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Westgate, Rev. George L.
Correspondence of Rev. George L. Westgate and his wife Sarah Elizabeth Gardner Westgate, of Fall River, Massachusetts and Middletown, Connecticut, 1862-1890

Group of 31 letters, totaling 113 manuscript, (18 retained mailing envelopes), dated 17 June 1862 to 16 July 1890, plus 1 postcard and 1 circular.

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Description of Correspondence:

7 letters, 21 manuscript pp., written by George L. Westgate to his parents Mr. and Mrs. Abner L. Westgate, Fall River, Massachusetts, written by George from Middletown, Connecticut (1) and Williamsburg, Long Island., dated 17 June 1862 to 15 December 1865. These letters were written by George to his parents while he was living in Middletown while attending Wesleyan University. The letters contain information about college life, news of his first sermon, discusses the Civil War, etc. There are also a couple of letters from his student days at the Union Theological Seminary in New York.

7 letters, 42 manuscript pp., dated 28 July 1882 to 16 July 1890 (all but one is from 1882-1884); 4 of the letters are written by George L. Westgate from Cascadeville, Essex Co., New York (1), Boston,  (2), and Washington, D.C. (1) is written to his wife Sarah E. Westgate in Middletown, Connecticut. Three letters were written by Sarah E. Westgate from Bethlehem, New Hampshire (1), Cascadeville, Essex Co., New York (1), and Hartford, Connecticut (1) to her son Lewis G. Westgate, in Middleboro, Massachusetts (1) and Middletown, Connecticut (2). Westgate writes to his wife at home while he is away at Conference or meeting at Boston and Washington, or resting in the Adirondacks at Cascadeville, 22 miles from Elizabethtown, or other resorts in the Adirondacks. Mrs. Westgate joins her husband there and writes her son Lewis when he is away at school in Middletown, staying with family or friends. There is some description of summer life in the Adirondacks, where they stayed in the small town of Cascadeville, near Lake Placid, visiting John Brown's grave, in North Elba, etc.

17 letters, 70 manuscript pp. This group of correspondence has 15 letters (62 pp.) written by George Westgate from Allen House (3), Bethlehem, New Hampshire (4), Mountain View House, Cascadeville, Essex Co., New York (3), Beede House (Keene Valley, New York) (2), and Washington, D. C.,  to his wife Sarah E. Westgate in Newport, Rhode Island (3) and elsewhere. There is also 1 letter (6 pp.) written by Mrs. Sarah E. Westgate, at Bethlehem, New Hampshire to her son Lewis G. Westgate; and 1 letter (2 pp.) is incomplete, but was written to "Bro. Westgate" (George L. Westgate?) from Middletown, Connecticut, however it lacks the second page with the signature of who wrote it. These 17 letters are not dated, but would appear to be from the 1880s. Several letters written by Rev. Westgate concern his taking trips to the Adirondack Mountains for health reasons. While there he goes on nature walks, which helps his health.

The collection also includes 1 postcard from George L. Westgate at Saratoga Springs, New York to his wife Sarah at Middletown, Connecticut, not dated, and 1 printed circular "Resolutions" concerning the death of Ruth L. Westgate, and the M.E. Church of Middleborough, Massachusetts, of which she was a member, not dated.

        George Lewis Westgate (1844-1885) and Sarah Elizabeth Gardner (1842-1905)

George Lewis Westgate was born on 12 April 1844, in Fall River, Massachusetts. He was the son of Abner L. Westgate (1810-1890) and his second wife Ruth Lawton (1806-1887). By his first wife Susan Hudson (1806-1842), Abner had four children:  Susan H. Westgate (1833-1833); Jerusha A. Westgate (1836-1870); Abner H. Westgate (1838-1840); and William H. Westgate (1842-1842). After the death of his first wife, Abner L. Westgate was married a second time to Ruth Lawton. With his second wife Abner had three additional children: Lewis Gardner Westgate (1868-1948); Mary E. Westgate (1849-1851), and Ruth L. Westgate (1876-1876). Abner L. Westgate died in 1890 at Fall River, Bristol Co., Massachusetts and was buried at the family burial plot in Oak Grove Cemetery, Fall River, Massachusetts. Both his first and second wives were buried with him.

