written by Charlotte Chapin Crowninshield, b.1868 d.1967
with notes from her daughter Sarah Eden Browne and son-in-law Carey Judson
In the spring of 1879, just
before I became eleven years old, our house, the lovely old Colonial parsonage
of the West Dedham Unitarian church, was burned to the ground. My grandfather
Crowninshield's house in Marblehead burned also, so that
possessions which would have given me a sense of roots and background were missing.
Then, too, some second marriages among my father's forebears added to the sense
of confusion about my family history.
However, the closeness of
our immediate family and the strong enduring influence of a wonderful father
helped to give us the fortitude to meet the sorrow and hardship which lay
My Crowninshield forebear
was Johannes Kaspar von Richter von Kronensheldt, who came to this country about 1660 from Leipzig, bringing with him his
medical certificates. You can look this up at the Essex Institute in
"Early Physicians." Story had it that he had accidentally killed a
person in Germany during some kind of a fray.
He first came to Boston, but later settled near the
Browne-Bartholemew Ponds in what is now Peabody.
of Beverly said thatthe name was Scandinavian, probably Danish; that there, if a person had
made his mark, he was given an insignia like a crown in a shield. Be that as it
Clifford (b. about 1705) -
his son was
William - his son was
Edward - his son was
John Brown Crowninshield (my
grandfather) b. 1815
Edward Crowninshield (my
father) b. 1840
father's mother was descended from the Goulds of
Topsfield who were large landholders there. A Lucy Gould married a Goldsmith,
from New Hampshire probably. Her son was Nathaniel Goldsmith, the
father of my grandmother, Ann Dove Goldsmith. Grandmother used to say that Dove
was originally Douve from the Isle of Jersey. I don't
know much about these people. A good many seafaring people came from Jersey. Grandmother had a sister
Lucy Gould Goldsmith and a brother named Daniel. They could be traced through
I never talked with
Grandmother about these things. A child never realizes their importance. Travel
was difficult so we did not visit her in Marblehead very much. Her house burned
down with everything in it. Grandfather, John Brown Crowninshield, was a great
invalid. He must have had serious heart trouble. His mother, Sarah Brown, had
first married Nathaniel Boden and had had one
daughter, Hannah, an older half-sister of my grandfather. She then married in
1817 Edward Crowninshield. She died in the fifties so I never knew her, but the
family said she was an unusual person. Her mother had been an Oliver,
well-to-do banking people interested in civic things. Grandfather's name was
John Oliver Brown Crowninshield.
own mother told me that when my father was a boy he spent a great deal of his
time with his grandparents. I cannot tell you how much he was with them but I
do know that he and his grandmother were very close. She used to call him
grandfather belonged to a very mixed family. His father, my great-grandfather
Edward Crowninshie1d, had married before and had children by that marriage, one
of whomwas "old Uncle
Edward." His second wife, as I have said, was a widow, Sarah (Brown) Boden, who had a daughter by her first marriage, so my
grandfather had a half-sister on one side, who was no relation to the
half-sisters and brothers on theother
side. You will be quite mixed up without some sort of chart, and, as I said, I
do not know much about the older generations except from records.
I have already told
you that Grandfather was an invalid. I never knew him when he wasn't. Grandmother
occasionally came to see us when we lived in Dedham, but Grandfather never.
Grandmother was a very courageous woman. Pennies were terribly scarce. My
father did what he could to help them. Fortunately they owned their house in Marblehead. My father built a little
shop with his own hands at the back of their garden, and three old men, my
grandfather one of them, all invalids, when they felt able, went there to make
little children's shoes. This touched my heart very much and is, I suppose, an
early example of modern therapeutic treatment. Grandmother told me that when my
father was only eighteen, he negotiated the sale of an island off Marblehead for the family. She told
this with pride.
seldom went to Marblehead so I did not know my relatives
there. (We had gone in thespring
of 1872 to the Second Parish in Dedham - West Dedham it then was, Westwood
now.) But I do remember Grandmother there, reading her "Christian
Register." I remember when I was a very little girl making for her a
headband of velvet trimmed with lace. I remember that she cared about it. I
remember a table in her house which interested me greatly because it had a lion's
head drawer-pull with a ring in the lion's nose. I remember her best Chelsea china and her teaspoons,
thin and delicate, with an embossed basket of flowers at the end of their
My father had a brother who
was also an invalid and who died when he was a young married man. There were no
children. He was a sweet person. When we went to Salem, helet me use his Marblehead library card. There was no
library in Salem then. There was also a
retarded sister whom we all loved, mentally about ten years old. And there was
another sister whom we did not like at all.
