Mary (Polly) Brockelbank was born in Rowley, Massachusetts, November 13, 1773. Samuel and Jane (Dickenson) Brockelbank had moved to the town of New London by the time Polly was seven years old. Sutton and New London are in Merrimac County within ten miles of each other.
Polly was twenty and James twenty-two when they were married on November 21, 1793. They soon moved to Tunbridge, Orange County, Vermont, where Artilissa, their first child, was born September, 21, 1794. The young couple was not alone in Vermont, for James's older brother Samuel and his younger brother David were also in Tunbridge. When they moved to New York in 1802, Artilissa, aged seven, had died and two boys and two more little girls had joined the family. Zuar was six, Caius Marius five, Lydia three, and Sophronia was the babe that Polly carried before her on horseback over the Green Mountains to Canandaigua.
After the move to New York, six more children were added to the Eaton family: Artilissa II, General William, James Clement, Christopher Columbus, Mary Ann, and John Montgomery. But their mother always avowed that her Vermont children were the smartest!
Many relatives and friends were among the group that settled in Ontario County. There was brother Joshua and Hope (Crosswell) Eaton and their children, and at least two of James's sisters came with their families. They were Sally Eaton Ambrose and Eleanor Eaton Dewey. After their father David Eaton died in Sutton, New Hampshire, in 1804, their mother Eleanor (Clements) Eaton and their spinster sister Hannah joined the others in Canandaigua. Among the Brockelbanks were Polly's brothers Samuel and John and her sisters with their husbands, John Gage, Mr. Canfield, and Mr. Jamison.
Uncle Joshua Eaton and his family had moved on to Vincennes, Indiana, when he sent for his twenty-one year old nephew, Caius Marious Eaton. In December of 1818, Marius set out on foot from Canandaigua, New York, a knapsack on his back and a staff in his hand. He walked through the snow to the head of the Allegheny River and then on to Pittsburgh, hoping to find a boat going west. From there he footed it on beyond Wheeling, West Virginia, where he passed the winter working in a country tavern. The next spring he walked to Cincinnati and worked his passage on a family boat going to Evansville, Indiana. From there he walked to his uncle's house in Vincennes. Eventually Marius moved across the river to Lawrence County, Illinois. And this is where we find him when the first of The Eaton Letters was written.
With much pleasure I Recd your kind letter of the 20th Jany 1822 in answer to mine of the 18th December last. It gives us geate pleasure to heare that you injoy your helth and have your Share of prosperity. You very obligingly answered Some of my inquireys which was a great Satisfaction to me. I think the prospects of your Nussery is very flattering and I think bids fare to make you an Interest in a few years. I feale glad to heare from your Brother Zuar allthough Some accounts are mortefying. I hope he will See the evil of his ways and make Some a mends. Your friends are all well in this Cuntry. I have had a Letter from your Uncle David Eaton and they are well. Uncle Dewey and Ambrose famuely are well with Some few Exceptions. We enjoy in our famuely a Comfortable State of Helth. Our famualy are all at home Except Zuar and your Self. Your uncle Gage and famuely are well and have a nother fine Daughter. I foregot to tell you that I had paid Levi Brockelbank the note you owed him before I rote to you last, So you may rest easy on that acount, which will make an adition to your property which I hop you will continue to colect to gather. For I think it provable that I shall be a porpor or town poor and Shall throw my Self on the State of Illinoise for Seport . A few pieces of Jerkt meate will be very good&&&***** You rote to have me Send you Some Drafts of Framing Mills and flax mecrhines but I have not got them yeat but indeaver to Send Some out lines in my next If I can get them. Please to give our respects to our friends and relations in that Cuntry We are with much respects your real friends and affecnate parents till Death
