W0937 TO MARGARETTE [LERNED] MCQUESTEN from her sister Louisa [Lerned] McAllaster.
Jun 25 1838 Monday P.M.
To: Margarette [Lerned] McQuesten Dr. Calvin McQuesten, Brockport, N.Y.
From: Concord, New Hampshire
My Dear Sister,
I have now seated myself in order to give you a long letter more than 8 months since I last wrote you then it was after the death of our little Elizabeth & the birth of your dear little one.1 Now I can imagine you as a mother the dearest of names--yes as parents, I can rejoice with you--Did you ever find such pleasant employment such alleviation from pain and so little regard for the world as when seated with your little one watching every feature of yours, while you are from your own life supporting that of your babe? Surely not! No happinefs2 can exceed that of the tender mother devoting her days and nights to the care of her helpless charge--But Sister this little stranger must not make you too selfish. I fear this is the case or else your husband would not have thus disappointed your dear friends here at the east. We had watched the whirling stage coach for days and expected soon to feel your warm embrace, your heartfelt kiss & to welcome you to the land of your nativity. But Edwards's arrival was the death blow to these fond hopes we had for months cherished. I could say nothing but Oh! how sad!!! I have a sweet pretty chamber carpeted, stove &c., expressly for you, had again hired Sally Colman that I could have a faithful girl to take charge & half take care of your boy--in fact every movement was done with reference to you. Edward gave us some encouragement that you would be here this fall do not disappoint us. Have you ever thought of the imprudent step I took from my rich chamber to the stage to visit, to behold your face once more? Think of it I pray you, the time of year, the infant of seven weeks, leaving three little ones behind, my own health feeble & see if this was not love pure love to you that sustained me through such an undertaking. Return it then, I beg of you & husband by the name Love--which will help you over mountains & rivers to our own native home---but the changes in that home--no father to greet you back, sisters all young ladies around you, your companions, none married, many dead, and your sisters with husbands their children already beginning to be old enough to be companions--then the changes of nature the grave yard where once you could pass along & see the many graves with scarcely a leaf of foliage to point out a grave or save it from the blast--now you may look into it as lovely [?] you could even be hid from observation by the thickly springing foliage that large locust is at the grave of our parents, those by our brother that [?] with the marble monument & those varigated [sic] flowers show you all that remains of [Edward?] Harvey--At your left another enclosure with an iron railing like the first with bars & flowers, tell you that here your once-loved your own dear Eliza lies there!! The little maples on one side of the street & elms on the other from the lower end to the tavern form a most lovely & imposing spectacle giving the village a fine appearance & forming a shade for the scholar or an idler to repose beneath.
Mother has not improved much, rather thin, her health rather declining the same [?] appearance and I hope she is what she professes, to be a Christian. Oh that she [page torn] not be found wanting--I wish she could feel more what it is to be a Christian [she is?] [page torn] and extravagant in dress (but not in [timing?]) perfectly temperate & the same flower of [page torn] [?] talk which we have oft times listened to & joined with however--
Catherine very gay, dressy, many beaux, rules mother and the children--cares not for the feelings of sister or mother, friend or foe, she will give full liberty to her tongue, not always one better than herself--Mother says she is to be married to Gunnison 3 but she knows nothing only what C. says--her letters are always kept private I hope he will come on & take her soon for she has enemies who would rejoice to end this connexion for me & hence you need not intimate anything I write you sister for you are now alone no one but your better half to see what passes between us--Cath. had a letter from you in March (I should think) or 1st of April--pray what were the contents? She would not tell me or allow mother to see it, but threw it instantly in the fire.
Mother has long promised one of the girls should come & help me sew, but tis often I am disappointed--have been for me as many as six times since we came to C. [Concord], now she says Hannah may come this week & so it was last week--Mr. Chandler & [Cate?] are all one--She is a beautiful girl, but very imprudent--you know the character of the other Elizabeth is pretty [hot?] too she often forgets this little noun, whether it is mine or thine. Did you find any trouble like this with Edward, we mistrust that all is not as it should be. Let me say a few words, Mother says the Dr. did not give E. any thing for tending his shop--nor half the profits as he had written home he was to have sent him to Canada where he have his own expenses [sic] & so on, then smooth it by saying "the Dr. would be in this fall & settle with Dustin,"4 said that was what Cath's letter was about in the Spring & so on--Edward says he knew not about Cath's letter but the [?] one to mother which arrived before he did with particulars--but little was said as I was sick the day I was there with the nervous headaches. Edward has spent a few days here appeared very well, spoke well of you & Dr. & said the Dr. would do what was right about settling with Dustin, said many things relating to his business selling out & that I did not interest myself much with, as I should look to you for an explanation--Why was not the thief taken out, he took so much from Edward--$20. dollars in half dollars, his own earnings--boats miniature match, &c-? Why did not the Dr. see to this? or the owner of the boat as he said he would, when he heard of his loss? Was he strictly honest? Could you leave all before him? I fear not--I felt suspicions of him, but hope it was ill founded--do tell me all, I am over anxious to know--Have you warned him as you ought? He told me one thing about the Dr. that made me really vexed with him, said (I am sorry to say it) "that he chewed tobacco." I do think this is next to dram drinking, a filthy disgusting practice, making is nothing by the side of this hateful practice--[My] husband chewed incessantly after we went to Hop. [Hopkinton] though it was so disagreeable to me, he did not want to give it up--but he did. 4th of July last year he laid it by, & has not used the nauseous thing since--I was very happy to see his mouth clean once more & breath sweet. M. tell Dr. from me to do likewise, this coming 4th July. His example ought to be better before his patients the same in practice in theory--I will send him a paper with some hints of the same--tell Dr. Ed says he loves his boy dearly, he rather tend him than do anything else I am glad to hear he is so good--it certainly must take off much care from you--Ed thinks it looks like Dr.--and is a remarkable good child.
