Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Deborah Franklin, [21–22 January 1768]

From Deborah Franklin

ALS: American Philosophical Society

[Jan. 21–22, 1768.]

My Deareste Dear Child.

yister day I had the pleshuer to reseve yours Dated November the 171 I had not hearde one worde abought you senes the later end of Auguste2 which was neare five munthes but I shall not dwell on that at this time. You reseded I hope all our letters wrote in September and ocktober and those from Mr. Bache and Salley and mine all so and I thinke you was told that Mr. Bache was gon to Jamako for three or fore munthes.3

But I have another afair to write to you a bought poor Debbey4 has bin verey sorely aflickted indead I donte take pleshure in saying aneything to you that will give you aney uneseynes but I donte thinke I shold due write if I shold not tell you as mabey sumbodey eles shold write and you not heare the write. Debbey has had another Dafter borne laste September abought 8 or 9 weekes befor the Child was borne shee meet with a disaster and Cold not stand or walke or helpe herselef att all and was obliged to keep her Bead all the reste of her time and it was verey hott wather and shee grew verey weake indead. I never expeckted shee wold live or the Child but it plesed god shee did and the Child all so but two owers before the Child was borne her Husband was brought home all moste dead from sum plase in Mareyland well he lay verey ill and it was expeckted to dey everey day5 and her nurse was Coled a way before shee had gotten strenthe and shee Cote a bad Colde the Child had no milke and all moste kiled the poor littel mother att laste it was put ought as she Cold not due aneything for it and shee lay in Continewal pain scree[m]ing and Creying with what the Dockters Cole a spasmotacol disorder in her head and all her joyntes so bad as to turne her Eyes quite Crucked and to starte them aright and hurte her site threw her in to fitts and disjoynted her eyes so as her Chin fell down on her breste and has deprived her of her senses and shee is so hanted with such dredfull uglay thinges and the imginshon [imagination?] and soon the dockter ses it is a verey bad disorder indead but he is in hopes shee will get the better of it. The nighte be for laste shee was in graite distress Collin on her unkill and sed if he was thair shee shold not be treeted in such a maner. I sat by her and folded her in my armes and told her that I wold take as much Caire of her as thow you was thair and held her for two ower and Salley sat att her feet and wraped them up and had a thing to heet them a way. Att laste shee fell asleep and was yisterday as hapey as we Cold expeckte and still Contineus more hapey I pray god to Contineu it for her one [own] Sake as well as her Childrens it is verey harde on me now more the [than] 60 years old to be in everey stashon. I am fother and mother to owir one [our own] and so I muste be to poor Debbey by inkleynashon and for Credit Sake. I will leve of[f] and go and see her in hopes to tell you better news but be for I go I muste tell thee our Nevfew B Mecom has bin hear 5 or 6 dayes he went a way yisterday. I did not know his buisnes but he semed verey hapey and semed to think he had verey graite prospecktes before him and is in hopes to Convince his friends that he and thay shall be verey hapey before long6 he had sume Confrense with mr. Kinersly and the Revrd. Dockter Allison7 I Cante helpe tellin that Dr. Allison has Surprized Beney by tellin him that God in his mersey has maid the rode to Heaven So wide that sume of all Reig [Religious?] profeshons may go to heaven nay it is so wide that thay may go abreste but Ben thinkes he is mistaken and is a verey quere man and donte seme to like him but the Dr. trusted him with 6 or 8 letters to the moste noted men in proper plases. This minet I hear sad news is Cume to town that a Duch man has killed 10 or 14 Indians8 I will inquire and tell you but this is a dredfull letter [illegible] wrote you the news abought the Indians. This day our poor Mr. Sturgis burys his Childe for he was killed by the fall of a tree the same littel jentleman that admired you so much his Name was Fransis.9

This is the third day that poor Debbey has bin better shee still thinkes shee has bin from home [and won’t?] let any body Contrey dickete her. The ocktober Packit is Cume and have a letter from you1 but I heare that nobodey else has aney I shold a toald you befor that our Mrs. Stephen is marreyed to Mr. Guning Bedfor you know him he is a verey Honeste and a verey good man. The Bills is to go by next Packit thay wold a gon by this but the Cirtifiket is not readey2 I sed I did not thinke thair was aney a Coshon but it will be readey by that time. Joseph Wharton Sener has been hear as was his son Thomas3 to day thay send love to you. Salley has wrote the poste waites. The Beens is att N Yorke.4 I write by the next Packit my love to good Mrs. Stefenson and Dafter and to Salley Franklin to Sir John5 I shall write to him or Salley will and tell him all the News aboughte the wedings. I donte forget Capt. Orrey.6 I am your Afeckshonet wife

D Franklin

yisterday ower Mr. Potts is son Joseph was marreyed to Sammey Powels Sister his firste wife was John Morrises Dafter shee deyed in Child bed [she] and thay ladey are one [own] Cusins thay Cold not pass metin7 so thay Signeyfid thair intenshons att the Staite House dore and was Marreyed by a magreystrat.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

1Above, XIV, 305.

