1824: Mary Cotton (Ware) Lincoln to Lucy Clark (Ware) Allen

This letter was written by Mary Cotton Ware (1792-1862), the wife of Jairus Lincoln (1794-1882), whom she married in 1818. Mary (Ware) Lincoln’s parents were Henry Ware, Sr. (1764-1845) and Mary Clark (1762-1805). At the time that Mary wrote this letter in March 1824, she and Jairus had two children, Mary Ware Lincoln (1820-1899), and Henry Ware Lincoln (1821-1887). She was probably pregnant with their third child, Elizabeth Waterhouse Lincoln (1824-1845).

Jairus Lincoln graduated from Harvard in 1814. He was the son of Hawkes Lincoln (1769-1829) and Mary Howe (1771-1828) of Boston.

Mary (Ware) Lincoln wrote this letter to her sister, Lucy Clark Ware (1791-1866), the wife of Rev. Joseph Allen (1790-1873). Rev. Allen was the pastor of the Church of Christ in Northborough for more than half a century.

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Addressed to Mrs. Lucy C. Allen, Care of the Rev. Joseph Allen, Northborough

Hingham [Massachusetts]
March 28, 1824

My Dear Sister,

It is so long since we have had any communications together that I begin to feel as if it was time for one of us to break the ice, & so you do not seem inclined, I will take it upon myself. I have been expecting to hear from you for a long time, & have been thinking the last week that I would write & ask if you have been waiting for me, thinking that you wrote last, or what has been the reason that we have not heard from you for so long a time. I do not feel much like writing tonight, for I have such a cold that I can hardly see or speak, & my tears run so fast that I can hardly see my paper before me. But Mr. D. Andrews is going to Worchester tomorrow & offered to take a letter, so I thought I would write a few lines if I could not any more, just to let you know how we are & beg you to write soon & tell us of your welfare &c. Mr. Andrews, I believe, will not go through your part of the town, or you could write by his return. He will probably leave this somewhere on the road where it will reach you safely.

I saw Susan yesterday and she begins to complain of your silence, & I believe I have not heard from you directly or indirectly since your last letter, which was nearly 3 months ago. Susan’s child grows finely & she is very well herself. I had a very pleasant visit from William & Mary when he was on last & they said they made you a very pleasant visit when he came with her in December. Henry was here too a fortnight ago & spent Sunday. He came Saturday afternoon and staid till Monday morning – more of a visit than he has made before for a long time. He made a good many visits & everybody was gratified to see him & delighted with his preaching, and for myself, I never was more interested in my life. He talked a god deal of Elizabeth & of his thoughts & feelings, & he spoke & felt exactly as I should expect him to.

Henry Ware, Sr.

Jairus was in Boston yesterday & saw all the folks, & Father happened to be there too, and all were well. Father is to preach the Derby Lecture this year, if he is well & I suppose will bring some of the family with him & perhaps all. They were to have come all hands last year if he had been well enough to preach, & we came very near being disappointed to the whole, but William took a wagon & brought the girls & Mary & Charles so that we were not quite so much in despair about it, as we should have been if none of them had come. I have been thinking how pleasant it would be to have you come then, & I know you would enjoy it, to see the same scene acted over, that we once took parts in. it would bring to mind your youthful days & yet it would make you feel old to think how many sets have gone through the same & I dare say many now, are the children of those we used to go to school with.

It is the Wednesday before election & if you intend to come down to election, I don’t see why you could not come the week before, & so be here then. However, I have some misgivings that you will not come down to election, & if so, you must let me know because if you do not some down, I do not think I shall go up as most of the folks will be here the week before, I should not care so much about going, And if I can leave home, I should rather go & make a visit before then, as it is uncertain how our family may be. If we have many boarders, they will probably come & be settled for the summer before that time, & I should not be able to leave home so conveniently. We have the same boarders that we had when I wrote you last, but expect to lose Mr. Pomroy next month. They have been very pleasant boarders to us, & we have really had a very pleasant winter. We have some expectation of having the same boarders that we had last summer, with some alterations, and additions. We don’t certainly know yet, but they are to decide soon & let us know.

Miss Haney is going to leave the Academy at Listure & they have got to choose another Preceptress & assistant.

