Love letters, ship voyages – a devoted husband that never returns.
It sounds like a Nicholas Sparks book. However, it is so much more.
Our ancestors were real people with real feelings and challenges.
I came across this letter written in 1839 because of a lovely woman named Marcia Messie. She gave my grandmother dozens of pages full of priceless family history. In turn my mother copied the pages and sent them to me. I was so excited.
This information doesn’t belong tucked in a book or in a file cabinet. I feel it is meant to be shared with all of you.
Joseph Bryant was married to Amanda Melvina Fitzalin Gault. Joseph worked on ships and was often away at sea for months at a time. I have the a copy of a letter he sent to Amanda. The family legend has it that was his the last letter he wrote before he died at sea. Although it is true he died at sea (seven days from New Orleans). Thankfully, this was not his last letter. He died nine years later on the 9th of May 1848. (See New Orleans, Louisiana Death Record Index, 1804-1949 about Joseph Bryant.)
That does not take away from the heartfelt beauty shown in his handwriting. It is a testament of his loyalty and love for his family.
Although the handwriting is beautiful it is hard to read and so my wonderful Mother-in-law helped me type it. (Question marks mean we were unsure what was said.) We tried to preserve his original punctuation. (If this version is still hard to read, scroll down to the bold print for the edited version.)
New York May 8th 1839
Amanda I have been to the post office untill my feet are sore to finde a letter but have been disapointed every time I got your letter of the 2nd? in the two day and I wrote to you immediately but I have not had any answer from you if you have not got it you had Better see if I did not direct it to Wareham for I was in a grate hurry when I directed and I might have made a mistake and not poot an West Wareham
My dear I have been so much ingaged since I have been hear that I could not come home but I shall come as soon as I get hear again my dear I sail tomorrow for St Thomas and Chayses? and with the blessing of god I shall be back in two or three months my Dear I wrote you that I should send you some thing home but there has not been any vessel hear that was bound to Wareham direct So I will weight untill I come home my Self you wrote me you had some money By? you I will send you Some more which will be enought to last you untill I get thereI hope I have bought a grate quantity of things to take out with me for to sell out there and I hope that I shall do well on this for last voyage I made out well and What I carried? out my dear I want to see you so I cannot hardely think of going without comeing home but I shall be ablidged if you get my other letter you will h? all the particulars my dear keep up good Spirits for I hope to be with you in three months from this day god Bless your sweet? hart a my dear a how I long to see you and little Sis a amanda you must take good care but there is no need of that caution my dear I send you twenty dollar in this letter I would send you more but I do not like to send money in letters but I have two hundred that I wish you had but I dare not send it and you say you have some I hope that you will have enough to last you untill I come home my dear give my love to father and mother and mary and my most sincier thank for there kind to you and little sis and rember me to all the rest of the famely and I must conclud wishing healthe and happiness and I Remain your affectionate husband.
PS my dear I shall wright from St Thomases but I should been more happy if I could heard from you again but there has been some mistake about it or I am shure that I should? I am shure that John he must bare a hand? get marred So fare well my love untill I return,
The type does help, but I also attempted to post an edited version here
New York May 8th 1839
Amanda, I have been to the Post Office untill my feet are sore [trying] to find a letter but have been disapointed every time I got your letter of the (2nd? in two days .) I wrote to you immediately but I have not had any answer from you. If you have not received it you better see if I did not direct it to Wareham; for I was in a great hurry when I directed [it] and I might have made a mistake and not put West Wareham.
My dear I have been so engaged since I have been here that I could not come home. But I shall come as soon as I get word again. My dear I sail tomorrow for St Thomas and ? With the blessing of God I shall be back in two or three months. My Dear I wrote you that I should send you some thing home but there has not been any vessel here that was bound to Wareham directly. So, I will waight until I come home myself. You wrote me you had some money? I will send you some more which will be enough to last you until I get there. I hope I have bought a great quantity of things to take out with me to sell out there and I hope that I shall do well. On this last voyage I made out well with what I carried. My dear I want to see you so I cannot hardly think of going [out] without coming home. I shall be obliged if you get my other letter you will h? all the particulars. My dear keep up [the] good Spirits for I hope to be with you in three months from this day. God Bless your sweet hart, my dear how I long to see you and little Sis, oh Amanda you must take good care, but there is no need of that caution my dear. I send you twenty dollar[s] in this letter. I would send you more but I do not like to send money in letters. I [do] have two hundred that I wish you had but I dare not send it. You say you have some [so] I hope that you will have enough to last you until I come home. My dear give my love to Father and mother and Mary and my most sincere thanks for theire kind[ness] to you and little Sis. Rember me for all the rest of the family. I must conclude [by] wishing health and happiness. I remain your affectionate husband.
PS my dear I shall write from St Thomas but I should [have] been more happy if I could [have heard] from you again. There has been some mistake about it or I am sure that I should? I am shure that John he must bare a hand? get married So fare well my love until I return
I do not know how he died, or what he sold on the ship. I do know that he loved his wife.
That’s all that matters.