Switzerland, 1876

Letter, dated 1876. The envelope bears two postmarks, Thun, Switzerland and New York, 1876. The stationary is from Hotel Thunerhof. Thanks to Sara for helping decipher the handwriting:

Thun Switzerland
September 3rd 1876

My dear Ben, Your good long and interesting letter of was recd. yesterday. I never forget the 3rd day of September. My mother was born that day. Aurelia was born that date and we were married on that day. I never forget Anson and the dear ones that have passed away when that day comes around which it does pretty often.

We have been here in this beautiful spot for ten weeks, I think there are few prettier places in the world. It is a valley surrounded by mountains many of which are always covered with clean white snow. Just in front of the hotel is a beautiful river which runs from Lake Thun, about half a mile distant. This lake is some ten miles long and is very beautiful but all this country is too old to suit me and there are no trout worth fishing for. Once in a while they do catch a few, but people fish day after day without a bite. I have no doubt that two thousand years ago you might have taken quite a respectable string long the last of May or first of June, when the apple blossoms were out, but give me Pleasant Ridge for fishing yet. There is a quiet and stillness there that you do not find here, there are too many people here.

I think it was nineteen years ago that Stearns and I went to Pleasant Ridge with you and I have missed going there but few years since and I have enjoyed a great deal there and we have had lots of good times and I am not aware that any one of us have ever been made the worse for going. We have dug a few stumps possibly for slight indulgences but when the stump was out by the roots, we had to be rewarded and often we would feel like digging out another. I think we may have to increase that penalty to two stumps.

I was very much disappointed that I could not come last spring. had I come as I expected then time table would have held good for the Stearns was it in time and we would not have hurried five minutes. The boys in Boston were ready and I have no doubt that we would have had a time.

Luis Darforth gave me an agreeable surprise a few weeks ago by coming into the hotel one night, he told me that he was going to give up his Centennial trip for the sake of going to Pleasant Ridge with us.

We leave here for Paris tomorrow and we now expect to return to Boston next June. It will too late for Spring fishing but possibly we can take a little private ? later in the season.

Taylor is home again and writes me that they are going down fishing next Spring. If they go you will have a good time. I always feel so sorry when I think we can never see poor Collin's genial face there again, no better or larger heart ever been about our camp fire. I am sorry that they have so many boats and such cheap fare into the Ridge. I think it must be bad for the trout but still there will be fish there for a great many years.

Tell Bill to get a few down into the South Cove and have them well cared for until I come home and we will go up and take them out, perhaps if he should drink a bottle St Croix that they would hand around then.

Can Bill find ? in September?

I do not think that I should like any Felkin's Motel, still you could go there for a night.
I was very glad to know that Uncle Ben suffered nothing by the fire. I was afraid that he had.

I am always so glad to hear from Anson. I never do only through you.

Em is much improved since I wrote you last. She now seems more as she used to. The children have been perfectly well this Summer until last week when Willie was taken with inflammation of the bowels, but he is all right now and Saturday morning we hope to be in Paris and in another week the children will all be in school, if well. They will remain there until we start for home, which it seems to me will be but a very short time.

This is one of the loveliest days in the year and I am writing on the piazza while the snow covered mountains seems so very near to us. Still you are glad to get into a shady place.

Remember us all to Uncle Ben and Aunt Lois to Uncle Columbus and Aunt Betty. Em sends much love to you all and so do I. Let me know what kind of a time you and Bill have. The snow that I can see from here would make an awful lot of punch.

I enclose a few Swiss stamps for Ben will send some more from Paris. I also enclose a little Italian money and a Swiss cent.

From your friend
MD Spaulding

Found in "Contemporary Art in Europe" by S.G.W. Benjamin. It was published by Harper & Brothers, New York, 1877.

-Click to enlarge photos-


  1. Could it be "Can Bill find driver in September?" ? The letter at the beginning of the mystery word looks like the "d" at the beginning of "drink" a couple of lines up from there, so maybe that's it?

    Such a cool letter, sounds like a really nice man. One wonders what business he was doing in Switzerland and Paris. Possibly the Embassy or something.

    Thanks for posting this!

  2. The letter was worth the read. The subject (fishing) is one that I indulge in not often enough. I like the cover on the book, too!

  3. I would like to give you the Kreativ Blogger award that was passed on to me. Please feel no obligation to do anything, but if you do the information is on my blog - http://funoldhag-carol.blogspot.com I think your blog is charming!! Carol

  4. Amazing, informal letter from a guy who is enamored with fishing! I was originally interested to see what stamps (being a philatelist) were on the envelope, but was surprised to see none. Surprised until I reached the last lines to learn that Ben collected stamps and evidently coins as well. I would guess that our 19th Century philatelist soaked the stamps off the envelope and a closer look seemed to suggest that as well, with one of the postmarks interrupted as if the corner of a stamp had been sitting there and the discoloration in the same location, a suggestion of adhesive residue.

    I am curious, like Sphinxvictorian, as to what the writers business/occupation was. Especially one allowing him to spend no less than ten weeks (!) in the Swiss Alps, then returning to Paris until the following June.

    Plus, in a freaky coincidence, my own mother's birthday happens to be September 3rd!

    Thanks for posting this!

  5. A letter from 1876! Absolutely amazing!

    Thanks for showing this!

  6. Love this letter, thanks for sharing !

  7. The hotel thunerrhof still excists in thun, switserland! It opened in 1875. One year before the writer visited the place.

  8. Margreet - I would love to travel to Thun and stay for a night, the letter makes the area seem so fantastic.