Canandaigua Feb 26th 1822 James Eaton
C. M. Eaten
Mrs. Towne is at our house and wished to rite a few lines to you Lydia wished to have the privlige I gave my Consent to that effect
I would Inform you that we are all well and in good Health
and very Happy Hear that you are in good Health I. have
no Special news except Clement Wells is married to Mrs McLean. Lola
is well and I expect Longs to see you. She is very Steady
and does not keep any company at all. We want you to write to
us very much. William is a clearing the Spruce Swamp and a going
to take Land for pay. May Health and Prosperity attend you Through
Life, yours adieu
L B Eaton
Good morning Dear brother I am glad to hear that you are well, I am well. This morning we all enjoy a good health. Our parents are well as common. Our relations and acquaintance are generaly well. I have no news to write. I would inform you that I received your letter the 7 of May with great plesure and satisfaction, which I thank you for the trouble of writing to me. I wish I could do you the kindness in return by writing but I can not for I have nothing to write which will be of any satisfaction to hear~~~~
But I will give you some account of Mr. Cheevers arrival here. He reachd here the 19th of May friday evening and stayd till sunday morning. It gave us great satisfaction to hear from you by a person, and especialy by one of so good understanding. He gave good account respecting the country and people. It almost seemd as though you had got home but it be different if you should come. I wish you would come. Try it. You mention some money. He left 30 dollars. He mad use of ten dollars that he is a going to send by letter to father. Our circumstances here is more favorable than they were two months ago. Uncle Canfield has bought the farm to save a home for our children. I hope that father can pay for it, it is a large sum to pay, 21 hundred dollars. Salmon has given uncle a note of four hundred dollars, it is sixteen hundred father has to pay. You mentioned about father coming to that country. I cant tell any thing about that. Father calculates to work at the soap business this summer-----Appolos Drown wishd me to give his compliments to youe and tell you that he thought he should come to that country a year from next November if his health was spard. He wished me to inform you that he now livd at uncle Canfields and should, Bartlet is gone to Newhampshire. Homer Gould, I cant tell you where he is.
I saw Mr and Mrs Towne last evening. I gave your compliments to (them). They thank you, and send their love to you. Your Cousins send their resspects to you and your Uncles and Aunts one and all do likewise~and all acquaintainces wish to be remembered to you. John B. Norris talks of coming to that country or where B, Norris is. Mr. Drown has bot a part of his farm on the side of the road to wards our house and paid for it, is building a frame house. Levi Brokelbank is clear with his farm. He is to (buy) some more! I wish we could pay for ours but we must trust in the giver of all things, as the will of providence so it will be. I trust we shall have a liveing some where. O dear Brother we must not put our dependence wholy upon the world, there is a more divine being we ought to put our trust on and place our confidence on him alone, which I hope you do mor than I do---------
Adelphia requests me to give her resspect and thanks to you. It is most night and I have not much more (to) write. Sopronia will finis the letter. I am a going away. Give my love to all enquiring friends. Write to me soon as you can. This from your effectonate sister
Lydia B. Eaton
Thursday morning. We are well I hope thes few lines will find you the same.
