Some parts of this letter are illegible as the pages have been overwritten.W1000 TO MARGARETTE BARKER LERNED from her sister Catharine C.P. Lerned.
Dec 30 1839
To: Margarette Barker Lerned McQuesten Hamilton Ontario
From: Catherine C.P. Lerned Hopkinton New Hampshire
Hopkinton Dec 30th 1839
[POSTMARK Jan 6, 1840]
Dear Sister M,
The long expected letter from his Majesty's dominion this side of the Atlantic, came to hand Dec. 12 Tues. evening. Mother was spending the week at Contoocookville.1 Doct. Gregg was conversing with us, on ancient Rome & Athens, when Edward handed me the well-known writing of Margarette. In an hour, I had leisure to read the communication; & then, how we all wish'd[sic] to see you, & little Calvin with his "checker'd hat" & the Fort, & the cottage, & all! But wishing could not forward our desire & I determined on writing.
Christmas is over & New Year is at hand; & when it comes, accept the wishes of Mother & Brother, & Sisters, for your health and happinefs [sic]. We have had a foretaste of Christmas these three weeks, as all the wreaths & rosettes, were made in our dining room, by parties of between twenty & thirty. On such occasions, we were a merry group. I'll promise you- all joined- married & young. The taste of our young ladies has been highly commended, in the decoration of our Church. Doct. Tyler- Mr. T.W. Little & Lucy, were "master workmen." The Mifses [sic] Jaques- Mifs [sic] Curtis &c. assisted. A large Spruce tree, in the center of the room reached to the ceiling, & was heavy with forty small lamps. Seventy-five yards of Evergreen wreaths, ornamented the walls; with ties, rosettes &c. The singing, led by Mifses [sic] Bush and Stacy, was excellent. Large parties from Concord & Humber supped at Hotel. H.E. Perkins & wife joined the former company- said the entertainment was first rate- table beautifully laid- a large tree in the center, hung with hearts & these confectionary. Mrs. J. Estabrook sang "Angels Whisper" to the company- a beautiful song.2 Did not attend the services in eve or next day. Thurs. 21 Congregational Church was dedicated, & H.E. Perkins' family spent the day with us. The singers were selected for the season & Lucy led the 2nd Treble. In P.M. Mrs. W. & Mrs. J. Estabrook, Mifs [sic] C. Law & Mr. Bush call'd [sic], but I was sick with tooth ache, & unable to see them. Had a weeks siege of tooth ache, a fortnight since, but this attack has nearly subsided. In our Church, is besides only interested- [???]. The Rev. M. Marshall unified the new building, with the Church. Mr. Fast Eaton, resident Medicine, & is as [?] (kept at Mrs. Cerss in this place) about two weeks yet. She has been dangerously ill & has a broken breast [or wrist] & is unable to leave her care. Her Mother is to be there, she is able to accompany her here. [???] Nov. 18th & much we mifs [sic]3 her pleasant little self. In Oct. Mother spent a fortnight, & Ed. three weeks in Reading, Woburn &c. Ed. was employ'd [sic] by Mr. C. Hurwitton, to search in that quarter for a female, (stranger) whom his wife employ'd [sic] as domestic, & she ran away, stealing from $40-50 worth of clothing- Mrs. H's (formerly Mifs [sic] Wilson) light silk wedding drefs [sic], among other articles. All [?] expenses were paid, but he lost track of her among the houses of assignation in Boston.4 She was easily found by her drefs [sic], but she changed the [?] at B [Brockport]. After Mother returned, I spent since two weeks at Concord. Had a fine visit, but had violent cold from going out snowshoeing, & have hardly got over it. Since my illnefs [sic], have not walked about our yards, or instead- any house in town [?] Cousin H.E.P., Mother, Ed. & sifs [sister] were invited to Mary's, Christmas day, but so divided as Mother was tired four weeks. I had these caps to make for some friends [?] to dedications (the coming day) & E. would not leave his school, which will sometimes a few weeks [break?], in C. Stag's district. He boards at Mr. P. his wife Leah, & Mary, were at Capt. F's same day. Louisa has been very sick- Mary staid [sic] a week with her, before I went- Little Alfred has had a violent hooping [sic] cough for many weeks- is a near skeleton. Black Francis, (who is at Capt. F's.) thinks he will not live, but hope he may be spared. L. wishes me to spread the wishes with her, but there are [contemplations?] for [gradding?] there, have been & fear the worst. Cousin Clara, has visited us here this week, & if some friends from Woburn, expected, do not come, shall make the visit Jan. 1st. The C. Church,5 at Concord, is to be dedicated, & service at our church, in [?]