- Dale R. Broadhurst's  SPALDING  RESEARCH  PROJECT -

Solomon Spalding
(1761 - 1816)
Letter to Josiah Spalding
(Oct. 8, 1794 -- original at Windham Co. Hist. Soc.)

Text Copyright 1982 by Kurt VanGordon
  • pg. 01  Letter's Address
  • pg. 02  Spalding's finds employment
  • pg. 03  Letter's Closing

  • pg. 02  Enhanced high resolution graphic

  • Transcriber's Comments

  • Page 2, courtesy of Windham Co. H. S.

    Return to: Solomon Spalding Holographs   |   View: Solomon Spalding's 1785 letter


          Mr. Josiah Spalding Jun.      




          & Soldendia Spalding



                          Lyme  Oct  8th 1794

              Dear Brother,  
                    When I wrote last to  
            Ashford, it was uncertain whether I  
            should tarry in this town any longer. 02:05
            But Mr Wiggins receiving an ap-  
            pointment to go on a mission to  
            the northward for four months  he  
            applied to me to supply his desk  
            until his return  I engaged & retur[-] 02:10
            ned back with him from New haven  
              Last Sunday I began my term.  
            I expect within less than a fortnight  
            to take a ride to Ashford & shall  
            likely tarry in three or four days. 02:15
            If you can  in the course of that  
            time procure me from Ephraim  
            a good fullwelled saddle & a gen[-]



            teel portmantau made in the newest

            mode  I shall be glad & much obliged  
            to you --       Solm Spalding.


              Dear Sister Soldendia, 03:04
                    When I read your letter I could 03:05
            scarcely refrain from sheding a  
            simpathetic tear over it -- But whilst  
            I felt the most sincere commisserats  
            I was highly pleased with the fortitude  
            and resignation which you manifested 03:10
            Trials & afflictions spring not from  
            the dust -- Our benevolent ^Sovereign has made a wise arrange-  
            of all his dispensations.  
            A wise improvement on our part will  
            issue in our highest benefit. -- 03:15
            This consideration is sufficient to  
            support us under the greatest  
            misfortunes    But I hope for  
            ^S. P.  Josiah please to let [Lendee] have this. 03:19
            ^Miss [Sadie] Gilbert has recovered health & sends compliments.

            Note: lines 19 and 20 are inserted on left margin of the page
            and are written at a 90 degree angle to the body of the letter.



    The Travels of Solomon Spalding: Southern Connecticut, Early 1790s.

    Solomon Spalding's 1794 Letter
    Transcriber's Comments

    The letter is addressed to Josiah Spalding, Jr. (1765-1859), who was Solomon Spalding's younger brother, and to Miss. Soldendia (or Solenda) Spalding (1771-1853. At the time this letter was written Josiah was 29 year old bachelor who still lived on or near the family farm at Ashford, Windham Co., Connecticut. Soldendia also then lived at home and did not marry until 1818.

    Solomon wrote the letter from Lyme, on the Atlantic coast, some 45 miles southwest of the Spalding farm at Ashford. He provides an impression in his letter of having previously been in both Lyme and New Haven, and of only recently deciding to remain in Lyme in order to take over the "desk" of a certain Mr. Wiggins, who was perhaps a professional man or business man in Lyme at that time. It is possible that Wiggins was a clergyman and that Solomon took over his ministerial duties in Lyme on Sunday, Oct. 5th, 1794. However, it is equally possible that Solomon had, by that time, disassociated himself from his previous duties as a Congregational Evangelist. If that was the case, the "desk" of Mr. Wiggins may have that of a businessman or a lawyer -- both professions in which Solomon Spalding was known to dabble at various times in his life.

    This letter contains little or no information useful in determining what Solomon's occupation was near the end of 1794. The saddle and traveling trunk he requested from his brother Ephraim (1769-1815) would have been equally useful to a circuit-riding Congregational preacher or to a young man engaged in some other work requiring jaunts away from home. It is likely that Solomon visited New York City (a day's horse ride from New Haven) in the early 1790s and he may have even found employment there temporarily. Abner Jackson, who in his youth knew Solomon Spalding personally, said in 1880 that "for a time" Solomon had been "a settled pastor in the city of New York."

    Whether or not he was still employed by the Congregationalists in the last half of 1794. it must have been about then that Solomon Spalding decided to give up his work as a minister. Although he probably gave his frequent bouts of ill health as his official excuse from retiring as a preacher (his general stamina and preaching voice having become rather diminished), his real reason for quitting may have been that he simply did not believe in the Christian religion any more. There are several clues evident in his writings which point to the fact that Solomon became a Deist -- a profession of religious philosophy then quite popular among the well educated in Europe and America.

    Solomon's nephew, in 1888, recalled hearing that his uncle was "irreligious, crooked in his business transactions, and 'lazy." According to a recollection attributed to Solomon's friend, John N. Miller, "his wife was not religious. She was high-strung, a frolicker, fond of balls and parties, and drove him out of the ministry." Assuming that Solomon knew Matilda Sabin, of Pomfret Connecticut, for at least a moderate length of time before their 1795 wedding, he may have gone to work in Wiggins' place to help finance their expected marriage. In his 1794 letter to Josiah, Solomon speaks of his temporary substitution for "Mr. Wiggins" being for a term of "four months." If Wiggins returned to his old position at the end of that period, Solomon must have again been out of work and able to relocate his residence elsewhere by the first week in January 1795. And that was exactly what he did. Solomon married Matilda Sabin on Feb. 21, 1795, probably in Connecticut or possibly in neighboring Massachusetts. Shortly thereafter ex-preacher Solomon Spalding and his new, non-religious bride moved to Cherry Valley, Otsego Co., New York, where Solomon joined his brother Josiah in operating a retail store.

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