W1058 TO DR. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from Lucy A. Lerned
Apr 5 1875
To: Dr. Calvin McQuesten, [Hamilton, Ontario]
From: Hopkinton, [N.H.]
My dear friend, Since the death of our loved sister E. it has devolved on me to look over her papers, letters, etc. & all our house affairs which she has had entire charge of for several years. For the first time, I have read your letters to my sister and cannot resist the impulse to write to you. I cannot express the painful feelings I experience, to realise that y'r [sic] good intentions & y'r kind offers to aid my Mother & sister Hannah sh'd [sic] have been so little appreciated & still more, that any offers of y'rs c'd have ever been misconstrued. But they certainly were by the selfish & unjust persons who tried to influence my Mother. She had no true knowledge of human nature & was surrounded by persons traitors to each other--Our Guardian1 proved a knave; our executor inefficient & a toil for others; & Mother guileless & too confiding beside being extremely ignorant of law, was constantly led to act against her own interests. But regrets are useless--As the husband of my idol Margarette, you will forgive my writing to you of the past. If she knows us as we are now, she is happy in the thought of my frank statements to you. I have never ceased to love Margarette and her parting gift (a bible) with her pencilled request that I w'd read in it every day has been a talisman of strength to me. Old fashioned & large is the Book, but I still read in it & love it because I loved Margarette.
Ours has been a checquered [sic] life--Dear Lissy & I, the youngest, seemed to feel the burden of our home more than the rest. A sad story I c'd tell you of our struggles & adversities, of our lovely friends & their early deaths--We, like Mother were too trusting, too confiding. Very early in life we found ourselves almost pennyless--only $300 each for Hannah, E. & myself--Lissy & I left home & used our portion to finish our studies. We saved but little for several y'rs & gave that to our distant relatives "C.W. & A.P. Perkins." They failed--ran off--ruined their father & have never paid us one cent. (Tis over $1000 now) Then we only applied ourselves the harder & educated ourselves in music & languages--Dear E. accomplished six, & became a noted scholar I went to Phila. [Philadelphia] & Lissy to Nova Scotia & the funds she secured while there she left with Mr. E. Rhodes, a church Warden & most estimable man, to invest--He became involved, speculated with E's money & finally spent it to save his family. He held all of her certificates, & sent her the interest--He was soon expelled from the Banker's Board & E. was advised to call for her papers, The [V.t.??] Central Stock was worthless--the nest gone!--We were almost in despair--We had best of counsel in Boston--'Twas a State Prison offence but he was poor & promised to pay sometime. Before that sometime came he died. On his death bed he urged his sons to pay Lissy--Of three sons, two have died & the 3rd is strong--going to live. His father's disgrace has made him a sad & disappointed man--He never comes east--Again dear E. goaded on by her losses went South for a still higher salary--there in 1861 she had a fall from a horse & the injury affected her neck & throat so she c'd never teach more. Then we resolved to practice rigid economy & live at home, for I too, was becoming an invalid. Then came the war & we c'd not meet our bills & I taught another year ''65  but my throat gave out & I felt I c'd never teach again--In ''69 we lost our dear Mother who had grown more & more dear to us--At the same time Edward came in, only to disgrace his home. We had done much for him & much for his children--Edward had never done one favor for his Mother or sisters, & dear Lissy who was so pure & true so high-toned & courageus [sic], c'd bear no more--she felt as if with Mother gone, she had nothing to live for & grew very retiring. Her whole life of love & sacrifice had been perfected by a modest silence that few understood. She shrank from every thing & every person but the true and pure. She continued her studies & gardened & live by herself--I was away on a visit when she, our pride & strength, was touched with paralysis! For six months we fed her like an infant & for two y'rs she c'd not swallow solid food--Then, two years more passed, and she was alternately better & worse--We have spared no expense for her recovery She has tried sea air & mountain air & city air & this summer was very much better--In Nov. she took a severe cold--had congestion of the lungs, but the paralised [sic] state of her chest, prevented her from being aware of it & in a moment when we never dreamed of her being in any danger God called her. She was my one sister & we have had same tastes & aims--the same friends & have struggled through a life with only God to protect us--I was heart broken