The boys has got the seed all in the ground. Flax seed potatoes corn and beans and oats and peas. Columbus C sayes sixteen hogs belong to you. Your bees you left to home died year ago last winter. The bees you let uncle Gage have does verry well. Give my complaiments to Nancy. Tell her that I sais she must make cloth so to let me have when I come thir,
Excus my por writin for my hand trembels
Caus m Eaton
Dear Son it is a long time Sence I wrote to you on a count of the receipt you requested me to Send. I have obtaned it at last---
A Recept for fever Sores and other Sores
* lb fresh Butter 2 ounces beeswax 2 ounces Rosin 4 ounces mutten tallow. Melt them to gather in Stone or erthen and when beginning to Cool put into it half an ounce of read precipitate and quarter of an ounce of Sugar of lead and keep stiring till Cold
For a wash for the Sore----
take 2 grains of Corrosive Subliment and dissolve it in one gill of watter. With a feather or Swab wet the Sore and Round it, then aplye a plaster of the above Salve. This Shuld be done night and morning---
To make a Beare to Sweeten and pewerfye the Blood-----one
Burdock Roots handfull white Elder Roots a handful netle roots a
of Sasaforilla Roots to 3 quarts Cold watter. Drink of freely and make
it new evry 48 hours~~~this you must keep to your Self and he very
both in preparing and using the wash for it is very Poison. I
have but little room for writing much of a letter on a Count of the
Recepts--- I will jest inform you that we are all well and (in)
Comfortable Circomstances and all friends in this Cuntry. Your Mother
and I was at Rochester last weake and found our friends
ware well in that place I have no newes of any note. You no Doubt
have heard of the death of old Mrs Drowne and, that Gilbert is
(married? moved?) againe to Mrs Mary Boyde. I hop
this will Reach you injoying; good Helth and in prosperity. I want you
to write to me a meaditly how you are likly to do with the Mill purchis
Canandaigua Dec 14th
Canandaigua Nov 7th 1824
Dear Son, with much pleasure I Rec'd your kind letter of the 27th August on the 24th Sept. We have every reason to be thankful for the goodness of a kind providence in the presearvanc of our Helth we injoy at this time and do hop his goodness is still continued to you. Your letter informed us that you have injoyed your helth through your laborous undertaking in building your mill dam and that you had it allmost completed.
I hope you will have good sucsess in your undertakeing. Our Famualy are all at home this morning to breckfast but Zuar and your Self which would add to the Pleasure of your Parents. But it is very unsertain whether we Shall live to See the whole of our Children to gather againe. Be that as it will I hop we shall be resined to the will of providence. I hope you will contnue your favours in writing which is next to seeing you If you have heard any thing from your Brother Zuar do give us the erlst information. Your uncle S, Brockelbank is at home and injoys his Helth very well. He gave me a very good account of you, he had much laugh a bout your manner of keeping house -----
As to Helth in our parts it has bin injoyed as well as in years past but meny suding deaths. Generaly-- I will give a list of some of your aquantance (Deaths) Mises Barns Wlm Towne, oldes Child Mr Luther Cole O (?) Seymour Old Mr Warren a Sone of Col Remington Daniel Stevenson who lived on my old farme and a great number of Children which is the common lot of us all. When we Shall be cald for we know not. I dont think of much that will very interesting to you, we have had a very warme Election for a Govener. We hope and believe Dweit Clinton is Elected--- Our Friends are all well.
Your ant Dewey & Ambrose ware at our house last weeke. Thay and there famualy ware all well. Have the goodness to excuse my writing for the thumb of my right hand is very lame---------- Bleave me Dear Son when I Say I longe to se you and hop when your business will admit you will come and visit. With all the affection (of) friends and the Love of Parents to a dutefull Son We Subscribe our Selves your
C. M. Eaton Illinoise State James Eaton Polly Eaton
I had all most for got to tell you that many of our young men are going to Mchagan for Setlement Apolas Drowne and James Well has Bought in (and) that all your aquaintanc Send their respects to you
Dear & Absent brother, after a long time of neglect I have taken this time to write and try in part to answer your letter, that I received the 8 of Jan. It was received with much pleasure and satisfaction. To hear of your health is a great satisfation, I must make this weak excuse~ I have not much news to write I expect you would say. I should think there might be news enough in your country. Our parents are in good health and tolerable smart. The rest of the family is well except myself. I have a very bad cold. I am so hoars that I cant speak and some of the canker. It is tolerable healthy about us. Aunt Jamesons family ware all well Satyurday. You said that you heard that one of Aunts girls was married. That is a mistake. There is not any of that family married, but there is one out of most every family. There has been a great many marriages in this town. I expect likely that you hear of some by the way of the news papers, but I will tell you! Whether it will be unpleasant or a greeable news I cant tell. I see fit and thought proper to change my Name and situation and try to do better, but whether I have or not is more than I can tell, but I think I have not drawn a blank. I consider a small prize better than nothing. Wishing not to offend on either side of relation, I believe I have not. But more ready and willing to pleas my self, and my teeth being poor therefore chose an old acquaintance, one considerable yonger than myself. I find there is a great many strange things takes place. You will say so. I was united with Apollos Drown the 25 of Dec. It is a serious and sollemn thing to unite in wedlock. Perhaps I have tirerd your patience already, but I want to tell you more of our calculations. We are calculating to go to the mishigan in about a year to his land. Apollos is tending bar for P.P. Bates and is a going to untill April. Mr Bates is a going to quit keeping tavern then. Talks of working on a farm by the month for Mr D thinking that is the best way to get money and utentials to carry with him. There is several young people a going the Mishega.