George L. Westgate graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in 1865 and an M.A. in 1868. During this time he studied at the Union Theological Seminary from 1865-1866. He joined Providence (later New England Southern) Conference, M.E. Church, in 1867 and was stationed at Phenix, Rhode Island from 1867-1870. His next assignment was at Bristol from 1870 to1871, then at Trinity Church, in Providence, Rhode Island from 1871 to1874. He then transferred to the New York East Conference in 1874 and was stationed at New York Ave, Brooklyn, New York, from 1874 to1876. Afterwards he was stationed at Middletown, Connecticut, from 1876 to 1879, and then transferred back to the New England Conference in 1879, where he was stationed at the Central Church, in Lowell, Massachusetts from 1879 to1880. In his later years he taught political science and social science, at Wesleyan University from 1880 until he died on 28 June 1885, in Norfolk, Connecticut.

Rev. Westgate was married 30 July 1867, to Sarah Elizabeth Gardner, of Fall River, Massachusetts. She died 4 July 1905. Together the Rev. Westgate and his wife had at least four children: Lewis Gardner Westgate; Harris Morton Westgate; Mary Lawton Westgate, and Helen Elizabeth Westgate.

Lewis Gardner Westgate was born 8 October 1868. He received his B.A. from Wesleyan University, as well as a B.A. from Harvard University in 1891 and an M.A. from Harvard in 1892, and a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1896. He was a graduate student in Harvard University from 1890-1892; an assistant in Geology in 1891-1892; and a Graduate student in Yale University. He became an assistant professor of Physical Geography in Wesleyan University in1892-1893; taught High School, in Evanston, Illinois, in 1893-1900; and then became a professor of Geology at Ohio Wesleyan University in 1900. He married on 5 Sept 1893 to Martha Josephine Beach who also graduated from Wesleyan University. The couple made their home at Delaware, Ohio.

Harris Morton Westgate was born on 2 April 1870 and died shortly after on 1 December 1870. Harris's sister Mary Lawton Westgate was born on 14 February 1874 and received her B.A. from Wesleyan University and afterwards taught high school. Helen Elizabeth Westgate, Mary's sister, was born on 5 December 1876. She married Professor A. W. Browne. Helen received a B.A. from Wesleyan University and became teacher. Her husband A.W. Browne received his Ph.D. from Cornell and became a professor of chemistry at Cornell.

      Sample Quotations:

"[Dec 25, '63 Middletown, CT]

Dear Parents;

The letter from father, containing the certificate of age, was duly received. The deputy provost-marshal promises to remove my name from the list. The enrollment was very carelessly done and a number who, like me, were under age or who were enrolled elsewhere, found themselves liable to military duty here, and were obliged to be expeditious in securing certificates which would avail to make them safe.

The term is passing very pleasantly. Our studies are easier than last term and more interesting. I am enjoying much the study of Physiology. Our standing on the roll of merit is now known. There are three only in whom you may be supposed to be interested. Rice, Mudge, and myself, you know have been all along quite nearly alike. Last term Rice had fallen and become second, Mudge remains third, while I am for one term only, first. Our marks are Mudge 958, Rice 960, Westgate 962. Rice is however, much in advance of me in the aggregate, and this deficiency is only temporary as he will undoubtedly be stimulated thereby, and has indeed come by this only because of a single study unfavorable to him which we have given up this term.

We are having a holiday today, but it seems little indeed like Christmas. I keep my room quite as faithfully as on days of study. All the home festivities which belong to Christmas are denied to the ascetic student. Not least among the things missed are the Christmas presents which come as matter of course to many people at their homes. I hope against hope that some favorable event may occur before the anniversary closes. This evening the Sunday School of the M.E. Church, with which I am connected, is to have a Christmas festival and tree. If I am fortunate enough to receive a present, I shall congratulate myself and you will know in due time.

