Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917

Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917
William Richardson, Alice Josephine Richardson Dakin, Robert Worthington Richardson, Harry Bogart Richardson

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Letters from Home during the Great Famine in Ireland

Letter from home, 1849, written on one side, folded up and addressed
on the other side of the  piece of paper -- no envelope needed.

Mary Hearty was born in March 1823 in Parish Creggan, Townland Dorsey, County Armagh, Ireland.  She immigrated to Haviland Hollow New York in 1848 and married a Swedish immigrant, Eric Adolf Helsten in 1849.
After her granddaughter, Marion Evans Dakin died in 1974, two letters from Mary's father, Owen, were found in the family desk.  The two letters along with Mary and Eric's wedding certificate are the only family artifacts we have about Mary's family back home.

I have found her father Owen Hearty, in the 1828 Tithe Applotment in Dorsey as a small tenant farmer with 4 acres, 2 roods and 12 perches (a bit less than 5 acres)-- not exactly a large farm to support a family in good times, let alone the bad ones.  The letters mention a sister, Betty, and some cousins (Peter Garvey in Youngstown OH, Ellen Mooney in Syracuse NY,  Larggh Hearty in Philadelphia PA, and Frances Hearty in USA) but no mother.  I do not have a name for her mother.
Letter from Owen Hearty in Dorsey, to his daughter
Mary Hearty in Haviland Hollow, NY, 11 July 1949.
Haviland Hollow Putnam
County State of New York
Care of Benjamin Cowl
for Mary Hearty”

Mr Owen Hearty
Dorsey and Cragon
Newtown Hamletown
Aragon Parish

        “Dorsey July 11th 1849
My Dear daughter I am glad to Hear
That you are in good health and so are
we all in at present I am going to lot you
Know that Bety sent a leter and send as
much money as will Bringe Barney and Bety
Over to  you and the time is so Bad that I cant
send none and the will give it to you when
the will get it and this Country is going to the
Bad your father is not staut and if you can get
money send it Home No more at present
But remain your Father Owen Hearty
                    of Dorsey

Mary Hearty married Eric Adolf Helsten on 12 August 1849, shortly after the first letter was sent from  Ireland.  She has probably been working as a maid for Benjamin Cowl in Haviland Hollow and Eric has probably been working in Cowl's tannery in Haviland Hollow.  Times as tough back home, the potato crop has failed, please send money to help her sister Betty come to USA.  

Mary received one more letter from her father, Owen, dated 24 January 1851.  This is much longer, has some news from people back home who have come to the USA, still appealing for money.

Mr E. A. Helsten
Heviland Hollow P.Off
State New York America
postmark:  Castleblayney JA23 1851

Dorsey January 24th 1851
Dear Mary
I received your Letter
which gives me to understand that
you are in Good as we enjoy at Present
thank God = I also must inform you 
we felt very uneasy on account of you
not writing Sooner as it is all the Conso-
Lation the devised Children of erin has
a communication by Letter therefore
I consider it a duty incumbent on
you at Least to write 2 a year at ther 
Least I was also very much rejoiced
to hear of  your success and how luck
you and your Husband is doing ---
in that country as for this country it
is totally Gone to the Bad the Potatoes
is altogether failed & Markets are very
Low in Consequences of the Ports being
all opened
therefore on account of the Stater of
the Country thus is condition of Money
at all your sister Betty is inclined
for to go to that County only she is
embarrysed By the State of the time
and cannot find means to go therefore
I Would feel Greatly oblidged to you &
your Husband if you would send money
some assistance that would enable her to
Go & as Soon as she would earn it She would
See you Paid -- & in regard to sending money
there is no danger whatever as there can
Be a Post office order got in every Post
office that there is not the Least danger
in sending such = Do you need not Be the
Least timerous in sending it a she will
Surely Renumerate you for it = in regard
to Ellen Mooney her address is E..Mooney
Syracuse State Newyork =
So Larggh Hearty is in Philadelphia
I do not Know her address
I must also inform you that  your
cousin Francis Hearty is also gone
to that country & is your cousins
Owen Rooney & Peter Garvey is gone to
that country Peter is in college in
Youngstown State of Penna. & owen Rooney
is a clark in Syracuse State new-
york they are all doing well ---
your friends are all in good health
& also your neighbors
be all elevated to Learn you had 
the good fortune to get such a Husband
as I can Judge that he is an industrious
man & also a good tradesman ---
therefore Let  you Put your Confidence
in the almighty as he is our only guide
& Protector & May the Lord Bless You
is the Sincere Prayer of your affectionate
father ---- Owen hearty ---

He has news, but also is appealing 2 letters/year from her and for funds for Betty to come.  He clearly has gotten a letter from Mary telling her father of her marriage to Eric.  Clearly, Owen has hope that his daughter will be able to send funds, but life in the USA was not all "milk and honey" as imagined and she didn't have the money to send home at that time, according to the draft of the next letter.
We have no further letters from Owen Hearty to his daughter Mary Hearty Helsten.   The last piece of tangible information about Owen Hearty is that letter in 1851 to his daughter.  He is not listed as living in Dorsey in the Griffith's Valuation of 1864.  There is an Owen Hearty in the next town over -- whether it is the same person is to be determined.  In the Griffith's Valuation in Dorsey there is a Patrick Hearty and in the Cancelation Books in PRONI written in "()" is the word "Owen" --
Patrick Hearty (Owen).  
Not sure what that actually means.  Maybe Patrick was the tenant and Owen lived with him (just a guess).