James Wells was married to Laura Bircharcd the 29 of Dec. As for young company, there is but a few young men and not many girls. There is Mr Wells' girls and Justin (they) remain single and Sophronia Artellisa and Wm. They make the most of the company. As for Lola she is not much company for young. She appears lonesome whether she is or not I cant tell. I have not had any converstaion with her since she receivd your last but the other girls have. Sophronia thinks that she is not altogether satisfied. I hope that you dont write for a bad design~ I mean to keep her awaiting and thinking you willl return. If you dont intend to return to her why dont you tall her in plain, I think that she places the utmost confidence in you for some reason. I dont think that she would without a reason. She has told me that there was not any solemn engagements and that she some times thot she would not put pen to paper again. I hope that you will write more satisfactory one way or other.
Columbus lives with Mr Wells~ is hired there for a year. Goes to school this winter. Wm lives with Mr Wadsworth and gets along with the trade very well. Sophronia & Artelissa Clement Mary Ann and John M. are at home and I have not left home yet and dont expect to untill April. Our relation are generly well. Uncle Canfield has been quite sick but has got about well. Uncle Deweys family ware all well a few weeks ago likewise Uncle Ambrose family. Aunt Dewey & Aunt Ambrose have each of them another boy. Father reicevd a letter from uncle Samuel Eaton a few months ago his family was in good health. There has been some deaths here. Clement Wells wife died with the consumption and Mrs Meade with the same. Mrs Towne seems to be very much changed since the death of Pirces. Mr & Mrs Norris & and their family of four sons enjoy good health at present. Adelpha has two daughters. Capt Gage and Bartlet have gone to New Hampshire on a visit and took thaniel to leav (live?). Some think that they have gone to get wives. Bartlet has bot our old form. The man that uncle sold to could not pay for it so sold to Bart. That neighborhood has altered a good deal since you left home. Levi has got up a frame house and a large barn. The Fobeses have bought the Colt lot and built bctwen the hills also oposite of Gilbert Drown a part of that farm and built a frame house. C Cussort has built a house and it looks almost like a vilage. Much pleasanter than the vilage to me. I am lonesome and homesick and tired of liveing in the vil. Father talks some of going to the ohio this winter but uncertain. He wants to go to the Mishigan and Apollos wants them to. Mother is not willing. I dont think that they ought to go. Father & Mother are old and but a. very little to cary with them. What do you think about it I wish to know. If you pleas tell your mind what you think aviseable for Father. to do-------
Mother wouldent have (no) objection to going to the ohio to a
piece of land ever so small. We cant expect that they will become rich
by going into a new country. If I thot that they could have a better
I am shure I should have no objection. I believe that I have wrote evry
thing I can think of and shall have to come to a close ) Apollos says
he thinks that he shall write a letter to you before a great
and would be very glad to have a letter from you if you think him
of your friendship. Uncle Samuel Brockelbank is at home and leads very
much such a life as he usd to, not any better. Aunt is the same old
of ferniture. Lima is a smart girl & sends her love to you. Your
Aunts & cousins have most of them read your letter and send their
respects to you. We all want to see you very much. Should be glad if it
could be so orded by providence, I hope that it may be. C Marius
must put our trust in God, he only knows our futurity and may it be our
to prepare for our futer state. I know that I shall not be puting off
time of preparing for to meet death any longer for we know not what an
or moment we shall be call'd for. I hope that you have not been
negligent as I have. I have livd twenty five years without considering
was a mortal dependant on a moment. I must come to a close. Wm is
a drawing a family record for you, if I dont send it now I shall the
letter. I will fill it that you may look on the poor writing in
of me and the painting of William. I wish you to answer this ill