Mary's family remains stationary do not get along much nor go back. Daniel is steady and kind to Mary, does some business in his store probably his share of business as here are two other stores--Children are bright Margarett is nearly as tall as her mother a smart girl & very capable--I think Mary gives good evidence that she is a Christian, tries to bring her children up well. Her husband in this respect is not a helpmeet--He takes his viol5 & attends Mr. Kimball's alone altogether, will not attend church with her nor at the Baptist, he is a Congregationalist.
I believe I have given an accurate account of the families--Mary's health is not good, mother says she is sick. I do not think so however--Charlotte Eaton it is said has lost her 4th intended, she expected to be married this July, report says Harriett has now left here--[she now?] Mr. Sargeant's family do not know us nor Mary--[?] [neither?] family nor Minister Kimball & many more because we have said Sargeant would take so much since they are very [inveterate?] towards all--deny it--even when it is visible to all beholders of this here & not report it again for your mother & Mrs. Sargeant are like sisters so loving &c. I hope it will last on her part--Ellen [Green?] is no better her husband has now gone to the Hospital to recover you know [particulars?].
Edward I suppose gave you an account of the fire at Sandbornton on [?] & many other first things too numerous to mention.--Now my dear come to Concord & stop with us awhile & see how we fair--We are on State street--on the right as you come down the Hopkinton street 4th house--very [plush?] rightly place--street is perfectly straight, one can see the whole length of it nearly two miles--[State prison?]--[State houses?] Baptist, Unitarian & Methodist churches on it, very many handsome buildings our neighbour opposite, Hubbard [Camin?], William Estabrook, farther up Mrs. Sanborn (Miss Martin that was) then Mrs. [Clement?] (of Holmes) then Mrs. [Baily?] Kelly, then Lydia Kimball, Mr. [?] [then Brooks?] [?] Mrs. Gauld & so on, so you see old neighbors come together again--[?] left Dr.'s house [of many?] people they moved to Boston & we did not wish to [give such out?] without boarders--Dr. [Kitteridge?] & wife are pleasant people but the dearest money getters I ever saw [?]--[cheat?] them if you [?].
[It] is very uncertain how long we stay in Concord--Maine land just the same as ever, us getting up notes our getting money or land--husband has lost all ambition I fear he will never resume his elasticity & flow of spirits--he is now wishing to go to Franklin a good offer but it is too nigh that hateful place S. [Sandbornton] Bridge--then he says west & east till Oh! do as he knows not what course to take--We have not as yet got settled here only for six months at a time6--we have bought a sharp carpet, sofa, table & commons chairs--but not much else we are yet unsettled [?] will not give up hopes unless we pay more.
You wish to know if we are happy in Concord--I never have enjoyed so much comfort as since we came to [Concord?] to reside--We have every advantage you could name all the girls attend Misses Kirkwood's school taught in their own home & every attention paid to their morals, learning & very beautiful specimens of needle work--Both Jane & Mary work patiently, handkerchiefs, 5 lamp mats, rug work & so on--Sarah is backward but Miss Kirkwood seems to inspire her with ambition. Yesterday they received silver cup from a Mr. Stanton of Oklahoma (formerly of Franklin) for the improvement his two daughters made at their school during two past years--They have come on again another two or three years more--their father independently rich--their mother is dead. Sally, his sister goes & comes with them and keeps house close by us and with his mother--they are cousins of Mr. Jerry [Tilton?]--have just retuned from there, Mrs. Fletcher and Tom Brook's
[sic] the Episcopal minister &c. Had time with Judith Stanley with Ramona Cummins widow to dine with us & Julian's place to take tea, we've had our share of company--Uncle & [?] Woods spent two days Election week, his health is very low, very nervous & partially deranged or has lost his memory & when excited his balance of mind--[?] [?] Mrs. Atkinson has three daughters, Mrs. Page a son & daughter.
