Addition, 1823-1838, to the Morris and Rutherfurd Family Papers
| Manuscripts Gifts 2006 | Front Page 2006 | Previous Issues | Friends of the Library |
Thirteen letters, 1823-1838, written to Helen Van Cortlandt Morris complement other Morris and Rutherfurd family papers already in the South Caroliniana Library’s possession and offer further insights into this prominent family of New York and South Carolina. | Manuscripts Gifts 2006 | Previous Issues | Endowments | Friends of the Library |
Helen Morris’ husband, Richard Rutherfurd Morris, was the third son of Lewis Morris (1754-1824), an aide-de-camp to Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene, and the grandson of Lewis Morris (1726-1798), a prominent landowner and signer of the Declaration of Independence from New York.
Five of the letters are from a friend in Boston identified only as “Eleanor,” and include one written on 20 October 1823, but a few weeks before Helen’s marriage to Richard and subsequent move to South Carolina. Besides wishing Helen good luck on her upcoming union, Eleanor also expresses her approval of the couple moving to a “warmer clime” as both were “too delicate after such severe illness, to encounter the inclemency of our winters.” The winter passed without sickness, although Helen must have been less than impressed with the society she found in South Carolina compared to that in Boston and New York. For, in a letter of 23 February 1824, Eleanor must remind her that social functions are “not essential to a mind and disposition like yours, whose enjoyments and happiness are based on a firmer foundations” and that “one advantage… to be derived from a country… residence, is the necessity of learning to rest on some rational employment for happiness, instead of an uncertain dependence on the pleasures of the gay world.”
Among the later items in the collection are four letters written between June and August 1838 from Helen’s eleven-year-old son, Lewis Morris (1827-1855), while a student in White Plains, New York. In typically juvenile fashion he tells his mother nothing about his studies, but always provides descriptions of how his leisure hours are spent. He notes that he and the other boys fill their spare time fishing, playing ball, and playing with his hoop and stick. After the latter items had been broken, he and his fellow students resorted to knocking down hornets’ nests, which to his disappointment the insects always rebuilt.