18th century voices

This collection includes many documents relating to the family of William Gifford (1722-1793). As was typical of many families in the Dartmouth/Westport region during the late 18th century, some members left this area and moved to New York State, specifically to an area close to Albany. The NY state towns of Easton, Troy, and Cambridge are mentioned in these letters. Their correspondence provides a glimpse into their lives as they describe raising a barn, living in a log house, and farming activities. The letters are also notable for the phonetic spellings: “woosh” (wish), “hant” (have not), “anuff” (enough), “yuster be” (used to be), “gitten” (getting), “sarve” (serve). Can you hear their voices as you read these words?

Among the children of William and Patience Gifford were:

Ruth Gifford b. 9 March 1747
Joseph Gifford b. 20 November 1750
Abraham Gifford b. 14 August 1752
William Gifford b. 21 May 1754
Mary Gifford b. 18 March 1756
Caleb Gifford b. 25 June 1758
Richard Gifford b. 28 November 1760
Patience Gifford b. 2 October 1762
Martha Gifford b. 25 April 1766
Gideon Gifford b. 8 June 1769
Ruscel Gifford b. 29 January 1773



Caleb Gifford writes to his father of the success of his crops–sends love to his brothers and sisters–would like money when he visits.

Cambridg August 29 Day AD 1795

Kind father I set down with greate Plesher to rite aline to you to let you now that we are all well at presant hopin these few lines may find you and the Rest of the family in joy the same and thanks be to God for it molley has Ben sum on well But has got Better I can inform you that I have Rased seventy Bushels of wheat 8 bushels of food Rey and fifty Bushels of oates and two hundred weight of flax and milk fore cows and make Chees plenty for us and sum to SPair and Corn is not so god as twas Last year and lihew kirbey was hear last first Day and they was all well to henryes lihew hant boat no place yet land has got very Dear up hear I offered to sell my Plase last spring for five hundred pound But I shant offer it so now lihew come over to look at Dalleson farm But it was sold for six hundred pound the weak before I want you to Rite Back By the Barer how you Do and send me word when they is eaney Vessell comin up this fawl to troy for I mean to send him on Barrell of good flour or mor this fawl I talk comin Down this winter If nothing happens It is aginneral time of helth in this plase they give my love to all my Brothers and Sisters that is Down thear and tell them We all like very well and have work anuf and vittles anuf turn over
I can in form you that hay is Very plenty In this place grass was offord to Cast to the haves that was two upon acor falley sends her Love to him and the rest of the familey and so now I must Draw To aclose and remain his Dutifull son till Death
Caleb Gifford

I shall Be very glad to have sum money if it Can Be made Convenant When I Come Down I Cant Rite to my Brothers and sisters at pesant But I Woosh them all Well I shall Be very glad to have aline from them this letter must sarve for the presant.




Patience Kirby’s letter to her father–she lives in a log house, makes cheese, sees Ruth every day.

To William Gifford, Westport
Easttown September the 6d 1795

Loving father itak this oppertuney to let the now that we are wel as Common thanks be for i dont think that Elihu is not quit So well as he yuster be and i like as well As I expected and it is good seson Appls is plenty in this town we liv in a log hous but comfortable I have maid a bout a hundred wate of chese we hant got noland yet but I hop we shal by spring henry famly is wel at present I se Ruth evry day I should be glad to se yu all but when i shal I don’t no my old country sems most natrel I hop you live in good cornecson with ech other I should be glad to see father in this country but Russell must com if he can We reseived the leter that father sent and I remain thy loving dafter
Patience Kirby
I remmebe my love to my brothers and sisters




Patience Kirby asking her brother to send her the great looking-glass her father left her in the will.

Easton the 1st (?) of 10th Month 1797

Dear Brother, I take the favourable opportunity to Inform you that we are all well at present hoping these may find you Injoying a good State of health I received your kind Letters & was glad to hear that you was well, you wrote to me that there was some things that it was Fathers will that I Should have, I Shall exspect to have that great looking Glass, as a gift by itself, as you all know that it was a Gift from my Mother to me, as for the other things I should be glad if you would Devide them as eaqual as you can, and Send my part the first suitable opportunity, If there is any Household Stuf that falls to my part that you think is not suitable to send, I should b glad if you would send the value in something else. I should be glad if you would have the Glass Cased, that it may Come Safe and send me an Inventory of the Goods that Comes to my part that you send, and Direct them to be delivered to Asa Anthonies Store at Troy ——–Remember our Love to all our Brothers Sisters& inquiring friends——–These from your Loveing Brother & Sister Elihu & Patience Kirby






Letter to William Gifford from son Caleb Gifford. Update on health, weather, barn and grain prices.

William Gifford Westport

Cambridg April the 10 Day AD 1796

I take this oppertunity to Rite a line to you to let you know that we are All well But falley she hant got very Well for we have had the measles In march the 20 Day and when we was comin Down with them we had the 16 Day of march We had a grate snow storm which was very Deep but has goan away and we have fine Weather for the season and I am Ben gitten Afraim for a barn and we am now fraiming on it and shall Rase it the last of this weak the Barn is to Be 45 by 30 and if you will come and sea me can 4 of you I shall have Barn Room anuff to commedate you all I heard from henneryes and and lihews A bout three weaks ago and they was all Well then Wheat and Corn is very Dear in this place Wheat 20 shillings Bushel and Corn at 8 shillings Bushel and things is Very Dear in this I hant heard from you sence I came from Down their I shall Be Very glad to hear from you so now I Must Draw to aclose and Remain Your Dutifull son till Death Caleb Gifford
Give my love to father hixers familey and tell them I hant time to rite to hem at presant and tell them that John was out hear and they was all well.
(On reverse)
Brother Hix the may Read this Letter and Send it Back from me W Gifford
Round is my Ring that hath no End
Russell Gifford of Westport