Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

A Biography Of America's Folk-Song Composer By Harold Vincent Milligan

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saw Vin Smith; Gillead and wife at Niagara, home next week. I am about bringing out a couple of good songs. Love to all,
Your affectionate brother,
Nothing in this letter indicates how long he had been in New York and there is no mention of his wife and child. The sentence about expecting to "live modestly at home, but circumstances have increased my expenses, as you know, since that time," suggests two possibilities: he may have left his wife at home in Pittsburgh and gone to New York alone, or he and his wife may have sep­arated in New York, thus making it necessary for him to maintain two establishments. Until some further testimony is forthcoming, this part of his life must re­main a mystery. His widow told a reporter of "The Pittsburgh Leader" more than twenty years later that he wrote the song "Willie, We Have Missed You" (pub­lished in 1854) while they were "boarding on Sixth Avenue, New York."
Among the letters from other members of the family during these years there are only two references to Stephen aside from the letter from Henrietta, already quoted. One of these is in a letter from Dunning to William, dated "Steamer 'Norma,' Mississippi River near Vicksburg, March 3, 1854."
. . . . Have you heard anything from Stephen lately? It is a subject of much anxiety to me; notwithstanding his foolish and unaccountable course, I hope he will continue to make a comfortable living for himself.
Did the "foolish and unaccountable course" consist of persistence in writing songs for a living?
The other reference to Stephen is an affectionate one from his mother to Morrison, written from Philadelphia, where she was visiting relatives, on October 19th, 1854. After several pages of family news and social events in Philadelphia, she says: "Tell Stephen his letter was a great relief to me to know that all is well at home."—

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III