my father's boyhood there were three boys growing up in Marblehead -- close friends -- who had
ability and vision. My father and John White Chadwick hoped to become Unitarian
ministers, and the third, James Parker, wished to he a teacher. Later, at my
father's suggestion, James Parker came to Dedham to be headmaster of the
father went to the BridgewaterNormal School, probably from 1860-1864. He
had a kidney ailment which kept him from active service during the Civil War. He
taught in Chicopee for three years or so. When I was born in 1868 he
was studying at the HarvardDivinitySchool. After graduating in 1870,
he went to Exeter, N. H. to supply the
Unitarian church there for one year. In February, 1872, he became minister of
Dedham parish, and in June, 1879, we moved to Belfast, Maine, where my father was
minister until he died in February, 1883. He had married in 1860 so he had the
responsibility of a young family through those difficult war and post-war
years. Grandmother told me that he worked summers and vacations to help his
parents and to further his education. Money was always scarce. I suppose it was
while he was at the DivinitySchool that he became a close
friend of Dr. Gannett. Dr. Gannett, like others, had a hard time getting a
parish because of his Darwinian beliefs, but later went to St. Paul, Minnesota.
father was a very great companion to his family, full of fun and ringing
laughter. Of course, most of my vivid memories begin in West Dedham, where I lived until I was
eleven years old in 1879. We lived near the church in a lovely old square housewith a central chimney. The house was framed by great elm trees, and a
white rail fence ran along its front. The house had an ell with three arches,
two with doors and one open for a carriage shed. A barn, two or three hundred
feet away, faced the left side of our house. When its great doors were open one
could see from our dining-room windows a framed picture of meadows and woods
beyond. The second floor of the ell was an ancient dance hall. “Nahattan Hall” In faded gold letters was spelled out on its
far end wall. Three Palladian windows graced each long side. At the front end
was a little balcony where abandoned music stands still stood. This was a place
for a child's dreams and for hanging the family's wash during the winter cold.
In the old days it must have been lovely.
room in the house was panelled and there was lovely
carving around the cornices. The house was the parsonage when we were there and
had been for many years. Mr. Gifford had been the minister before my father,
and in the early years a Mr. White, who was the grandfather of Mrs. Benjamin
Silsbeeof Salem, an old lady when I was
young. She used to visit her grandfather there when she was a child. Mr. White
used to take Harvard students to “rusticate.” I remember county church
conferences with collations in the barn, but usually it was full of bay from
the fields. I remember the grain being threshed an the
floor. Off across the dipping fields and woods to the east was Great Blue Hill
- our view.
we were little my father used to tell us stories - stories of local history,
of how people used to live, about Indian raids and other adventures. He would
stop at the most exciting places, creating fun and protest, saying, “That's
enough for tonight.” On Christmas morning we would hear a noise in the attic. We
could look up the chimney beside the old oven and could bear sleigh bells
ringing. I remember the first year he gave us “St. Nicholas” for Christmas. We
heard a strange voice and then saw from behind a curtain the magazine with head
and arms and legs -- St. Nick coming to live with us. He was a born educator,
delighting in children's minds. In those days toys were few. Father punched out
various constellations on cardboard which could be fitted into a box like a
sliding cover. A lighted candle showed us what to look for in the sky.
Gannett, Lewis's father, used to come to stay with us frequently, one time for
several weeks. At that time he was writing the life of his father. I remember
he sent a croquet set to Edith. The address an the box
was a drawing of a crown in a shield with a capital E and a capital D above the
crown, and the destination, West Dedham, Massachusetts.
One night we had walked down
to the Post Office with my father and Dr. Gannett. Still in the woods, about a half
mile from home, Edith and I were holding on to their coats, fearful of the
dark, when suddenly the two men slipped out of their coats and disappeared.
Soon, of course, we discovered them walking quietly behind us.
Dr. Gannett took us to Boston, probably
to a circus, and then to have our photographs taken as a surprise. I remember those pictures
well. Both Edith and I had our hair cut short. At supper table that night he
said, “There's something you haven't told -- Oh, yes, you promised
not to.” He did this several times but we manfully held out and did not tell. When
the pictures came, they were a complete surprise.
used to go to the district school in West Dedham. I remember so well that a
boy who belonged to a German family named Katzenmeier
-- though why that name should come to me after all these years is a mystery --
cut his finger very badly. He went out to the woodshed and wound his finger all
around with cobwebs. It stopped the bleeding, too. And I remember a boy named
Henry Thompson, that he came a long
distance to school and was not a very good speller. He would rise when called
upon and gaze out of the window at the fields as if he would see out there how
to spell the word.
talk more about Dedham than Belfast because I was there at an
impressionable age. Life at Dedham was very happy. As I look
back I realize that we were emerging from an agricultural state. This farming
population was interesting. For instance, Mr. Allen's home made an impression
upon me -- not consciously at the time -- because I remember seeing
Shakespeare, George Eliot, etc., on the bookshelves. I suppose I loved hearing
Mr. Allen's violin. I am interested that as a child of ten I remember these
things. Another farmer, a Mr. Sumner and a relative of Charles Sumner, owned a
large strawberry farm. He had two daughters. The older, Abby,
had gone to BostonUniversity, one of the first
institutions of higher learning to take women. She then had gone to college in Cambridge, England. She taught the district
school and I could hear her tell the upper classes about England. I remember picking up an
arrowhead of white quartz, while walking behind Mr. Sumner's plough. It thrilled
me to think that Indians had been on that very spot.
