6 o'clock in morning, didn't get in till nearly ten. Yesterday afternoon we went onboard of the great Eastern and have discovered that "the darned thing is holler"! We propose chartering her for a trip home via Dog River (the small river running through Northfield, Vt.), so you may have some one commence selling tickets to visitors immediately.
Well, she is a great wonder, and as we stood on her wheel-house and looked down, perhaps sixty feet onto the water, and then onto the mighty ponderous machinery by which she is moved, it did not seem possible that she could be afloat. There were less people on her yesterday than usual, so we had plenty of room and had a good time.
This forenoon we have been to Brooklyn and heard Beecher, (of course). He is the same wonderful Beecher as ever, and although he may be extreme in many of his views, I think no one can listen to him without believing thinking that he believes what he says. He has wonderful power over his listeners ---so much so that it is interesting to watch their countenances which like mirrors portray the feelings of the speaker who is addressing them. (he is speaking of Harriet Beecher Stowe's father who was a famous abolitionist) There is nothing rich or showy in the appearance of "Plymouth Church" ---A plain brick building; but it is filled with people, and I cannot but think that many who go there out of mere curiosity, go away with many new ideas and, perhaps some pure, holy thoughts that will remain in their minds forever.
This afternoon we have been to Trinity Church -one of the most splendid ones in the city built of brown stone with stained glass windows, a chime of bells and a great organ whose music floats and thunders amid the arches of the church till the whole building seems alive with melody. This was all new to James* and I think he enjoyed it.
I remember but one remarkable expression of the preacher which was where he spoke of the cross in mount Calvary being surrounded by flowers and everything beautiful in nature "for it was in a garden and there was a new sepulchre there"! ''Even so," said he, ''there is a new sepulchre in nearly every pleasant place, or garden, in our lives."
Tomorrow if all goes well, . .I shall look about and know about how soon I can get around to go home. You may expect me as soon as the close of the week, and I think I may be there by Friday. James wants to take a stroll through the ''village'' now so I will close with lots of love to all.
Ever yours
Note: James could be Hannah's brother, James P. Gould, about 19.