2Ibid., pp. 241–2.

3The only one of “our letters” that has been found is from DF in Oct. (ibid., pp. 278–83), and it contains no mention of Bache’s departure. The Pa. Gaz. of Jan. 28, 1768, advertised that during his absence Bache had given power of attorney to John Nixon and Robert Morris to collect the debts due him.

4Deborah Croker Dunlap, DF’s niece and the daughter of Frances Read Croker (E.1.2.3); see above, VIII, 305 n.

5Trouble haunted William Dunlap. He began as a printer, became postmaster of Philadelphia for seven years and was dismissed, went briefly to Barbados, then to London to be ordained in the Church of England, then back to Philadelphia, where he combined printing and preaching. See above, V, 199 n; VII, 158; XI, 420–2; XIII, 84–6, 176. Three months after DF’s letter Dunlap settled as rector of Stratton Major parish, Va.; Pa. Gaz., April 28, 1768.

6Benjamin Mecom (C.17.3) was a perennial failure-as a printer in Antigua, Boston, New York, and New Haven, and as postmaster of New Haven. He resigned the postmastership early in 1767, and his newspaper, The Connecticut Gazette, ceased publication on Feb. 19, 1768. Later in 1768 he moved to Philadelphia to find work as a journeyman. This discouraging move was presumably the “graite prospektes” of which he hoped to convince his friends. See above, XI, 241; XIV, 61; and below, James Parker to BF, April 18, and DF to BF, May 20–23, 1768.

7For Ebenezer Kinnersley, Baptist minister, teacher, electrical experimenter, and BF’s closest scientific associate, see above, IV, 192 n and passim; and for Francis Alison, Presbyterian minister and teacher, IV, 470 n.

8On Jan. 10, 1768, Frederick Stump, a German living on Middle Creek, Cumberland Co., killed six allegedly drunken Indians in his house. He then went to some cabins on the creek, fourteen miles away, and killed an Indian woman, two girls, and one child to keep them from spreading the news. Word of the murders reached the provincial Council on Jan. 19, and it and the Governor took immediate steps to apprehend Stump and prevent Indian reprisals. Pa. Col. Recs., IX, 414–23; Pa. Gaz., Jan. 28, 1768.

9For the Rev. William Sturgeon and his earlier troubles, see above, VII, 252 n;X, 298;XIII, 483 n. For his son’s accident see Pa. Chron., Jan. 18–25, and Pa. Gaz., Jan 28, 1768.

1Probably that of Oct. 9, 1767, above, XIV, 274–5.

2Mrs. Mary Stevens’s financial affairs have appeared in earlier volumes (IV, 339 et seq.), but she has not been further identified. Gunning Bedford, the carpenter who had surveyed BF’s house (above, XIII, 379 n), married her on Sept. 1, 1767, in Abington, Pa. (Pa. Arch., IX, 187). The certificate was thought to be required by the change in her name; see BF to DF, below, Dec. 21, 1768.

3For Joseph Wharton and his son Thomas, also called Senior, see above, XI, 451 n, 449 n.

4Conceivably the William Bean, about whom nothing else is known, who turned up in London two months later and asked BF’s assistance; see below under March 24.

5Sir John Peyton, for whom see above, XIV, 206 n, 241.

6Lewis Ourry, for whom see above, XII, 298 n.

7Joseph Potts, a Philadelphia brewer, was the son of BF’s old friend John Potts (above, XI, 484 n). Joseph had first married Mary, the daughter of John Morris. The second marriage was to Sarah Powel, the daughter of John Morris’s sister and hence Mary’s first cousin; it took place on Jan. 21, 1768. Pa. Gaz., Jan. 28, 1768; see also Mrs. Thomas Potts James, Memorial of Thomas Potts, Junior … (Cambridge, Mass., 1874), pp. 167–8. The Philadelphia meeting subsequently disowned Potts and condemned his marriage on the ground DF mentions, the relationship of his two wives. William W. Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy (6 vols., Ann Arbor, Mich., 1936–50), II, 625. The meeting was dominated at the time by strict disciplinarians, who were applying a rule that had been in force-and in dispute-since the beginning of the century. The fact that Potts was a liberal may have been a further reason behind his ostracism. We are indebted to Dr. Herman Wellenreuther and Professor Jerry Frost for enlightening us on this example of the stresses within Quakerism.

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