I suppose you have heard of Miss Betsey Harter’s death. She was sick only a few days. She has left Miss Celia in a very _____ helpless state, but she bears it with a great deal of fortitude & composure.

My children have been quite sick once this winter – Henry with a turn of the Croup, Mary with a singular kind of nervous affliction which we feared at one time might prove to be St. Vitus’s dance. She was taken quite suddenly at first, complaining of her feet, seemed very much terrified, & trembled like a leaf, & hurled off her shoes & stockings & wanted me to sit down & hold her feet. She could not tell how they felt, but seemed to be in the greatest distress & agitation when those turns came on. They did not last many minutes. We could soon pacify her by taking off her attention to something else. We gave her medicine the next day & she had no turns so bad after, more or less, for about 3 weeks. Sometimes she would complain of her eyes in the same manner, sometimes of her stomach & head. The least trifle would throw her into a worry, & we were obliged to be very careful what we did or said to her, for fear of aggravating her. She lost her appetite entirely & her flesh of course. Was very restless nights, kept us awake a great deal & was continually twitching her feet & hands & turning from one side to the other. We thought it might be owing to worms & gave her a good deal of medicine & after awhile she began to get better & is now quite as well as ever. She has been to school for 2 days past, only as a visitor & is delighted with it. I think I shall send her constantly this summer as soon as it gets to be settled pleasant weather.

I carried Henry to meeting yesterday for the first time. He was perfectly good in the morning, but in the afternoon he began to feel more at home & grew so talkative that Jairus was obliged to bring him home.

I began this last evening, but it grew so unpleasant & stormy that I concluded Mr. Andrews would not go today & I might have time to write a longer letter. The storm is not over yet, but I will finish my letter & send it to him tonight in case it should clear away & he should go tomorrow. And if anything should happen that he should not go, I should put it into the mail, for I can’t bear to think of having the trouble of writing such a long letter for nothing. I have some thoughts of going up to Boston in the course of 2 or 3 weeks to carry the children & stay a week or two. I am afraid I shall not be able to go at all if I do not go before election. Then, if you should come down to election, & could not come here, I would contrive to come away again for a day or two for the sake of seeing you.

I wish it were possible for me to go to Northboro this spring, I have thought a great deal of it, but I do not think I shall be able to make it out, Jairus sold his horse last fall. If it were not for the expense, it would not do for both of us to leave our boarders, & Jairus would not upon any consideration let me go without him, as you know you proposed that Catherine & I should come up together. We have talked about it, but F___ could not hear to it at all. I should admire to go so, but I do not think we should do more than talk about it.

Do write soon & tell me whether you intend to come down & all about everything & believe me ever truly your affectionate sister, — Mary C. Lincoln

  • Information regarding Mary Cotton Ware’s father: Henry Ware (April 1, 1764 – July 12, 1845) was a preacher and theologian influential in the formation of Unitarianism and the American Unitarian Association in the United States. Born in Sherborn, Massachusetts, Ware was educated at Harvard College, earning his A.B. in 1785. He was from 1787 to 1805 the minister of the First Parish in Hingham, Massachusetts. In 1805 he was elected to the Hollis Chair at Harvard, precipitating a controversy between Unitarians and more conservative Calvinists. He took part in the formation of the Harvard Divinity School and the establishment of Unitarianism there in the following decades, publishing his debates with eminent Calvinists in the 1820s. His son, Henry Ware, Jr., followed his father as a Harvard Divinity professor and Unitarian theologian.
  • Sydenham’s chorea or chorea minor (historically referred to as Saint Vitus Dance) is a disease characterized by rapid, uncoordinated jerking movements affecting primarily the face, feet and hands. Sydenham’s chorea (SC) results from childhood infection with Group A beta-hemolytic Streptococci and is reported to occur in 20-30% of patients with acute rheumatic fever (ARF). The disease is usually latent, occurring up to 6 months after the acute infection, but may occasionally be the presenting symptom of rheumatic fever. Sydenham’s Chorea is more common in females than males and most patients are children, below 18 years of age. Adult onset of Sydenham’s Chorea is comparatively rare and most of the adult cases are associated with exacerbation of chorea following childhood Sydenham’s Chorea.

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