letter. I hope you will overlook and correct all errors, answer this as
soon as you can convienantly. Give my love to all enquireing friends
untill death Lydia B. DrownCaius M. Eaton
I Recd your kind letter of the 26th 1825 Feb on the 25th March Instant with more than Usual pleasure on Some accounts and others is mixed with Some disagrable feelings. I ought to be thankful to the giver of all good for your Helth and your prospects of obtaining a property. I make no doubt but you will make all Lawful Exersions and no other to obtaine your object- I most Sinserly thank you for your goodness in paying Samí1 Jamison his Demand he held against me. I truly am afraid it will imbaras you two much. We are all truly glad to heare from our long unheard of Son Zuar we had all most buryed him our minds. But thank that god who gave him to us he has spared his and our lives to heare of each other once more. If he has not left that place tell him to write to Some of us. I Should have wrote to him Immeadatly but you Said he was a going to leave the place.
I hope that kind providance that has preserved your life and helth will Still preserve and keep you. (As respecting our Helth we are all much aflected with the Influanzy. Clement and John are now Sick and Confind to the house but are on the mend. The rest of the Famualy have not bin Confined. N. Hampshre which gave us the Molencoly newes of the Death of your Granmother Brockelbank. She died on the Second of March with the influanzey and lung fevour. Please to give the infomation to hir Connections in your Cuntry. Like wise your Uncle David C. Eaten is Dead he died in November last with Tiphos Feaver and left a widow and five Children to morne the los. Through the all Prevailing goodness of God all the rest of our friends are well.
Dear Child you will beleave me when I Say we should rejoyce to See you we likewise beliave that you would be glad to come and make your Self one among us but Situated as you are we considur it would be very dificult I therefore a plaud your resulation and presevance. I thot I had the power to help you but is is other wise. Dear Son every letter you wrote to me Seams to Strengthen the Parental ties of friend Ship and Esteam please to Continue your kindness in writing often to Some of us. Lydia Recíd your letter and wrote an answer in Jany last which I think you had not time to recive and that will account for my not writing before this Deate ( in your next pleas to give me a general account of his Conduct how ever painful it may be to you or me)
I Sepose I must not neglect to tell you that is Lydia was marred to Apolis Drowne on Christmas Evening- has not gone to keeping house yet but well Soon. Apolis has bough lan in Mishugan and intends to moove there next fall
Ammite Jamison was Marred on 23 March Instant to a man by name of Smith,. I am not much aquainted with him &&&
William lives with Mr Wordsworth. Columbus with Mr Justin Wells. The whole of our Famualy was all at hom this day Except you and Zuar. Marius I believe the goodness of your natural Disposion will over look all the Iregularity of my letter I Confess I am very inadquate to write correctly
Mrs Jamison Canfield Gage and Wells Famualy
Comforable well. I have nothing mor of note to write --
much as usual - Winter very lite Produce low and plenty &&&
James & Polly Eaton
Canandaigua March 27th 1825
N B please to Send in your next S Jamison Recipt if Conveant Please to give our love and respects to Brother Joshua and his famualy and all inquiring friends
(side) I most Sincearly thank you for
information you gave me of your
After a long space of time I have resum'd resolution once more, to try to write. I know not how to begin or how to ask for pardon for so long neglecting you. I had not forgotten you by any means. Sometimes one thing, at other times I would think perhaps I can write better another day or Apollos would write, and having not much news to write therefore I have long! put off the time. I wish you would forgive me for you know that I have that to tend to which I us'd not to have-- I will now enquire after your health, and inform you of mine which is tolerable good at presant, I hope that your's is good, Sir Apollos has been quite down with an influenzy which is a general complaint all over the country as far as we can hear, some die with it. Columbus lives with us and goes to school, is well. I