but trying to be trustful, when we found E. had not finished any will--We did not know any thing of her money affairs as she was one who never talked of them to us. We know Edward had reformed & was doing well & w'd never claim a cent, but we sought counsel & Judge Perkins was appointed administrator. He thought best to secure to us the undivided 4th of this estate & then started for Boston to ascertain what funds she had & where it might be--He sent three times & hoped to find a will finished somewhere--Then he appointed last of March to settle if possible & lo! Who sh'd appear in bank but Daniel Flanders with counsel--Judge P. was astonished & as I c'd not go down he deferred settling--Then he drove up here & told Mary that the law did admit her as an heir, but not justice or equity. He told her it w'd be a burning shame to claim any thing for she knew Hanah [sic] had never left her home--that Caty had lost nearly all at the South & that [Lucy/Lissy??] was a half invalid. He also told her that I had but $3000 & $1500 of that is in R.R. Bonds that are not marketable--She said 'twas hers by law--Then, I sent for Mary & Mr. F. to come here. I have had cough & been confined to the house all winter--I told Mary that Lissy w'd have finished her will had she once imagined danger & that it seemed [?? in??] her with a husband who has lately had several thousands left to him, & 3 grown sons in business & all healthy & strong to take one penny of E's sacred earnings--her life's blood--Lissy intended all her property for us, save enough to support her at a hospital sh'd she become a paralytic, as she feared--If love of money had not already hardened Mary's heart she c'd not even look on me ill as I am, & dane [deign] to think of claiming it. Every one is indignant--Lissy had saved more than myself--I do not know how much--It may be between 3 & 4 thousand--and she often said, "how little we have to live on"--Indeed she was a splendid manager & we w'd never have acknowledged our poverty, had not Mary compelled it. When we put on black for Mother we sent to the M'Allisters [McAllasters] a large bag of clothing & we have even given to our own neices [sic] & half neices. They know I am called generous--they know I never ask favours of any one & that I w'd suffer rather than beg--and that Caty is working for beyond her strength to keep house here--But Mary, as every one says, is hardened--always receiving & never giving, her house is over laden--10 grown chil[dren] to depend on & plenty of money & yet she w'd go the law & claim a seventh of our sainted sister's hard earnings--It is not just--2
Do not think strange of my writing to you. But age nor absence cannot have [??]-changed your character for faithful interest in all your concerns--We know not but Mary may write to Calvin & ask him to make a claim or give his rights to her--I am sure you & Mrs. M'Questen & Calvin w'd scorn to take such a step & yet in my fear of Mary's selfishness & non generous character, I thought best to write to you this candid statement of our affairs--I have not exaggerated, or perverted facts--I am almost sick from sorrow & anxiety & beg you will pardon this long letter. Another time I might have condensed & made it more readable--I consider this confidential to y'rself & Mrs. M'Questen & do not trust any one to know I have written to you--I do not lack for friends, the most desirable in Concord & Boston, but they cannot save us from the publicity attendant on such business which has been brought about by the claims of a half sister, to whom dear E. has never indebted for a favor--But God is in Heaven--I commit our cause to Him--He has never forsaken us & will now hear our prayers--
Much love to Mrs. M'Questen--I sh'd like to see her & wish you w'd bring her to Hopkinton. We always have a warm welcome for our friends.
Respectfully & sincerely yrs
Lucy A. Lerned
1 This very likely refers to Mr. Dustin who was appoiknted guardianship of Edward A.H. Lerned after the death of his father, Ebenezer Lerned, in 1831. For more on Mr. Dustin and his involvement with the Lerned family, see W-MCP4-6.233.
2 Elizabeth (Lissy) Lerned, the sister of Lucy, Catharine, Hannah and Edward Lerned and half-sister of Louisa (Lerned) McAllaster, Margarette (Lerned) McQuesten and Mary (Lerned) Flanders had died suddenly on November 24, 1874 without leaving a will. Mary and Daniel Flanders' claims on Elizabeth's estate caused a great deal of conflict within the family. Dr. Calvin McQuesten sided with Lucy and her sisters on the issue (W1067).
Mary Flanders had attempted to sway her nephew, Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten (W1054, W1064) but was unsuccessful. He signed a quit claim deed on the estate in favour of Lucy, Hannah and Catherine (W1073, W1081, W1091) and it was not until approximately September of 1875 that the Flanderses were "compelled" to do the same after being paid $200 (W1091).