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Louise and Will Raymond, letters to Bowles Colgate, February 1868

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Date: 14 Feb 1868 to 23 Feb 1868
Location: Washington, District of Columbia, USAmap
Surnames/tags: raymond colgate
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Louise and Will Raymond visisted Washington, DC in February 1868, and wrote a few letters to their friend Bowles Colgate. The letters were kept in his papers, copies of which are now held by his descendant, Daphne Maddox.

Washington -- 322 I St. near 15th, NW
Feb 14th, 1868

My dear Bowles,

I began this letter yesterday, the 14th, and only went as far as the heading, and there was so much talk all around me. I have not been one moment, hardly, quiet since I left home. We had a very pleasant journey here, having the society of Miss Robbins as far as Baltimore,[1] & we met several friends in the cars on their way to the center of fashionable society. On Tuesday evening, after our arrival, at 7 1/2 o'clock, we were obliged to dress for a party in the house, green in honor of the birthday of one of the ladies. Tired and worn out, I remained up 'til nearly one o'clock. The next evening, Thursday, Mrs. [Mary Jane (Raymond)] Buel[2] had cards for a grand party at one of the rich citizens', a Democrat -- Mr. [John F.] Coyle.[3] It was a very grand affair, but so much dress and formality. New York was represented by, I should imagine, a shoddy lady, Mrs. Matthews, a millionaire who was covered in all ways with diamond pins, two necklaces & coronet. She was too ridiculous not to be noticed by all guests.[4] The house was large and very beautifully decorated with paintings and flowers. The next day, I visited the patent office, having a view of the model of the improved steam engine by [the Raymonds' and Bowles Colgate's friend] Emory McClintock; then to the Capitol where we passed three hours listening to a spirited discussion on the feasibility of admitting Senator[-elect Philip Francis] Thomas to resume his seat in Congress, he having been a Southern man and sympathizer.

Returned home to a late dinner, and then dressed for Mrs. Buel's weekly reception, which was very pleasant. I was strongly urged to accompany some friends to Speaker Colfax's reception, but was really too weary to be agreeable out of the homelike circle. Nevertheless, I did not retire 'til the small hours. Today has been thus far a pleasant one, lovely as regards the state of the weather, more like spring than winter. I am writing at great haste for the mail this morning, and you will excuse all mistakes.

I began to tell you of today's (Saturday's) adventures. At 10 1/2 o'clock a party consisting of two gentlemen, the rest ladies, rode to the Smithsonian, and there met the Secretary, Prof. [Spencer Fullerton] Baird; were kindly shown many interesting articles not usually exhibited. Stayed there 'til 2 o'clock -- home to lunch at 3, out for the usual formal calls on the nobility: Gen'l Grant, Mayor [Richard] Wallach's and Chief Justice [Salmon P.] Chase, all interesting to me. Tonight I go to a party at Fred Seward's, and try to be home before Sunday. I do not think I should enjoy a full winter here, at least, if I was in any way connected with a public man.

I should love dearly to hear from you again. What a charming little letter you sent me. Many thanks for it, also for the sweet Valentine which came so acceptable. Will has taken a cold, and his voice is very sweet and musical. But I must bid you goodbye for the present, so your eyes maybe cheered on Monday by an acknowledgement of your letter.

Remember me to those you care to tell I've written you. Tell me of the Sewing Society and where it is to be held.

With many kind regards and much love,
I am yours truly,

322 I St., Washington, DC, near 15th NW
Thurs. Feb'y 20th, 1868

My dear Bowles.

I have been so busily engaged in the endless round of receptions and calls, in addition to the sightseeing and business at the Departments, that I have been unable to answer your very welcome letter before. As this is the last week of the gaieties of the season, which cease with the beginning of Lent, the receptions and parties have succeeded one another in rapid succession. I have been the rounds of the Cabinet Ministers, besides attending the President's Levée on Sat. evening, and two grand parties. Mr. Seward's was the most brilliant reception I have attended, & I have received a great deal of polite attention from Mr. F. W. Seward, the Assistant Secretary. The President's Levée was well attended, and was, it is said, the most brilliant one of the season. All the Diplomatic Corps were present, including Mr. [Edward] Thornton, [2nd Count of Cacilhas,] the new British Minister. The President's receptions are very democratic. Anyone is admitted and in any costume, I should think, as I saw one woman with a bonnet, and a man in a light coat. I thought from the ease of the access that it would have been well to have had placards hung in conspicuous parts of the reception room warning ladies and gentlemen to "beware of pickpockets". The President wore a frock coat, it is said he never wears a dress coat, somewhat to the disgust of the foreign diplomats, who think that the President might show them the polite attention of appearing in full dress when they are obliged to spend half an hour or more in putting on their decorations out of compliment to him. Johnson is a short, stout, stolid looking man, and his personal appearance is not imposing. Gen'l Grant, also, is by no means imposing in his appearance, but he has a good, trustworthy, pleasant face. [Jeremiah] Gurney's new photo lithographs will give you a life like picture of his face. I have met him several times, and had a very pleasant chat with him at Mrs. Buel's last Friday. I did not then find him as reticent in political subjects as I expected, but at the public receptions, he never alludes to politics. It would require a strong inducement to lead me to make a martyr of myself to society, as the officials here are constantly obliged to do. I am already sick and tired of that kind of life and shall not have, thank fortune, to attend many more receptions.

