W-MCP5-6.314 TO ESTIMATE RUTH ESTHER [BALDWIN] MCQUESTEN from her brother Dexter Baldwin and his wife L.H. Baldwin
Mar 30 1846
To: Estimate Ruth Esther Baldwin McQuesten, Hamilton, Canada West
From: Mt. Vernon Village, [Maine, U.S.A.]
I have made a promise that another week shall not pafs1 before I write you. When you left us last season I little thought that so many months would pass away without writing or hearing from you. Indeed it was impressed on my mind that we should often hear from you and that we should write you & send you Yanky papers especially an abolition paper now and then--You know how my time was occupied when you were here.
It continues so to be till the first of December. We finished our mill and got it into full operation about the middle of November and we finished making starch about the first of January--Owing to the rot we only manufactured 7 tons--which was of the first quality and sold for $100. Per ton--The destruction of the crop was a great misfortune to us--We have realized only $700. Whereas we should have realized as many thousands if we could have luck sufficient stock to supply our mill--We live in hope that it will be better this year.
Our family are now in good health. Little Caroline has been quite sick but is now quite well--Lyman R. & Charles Abbott & little Cora are all we have at home--George remains in Boston & William is with bro. Ripley in Saxonville. He (Wm.) intends entering the Meriden school at the commencement of the summer term. George thinks of going to Cincinnati in the fall--Wife and I enjoy good health & if we take no comfort any where else we take as much at home as the generality of people do, and I expect it is something so with you.
By the way you hastened back to Victorian's Dominions after you left here. There was a husband and I find you are like me when separated from him whom you love most--Well it is right that it should be so--And it gives me great pleasure that you have one in whom to confide who is so worthy of you--It would give us great pleasure to become acquainted with him personally; but when that will be God only knows, probably not till he makes himself known to us at our home. You will remember us to him affectionately--We love him as a brother, tho' we have never seen him.
We hear often from Boston & Saxonville--Bro. Ripley's health is quite good this winter--As for Lucy Flanders she has not written us since she returned home--And I cannot tell when we heard from Antrim (March 30). We have had letters from George William & Sister Lucy Howard since we commenced writing this. They were all well. We have heard from George also since we rec'd his letter. A friend of ours who used to board with us left Boston Friday & was here Saturday night on his way to his father's--G. was well, William will go to Meriden about the first of May.
The month of March has been beautiful--warm & pleasant--The snow is mostly gone, the frost nearly out of the ground and there is now a prospect of an early spring--There has been a terrible hail storm in New Hampshire.
But it is the storm of John P. Hail [sic] [Hale] who has stormed Locofascism [sic] from its strong hold.2
Much damage is due in many places by the damming up of the rivers by ice and overflowing the banks--In Levermore on the Androscoggin about 16 miles from this place all the mills and 17 houses are said to have been carried away.
[Written at top of first page:]
The water was four or 5 feet deep in Hallowell Street to the tops of the counters in the stores. In Gardiner much damage is done many of the large bridges are carried away upon the large rivers.
[Written in margin of first page:]
Well my sheet is full & I must close, very affectionately yours, Dexter.
[The letter continues from Estimate's sister-in-law, L. H. Baldwin.]
Dear Sister E. Husband has told you about ourselves, & now we would like to inquire how it is with you. The only intelligence we have had of you since you were here was, that you returned home much sooner than you then thought of doing. All we know of you is conjecture. Perhaps some of those conjectures may be realities with you. We hope you are well and happy. It would give us great pleasure to receive a letter from you. We have not heard from mother this winter but conclude that you did not prevail on her to accompany you home. I thought of you much about commencement time, supposed you would then set out on your journey. Presume it did not seem to you, so much of an undertaking as it would to me. You will probably never again have so strong a desire to visit your native land, you will better realize the endearments of home, and that your affections are in a great degree, transplanted to a new soil. When you come again take your family with you, and you will enjoy it better. Hope the time is not far distant when we shall have that pleasure of seeing you. Mrs. Hopkins (whom you visited when you were here) has a daughter, two weeks old. Miss Porter perhaps you will recollect has as Mrs. Trimball's niece, has since become a wife, and mother. Sister Caroline & family are well.