There has been a great revival at Sandbornton. Mr. Jerry Tilton & wife, Skelton & wife & many many others. Mrs. Horace Horton was here last week, she has one daughter & Emmeline two--E. has not visited here since she was married. We sold Molly to Jim Tilton who moved to Thornton & she again travelled, she is certainly a real tourist. Edgar Bush & Forsaith spent a day & night with us last week--Margarette Stone has a daughter, was very dangerously sick. We'd a letter from sister Preston last month, she has her fifth child & fourth son, has been for many months sick. I rec'd four numbers of Advocate a few weeks since. I am happy to have them come. Louisa Whipple from Dunbarton called to see us yesterday on the subject--she had attended the convention at New York, spent a week with Sarah Smith who is anxious to have a society formed here & one at Hop [Hopkinton]. She was delegate from N. H. at the convention at Philadelphia when the building dedicated to Liberty was built--I never saw her before--she is a "go ahead" in whatever she undertakes. She is secretary of the Reform Society at D. During the winter we had history from able orators at the Lyceum they were very interesting. Rev. Mr. Thomas's was on [?] Magnetism in [?]. Since then he has magnetized several, one while a [?] operation was performed on her teeth was in a state of somnambulism during the whole--still sensible to all inquiries put to her. There were several female prayer meetings & few different subjects, one for slaves, [one?] husbands &c. I have occasionally attended, there are so many meetings, societies & sewing circles, that it would occupy every evening day m. & eve. Our maternal meetings are anything but social parties, full of love & good feelings. Mrs. Fletcher our President interesting, meetings pleasant--truly it is pleasant if one can alleviate one pang of those our [?] brethren--I have just returned from one at Mrs. [Cumin?]. Mrs. George Kant the President was a very active zealous friend of the poor slave.--Do you read much on this subject?
Now M. have I not given you a faithful account of all that will interest you?--I hope now you will give me just such an one for pay very soon, do give me this confidential intelligence you mentioned in your last, I have already anticipated what it is.7 Do tell us if you will not visit us this Fall. We attend Church directly opposite Dr. Leach, where we first lived a very handsome church, stones underneath, it stands in the yard front of the [lady?] house. By the way brother Eagan's lady & daughters are to be [?]. Franklin a young man from this place, nephew to Mrs. [Tony?] Tilton married Elizabeth, the eldest, she was deranged sent to the institution at Charlestown while there [?] he took the sister to wife, [and] after Mrs. [?] returned home it was whispered about that both sisters were in trouble. Dr. [?] out & is keeping house at Utica [?] sent to the [?] last week returned with a daughter--also D. is expecting very [?] [part of two last lines illegible, could check fiche] are well. June is very much afflicted with nervous [illegible] is a very healthy child.
Give much love to Dr. tell him your 5 years are out & we do want to see you. Both Mrs. Hutchins have elegant houses where the old [?] house stood & a new [?] street thereby they inquire for you. I commenced this letter on Monday 25th it is now Wednesday & have been three days collecting this--perhaps you will say time enough for a better one but you know a little now of [?]--So tell Dr. to go to housekeeping I would not [?] at any rate. I have tried it. I would have my own dear [?] sick my own dear home. Is there anything for us to do in your section of country & your dear babe has a great share of this house's love. Kiss him for us all and you with your husband accept our love & good wishes from you brother & every loving sister,
1 Margarette (Lerned) McQuesten's "dear little one" was her second and only surviving child, Calvin Brooks McQuesten, born October 27, 1837. It is difficult to determine who Elizabeth was although it appears she was one of Louisa's children who had recently died. For the death of Louisa's short-lived baby Ellen Margarett, see W0735 for more information. Louisa's baby, Ellen Margarett, was born May 29, 1833, and died approx. July 31, 1833, see W0675 & W0680, W0687, W0701, W0735. To learn more about Margarette Barker Lerned [McQuesten] please see W0609.
2 Louisa often uses the archaic "fs" for "ss" as was common during the nineteenth century. We have transcribed using the now conventional "ss" structure for ease of reading.
3 Gunnison appears fairly frequently in the letters in connection with Catharine, but in our research we find that C. never married, see W0903.
4 In 1835, Dr. Calvin McQuesten, Margarette's husband, had agreed to oversee the education of his teenaged brother-in-law, Edward Augustus Holyoke Lerned. On June 8, 1838, Mr. Elim Dustin, Edward's guardian, sent Dr. McQuesten a letter claiming that he owed Edward money for tending shop at Budlong & McQuesten, a pharmacy partly owned by the doctor. This letter is available on the site as W-MCP4-6.233 and contains numerous links to related letters.
5 A bowed stringed instrument chiefly of the 16th and 17th centuries made in treble, alto, tenor, and bass sizes and distinguished from members of the violin family especially in having a deep body, a flat back, sloping shoulders, usually six strings, a fretted fingerboard, and a low-arched bridge.
6 The McAllasters moved rather frequently. Louisa's Husband, Hugh, did poorly in business and typically had difficulty providing for his family. The "Maine land" that Louisa mentions above, refers to her husband's involvement in a land speculation scheme which cost the McAllasters thousands of dollars. In her letters to Margarette, Louisa often mentions that they would like to come to Brockport or even to Hamilton to join Margarette and Dr. Calvin McQuesten in his more successful ventures. But Dr. Calvin never sets up any business relationships with the McAllasters. See W0889 with footnote about the McAllasters.
7 At about this time Margarette is contemplating making a trip to Concord & Hopkinton to visit her family. Soon after that she & Dr. Calvin make a permanent move to Hamilton, Ontario, in 1839.