Can you not get away from business next Wednesday, so as to be present at a musicale Mrs. Buel, my aunt, gives on Thursday evening? I'll introduce you to some splendid young ladies. I found here a cousin whom I have not seen since she was five or six years old, now grown up into a beautiful young lady of eighteen, a charming girl. Come & be introduced. In time, I have seen more handsome ladies, in proportion to the number met, than I have ever seen in any other place. Of course, they are from all parts of the country. We have been highly favored with fine weather, only one unpleasant day. The walking, however, is not good. Yesterday and today, the spring has burst upon us & the ice is rapidly disappearing. I never saw such weather in Feb'y before. The House has been cutting off all Consular Agencies in its Diplomatic Appropriation Bill. The result must be a general resignation of the best consuls, as it is impossible to live on the small salaries given, except a man is a bachelor.

There are lots of things I have to say to you, but Louise is waiting for me to accompany her to make some calls. I suppose you have seen Mr. & Mrs. [Rev. John] McClintock![5]

Come next week, if you can. We shall all be delighted to have you and we will return to New York with you on Saturday, staying over Sunday in Philadelphia.

Give my kindest regards to all my friends, and believe me very truly yours,
Wm. L. Raymond.

My aunt and Louise say you must sure to come, if you can.

Monday, Feb. 23rd, 1868

My dear Bowles,

I shall not begin my letter with any flattering remarks this time, for I was so completely subdued by your remarks in the letter received Wed'y morning. Receive my thanks for the same and the many items of home news it contained. I feel flattered that you should rejoice in the opening of another correspondence, or rather a renewal of an old one.

My modesty forbore to send in return a "Valentine", but your heart might have told you that I longed to do so. I thank you for the first one ever sent to a lady friend, and shall cherish it ever in my inmost heart. I always like to receive the first of any good thing. I was charmed to hear of the success of the Missionary Collection [of the Methodist Episcopal Church], how generous the people were, notwithstanding the severe times. I am glad my class did so well for them, for that amount was to them as great as $50 to some others.

I met, yesterday, while walking in the Capitol, Bishop [Edmund Storer] Janes,[6] who is on his way south. He leaves tomorrow for Charleston. I do not think that when I first spoke he recognized me, as he could not call me by name.

Yesterday was a very exciting day, owing to the arrest by Congress of Gen'l [Lorenzo] Thomas. Of course, you have heard thru the papers about the whole matter. We left home at noon for the Capitol. Arriving there, we found the Senate had adjourned to the House to listen to the question of impeachment, which subject was discussed, and an evening session was held, also. The day, tomorrow, will be devoted to speeches, and at 5 o'clock the votes will be taken.[7]

The crowd was so great that we could not obtain an entrance into either gallery but thro' some friends were allowed to pass into the lobby and the Speaker's room. The lobby doors were then opened and tho' the crowd was great we could hear quite well. Some of our party obtained seats on the floor of the House, Will was one of the fortunate ones, and remained there till 5 o'clock hearing a puffy speech from Erastus Brooks and a very good one from [John] Bingham of Ohio -- also one other which was rather undignified from [John Franklin] Farnsworth of Michigan. [Farnsworth actually represented Illinois' 2nd District. but he did grow up in Michigan.] I could not stand the pressure of the crowd and the heat, so left with some friends.

I intend to go tomorrow early, as Will has an engagement with one of the Senators at 11 o'clock, and I will try and get a position in the Diplomatic Gallery.

This week, I have not dissipated quite as much as I did the last one. I grew weary, and tried to beg off. On Monday night, I went to the President's reception, which was a very crowded affair, almost too democratic an affair.

Tuesday evening, I had cards for a large party at Senator Pomeroy's, but after dinner, had such a violent headache, I was forced to stay at home. I have met the Senator several times, and would like to have gone there more than any other place. The family are very agreeable indeed -- New England people, and receive very nicely on Wednesdays. I paid some calls, six in number, on Mrs. Sec'ty [Gideon]Welles, [Secretary of the Navy], [Secretary of the Treasury Hugh] McCullough, [Secretary of War Edwin] Stanton, Seward, Mrs. Matthews (Speaker Colfax's mother) who receives for him, as he is a bachelor -- and Post Master Gen'l [Alexander] Randall's wife, the loneliest lady in Washington -- at least I think so. Next to Mrs. Gov. [William] Sprague [of Rhode Island], she is the handsomest lady.

