Almira Culver was born 9 Aug 1835 to John A Culver and Catherine Skidmore of Pleasant Valley. She married John Allen Marshall and they had three children, Nellie, Edwin, and John. She died 22 Nov 1916, two years before Mary. The John DeLafield she mentions had died two years before in 1853 and was a big-wig in New York State agriculture.
Postmark torn, addressed to Miss Mary E Knickerbocker Tivoli, Dutchess Co New York
Oaklands Sept. 15th, 1855
It has been a long time since I have heard from you but I thought I would write to you and inform you of my whereabouts. Mr. Fuller last April, changed his place of residence from Conesus to three miles from Geneva. You have doubtless heard of the fine country about Geneva so I need only tell you I have seen some of it and proved to be all that has been or can said about it. Although it is three miles from here to Geneva, we have a fine view of the village and also of the lake a beautiful drive along the lake-shore as one would like to take.
I have just received your letter which was forwarded to me from Conesus and cannot wonder why you think I did not deserve it but I had thought a long time of writing and at last began when I received yours so you can give me credit for that. I did not receive your letter until a week after it was written so I will address your letter as usual, fearing that you might not be at Pine Plains when it arrives.
It is now Monday evening. During the day the “young ideas have to be taught how to shoot”* and so the evenings are at my disposal for letter-writing, reading, etc. I practice nearly two hours every day I think I have improved in music, considerably since I left school – and suppose you have too. Do you take lessons now> or have you since you left Mr. Tookers? I like teaching very much, much better than I expected, particularly when I see my scholars daily progress in their studies and taking so much interest and delight in them. I have only four, and the eldest but twelve, but they all are the smartest children I ever saw. I am going to leave the 1st of December so shall hate to part with my little pupils.
I was at the home five weeks this summer and thought about visiting you, but my time was so very limited that I did not visit near all my relatives. I think perhaps you known how soon the weeks pass when you have only a few to spend hone. I dare say you remember how homesick you was at school and how short the vacations seemed to be.
I saw Mr. & Mrs. Tooker – they were very well. I think their school is not as flourishing as it has been. Abbie Watson has become teacher, Miss Noyer & Miss Reynolds continue there still but Miss Dixson did not expect to return after the summer term.
Mrs. Tooker thinks that Hattie Watson is engaged to be married to Mr. Graham, you know he used to call at the school frequently, also that Louisa Palmer is not far from it to a gentleman in New York, I do not know the name. Martha Norton one of the expectant graduates died last spring – perhaps you remember her. I saw Louisa Van Vliet – she is desirous of becoming a teacher. I wonder if she will make a good one, as she was a scholar & you ask if I have seen or heard from Emma Robinson. I have not. I was in Syracuse an hour or more when I was going home and thought then if I only know where she lived I would make her a little call. How is Emma Timmons. I suppose you must see her quite often. I heard that she thought of being a parlor boarder this term at Mr. Tooker’s only sturting French, music, and painting. I was not at the examination as I did not know when it was to be and had been home but a few days before it occurred.
Do you correspond with Lizzie Jessop or Kate Rosa? If so how are they? I almost forgot to tell you that when home I saw Geo. Lockwood, A. Barnes, & E. Bagley at church in Pleasant Valley. E. Bagley has grown to be very handsome and much improved in appearance, she attends school at Dr. McLellans.
I think I have written a long letter enough to atone for my past silence, yet I will endeavor to be more punctual in future for I dearly love to hear from my school-mate and room-mate oftener than once or twice in six months. (hearing from her and not writing to her is out of the question altogether)
I must now close bidding you good night hoping to hear from you soon. Address Rose Hill P. V. Seneca Co N.Y. The farm is honored by the name Oaklands and was the state premium farm [she ran out of space and continued top of page 1 upside down] owned by Mr. John DeLafield a former resident of Poughkeepsie. I think the farm and post office names are quite romantic but it is a delightful country out here and no mistake.
Yours sincerely, Almira Culver
*This is paraphrased from lines 1152-3 of a very long poem called Spring by James Thompson: “Delightful task! To rear the tender thought, / To teach the young idea how to shoot.” something they were surely taught at the Poughkeepsie Female Academy.
Click to enlarge and see each whole page: