Space restrictions have made it necessary to remove over half the material from the Gilman letters for this publication [indicated by (...)], resulting in a somewhat unbalanced impression of their main themes. Readers should keep in mind that most of the references to family and acquaintances have been edited out, as have many references to politics, the economy and the weather. Also heavily edited are Gilman' s discussions of health, phrenology, lectures at the Mechanics' Institute, and details on the expansion of the Lowell factories.
To facilitate the reading of these letters, I have made the following minor editorial changes:
1. Square brackets indicate that letters from words or words themselves are illegible or missing due to tears in the paper or ink blots.
2. Punctuation has not been altered except to add periods at the end of sentences in place of commas, and to add commas sparingly. Dashes intended to be terminal marks have been converted to periods, and superfluous dashes removed.
3. Capitalization has been preserved as in the manuscript except that all sentences begin with capital letters.
4. Apostrophes have been added for the possessive.
5. Finally, because these often randomly constructed letters are rarely broken into discernable paragraphs, I have imposed my own paragraph structure.
1. Lowell [Jan.sup.Y] 16th, 1840 Respected Parents I received your letter of the third December and now having a good opportunity of answering it I shall improve it as Mr. MacDonald and John Boright are here from Canada and expect soon to return. We are enjoying excellent health although it has been quite sickly here owing to the Typhus fever. The Smallpox is quite prevalent in Boston and adjacent villages but I hear there has no case as yet occured in Lowell I am living with Uncle Coffin and shall probably remain with him till the Spring. (...)
The[re] (1) are quite a number of Canadians here among the rest Roswell Winchester Son of Moses Winchester and Luther Longley who is peddling about here. A nephew of Margaret Cotton's is here at work for Uncle. I beli[ev]e I have got as fine a little Aunt [as] any person could ask for, her father mother Sister and Brot[her] live here. Uncle has ha[d] the misfortune of losing a son [sin]ce I have been here. (...)
The population of Lowell is not far from twenty thousand. They have thirteen Houses for Public worship viz, one Episcopal, two Congregational, two Calvinist Baptist, two Methodist, one Free Will Baptist, one Unitarian and one Catholic. There are a great many Irish here who are zealous Catholics, men women and children will get drunk fight and the like then go to Church and have their sins all pardoned. They will also at the death of a friend get drunk and howl over the body m a manner truly terrifying. (2) Lowell is truly a City of Girls and Spindles, to see the Streets at meal time is truly astonishing. I expect every day to fall in love head and ears with some of the fair Ladies of Lowell. I think you will say Spencer beware. No need of caution. (...)
Your Obt Son D.S. Gilman
2. Lowell March 1st 1840
Ever Dear Parents. (...) I have been informed through the kindness of Miss Ellen Soles (3) that a young Lady intends starting for Brome on Tuesday next and that she would take charge of any Letters or Papers which I might choose to send therefore I improve this chance of writing you hoping ere you receive this you will all be enjoying your usual good health and Spirits. When I shall return to Brome I cannot say as I have engaged myself to Uncle for one month or ten as I choose. My wages are not large but as I am here and enjoy myself very well I think I shall stay some time.
When Peter MacDonald of Dunham was here in January I let him have 16 Dollars in Montreal Bank Notes to exchange in expectation of his returning to Lowell in a short time, but as he has not returned I shall enclose an order for you to get it unless he intends to return here soon. If he does you need not present the order, he lives near Churchville. My farm I shall leave in your care Wishing you to manage it as you think advisable.
There is a great many People here who believe that the World is coming to an end in 1843 as preached by Mr. Miller. (4) To confute this Mr. Thomas an Universalist minister of this City delivered two Lectures which I have heard and intend to hear the third this Evening and by paying 12 1/2 Cts at the door I can obtain a Copy which I shall send you. The lectures were delivered at the City Hall which will seat about one thousand Persons and hundreds were obliged to go away being unable to obtain admittance. (5)
I sent you a short time since the Boston Notion which I hope arrived safe. Business is quite dull yet. There has been a few cases of Small Pox here but I do not fear it as I have been vaccinated by the City Authorities which operated well and made me quite sick for one day. (6) It seems I am not forgotten by our good friend Miss Olcott. Please give my respects to her and Mr. Olcott. (7) I have not tasted of any Liquor since I have been here excepting Cider nor do I intend to what time I remain here. There is some chance of my getting employment on the New Corporation but it is most to much of a confined life to suit me. (8) What few leisure moments I have are employed in studying Phrenology as I have about become a convert to the Science. (9) Uncle's time is fully employed in overseeing his business so that he has little or no time to work himself. I have not time to write any more and subscribe myself your Dutiful Son
Daniel S. Gilman
3. Lowell July 5th 1840
[To parents]. (...) In my last Letter I informed you I was with Uncle Coffin. I have been to work as a yard hand ever since the fifth of March on the Massachusetts Corporation, a new manufacturing Company who have got one Factory in operation and are building three more, one of which will start the first of September. When the four Factories all get in operation they will employ about 1600 Operatives. The wages I receive is about twenty two dollars per Month and Board myself. I pay for Board two dollars per week. On every factory they have two or three Watchmen, and I think there is some possibility of my obtaining such a chance which if I do I shall be able to clear twenty four dollars and thirty four cents per Month, or a dollar & ten cents for every twelve hours watch.
I came here at quite the wrong season of the year, but still I do not regret my leaving Brome although I should be very glad to see you all. Some Days I have to work pretty hard and other Days I have quite easy times. My health is excellent and I weigh nearly ten pounds more than I did Last Summer. As yesterday was a great day with us perhaps you would like to know how I employed myself. I worked all day while thousands were idle and at evening attended a Concert of Musick.
(...) Doubtless you have read of the great Temperance Reformation in Ireland; (10) its effects have reached Lowell, for a man has been here from Ireland and has Lectured on the subject and in one fortnight's time one thousand Irish signed the cold water pledge. (11) The Census of Lowell has lately been taken which gives a population of about twenty one thousand, two thirds of whom are females. Write us often as convenient and let me know the news of Canada. (...)
The Horse that Macdonald left was not worth a dollar.
4. Lowell Sept 23rd 1840
Dear Brother [Roswell]. (...) I wrote you on the fifth of July which Letter doubtless you have recd. I wrote you then there was some chance of my obtaining a Watchman's situation which chance I have since obtained, and had watched three weeks when I was taken Sick with a Slow Fever and have now been sick for three weeks, part of the time under the care of a Physician, but through the mercies of a kind Providence I am now recovering, and was allowed Yesterday to walk out. I shall go on to watch again as soon as able and shall try to make a winter's job of it if my health will permit. The work is very hard and wearing to the constitution therefore I do not know if shall be able to follow the business, which if I am not will cause me to leave Lowell and possibly to return home. The wages I receive is not so much as I expected but still is pretty fair, being six dollars & sixty Cents per week or twenty dollars Per Month after board is paid. But yet it costs everything to live here be as prudent as you may.
I should be very glad to see you all, but as I cannot you must write Soon and let me know how you do and prosper, what for Crops you have raised and all the news which you think will prove interesting. All I have to write about Uncle and Aunt is that they are well & that Uncle is one of the most active of Politicians Being up to his ears in political affairs. (...) Please give my best wishes to friends & write me soon.
5. Lowell [Feb.sup.Y] 8th 1841
[To Roswell]. (...) It seems that Phrenology was not well recd by you but I do not think strange of it. As for understanding the Science perfectly I never shall, for to understand Phrenology you must first understand Physiology & both require a great deal of practice study & observation. I am not quite bald headed yet but my hair is very thin having lost considerable last fall. I have also lost one of my teeth likewise I have got three dollars worth of gold in my teeth. I should like to know whether you & the children attend School this winter, if not tell them to learn all they can at home. You do not enjoy the privileges of Schooling that the Youth of this City do. Any person can fit himself for College here by simply furnishing his own books & boarding himself.
I shall now give you a fact in support of my favorite Science which came under my observation. Mr. Fowler of Clinton Hall, New York is now Lecturing in this City. (12) After one of his lectures he was blindfolded in presence of some fifteen hundred Spectators. A man was then introduced for examination. This Mr. Thomas a man well known in Philadelphia, New York Boston & this City as an able writer & logician having held controversies with the most able & learned ministers of the day. (13) & it was universally acknowledged that his character was given as accurate as if he knew the man & had been acquainted with him for years. (...)
March 1st. (...) And now a few words in regard to the Ladies, my acquaintance with them is rather limited but I have nevertheless become acquainted with a few whom I consider very intelligent and respectable. The Lowell Girls also:
Have charms to woo a Saint (*)
From allegiance to his God
Charms that fancy cannot paint
Ever beckoning Cupids nod
(*.) False if not natural
But still I remain untrammeled. P.S. if there is any young Lady in Brome who is unmarried please tell her from me if she will wait till I return I will meet her half way & make proposals. I hope you do not make my nonsense public, neither need you make the contents of all this Letter known to Father & Mother.
Yours &c. D.S. Gilman
6. Lowell Sunday April [25th] 184] (14)
Dear Parents once more I write to let you know my welfare. My health has been very good the past winter & still remains so, which is owing perhaps to early rising as it is most seven months since I have missed a day of rising every night at twelve o'clock. At noon my day's work is done & I can then retire to my bed-room to sleep or to our sitting room to read the news of the day, or any where else I please. I have now a much better overseer than I had last summer & fall. I have also seven brother watchmen as mates to drive dull care away. (...) I have not been five miles out of Lowell since I first came here, but I think I must pay Boston a visit this summer. A report got in circulation here last fall that I was a trader (a runaway one doubtless) who formerly kept a store in Canada which gratified my vanity much. I have also had a fellow apply to me for work, in consequence of which I was favored with two more visits from him on the same business, in the last of which he made various inquiries as to how much cloth I made, where I sold it, what I got per yard & the like, to all of which I gave satisfactory answers. If you would like a weekly newspaper or anything of the kind please let me know & I can furnish you with almost any description.
I should be glad to have you see that my place pays the Road tax this season which is the most I expect of it. Tell Patience if she has leisure I should be glad to have her knit me some good woolen socks against my return & I will pay her to her satisfaction. I may possibly come home in June & make you a visit, but I think it is a chance if I return till next fall or winter, at any rate you need not expect me till you see me. Does Martha & Thaddeus grow any or are they so mischievous they can't grow. Miller is here lecturing upon the end of the world which he says will positively take place in 1843. If so you may as well quit work & enjoy your property as you best can, but I believe he has not so many disciples now as formerly, most of whom I believe are silly deluded old women & girls. Uncle & Lady are well. Give my best respects to friends & acquaintances.
Ever your obt son
7. Lowell Aug 6th 1841
[To Roswell]. (...) I have not done any work since the 4th of June owing to a Typhus Fever. (15) I was sick one week at my Boarding house; after which (at my request) I was conveyed to the Lowell Hospital (16) where I remained seven weeks & three days one whole week of which time (I am informed) I did not close my eyes to sleep; being insane & not knowing one single thing that transpired. (17) My life was despaired of by my attending Physician & by others who were called in, in fact the Nurse at one time stood by my bedside, with watch in hand to know the precise time I should expire. This is not all, after being taken sick, I was seized with a lameness in my left hip, which was feared would terminate in the Spinal complaint. But I now think I shall disappoint them all for I can hobble about the house considerable well with the aid of a cane, my hip I think mends nearly as fast as I gain in general Strength.
You wrote me that Father had plenty of bread, meat, &c, which I am very glad to hear as I intend recruiting myself upon some of it (if I can obtain the consent of my Overseer, which I think I can) as soon as I get able to journey which I think will be in a fortnight's time or less. I wish you to write me as soon as you receive this, so that I can obtain it before I start for home. If there are any small Articles which you or any of the family would like to have me get, please mention them, & I will endeavor to obtain them if I can carry them with safety among your Loyal Queensmen. Would not Patience like a gold necklace, if I could obtain one cheap.
Hoping for the general welfare of you all I remain your Brother
Please give Mother much joy for me on the account of the house being painted.
Lowell Octr 3lst/41
[To Roswell]. After a pleasant journey I am once more in the City of Spindles among the Spinsters and have carried one Load of these for the Massachusetts Co. not considering it prudent to carry more at present, therefore I concluded to learn the Photogenic art and have got the theory tolerable correct and shall learn something of the practical part this week when I shall probably leave for Nashua or Manchester N.H., and perhaps visit Brome before Spring. (...)
I remain Yours &c
9. Lowell Feby 22d 1842
[To Roswell]. (...) I recd your Letter of the 27th Decr in which you ask concerning the Daguerrean Art. As for the profit in Tom's business, there is none, in regard to the Labour it is light. I shall send you a treatise on the Art by Gilman and France allowing you to judge for yourself. (...) We have published one thousand of these pamphlets in which we have pretty fully divulged the Art which Boston photographers ask twenty five dollars for. This is playing Morgan with them, but I shall not meet his fate, as I was not sworn to secrecy. (18) If I thought you Bromeites could raise money enough to pay for a Lecture I might be induced to take my Apparatus and visit you giving a Lecture on the Art which would make your eyes water, but as it is I think I shall sell out soon. What business I shall next get into is more than I can tell. I should however prefer some light employment as my lameness troubles me a little. Uncle advises me to get into a druggist Store but this I am unable to do, as I should not receive much wages for the first year.
I have visited Andover and stopped there a fortnight as a Proffessor of Photography visiting the Students in the Theological Seminary. This place you will recollect is the seat of Philips Academy. So goes the world. This is kind of a holiday, being the anniversary of Washington's birth. The Washingtonian total Abstinence Drunkards (19) have a grand celebration at the City Hall this afternoon and a supper at night. Uncle goes the whole figure being an Officer in the Society. (20) This Society is very popular here, having a reading room &c with the great reformed Hawkins to lecture for them. (21)
The City Guards parade in uniform this afternoon and have a great ball in the evening. Uncle is a member of this company and of course will attend. Aunt is hard at work fixing silks and lace. The Millerites are also doing a stiff business. One of the sect, Fish by name has gone to Canada, he is a thorough going nonresistant, rap him on the head and prove him. (22) Cousin Gardner and Lady have been here, she is a very intelligent well educated familiar sociable easy Woman. As to her qualifications in regard to household duties I cannot say. She is very anxious to visit Canada with Uncle but her husband rather declines being rather ashamed of his connections or something else. If she visits you, you cannot fail of being interested with her, for acquainted with you she will be, in short she is such a wife as I should like were I with thousands. As for Aunt I cannot say you will get acquainted with her, but I should advise you to put your best foot forward, and look out for the fashions.
One of your Bromeites was hauled up before the Police Court the other day for passing counterfeit money and is now immured for six months in the house of correction. Horace Huntley is his name. (...)
No sleighing here this winter, the weather appearing more like spring than winter. If you will come down here I will make you acquainted with Miss Phillis. I went into a boarding house this morning to hire a pedlar, was introduced to a Lady. Can't say whether she is a Phillis a Minerva or what. (23) Rather a lascivious dress with her swan neck bare to her, you must not touch me. In short, I suppose she was a good girl, only the dupe of fashion. The fashion for ladies walking dress is a short Cloak gathered in the back with a hood attached to the upper part which is allowed to hang down the back and very much resembles a Frenchman's Capot. On their heads they wear Ellsler hoods or kiss me if you dare, these have ears attached to them resembling hounds ears. More Anon. (...)
March 3d (...) Please tell father to dispose of my land if he has an opportunity, as I would willingly exchange it for a Lowell farm. I shall expect to see you here in about a year if your Polly does not keep you, at home
Yours D.S Gilman
10. Lowell July 28 "/42
Dear Parents Brothers & Sisters
By this you will be informed that I am again a watchman, where I formerly was, but how long I shall be one is uncertain, at any rate I think I shall leave next fall if not before. I have had serious thoughts of passing the winter in a more Southern Latitude. Of what I determine upon you shall be duly informed. My health is quite good, although I have had rather an ill turn for a few days past, which with the present hot weather has made me quite poor in flesh. Am almost entirely rid of my lameness.
Had a pleasant ride to Concord in this State the other day. Crops looked finely. Had not time to visit the battle grounds, went into grave yard. Some of the Stones bore date 1693. Also in front of the Court House, saw a venerable elm tree to which, as I was informed, Criminals were formerly tied to be whipped. Intend visiting Boston, Bunker Hill, Mount Auburn &c the next month. I hardly know what to write you for news excepting the hue & cry of hard times, Tariff and Anti Tariff. The manufacturing Companies have large quantities of goods on hand which they are unable to dispose of their Store Houses are filled with their Goods. Some of which were manufactured 6 or 8 months ago. The Lowell Co. with but one mill Have goods to the value of three hundred thousand dollars on hand. It is said there has been a great revival of religion in this place the past Spring, of the truth of this I cannot say; as I am no judge of such matters. Yet can safely say the waters have been sadly troubled in sight of where I now am. Every Sabbath for a long time I have seen 100 immerse in a day.
(...) Last Saturday Eve attended a Lecture on Mesmerism or Animal Magnetism. (24) I shall not give my opinion in regard to it, but merely state some things which I witnessed allowing you to judge for yourselves. First a Lady Stranger was put to sleep in the space of three or four minutes. A Sceptic in regard to clairvoyance, viz Mr Bartlett of this City was put in communication with her, he willed her to go to his house not in person but merely by seeing a distance of a quarter of a mile or more, he acknowledged she described the rooms correctly the manner in which he had arranged the chairs, Tables, Sofa's, mirror &c, previous to leaving home. Also the pictures in the room, how attired whether male or female. All of this she could not possibly have any previous knowledge of. A Lady very much out of health was then placed in Communication with her. She described her complaint very accurately, entering into all the particulars which I shall not relate. The different Faculties of the Mind were then excited as l aid down by Phrenologists, Such as Mirth when she instantly broke forth into a hearty Laugh. Combativeness was next excited when she instantly rose & drew up her Chair for fight, and so of the other faculties. (...)
I did think of giving you a piece of romance from real life in which I have been one of the principal actors did time & space permit. Not for the old folks but for the young who like to laugh is it suited, (25) [...] you have got more now than I think you will ever be able to decipher. Miss __ wishes to have you understand that her eyes are not grey by any means & is quite anxious to see you [to] convince you to the contrary. (...)
Yours in haste
11. Mass- Cotton mill No. 1, Sunday morn Augt 21st "/42
[To Roswell]. H. Huntley who has been incarcerated for the last six months in the House of Correction intends starting for home tomorrow, providing he can obtain the one thing needful in journeying. Therefore considering it a good opportunity to write you a few lines, I shall embrace it, though I cannot give you anything of importance. I intend furnishing Huntley with money enough to take him home, if he cannot otherwise obtain it. Whatever Sum he may receive, I shall inform you of, & Mr Huntley will undoubtedly be willing to pay the Amount into Father's hands. Perhaps you may think me unwise in doing so; but as he has been sick most of the time & is so at present, besides being young & among Strangers I cannot but pity him. 'Tis nothing more than I should wish some one to do for me or you, were we in the same situation.
(...) If you should like to visit Lowell I think that I could get you into employment were you here about the first of cold weather & I should apply in Season, but of this I am not sure as I did not think it worth while to inquire before I knew whether you would come this fall or not. If you should think of coming, write one soon, so that I can make application for you, I have become a member of one of the five Companies of this City.
There is now forming a club of gentlemen mostly from the Boot & Mass__ Cor.__ for mutual improvement by Debate Declamation & the writing of Anonymous Communications. This I have also about concluded to join as I think it will prove very beneficial if properly conducted. I send you a paper or two, likewise an Almanack for 1843 So that you may be informed of what will take place after the ignition & destruction of our earth. But previous to the reading of it however I would advise you to get well hoop'd to prevent bursting with Laughter as there are many ludicrous figures in it which I suppose are typical of some of the scenes to be acted next year. I have recd a letter from a fair correspondent in Canada since I recd yours, but of her whereabouts I do not see fit to inform you at present. I shall not ask you to give my love to the fair damsels of Brome, first because I suppose there is none at present & secondly I have enough to attract & employ me here. Pray inform me of the welfare of Aunt Lydia in your next ,
Yours truly__D.S. Gilman
12. Lowell Octr 30 "/42
(...) I still act the watchman or at least have till Thursday last, when I left on an excursion of pleasure to the Emporium of New England viz Boston. Took the cars early in the morning in company with a friend & arriv'd in Boston in time for Breakfast. After which went down to the wharves to visit the shipping, the masts of which appeared like a dense forest of trees stripped of all their branches. Next visited the new Custom house which will when finished far surpass anything of the kind in Boston or perhaps in New England. It is built of granite & its sculptured pillars are well worth seeing. They are composed of solid blocks of at least twenty five feet in height & five or six feet diameter which are beautifully grooved on every side. Next visited the Market House & from the appearance, I came to the conclusion that there was quite a number of persons who possess'd & gratified their faculty of Alimentiveness in the good City of Boston. Next visited Faneuil Hall Familiarly known as the Cradle of Liberty. T his possesses nothing worthy of note, save the portraits of some of America's noblest son's, who once made its walls ring with their eloquence in asserting their rights as freemen, & that all men are born free & equal.
After some pleasurable sensations in musing upon the past, left to visit Bunker Hill & the Monument, Not carreing about climbing the spiral staircase to its summit which consists of 292 steps, we took the steam car & arriv'd at its summit in about two minutes a height of 220 feet, had a fine view of the City, Harbour & surrounding Country. By the way there is only an aperture of about two feet square on each side, the top being cover'd by a cap piece, which causes much dissatisfaction among the numerous visitors. Next visited the Navy Yard with the dry dock which is a fine work of Art. Also Boarded the old Vermont, Virginia &c not by force of arms but in a peacable manner, also visited the rope walks &c. After spending some time here, we at length took leave of Uncle Sam's men, who by the way are of all ages & sizes.
