A Letter for the Day

The Mid-Atlantic states may be reeling from a bout of cold, snowy weather but 194 years ago Capt. Jonathan Smith was experiencing similar conditions.   In the following letter, Capt. Smith writes home to his wife, Zilpha Drew Smith as he awaits cargo in Baltimore. 

Baltimore, February 17th, 1816

My Dear Wife,

I suppose that you will begin to look for a letter by the time you receive this, I have nothing new to write, the prospect for freight is small, we have not had any offer.  Today we have advertised the ship for Gibraltar.  Mr. Thompson says that he will put in 500 barrels of Flour, & we must put as much more if we can get the remainder on freight.  I expect to have a letter from Capt. Reuben [Drew] in 2 or 3 days & likewise one from Charles [Drew], then I shall conclude on something.  I have sold about 60 ton of plants at $11.50.  I suppose you would like to know how I spend my time, I go to town, which is about 1 mile in general about 9 am, & return about 12, & sometimes I take a trip up there in the afternoon.  The remainder of the time I spend on board of the ship.  The evening after supper which is about dark Mr. Chandler & Mr. Soul go or stroll off and I am left alone.  I have spent one evening at Mr. Ramsay’s, a ship chandler.  That is the only house I have been in.  Mr. Chandler has spent 2 evenings on board, the remainder I have been alone.  I sit by the stove as it has been very cold & read a little & think a little, and be assured that you and the boys have their share of my thoughts.  At 9 or a little before or after, I go to bed.  I thank kind Heaven that I enjoy good health, except I have rather a bad taste in my mouth. I expect that my stomach is rather foul.  It has been very cold.  The 14th and 15th it froze the harbor over, say 3 inches thick.  Last night the snow fell about 6 inches deep & at 8 this morning it commenced raining and has rained very hard all of the fore noon.  It is 1/2 past 12.  I must leave off to dinner.  My love to you and the boys and all of our Friends.

I remain your Dear Husband,
Jonathan Smith

The Drew Archives will be reading letters written by Capt. Jonathan Smith and his family on March 18 at 7pm.

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