White, Susan Jarvis
Correspondence of Susan Jarvis White and Charles Henry Waterbury, and family, of Elizabeth Port, New Jersey and New York City, New York, 1844-1863

255 letters, 930 manuscript pp., dated 1844-1896, the bulk of the letters dated 1844-1863. About twenty to twenty-five percent of these letters have water damage and/or ruffling or chipping at edges, causing some loss of text. Most letters were excised from a scrap book, or album, with paper and paste along the left side margins. Of these 255 letters, 49 letters are not dated and another 23 are incomplete. The incomplete and undated letters date from the years of 1844-1863. There are also included approximately 75 pages of handwritten verse and essays (mainly verse); plus 19 pieces of miscellaneous paper ephemera, either printed, or otherwise (calling cards, newspaper clippings, etc.).

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The correspondence is made up mostly of correspondence of Susan Jarvis White and Charles Henry Waterbury, writing to each other during their courtship, and after their marriage in 1850 as Charles was often away from home on business. The correspondence includes following individuals and letters:

57 letters, 218 manuscript pp., 47 letters are written by Susan Jarvis White to her fiancé, later husband, Charles H. Waterbury, dated 1846-1863. The couple married in 1850. Susan writes to Waterbury from various locations: Buffalo, Troy, and New York City, New York; Darien and New Haven, Connecticut, Elizabeth Port and New Brunswick, New Jersey. The remaining 10 letters by White are written to others and dated 1846-1853. Five of these letters are written to "Maggie," one to "Mrs. Floyd" (Jane H. Floyd), one to her mother, one to "Helen," one to "Jim," and one other. Susan writes from Buffalo, New York City and Elizabeth Port, New Jersey. Some of the undated, or incomplete letters were also written by Susan Jarvis White.

55 letters, 219 pp., of these, 53 are written by Charles H. Waterbury to Susan Jarvis White, and are dated 1846-1863. These letters are written by Waterbury mainly from Elizabeth Port, New Jersey, but some are written from New York City, or Stamford and Darien, Connecticut. Also included are 2 letters written to Waterbury, presumably by family, one is written by "E.F. Harmon" and one "Jeannette," they are dated 1861. Some of the undated, or incomplete letters were written to, or by, Charles H. Waterbury.

38 incoming letters, 164 manuscript pp., written to Susan Jarvis White and dated 1844-1863. The correspondents include: 4 letters were written by Jane H. Floyd, of Buffalo, New York; four letters of Peter Parks, of New York City; 4 letters of Catharine Yockney, of Corsham, Wiltshire, England; 2 letters of Sarah Jane Stone, of Brooklyn; plus other correspondents, both family (mother/siblings) and friends, from various locales, mostly from New York, or New Jersey, but some from abroad. Some of the undated, or incomplete letters were written to Susan Jarvis White.

16 letters, 54 pp., dated 1860-1862, of these, 6 were written by Blanche Waterbury to her parents Charles H. Waterbury and Susan Jarvis White. Blanche writes from Port Chester, Portland, and Troy, New York. The remaining 10 letters were written to Blanche from her parents, mostly from Elizabeth Port, New Jersey, but also New York City, or Oakham (Mass?).

17 miscellaneous letters, 68 pp., dated 1850-1857, 1896. These letters are written by various family, or friends, of Susan Jarvis White, 11 of these letters are written to "Maggie," some were written by Harriet, Susan's sister. These letters were posted from New York City, Buffalo, Tarrytown, in New York, as well as Elizabeth Port, New Jersey, and elsewhere.

         Susan Jarvis White Waterbury (1827-1904) and Charles Henry Waterbury (1816-1882)

Susan Jarvis White was born 7 December 1827. She was the daughter of Jane Jarvis (1804-1874) and her first husband Jonathan White (1796-1834). Susan's parents met and married at the village of Rye, New York. Susan's father Jonathan was born in Ireland. One family historian writes that Jonathan White was the son of Joseph White, an Englishman and officer in the Royal Navy, and his wife Mary O' Kennedy, the daughter of an Irish Baronet, Sir Darby O' Kennedy. Susan's grandfather Joseph White was dismissed from the Royal Navy due to participation in a duel with a fellow officer, after which he espoused the cause of the United Irishmen and after the failed rebellion of 1798, fled to America, settling near Shrewsbury, New Jersey, where he named the town Barnsville, after the only building that was standing. Together Susan's parents had at least four children, Susan was the second (Harriet, Susan, Charles, and Margaret).