At night we went to - startle not - the National Theatre & having heard much of them, I was determined to see & judge for myself. So took a ticket for the third tier where nameless characters resort, & I assure you in sincerity & truth my heart sicken'd at the sight, & I wished for once I had the power of the Almighty, to snatch them from their career of infamy & once more restore them to their original purity & innocency, as for the plays they were good & the Scenery was rich & splendid.
Next day visited the State House where the first thing that struck our view was a statue of Washington. After entering our names we had leave to go up to the Cupola where we enjoyed a fine view of the City. After examining many things of minor importance we took the Steamboat and cross'd the ferry to East Boston & there saw an Animal I never saw in Canada, what do you think it was? Methinks you will guess it was a Lion an Elephant or__But stop it was neither, It was a__Bear yes a black bear.
At night went to the Tremont Theatre where was acted the Tragedy of Richard the Third. Also an Ellsler dance (27) by the charming little Mary Ann Lee in which she showed her legs to pretty good advantage, & I could not fail to perceive that the higher she kicked the more loudly she was applauded. But lest you should gain an idea that she kicked to a height which would be termed immodest in Brome, I will just say that it is my candid conviction that she did not throw her feet higher than her head during the whole evening. (28) Next day returned home & today attended Church to atone for past misdeeds.
As far as regards myself in Lowell, Saturday Eve I generally attend a debating Club of which I am a member, & if you ever think of me on a Wednesday Eve, you may imagine I am at the Lowell Institute (29) listening to some distinguished Speaker in Company with Miss S.W; but enough of this, were none to see this but yourself I should be tempted to give you a short history of some of my Amours, which I should think would cause you to laugh & wonder that the Deaconish D.S.G should be so wild, but enough of this. First we have had the Hon. George Bancroft of Boston to Lecture for us, (30) next the Revd John Pierpont of Boston the Poet. (31) Next the Revd Mr Burt of Salem, also the Hon Levi Woodbury of Newburyport. (32)
(...) I enjoy myself tolerably well having resigne[d] all thoughts of accumulating property. My Motto is live today & let the morrow take care of itself. Yesterday visited my old residence the Hospital where I enjoyed myself very well for an hour. Not having time to write more I shall now close, by wishing you all health & prosperity.
I should be happy to see you all but since I cannot I should consider it a favor if you would write me once in a dog's age.
P.S. I let Horace Huntley have five dollars. Have you recd the Letter & papers I sent by him?
Yours D.S. Gilman
13. [Feb.sup.Y] 20th "/43
[To Roswell]. 'Time is money' so said the sage philosopher, & so I find it to be, at least with me. Having a pretty good situation considering the times, & for certain reasons which I shall not mention, it being uncertain how long I shall retain it. I have made up my mind not to visit you at present, for were I to do so, it would at the least calculation make some thirty five or forty dollars difference in my situation. I may be out of employment in a week, & I may not in a year; But when this is the case, I can return at my leisure, & will remember the necklace for Martha.
You say that Millerism is all the rage with you. (33) 'Tis the same here. Not long since a man in an adjoining town, prophesied the destruction of all terrestrial things on a certain day not yet arrived, & also preceding this event, there was to be a mighty Earthquake throughout the whole world. Immediately three of our credulous citizens paid him a visit to learn the truth of the matter, & report says they found him drunk. At length the great day of the Earthquake arrived, & the result was, one old fool came near losing his eye-sight by looking steadfastly at the Sun, through a piece of smoked glass, to see the first appearing of the Messiah. Likewise the Pastor of a certain Church in this City with some of his flock, made the happy discovery that the Second Advent was to take place the 15th Inst. The day arrived and brought with it a severe snowstorm, the Merrimack flowed on in its wonted channel, the deafening hum of Machinery went on as usual & nothing seemed to indicate the approaching dissolution of Nat ure. (...)
In regard to your thinking I care but little for home, I reply that it would afford me the greatest pleasure
"To visit again the scenes of my Childhood
Where oft I have wandered, in the deep tangled wild-wood," & to commune [...] more with friends & relatives & pass a happy winter evening beneath the Paternal roof. In regard to bewitching fair one, & silken ties I am entirely ignorant, so help me Obadiah, for I find nothing of the kind in real life, although I will allow there are many fair damsels in Lowell & were I so disposed I should scarcely know how to make a selection. Permit me then in conclusion, to say, that I think your imagination is running wonton in such matters, leading captive your better reason & seducing you into a world of visionary romance, which has no existence but in the heads of beings who write from the impulse given by a diseased mind.
A heavy load off my Stomach. (...)
14. March l2th "/43
[To Roswell]. (...) I am informed that a very brilliant Comet is seen every clear evening in the west from 6 to 7 O Clock, but I am generally asleep at that time, therefore have not seen it. Intend to take a peep at his honor this evening. It is said to be now fast receding both from the Sun & Earth, & is calculated to be about 96,000,000 of miles from the Earth & possessing a tail some 100,000,000 miles in length, so that if by any freak it should whisk its tail toward Mother Earth, a fine opportunity would offer for the Millerites to grasp it & thus go Heavenward unless so many got hold as to pull its nucleus or head from its orbit. (34) The latest story of a Millerite, is, that in a town not far distant an individual dressed in his robe ascended an Apple tree for the purpose of flying to Heaven; but by some mishap instead of alighting there, he came in contact with the frozen earth & a broken neck was the consequence. (...)
15. Lowell June 18th "/43
Friends and Relatives, one & all
You have doubtless anticipated hearing from me ere this, & so I intended when I left you. But having nothing of particular importance to write is the only excuse I have to offer. After leaving Brome nothing occurred worth mentioning till we reached Georgevile about Sundown. Took Supper at Friend Bigelow's, (35) who very kindly volunteered his services in procuring a Carriage to convey me to Stanstead. If you ever Friends and Relatives, one & all visit Georgeville be sure & patronize Friend B. After leaving Georgeville & anticipating a pleasant ride by moonlight, we suddenly found our horse in a quag-mire unable to extricate a single foot. This was a pretty pickle, but there was no alternative but to off coat & clear the Carriage from the beast. After about half an hour's work with the help of neighbors we got on terra firma, made some repairs & arrived in Stanstead about twelve O'Clock,
(...) Since my arrival I have commenced the Job-waggon Business, having purchased a good Horse, Harness and Waggon, the latter of which I obtain on credit. This is like most other kinds of business requiring time & perserverence to obtain a good run of custom. There is a great deal of work of this kind to be done -- such as moving Furniture, Merchandize &c. It is a business for some one as long as Lowell remains a City. There is also quite a number at present engaged in the business, but at this I am not discouraged for I can support one at the business, I think, as long as others support Families. If I cannot the property is good & will carry me to Canada or somewhere else. (...)
Monday 19th, the President & Suite visited this City which made it a greater day here than has been realized since the visit of General Jackson. The President is as plain a looking man as you can well conceive having a long thin face with large hawk bill nose, his two sons very much resemble him. Secretary Porter, (36) Spencer, (37) & other distinguished characters bore him company. Post Master General Wicklifes (38) & daughters, & Miss Porter's did not visit us, neither did the United States Attorney General Mr Legare who died very suddenly in Boston, & hastened the President's return to Washington. (39) The Oration at Bunker Hill was delivered by Daniel Webster. This morning Aunt L. gave birth to a large & healthy daughter, both are doing well.
22d (...) My new business I think is rather improving & I think will still improve as one job serves as an introduction to another & gives me reason to hope that by steady & perservering industry I shall be able to stay in Lowell till it suits my convenience to leave in spite of the few malicious individuals who have vainly endeavor'd to crush me. My acquaintances appeared right glad to see me return among them once more & seemed to wish me all success. My health is excellent & I feel quite different from what I did when a watchman. Neither would I be a Watchman now if I could. My hair is fast falling off & I have ceased all endeavors to prolong its stay. (...)
16. Lowell Nov 11th "/43
(...) Since I last wrote you I have visited Lynn which lies on the [sea]-board, twenty five miles from Lowell. The place where so many Sons of Crispin (40) have congregated for the purpose of making Shoes. Somewhat disappointed in the appearance of the place. The buildings did not present that neat & thrifty appearance which I anticipated & I am told that ever since 1837 Lynn has rather retrograded in population & Wealth, very many of the Manufacturers becoming bankrupt. At the present time however the shoe business is good, perhaps never better, & Lynn has once more rec'd a fresh impetus. I was told that they averaged a shoe every minute.
Having transacted our business at the above named place we started for home when we met with an occurrence which threatened to be somewhat serious. My horse suddenly became dull & at length throwed himself down. Apparently in great distress. We stripped the harness from him as quick as possible, he commenced rolling in the same manner that the horse of Mr Boright did. At length got him on his legs & kept him so by racing him up & down Street whip in hand. Gave him a bottle of Gin and Molasses which helped him & drove home without any further trouble with the exception of his being somewhat desirous of stopping at every Inn for the purpose of Liquoring up. Found it necessary to make him sign the Temperance Pledge the very next day.
(...) The People of Lowell who attend the Institute were addressed last Wednesday Eve by that Prince of Lecturers, Dr Smith of Boston. (41) Subject, The Geological, Civil, Social, & Religious Condition of Upper and Lower Canada, together with its early history, illustrated by drawings of the City of Quebec. Pointed out the place where Dr Heller made his escape & related a thousand facts & incidents of interest, which I cannot particularize. The Dr said that the People of the United States ought to become better acquainted with their Canadian Neighbors as they were destined to become an independent people ere many years elaps'd. He said that Great Britain told the Canadians She would board & clothe them if they would remain quiet, but the Canadians like wayward & ungovernable children kept kicking & kicking, till at length they would kick themselves into independence. (...)
17. Lowell Feby l8th/44
[To Roswell] (...) I think it is since I last wrote you that I had the pleasure of seeing the man who is familiarly known in these parts by the name of the Great & Godlike Daniel (Alias Daniel Webster) who was engaged as counsel by the President of one of our banking institutions. Said President being arraign'd on a charge of embezzlement. While looking at the person of the Godlike & listening to the thunder of his Eloquence, a thousand emotions crowded upon my mind something like the following. Here is a man, who by his own exertions & perseverence has arisen to his present station. A man who was deputed by a great & powerful people, to meet the minister selected by one of the most powerful Nations of Earth for the purpose of forming a treaty relative to territorial possessions. (42) The man to whose will it was left to say whether there should be peace, or whether there should be war. The man who was so highly honour'd as to be allowed the privilege of taking the hand of Saucy Vic (Beg pardon Queen Victoria ). The man who recd while in England thousands of dollars merely for giving his opinion in a certain case. This man who ere this might have been President of the Union had he been a true democrat. The man who is distrusted by all parties. Whom all acknowledge great & powerful yet few care to trust, from his natural propensity to fawn upon, & cringe under those enjoying wealth & power. The man who knows not the worth of money, who would as quick give fifty dollars as five for a slight service perform'd. The man who is dependent upon friends for support, & the man who is Parent to two or three illegitimate children whom he supports &c. Such were my reflection[s].
(...) The Temperance folks are wide awake having meetings every Sunday Eve in the Town Hall which is crowded & appears to be a place of general resort, for there you find the reformer & the reform'd. The Soap-lock rowdy, & the Street night Walker mingled together in Strange confusion. The Temperance people are also doing a large business in the way of prosecutions against rum sellers. The Millerites are also wide awake in Sanguine in the belief of the destruction of all Sublunary things about the first of next April. One of the Sect has been laboring with me of late for the purpose of making me a convert to the faith. They say that the year 1843 has not expired according to Jewish reckoning. The Jewish Year commencing about the first of April. (...)
18. Lowell July 14, 1844
Friends one & all
(...) I quit the teaming business last fall, having an opportunity of selling horse. The wagon I still keep it being good property to let. Further for the last eight months have been in Uncle's employ learning the trade. Like it much & shall probably stay till it is completed, or at least till I quit. I thought it necessary that there should be one mechanic in the family, if for nothing else but to build a house for Roswell & Dinah in the woods. I also enjoy excellent health & have thus far stood the hot season without an ill day.
In regard to Uncle, his down East land is not yet sold. His land & buildings in Lowell he has given up to the one of whom he bought, upon what terms I know not. He is punctual in attendance upon the meetings of Odd Fellows, The Encampment & The Rechabites, of all three Societies he is a member. Saw his regalia or uniform last Eve "a gay affair. Cost 16 dollars. Has been for the most time since last fall building a small mill or house in which to weave Carpeting, employs at the present time six men. (...)
Yours Ever D.S.G.
19. Saturday Eve. Oct l9th-44
As I have never been governed in my Worldly pursuits by any end or aim; so in like manner I commenced this letter without order or arrangement, writing from the impulse of the moment, upon subjects in which I am most interested. To commence. You must know that some few of the laborers & Mechanics of Lowell a few months since organized a Society for the purpose of ameliorating the condition of the laboring portion of Community, by reducing the hours of toil per day, & placing the laborer on an equal footing with the Capitalist. (43) Believing that the present system & arrangement of Society is decidedly wrong & also believing that by the present system of labor, the producing classes of this Country are fast hastening to the wretched condition of the laboring classes of Europe, This Society hold weekly meetings for the purpose of discussing & gaining light on the Subject. They have also started a paper which advocates their Cause, & now number some two or three thousand members. To this Society I belong & havi ng written several articles for said paper I may send them you, if you should have a desire to know their contents. This Society with others of a like Nature, which have lately sprung into existence in various parts of New england, held a general convention in Boston last Wednesday & Thursday. Myself being one of the delegates from Lowell. Had a grand meeting, the proceedings of which you will find in the news-paper, which I send you.
One word about Politics. The Whig Party of this City have got a large flag stretched across one of our streets bearing the names of their favorite Candidates. The Democratic Party not to be outdone employed Uncle C. to obtain a large hickory tree surmounted with a flag staff, making the whole length upwards of 100 ft. This was also raised in the street with great ceremony & a flag 30 or 40 ft square appended to it. The heavy gale of last night stripped them in tatters which I believe has had a tendency to cool the fever of some of our Politicians. To be serious the prospects of the Whig Party look dubious & are daily growing more. Polk I think without doubt will be our next President. (44) Uncle has made several bets upon the elections. Uncle has hired a shop with Water Power where I can now learn something of working by Machinery.
The Millerites are now going it with a perfect looseness. I attended their meetings last Sabbath, house filled to overflowing with saints believing in the final consummation of all things on Tuesday next. There were also present licentious characters of both sexes without number. The Miller meetings appear to be the general depot & grand centre of attraction for these characters.
Have not heard from you since the return of Mr Streeter, was much pleased with the contents of letter; also with its Spirited & ready diction. Write often & give free scope to thought & feeling let the subject be what it may. By so doing you train the mind to express itself in a free & easy manner, & also lay the foundation for a regular & systematic course of thinking & of reasoning. (...)
Uncle has disposed of all his right & title to real estate in L. & his great air Castle & soap bubble has vanished. He is now pulling on a new string -- 'tis to obtain a fat allowance of the Government pap, by obtaining an office in the Boston Custom House. Provided Polk becomes President.
Yours Ever D.S.G
20. Lowell [Feb.sup.Y] l6th 1845
[To Moses, Jr.]. (...) Immediately after reading your letter I went to work with a circular saw, when by accident it caught my hand I almost by a miracle escaped without its loss. It is now nearly well. This accident you may say arose from the perturbation of mind arising from the knowledge that R. was about to be married & I was yet single but believe me this was not the case, nor would it have been had I heard at the same time of the like determination with the calm & tranquil Patience, or the hasty & impetuous Martha, or even with the sly roguish yet well meaning Thaddeus. The Honey moon I suppose is now over with R. yet he cannot fully appreciate the joys of wedded life or fully feel its kindred sorrows till he has been a married man for years. May the latter be light in comparison with the former. (...)
21. Lowell Sunday June 1st "/45
[To Moses, Jr.]. Your letter of the 25th Ult was recd on Thursday last by the hand of Cousins who arrived here without Accident. Much pleased to see them, think probable that Uncle will employ both Uriah & Church but cannot say positively--if not we shall endeavor to obtain situations for them elsewhere. Saw Harrison Streeter yesterday. A steady young man & doing well. S. Eldredge is also here at work for Uncle who likes him much as a workman, he receives a dollar per day & found tools; so you perceive we have at present quite a Colony of Canadians.
Your Aunt Louise is at present in interesting circumstances (Alias), A la Victoria. (45) Uncle has not recd that government Office which he anticipated, probably will not -- truly republics are ungrateful, his down east land speculation also proves a failure by the Sheriff's neglecting to have a certain notice publish'd in a certain paper three times, it being published but twice. The only course to pursue now is to alight on the Sheriff for neglect of duty.
Am pleas'd to hear you intend to pay us a visit. Shall give you my opinion candidly, if you do not intend to settle down in Canada at least for the present the sooner you leave the better, if you anticipate stopping in L & making it a home should advise you by all means to learn some good trade. Lowell is a poor place for a common day laborer yet not so poor I think at the present time as Brome, for business of all kinds is very brisk, probably never more so. Yet if there should be a reaction in business caus'd by overtrade & Speculation, which there doubtless will the man with a good trade stands a far superior chance to one without, therefore if you intend to come to L do not delay till fall, but come immediately & you will be far more likely to obtain employment. Shall expect you as soon as the first of July. Please bring what money may be my due & endeavor to exchange it up near the line as the rate of discount will be far less than here. If you should wish for funds use the money as your own. Need not de lay on account of fine fixens. Enough to be had cheap here. A frost here night before last. (...)
Should be pleas[e]d to see you all, but distance intervenes.
22. Lowell. Augt 22d 1845
As cheating & knavers of every description seems to be the order of the day I shall fall in with the Current & cheat Uncle Sam of five cents postage by sending this by Uriah who has finished his trade & starts forthwith for Brome. Poor Child since Welthia left he drooped & pined away, all his leisure moments have been spent in the back yard seated on the vinegar barrel. Eldridge likewise leaves us, rather unwise I think as he had let himself for five months at twenty dollars per month & board. Tell Aunt A. to take Uriah & do him up carefully in clothes & place him in a drawer till he obtains more backbone, Alias, pluck. I believe the Citizens of Lowell have offered to see all Canadians home at half price providing they will give bonds never to appear here again. (...)
I shall not write much at this time, as my hand is very unsteady & I anticipate the pleasure of sending you another line by Church, who I think will soon follow in the footsteps of his predecessors,
Love to all
23. Lowell Sunday Eve Sep 20 1845
(...) Tell Uriah that Carpenters are a cash article here at the present time, thirty being advertised for in the Lowell papers who would be hired by the day month or year. Red headed McMaster has left us, no one remaining but friend Church who by the way is at times rather discontented. Last Wednesday was a great day here, with the military, it being muster day, twenty three companies paraded our streets with weaving plume & glistening steel presenting altogether quite a warlike appearance. Guess Mexico would quickly knock under could she have once seen our valiant & warless heroes. (46)
Oct. 4 (...) About five hundred dollars of counterfeit money on Nashua Bank was passed off on our Shop keepers one afternoon & evening of last week, mostly by girls. Surprise at length being excited, it was traced to the fountain head, one Hanson Seavers on Middle Street, a man of some property & a noted Abolitionist & infidel, the money came from Canada. A burglary was committed by a young fellow from Canada a few nights since who took a valuable gold watch & some other articles, the rogue was caught in Boston & brought back to take up his residence with Uncle Fisher.
Had almost forgot to notice the pleasure I recd from the information of Roswell's being a Washingtonian. (47) him to still continue so. "Touch not, taste not, handle not the accursed thing, let this be our motto & we are safe, furthermore let it never be said that temperate Sire had intemperate Sons. Speaking of temperance reminds me that I have not tasted of tea or coffee since Moses left us, to dispense with its use I find no cross at all. (...) Church recd a letter from Canada last night particulars unknown, ask Wealtha for me if she now knows what yarrow is. (48) All well -- enough said. Yours &c.
24. Sunday Eve Nov 16th 1845
Brother M; (...) T.C. has got a job of building a three story mill 64 ft by 32 at Merrimack N H 6 or 8 miles above Nashua. Church has been there about a fortnight. He talks of leaving us soon thinking he can earn more some where else. To close I cannot refrain from giving you a Specimen of Uncle's manner of governing his children. At supper this evening Elizabeth by design or accident throwed her tin plate on the floor & the following was the language which he used "God damn your little pluck to hell what in damnation do you mean." (...)
Yours truly D.S.G. written in haste
25. Lowell Sunday Eve. March 15th/46
[To Moses, Jr.]. (...) I am sorry Cousin W__has taken offense, I think I must send her a three legged stool to dispel her anger. The war panic with us has pretty much subsided. As for protracted meetings & excitement I believe we have none & we are as cool as a Cucumber in July. (...)
The Magnetic Telegraph is now in operation between this City & Boston, the Office is on Merrimac Street & is operated by a Miss Bagley, formerly one of our factory girls & a sworn foe to the factory system in its present State. (49) This winter she headed a petition of some four or five thousand names praying our legislature to reduce the hours of labor in our factories to ten per day. She is also President of the Female Labor Reform Society of this City. This Society has purchased a printing press & type, there is a Paper printed on this press which advocates the rights of the Laborer & circulates about 2000 copies per week. (51) This Society are to have a course of six Lectures on Labor to be delivered at the City Hall by some of our most distinguished men. First Lecture next Wednesday Eve. What will be the final result of this movement time alone will determine. I shall attend these Lectures. (...)
26. Lowell July 5th 1846
[To Moses, Jr.]. I have delayed this long in answering your letter for the purpose of coming to a conclusion whether it was best to send this by Uncle Sam's conveyance or to have the "warm weather fever" & bring it myself; as I have had some symptoms of it; they have however now disappeared & so has June the most trying month (to me) of the year. So you will see this bit of paper instead of me. Yesterday was the Glorious fourth & was duly observed & celebrated by firing of cannon, ringing of bells &c while our Citizens of a smaller growth contented them selves with firing crackers. There were several processions formed among which was the Sabbath School, Young Men's Temperance & Labor Reform Societies, (52) the latter of which I joined & marched over the upper Bridge into Dracutt to the Grove where you, Orrilla & myself went one Sunday morning, a pleasant time, good music, Good Speakers & plenty of good things for the stomach, but I came near forgetting to mention that a very few of our Citizens went to Bosto n to see the fire works, just enough to fill every coal car the Company could raise & as many times as they could run them. (...)
A great change has taken place in the appearance of the City since you were here. I see that the new canal progresses rather slowly, it is a tremendous undertaking. We have had all sorts of exhibitions here this spring together with Turners Circ[us]. Another Circus company is to be here next week (53) & after that a Caravan of wild animals. A miniature Artist or two have been hauled up before our police Court for taking Dagu[er]reotype Miniatures of a male & female in a state of nudity & in various positions & offering them for sale. A man was hauled up the other day for whipping his wife, watching his opportunity he jumped out of one of the Court Room windows on to the sidewalk broke both legs & otherwise injured him so that he finally jumped out of the world. The Labor Reform Association hold meetings every Sunday for the purpose of discussing Moral Subjects, such as the rights of labor, freedom of the public Lands to actual Settlers &c. I am quite a constant attendant at there meetings & like them much.
I shall endeavor to send you a copy of each weekly paper publish[ed] in the City with their terms so that you can choose for yourself. I take one paper viz, Voice of Industry. (...)
Your Brother D.S.G.
27. Lowell July 31st 1846
[To Moses, Jr.]. (...) In regard to newspapers I have sent you a specimen number of the Voice, a paper as radical as any Gilman can desire, & which, if read with care & attention will suggest many many new & important ideas relative to the present organization of Society. If you should conclude to take it, you can have it by merely paying postage. I have also sent you the Vox, which is chiefly confined to local news, of its merits you can judge as well as I. Terms two dollars per annum.
The Journal which I have sent is quite a readable paper & when I have said this, I have said all I can say in its favor as it is the Corporation Organ of this City advocating the rights of monopolised wealth as paramount to the rights of Labor or of the laboring class of people. As chairman of a committee in our Legislature, the editor reported it as inexpedient to legislate in regard to reducing the hours of toil in our manufacturing establishmen[ts]. In a word he is the tool of Boston & Lowell Capitalists. (54) The terms I believe are $2. The Patriot is $1.50. This is a party paper advocating party views & party measures, the organ of the so called Democratic party of the City, it is quite liberal in many of its views & is a pretty decent paper. I might also send you the Niagara a scurrilous sheet & also one or two other papers not worth the postage with which I shall not trouble you. When you write me your preference I will endeavor to have it sent. (...)
28. Lowell Novr 29th 1846
[To Moses, Jr.]. (...) I hardly know what to write in the way of news, which will prove interesting. (...) I had the pleasure of seeing & hearing a Lecture given by one of America's most gifted Sons, I refer to Genl Cass of Michigan, A soldier Statesman, & Scholar. In my estimation he is a greater man by far than the Godlike Daniel Webster. The Subject of his discourse was the Progress of Society. A subject well calculated to display his knowledge of the past & of the present. I think he will be the Democratic Candidate for the next Presidency. (55) (...)
Yours truly D.S.G.
29. Lowell Sunday eve March 21st 1847
It being a rainy, drizzling, gloomy evening I have concluded to write you a line, not because I have any thing particular to say, but because i in common with the mass of mankind wish to retain a place in the memory if not in the affections of relatives & acquaintance. (...) By the way what do you think I have lived on this winter. I will tell you for you can't guess, 'tis Buckwheat flapjacks & molasses with the exception of Sundays when we have bean porridge. O what a dish to set before a king.
Lowell as a City is increasing in wealth & business rapidly. The New City which we visited when you were here & which is call'd Lawrence is said to contain three or four thousand inhabitants. So much for the effects of wealth. A fellow who calls himself Spencer Misner is here & claims to be a relative of mine by right of his Uncle's dog having once run across my grandfather's goose pasture, the truth of which I know not (...)
One word of prophecy & I close. You may expect another young Cousin some time if not before, gracious me what Gilmans. This is intended for your eye only.
Yours as ever DSG
30. Lowell, July 6th 1847
(...) Last Wednesday was quite a Holiday here. President Polk & suite paid us a visit. Mills stopped, Bells rung, Cannon boomed, Military were out. So were Girls & all hands had a time. Miranda Gilman is stopping here now, been here a fortnight, how much longer uncertain. Little Tom Thumb has been here creating quite a sensation by showing his little body & also his little Horses & Carriage presented him by your good Queen Victoria. (56)
Darius Ball has left here & I have it from pretty good authority that he lurched his landlady out of one month's Board. I h[ave o]btained the back Nos of the Journal which I shall sen[d] you soon & also those to come as soon as issued. I have also selected a few Cards for Patience, but being an Old Bachelor I have not perhaps made for her a good selection. I have also got them marked which she did not order. Part of them I enclose & the remainder I reserve for the present, therefore I calculate (in Yankee parlance) to address my next to her & also calculate my letter is about filled up. So for the present
31. Suncook Village N.H., Septr 5th 1847
On the east side of Merrimack river about eight miles below Concord & ten above Manchester or about forty miles from Lowell a small stream of water empties into the Merrimack called Suncook. About half a mile from its mouth is a small establishment for the Manufacture of Cotton Cloth which having recently changed hands is now being enlarged by the Addition of another mill, store house, Boarding Houses, &c. By this establishment I am now employed & if I give Satisfaction & am suited myself shall probably remain here 3 or 4 months, after that if business should be dull I may possibly make you a winter's visit providing you have plenty of good potatoes & will not exact much work of me. I could have had work with Uncle but I thought it advisable to leave for a time at least, in order to effect a settlement with him; this I have obtained although I have not as yet recd payment, I have however got the promise of it this month & think without doubt I shall get it, as I have made arrangements to invest it in railroad Stock. This railroad has but just commenced Operations & is to connect the new City of Lawrence below Lowell with the city of Manchester N.H. thence to pass up through this place & intersect with the Portsmouth & Concord Railroad. (57) This road it is thought will yield a fair per Centage & Stock can be disposed of at any time without loss to the holder. Titcomb Hunt is one of the directors, was at Manchester last Sunday. Aunt Anna & all in good health.
Left Lowell about a fortnight ago. It is very sickly there more so than ever before known, so say physicians. The prevailing complaint is dysentery which may aptly be termed American Cholera. The deaths are from 60 to 80 per week. It is estimated that from 1000 to 1500 Girls have left the City & gone home to stay till the sickness abates. I almost forgot to mention that there is a Glass Manufactory here which I shall have the curiosity to visit as soon as it comes cooler weather so that they can commence Operations. The Factories are on Pembroke side of the river but I board on the opposite side in Allenstown on high pleasant ground where I can look across the Merrimack into the town of Bow & see the steam horses pass on the iron track almost into Concord. (...)
Yours truly D.S.G.
32. Manchester Novr 24th 1847
When I last wrote you I was residing at the pleasant little village of Suncook, with a fair prospect of remaining there some time, but the Company for some cause unknown to me saw fit to stop their works after I had been there about a month. Consequently all hands were discharged. At this place I had $1.19 per day paying out of it two dollars per week for board. About half an hour after my discharge & while packing my tools, a young man came to me saying he wished to hire a man to help finish his house which was situated about three miles from Suncook. After taking a trip to Lowell I went to this place & worked thirty eight days receiving my board & $38.00. The family consisted of this young man, his brother, Mother, & Aunt who was doing housework. The young men were good, jovial, free hearted fellows, but the Mother had the name far & near of being an ugly old skinflint, keeping hired help on short allowance & poor at that. From what I could learn there was more truth than poetry in the above, however as luc k would have it I got on the right side of the Old Lady & fared first rate. If there was a chance to back-bite a neighbor or cheat them in a trade she was the one to do it, but when Sunday came she was punctual at meeting with a face as long as your arm & one would suppose she was Innocence itself. While at this place I was very often reminded of home, for here I churned, husked corn & pared apples besides occasionally drinking new cider. The Old house we lived in was used as a Garrison in the time of the War & the chimney would receive four feet wood with all ease.
I finished work at this place one week ago last Monday, when I took the Cars & went to Concord. (...) Thursday went to Pembroke, Friday returned to Manchester, Saturday went to work at $1.25 per day with the encouragement of having work for two months. (...) I am boarding at a place where are two or three girls from Potton. (58) Among the rest a Gilman girl, her father being a nephew of old Dr Gilman. So I consider [her] a kind of ninety ninth Cousin. I am much obliged to you for your generous offer yet do not consider it a sufficient inducement to return home as I am now situated, yet there is time enough two months hence. (...)
33. Lowell March 19th 1848
[Addressed to Moses, Sr.]. (...) Since I last wrote you I have been at work for Uncle but shall not probably do so much longer as Spring business will soon start, when I shall seek employment elsewhere. I have been three weeks in the City of Roxbury adjoining Boston, setting up Carpet Looms. From the room in which I worked I had a fine view of the City of Notions. The Athens of America. The City of Three Hills. (...)
Hoping you have all got well of your coughs, colds & Stomach aches I subscribe myself D.S.G. or the
34. Lowell April 16th 1848
[To Moses, Jr.]. Your favor of the 5th Inst. I did not receive till last eve, therefore embrace the first opportunity of replying. I have not found you a Situation for I have made no effort to do so having come to the conclusion that most people wish to first see, & then purchase; likewise a situation I might fancy, you would not. You ask my opinion &c, which I will endeavor to give. In the first place if you wish to get into a dry goods in Lowell I think it quite probable you might do so but I also think your wages would be rather small & I furthermore think that a Clerkship in a Lowell rag shop is not a very promising situation in the way of advancement in salary, for about nine out of ten of our Dry Goods Dealers fall through the bottom every three years. However I may be mistaken. In a grocery store I think you might obtain employment & pretty fair wages, but the work is quite laborious. A retail Hardware Store would be a very good situation if you could obtain it. A place in an Auction & Commission House would be a pretty good chance & I think were you here to watch your opportunity you might in time get such a chance, perhaps you might get a situation in a restorator if you liked. And now to sum up the whole. Dry Goods light work small pay, yet pay quite as good as you would get in any Country Store. You must also wear fine cloth which would have a tendency to reduce your profits. Grocery hard work & fair pay after you got little used to it. Hardware chance slim. Auction good but a situation does not offer every day.
A man was wanted the other day to drive a Beer Wagg[on] at $18 per Month. Work pretty hard & the place is now supplied. A peddler's situation without doubt you might obtain. You say that work does not agree with your disposition. If this is the case & you are determined not to work at any rate you had better remain where you are for if you should fail in getting a situation here to your liking, it would cost you far more to live here than in the Country. But if you are disposed to work I think you can get employment without working for any Old Fox. (59) And now if you seriously think of coming this way I will give you a few words of advice (although advice uncalled for is said to stink). If you come, come with the determination to stay & if you cannot do as you would do as you can. Get acquainted with the place & its people, which will serve to introduce you to some business more adapted to your taste than the one you are or may be employed at.
