This letter was written by Phebe Carlton (b. 1792), daughter of Deacon Edward Carlton (1762-1825) and Phebe Abbott (b. 1768) of Portland, Maine. It was addressed to her sister, Mary Carlton (b. 1807), the wife of Phinehas Holden Glover (1807-1884). Mary and Phinehas were married in 1833.
Most of the content in this letter centers around Phebe and Mary’s younger sister, Harriet D. Carlton (1809-1882), who married Edward Sidney Dyer (1804-1875) in 1830 in Calais, Washington Co., Maine. Harriet seems to be suffering from some mental illness — perhaps due to the loss of a child, a miscarriage, or some other tragedy.
[Addressed to Mrs. Mary Glover, Calais, Maine; Care of Phinehas Holden Glover]
July 10, 1838
I received your letter and the account of Harriet’s return. You have no idea how disappointed I was when Mrs. Shaw came without her. She said they tried every inducement in their power to have her come but could not prevail with her. I wish she had, for I think a change of scene will do her more good than anything else. Perhaps she may be prevailed upon to come yet. Sidney wrote us while in Boston that she was not willing to come to Portland, and he could not think of using force. He though it would be an injury to her, but if she returned to Calais and her health was not improved, that he should try to persuade her to come up by land, as he thought a journey might be beneficial to her. He said he proposed her journeying round the country some while in Boston, but all her anxiety was to get back. He appeared to write with feeling and as if he wished to do everything that could be for her advantage, hope for the best, and if possible induce her to visit Portland either by land or water. Either will be better than staying there at home in her feeble state.
Perhaps she is afraid of being called whimsical, but she need not even dare think of it. Her complaints are nervous and everyone knows how to make all recourse for such complaints, And Mrs. Shaw says she has the sympathy, good will, and wishes of everyone. I feel convinced that it will be best for her to leave home and her cares as much as possible. I can’t but think if she were here that she would be better. I will do all in my power for her, and return with her if I could be any advantage to her. I think I could do her a great deal more good here than there, in her present state. If I attempted to come to Calais now, I expect by the time I got there, I should be entirely sick with anxiety and fatigue, and then I would be a burden instead of a help. You know my health is not much to boast of. I don’t feel very smart this warm weather.
I feel very anxious about you all. You must take care of yourself and as for Elizabeth, she must have what help she needs. She must try to favor herself. If she gets sick, I don’t know what you will do. You mentioned Harriet’s baby was sick, the dear little thing must be a great care. I hope it is better. And how are all the other little ones? It is of no use for any of you to try to do as much – you have not strength for it. I think Harriet hurt herself last fall. She did a great deal too much for one in her situation and I said then that she would suffer for it. Her constitution would not hear it. I hope you will all take notice by it and not over do yourselves.
Mother has not returned yet. I thought it best not to write her about Harriet for I knew she could do no good by knowing it and it would only worry her for nothing. She intended to return as soon as she was able to bear so long a journey. She was gaining her health and I suppose thought it best not to hurry. I have not written to [our sister] Hannah — only that [our sister] Harriet’s health is not very good, for you know it would trouble her very much and you know she is rather nervous. Feel in hopes that Harriet will be better soon. Do write and let me know how she is as soon as you receive this. And if she will be induced to come, and what you think of her.
I want [you] to know I am glad your husband’s health is better. He must take care of himself. How is __il too? Give a great deal of love to him and to all. I must close [with the hope] of putting it into the office tonight. ?? Livermore is now at Conway for a visit. Her health is rather better than it was in the winter. Hannah was well three weeks since. Brother Edward’s health is not very good – never very well in summer. William’s hand, which he hurt badly in the winter, is much better so that he is able to work now.
H. Dow’s health is very much improved since Imm__ came. It seemed to put new life and spirits into her. She is an excellent woman and I feel that we are under great obligations for her care and attention to Harriet. She seems to feel very much interested for her. I hope every exertion will be made to induce Harriet to take a journey or a voyage. She must look at the bright side of things, and pluck up courage. I think and hope that her husband will come with her, but if he don’t, or cannot, feel sure there can be some way contrived – somebody that you could trust. If [our brother] Abiel would be suitable, but you will know how to manage as you understand all the circumstances, and must be the best judge. Does her Father Dyer know of her situation? They must feel interested for her. Perhaps they could contrive some way for her. I should think she would like to see them. I wish to think of something that may benefit her, but I don’t know what, and you will act as you think best and right for her benefit. Give a great deal of love to her. Tell her I hope to see her soon, and trust I shall. Remember me to all the rest. Kiss the dear children for me. Tell little Edmond I hope he is a god boy and does not make any trouble. Do write immediately. I want to know how you all do. How situated and everything. From your affectionate sister – Phebe
- Siblings mentioned in this letter include Hannah Emery Carlton, b. 1794; William Carlton, b. 1802; Abiel Abbott Carlton, b. 1813; Edward Carlton, b. 1799; and of course Harriet D. Carlton, b. 1809.