Mr. Sumner gave my parents a
cup and saucer which had belonged to old Dr. Putnam who had been minister inWest Roxbury. That was the parish which
later could not decide which candidate to call to its vacant pulpit, Mr. James DeNormandie or my father. It was voted to have them come
back for several Sundays each. Aunt Lydia Gardiner told me this when I became
engaged to your father. She was on the Standing Committee at the time, I think.
It was the letter asking my father to do so which was received the day after
stands out strongly in my mind. It was a centennial year and I was grieved not
to be able to go to Philadelphia with my father, mother and
Edith. They and Dr. Gannett brought me gifts, one a little Scotch doll. This
makes me think again of my grandmother. She it was who told me about the great colosseum which stood in the vicinity of Park Square. It was built after the
Civil War as a jubilee building and it was there, Grandmother said, that many
bands and choruses assembled to give concerts of martial and peace music under
Gilmore and other famous leaders. In the same vicinity was the Providence
Station facing Park Square. One could see it from Boylston Street.
don't remember the days of the Great Fire In 1872, but I remember people
talking about it. My father brought back a china head of a doll which had gone
through the fire. This doll had a body which did not belong to it. Its lead was
stained with fire marks and I loved it more than any doll because it had gone
through so much. I was given a doll carriage. I remember little Mary running
off into the orchard, spilling the doll from the carriage and chipping its
neck. She was three and a half years younger than I. Little Ann died before I
was born. Margaret came years later in '82 only six months before my
1863 -- d. 1865
Charlotteb. May 1868
We moved to Belfast in 1879 when I was eleven
years old. I have told you many times about the lovely West Dedham house burning to the ground
just at the time that we had all our things packed and ready to move. I was
spending the night at Hattie Fisher's house, (later Lady Fisher-Smith whom you
met several years ago) and Edith was away at school, but Father and Mother and
the younger children were there. The fire started In
the ell. No one knows what caused it. The beautiful old house and all our
possessions were completely destroyed. This is one reason why there seemed to
be such a complete break between our former life in Dedham and our life in Belfast. In Belfast we had to start afresh, and
for a minister's family that was very hard, especially in those days. My father
lost all his sermons and his books. My mother lost a beautiful old Spanish comb and shawl and fans. I lost my
most treasured possession, a small thin white tea set decorated with a red band
with smaller black and gold bands near its edges. It was Chinese and had been
given to me by a Unitarian minister named Mr. Edows. I
thought that it was very beautiful. I also lost the doll given me by Dr.
Gannett. Down through the years, and even today I remember certain possessions
so clearly that I have found myself wondering where I had mislaid them.
life in Belfast was interesting. My father felt that every child
should have a hobby, so I fostered my mineral collection. By the time I was
twelve I had collected a lot of minerals. A Mr. Alden was interested in silver
mines in Colorado. He brought back to me some little specimens of
silver and copper and other ores. Father said that as soon as I had five
hundred specimens he would have a cabinet made for them. Governor Crosby, a
friend, had a remarkable collection and when he heard I was interested in
minerals, he gave me some. Father died and I never reached the five hundred goal. I was nearly fifteen then.
must have been an independent little girl because as early as the autumn of
1880 I used to go to Castine alone to visit the
Locks, the Unitarian minister's family there. Mr. Lock married the sister of
Ruth Babson Kirkland's mother. He had been a prisoner
in Libby Prison and never had gotten over the effects of that terrible
experience. He was something of an invalid. The Witherleys
were his parishioners. Mrs. Witherleywas
the first person I ever saw who wore bloomers. The Witherleys
used to go into the wilderness for a month each year. Bloomers were her woods
costume. Of course, bloomers were used long before that. Miss Mary Weld told me
that Reverend Theodore Weld had married a Grimke
sister, one of the Bloomer Girls who had astonished Milton and Boston with bloomers and ideas.
were some interesting people in Belfast. I spoke of Governor Crosby
who gave me some minerals from his collection. Near us was the lovely estate of
Mr. James P. White. Mother never
lacked flowers which were brought to her from his garden. His colored coachman,
Alexander Jackson, was devoted to our black Rebecca Peters (we had so many Rebeccas In our house we called her "Mary"),
courting her in our kitchen. They were fine people and were my friends. When they
married I used to go to see them at their house and frequently would stay to
supper with them.
