Letter written by Black female settler in Liberia, 1841 to the founder of first School for the Deaf in America (Gallaudett University was later named after him) -- Cover with 2 page letter dated from Cape Palmas, West Africa, Mt. Vaughan (see image below), Sept. 19, 1841 to Rev. T.H. Gallaudett, Hartford, Conn (founder of the first School for the Deaf in America -- Gallaudett University is named after him). The letter arrived in New York with a postmark of December 10th. Beautifully penned and signed E.M. Thomson, letter indicates she is serving as a school teacher to native children and colonist's, with lively chatter about those sailing to America, continued information about the natives makes it appear that Miss Thompson was not originally from West Africa and has probably come there with colonists, possibly from America. Postmarked Ship, and New York, Dec. 10, cover is addressed to her friend, a Reverend in CT. Additional penned notes on the letter read "E.M. Thompson - a colored woman who lived some time in Mr. Gallaudett's family & afterward settled in Liberia & taught school there with good success".
-- "It has been some time since I have heard from you. Mrs. Sigourney, when visiting always mentions your family but since she went to England I have heard nothing from her. My self and family are well now but my health has not been as good as it has been. I began to feel the effects of a sedentary life and conclude that I shall be obliged to suspend teaching awhile. I am sill engaged as teacher of the female department of Mt. Vaughan. Ann schools have been quite interesting but now many of them are absent, owing to the influenza or lung fever that has permeated among us. I have a very interesting set of native girls and am fully convinced that their focus(?) in learning is far superior to many of our own colonist children. The number of our missionaries is much lessoned. Mr. and Mrs. Payne (most probably Bishop Daniel A. Payne, 1811-1867) are now in America. Mr. and Mrs. Perkins are about to sail with Capt. Lawlin. The harvest is still plentiful, but the laborers are few. The Presbyterian missionaries are pretty well I believe. Mrs. Altruior (sp?) is about to return to America. Mr. Wilson and Lady have just returned from a trip down the coast. In your last letter you wished to know if I had even seen a deaf and dumb person in this country. I have not even heard of and when I mentioned it to the natives they seemed surprised. Since I commenced writing a large ? ? was brought into the yard. I should suppose him to be upwards of 50 years old. He was shot by one of the colonists not far from Mt. Vaughan. He would be quite a curiosity to you all. I wish your children could see it. It is now rice season with us. The natives have cultivated an abundance of rice. The second rainy season has just commenced which generally lasts about two months. We have much more dry weather than they have in Monrovia. I shall be happy to hear from you and family. My best regards to them. I request an interest in your prayers that I may be faithful to my charge. Your humble servant, E. M. Thomson
IMPORTANT CONTEXT: E.M. Thomson was married to James Thomson who was also of African descent, was the first person employed by the Protestant Episcopal Church in Africa. The attention of the Executive Committee of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society was drawn to him as the writer of an appeal of some of the colonists at Monrovia for aid in erecting a Church edifice, and as one who, in the absence of any minister of the Episcopal Church, had been acting as a Lay-reader. Not considering his qualifications such as would justify him in assuming the ministerial office, he was appointed by the Executive Committee a teacher in 1835. He continued in the service of the Society only for a short time, and died in December, 1838.