On May 30, 1866 Isabella Macdonald married Gustavus “Ross” Alden.
They met on Thanksgiving day 1863, and their courtship lasted a little more than two years. As their relationship blossomed, Isabella did what any young woman would do under similar circumstances: she told her best friend all about it.
Isabella and Theodosia Toll had been close friends since they met as students at the same boarding school. Through their school years together and after graduation, they remained devoted friends, and often visited each other’s homes.
Theodosia was staying with Isabella during the winter of 1864, when Isabella introduced her to Ross Alden. Luckily for us, Theodosia recorded her impressions of their meeting in her diary:
January 1, 1864
Yesterday I came to Auburn to visit dear Belle. This has been a gloriously happy New Years day. We had a number of calls. During them one whose name I had heard before—Mr. Alden. I had gotten up considerable curiosity in regard to him. I sat reading, pressing a handkerchief to my aching head when the gentleman entered and was presented. And here I will state briefly my first impressions. Those were pleasant. A tall, grand looking man heavily bearded and mustached, a finely formed head and pleasant face, speaks very deliberately and very low. There you have him. I wonder if I shall be called upon to take him into my circle of friends, for her sake?
Two days later Theodosia got a chance to answer that question:
January 3d Sabbath.
Went with Belle to the Orphan Asylum Sabbath School at nine o’clock. Mr. Alden escorted us on our way to the Asylum and walked to and from that place with us. I like him!! If he and somebody should happen to fall in love with each other, I have not a word of remonstrance to offer. He seems an earnest worker from Christ, and that is worth so much.
Not long after Theodosia’s visit to the orphan asylum with Isabella and Ross, she returned to her home in Verona, New York, which was about sixty miles away. But Isabella promised to visit her friend soon.
Two weeks later, Theodosia recorded this entry in her diary:
In a few hours she will be here. Only two weeks since we parted, yet I think I have never looked forward to her coming with more eagerness. She says in her letter received last evening, “Queer things have happened.” How I wonder what those queer things are. I shall know soon but I keep wondering. There are some things that ought to happen to her that would make me both glad and sorry. Well, I’ll be patient for a few hours.
Could it be those “queer things” Isabella wanted to tell her were the latest details of her relationship with Ross? Perhaps Ross proposed marriage, and Isabella wanted her dearest friend Theodosia to be among the first to know!
Unfortunately, sudden illness prevented Isabella from traveling to see Theodosia, so discovering those “queer things” had to wait. But several months later, Isabella sent her friend a very thorough accounting of the state of her relationship with Ross. Here is Theodosia’s diary entry:
Thursday, Sept 22d 1864
I have been reading over Belle’s letter. It is a dear good letter, and I am so glad that she is happy at last, that the old restless feeling seems to have left her. I trust that he to whom she has given her heart is worthy of her love. Just go back eight months, Journal, and remember what I told you of my first impressions of the man. Oh, Belle, you have much to make you grateful and happy, and so have I! I thank Thee My God for the blessings that crowd my way, and of the coming joy of a woman’s life that has come to my Darling.
After several months—and many more visits and letters between them—Theodosia made this diary entry:
Jan 30th 1866
What a happy month this has been! But, oh, how lonely I am today! My dear Belle left me this morning. Her “Ross” came last Saturday and spent the Sabbath. He preached on Sabbath evening. I like him very much. I already find myself numbering him among my friends.
At last, Isabella and Ross set the date of their wedding. They planned to be married in Gloversville on May 30, 1866. Of course Theodosia was there. She spent the night with Isabella as she happily—and nervously—made ready for her wedding day.
Two weeks after the big day, Theodosia wrote this in her journal:
I had a letter from Belle this week dated at her new home in Almond [New York]. She is very happy and I do believe that God has given her the strong constant love of a Christian man as the crowning happiness of her life.