I often indulge myself in thinking of a trip to Canada, perhaps my anticipations will never be realized but it will not be owing to indifference. I visited Brother Ripley's family in Oct. last. Miss Peabody, daughter of H.C.P. had been spending a few weeks with us, & she accompanied me as far as Bath. We had a very pleasant time. We are hoping to see brother Cyrus and wife this season. I have never yet seen her. We have had unusually warm & pleasant weather, & every thing promises an early spring. The snow has gone rapidly, which has swollen the streams & rivers very much, which has caused considerable damage & loss of property for this state.
Do you remember the Cross girl that was here last summer? She is married and manages her own affairs, to her own satisfaction I hope. We shall probably have no starch mill to build this summer & shall probably have only our own family, which will be very pleasant for us. My best prospects to your husband, hope to hear from you very soon. Yours with much love,
1 Throughout this letter the writer uses the now archaic convention of "fs" for "ss," which we have transcribed as "ss" for ease of reading.
2 Born in nearby Rochester, John Parker Hale (1806-1873) is best known as the first avowed Abolitionist Senator in the United States . It is an odd irony that, in the two decades Hale was in the Senate, Dover profited from the manufacture of cotton products that were produced by Southern slave labor. Hale took a solid stand against slavery--a position that earned him enmity from Southern leaders, even a death threat on the Senate floor from a colleague. It also earned Hale a statue in 1892 on lawn of the state capitol in Concord, NH, where his figure now stands with Daniel Webster, President Franklin Pierce and John Stark.
In another great irony, White House records show that retiring Senator Hale, defeated after 20 years, met with Abraham Lincoln on the morning of the President's assassination. Hale was granted an ambassadorship to Spain, which he requested partly, it was known, to remove his daughter Lucy from the influence of her new "fiance," an actor named John Wilkes Booth. Booth killed Lincoln that very evening. The Hale's lived out the next few years in Spain, and J.P. Hale returned to Dover with his daughter and died soon after in 1873.
"Mystery surrounds [Booth's] diary. The little book was taken off Booth's body by Colonel Everton Conger. He took it to Washington and gave it to Lafayette C. Baker, chief of the War Department's National Detective Police. Baker in turn gave it to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The book was not produced as evidence in the 1865 Conspiracy Trial. In 1867 the diary was "re-discovered" in a 'forgotten' War Department file with 18 pages missing. Over the years there has been endless speculation on those missing pages including rumors that they had surfaced. Nevertheless, they remain officially missing. Two of the pages was torn out by Booth himself and used to write messages to Dr. Richard H. Stewart, or Stuart, on April 24, 1865. To speculate on their contents makes for interesting reading, but it's essentially fruitless as no one knows for sure what the rest of the missing pages may or may not have contained. (Even the exact number of missing pages is disputed. On p. 16 of Beware the People Weeping: Public Opinion and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln by Thomas Reed Turner it is stated that 36, not 18, diary pages are missing). Booth's diary is on display at Ford's Theatre. For more information on it, see pp. 155-159 in "Right or Wrong, God Judge Me" The Writings of John Wilkes Booth edited by John Rhodehamel and Louise Taper."
J. Dennis Robinson states: Hail Hale, John P. Hale ... We've got to have a long talk about John P. Hale someday. His house is the handsome red brick number next to the Woodman Institute on Central Avenue in Dover. JP was hailed as the nation's first anti-slavery US Senator back in 1846, nearly two decades before President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation "freeing" the slaves. That phrase still has a nice comfortable ring to it. That same year, John Greenleaf, Watching his beloved New Hampshire wake up to the slavery issue turned Whittier rhapsodic. He wrote to a friend in 1846: "He [Hale] has succeeded, and his success has broken the spell which has hitherto held Democracy in the embrace of slavery." Collections: By J. Dennis Robinson. http://www.seacoastnh.com/arts/please030198.html