I have said nothing of Boston & other places for I know but little of them. I was at Manchester last week & partially engaged to go to work there this summer for the man I worked for last fall. If I go I shall probably go next week & if you conclude to come perhaps you might as well stop & see Cousin Titcomb who lives on Lowell Street, & if I am there I will try & get leave of absence & I will do the best I can for you in the way of employment, unless you should think it best to become a genteel Loafer; in that case I should be at a loss how to proceed. If I could know what time you would come I would endeavor to meet you. (...)
Yours ever D.S. Gilman
One thing more which I like to have forgotten but which is of no less importance on that account. I.E. a line of recommend. This to you may seem of slight importance but if you should wish to try your luck in Boston you would find if far otherwise. A line from Pettes & Sweet certifying to your trustworthiness & (60) honesty might prove valuable & can do no harm. For a Merchant it is highly necessary that his Clerks should be men in whom he can place implicit trust & confidence
35. Lowell April 30th 1848
[To Moses, Jr.]. When I last wrote you I thought I should go to Manchester to work. Was there last Monday & the man I thought of working for concluded he had help enough already, so I went on up to Suncook & learned that the Building overseer was then in search of help, but was going to hire work men so very cheap I did not wait his return. Returned directly to Lowell & let myself short metre to a man who has a great deal of work to do the present season. Had I gone out of town & let myself Uncle C. would have thought nothing of it, but to work for a Neighbor of his in preference to him has a tendency to make him feel somewhat sore, & will perhaps induce him to pay me up, at least he says he will the present week. Time will show. I still board with him & perhaps shall continue to unless turned away till accounts are squared. (...)
Yours truly D.S.G.
36. Lowell l9th Novr 1848
You have doubtless observed that after a storm succeeds a calm. This is just the case we are at present in. Anxious Office Seeking politicians have for the past few months raised quite a breeze & thrown great quantities of dust in the eyes of the great Mass of the people for the purpose of blinding them & then lead them by the nose just as they pleased. The Whig Party it seems have kicked up the biggest dust & made the greatest pretensions of love & regard for the "Dear People" & thus have succeeded in electing Taylor & Fillmore to the two highest offices in the gift of the People. Now the elections are over we are enjoying a calm & people begin to look around in vain for the cause of the impending ruin with which they were threatened.
I said we were enjoying a calm but in saying so I did not mean the good people of Lowell for they are far from calm. In the first place the Manufacturing Companies have seen fit in their wisdom to reduce the wages of their female Operatives about twenty five per cent: this has made them extremely wrathy & they have been holding indignation meetings passing resolves & pledging themselves not to work on reduced pay. Tomorrow the reduction is to commence & I think the amount of it will be that the best help will leave for their respective homes, such as have money enough to carry them there & such as have no homes & no money (& they are many) will stay here from necessity & work on reduced pay. I notice in this week's paper an unusual number of marriage publishments. This I account for on the ground of the reduction of wages.
Another cause of excitement here is the death of a young man a few days ago from Hydraphobia. (61) Since which time several dogs have run mad & now a general slaughter of cats & dogs has commenced. If poor Tray happens to show his teeth, or trot faster than common, or carry his tail in an unusual manner 'tis enough he is a doomed victim & Death is his portion. Poor Pussy she fares no better. I was somewhat amused yesterday when going to my dinner I met a lot of boys marching up street as large as life armed with Clubs. One had a wheelbarrow with a lot of dead cats in it. Another had a tin horn which he was blowing quite lustily. In explanation I will say that our Fish Pedlers carry a horn which they blow occasionally to attract purchasers. (...)
You have doubtless heard ere this of the result of our Small Pox. None of us had it, although some of us had the symptoms rather severely including myself. Cousin Titcomb wants I should go to Manchester this winter & engage with him in the purchase of a wood Lot for the purpose of cutting wood for market. He thinks it a profitable business if rightly managed & wishes me to take hold & superintend the cutting of it. Could I get what money T.C. is now owing me I would look into the matter a little, but as the case now stands I think it does not look very promising in regard to my receiving a speedy Paymt. (...)
I am still at work on the large mill & my employer thinks he shall have work for me most of the winter. Since I commenced work for him I have recd $80 & at least $120 is now due which I can have by asking for it. T.C. is about engaging in a churn Speculation, it is a novel invention in Butter making & if it does half as well as it has the name of doing it will prove a grand article to the dairy woman. But I have doubts in regard to the practical part of the story. I shall probably see one in operation ere long & if it eclipses Friend Sweet's Horse rake I will let you know. The Book I intended sending I thought I could obtain easily, but come to look round there was none to be had. It was the life of General Taylor including the late Mexican War. (...)
38. Bark Oxford Feb 23rd 1849. Latitude 1700 42' South
Little did I think one twelve month ago when I last saw you, that at this time I should be ploughing the broad Atlantic thousands of miles from native Land, beneath a burning sun, but so it is & the principal, I may say the sole cause is the love of Gold which has prompted me to this tedious journey. You will doubtless call it a visionary & Quixotic Expedition. Be it so a few months will determine. One third of our journey is nearly completed, & as soon as I reach this distant land I shall endeavor to report progress, according to the best of knowledge & abilities. If prospered I shall make my calculations to visit the scenes of my childhood in about two years. To Brother & Sisters I say forget not your far off Brother. We expect to reach Rio-Janeiro about the 27th Inst & shall probably double the Cape & be in the Pacific Ocean ere you receive this.
27th Feb. Did not sleep on Deck last night, as a heavy dew was falling, a circumstance which never happens a great distance from land. Got up this morn & found the air soft, fresh & balmy. Something I never appreciated before owing to my always possessed of such breeses. On looking round was much surprised to see very high mountains so near the sea. They remind me strongly of some of New Hampshire scenery, yet suppose they are still at a great distance. We are perfectly becalmed & it is doubtful if we get into port tonight. I shall have this all ready to seal before I land at Rio-Janeiro as what little time we stop there (probably two days) I shall wish to devote to other purposes than writing. After I get on shore I shall endeavor to enclose some kind of a leaf or spear of grass just to let you know that I am safety landed on Terra Firma in a South American City containing 150,000 inhabitants. In my next which will probably be from San Francisco I may give a slight description of my first visit to a Brazilia n City. All in good health and excellent spirits.
Yours Ever D.S. Gilman
A little bird of the Sparrow kind came on board some 20 miles Out, in endeavoring to capture him he lost a few feathers one of which I send to Martha to place in her Cabinet of Curiosities.
28th, Before Breakfast are just going into the Harbor, if Breeze continues favorable we shall probably drop anchor before 12, forty eight days from Boston.
March 1st did not get up to the entrance of the Harbor, where there is a Fort, till after sun-down last night, when the Breeze died away and we anchored. Soon after a squall came up and we got under way again & soon got safe into Harbor. It being against the rules of the Port for a ship to go in after sundown, Signal lights were burned which were answered further up the Harbor. Had it not been for the squall we should probably have had a gun fired after us, but as it was they let us pass it. A Bark came alongside this morn, asked a few questions, & off again. Next some of Uncle Sam's men came alongside inquiring for Dispatches &c stating that 5 or 6 Yankee Califonia vessels were in Port. One came in last night about the time we did & another this morn. None of which have beat the Old Oxford except the Pilot Boat Anonyma of Boston 34 days out. The Bark Maria which sailed the day before us has not arrived. Health & Custom House Officers are expected on Board soon.
I have feasted my eyes on the scenery around me & found it a treat I assure you. The scenery is grand beyond description. I wish you were here with me Moses just to see this place if nothing more. Such steep mountains looking as if they were cut down with a knife. Coming boldly down to the shore, green Herbage growing on them with here & there a Cocoa-nut Tree. Convents, Churches, Rum-Boats & everything strange to my untutored eyes, seen in the distance. Novelty, Novelty is stamped on everything around me. You may believe me when I say that I am as much elated as a boy going to a Circus. All hands are talking about going ashore, but I don't believe we shall get on shore to day. No Wharves here and we are lying off some 3 or 4 miles from the Town. It rains & no Officers yet to be seen. As it rains and here we are, have half a mind to seal this up before I go on shore & write more of our reception in my next.
39. San Francisco, California Novr 30th, 1849
As the mail steamer for the States leaves tomorrow, I shall devote this Day in giving you an Account of my going to see the Elephant, as Gold digging is termed here. Well then we arrived at this place Tuesday Aug. 21, Got across the Bay & came to Anchor for the night. The vessel being crowded with Passengers we were Obliged to lodge on Deck Heads & Points with Mexican, Chilean, Sandwich Islander, Negro &c. A Perfect Amalgamation. Sunday, wind light & at night anchored near Benicia. A place where Government is building considerable. Monday forenoon reached the mouth of San Joaquin River, Pronounced San Waukeen, 60 miles from San Francisco. Here Col. Stevenson has laid out an embryo City, called New York. This night we anchored on the San Joaquin but no sleep for us, having as much as we could do to hold on to the rigging to prevent the Mosquitoes from carrying us off bodily. Mosquitoes at home ought not to be mentioned the same day with these. The Banks of this river are low & rushes meet the eye as far as you can see. Next night reached Stockton the head of Navigation 100 miles from New York. Much jealousy & disaffection having crept into our Company, it here met the fate of all California Companies viz., Broke up. Canton here left us & returned to San Francisco. The remainder of us agreed to go on to the Mines & live in one tent, but be two distinct parties in Business. So after Paying our fares to this place ($15 each besides freight) The Treasurer divided the balance of money on hand equally among us, & Evans, Morse & Andrews were of my Company. & Tilton, Helly, Gray & Roby of the other. At Stockton we made some purchases of Provisions & hired a train of pack mules to take our goods to Murphy's New Diggins, head of Angel Creek, 75 miles from Stockton, giving the muleteer 15 dollars per Hundred lbs.
Saturday Sep 1st, left Stockton & travelled about 10 miles over a level road where we halted for the night on account of feed for the mules, rolled ourselves in our Blankets & slept in the open air as no dew ever falls here in Summer. Next Day marched about 15 miles through the same level flat Country. Next day ditto and arrived at the Double Springs (so called). Here the country begins to rise into Hills. Next day made our way over quite a rough road & the 5th reached our destination 75 miles North East of Stockton among the Hills. This Part of the Country has every appearance of having once been terribly convulsed & tom to pieces by Earthquakes & the Surface every where is covered with a red barren volcanic Earth. At this place we found about 150 men at work in what was once the Bed of a river but now scarce worthy the name of a Brook, indeed where most of them worked it was perfectly dry.
Friday the 7th commenced digging for Gold, found none. Saturday ditto, Monday found a little, being the 4th Hole we had dug (or rather I for I found that I had to do most of the digging). Tuesday found this hole to be pretty rich. Saturday morning my Party got sick of Gold Digging & were bound to go directly back to San Francisco, weighed our week's work & found it amounted to $270.40. Gave my quarter of Gold about $67 for the goods & Chattels of my Partners & they left the mines & I was left in a Partnership of one, & so I still remain. The Day my Partners left which was on a Saturday I dug $12, Monday $13, Tues. 00, Wedn $16, Thursd 22, Frid $63, Sat. $154, Mon 68, T. 16, W. 48, T. 93, F 00, 5. 34, Monday Oct 1st 48, 2d 12, 3d 111, 4th 20, 5th 80, 6th 64, 7th Sunday, 8th 00, 9th 86. At night had a slight shower of rain, the first of the season. 10th 123. 11th 50. The ensuing week I only averaged about $6 per Day when my hole got exhausted & I was not fortunate enough to meet with another.