After the death of her father, Susan's mother Jane married a second time to Abram Voorhees, who was 14 years younger than her. Jane Jarvis White Voorhees had one child with her second husband, a son named Willard P. Voorhees White, who became a lawyer of good standing in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and married Sarah Rutgers Neilson. When Susan's mother died in 1875, she was buried at the Presbyterian Cemetery, at New Brunswick.

Harriet White (1826-1858), Susan's oldest sister was married at Christ Church, New Brunswick, in 1856, to Ezekiel Fargo Harmon, of Buffalo, New York. They had one son Harry Harmon. Harriet died two years after she married. There are several letters of Harriet and her husband in this collection.

Susan Jarvis White's other two siblings were Charles Jay White (1830-1904), a wholesale merchant of New York City, who married Mary A. Abendroth, the daughter of German immigrants, and Margaret Jarvis White (1832-1864), who was married in 1857 to Jeremiah R. Fairbank, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, they had a son Jessie Fairbank. There are letters in this collection written by Susan and her sister Harriet White to a woman named "Maggie," which presumably is their sister Margaret.

Early letters of this collection show that Susan Jarvis White lived in New York City at 151 10th Street. She was married 22 April 1850, at St. Bartholomew's Church, in New York, to Charles H. Waterbury, Esq., (1816-1882). Charles was born in Connecticut on 19 November 1816. He was the son of John Waterbury (1785-1871) and Sarah Weed (1787-1863), of Darien, Connecticut. The Waterburys were of English descent, and the Weeds of Puritan ancestry. Benjamin Weed (1758-1846), father of Sarah, was an officer in the Revolutionary War.

Charles is shown in his early letters in the collection as working in New York City, at the corner of Cedar and Nassau Streets, and living at 71 Cedar Street. NYC directories show that he was the Commissioner of Deeds in New York City in 1845. In the 1847 directory he is listed as a lawyer. In 1854 the NYC directory listed him in the oil business at 67 Exchange Place, with his home in Elizabeth Port, New Jersey. Charles was listed as an oil manufacturer on the 1860 Census where he was found enumerated in the 1st Ward of Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey, having moved to New Jersey sometime before 1854. The family had a servant in 1860.  Further research finds that Charles worked with Augustus Yockney. Yockney, of Corsham, Wiltshire, England, stated in an advertisement of 1859 (The Engineer, Volume 8, Page 465), that he had "improvements in refining and compounding oils or fatty matters with other substances for lubricating and other purposes." Waterbury, an attorney, represented the business for Yockney in New York City. This correspondence collection has several letters of Catharine Yockney, of Corsham, she writes to Susan Jarvis White.


Twenty years later (1880 Census), the Waterburys (Charles, Susan and their two children) were still living in Elizabeth, New Jersey, with Charles then was listed as the "Commissioner of Assessment," presumably for Elizabeth, NJ, a position he had since at least 1876, if not longer. His daughter Blanche was single, 27 years old, and still living with her parents. Henry Charles, and Susan's son, was listed at 22 years old and still single living at home with his parents in 1880. In 1880, Charles' son-in-law Ezekiel F. Harmon and his grandson Harry Harmon, are living with them, Ezekiel's wife, Charles’ sister-in-law Harriet White, died in 1858.The family had a servant in 1880 as well. There are letters in this collection written by Blanche Waterbury to her parents, and letters written by Charles and Susan to their daughter Blanche.

Charles Henry Waterbury died on 22 March 1882 in New Jersey. After the death of her husband, Susan Jarvis White continued living in Elizabeth, New Jersey, with her daughter Blanche. She died on 21 August 1904.