We do have the notes for a draft of a letter, probably to Betty, Mary's sister, written by Eric some time after they have bought the tannery in Gaylordsville in July 1852.  Eric is no longer an employee, but now an indebted employer.  

   Dear Sister Elizabeth!   We have received
your letter which gives us the satisfaction that you
are in good health and have a good place where
you be also gave us to understand thatt you are
fully determined to go to America but have not the
strength on own expense to do so.  We think that if you
only was here you could do well butt how come i do nott know.
My situation is greatill different these year to whatt is was
last year.  Last year i did hire out and earnd money every day
and had money out on interest, but last spring
I took it all up and hired a tanyeard, about seven
milles from where i lived thern, and began on own hand
to work, laid out all the money had in hides skins and bark for so
stach my yeard and there is did not have enough i had to
borrow more money all i could get for i found out i had to lay out money
every day.  Tanning is a very slow buiseyness and it take
a great while before the money comes balk again.  I feel
sorrow to say thatt i could not give you any money for
your assistance but i ask you to not blame us for my situation
are so that i could not and my bussiness require money 
allwhile and i have nothing more then what i have
worked very hard for since i com to America and it seems
to me as i could make more money when i  worked as
Journeyman than i can now and beside that i have to now more
risk of loses among those Yankys now than before.  I ask you now
to be of a contented mind and save all you can if may perhaps be som oppening
for you in the future. If you could come we  would be very
glade to see you here and do what we can for you
then.  You know that your sister had to work for all that
brought her here before she started and so did i too.  i had
to work for years befor i could get enough together to bring me
YoJ received Fathers letter great while ago and also yours but you
must excuse me for we had not wrought Sooner my time has been
taken up very much all while and my wife could not write
it because she never leand it

This letter was not signed and not sent since it was with Eric and Mary's papers in the desk -- maybe copied and mailed to Mary's sister Betty.
Eric does offer to help her if she can get herself to Connecticut.  He cannot afford to pay her passage.    Over the years Eric and Mary did help various nieces of his from Sweden when they came, many lived with them and got jobs in the neighborhood until out on their own. Eric also hired new Swedish immigrants in the family  business -- as apprentices when it was a tannery, and as assistants as the business evolved over the years.

In my effort to find any more information on the Hearty family of Dorsey, part of Creggan Parish, I corresponded with Kiernan McConville at the Creggan Historical Society.   I shared the above letters with him.  He was thrilled to see some letters from the Famine Years written by ordinary people from South Armagh, which he commented were very rare.  He asked to include them in an upcoming journal of their local historical society.

Well, that upcoming journal has arrived:

Kieran McConville, "Hearty (of Dorsey) Great Famine Letters 1849-1851," Creggan, journal of The Creggan Local History Society, 2013/2014, no. 16, pages 80-84.

In the article, Kieran starts by putting the letters into context.  He describes the famine conditions, the cause and spread, and the ineffective efforts to relieve the famine.  He goes on to describe the migrations and death rate that devastated the Irish population.  He gives what background we know about the Hearty family and on Mary's family.  He mentions the hopes of sending a child abroad brought but in many times remained unfulfilled.  He ends with the transcription of the three letters.

I can only hope that maybe the descendants of Mary's family back in Ireland, survived and will see this article and/or blog and contact me.  If not, if the letters & article provide information for others whose ancestors came from Creggan Parish, then that is good also.

2014©Erica Dakin Voolich

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Inoculation and Smallpox

Recently we have been hearing the tragic stories in the news about the spread of the Ebola virus and of the necessity of quarantine for patients or possible patients (those exposed but not yet sick).  We have also been reading of the search for a vaccination against that frequently fatal disease.

In centuries past, Smallpox was another disease which was also causing deaths.  People were looking for vaccinations and quarantining both the sick and the vaccinated.  Years ago, I remember reading Abigail Adams writing about the inoculation of her husband, John in 1764 and then later herself and her children in 1776.  Inculation then was a much different from today.  Now we just go get a shot, but in the 1700s, the process involved the patient being sick and quarantined for weeks.  This is how it is described in "John Adams: Smallpox Inoculation in 1764"

"Adams followed the preparatory regimen of Adam Thompson MD. The future president's treatment began with a "vomit," followed by a strong cathartic. The prescribed diet was bread, milk, pudding, and rice. Adams describes the inoculation procedure itself:

Dr. Perkins demanded my left arm and Dr. Warren my brother's. They took their Launcetts and with their Points divided the skin about a Quarter of an inch and just suffering the blood to appear, buried a thread (infected) about a Quarter of an inch long in the Channell. A little lint was then laid over the scratch and a Piece of Ragg pressed on, and then a Bandage bound over all, and I was bid go where and do what I pleased. The doctors left us red and black to take Night and Morning, and ordered my Brother, larger Doses than me, on Account of the Differences in our Constitutions.

Adams and 9 other patients were confined to the hospital for 3 weeks. Adams suffered headaches, backaches, kneeaches, gagging fever, and eruption of pock marks. He wrote to his wife:

Do not conclude from any Thing I have written that I think Inoculation a light matter -- A long and total abstinence from everything in Nature that has any Taste; two long heavy Vomits, one heavy Cathartick, four and twenty Mercurial and Antimonial Pills, and, Three weeks of Close Confinement to an House, are, according to my Estimation, no small matters."