can tell you how fathers foIks do this evening, A-- and C-- has gone there to day. A week ago uncle Gages family were well, Aunt Jameson likewis. Cousin Mitty Smith has a daughter five or six week old. O, I must tell you about my daughter. Is a nice smart child, was four months old the l4 of this month, begins to set alone. I call her name Cynthia Cornelia. Father & mother enjoy good health for their age. Wm has had the measels and not got over them. The rest have got over them. The rest have got along well and are all well. Sophronia lives with Aunt Ambrose. in Rochester. Uncle Ambrose is doing very well, is very pios, belongs to the baptist church. Uncle Dewey has mov'd from the river (you must excuse me for not telling you more news for I do not know any.) I have just heard that uncle John was on his way here. There is some preperation makeing by some to receive him. Uncle Canfields folks in poticular. Cousin Elmira Brockelbank now lives at uncle Canfields and is much injoyed to hear that her father is a coming .
March 7th I will tell you a little about the weather-- the fifth and sixth it rained, 7th it snowd all day. The frost is all out of the ground. We have had but little slaying this winter. It has been variable, very sudden changes from very cold to very warm which occations a good deal of sickness--------John Jameson has gone to be married, to a girl by the name of Betsey Remington Dr R--------daughter. I suspect that Livonia Jameson is a going to Jump off soon. I cant say any thing about my brothers and sisters marying but perhaps you are married. If you are I hope that you have an agreeable partner and good house keeper which you might have had years ago! I conclude the corrispondence is at an end which has been carried on for some time, as for that letter which I receivd from you I done as you requested me to do. I have not seen Miss sence nor the letter. It is at fathers. Miss L---y and Justin has gone to Catarangus to live. Justin bought land there. Will tell you what was said. She said that if she could be a shured that you would return in six months she would continue in the same mind she had been and if otherwise she should discontinue all further corrispondence, and would change her name as soon as she could better herself, for reasons of different nature. There had been so much said concerning her waiting for &c and there had never been any bonds she told me to tie or bind either of you or at least did not consider it so. I suspect you and She know best, therefore I expect I have said enough upon that subject. I trust that you can act with a clear concience as you know your engagements better than any other one. I do not consider marriage anything unlawful or disagreeable on my part, therefore I should think if you could find any straw bonnets agreeable to your situation I should think you had better I mean if you see fit and think proper and think you could spend your time any more agreeable, stop! perhaps you dont wish to spend your time any more agreeable. I wish you to act your pleasure, suit yourself and you suit me---
Sunday evening March 12
a beautiful pleasant day, all well. I think I shall have to come to a close for want of something to say. Wm works with C Wells at his trade. Clement goes to school. Mary Ann and John likewise. I some expect that Columbus will stay with Apollos. We dont know yet whether we shall go to the michigan or not this spring. Apollos talks some that he shall go in May himself if he dont do pretty well here. He wants a little more money to start with, has offerd father 30 acres of land if he was a mind to accept of it and go with him. Apollos says that he has to drive business so hard he cant write. Father & mother send love to you and all the rest of friend's brothers and sisters send their best respects to you and Zuar. I think that I have wrote enough such as it is. I wish you to correct errors and forgive all mistakes for I have wrote all of it by odd spells and (cant) tell how I have compos d it. I hope that you will not neglect writeing as long as I have, for I want to hear from you very much. Give my love to all inquiring friend's, to Zuar & wife, Uncle & Aunt, Alvin & Nancy and all the rest of' the family. I must wish you good evening good luck and prosperity, so no more at presant.
this from your effectionate
sister L. B. DrownCaius M. Eaton