1832: Rebecca Waite to Julia G. Eastman

This letter was written in 1832 by a woman whose signature, though partially obliterated, appears to be Rebecca Waite. She says little of her family that might help us to identify her except that her father was living in or near Augusta, Maine. There were several Waite families living in Maine at the time and two are listed as heads of household in Anson, Maine in 1830 — these were Robert Waite and Holland Waite. These men do not appear to be old enough to be the father of the author of this letter, however, so she may have been a sister of one or the other in temporary residence there. Holland Waite had a daughter named Rebecca who was born in 1827 — five years before this letter was written. Perhaps the author of this letter was her aunt and namesake.

Rebecca wrote this letter to her friend, Julia G. Eastman (1815-1887), the daughter of Samuel Eastman (1784-1864) and Jane Hitchcock (1786-1865) of Strong, Franklin County, Maine. In 1835, Julia married Phillip Morse Stubbs (1805-1876), a lawyer, and together they had at least four children between 1836 and 1845. Julia’s brother, Benjamin C. Eastman (1812-1856), was also an acquaintance of Rebecca’s and is mentioned in the letter. [Note: Some family records show Julia’s name with “A” as the middle initial; but I feel it should be “G.”]

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TRANSCRIPTION

Addressed to Miss Julia G. Eastman, Strong, Maine
Politeness of Mr. Cobb, Esq.

Anson [Maine]
Sunday eve, Sept. 8, 1832

Much Respected Julia,

I cheerfully dedicate a few moments to answer your kind & interesting letter dated August 19 by Mrs. Vorter. Since I left Strong, I have often thought of the pleasing acquaintance I formed in your pretty village, of the social hours we have passed, the pleasing walks, & all the pleasures with satisfaction, but those happy moments are gone. But the idea of seeing you again gives pleasure. If friends were never separated, they would not have the joy of meeting.

I was truly glad to see Mr. & Mrs. Vorter had a delightful visit from there. You may think I make universal enquiry after becoming acquainted with. Julia, do you intend to come to Anson this fall? How happy I should be to welcome your arrival here [and] think you would be well pleased with a visit at this beautiful season of the year. You would get acquainted with my Anson friends. You know the scenery of the country is never more pleasant than at the present time.

You ask how I enjoy myself this summer. I shall answer quite well, but I am obliged to apply myself closely to business. A little more leisure would be more agreeable but we cannot find every privilege in our profession & it is the duty of everyone to enjoy life as it passes to the best advantage. Dear Julia, I am far from being unhappy. I don’t believe in anyone making themselves wretched in this life unless it is their own choice.

The young society in Anson is not so interesting as when I first came here. Marriage, the fell destroyer of our _____ has made such destruction among my Anson friends. They are daily falling victims to the monster hyman. I have almost begun t think I shall be an old maid. What think you, Julia? But as yet I don’t intend to be too much frightened. I expect to ____ many an happy hour with my young friends. What a privilege when the business of the day is done to enjoy the society of our young associates. I am not to the necessity of calling out for company. I have frequent calls from the damsels.

Julia, have you walked any of the beautiful evenings the past summer? I have not had but two walks this season. I have often thought if we were near, we could enjoy the moonlight evenings by a retired ramble. What will excite more deep & interesting feeling than to gaze upon the moon & think at the same time perhaps our absent friends are looking at the lovely planet at the same time. If you come to Anson this fall, I hope you will come next moon if not before.

You must remind your brother Benjamin of his promise. I think he promised to come to Anson this summer or fall. It seems almost impossible that winter is making its near approach just as I find myself ready to enjoy the summer. We now can look around upon vegetation & behold the variety of shades and colors. How soon the trees of the forest will be stripped of their lovely green and clothed in the gloom of autumn. I think fall is a striking emblem of life. When the meridian of our life is past, how soon we begin to loose our gay & lively spirits. Our taste will change for amusement as much as our person and recent thought. Why should we look forward to old age with regret because we shall be deprived of the pleasures we now enjoy. We cannot tell what a day may bring forth. Today we mat be in possession of every blessing. Tomorrow where all we perhaps layed in the silent tomb. Our pleasures are like angels visits in this life — short and far between.

I intend to always keep up good spirits & enjoy time as it passes. Julia, I have often thought how pleasantly situated you have _______ your kind & indulgent parents [spared?]. You have the company of the most of your brothers & sisters, an extensive circle of connections & friends. How good Providence has been, has given you blessings with a bountiful society. I know you must often raise your grateful feelings to the Author of all good.

P. S. Sunday eve, September 23

I delayed sending this letter for a good chance. Shall send it to Norridgewock for Mr. S…….s. This day have heard two good sermons by the Rev. Mr. Fuller — the same man that preached in Strong last year. He is well liked here. I am particularly interested with his sermons. I consider the privilege of constantly attending meeting one of the greatest blessing we can be in possession of. There the mind can be improved while it serves to keep up good morals. In short, it is almost absolutely necessary to keep up respectable society.

Tomorrow is muster, at the early hour of three or four. We shall probably be awoke by the constant firing of guns & _____ saluted by the sound of martial music. The military spirit will make its appearance with those who feel interested for the laws of their country. I shall be glad when the bustle of the day over. You may think I am quite a politician but far from that.

Have the goodness to tell Cousin Porter their friends are well. I heard from my friends at Augusta, Father’s health was rapidly improving. I am expecting a letter from them. Hope I shall not be disappointed. Please to remember my best respects to all the family.

If anything should prevent you from coming to Anson, do write soon. I believe Rebecca is always glad to hear from her friend Julia. My love to your family, your Grandfather & Mother H. Tell your Brother Benjamin I am very much [grateful] for his politeness. Hope when you write, he will write a few lines too. I shall want to hear from all the young people. Accept of this unconnected scroll with my best wishes for your happiness & prosperity. From your affectionate friend truly, — Rebecca Waite

FOOTNOTES

  • Philip Morse, son of Wilham Stubbs, was born in Fayette, Maine, 1804, died August 26, 1876. His father died when he was seven years old, and he went to school winters and helped on the farm summers. He attended the Livermore and Farmington Academy and then taught school. He studied law with Judge Washburn, of Livermore, and Judge Preston, of Norridgewock, and was admitted to the bar in 1831. In 1832 he settled in Strong, Maine, and began the practice of his profession in the same building in which he retained his office the remainder of his life. He was a Whig in politics, later a Republican, and was judge of probate for Franklin county for fourteen years. He was one of the builders of the Leeds & Farmington railroad, and was also connected with the Androscoggin Railroad Company. He also was largely interested in real estate. He was a charter member of the Blue Mountain Lodge of Free Masons at Phillips, Maine, and was its second master. He married, 1835, Julia A. Eastman, born in Strong, April 2, 1815, died November 3, 1887.

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