So where might someone go to be quarantined, if not at home?  I found a newspaper article naming a house owned by Jeremiah Jennings with Sarah Robbins in it as the place of quarantine in 1787 in Fairfield Connecticut [see 8 March 1787 Fairfield Gazette, volume 1, issue 32, page 2]

At a Meeting of the Civil Au-
thority and Select Men of

WHEREAS Sarah Rob-
bins, wife of Ephraim
Robbins, is infected
with the Small Pox,
and confined to the dwelling-
house of Jeremiah Jennings, an
out-house for that purpose: —
This meeting orders and di-
rects, that the remain and con-
tinue at said dwelling house,
until disposed in manner here-
inafter prescribed. —— And
Whereas it appeareth fully to
the satisfaction of said meeting,
that sundry persons have been
involuntarily exposed to take
the infection, and probably
have taken and received the
same in the natural way, and
requeth hath been made to grant
permission for the Small-pox
to be communicated to said
sundry persons, by innocula-
tion.  This meeting grants
permission to said sundry per-
sons, to take and receive the

Small-pox by innoculation in 
said dwelling-house.  And al-
so, orders are, that said sundry
persons strictly confine them-
selves to, and remain within
and upon the lot or inclosure,
whereon said dwelling-house
standeth; and upon and within
the highway or road, westerly
of said dwelling-house from the
south-westerly corner of said
lot, north-westerly to the
brushy pasture (so called), of
said Jennings, and including
said pasture within the fence.
And whereas, it is allowed that
Dr. David Rogers go to, and 
come from said dwelling-house,
as need may be, during the 
time said persons remain there;
and said Doctor is directed to
change his apparrel whenever
he cometh therefrom.  And
whereas, it is directed that a
fence be erected to set up a 
cross said highway, at the
south-westerly corner of said
home-lot or inclosure; and a-
nother fence across said high-
way, at the north-easterly cor-
ner of said brushy pasture
and that a white cloth of two
feet square or larger, be exten-
ded on a staff or pole, at least
ten feet high by said house, 
pursdant to the directions of
the law.
      All persons are hereby strict-
ly forbidden to go or pass by
said dwelling-house, in said
highway, or enter said high-
way between said two cross
fences, or enter into or upon
said home lot, inclosure or
dwelling-house, except those
persons appointed, and each
and every of the persons, as
well tenders is others, are
hereby strictly forbid to leave
or depart said dwelling-house
before they respectively shall
be well cleansed and freed from
said infection, by persons ap-
pointed for that purpose, and
proper persons are also ap-
pointed to give information of
all breaches of these orders,
that offenders may be brought
to justice.  Per order,
    And. Rowland, Just. P.
Fairfield, Feb. 27, 1787.

The boundaries and behaviors are clearly defined for the Smallpox quarantine.  No one can go anywhere near the house, except appointed persons, such as Dr. Rogers, and he will have to be decontaminated when he leaves.  The house will have a white flag to indicate the quarantine.  No one is describing what Sarah Robbins is feeling, but it probably wasn't much different than what John Adams had described 23 years earlier.

There were expenses connected with Smallpox and Linda Woodward Geiger pointed out in her webinar "Using Tax Lists to Solve Genealogical Problems"[28 May 2014] that the Georgia Legislature [December 1865-March 1866] passed a law "To authorize the Justices of the Inferior Court of the County of Heard to levy and collect a tax, to compensate citizens for attention to cases of small pox in said County."

Clearly, people in the late 1700s and 1800s understood the dangers of Smallpox and tried to be inoculated to prevent having a full-blown case of the infection.  Seeing the current news reports about the spread of Ebola, the attempts at quarantine of patients, and the sometimes quaranting of whole communities, reminded me of this article.

May the vaccination that various researchers are working on today prove as effective against Ebola as our modern Smallpox vaccination proved to be.

©2014 Erica Dakin Voolich
The link to this blog is

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Thursday Morning Club, the Sequel

When I wrote about the Thursday Morning Club in Great Barrington, I included quotes from a book that clearly showed this was a interesting active club of women.  One of my readers, Margaret Fortier, a fellow Massachusetts Society of Genealogists (MSOG) member, got to wondering about the Thursday Morning Club.  Margaret did some more searching on HathiTrust Digital Library and found a wonderful article about the club, "Serving the Community, The Work of a Women's Club in a Western Massachusetts Town," in the Town & County edition of The American City, volume 12, pages 483-486, 1915.

Since there never was a copyright, I'm reprinting the article.
The magazine had altruistic motives -- "make available to the largest possible number of persons the ideals of thinkers and the practical experience of workers for the betterment of urban life."

Not only does the magazine have altruistic goals, so does the club.  All it took was a small membership fee (yet no one was turned away), a willingness to work, and sympathy to its goals and you could attend the meetings.  The programs described sound fascinating -- plays, musicals, talks on current events, talks on interesting topics along with service to the community.

The club also helped other local groups with low rent of their facilities and cash donations when needed.

The club gave honorary memberships to teaches and ministers' wives and had a reception to welcome teachers in September.  They also invite school children to programs of interest.  They worked on projects to help the schools when they saw a need.  They tell about the year that the schools were closed for several weeks during the winter due to a measles epidemic.  There were 30 students who had not caught up by the end of the school year -- they raised the funds to hire a teacher, borrowed classroom space and books, the result: 29 students were caught up by the fall.  They have offered classes that were eventually adopted by the school system -- continuing their financial support of the household arts and sciences and carpentry classes in the transition.

They saw themselves as a clearinghouse for ideas in the community -- their endorsement would "mean something" to community acceptance.

They used an annual rummage sale of "good stuff cheap" as their major fundraiser -- it started to raise money for a money-losing event and continued annually since.