I am called upon to pay out quite a large sum of money at the commencement of the term to settle my college bills and meet other demands. We have been obliged to purchase a new stove too for the room. Hence I am in need of money. If you will send me a check at your convenience, I will be grateful. The sooner, the more it will assist me. Faithfully yours, George L. Westgate"


"Mountain View House, Cascadeville, Essex Co., N.Y., July 28, 1882

Dear Sarah,

...I have made on the whole a very satisfactory day. It has been pleasant as every day has been since I came into the mountains. Indeed, it begins to be quite dry. This morning soon after breakfast I started out to walk, not knowing quite where I should go...I walked toward John Brown's grave and went on 3 ½ miles until I came to it...The grave and house, which are close together, were more interesting than I expected. The grave stone, which is a very common slab, with the names of John Brown's father, and three sons on it, besides his own, is kept covered and locked to prevent it from being further chipped by relic-hunters. Quite a piece is already gone from both corners. Back of the grave is a huge boulder, in its natural position, from three to six feet above ground, and with an uneven top twenty feet square, in which, by his direction, are cut deeply in the rock the words "John Brown, 1859." This was what he chose for his monument. It struck me as a grand idea...

...With a great deal of love, George"

"Cascadeville, N.Y. Sunday Afternoon [12 Aug 1884]

Dear Lewis,

I am going to try to write to you with papa's stylographic pen. I don't know whether I shall make out so that you can read it. I wish you could sit here in the front piazza & have this beautiful mountain view. We are in an old farm house quite large in a clear level space & all around as far as we can see is a circle of mountains. Just now there is a dull grey light on them, the sun not shining. There is nothing in view but mountains & trees, except one little house in the distance. It is cool here last night too cool for comfort. It doesn't seem like Sunday for there is no church near than four or five miles. Our landlord Mr. Ames, a rough looking farmer, sent one stage off to church this morning. Papa went, but as there were only seats for seven or eight, I concluded I would stay at home. The journey had tired me a good deal. We got to Saratoga about half past six Wednesday night, walked about just enough to see Saratoga by gas light & went early to bed. We started off the next morning at eight o'clock & after a short car ride took boat to sail up Lake George & then on Champlain till we came to Westport, where we took stage for Elizabethtown. The boat rides were perfectly charming. Mountains all about us, or hills as they would be called. Then we got a nice dinner on the Champlain boat. When we got to Elizabethtown we found every hotel full, but got a place for the night in a cottage, next morning at half past even left on a stage for 22 mile ride to this place where we were to stay a week or longer as we like. The roads are dreadful. We jolt & jolt until I think you would prefer walking to riding & could get on just as fast. I was very much interested in a boy about thirteen years old who was travelling alone from some place in Delaware to a point in the mountains beyond where we were going. He was going to join his mother who was sick & had sent for him. He had travelled all night & been riding all day & I thought it quite an undertaking. He had brought his grammar with him & talked a good deal with one of the ladies about the books he had read. I couldn't help wishing you could have come. It was quite exciting when our big stage which held nine people & had four horses had a team to pass for the road is narrow with only room for one & in some places it would seem almost impossible for a carriage to get by, but they use mostly buckboards which don't easily tip & in one case the driver got out & lifted the wheels so that we could pass. We ourselves were right on the edge of a hill over looking a pond. I don't feel quite as anxious as I did to ride about & go further in the mountains for the rides are very tiresome. We are about five miles from some lakes where there are hotels. It is a watering place where papa spent three weeks when he was here two years ago. A great deal of rowing is done on the lakes. I mean to ride over & see it but I don't think I will care to stay there. It is so quiet here that if we can get a good room & papa feels well, we shall stay here. Just now, we have a poor room but will change in two or three days. There are a good many sheep kept about here. I like to watch them I can sit here & hear the lambs bleating. There is a German family stopping in the houses just now a little boy who I think belongs to them bought me a board to lay across the arms of my chair to put my paper on as I write. He himself is playing in the road with a little dog called Jumbo who belongs to the house. So now I have a writing desk but I can't manage the pen very well. I want to write to Mamie & Helen & let the letters go out in the mail when the stage drivers up from Lake Placid tomorrow.  Our mail bag is made of bed ticking & the stage which is something like an excursion wagon drives up by the door & takes the bag & carries it on to the next stopping place. We are a day's journey from cars, so it takes a letter quite a while to get to you, or to get from you to me...Good by with much love, Mother"