Sample quotes:

         Several letters deal with the fear of the cholera in New York City:


"Friday evening [June 9th, '49]

Dearest Charlie,

I have sent you two letters to Elizabeth Port, but I write this fearing you may come to the city without receiving either, or perhaps only the first one.

We will not go to Tarrytown now until Harriet has entirely recovered her strength. The motion of a boat or carriage in her present weak state might make her so sick that nothing could be done for her. Dr. Rockwell says she must not go in less than three or four weeks, and I think that she is safer here too, considering all things. When she is stronger we will probably go to [xxxxxxx] for the rest of the summer. They keep her very quiet now, and very few are allowed to see her., as she is so very weak and nervous that she cannot bear the excitement of conversation. The noise of the street troubles her very much. Still they do not feel alarmed her symptoms are not dangerous. At any other time but the present she could be soon restored by medicine but now they must raise her slowly by other means. She does not suffer much and insists upon it that she is not as sick as they say she is. She wrote me a brief note today and yesterday she told me to give her love to you, but the letter was then sealed.

Mrs. Floyd was to start for Buffalo yesterday; she was anxious about her family and although she had not much fear of the Cholera on her own account, she preferred being at home now.

My fears have greatly subsided, and my only anxiety on the scare of cholera is now for you. I am so afraid you will not be careful enough with yourself. My anxiety for Harriet drives away all fear of remaining in the city myself. My fears after all were not so very cowardly for now that I understand the nature of the scourge and the remedies which are to be used at the first of it. I am not unwilling to remain here all summer if necessary. I don't think however that I can become so stupidly foolhardy as to laugh at caution & remedies like my cautious Aunt.


If you are in town love, when you receive this, of course you will come up to see me. I will be at home in the evening, but I may possibly go down to see Harriet in the afternoon. I have not been to day as they advised me not, as it was better for her not to see me.

If you stop at Uncle Jay's you may ascertain whether I have been there in the morning or not; if I have you can find me at home in the afternoon. Yours as ever, Sue"

"Elizabeth Port June 14th, 1849

Dearest Sue,

This is the first moment I've had to myself since I arrived here. Otherwise I should have written to inform you that I survived the miseries of Sunday night. I wrote you four pages Monday morning - but I have some doubts whether you received them, and therefore I do not insist on payment before writing again.

You need not be at all alarmed about me on account of the cholera - You appear to think that I am too careless, but I am not so, dearest. Your request that I would take care of myself for your sake would have been irresistible, even if I had no selfish feelings on the subject. I have never felt much alarm about cholera either for you or myself. There is no use in calculating the chances against having it, for you have no faith in such calculations. But you do believe in the curability of the disease when treated properly at the proper time and you may rest assured that if I am attacked, I shall give my exclusive attention to that particular case and get well as son as I can. I do not think it necessary nor advisable to avoid every thing which anybody considers hurtful. Indeed, that would be impossible, for to avoid some things which are considered dangerous would involve a radical change of habits, and it is pretty generally recommended to avoid such changes above all things. My constant and somewhat laborious occupation renders it less essential for me to be particular about my diet, than for those of more sedentary employment. My natural constitution and present state of health are excellent. Therefore, it is not probably that I shall be sick and if I am sick "the chances" are in favor of my getting well again. Don't suppose from this that I intend to expose myself rashly. Trusting to the chances because they are in my favor - on the contrary I intend to be particularly cautious and I rely on caution for safety more than on any thing else.

I didn't know but I should be a case last Sunday evening, for the change of habits at our parting made me feel rather choleric - not at you Love, but circumstances - confounded 'em.

Cholera isn't the most agreeable subject to write about, but it's an interesting one just now, and I haven't time to think of any thing else, but you - and you are suck a hard subject that I shall not treat you till a more favorable opportunity.

We've had quite an excitement down here, almost a riot, but I haven't time to treat that subject either - killed 000 - wounded 00000 - but not very dangerously. If I get any further returns in addition to the above summary, I'll communicate them at leisure.