. Wish you could be here, as Bishop C. will be present, & confirmation take place. Have not as yet attended meeting- from cold, or storm, or illnefs [sic]. Yesterday, the snow drifts were so deep past our yards, that the sleigh (for riding) was turned by the snow in the road, & there, Hannah carried to it, by Wm. Harwood. This is the second storm we've had- the first, three feet back, & last, two feet, & much drifted. The snow & sleet of Saturday, formed a complete curtain to the windows, & prevented our looking out. Mother says we must have use more often, assisting to old voyages!6 Imagine we shall have fine sleighing a long while. These [?] for the money folks! Do you not love a good sleigh ride? Without I would start for Canada tomorrow, with companion- little other & swift stead, & then I should see that little boy with bright eyes & "checker'd straw hat." Think he would know Aunt C? He must not forget his Grandma, for she thinks much of him, & so do we all, singing with the old songster-
"Gently ye waters; here time basks-
My darling boy, with checker'd hat!"
A day or two after you left B. [Brockport] Mary took tea with us, & cried near all the time. She was unhappy at home, & would consider to chat & cry an hour or so, with Mother. Everything in her house reminded me of you & little C.- "these long [?] letters"- "Here she used to sit, & call- nay, I am & I am, at the window," she would exclaim. Thought she had not done enough for you- but as much as Louisa did, but she intended to- had her cake baked for a party, but my sicknefs [sic] had started, & now Margarette and little C. "with checker'd hat" were gone! Poor Mary- we all pitied her. The [??] into Geography so deeply in her life, as when tracing your journey on a map, & imagining where you were & when you would arrive at Hamilton. Mrs Little call'd [sic] thought the Doct. done wrong in not coming for you- wanted to see you once more. We have opened the Electrical Railroad some parts are broken & some gone- Ed is obliged for the remembrance. Capt. T ask'd [sic] E. to pay him, 75. he had paid for transportation, 25 paid L.B. 25. to Washington & 25. back. E. said he would first ascertain if he could do anything with it. You were probably informed that Doct. M. of W. said it was not your husbands, but if very necessary was [royalty?]. 'tis [sic] the same, I saw in his study, at L.B.
Accept my thanks for the gift by Louisa. I had some difficulty in finding a book just that value, & at last concluded on two: Campbell's Poems & Pollske's "Cause of Time," (both bound in calf) for the exact same .75. Very cheap & had them at wholesale price. Mr. H. Cussin lettered both with gilt Gossamer Text, also bound in a new vol. of [?]. Did you see the pieces Mr. Chandler sent me from N.Y.? I could hardly believe my sight- three pages filled, & with what? So when I write you, there is so much of excess that I think idle ideas, & you, to consequence [?]; that [??] is [??] such for the day, but the paper. [?] very necessary, [?] had many letters to write, besides much company, for with so, with all sorts of ails, & c. attendent on a [?] illnefs [sic]. The ramifications were addrefs'd to Michael since at Chaleston's Seminary. In these words- "Charleston Seminary," [???]? Like species of the past, present [?]! The Institution still exists- its [??], use [??] the teas improved- so happy & sad [?] and [?] with those that was, but shall be us [?]" its promises & period [?], with fewer [?] broken & forgotten! All of faith is changing & "Pafsing [sic] Away" -[?]- certainly is elapsed- so easy bidding hope & death nothing [escapes?]!
"Hours of my youth! Ye are passing away!
Like the turning winds of a Lavender's day,
And ides of winter & friends to us in the spring,
While the dews that fall in season, ease to sing-
Beyond the bright sunshine in each long day-
& these refrain, unchanging, yet pafsing [sic] away!"
