In this letter mailed from New Bedford, Massachusetts, Charles H. Macomber writes to his chum, John Howard Ingersoll, of Danville, Maine. It is likely that Charles and John attended the Lewiston Falls Academy in Auburn, Maine, sometime previous to this letter. Apparently, Charles Macomber is from the New Bedford, Massachusetts area but I have not been able to confirm his identity. My best guess is that he is the 37 year-old teacher (born 1823) who’s residence in 1860 was in Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts (later Westport, Mass.).
John Howard Ingersoll, on the other hand, is known to have been born 31 August 1828 in Penobscot, Maine — the son of Nathaniel Lowe Ingersoll (1790-1870) and Anna Giddings (1789-1837). In the 1850 census, John is enumerated at his father’s residence and he is shown as a “student.” In the 1860 census, John is enumerated as the head of his own household in Danville, Maine, and employed as a teacher. His wife is given as Hannah, five years his junior, and he has two girls. In the 1870 census, John is enumerated at the head of his household in Auburn, Maine, and employed as a clerk on the Railroad. He and Hannah were the parents of five children by that time.
September 10, 1848,
Friend Ingersoll: It is with a sort of diffidence that I attempt to pen an answer to your last favor, which by the way lay in the [post] office some time before I received it. You know that the business of a Yanky notion peddler does not let him home oftener than once in three weeks.
I am still a peddler. Ing – I was quite happy to hear from you once more. I thought you had entirely forgotten me, but some time since I received a copy of your budget which seemed quite like friendship. And by the way, I think that your paper must have been a rich treat to those who attended the Lyceum, if the one I received was a fair specimen. I am glad to hear of your prosperity and also of the success of the school at old Lewiston.
Friend John, as I look back upon the time spent at the falls, I feel as if my friends were gone forever from me and to be assured that any communication from the old friends is hailed with joy. I have a bad headache today, which you know completely unmans me for any thing. Therefore, you must not expect much this time. I have almost given up to gloomy affections. My business has almost worn the life out of me, and I long for the close of October which will transfer me from a peddler’s cart to a school room. We have very dry weather & the most sickness that I ever knew.
Friend Ingersoll, you cannot tell how much I pity you down east folks. I think the times must be getting very hard indeed, if they make all the paper into as small pages as the one you wrote on. But never mind, the paper was sufficient for the matter it contained. And much in little is true economy and therefore, I cannot complain.
But seriously, what has become of D. S. Clark? I have received one letter from him, which I answered in my bungling way, and if you see him you may say that I am sorry it was not worth his notice.
John, I cannot write much that is interesting to you, but this I will say – which you may be sorry to hear – I think of visiting Lewiston the first of November if I should prosper and be healthy.
Fruit is very abundant this year – especially wild grapes, of which I shall try to send you a box. Probably you have not forgotten the island in little river edy where the grapes grow. You recollect we went there one Sabbath morning to gather them. All this morning I went on the banks of the great horing river in the grand old town of Rochester [Massachusetts], and picked some nice ones. I wish you could have been with me, you would have enjoyed yourself finely.
My respect to Mr. & Mrs. Rowe, also to Mr. Boody, and the rest of the friends. It is too dark to write more.
Please write as soon as you get this, and inform me where you will be the last of the present month.
C. H. Macomber