(The next few paragraphs are taken from letters Mother wrote Betsy,
Carey and S.E.C. in 1957.)
Betsy: "I wrote in Mother's letter this morning that our house
in Belfast was the fourth on Church Street, counting the big white house
in the angle as the first. Next to the large house was a white house in which
lived the editor of the Republican Journal,whose name was Simpson. Once when he was ill for some time, I used to
read the papers to him. I knew him well. He was one of our parishioners. He
would talk to me about what we were reading and this made it interesting for
me. My father told me that if Mr. Simpson offered me money for reading to him
to refuse it. That was natural because a minister and his family expect to be
of service. But Mr. Simpson would not have it so and paid me two dollars a week
-- really high pay for those days and to one so young. My father, well pleased
that I had done a good job, matched the sum. I marched to the bank where
another parishioner put it on a savings account, making out the book to me. I
was nearly twelve and a half.
the next house lived an uncle of Mr. Simpson. He was an excitable Democrat. He
would not subscribe to the Journal but took the Progressive Age. Mr. Colburn --
that was his name – was campaigning and arguing for Hancock. Of course my editor
and I were for Garfield; so was my father. We did
not seem to say the things against Hancock which Mr. Colburn seemed to find
necessary to say about Garfield. Garfield won. That made our side
right all along, of course. But soon poor Garfield was shot and that seemed to
make Mr. Colburn come out on top. Well, as a thirteen-year-old drops the
inexplicable, she turns to other things, but she never will forget the campaign
of Garfield and Hancock -- the torch-light processions, the Republican editor,
and the Democratic uncle.
To Carey J. C. she wrote: “There
were two busy shipyards owned by two brothers, Cottrell by name. There were two
other brothers who carried on coastwise trade and who owned schooners built in
the Cottrell yards. It was on one of these that I was launched - The Charlotte
Thorndike. My playmate was Charlotte Thorndike Sibley, the daughter of the
owner. I was Invited to be on the schooner when she
was launched and to take its first trip up the river to Bangor, and to stay there while
she was loaded with ice to be taken to Jacksonville, Florida. We were dropped off at Belfast on the way back from Bangor. She brought hay and grain
back from Jacksonville. That must have been seventy-seven years
father died on February sixth, 1883. We had had a lovely
Christmas. Right after that he came down with what was called typhoid fever. It
was a terrible time, sad to remember. My father died on Tuesday. On Wednesday
and Thursday came a severe blizzard. The snow drifted up to the middle sash of
the kitchen window. No one could get through. His funeral was on Friday. On
Tuesday, the day he died, I remember going to send telegrams. My feet felt like
rubber and I could not manage them very well.
had private services at the house for just ourselves. Edith played the piano
and I sang, “Still, still with Thee, when purple morning breaketh.”
Then he was carried to the church for the service for the parish. My very dear father.
immediately moved to Salem because the schools were
excellent there. Rebecca was about eight years old and Margaret only six months.
We moved in June. In the fall I went off to Greenfield to the ProspectHillSchool, sent on a scholarship
because it was chiefly a Unitarian school. Beatrice Herford,
the daughter of Brooke Herford, minister of the Arlington Street church, and Alice Barbour,
daughter of another Unitarian minister, were students there. Dr. Moors was very
good to us three girls. He had known my father. He occasionally took me on his
trips to funerals and marriages through the lovely Connecticut River countryside, as my father
used to take me in Maine.
asked about the Marblehead relatives. It was not that
we did not like them; we had not known them. Marblehead was inaccessible. There
were no street cars until 1885 or 1886. Only a few of our numerous relatives
there had interest in us. Of course we had our own way to make and we shunned
any role of liability to them.
had a brother whom I liked but avoided because he swore on occasions. This was
foolish on my part, but I was young and sensitive. Finally one day he swore in
front of one of my friends. I complained to Mother and after that shunned him.