They had various community service activities including picking up rubbish, hiring a tree doctor to care for the elm trees when they were attacked by the elm tree beetle, money saving programs for town children, building floats for the 150th anniversary town parade, and opening a mother's nursing & rest tent (with nurses and doctors available to educate and examine the babies) at the Cattle Show and Fair.

This article was written just before Elizabeth Radford Evans died.  Since Elizabeth lived in Great Barrington from the late 1890s until her death in 1915,  this is describing the Thursday Morning Club that Elizabeth new and participated in their meetings and activities.

We can better imagine what Elizabeth and the women in Great Barrington were doing beyond the everyday housework!

The link to this post is
©2014, Erica Dakin Voolich

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Thursday Morning Club

Elizabeth Radford Evans and her husband Charles Evans moved to Great Barrington, MA in the 1890s.  The article below profiles some of the long-lived couples in town.

The Courier (vol. LXIX, page 1, 3 September 1903) extolled "the Berkshire Hills region being especially favorable to longevity and conducive to dispositions" before individual profiles of couples.

One sentence caught my attention:

She  is the 
possessor of a vigorous mind and 
takes an active interest in the Thurs-
days Morning Club meetings and in 
current affairs generally. 

Charles only lived a few months after this article was published, but Elizabeth lived another dozen years -- plenty of time to attend the Thursday Morning Club meetings.  Which raised a question:
What is the Thursday Morning Club?

Looking in the book on the history of Great Barrington that I bought from the town historical society (Bernard A Drew, Great Barrington:  Great Town, Great History, Great Barrington Historical Society, 1999):

page 548
Thursday Morning Club
Nineteen women met at the home of Sarah Sheldon Collins in March 1892 to orga-
nize the Thursday Morning Club.  The hostess, born in New Marlborough but a resident
of Great Barrington from 1881 on, graduated from the town’s high school, taught in local
schools for several years and attended Wellesley College for one year.  She taught in 
several other communities, but returned to Great Barrington upon marrying A. Chalkey
Collins, an attorney.  They lived in the stone dwelling now home to the Christian Science
Collins (1859-1918) became the first Thursday Morning Club president and served 
for four years.    Through her efforts cooking and sewing classes began; they were later
taken over by the town.  Maria Church was first vice president and suffragist Julia Ward
Howe was first honorary member.  “Self culture” and “to be of use to the community”
were the organization’s stated aims. Early meetings were held in the old Courier build-
The club joined the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1893 and entertained
some 150 delegates from the State Federation in 1897.  In 1902 the club helped William
Stanley entertain a convention of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, and
received a silver loving cup in appreciation—-a signed Gorham piece decorated with the 
club’s daisy medallion and the AIEE’s seal.
The club understood a number of significant civic projects over the years, and its
members heard a number of interesting lectures.  Educator Dr. Charles Eastman, who
had married Mount Washington poet Elain Goodale, spoke on “The Original Indian” 
in July 1912.  Summer resident James Weldon Johnson, whose book Black Manhattan
came out in July 1930, spoke of American Negro poets in October that year.  Also speak-
ing before the club were author Walter Prichard Eaton, Congressman Allen T. Treadway,
dancer Ted Shawn and poet Richard Watson Gilder.

page 190
The Thursday Morning
Club in August 1904
dedicated a stone
marker west of the 
Bridge Street bridge:
Twenty rods north of this
stone was the old Indian
Fordway on the Middle
trail from Westfield to
the Hudson River.
Nearby was the site of
the Great Wigwam
were Major John
Talcott overtook and
dispersed a party of 
Indians, August, 1676.
The marker’s deterio-
rated wording was
reproduced on a bronze
tablet which was 
mounted nearby in 

page 237  (in the Social section for early 1900s)
“Booker T. Washington, coming to speak at
Laurel Hill Association in Stockbridge in fall 1904,
was not unknown here; he had previously spoken
at the Great Barrington library.  Naturalist Ralph
Hoffman lectured before the Thursday Morning
Club in April 1909. …” 

The club had interesting speakers and also had a stated mission of service to the community.

I wondered if there were any records of the early Thursday Morning Club still available.  The Great Barrington Historical Society put me in touch with the current club historian.  She didn't have many records beyond a membership book in their safe deposit box.  It had membership records from 1912 through 1925.  She found four Evans women involved:  "Elizabeth Evans and Aurilla Evans were members of the Thursday Morning Club. Helen H. Evans was a Director 1924-1925 and Kathleen S. Evans was also a member."

Elizabeth Evans was a member, as was her daughter-in-law, Aurilla Wooster Evans and her granddaughter-in-law Kathleen Smith Evans.  By 1912 when these membership rolls were recorded, Elizabeth's daughter Caroline Evans Helsten, has moved back to Gaylordsville CT to help with her in-laws, then their estate, and then to take over the Helsten's business.  We don't know if Caroline was involved when she was there in the 1890s.

We can only imagine them attending some of these talks by local authorities and traveling dignitaries and then discussing the pressing issues of the day that they were reading about in the newspapers.

The link to this post is
©2014, Erica Dakin Voolich

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Some BRONSON & RADFORD Characters Looking for a Link to the Family

Do you know any of these RADFORD or BRONSON folks?
Are they your ancestors?
I'd love to know how they connect to my family.

Beers RADFORD (1784-1876) and Harriet HIGGINS had four children.
I am descended from his daughter (Hannah) Elizabeth Radford (1825-1915) who married Charles EVANS.
She had a sister (Harriet) Augusta Radford (1821-1897) who married Julius BRONSON.

