Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mary Louisa Mitchell Binckley to John Milton Binckley, August 18th, 1867

From: Washington Evening Star, December 18, 1866, page 1
[Mary Louisa Mitchell Binckley at Abingdon, Virginia, to John Milton Binckley at Washington City, August 18th, 1867].

Aug. 18th 1867

My dearie,

I wrote you quite a long letter on my perplexities about the wedding. I shall begin my preparations tomorrow, in hopes you will muster up courage enough to ask Mr. Stanbery to let you come down the 1st of Sep.

I was so taken up with these small matters, that I said not a word to you in sympathy. It is indeed strange -- your swift elevation, the fall of those who, in fancied security, oppressed the lowly.

I cannot be too thankful that my beloved and honored husband was mercifully spared a temptation to which he might have yielded. In a conflict of "wills" with Staunton [Stanton] you might have forgotten that you were in the Conference Chamber of the nation, a place to be kept sacred from all intrusion of personal feeling. It is so much better as it is. Leave such things in the hands of Him who has expressly reserved to Himself the right to avenge wrongs. 

How blessed a thing it is for a woman to feel so sure of her husband as I do. I have known that you past scathless [scatheless] thro' the trials of your early manhood. I have seen how you endured with cheerful nobility the struggling of the bitter years that have passed. Prosperity will scarcely harm you. I think it will do you good -- it will soften and soothe. Oh man, the woman finds her true glory in thee.

A thrill of feeling that is not worldly pride, trembles thorough my heart when I realize that for you the misty air of the dark valley is passing away. The intellect as the eagle, must have sunshine, and the free upper air.

Think with what keen sympathy I would watch such a captive released from a cage. Up, up, to thy native air, to thy mates, to a cloudless sky.

May I, my husband, never be a clog to you -- I would be your helpmeet indeed -- after all the outside world is of but small account to us, when we go into "the world of our own."

Goodbye, I must close for this time -- Mother has no servant and I must go to see the children.

Please read the enclosed note and send it down to Galt's jewelry store and enclose me his answer. Mother and I want to get one or two little presents for Lulie. Preston Parr sent me a list, but his notions are too high and mighty for Lulie's good sense and plain beginnings. I know she had much rather have some plain serviceable article than a filigree ornamental something.   

Please attend to this for me at once, so there will be time for us to choose what we want and write back for them. And you had better see about some clothes for yourself at once. I suppose your shirts are still good -- get a new cravat a plain gray business suit, and a black -- my goodness, it just occurred to me -- if you did not buy a black suit after I left what on earth did you do for clothes to wear to Cabinet meetings?

Please do write and tell me what clothes you have on hand.

Gentlemen dress very nicely here, and ladies too. I am so glad I had nice clothes, but remember, we must not be extravagant not yet, at least.

Your own Wife 

[John Milton Binckley (1821-1878)
Mary Louisa Mitchell Binckley (1838-1930)
Lulie = Lucy A. "Lulie" Dennis (1845-1923), about to marry 
Willie = William M. Mitchell/Michel (1839-1908)
Sue = Sue Henry Mitchell/Michel (1845-1940)
Mr. Stanbery = Henry Stanbery (1803-1881), US Attorney General from 1866 to 1868

Staunton = Edwin Stanton (1814-1869)The children = Nellie/Ellen/Nella Fontaine Binckley (September 1, 1860-April 27, 1951) and Harvey Mitchell Binckley (1864-1928)
Mother = Jane Mary Wood Johnston Mitchell/Michel (1811-1892)
Preston Parr =  David Preston Parr (1844-1913), married (since 1866) to Frances "Fannie" Ellen Mitchell, daughter of Robert Crump Mitchell (1817-1872) and Ann Lucy Phillips Mitchell (1809-circa 1880) of Wheatly

Galt's jewelry store = M.W. Galt & Brothers Jewelers, 354 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington City]

Original manuscript in the John Milton Binckley Papers, 1816-1943. Library of Congress Manuscript Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. This is my rough transcription. 

Many thanks to William Myers for sending scanned copies of the documents from the Binckley papers, and also to Mary Davy and Sally Young for their assistance. 


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