His swearing was harmless, never vicious. I wish that I had understood. He had
been a soldier in the Civil War and had been badly wounded in the leg. His
father went south in time to prevent an amputation by the argument that a man
with two legs could serve his country better than a man with only one. The leg
was saved but Uncle Stephen always walked with a cane. I never knew the time
when he was notTown Clerk. I remember large
garden of flowers, and below it were terraces of grapevines and fruit trees. His
father, the Spanish emigre, had laid out the garden. This
uncle was named Stephen Chapman Felton.
his old gambrel roof house hung portraits of my grandfather, the Spaniard, and
of my grandmother. The Spaniard was very handsome. He had come to Boston from Manila with a Captain Hooper of Boston. His name was Juan Alva,
but he took the name of John Alvin Felton because a friend of the family had
that surname, which he liked. He married a young Marblehead widow, Elizabeth Chapman
Grant. I do not know why he changed his name. He probably had to leave Spain. Mother said that he used
to carry messages in his mouth in order to swallow them if captured. He never
would tell of his background except to speak of an aunt who had been kind to
him and whom he called “Madame Elizabeth.” I do not know how safe he had been in
Manila. Mr. de lasCasas' father also came by way of Manila, married a Marblehead woman and never would tell about
his background, either. We talked of this several times. There were struggles
going on between Catholics and Protestants (Grandfather was a Protestant) and
there were the upheavals of Napoleonic times. Mr. de lasCasas said that there was no opportunity for young
people in Spain. Anyway, at that time there
was a great exodus much like the present exodus of refugees from Hungary and East Germany. If these young people were
revolutionists working for liberation, there would have been a price set upon
their heads. I have often thought that I might have found out more if I had
been aware of its interest. He was born probably about 1800 and I think was
still in his teens when he came to this country. I do not really know. (Revolt
of Spanish liberals in 1820 was crushed by 1823. Many were executed. Others
fled. - C.J.C.)
died before I was born. My mother said that he was always quite moved when he
spoke of his childhood. He had lived with Madame Elizabeth, but she had died or
he had had to leave her. My father said that he was a fine singer and a lovable
person. He always called my mother, "Dono,"
and Edith, "Donny." That is
why you children called your grandmother, "Dono."
mother loved pretty clothes. I remember how pleased and excited she was when my
father gave her a beautiful silk dress. This was quite an event in our family
since silk was costly. It was easy for her to be on the extravagant side, and
sometimes she was. I remember a gay little bonnet which we all loved. She had a
mantilla which came to her from her father. She would occasionally take this and
an embroidered fan out of their boxes for us to see. These were burned in the Dedham fire. She also had some
gilt hair ornaments which she and we admired. I think she did as well as many
minister's wives. She put on operettas and managed singing groups. I remember a
double quadrille particularly, in which I was in costume. She would enter in to
all these things. When the parish room of the Belfast church was dedicated, she
made an Indian costume for me and I recited Hiawatha's wooing. She had an unusual
voice and sang very well. In the early days at Putnamville,before pernicious
anemia developed, she used to sing old songs with Mr. Watts, much to everyone's
delight. She had a large family to care for, so I don't suppose there were many
minutes which were free. She was a wonderful cook. And always there was so
little to do with. She had married when she was eighteen.
the grocer delivered things at our house, after first making the rounds for the
orders, just as you remember at Putnamville. In fact
the difference in our mode of living between my childhood and yours was slight
compared to the difference between the early nineteen hundreds and the present. We ordered sugar
and flour by
the barrel, and in winter a side of beef hung in the cellar.
I go on, I wish to say that my grandfather was only one of several Spaniards
who finally made their way to Salem or Marblehead.They were all literate men, gifted in different ways, but usually
musically. Among them were the ancestors of Manuel Fenollosa;
of Margaret, Jose, Dorothy and Barbara Harris, whose mother was Mary Magarti; of Machado Warren and Machado Osborn of yours and Harrie's generation; and of the large gifted Machado family
of my generation. Mr. Machado was a Cuban. The others came by way of Manila, I think. In Salem I remember the Machados as a musically gifted family, who attracted young
people to their house for group singing.
Emilio was captain in Robert Gould Show's famous 54th colored regiment and
wrote its history: The Brave Black Regiment. Mr. de lasCasas you remember as a charming summer neighbor and
a member of the then distinguished Metropolitan District Commission. His father
married a Marblehead woman. The William Fenollosas
were my special friends in Salem, and very musical. William's
brother, Ernest, was the authority on Japanese and Chinese art. What a marvellous contribution these people made to our New England community!
Dono's mother was the daughter of
Stephen Chapman whose background was Ipswich, England, and Ipswich in this country. An aunt or
cousin married Samuel Rhodes who wrote the history of Marblehead. A pleasant memory of mine,
as a six or seven-year-old girl, was that of spending the night with Aunt Ruth Lane, Dono's
aunt. I slept in her bed with her -- a bed which came down from the wall. She
was a pretty woman with flaxen hair and brown eyes. There had been no room for
me in Uncle Stephen Felton's house -----Only a few hours out of a lifetime yet
a real and pleasant memory. I don't remember anything more.