They had cousins in Madison County New York.  The pictures might be related to their cousin Louisa P Radford (1825-1872) who wrote the letters from Madison County NY I have blogged about, one might be her sister Sarah W (but if the date or age on the back refers to her, it doesn't fit Sarah W's dates).

First the RADFORD pictures:
Back:  "Bennet Radford  B Radford  age 85.9.23"

Back:  "Kate Radford"

Back:  "Sara Radford    S. A. R. age 80.7.16"

Maybe Bennet and Sara are husband and wife, both pictures were taken at same studio.  The studio name was cut off of Kate Radford's picture.

Now, for the BRONSON pictures.  Probably they have a connection to Julius BRONSON (1807-1895) and Augusta RADFORD (1821-1897), his wife.

Back:  "D E and John Bronson
Hill Photographer 100 Bank St.,
Waterbury, Conn.
Crayon portraits a specialty"

Back:   "George Bronson"

Back:  "Helen Bronson"

Some where there must be some descendant of the RADFORD and BRONSON family who would love to connect to this descendant Elizabeth Radford.

They are looking for connections, can you help?

©Erica Dakin Voolich, 2014
The link to this post is

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memories of Elizabeth and Charles at the time of their deaths

Unfortunately, there is a gap without many life details from the last letter of 1849 from cousin Louise to the 40th anniversary in 1890, of all the years in Sherman, Connecticut where Elizabeth Radford Evans is a mother, a farm wife  -- who was she, what was her life like?  We have some hints from her own writing.

Evans farm on Evans Hill Road in Sherman, Connecticut

After she died 5 December 1915, a former minister from the 45 years she was in Sherman, Connecticut and his wife each sent her children a letter of condolences from where they were working in Cuba.
These two condolence letters give us a hint of life in Sherman ... she was more than an unknown isolated country woman just caring for her children and working on the chores that helped to keep a farm family going.
To the Children of Mrs. Elizabeth H. Evans, 
Dear Friends:  
  The news has come to us of the home going of your beloved Mother.  
  You have a double reason for gratitude to God.   1st: For having given you such a noble gifted Mother, and also for having  spared her to you for so many years.  
   Many of Gods gifts to his Children are repeated.  He gives us a Mother's  love, and care but once, as if to teach us how choice it is.  During her  long friendship, stretching through over forty years, I have been  impressed by her many qualitites of mind and heart, her unshaken faith in God, her personal love for her Savior, her quiet unostentatious devotion to duty, and her capacity for true lasting disinterested friendships were  noticeable the light of her christian fidelity.

   I have afar from the hill of Sherman in the home she loved so well and  made sacred by her gracious presence and loving service.  
   My pastoral calls included frequent visits at her home where we always  received a hearty welcome.  We enjoyed our interviews and her conversations, which were uplifting and inspiring.  
   Her cheerful optimism impressed me.  She looked on the bright side of  everything and saw the best in every life, and that sweet smile which was  the expression of her joyful sould life, she carried with her into the  presence of her Lord with whom she walked by faith.

Nor do I forget her  kind and devoted companion and his pure quiet, unselfish life.  Theirs  was an ideal married life.  
   What maternal pride characterized her.  The mother heart followed with  tender love, each child as they went forth to form new homes and enlarged  to take in the grandchildren who will now miss her love and counsels.  
   She was a fine example of New England Christian womanhood.  We saw those  ideal puritan virtues in her life.  Reverence for sacred things,  conscientious and unselfish love of country, honest, uprightness perfect  veracity.  High ethic ideals, and all irradiated by a supreme affection  for God, and a sympathetic love for humanity.  May her blessing abide  with you all.  The most precious legacy she has left is the memory of  what she was, and did.  
  “How these holy memories cluster 
   Like the stars when storms are past, 
   Pointing us to that far Heaven 
   We too hope to reach at last." 

  You could not have wished her to tarry longer in the worn out tabernacle  undermined by the increasing weakness of old age.  
   She awaits your coming over there, where sighs give place to Psalms, and  the aged are forever young.  Mortality has been swallowed of life.  
    Doubtless you all recall the Thanksgiving days and the happy family reunions of the ended years, how she waited to welcome each and every one, with a love that stronger given with the added years.  
   And how you can look forward with a hope that never grows dim to the  family gathering younder and know that the Mother heart still yearns to  meet and welcome you all to the Thanksgiving Feast of Heaven.  
  May God in his infinite love grant this to you and his consolation and  peace.  
   This in loving sympathy,  
Rev. E.P. Herrick  

Thanksgiving 1894 in the house on Evans Hill Rd that Rev. Herrick mentioned in his condolence letter above.
Elizabeth and Charles are here along with their children and grandchildren.
Rev. Herrick's wife, Amelia also wrote a condolence letter.  The family typed a copy and shared carbon copies.

December 14, 1915 
Dear Friends:  
  It seems very hard for me to realize the active brain and warm heart of  your mother is no longer residing in the body on this earth.  For so many  years I have felt her to be a living, acting friend, one to whom I appealed for so many different things.  In sickness and death she was a strong tower.  Then when I came from the South with my family of boys,  what a help she was those summers when I had no help and no stove for  proper cooking.  No one ever made such brown bread and biscuits and doughnuts.  Then when I wanted to know of the new books, it was to your  mother I went, and she so often supplied me with reading.  You have so much to be proud of in your strong-minded, noble-hearted mother, and the  generations that follow her must have something of her talent and  character.  
   I always miss her in the old home, and shall miss her more now she is really gone to the other side -- the unknown home you and I will enter before long.  Each year the number increases of the forever-absent  friends, whom we cannot reach with our Christmas greetings, and we miss the name as we make out our list.  But how much happier for them to be  numbered with the redeemed ones who are where sorrow and sighing forever  fled away.  
  With your great sympathy for all of your family, and with love to each  member.  
Very Sincerely yours, 
Amelia G. Herrick 
In memory of Mrs. Elizabeth Evans, 
died Dec. 5, 1915. Age 91 and 11 mo.  December 15, 1915  

Reading these letters gives one the feeling of her as a beloved personal friend who knew how to reach out to others at just the right time (food, friendship, strength) and information on the books you ought to be reading!
Daughter and mother together.
Augusta Evans Bristol and Elizabeth Radford Evans in front of Augusta' home.

