I took a brief “field trip” to the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center on Monday to look at their collection of John and Isabella Hooker correspondence, focusing on those that mentioned or were written by Charlotte Cowles Hull and her husband Joseph. Of course, anything related to Charlotte is fun in my book.
Three of the letters contained what I consider new and interesting information. On November 28, 1840, Isabella, who was in Boston, wrote to John that she had been speaking with her cousin Henry and that he was thinking of being a missionary. Of course, every missionary needed a wife. Isabella asks John, what about Charlotte Cowles? Isabella claims that Charlotte has “determined not to marry at all,” but Isabella asks how irrevocable is her decision given that she could be a missionary’s wife (that would certainly make me want to get married!)? Needless to say, Charlotte did not marry Henry.
Isabella and Charlotte became good friends as Isabella writes to John on February 26, 1842:
Charlotte has not enjoyed very good health this winter, has found her little school quite wearisome at times – so I have frequently called for her, early in the morning, & we have started off, with our good old chestnut horse . . . in search of health, rigor & happiness, all of which we have, at least to a certain extent, secured – these rides have made us, fully acquainted with one another & have made Charlotte very dear to me as a friend & interesting as an intelligent companion.
That little tidbit destroys one of our theories that Isabella and Charlotte met at the Hartford Female Seminary. Glad we got that straight.
Once again, in the summer of 1842, Isabella tries her hand at matchmaking for Charlotte. Joseph Hull went to visit Isabella’s Beecher relatives in Ohio and is pleased her aunt Esther Beecher found Hull “nice” and seeks further approbation. She writes to Esther
“I am very glad you have seen him – for Charlotte C. is a very dear friend to me & strangely enough, I have been somewhat the instrument, in causing a renewal of the old friendship between herself & Hull – tho’ once, I should have thought any such thing, most undesirable both for her and myself.”
I made some other discoveries on Monday, but they will have to wait for another post. I am having a great time filling in the details of Charlotte Cowles’ life and character. Maybe there is a book in there somewhere.