I go on to our life in Salem I want to tell about a
terrible trauma which I experienced in Belfast. Eleven to fourteen is a
sensitive age and children may suffer during these years without their parents
twelve years old. I had never heard of the murder of Captain White in 1829 in Salem or of his Crowninshield
murderers. I was asked to read in school before my class Daniel Webster's
speech to the jury. My teacher was a Baptist, later becoming a Baptist
minister. He probably resented my being the daughter of the Unitarian minister,
as was not unusual in those days of theological controversy. I was overwhelmed
with fears. I was too afraid to ask my father about it, thinking perhaps these Crowninshields had been close relatives. I could not bear
to hurt him. What a weight I carried on my mind and spirit! My father never know. It was not until we moved to Salem after his death and when I
was about sixteen that my fears were ended. I used to read to a dear elderly
blind man, Mr. James Waters. His brother bore the middle name of
Crowninshield.I learned from him that he
and we were descended from Clifford Crowninshield and that the wayward boys
were descended from Richard. Then, of course, I began to ask questions for
you do not remember the circumstances of the murder. A Captain White lived in
what is now the Pingree House on Essex Street. The facts seem to be that
a young nephew by the name of Knapp hired two wayward boys named Crowninshield,
from a well-to-do family in Danvers, to murder Captain White. Young
Knapp's aunt, a Mrs. Bickford, was Captain White's housekeeper and also a
relative. Suspicion fell on her as an accomplice because someone in the house
had left unlocked windows which were usually locked.
to say, this murder racked the Salem community. “Uncle Doctor,”
Dr. Benjamin Cox, your grandmother's older brother, had a close friend who was
young Knapp's s cousin. His name was also Knapp. Uncle Doctor was studying
medicine at Harvard at the time. He came to Salem immediately and with his
friend was involved in trying to learn what had really happened. They were
aghast to learn that Knapp's relatives were involved. Daniel Webster was
engaged to prosecute the cast. It became a famous trial.
September 1959 (In answer to some questions from Elizabeth.)
Vincent Browne was your great-grandfather's oldest brother. There were also
George, grandfather of Belmore Browne, and Charles,
the father of lovely Cousin Rebecca Greene, and John White Browne, friend and
classmate of Charles Sumner and father of Laura. Only your great-grandfather
and Belmore's s grandfather left any descendants. Uncle
Vincent, known as Uncle Vince, was responsible for proposing to a group of
influential men in Salem a plan for establishing a
bank for small savings. He considered it very important for people of small inome and for children to save what pennies they could. This
was the origin of the Salem Five Cents Savings Bank
which shortly after funding had deposits of $28,000.
I can remember when we were
in Salem we took the Boston Post, then a fine paper with
international news. It used to report the Gladstone regime with news from various
parts of the British Empire. Mother was interested in foreign news, and we all
used to talk about it. Also we had great interest in domestic politics. Grover Cleveland became president, and I
remember how avidly we read the news. This was 1884-85.
I went to Greenfield Edith went to a fine school in West Bridgewater, the Howard Seminary, run
by the McGill sisters, five daughters of President McGill of Swarthmore. Edith
was there for two years. It was at the time of the Turkish wars. I remember
that she wrote an excellent paper on this subject. Miss McGill, principal and
oldest sister, married Andrew D. White as his second wife and was in Russia
with him when he was Ambassador.
Later, I went to this same
school for nearly two years. Edith was then teaching in the grammar school at West Bridgewater. When she was called to Salem to teach, I took examinations
and stepped into her place. I did not stay long because in the spring I was
invited to go south by Mrs. Emmerton, who paid all my
expenses. This was an opportunity not to be missed.
Mrs. Emmerton, her daughter, Kate, and I were to leave on the
day of the great blizzard of March, 1888. We were delayed for two days. I have
never seen somuch snow. Tunnels were
mountainous snowdrifts for people to pass through.But we finally left on Wednesday, instead of Sunday,
on the first train which ran, and on the following Sunday we were in Nashville amid bees and flowers.
visited the Hinds family. Professor Hinds taught at CumberlandUniversity at Lebanon, and also taught German at VanderbiltUniversity in Nashville. His step-daughter was
Cousin Bashie, then twelve years old, whom we have
loved through the years and who was related through her father to the Stevenses of North Andover and to Mrs. Emmerton.
Her half-sister is Kate Hinds Steele, whom you know -- vigorous and very
I saw the destruction caused by the Civil War, the deserted
plantations, quantities of the most terrible looking negroes.
The houseman, Lafayette, called “Fette,” had no use
for “those black niggers.” Fette came in one day and
said, “Miss Bashie, go get your gun and practice with
your target.” Professor Hinds was going away for the night. This brought their
problems very close to me.
and I liked dandelions. We picked some one day and carried them to Cook. Cook
was sure we should be poisoned, so she mixed a lot of mustard plants in with
the dandelions to make them safe to eat. Needless to say we did not eat very
much. The peach trees were in lovely bloom those days of our visit. I could not
believe I had been snowbound a few days before. I rode a horse which was frisky
and a mule which was balky. One day the mule carried me under a thorn tree. I
lay flat on his back and just escaped a bad scratching. We visited the
Hermitage, Jackson's home, going by train. At this time Cousin Bashie was twelve and Kate was four. Happy memories of
these trivial things linger on and on.
strange thing happened while I was at the Hinds'. A young Dr. Buchanan could
hypnotize people. Professor Hinds invited him to dinner one night and Dr.