The obituary for Elizabeth:
Mrs. Elizabeth Evans passed away, Saturday night, at the home of her son, Charles H. Evans, in Gaylordsville.  She would have been 91 years old, had she lived until January.  She was a woman of great loveliness of character.  Two sons, Charles H. Evans of Gaylordsville, and Edward Evans  of Great Barrington, Mass. and two daughters, Mrs. Agusta Bristol, of  Milford, and Mrs. Grace Olmstead of Newtown, survive her.  The funeral  took place on tuesday afternoon from the residence of Mr. Evans of  Gaylordsville.

The obituary says she died in Gaylordsville at her son's home, but her death certificate was issued by Great Barrington and said she died in Great Barrington.

Her husband Charles Evans died on 4 December 1903 -- 12  years before her.
Charles Evans heading up Evans Hill Rd to their farm.

Rev. Herrick wrote to the family then too.

To the children of the Late Charles Evans-- 
Dear Friends-- 
   was made very sad when I heard of the illness of your beloved father and longed to hear that his precious life was to be lengthened but when I  learned the golden bowl was broken I felt keen sorrow for he was dear to  me -- a man whom I have known, admired and loved for over twenty years  --  Few children are favored with such parents --- May the life of your  dear mother be long continued.  Your father possessed many choice  qualities of mind and heart that endeared him to us all.  He was a keen  intellect  -- a memory well stored with interesting and profitable  information.  A kindly heart that throbbed with sympathy for all troubled  and needy men.  He had great descriptive powers and a choice flow of  interesting anecdotes of persons and events reaching into the long gone  past.  I recall some of the vivid word pictures which he drew so well--  all unconscious of his own gifts for he was one of the most modest and  unassuming of men.  I know of no man more competent to have written a  book on the early history of Sherman and its prominent citizens.  The law  of kindness was in his heart a born humorist-- a veritable wit-- his  deliverance of human foibles and failings never lead to wounding of  sensitive feelings.  His presence brought sunshine and good cheer -- his  wise counsel and cherry suggestions were always timely and helpful.  He  was free from osterlatim  -- self seeking and conceit -- quick to see and  appreciate what was good in others and speak of it.  I do not need to  speak of what he was as a husband and father -- it was touching to see  his deep love for you all and his paternal pride in our success.   Reticent as to his own spiritual beliefs and experiences -- yet was  reverential and appreciative of all things pertaining to religion.  We  felt we were in the presence of a good man.  Who put character before  creed and right living before outward professions -- one who guarded his  words and let his example rather than his lips tell what he was.  A noble  heart was slitted on the day when he went home -- he longed to go and god  granted the wish of the tired pilgrim.  He wrapped the draperies of his couch about him and lay down to pleasant dreams.  May the holy memories  he has left be ever your inspiration.  

   How delightful were those old  family gatherings in the old house on the hill.  How pleasant to look  forward to the Thanksgiving of Heaven when all your journeys ended, you  will all meet and be forever with him and forever with the Lord. To your father God I commend all your children  
Yours sincerely -- 
E.P. Herrick 
Matangar Cuba 
Dec. 28 -- 1903

You might recall, that the newspaper profile of couples of Great Barrington who were married more than 50 years, was written just 3 months before Charles died.

Two lives well-lived as told by the people who knew them.

©Erica Dakin Voolich 2014
The link to this post is

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Life at college for Elizabeth in 1844

It you have been following these blog posts about Elizabeth Radford Evans, you'll recall our surprise to read that she "graduated from Mt. Holyoke College in the class of 1845" reported in a newspaper interview with 88-year old Elizabeth about her long life.  You might also recall that I contacted Mt Holyoke Seminary [now College] and she never graduated, but she did attend for one year from 1844-1845.
“REMINISCENCES," in The Berkshire Courier, 
Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Thursday 20 March 1913, 
volume LXXIX, no. 12, pages 1, 8

Mt Holyoke Seminary was a new institution, founded in 1837.  Their website has the history for anyone who is interested in what Mary Lyon did as is founder and first "principal" for an institution for women which began during an economic depression.

When its doors finally opened on November 8, 1837, Mount Holyoke Female Seminary embodied two major innovations in women's education. It instituted rigorous academic entrance requirements and a demanding curriculum conspicuously free of instruction of domestic pursuits. And it was endowed, thus ensuring its permanence and securing the principle of higher learning for future generations of women. With this remarkable achievement, Mary Lyon proved herself true to the words she would become renowned for: Go where no one else will go. Do what no one else will do.

So what was life like for a college student in 1844?
What did it take to for a woman to attend college in 1844?

I was going to try to pull out individual examples of the 1844-1845 catalog, but decided to include the whole catalog for those who would like to see who were the 249 students and what it took to get in and what life was like once you arrived as a young woman then.  This catalog was generously provided by Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections.
The college had three levels, starting with the Senior Class, then Middle Class and finally the Junior Class.  If you look closely, they are from New England states and New York.  I did find one student from Ohio and one from Illinois.