About this time begun to think of making preparations for winter. Resolved to go to Stockton & purchase my winter's Stock of Provisions, but heavy & unexpected rains came on making the roads unpassable for Teams, & flour which had been selling in the mines for 25 Cts per pound suddenly went up to 75 Cts. Pork raised from 50 Cts to 100 per lb. Other Articles in the same ratio. This was too much for me, so after living about two months on the purchase made of my Partners I sold the balance for over $130. Reserving the Tent of which I own one half. Besides this I had commenced Building a Log House 9 by 13 ft inside, this I sold for $50 & the 16th of this month left the Diggins on foot & alone with no arms to defend myself with but my natural ones. Loaded down with a knapsack of Provisions, Frying Pan, Tin-Pail, Cup knife &c., besides my Blankets. All of this made quite a load, but when fatigued I stopped made a fire then a cup of Tea & lodged by the side of a Log or under a tree wherever night overtook me. Arriv ed in safety at Stockton on the morning of the 19th where I stopped one week waiting for Tilton & Roby who I expected would bring the Tent as soon as the travelling improved. But last Monday they arrived without it. As the weather is now Pleasant it will probably be forwarded the first opportunity & they are now stopping at Stockton to receive it. On their arrival there I started for this place & reached here in 2 1/2 Days.
Since I left the Diggins one fortnight ago I have lodged out of Doors. But the nights are getting most too cool & frosty for comfort. If my Tent does not arrive soon I must purchase another. I have not had a sick Day since I arrived in the Country. Indeed not so much as a Cold till today, for which I feel truly thankful. For hard is the fate of the sick man in this Country. I intend stopping here during the winter as I have $1300 or more in Gold, Good Health, my chest of Tools & can have from 12 to 16 Dollars Per Day for using. Buildings are going up here as if by magic. Lumber worth in the States $20 is here worth $350. Common kind of Board can be obtained here at $21 Per week. But the best way is for Mechanics to Board themselves. Had to pay a Teamster $4 for moving my chest about 80 rods. For storing them at Stockton $3 Per month. I can hire a lodging Room about as large as a common Bed Room for $50 Per month. Sheet Iron Stoves vary in Price from $25 to $75. Thick Grain Leather Boots from 25 to $80. Fine S alt was worth in the mines where I was last summer 75 Cts Per lb, Potatoes Ditto, Onions 1.25 Per lb, Molasses 1.00 Per pint Bottle, vinegar ditto, soap 2.00 Per Bar, Sulphur 50 Cts per Ounce. A Doctor's fee for a visit if not more than five rods distant $8.00. Never make a charge less than $4 where the Patient goes to them.
Such is California as I have found it. Much more would I say would time Permit but must defer at present. Shall endeavor to write monthly. Have recd no Letters from friends since I left you. Hoping that you & all of our friends are enjoying like myself Heavens richest Blessing, Good Health & that we may once more meet on Earth
I subscribe myself your wandering Brother. D.S. Gilman
Please forward this to our native Home after Perusal.
Enclosed is the first piece of Gold which I found in California. The largest Piece I got is worth a trifle over $20 at 16 Dollars Per Ounce
40. [This and the following fragment are undated but written from California.] (...) I did think of sending some Dust home, but have concluded not to at present as Dollar may perhaps help me to earn ten more. Tell Mother not to be uneasy, that I enjoy Health at which I am astonished considering how much I am exposed & if fortune favor intend to gain a little competence the coming season & in a few months return to friends & Country & roam no more. Give my love to all enquiring friends & tell Kate to be a good Girl till my return. 27th Rainy weather. Vessels are daily arriving with Passengers. Provisions are becoming cheaper & good Lumber does not meet with a quick sale at $125 Per M. Jan. 29th Nothing of importance occurring. I shall now seal this forthwith, D.S.G.
41. When morning broke I found myself about three miles from Camp, which I reached in time to partake of a hearty breakfast. I afterwards ascertained that once during the night I had rambled off at least five miles. Although where I first stopped was but one & a half from Camp. Such a night may not seem uninviting to Persons accustomed to such things. But to a new beginner like myself hunger, wet & fatigue, I am free to confess, was none of the pleasantest. Indeed, with the exception of the first night out of Boston, this was the hardest one I have seen for a twelvemonth. Having no full change of clothing with me I was forced to dry my clothes on my Back & did not fully accomplish it till the second day after my return to Camp. Failing to make satisfactory purchases of Beef, we set out on our return & reached this placed after an absence of eleven days without taking the least Gold & none the worse that I am aware of for this excursion. Since my return I have sold my Boat for $25 more than I gave for it. Beef is now spoiling in the Boats so many having engaged in the Business & I am safely out of it. The Country which we visited abounds in Hills & Vallies but has very little Timber. The vallies would be good for agricultural purposes were it not for the drout of summer. But as it is the soil is uncultivated & thousands of Cattle & Horses dot every Hill & valley as wild as the timid Deer with which they mingle. D.S.G.
(1.) There is a tear along the vertical fold of this letter, making it necessary to guess at some of the missing words and letters.
(2.) The Irish, who had provided much of the labour for Lowell's infrastructure, lived segregated in a shantytown variously called Paddy Camp Lands, New Dublin, or the Acre. From only 2.3 per cent of the Hamilton Company workforce in 1836, they increased to 29.4 per cent in 1850, and 46.9 per cent in 1860. Peter F. Blewett, "The New People: An Introduction to the Ethnic History of Lowell," in Eno, Cotton Was King, 190-1; Dublin, Women at Work, 26, 139. See also Mitchell, The Paddy Camps.
(3.) The Soles family were neighbours of the Gilmans on Tibbits Hill. "Moses Gilman, Esq."
(4.) On Millerism, see Rowe, Thunder and Trumpets.
(5.) The "improvement circle" that the Reverend Able Thomas had organized for his parishioners in 1839 had resulted in the birth of the Lowell Offering, the famous periodical published by local female operatives. Nancy Zaroulis, "Daughters of Freemen: The Female Operatives and the Beginning of the Labor Movement," in Eno, Cotton Was King, 113-14.
(6.) Despite the fact that vaccination was available, smallpox would kill 41 people in Lowell in 1849. Lipchitz, "The Golden Age," 102.
(7.) Gen. Roswell Olcott, who was a close neighbor of the Gilmans, was the son of Peter Olcott, Lieutenant-Governor of Vermont. He would die in June 1841. His wife, Lydia, who had died in 1835, was the daughter of Rev. Nathaniel Sherman of East Windsor, Connecticut, whose brother, Roger, had helped to draft the Declaration of Independence. Gen. Olcott took refuge on his brother's land in Brome after he failed to build the turnpike road he had contracted for in Vermont. His daughter, Lydia, appears to have inherited the estate, for Moses Gilman acted as her agent during the 1850s. She is probably the Aunt Lydia referred to rather irreverently several times in Spencer's correspondence. Rev. Ernest M. Taylor, History of Brome County. Quebec, vol. 2 (Montreal 1937), 292-3; Marion Phelps, "The Moses Gilman Family, Bondville," Eastern Townships Advertiser, 19 August 1965, 5; BCHS, Whitwell File, Moses Gilman to Rev. R. Whitwell, Brome, 31 December 1856; 24 February 1857; Moses Gilman to Mrs Whitwell, Brome, 11 Febr uary 1858.
(8.) Apparently refers to the Massachusetts Cotton Mills, then being completed.
(9.) Phrenology attempted to understand human characteristics, or faculties, by interpreting the shape and bumps of the skull. It reached its greatest popularity during the early 1800s through the writings and lectures of the Austrian physician, Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828). "Phrenology," The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia (1993); Peter Van den Bossche, The History of Phrenology, on-line book, ttp://www.vab.ac.be/ond/etec/cit/phreno/intro.htm (13 June 1998).
(10.) After Father Theobald Matthew began the Irish temperance movement in Cork in 1838, it quickly assumed national importance. It is estimated that between 1839 and 1844 Theobald administered some five million pledges and the revenue from drink fell from [pounds sterling]1,435,000 to [pounds sterling]352,000. "Matthew, Rev. Theobald," in D.J. Hicky and J.E. Doherty, eds., A Dictionary of Irish History since 1800 (Dublin 1980), 359-60.
(11.) The Lowell Courier reported on 16 June 1840 that 501 people had taken the pledge from the hands of Rev. James T. McDermott, "the much esteemed Catholic clergyman of this city." And more than 150 had to wait until the following Sunday because not enough pledges had been printed. The Courier added on 20 June that the prominent licensed trader, Hugh Commiskey, had removed the liquor barrels from his store.
(12.) Orson Squire Fowler, born in 1809, graduated from Amherst College in 1834 and moved to New York City where he became devotcd to phrenology. In 1837 he and his brother, Lorenzo, published Phrenology Proved, Illustrated and Applied, which ran through thirty editions. In 1840 the Fowler brothers began publishing the Phrenological Almanac, and in 1842 they assumed publication of the American Phrenological Journal and Miscellany, which had been founded in 1838. Everett S. Brown, "Fowler, Orson Squire," Dictionary of American Biography, vol. 3 (New York 1959), 565-6.
(13.) Clearly a reference to Reverend Able Thomas, noted above.
(14.) This letter survives in the BCHS archives as a typescript with the following information appended: date indistinguishable, but probably 25 April 1841, and postmarked at Stanstead, L.C. 29 April 1841. It was transcribed in November 1988 by John R. Burbank of St Albans, Vermont after being found in the New Testament of his great-grandfather, Caspar Dean, who was married to the daughter of Spencer's sister, Mary Ann Ball.
(15.) Deaths from cholera, typhoid, and typhus were commonplace in Lowell, largely due to polluted drinking water. Lipchitz, "The Golden Age," 101-2; Mitchell, The Paddy Camps, 106-8.
(16.) The Lowell Directory for 1840 (p. 17) states that in 1839 all the city's principal corporations joined forces to establish the Lowell Hospital Association which purchased the mansion of the late lamented mayor. The 1845 Lowell Directory adds that the association charged $4 per week for men and $3 for women: "If the patients are able, they are to pay the Superintendant; if not able, the corporations from which they go are responsible, and the patients are then responsible to the corporations."
(17.) Gilman is recorded in the hospital records as having been admitted on 11 June 1841 with a fever and released on 24 July 1841, making his stay one week and two days shorter than he claims here. He was identified as a watchman, his surety was the Massachusetts Company, and the total cost was $24.57. Center for Lowell History, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Lowell Corporation Hospital Register, 1840-1887, Daniel Gilman, sequence no. 142 and removal no. 152, 1841. My thanks to Tom Dublin for this reference.