Buchanan offered to demonstrate hypnosis. A student went out of the room while
we designated certain things for him to do. When he came back his whole
expression was different. He wandered about and finally took out of the
bookcase a book we had chosen. That did not prove very much so we decided to
have him lift a chair. Dr. Buchanan said, “You will not be able to lift the
chair.” The strange thing was that he wrestled to lift it. The veins stood out
on his forehead. Later Dr. Buchanan told him that the chair was light. Immediately
the student lifted it easily. Then Dr. B. tried to hypnotize Kate and me, but I
was obstinate and the only thing I felt was a numbness
in my arm. Kate began to feel heavy and decided not to go on.
After our visit with the Hindses we went to Highlands, North
to Walhalla by train. We started for Highlands from there
about in the morning,
driving in a mountain wagon. Successive valleys brought us up higher and
higher. Sometimes the wheels had to be tied far brakes. Sometimes there were
cracks or gullies in the road over which the outside wheels bumped. After a
memorable drive we reached Highlands, a beautiful place. We stayed with a Mrs. Davis who
could accommodate thirty or forty people. Her boarding house was long and
white with double verandas running across the first and second stories. (C.J.C.
and I found this house as Mother describes it, on one of our trips to North Carolina.)
There were two botanists
staying at Mrs. Davis's, a Mr. Harbinson and a Mr. Boynton.
They used to go on expeditions to collect specimens of flowers and plants. There
were a doctor and an artist and several other guests. Each group would tell
tall tales of their experiences each day. One day we had been to CashiersValley and had gotten some specimens of vaseyi
azalea. I was riding ahead of the others and decided to go back to meet them. I
found them killing a rattlesnake. Mr. Harbinson put the
snake in his specimen can. My horse smelt the snake and reared and ran.
Needless to say I went home apart from the snake.
At home we told our snake
story. Mr. Harbinson said, “We have some lovely
specimens of vaseyi azalea,” and emptied the can of
the snake on the lawn amid great commotion. The young doctor offered to dissect
the snake's head and showed us how its fangs worked. Mrs. Davis offered to cook
the snake for breakfast but toomany boarders objected, so the man
went off and cooked it over a fire in the woods. Our snake skin in Salem was from a snake Mr. Boynton killed and gave to me.
evening we played cribbage, six or seven tables of us. The game was progressive
and me changed partners after each game. At the end of
many evenings' contests I had won the series and was presented with a cribbage
board and a pack of cards, which I used for many years. There was a charming
Southern couple there named Allen, who used to sing a song I liked
particularly, called, “Love's Sweet Song.” They sent for a copy for a gift to me.
All these days were a very
happy memory for me all my life. We went home in June. We were met at the train
by the Emmerton's coachman who told us that Mr.
George Emmerton's funeral had been that morning --
Mrs. William Emmerton's brother-in-law. Uncle Frank
Cox had been at Mr. Emmerton's funeral when his wife,
Aunt Ellen, had a stroke.She had
been preparing for a musicale at her house for Miss Helen Smith. Uncle Frank
said he could not bear to see Miss Smith “because his Ellen would not have had
a stroke except for her.” His grief was great as was that of the whole family. Aunt
Ellen had been much beloved. Her nephew, John Pickering, and Anna Varney became
engaged in 1888 and were planning to be married at this time. The Pickering wedding was postponed. Both
Aunt Eliza and Aunt Marianne died that fall, also.
became engaged to your father in 1890 and was married in June, 1891. The two
previous years I had been teaching in Mary Cleaveland's
school -- English history and first year Latin. I taught Elizabeth Barker,
Catherine Wardwell, Bassie Fabens to read. Gertrude Ropes, later Mrs. Dr.
