This letter was written by Hannah Harriman Smith (1813-18xx), to her parents, Timothy Smith (1773-1845) and Betsey Clark, of Hampstead, Rockingham County, New Hampshire. In the letter, Hannah mentions her sister Betsey Smith (b. 1805) and her brother, Rev. Joseph Smith (b. 1808) with whom she resided while teaching a private school for young men and women in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
Addressed to Mrs. Timothy Smith, Hampstead, New Hampshire
Woonsocket [Rhode Island]
July 30, 1838
My very dear Mother,
I presume you have long been looking for a letter, and perhaps have accused me of ingratitude, but let me assure you I have not forgotten my duty or obligation to my parents. I have every week resolved to write but this, that, and the other, has been constantly calling for my attention, and led me to defer writing one day after another until I am surprised to find I have been absent five weeks.
I suppose you would like to hear how I enjoyed the journey I so much dreaded. I am happy to say well. My ride to Lowell was very pleasant and my visit extremely so. All my friends were glad to see me though I had only time to look at them and it seemed so natural to go meeting – and so many of the church remembered me that I enjoyed it much.
Monday morn I took the stage for Boston expecting to be in season for the Woonsocket Coach, but on my arrival found it had been gone more than an hour. I was sadly disappointed but it could not be helped, so I went up to cousin Fitz’s where I was made welcome till Wednesday.
The day was very warm and the roads rough and sandy, which made my journey very tiresome. I reached Woonsocket about six in the evening [and] found Brother anxiously waiting my arrival. He had been expecting me several days and seemed very glad to see me. His health is not perfect though he is able to preach and do many things besides. I think if he had less labour and less trouble, he would have better health. After recovering from the fatigue of the journey, I thought my health improved. The cough had left me and I thought I was quite smart, but this uncommon warm weather has nearly protracted me several times. But necessity compels me onward and when the week comes round, I think I have done wonders. I think of you every day and fear you will not be able to get through with your work. Do have all the help you can get. I am sure I am willing to make every sacrifice in my power to pay anyone who will assist you.
I have a very pleasant school – 27 scholars and am expecting more. They are gentlemen & ladies from ten to twenty-five years of age. Brother assists me two hours in the day. We have several young men large enough for gallants, and you would be amused to see how dignified I can be in school. None of them would dare offer the least insult.
I have visited a great deal, but have not been to Providence. Some of our friends, however, have visited us. You will think me smart when I tell you what I have done and what I intend to do. Well, I have nearly completed the sewing I brought, and some beside, have changed my boarding place once and have done all the washing and ironing for both of us. And now we are making arrangements to go to keeping house. We have a tenement engaged which will be ready the middle of August and then I shall take the responsibility of my school and managing the house at home.
You may think this a wild concern, but it seems to me brother will not live out half his days if he cannot have some place where he can be comfortable, and I am willing to labour hard if I can make him so. Mrs. Brown’s example has stimulated me to make the trial. I tried to board with brother, but found I was with a “brawling woman in a wide house” and I could not endure it. And so we both moved for the present with an excellent family where I think brother will be more happy than he has been. There is still a gradual increase to his church. 3 have been baptized since I came.
Give my best love to sister Betsy. Say I hope her little one is pleasant. I think of them every day and also my love to everyone who enquires for me. I never loved home better or felt the loss of it more, and I sometimes spend my leisure moments in thinking over the curious scenes, which occurred last spring.
Now, my dear parents, will you not come and see us when we are settled in our own house. You cannot tell now happy we should be to see you.
I would write more but if I do, I shall be too late for the mail and so you must make this do for the present. Your daughter, — Hannah
Joseph sends love to all out friends [and] would write if he had time.