Letters Written by Sampson Vryling Stoddard Wilder (1780-1865), a founder of Amherst College to Rev. John White Chickering (1808-1888) over a period of twenty-seven years, with whom he collaborated and shared confidence, as well as a letter to one of his daughters and three letters from one of his daughters to Rev. Chickering and a birth record from Paris of one of Wilder’s daughters.
1821 Extrait du Registre des Actes de Naissance de l’an 1821, Ville de Paris, Préfecture du Département de la Seine. Record in Paris of the birth of Sarah Vrylina Stoddard Wilder on August 16, 1821 at 8:00 A.M. at his hotel particulier then situated at No. 18 Rue de Petit Carreau in Paris, where he did business on the ground floor and lived upstairs. Several persons associated with Wilder in Paris are mentioned in this document.
1830 March 18, Written from Boston, autograph letter signed by S.V.S. Wilder, 2 pages with additional post scriptum. Addressed to Rev. John W. Chickering, Andover. Content about the convention of an Ecclesiastical Council in which the evangelical churches of Harvard, Leominster, Boylston, West Boylston and Marlborough participated and resulted in the unanimous election of Rev. J.W. Chickering as pastor of the church.
1830 April 27, Autograph letter signed by S.V.S. Wilder, written from Mount Pleasant, 2 pages. Addressed to Rev. John W. Chickering, Andover. Wilder’s philanthropy extended to providing a horse named “Pompey,” a cart and a ton of hay for Rev. Chickering, and even instructions for “oiling Pompey’s hoof.” Copies of newspapers and missionary tracts are also mentioned.
1834 February 22, Autograph letter signed from S.V.S. Wilder, written from New York, 3 ½ pages, addressed to Rev. J. W. Chickering, Boston, Massachusetts as “My Dear Pastor.” With an early red ink postmark stamp of “New York Feb 22.” An important letter with significant historical content from Wilder, one written as a banker, just after Andrew Jackson’s re-election on an anti-Bank-of-the-United-States platform. Both Jackson and Van Buren, the Vice-President, are discussed in detail. Amos Kendall, a member of Jackson’s ‘kitchen cabinet’ is also mentioned. “The removal of the depositors from the U. S. Bank is the cause of all the evils which an afflicted Country is now experiencing, & things must go from bad to worse unless a majority in Congress can be found to restore the depositor-[? of] the Bank, & thereby save the Commercial and Manufacturing Community, or a great proportion of them, from utter ruin.”
[1837?] March 10, Autograph letter written by two women, the first page is presumed to be by Francina Haines’ mother, the second, third and additional half-page are written by Francina Haines, who signs in an over-written addition utilizing the left-hand margin of the verso of page 1. A letter written from New York, Washington Place, and with a New York red ink stamped postmark of “Mar 11.” A letter with interesting medical content about the application of leeches: “Forty two leeches have been applied to her side – so she is now very weak …”. This letter has a tear-hole where the wax seal was removed when the letter was opened with a loss of parts of two words. There is a similar tear on page 3 with the loss of parts of a few words.
1838 October 6, Autograph letter signed from Francina Haines to Rev. J. W. Chickering, 2 ½ pages, written from New York, “Washington Place,” with some charming insights into her lifestyle (complaint about one note on the piano, and reference to a musical event “a concert” probably a house concert) and with news of her father’s travel to Philadelphia by sea and his return with fresh peaches and other fresh foodstuffs, as well as a suspected cholera outbreak on Bank Street. With an early red stamped New York postmark of “October 6 New York.”
1840 June 29, Autograph letter signed from S.V.S. Wilder, written from New York, 2 pages, addressed to his unmarried daughter*, Miss Francina S.V. Wilder, Boston, Massachusetts. In this letter he expresses his admiration that his daughter has relinquished “all her cherished hopes & fond desires of going to Syria as a Missionary of the Cross…”. In his post scriptum he mentions he will deliver Francina’s “negative answer to Mr. Smith” and that if she has anything further to communicate to him, she can send it to “Sarah & Vrylina who will leave Boston on Thursday…”.
1843 June 19, Autograph letter signed, 3 ½ pages, written from New York from Wilder’s married daughter, Francina Haines, to Rev. J. W. Chickering, with much intergenerational family news, mentioning her sister Sarah and Sarah’s husband, Mr. Sheffield, had departed for Niagara Falls and Canada, but only got as far as Troy from which they returned stricken in the influenza epidemic.
1857 August 14, Autograph letter signed from S.V.S. Wilder, written from White Lake, 9 pages, to Rev. J. W. Chickering, Boston. A letter of epistolary length, written late in Wilder’s life outlining the reasons and purpose of a visit by him with his wife and daughters to “the Institution recently established at Lancaster.” (The Hillside Church, see J.W. Chickering’s The Hillside Church : or, Reminiscences of a country pastorate. Boston: 1856). This letter provides deep insight into the goals and motivation of a committed evangelical Christian philanthropist. One extraordinary sentence stands out in this letter: “During our 3 days sejour in that truly distinguished city, engaged with the curious unnumbered Throng, in satiating our desires to behold the 8th wonder of the world, during the day, let the doors of the high street church be flung wide open each morning, that a portion of these uncounted thousands whom the Great Eastern may have attracted — [?], may enjoy the advantage of hearing the doctrines of the Cross proclaimed each evening by my two Cidevant Pastors; and if one impenitent Sinner should be reclaimed by Divine Grace from the power of Sin and Satan, and the eternal salvation of that immortal soul forever secured, your preaching on that occasion, will not have been in vain, and the construction of the Great Eastern, will not have been in vain, whatever may be the result of the enterprise, in a pecuniary point of view!”