Simpson, was too affectionate, bringing me a flower every day. I had to be
wise with her, but it was obvious she needed affection. I also taught Jaunita Machado. Anne Noyes, though an older girl, came to
me for special work. Aunt Rebecca Putnam told me something recently which
interested me. A person in Salem, now very elderly, told her
that she always had been very grateful to me because when she was young I had
pointed out to her the value and pleasure of reading. I do not remember
anything about when this could have been unless she had been a member of the
Bentley Club I organized at the LastChurch where we went when we came
middle name is Chapin because for some reason I was named by Dorcas Chapin, whose husband later became governor of Massachusetts. She was an enthusiastic
Unitarian. She had started a small savings account for me because she had named
me. It was she who sponsored my going to the ProspectHillSchool. All this enabled me to go
there. She was Mrs. Chester Chapin of Springfield. My roommate at school was
Frances Augusta Lord, who married her cousin Augustus Lord. He became the
Unitarian minister in Providence. She went to Radcliffe and hoped that I could also, but I had neither
time nor money, She told me that her father bad been engaged to Lizzie Bourne,
who lost her life on Mt.Washington. This seemed to make a deep
impression on her because she realized that if it had not been for Lizzie
Bourne's death there would have been noFrances Augustus Lord -- as
there I went to the Howard Seminary for a year and a few months when I took
Edith's place teaching in the West Bridge-water school,
as I have already told you. This was In 1886-1887.
I think I worked in the Registry of Deeds twice,
before I went to Bridgewater and for a short time afterward. Mr. Charles Osgood,
the father of my good friend, Bessie, and the son of the portrait painter, Charles
Osgood (who painted all the family portraits except the one of your father),
was Registrar there and was my friend. He was a descendant of Edward Holyoke,
president of HarvardCollege. He recommended me for the position at the Registry.
Mrs. Emmerton had invited me to go abroad with her in
March, 1889 but I could not leave my family any longer. By t then I had left
the Registry of Deeds, had had my wonderful Southern trip, and was working for
the future public library of Salem.
I was put in charge of collating material from gifts for
a nucleus for a public library. We had space in the Kingsman
Block next to City Hall. I was under the trustees of the library: Frank Lee,
Mr. John Robinson, Dr. James Emmerton (Kate's uncle),
Mr. Frank Hunt -- an authority on the China trade. Also Mr. Mahoney, a lawyer and a dear man, Mr.
Osgood the mayor of Salem, ex
officio and others who did not appear often and whom I have forgotten. I was
there for many weeks alone. Great stacks of books had to be sorted out as to
subject matter. The trustees then decided which ones were suitable to keep. I
had to list them all and keeptrack of all donations.
Soon the work became more than
I could handle alone, and I was assigned a helper. In December the Trustees decided
a librarian was needed. A Mr. Hill, librarian from Brooklyn, came, also two assistants. One was a Hiss Smith about my age. Mr.
Hill was not very satisfactory. Meanwhile the Captain Bertram residence on Essex Street was being put in order for the new library building. Captain
Bertram had left it for a public library and had endowed it. His widow lived in the Assembly
House on Federal
Mr. Jones soon
followed Mr. Hill. He and his wife became my close friends. He taught me how
to catalogue books and then trusted me with that responsibility. In the winter
of 1889 we moved to the new location. When the librarians came, all the new
purchases arrived also. We were nearly swamped. We had a grand opening with receptions
all through one week. Then the library opened for public use. I was put in
charge of the reading reference room.
September 1889 I left the library to become a teacher in Miss Cleaveland's school. Miss Catherine Aggie had become ill
and Miss Cleaveland needed someone badly. I taught
there until I was Married in June of 1891.
You ask when did I first know
Kate's uncle, Dr. Emmerton, was a good friend of your father. They used to
trip around together studying the history of BostonHarbor and such subjects of interest to them both. I remember
meeting your father in Dr. Emmerton's study. When we
went to Salem Mr. George Herbert Hosmer, the brother
of Jamie, was minister of the EastChurch. We attended his church. He had been a good friend of my father and
was a good and kind man. He had come to Belfast when my father died. But after Mr. Hosmer left the EastChurch, we
all went to the NorthChurch, probably because I knew the Willsons.
There I saw your father often.
sister was Mrs. Savory, whose husband was settled in Canton. They were the children of the eminent George Homer. Mrs.
Austin, at whose house on Linnaean Street in Cambridge I had spent the night with my father when I was a child,
was a friend of Mr. Hosmer. When she came to Salem to see him one time , site
brought us all little gifts. I have told you how open the view was from the
Austin-Cooper house then – with cows grazing in the fields between Linnaean
Street and the ShepardMemorialChurch.
Perhaps you would like to know
why I chose your father over two other men who were attentive to me, one for
six years. The latter was a graduate of HarvardCollege and of the HarvardLawSchool. He was a rather orthodox Congregationalist and he
tried to convert me. The other was an Episcopalian. My religion was so simple
and so free that I could not have my mind shackled in these ways. Religion, it
seemed to me then and it still seems so, should free the mind. It should be
flexible to seek Truth. Truth is shackled if the conception of it is not large
When your father asked me to
marry him, I told him that my family needed me to help them. He said, “If you
marry me I will stand by.” He was sympathetic, comforting, loving and a
And so I did marry him. And so begins another chapter.