The Senior and part of the Middle classes.

The Middle and part of the Junior classes.

Continuing with the Junior class.

Here are the requirements to enter Mt Holyoke along with a description of curriculum for Junior and Middle class students.  Sounds like they will be busy.  There is a note that sometimes it takes more than one year to master the Junior class's curriculum along with Latin (which is a recommended study, not part of the required studies for Juniors).

In addition to what the Seniors will study, there is a description of the studies for everyone: composition, reading, calisthenics, vocal music, the New Testament and linear & perspective drawings.  If you already play piano, you can continue with that study.  They list the textbooks to bring -- if  you have-- otherwise you can purchase them at school.

In order to attend, there are admission exams, and in order to join the next class, there are exams.  There is a reminder that the students should be studying Latin if they want to progress to the Middle and Senior classes.

The school year starts 2 October and goes through July -- three terms:  16, 14, and 10 weeks.  There is a 2 week break between terms and an 8 week break between school years.

Tuition and board is $60 a year.  This doesn't sound like a lot of money, EXCEPT, a young woman going to work in the Massachusetts mills in 1845 ("Investigation of Labor Conditions, 1845"  Massachusetts House Documents, no. 50, March, 1845; would be paid $16 to $30 per month, exclusive of board.

Everyone, faculty and students live on campus, it is a family structure -- no commuters.  Everyone also contributes to the domestic work of the school, however, they are not there to learn the domestic skills, but only to already have them to use (taught at home).  They are there to develop academic skills.

Admission is for the whole year.  They must be at least 16 years old and well-prepared in the preparatory skills (see page 11).  The students bring their own towels, bedding, and two spoons.   

There is an expectation of punctuality for classes and attention to studies.  There are regular hours for classes and study and for recreation.  Visitors are encouraged to only visit during recreation on Wednesdays or Tuesday evenings.  If someone is traveling "from abroad" they can call a teacher to arrange a visit at another time, except on the Sabbath.   The students can not leave the school or receive visitors on the Sabbath.

New students are only admitted in October, they must be "young ladies of good degree of mental disciple, and maturity of character."  The first few weeks of school are probationary.

To get to the Seminary, young ladies can take a train to Wilbraham or Springfield or Cabotwille and then take a stage from there to South Hadley.

The examination schedule is given, and the final address (closing the school year) is on 31 July.  
The admission test schedule is included.  The list of what will be on the exam is back on page 11 of this 1844-1845 Catalogue.

If you recall, one of the requirements was mastery of Adam's New Arithmetic.

If you are interested in the contents of what was considered "arithmetic" in the 1800s, I though I'd include the table of contents.

Elizabeth Radford started Mt Holyoke Seminary when it was a young school -- it had started in 1837, and she attended in 1844-45.  There were high expectations for their students to be capable of learning a rigorous curriculum.  For her farm family to send her was probably a big stretch -- $60 was a lot of money.  Her contemporary women on the farm who "went to the city" to work at that time would probably have gone to Lowell or New Bedford, Massachusetts and earned $23 - $30 a week to send home.  After a year of college, she worked as a teacher for 5 years -- I've not yet identified where.

We know she was corresponding with her cousin Louise Radford who was also thinking about important ideas of the day.  We know Elizabeth loved to play with words in her writing and even in describing her anniversary.  Years later she was reading the contemporary books and following the politics and the local newspaper wrote her up.  It is wonderful that her parents Beers Radford (1784-1876) and Harriet Higgins Radford (1785-1846) saw the value of sending their daughter to Mt Holyoke Seminary for a year.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Elizabeth and Charles Evans' Aniversaries

As I've been sharing information on Elizabeth Radford Evans (her newspaper profile, recipient of letters from her cousin Louise, author of poetry & letters), keep in mind that she married Charles Evans in January 1850.  The actual date of the marriage, seems to be a bit fuzzy.  The vital record I received from the Middlebury Town Clerk say 15 January 1850 which is a xerox of the page of the minister's journal.  Mount Holyoke Seminary's alum records say she was married on the 16th.  Her story below, says the 16th.  The published vital records for Middlebury Connecticut where they married, says they were married on the 14th or 15th.  How they ever met, has yet to be discovered, she lived in Middlebury and he lived in Sherman, 26 miles away.

The gem below she wrote describing their 40th anniversary celebrations, 16 January 1890 -- both the one they planned and the surprise one:

Written by Elizabeth Evans at the time 
of her 40th wedding anniversary-
Gaylordsville Jan. 16th 1890
    And it came to pass when Zachery 
Taylor ruled over the land, there dwelt 
in the east country one Elizabeth of 
the family of Beers.  And there came to 
that place one Charles whose surname 
was Evans, and he took Elizabeth for 
his wife and she went with him to 
his home in the land beyond the 
river even the Housatonic and they 
dwelt there-  And sons and daughters 
were born unto them.  The sons took 
to themselves wives and dwelt in the 
north country and the daughter 
dwelt in the south.  And when two 
score years were past, Elizabeth said 
to her husband, “Lo this forty years 
have we dwelt together, let us make 
a feast and invite our children and 
grand children that we may rejoice 
together” and the saying pleased him 
and he said “Do even as thou wilt.”  
And they sent this message to their 
sons who dwelt in the north “Come 
to us on the sixteenth day of they first 
month and bring with you your 
wife and your children” and they 
answered “We will come” and to the 
daughter was sent a like message and 
she said “we will come.”
     Now there was in the land one Susan 
who had dwelt there many years and  
had known Charles from his birth.  She 
was also one of the first to welcome 
Elizabeth when she was a stranger 
in the land.  When she heard of the feast 
she called her children and neighbors 
together and said to them “Lo these many 
years have this couple have dwelt in 
our midst, let us go in a company 
to their house and surprise them and 
let us carry a present to them and thus 
saying pleased her friends and they 
said “We will do so.”