After all these calls, in full calling rig, I came home to dinner at 5, and in the evening went to view some wax works a la Mrs. Jarley's. They were very finely gotten up and Mrs. Jarley was indeed a character in herself -- she was brilliant and brought out some capital puns.[8]

Thursday afternoon, I had an engagement to walk with a gentleman to the famous Arlington Heights. We rode to Georgetown and then began our walk, but mud, and red mud at that, stopped our progress after one mile of the way, and we only saw the house in the distance. I have heard of the mud in the streets and roads of this place, but never realized the depths so much as that day. I sometimes sank one foot down to the ankle, and then with difficulty drew it up, with three inches adhering to it. Of course, we soon left this behind us, and hastened home to more congenial walks. The day was lovely overhead, and our party of four were so enthusiastic, we dreaded to give it up so soon. In the evening, we remained and had the pleasure of your cousin's company 'til nearly eleven o'clock. I sang a song for him, and then he withdrew. Friday was a disagreeable day. It rained and poured at intervals, but in the evening we had a reception, and entertained the friends 'til midnight. So, there you have the events of the past week. I had a charming call on Thursday at Senators Pomeroy's & Morgan's. Friday, we went to the Episcopal church, and heard the pastor Dr. Hall, -- a pretty good sermon -- though not as strong as ought to be given on the eve of Lent. He rather spoke encouragingly of the gay season just past, in such manner that now the lental season had come, they must pray and attend the services of the week, to make up for all past sins.

I presume, ere this you have received the letter Will mailed you the past week. I wish it could have been possible that you could have passed the past week here with us. I presume we will go to Philadelphia Thursday or Friday, but if you thought of coming, we would wait. We expect to pass two or three days in Phil. -- probably spending the Sabbath there -- but the light is fast-drawing on and the light is dim, so I must bid you adieu. I beg you to pardon all blunders and imperfections in writing, as I have written in the dining-room, where four young ladies have been writing, and part of the time, chatting with Wil, who holds a prominent place in the assembly.

I imagine, just here, a circle where I send a return of the offering sent me.

With ever so much love,
I am truly,

(Receipts and notes in Bowles' files show that he and the Raymond's mutual cousin and friend E. Frank Hyde did subsequently go down to D.C., to visit with Louise and Will for a couple of days, but Bowles made no entries in his journal as to their activities.)


  1. Miss Robbins was almost certainly Louisa Melissa Robbins, a daughter of Horace Wolcott and Mary Eldridge (Hyde) Robbins. Adams, Sherman, The History of Ancient Wethersfield, Connecticut..., New York: Grafton Press, 1904, p. 567. Via the Hydes and Meads, the Raymonds and Bowles Colgate were cousins of this family, and Louisa Melissa Robbins' brother, the painter Horace Wolcott Robbins, Jr., was a close friend of Bowles'. The Robbinses lived in Baltimore in the 1850s and '60s. "United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch (12 April 2016), H W Robbins, Maryland, United States; citing p. 56, family 294, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 552,075.
  2. Mary Jane (Raymond) Buel, widow of Rev. Rufus, was an aunt of the Raymond siblings and their hostess in Washington, where she operated a small boarding/finishing school for girls.
  3. John Francis Coyle was an owner of the Washington Intelligencer, friend of Andrew Johnson, spent time with an acquaintence named John Wilkes Booth on the day he assassinated President Lincoln, and was the intended recipient of a letter Booth sought to have delivered that evening, which was instead destroyed by its carrier, John Mathews, an actor in Our American Cousin, before it could be made public. John F. Coyle, obituary. The Washington Post, Washington, District of Columbia, 7 Jan 1905, p. 10, clip 1, clip 2, clip 3.
  4. Mrs. Matthews was probably Speaker Schuyler Colfax's mother, Hannah Delameter (Stryker) (Colfax) Mathews, who married George W. Mathews after her first husband, Schuyler Colfax Sr., died.
  5. Emory McClintock's father and step-mother were recently returned from having been living in Paris.
  6. Edmund Storer Janes, senior bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was the father Sarah Elizabeth ("Lizzie") Janes, a friend of the Raymonds and Bowles Colgate. Janes, Frederic. The Janes Family: A Genealogy and Brief History of the Descendants of William Janes... New York: J.H. Dingman, 1868, pp. 222-239.
  7. On the events leading to the presentment of articles of impeachment against Pres. Andrew Johnson, see "Further Particulars of the War Department Troubles." The New York Times, New York, New York, 23 Feb 1868, p. 1, clip 1, clip 2, clip 3, clip 4, clip 5, clip 6, clip 7, clip 8, clip 9, clip 10.
  8. Mrs. Jarley's Wax Works were not, in fact, world-famous wax works, but rather a play. Bartlett, George B. Mrs. Jarley's Famous Waxworks: With Full Directions for Their Presentation, Costumes, Properties and Movements. Chicago: Dramatic Pub. Co, 1902.

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