(18.) William Morgan of Batavia, N.Y. was a stone mason who published a book that exposed the secrets of Masonry. In 1826 he was abducted by a group of unidentified men and never seen again. His disappearance marked the beginnings of anti-Masonry in the United States. Richard Hofstader, William Miller, and Daniel Aaron, The American Republic, vol. 1 (Englewood Cliffs, N.J. 1959), 408-9.
(19.) The Washingtonian temperance movement originated in Baltimore in 1840 among reformed alcoholics of the lower-middle and working classes. Ian R. Tyrell, Sobering Up: From Temperance to Prohibition in Antebellum America, 1800-1860 (Westport, Conn., 1979), 159-60.
(20.) By July 1844 Uncle Tristram was a member of the more middle-class Rechabites (see letter 18).
(21.) A journeyman hatmaker whose first business venture had failed during the depression of 1837-40, John W. Hawkins led the Baltimore Washingtonians. He agreed at a meeting with the New York Temperance Society in 1841 to spread the temperance message for the American Temperance Union through the Washingtonian societies. John J. Rumbarger, Profits, Power, and Prohibition: Alcohol Reform and the Industrialization of America, 1800-1930 (Albany 1989), 26.
(22.) This is a possible reference to the leading Millerite preacher, Charles Fitch, who was also an abolitionist and convert to "Oberlin perfection," but my research on Millerism uncovered no record of a visit by him to the Eastern Townships. See George R. Knight, Millennial Fever and the End of the World: A Study of Millerite Adventism (Boise and Oshawa 1993), 105-17.
(23.) In Roman mythology Minerva was the goddess of wisdom, or arts and crafts, and of war. Oilman may have linked the name Phillis with Pallas, Minerva's father whom she killed when he tried to rape her. "Minerva," The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia (1993).
(24.) Mesmerism, or animal science, was an early form of hypnotism and an offshoot of phrenology. For its development, see Roger Darnton, Mesmerism and the End of Enlightenment in France (Cambridge, MA 1968), 3-81.
(25.) Despite the salutation, this letter is clearly written to Roswell, to whom it is addressed.
(26.) The National Theatre advertized the first and second boxes at 50Cents, the third boxes at 37 1/2Cents, the pit at 25Cents, and the gallery at 12 1/2Cents. The entertainment for 27 October was "the Splendid Drama, in five acts, of NORMAN LESLIE... To be followed by the admired Drama of THE FLOATING BEACON!" Boston Post, 27 October 1842.
(27.) Fanny Elssler was one of the greatest ballerinas of the romantic era, being noted for her passion and dramatic flair. The Austrian-born Elssler went to the United States in 1840, creating a sensation, especially in Washington D.C. "Elssler, Fanny," The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia (1993); Jack Anderson, Dance (New York 1974), 49-52.
(28.) In the Boston Post of 27 October 1842 the Tremont Theatre advertized "Miss Mary Ann Lee in Two Dances!", but rather than Richard III the play it promised was "The Yankee in Spain."
(29.) The Lowell Directory for 1840 (P. 35) states that the Lowell Lyceum, whose president was Rev. Amos Blanchard, and vice-president, Rev. Theodore Edson, offered "[a] course of about twenty-five lectures [...] upon a great variety of subjects." These took place at city hall every Wednesday evening, from October to April, and admission was $1 for "gentlemen" and 50Cents for "ladies." By 1849(p. 253) no clergy are listed on the board of the Lowell Institute. See also Blewett, Caught Between Two Worlds, 24.
(30.) Bancroft had studied philosophy under Hegel in Germany, then moved to Paris and Italy, socializing with Lafayette, Washington Irving, and Lord Byron, before returning to Harvard in 1822 to teach Greek. During the 1830s he began his ten-volume History of the United States (completed in 1874), and in 1837 he was appointed by President Van Buren as collector at the Port of Boston. He would become secretary of the United States Navy in 1845. M.A. DeWolfe Howe, "Bancroft, George," Dictionary of American Biography, vol. 1, 564-70.
(31.) Highly regarded as a poet, Pierpont became a reformer who campaigned against imprisonment for debt, abolition of the state militia, abolition of slavery, and temperance. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of phrenology, and would be ousted from his Unitarian pulpit in 1845. George Henry Genzmer, "Pierpont, John," Dictionary of American Biography, vol. 8, 586-7.
(32.) Levi Woodbury was a New Hampshire lawyer and politician who served as secretary of the United States Navy from 1831 to 1834, and secretary of the treasury under Jackson from 1834 to 1837, and again under Van Buren from 1837 to 1840. Elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 1841, Woodbury became an associate judge of the United States Supreme Court in 1845. William B. Smith, "Woodbury, Levi," Dictionary of American Biography, vol. 10, 488-9,
(33.) See Denis Fortin, "'The World Turned Upside Down': Millerism in the Eastern Townships, 1835-1845," Journal of Eastern Townships Studies, 11 (1997), 39-60.
(34.) According to David Rowe, the 843 comet "produced great excitement among Millerites and non-Millerites alike." Rowe, Thunder and Trumpets, 60-1.
(35.) Levi Bigelow operated an inn in Georgeville, L.C. on Lake Memphremagog.
(36.) James Madison Porter, Pennsylvania jurist and politician, was appointed temporary secretary of war by President Tyler in 1843. D.L.M., "Porter, James Madison," Dictionary of American Biography, vol. 8, 94-5.
(37.) John Caulfield Spencer, the New York State lawyer and politician who became secretary of war in 1841, then secretary of the treasury in 1843. Ray W. Irwin, "Spencer, John Caulfield," Dictionary of American Biography, vol. 9,449-50.
(38.) Charles Anderson Wickliffe was a Kentucky lawyer and politician who served as the United States postmaster-general from 1841 to 1845. Robert Spencer Cotterill, "Wickliffe, Charles Anderson," Dictionary of American Biography, vol. 10, 182-3.
(39.) Hugh Swinton Legare was a South Carolina lawyer, plantation owner, and politician who was appointed United States attorney-general in 1841, then secretary of state on an interim basis when Daniel Webster resigned. He died on 20 June 1843, after becoming ill at Bunker Hill where President Tyler was unveiling a monument. J.G. de R. Hamilton, "Legare, Hugh Swinton," American Dictionary of Biography, vol. 6, 144-5.
(40.) Crispin was the patron saint of shoemakers. American and Canadian shoemakers would later establish a union known as the Knights of St. Crispin. Gregory S. Kealey, Toronto Workers Respond to Industrialism, 1867-1892 (Toronto 1980), 40-52.
(41.) A reference to J.B.C. Smith, mentioned in letter 14.
(42.) A reference to the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 which settled the long-standing dispute over the boundary between Maine and New Brunswick. Under the terms of the agreement the United States received about 7,000 of 12,000 disputed square miles. The treaty also defined the U.S.-Canadian boundary between Lake Superior and the Lake of the Woods. "Webster-Ashburton Treaty," The New Grolier Encyclopedia (1993).
(43.) This is a reference to the Mechanics' and Laborers' Association of Lowell. See Dublin, Women at Work, 116-19.
(44.) James K. Polk was the Tennessee lawyer and Democratic politician who became President of the United States on an expansionist platform in 1845. "Polk, James Knox," The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia (1993).
(45.) A reference to her pregnancy.
(46.) War broke out between Mexico and the United States in 1846, after part of Texas, New Mexico, and California were annexed by the Americans. For details, see James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (New York 1989), 48-77.
(47.) The Sherbrooke Total Abstinence Society, established in 1845, followed Washingtonian principles, and extended its operations into the hinterland townships, including Brome. J.I. Little, "A Moral Engine of Such Incalculable Power: The Temperance Movement in the Eastern Townships, 1830-52," Journal of Eastern Townships Studies, 11(1997), 17-19.
(48.) The following letter refers to Welthia's anger with Spencer, suggesting that she was insulted by this question. Achillea millefolium, or yarrow, is an herb commonly thought of as an astringent to staunch mild bleeding, but Youngken's Textbook of Pharmacognosy (1921) lists it an an "aromatic bitter, diaphoretic and emmenagogue." An emmenagogue is a medicine that induces or hastens the menstrual flow, in other words, an abortifacient. Nelson Coon, Using Plants for Healing (New York 1963), 62; The Heritage Illustrated Dictionary of the English Language (New York 1973).
(49.) See Helena C. Wright, "Sarah G. Bagley: A Biographical Note," Labor History, 20(1979), 398-413.
(50.) Gilman's name is on this petition. Dublin, "A Personal Perspective," 403, n. 14.
(51.) This is a reference to the Voice of Industry, which Sarah Bagley briefly edited. See Zaroulis, "Daughters of Freemen," 119-23.
(52.) On the Labor Reform League, see Frances H. Early, "A Reappraisal of the New England Labor Reform Association of the 1840s: The Lowell Female Labor Reform Association and the New England Workingmen's Association," Histoire sociale/Social History, 13(1980), 49.
(53.) The only circus advertized in the Lowell Courier during July was Welch and Mann's Mammoth International Circus. It was to arrive on July 13 and remain four days. The ad emphasized the opening parade which would include "a most MAGNIFICENT BAND CHARIOT, (drawn by 12 cream colored horses) with 12 talented musicians, playing some of the most popular airs, marches, etc., selected from the most celebrated composers, followed by a grand retinue of carriages, waggons, teams, etc., numbering over 150 persons, horses, and etc."
(54.) The reference is to William Schouler. For information on his political career, see Zaroulis, "Daughters of Freemen," 120, 123, 125; and Arthur L. Eno, Jr, "The Civil War: Patriotism vs. King Cotton," in Eno, Cotton Was King, 130.
(55.) Lewis Cass, born in 1782, was an Ohio lawyer who rose to the rank of brigadier general during the War of 1812, and served as governor of Michigan Territory from 1813 to 1831, when Jackson named him Secretary of War. He was minister in France from 1836 to 1842, and U.S. senator from Michigan from 1845 to 1857. A strong supporter of territorial expansion, he narrowly lost the president election to the Whig, Zachary Taylor, in 1848. "Cass, Lewis," The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia (1993).
(56.) General Tom Thumb was the stage name of the midget, Charles Sherwood Stratton, born in Connecticut in 1838, and discovered by the showman, P.T. Barnum, in 1842. Growing to 40 inches at maturity, Tom Thumb toured extensively in the United States and abroad. "Tom Thumb (entertainer)," The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia (1993).
(57.) Referred to in letter 35 as the Manchester and Lawrence Railroad.
(58.) Potton Township touches the south-east corner of Brome Township.
(59.) It appears that this individual, who lived in Dracut (on the North side of the Merrimack) and is referred to several times as Old Fox (see letters 23, 24, and 27), was a Brome native who hired young men from that area. In 1844 the Lowell Directory (178) listed Horatio Fox of Dracut as owning a "furnishing store," but in 1845 (176) and 1847 (227) he is listed as a carpenter.
(60.) Jeremiah C. Pettes was a carpenter and joiner, as well as teacher, who opened a store with his brother Nathaniel in Brome Corner in 1848. Taylor, History of Brome vol. 2, 65.
(61.) Hydrophobia is rabies.
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|Title Annotation:||transcribed letters of Daniel Spencer Gilman|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2001|
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