Snapshot from 1893

This is a copy of a letter from my great aunt Sarah Herring Sorin to my great grandmother Henrietta Herring Franklin. I love everything about this.


8 West 45th St.
N.Y. City
Oct. 10 – 93

My darling Eat:

I got Nick’s nice letter yesterday morning, and yours at noon. Hers was postmarked the 3rd and yours the 4th, but as they don’t deliver mail on Sunday in a highly moral town like this, that may account for the difference. Your letters seem to travel the fastest–in one instance beating one of Mama’s that started a day earlier.

This is your birthday, and I so hope you are having a happy, sunny day, and that Papa is able to be at home. I shall think of you all at dinner tonight and toast you silently when I drink my beer.

The aunts were up to see me yesterday, and invited me down next Monday night to play cards and meet the Abbots–six of them I believe. They also invited Asenath and a young man, a friend of hers. I believe Mr. Bayard is to be there too. I will wear my new dress if it is cool enough, if not, my black silk. They also invited me to ride with them in the Park  some Saturday, which I should like immensely. Aunt Annie brought me some little cakes, home-made, which she thought I might like.

I had a pleasant time at Aunt Clara’s on Sunday. After dinner and a nap, we all took a walk over to Riverside Drive, and a lovely view of the Hudson. I saw some young men riding, and they looked like characatures. I longed to get on Charles, and go sailing up the Avenue and show them how. Am glad to hear you are enjoying nice rides on Button. Riding will do you good. How nice that Montgomery exchanged saddles with you. I am of the opinion that you got the best of it. I enjoyed your account of your ride through Walnut Gulch. Let me suggest, while it occurs to me, that you never get on Button without someone holding the bridle, and that, if you ever dismount, while out riding, you ought to keep the bridle in your hand till you are on the ground. You are much more apt to have an accident with Button in whom you have perfect confidence, than with a nervous horse about whom you are naturally uncertain and always watching. You know how the innocent Toby sent me off on my head.

How aggravating that the washouts occurred just when you most wanted to hear from me and find out where I was at. I like it here so much and have congratulated myself so many times upon my good fortune. Long before this you have all heard from me as to my permanent location with Miss Jermyn.

I have a very good washwoman. She washes things very nicely, and asks 75 cents a dozen, while many of them ask a dollar. She counts hakfs. three as one piece, so my washing will average about 75 cents a week. I wash my stockings myself.

My dress is very stylish and dressy. The effect is Olive or bronze green, and the sort of jabot of very pale crepe-green is very becoming. The first of the year I shall have a plain tailor made dress of some warm mixed wool goods, to wear to law-school.


We are kept so busy at law-school I don’t have time to think of clothes or anything else. We just rush.

How nice that you are having such fine games of tennis, and are so interested in your earning. Give my love to the ladies at Mrs. Cheyneys, and to all my friends.

A young fellow of eighteen who is attending Columbia has come to board here. He is a nice boy. Miss Jermyn says she has worked for his mother for sixteen years. He is studying to fit himself as an electrical engineer. He has the room just over mine.

Do tell me, somebody, how Mama and Papa are, and how are you two girls, and Seng, and Manuel? You must tell me every scrap of news. I am afraid Papa has been too much away from home to discipline you properly, and if he doesn’t look out, Birdie will be the best trained, and Mama will get the prize when I return.

New York is very gay and bright, but I wouldn’t live here permanently for anything. The West has spoiled us. The houses are positively oppressive–not inside, but I mean that when you’re in the street you feel as if there was nowheres to go to.

I must get to work. With bushels of love to you all–and an extra share to my dear girl on her birthday. –by the way, how ridiculous for you to accuse yourself of not doing enough for me when I was there. I blamed myself for leaving so many things for you to do for me, always.

Lovingly, Sarah


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  1. kathyd65

    I enjoyed the amount of detail, all the information passed along in this letter. Letter writing is a lost art – no time to formulate thoughts, really TELL someone what’s going on… texts and email have replaced a well written account. I suppose with the telephone, that all began to change. Thanks for sharing a bit of history.

    • J Hardy Carroll

      The entire family was literate. There was a home journal that had entries by every member of the family. It chronicles the life back in New York, the move out to Arizona and the many adventures undertaken by everyone are all faithfully recorded. My dad was working on a book about it when he died. I hope that all those notes will be put to good use at some point.

Don't just stand there.