I hope to see you on Saturday afternoon. My regards to Harriet and tell her it's uncomfortable to be sick. No fee charged for the information. Your own, hurried Charley"



      Other letters are informative on the oil refining business of Waterbury and his partners, as well as its risks:

"Mosquito Elizabeth Port, Friday Sept 14, /49

 My dear Sue,

I was made happy yesterday by the joyful tidings that you were soon to be in New York. Won't it be jolly to see you every week? I've been a model of patience this summer, living on hope - flattering myself that I would some time or other, be rewarded by more frequent [interviews] and trying to believe that the evil of your brief absence was of little consequence compared with the [loss] of your perpetual presence which I am to enjoy - when I can. But its dangerous to indulge in such reflections, lest I become a model of impatience. I wonder if I shall recognize you when we meet.

Speaking of tidings suggests to me the propriety of informing you (as one of the firm) that we are now in the full tide of unsuccessful experiment. We've been making tremendous but vain efforts to modify our manufactures so as to adapt them to winter use. We thought we had obtained the grand desideratum the other day - but just when we had it we didn't have it. Business remains in status quo since last advices - our long partner is still on the fence and we've nothing to do but experiment. I'm engaged at this present moment in a very important experiment - but it doesn't require very close watching, and so I take the opportunity to speak a word to you while waiting for [the] pot to [boil]. Its awfully warm (not the pot but the weather) and I'm sitting at the [door] of our office trying to get cool and looking out occasionally on the lovely land and waterscape  and doing numerous other things at the same time while attempting to write. If my forte was description, I would give you my ideas of what may be your future home. Our establishment is just at the outskirts of civilization being the furthest building this direction. In front we have a fine view of Staten Island and three or four red gable ends of what I suppose to be houses. Between the island and me lies "the Sound" whereon numerous sailing and steaming vessels "glide swiftly to and fro" - Preeminent among such vessels I distinguish the magnificent steam Antelope immortalized in a certain "Description of New Brunswick" - Another interesting feature in the waterscape is only a few feet from me - Elizabethtown Creek - or as it is more generally called "The Creek" - par excellence - hugged in the embrace of the Sound and the Creek, lies an extremely verdant salt meadow as quiet as - as can be - Far down in the Sou' West over the verdant meadow hangs a portentous cloud whence faintly reaches the ear a "sound" as of the rushing of mighty waters. The unsophisticated would gaze upon that cloud and sagely prognosticate dreadful weather - fancying they heard the mute [sounds] of distant thunder - But we natives know better. It is not the music of the spears that floats fitfully on the gentle breeze - Oh no! It is something more exquisite still. But it is never still. That cloud is ominous...a countless army of marauders each armed to the teeth and carrying a truck full of poison - On, on the bloodthirsty savages come, sounding their horns and clashing their weapons. That's what the uninitiated mistook for thunder and yet that army is only a mosquito bank...I think you once characterized mosquito only as minor evils whose bites are vexatious but not really hurtful. Wait till you've lived here a year and then if you don't class those same bites among "the stings and arrows of outrages fortune" I'll admit that you'[re right in asserting that is preposterous to array philosophy against mosquitoes.


Speaking of minor evils, I read last night two or three letters from a friend in California. He says that Elizabethport mosquitoes can't begin with those of California. This was some consolation to me for not having been with him, as I might have been. He has been fortunate in every thing but mosquitoes. He states that after his first nightly acquaintance with them he looked as though he had the small pox and yet he didn't write as though he felt revengeful. He's such a good natured fellow that I suppose he showed pity for 'em....Yours always, Charley"

           "Elizabethport Jan 28th, 1850

[My dear] Sue,

I received two letters from you last Saturday. One of them had been somewhere on the way ever since the 21st when it was postmarked in New York...I needed a letter from you. I was getting bluer every day in spite of my almost incessant occupation...

