In 1800, Sarah Livingston Jay visited Lebanon Springs, New York, in search of a remedy for her ailments. Columbia Hall, serving the spa, opened in 1794; it stood 300 feet above the valley and at full capacity could accommodate 400 guests. Writing to her husband John in Albany on July 28, Sarah recounted details of her stay and her wish to retire to their home in Bedford, New York, which was nearing completion.
My dr. Mr. Jay,
The only circumstance that has induced me to remain so long at a distance from you & from home has been the evident progress of my health. The air of this place no less than the Bath has had a wonderful effect upon it. The Mayor & Mrs. Van Ranselear, myself &c. last evening climbed one of the highest mountains here & I was not at all fatigued; the view from it was superb. Bathing now has the same effect upon me it formerly had that is to say it gives me a charming glow & occasions a quick circulation. Remember me if you please to our friend the D[octor]. He will be gratifyed to hear that I am so much recovered. I long very much to see you & the Children & can hardly believe that a fortnight has not quite elapsed since we parted. …
Our quills are cut up & the family not having risen yet I am writing with the stump of a pen that is as stiff as my knife. Maria [the Jays’ eldest daughter] is very well & still sleeping. Sammy & horses are very well. Hannah [a servant she sent for] has answered our purposes as well as an elder person wd. have done. Give my love to Ann [their daughter whom they usually called Nancy], tell her there is not any body here that she is acquainted with except the Mayor & his party. Kiss Sally & Wm. [their two youngest children] for me. I hope to hear from home this evening by Mr. & Mrs. Perkins who are expected here. I hope they meet with no impediments at Bedford for I am more than ever desirous of being there, then we may roam together & together inhale the salubrious breeze. Now a cruel regret that my beloved husband & children do not with me partake of the Rural pleasures in which they so much delight diminishes the satisfaction these wild scenes are calculated to inspire.
Adieu my dr. Mr. Jay!
believe me ever yours S. J.
While in Lebanon Springs, Sarah took the opportunity to visit the Shaker Society settlement in New Lebanon. She described to John her reception there. “We have twice visited the Quaker settlements, & each time received every mark of attention we could wish; nor was the pleasure afforded us by their civilities at all diminished by the simple confession that they thought them due to the family of a Governor (John was governor of New York State) for whom they entertained the sincerest respect. I have purchased of them some very clever sheets, towels & ticken & likewise very pretty shirting for servants at a very reasonable rate.”
The Sarah Jay’s letter can be found on pages 371-72 of Selected Correspondence of Sarah Livingston Jay and John Jay.The illustration of the Mt. Lebanon Shaker Village Stereoview (ca. 1880) can be found on this SITE.