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Henry Ward Beecher Pleads With His Granddaughter’s Teacher
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Let not her head be taken off, nor her heart broken, prays her grandfather

HENRY WARD BEECHER. Autograph Note Signed, to Miss [Sara E.] Grosvenor, March 30, 1876. 1 p., 8 x 10½ in. Very fine.

Inventory #21553.07       Price: $450

Complete Transcript

Miss Grosvener

            This young lady, Viz. Miss Katie, has been so absorbed in study as to forget all time, and is late,-a grave but not capital offence, I hope. Let not her head be taken off, nor her heart broken, prays her grandfather

                                                                        Henry Ward Beecher

March 30, 1876.

Historical Background

Henry Ward Beecher was the most famous preacher in the United States in the middle of the nineteenth century.  His oldest son was Henry Barton Beecher (1842-1916), whose oldest daughter was Kate Eunice Beecher. In this charming note to a teacher, the grandfather, in his early-60s, pleads with the 11-year-old’s teacher to excuse her tardiness. The teacher was likely Miss Sara E. Grosvenor (1850-1938) of Whitcomb’s Seminary for Young Ladies in Brooklyn.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) was born in Connecticut to Lyman Beecher, a Presbyterian preacher from Boston. He graduated from Amherst College in 1834, and from Lane Theological Seminary near Cincinnati, Ohio, where his father was president, in 1837. That same year he married Eunice Bullard, and he became the pastor of a church in Indiana. In 1847, he became the first pastor of a Congregational Church in Brooklyn, New York. There, his fame grew and he spoke on a national lecture circuit. He increasingly espoused abolitionism and temperance, and during the Civil War, he went on a speaking tour of Europe to build support for the Union. After the war, he supported women’s suffrage. He and his wife Eunice White Bullard had eight children, but four died before their parents. There were many rumors of extramarital affairs. One with a friend’s wife broke into public scandal in 1872 and resulted in Beecher’s civil trial in 1875 for adultery, which ended in a hung jury.

Kate Eunice Beecher (1864-1890) was born in Bloomfield, New Jersey, the daughter of Henry Barton Beecher and Harriet Jones Benedict and granddaughter of Henry Ward Beecher. She married William Armitage Harper of the famous publishing family in 1889, and they had one son. She died suddenly, two months after her son’s birth, after having a tooth filled.


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