"Dear Sarah,

I should think Miss Burton's going to camp meeting hardly paid. If she went without her dinner, and wanted very much to get home that night and almost failed, I should think she went through a good deal for an invalid, and could have received very little to pay for it. I should judge from what you say that Ben Adams' sermon was characteristic. He is far from being scholarly or finished, but is so earnest and has such a good spirit, and uses so many good illustrations, that people like to hear him, even cultivated people. Wyatt's piety seems decidedly emotional, as he is. I confess I don't admire that kind as much as I do some others, but that will reach some who will not be reached by the others, and he may do great good in Middletown. He will certainly be different from anything they have had there for a long time, and different from their own habit, which will be fortunate. But I don't yet believe that the church is dead or cold, as compared with churches generally. It is of a different style, more like the Congregationalists, and I don't like it any the less on that account. But I hope Wyatt will be very careful what he says or does about faith - [wise]. I don't believe the cause of true religion is advanced by making much of such occurrences. They are more apt to lead into enthusiasm than into sound Christian living and people associate such mistaken ideas with the truths of Christianity...I hope he will leave all public proceedings of that kind behind him at the camp ground...George"

"Beede House, July 23 (Keene Valley, New York, Adirondacks)

My Dear Sarah:

Your letter of Thursday morning reached me last evening. I suppose it will be too or three days before I get another, as you will have sent some here which will have to be forwarded. According to arrangement, I leave here tomorrow morning. We expect to take dinner at the Mountain View House, which is our destination. If it suits me there and I can make satisfactory terms. I shall remain a week, perhaps longer. I shall try to get board for $8 a week. I know I can get it at $9 at Grand View House, five miles farther on. At least, a young man named Hopkins has had it offered him at that rate. Neither the Mountain View nor the Grand View is much further from Elizabethtown than this. They are west, this southwest...

Yesterday I took a good walk in the morning, to and partly up Roaring Brook Falls. The number of walks around here that are pleasant and have ample rewards at the end is really surprising. If it was not for the high prices charged, I should remain longer. Our party yesterday consisted of three ladies and three gentlemen, Mr. and Mrs. Mason, a Mr. Way and daughter, of Philadelphia, and a Miss Hunt. I would rather stay here too, for the reason that I now know quite a number of persons in the house. I do not get acquainted in such places so rapidly as some. I have not got over my boyish diffidence and am very fearful that I shall thrust myself upon people when they do not want me. I know I have often been mistaken n that feeling and I try to over come it, but I have not altogether.

The order of my day has now got to be a good walk in the morning, a nap after dinner, writing and reading the rest of the afternoon, sitting in the piazza in the evening until it is too cool, and going to bed as soon as the mail has been distributed...

This morning I walked with Mr. Mason and Mr. Hopkins to the church at Keene Valley, three and a half miles distant and heard a good sermon from a Rev. Dr. Fewsmith, of Newark, NJ. The church which would hold about 200, nearly filled with visitors. There are several homes in its immediate vicinity, besides more distant ones, like ours. We walked back also, of course, finding it rather hot in the sun.

I think if I can only keep up this habit of walking when I get home, it will be well for me. I am not certain but that if I should be at home this summer, and walk as much as I do here, it would do me as much good. Perhaps three is some virtue in this higher air. I suppose, too, there is more inducement here to walk, in the way of attractions and it is cooler so that one can walk with more comfort. However, I shall try to act upon Dr. Johnson's suggestion and join Lune in some of his tramps.

I have worn the woolen shirt most of the time week days since I got to this house. I have felt a little odd in so doing as most of the gentlemen were white shirts. However, I see many woolen shirts worn by gentlemen stopping at other houses. I have made a compromise and worn a white collar and tie. I have found it convenient that I had a colored shirt which could be adjusted with a linen collar. I have found too that very few here wear slippers out of their rooms. As I have but one pair of shoes, and I often come in from a walk with my shoes wet or dusty, it is a little inconvenient not to wear slippers to the table and on the piazza. I have taken the liberty to be a little singular in that respect. I tried to buy a pair of baseball shoes the other day at Keene Valley, which are much worn here for walking and area very easy, but there were none in the store of the right size...With much love for you all, George"