    Now when the day had come the 
children and grand children assembled 
together and one Julia (who was at the 
marriage) and Henry her son and he 
that ministered to this people and his 
wife and children and twenty and 
one did dine there and all enjoyed 
themselves and one Nelson brought 
verses that the minister read before 
them.  And when the evening was 
come and they who could not spend 
the night had departed and the 
children were in bed there was a 
knocking at the door.  When Elizabeth 
opened the door it, there was Susan 
and some of her neighbors who had 
come on foot and with oxen and 
had brought with them baskets of 
things to eat that none might say 
“Where shall we get food for this great 
company” and they spake pleasant 
words to Charles and Elizabeth and 
wished them many days even a 
golden wedding.
    And Anna the daughter of Susan 
made coffee and prepared supper 
and when all was ready a small 
table was placed before Charles and 
Elizabeth and John whose sur-
name was Duncan put a lighted 
lamp there-on and he made a 
nice speech, saying the lamp was 
a present from the neighbors given 
with love and good wishes and 
hoping as age dimmed their eyes
the light of the lamp would remind 
them of the love that would be a 
comfort to them as they pass on 
toward the end of life’s journey.  
They were so astonished they could 
only say “Thank you” but in their 
hearts they will remember the 
kindness of the neighbors and bless 
them for their friendship.  
And at midnight they departed 
every one to his own home.  

     Now the rest of the acts of the company. 
How they raced for potatoes and 
attached a candle appendage to 
the donkey and other things they did 
are they not written in chronicles of 
Giddings St?

Sounds like they had quite the party that night in Sherman with their neighbors  after their family who couldn't stay over went home.  The Evans home on Evans Hill Road was in Sherman, as were the Evans homes on Giddings St, so I'm not sure why it is called Gaylordsville here and in the next article.

Fast forward 13 more years, where their long marriage was celebrated in The Great Barrington Courier (where they had moved in their old age to be nearer their sons, Charles H and Edward).

This article appeared just 3 months before Charles died at age 83.
The Courier (vol. LXIX, page 1, 3 September 1903) extolled "the Berkshire Hills region being especially favorable to longevity and conducive to dispositions"


   Mr. and Mrs. Evans are an adopted 
son and daughter of Great  Barring-
ton, having been residents here for 
the past four years.    Prior  to that 
they lived here for several winters.  
The celebration of their fiftieth 
wedding anniversary occurred at 
their home on Rosseter street Tues
-day, January 23, 1900, a few days 
later than it naturally would have  
been because of illness on the part 
of Mr. Evans.  The event was no-
-table  in that for the second time 
there was a reunion of all the chil-
dren and  grandchildren, of the latter 
of whom there were four more to 
participate  in the second than in the 
first family gathering.   
     Charles Evans and Elizabeth Brad-
ford [Radford] were married in  Middlebury,
Conn., May 16, 1850 [January], the ceremony 
occurring at the  early hour of six 
o'clock in the morning.  Neither the 
clergyman or anyone present at the 
ceremony, the bride and groom ex-
cepted, is now  alive.  Most of the 
married life of Mr. and Mrs. Evans 
was lived at  Gaylordsville, Conn.; 
where Mr. Evans followed the  occu-
pation of a farmer, and also did more 
or less work as a carpenter. 
    He was the youngest and is the 
only survivor of a family of nine  
children, while his wife is also the only 
survivor in a family of four children.  
Both are in fairly good health, Mrs. 
Evans in particular.  She  is the 
possessor of a vigorous mind and 
takes an active interest in the Thurs-
days Morning Club meetings and in 
current affairs generally.  Mr.  and 
Mrs. Evans have sons and daughters 
as follows:  Messrs. Charles H.  and 
Edward Evans, the well known con-
tractors of this village; Mrs. Samuel  
G. Bristol, Milford, Conn.; Mrs. 
Edward Olmsted, Danbury, Conn.; 
Mrs. D.  H. Bronson, Beacon Falls, 
Conn., and Mrs. Charles Edwards, 
Seymour Conn.   Besides these they 
have 13 grandchildren."  

I think the month of their wedding listed above is a typo.  Here it is listed as MAY 16th instead of January.  The family celebrated in January, delayed a few days because of the health of Charles Evans.  I'm not sure what the first celebration referred to actually was; maybe their 40th anniversary party.
We know that Mrs Evans [Elizabeth] is in particularly good health, is busy with the Thursday Morning Club and current affairs.  He would die in three months, she in a dozen years hence.

This story raises a question:  why would anyone get married at 6 AM?
Any ideas?

Beers Radford (1784-1876)

After their wedding in January 1850, it appears that Elizabeth continued to live with her elderly father, Beers Radford and is listed as "Elizabeth Radford" not "Elizabeth Evans" in the census.  When the US Census was taken in September 1850, she is listed living with her widowed father in Middlebury CT, and Charles is listed as living with his older sister Lydia Evans in Sherman CT.  Since their first child was born in October 1851, they did move together after that census was taken.

©Erica Dakin Voolich, 2014