1849: Martha Banks to Eveline (Chapman) Kittredge

This letter was for sale on the internet in July 2011 and I transcribed it directly from e-bay.

Though not dated, it was probably written in April 1849 by Martha H. Banks (1785-1859), the mother of Eveline [Chapman] Kittredge, to whom it was sent. I have not yet identified Martha’s maiden name, nor have I confirmed the identity of her first husband who’s surname was Chapman and presumably died by 1820. In the 1820’s, Martha had re-married William Banks (1777-1848), given birth to a son — Alanson Wallace Banks (1827-1900) and, in 1849, found herself widowed again and living with her son in Swanzey, Cheshire County, New Hampshire. She probably died sometime in the 1850s. Her son, Wallace, appears to have married by the time of the (September) 1850 U. S. Census.

The recipient of the letter, the former Eveline Chapman, was born about 1803 and was married in the 1820s to Joshua Kittredge, a farmer residing in Ripley, Somerset County, Maine (1849). He was the son of Joshua Kittredge (1761-1834) and Beulah Baker (1768-1827) who lived in Nelson, Cheshire County, New Hampshire at the time of their deaths. By 1860, Eveline and Joshua would relocate to Foxcraft, Piscataquis County, Maine where they would continue to be enumerated in the U.S. Census records until at least 1880. Their daughter, Martha Celesta Kittredge (1827-1863) is mentioned in the letter along with her husband, Norman Stiles Jewett (1821-1897).

Stampless Envelope


Envelope addressed to: Mr. Joshua Kitridge. Ripley, Somerset County, Maine

Swansey [Swanzey, Cheshire, New Hampshire]
April [1849]

Well, Eveline, I have set down once more to write to you to let you know that I am still in the land of the living and hope these lines will find you enjoying health and as great a share of happiness as generally falls to the lot of mankind. It is a great while since I heard from you and there has been a great deal of sickness in this place and in all other places in this part of the country this last season. I herd that brother Daniel was sick last fall and they did not think that he would git well and [they] had buried to of his children. I rote to them but have received no answer. The dissentary went hard. It was is more the collery [cholera] as could be and not be the collary. I am now at home and there was seven deaths in this little village and twenty in one village at the west part of the town not mutch larger.

I thought then that I would write. Waited for you to write but have herd nothing from you. My health has been rather poor this winter but I am in hopes that I shall git well. I feel a great deal better then I did to months ago. I had the liver complaint so bad that it caused me to have the catarrh at the worst rate. I have been at home all winter but have been able to do my work. Wallace fetch my wood and water.

Stephen Jewett's Bitters, ca. 1849

I have not herd whether it was sickly with you or not. I have been taking Dr. Stephen Jewett’s bitters and I think they have done more good than any of our doctor medicen would have done. I want you should write and tell me all about the children and what they are doing but don’t let them go to California. Puffs we read of are from those that have got there and would be glad to git back if they would git money enough to fetch them home. I know one man that went from here, or rather from Boston, but he married one of our neighbors and brought her home to stay while he was gone and she received a letter from him last week. He has been sick all winter and his clothes and tools have been under water for six weeks. He has had the scurvy and the fever and ague and the bilious fever and said he should come home when his time was out. He went in company with others. It takes so mutch money to carry so many to the gold digins that it is very scarce and hard to be got.

We have had a long winter and the wether is not very warm yet. I should be glad to have you come and see me this fall if convenient. They say that there is not so mutch danger to come by water as by railrode. I feel rather lonesome for the most part of the time. I am alone. Wallace works at the box shop. He is at home at meal time and at bed time. I tell him that I want he should git married but he says he shant be hurried. But I think he will be in the fall if not before. He is going to finish the backroom and that is a sine for if he does not git married, we do not need it.

Business has been very brisk in this place this winter but they say that pails [buckets] are all down. We have had a great deal of rain this spring. The water is so high in the [Ashuelot] River that there has not a wheel turned in the west village for five weeks and it never rained faster than it did last night. It seemed to come down as though it run in streams. Wallace said the river was hier this morning then he ever saw it. There will [be] no wheels turn here to day. The wether has been very cold and everything is very backward. Grass begins to look green.

Give my love to [your daughter] Martha and [her husband] Norman [Jewett]. Tell them to write. Give my love to all of the children and write often for we may never see each other again in this world but I have great confidence that we shall meet in another. But I must draw to a close for I am tired so I must subscribe myself your ever affectionate mother till death.

Write for I like to hear from you often. Give my respects to Joshua. Tell him to write, Good by.

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