Mary is writing, and for a few weeks since, & secures with precious desires, her kind word & unrequited love with both. How the day services are interesting- had paid for the year and read for free. Mr. B. said I look'd [sic] like a child & had [?] me [?]. I heard last once again & they have persuaded us [??] purchase- so at that time to make [?]. Was she [?], & inland, in so [?] to have a new red- drefs [sic]! Half a dose [Thurs?] for next week, I unable to see much, & I spent the time in reading- among the words, was "The [??]", "[?] Island & Habitat", "[??]", & "Walk about Town." The two last, by Mr. J.A. Clark, of C. Church, Philadelphia. Do you read much? Suppose the Doct. does all the "shopping" & you see to the cottage, but after all, into a give. I ought to step in & put mothers in order. "Especially now," if I say to her- our pertinent businefs [sic] (or [?]) not expressing to any person to say- [?]. I [?] of "Order" which my good sister has a most lamentable need of but lil [little] Order reigns in whatever determined, that he with "checker'd hat" would [?] his king down, though these [?] with the "Great Bell of Moscow!" Her request said "hat" to be preserved safe by way of remembrance; & do not neglect [?] with said request.
Mother says she desires the businefs [sic] between the Doct. & Ed. to be settled soon as possible, as Mr. D. refuses to pay the Maj.7 She wishes him to send the $100.00, & interest, to Maj at least- he has presumed to settle to her sale portion- he acknowledges that something is due, & that [?] of whatever assesment, is needed soon. It is nearly two years since E. left Brockport- he intends leaving us soon, & wishes all matters previously accusing Dr. restored & I both think the Doct. decided what is right; & we before [?]. he wrote to the Dr. & Mother & say how would, he well pay now or soon. The closest be at the expense to settle [?] and examine accounts of [?] the profits, but with such recommendation for service has [?] things right. When you write to Lucia, she can add a few lines, indicating her living.
Had a visit, & and a few other things for you; but where the [???] was unable to ask for them or direct them. [???] given one to Cousin Clara P. You both a night cap with bow on top & [??], which Mother made and will- keep it safe till you come again. As to my visiting Canada in Spring, will depend on your decision, & if Doct. thinks the engagement sufficient-8 please give reasonable information & I will engage to be rec'd [sic] at the brick cottage of Doct. McQuesten! Also on calling I shall go, & think t'would [sic] benefit my health. Mother, & sisters. & Ed. send much love to you & the dear boy; & last, but not least, my particular request to your husband. If the mercy of Him who rests in wisdom prolongs my life another Spring, I trust to see you all, & like them accept the love of, & remember,
[Added note on the first page]
G. says you must remember the promised letter. I have [?] through this spring, since E. [Edward] is waiting to return to his school & must take the same, as sister cannot walk in the deep summer. He says I've written lines as much as you did, enough!
[Address on Cover]
Hopkinton, N.H. Dec. 20
Paid. 25, 1/6
Mrs. Margarette B. McQuesten
Hamilton, Upper Canada
1 Contoocook is a census-designated place (CDP) within the town of Hopkinton in Merrimack County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 1,444 at the 2000 census. Contoocook is named after the Contoocook River that runs through it. In previous centuries that area was knows as "Contoocookville." In describing the approach to Perkins Manor one commentator writes: "the bridge that spans 'Contookcook's bright and brimming river' at the pleasant-looking village of Contoocookville in the northern part of Hopkinton." (Source: Wikipedia)
2 The "Angel's Whisper" music written and arranged by Samuel Lover 1797-1868. Date of writing: between 1840 and 1859. He wrote over 300 songs, including "Angel's Whisper."
3 In her writing Catherine alternates us of the archaic "fs" and the more modern "ss," rendering some parts of her letters illegible.
4 An Assignation is "an appointment of time and place for meeting, especially tryst" (Source: Merriam Webster Dictionary Online). In the context of the phrase "House of Assignation," Catherine is referrring to an area of Boston that is characterized by brothels.
6 Refers to sleigh riding as an old fashioned mode of transportation.
7 Major, possibly Edward's guardian.
8 Catherine was interested in securing employment in Hamilton, for which she enlisted the assistance of Dr. Calvin McQuesten, her brother-in-law.
9 To learn more about Margarette Barker Lerned [McQuesten] please see W0609.