...My last week's labors have not been very unprofitable, but they were out of my regular line of work and had almost nothing to do in the business on which I have depended for future support. My "trouble" is the prospect of losing the business altogether. About a week ago our affairs reached a crisis, which I have been fearing for some months. My partner has declared to me his resolution to quite the business, and has informed me that the man on whom he depended for assistance in it, has backed out. I am left alone without the ability to continue the business on a scale large enough to be profitable. I might probably offer inducements sufficient to get another and better partner, but I have scruples about persuading any one to unite his fortune with my bad luck. There is some risk in the business though it appears to me less than in almost any other in proportion to what would be the results if successful. But while there is any risk, I don't like to ask another to join me in it. Already others have suffered enough in attempting to assist me, where I had the very strongest ground for expecting to benefit them as well as myself....Don't allow my communications [to cause] you any uncomfortable feelings. The present state of affairs needn't affect our plans for future happiness. In a pecuniary point, my creditors are much more concerned in my misfortunes than we are. We can live happily on what I can obtain from some safe employment, with our love to eke out a narrow income. The only difference to us will be that I shall occasionally be harassed by a desire to say "I owe no man anything" - and perhaps we may long for some other luxuries. But we shall not be so foolish as to let what we can't get spoil our enjoyment of what we have...Yours forever, Charles"

      In the following letter Susan writes to her husband of the news of the birth of her half-brother, her mother's son by her second husband Voorhees, which Susan is none too happy about:

"New Brunswick, July 28th, 1851

My dear Charlie,

Just as I expected - Mother was confined last night - at two the thing came - a boy - a great, hateful, red, ugly boy -weighs ten pound - looks just like Voorhees - and the nurse had the impudence to say it looks like me - It isn't one of us - it has long hands and long feet, and a big mouth and a long nose, and its eyes are almost [chast], and it looks as if all the trouble in the world was on its shoulders . It woke Mag up by crying at the top of its lungs - I tell them it looks real gawky and country-fied, but mother and all the rest say it is going to be fine looking. Mother is smart now but the danger is by no means past. I have insists upon returning tomorrow morning, but they all oppose it. I consent to remain upon Mother's earnest request. I cannot deny her - for if I should leave her and she should become worse or die, I would feel dreadfully - so one day more. Gumble, she wants me to stay so much. I find plenty of duties devolving upon me. I've been writing letters all day, for which Mag was thankful - Nobody mustered courage to tell Charles he did not sleep at home but was here to breakfast all waited "for Sue to tell him" so Sue broke the dreadful news tidings when he came home to dinner. They learned to think all of them that he was going to feel very bad because he was no longer an only son, but I told them he was twenty-one not a baby and it wasn't likely that little thing would trouble him, besides he is an only son still - Well, what do you think he said to me when I told him? "I heard there was to be an eclipse of the son this morning!" He had a slight tear on his nose I asked him what it was. "That's where my nose is out of joint that fellow upstairs did it." He makes himself merry over it but hasn't seen his rival yet. I however have given him imitations of the different expressions of countenance which I have observed on the face of the stranger. Voorhees seemed quite subdued in his joy this morning. He was thinking of little Laura, and dared not give scope to his hopes or happiness, consequently he appeared quite manly and dignified, but it couldn't last - this afternoon he has let himself loose, and has kissed all the homely old women who have been running to the house. My part is a hard one, when I see the boy, I only feel like laughing, it is so irresistibly ridiculous and funny, but when I am away, now, I am thinking of my dead father and wondering if his spirit can see his wife, the wife of his youth and love, with a baby by her side not his and another father rejoicing over her child, as he once rejoiced over us. But these feelings must be kept back and I must listen to Voorhees and others decently at least. But Charles and Maggie and I talk in whispers when we get a chance, first with jokes, and then what we feel. Mother looks very pretty now lying there, but I find I must come out and be hateful to these women who keep running to see her. each one marched up and gabbled to her and the comes down and tells u of the danger of her having too many visitors, and of fevers setting in from fatigue, and that we mustn't let a one go up - Now tomorrow they shall not. They won't wind Mag, but they shall me....Good bye till tomorrow, Sue"