Sarah Orne Jewett Letters before 1869
Theodore Herman Jewett to SOJ
Dec 3d 
7 O clock P.M.
My Dear Child
I arrived here this evening. I met in the cars a Mr Gibson and wife from Nashville Tenn on their way to Boston and found them very pleasant people and although I left you
rrather sorrowfully, I can assure you, yet I had a pleasant ride to this place -- I shall spend tomorrow forenoon in looking about Niagara Falls and Mr Gibson and lady & myself will then leave at (noon) 2' P.M for Boston. I shall arrive there about 12 A.M on Saturday I understand, so as to take onethe cars for home at 3. O clock PM
-- I hope that you will be contented and enjoy yourself and above all not get sick ----
So take good care of yourself my dear, especially evenings ----
-- Give my thanks to Uncle John and Aunt Sarah* for all their kindness for they did all in their power for us and I appreciate their attentions ---- And now with kind love to them and my best wishes my dear child for your welfare and happiness I remain your affectionate father
Theo H Jewett
1857: The letter is dated December 3. Dr. Jewett indicates that he will view the falls the next morning and then depart around midday for Boston, arriving at around Midnight on Saturday. Buffalo to Boston by train in 1874 was roughly 15 hours. Departing on Friday afternoon, he should arrive in Boston by Midnight on Saturday. December 3, therefore, probably is Thursday. During Jewett's childhood, December 3 fell on Thursday in 1857, when she was 8, and 1868, when she was 19. In the absence of other information, I will guess that the letter's tone suggests an 8-year-old reader, and place it in 1857.
Mr Gibson and wife from Nashville Tenn: These people have not been identified. Assistance is welcome.
Uncle John and Aunt Sarah: See Sarah Chandler Perry in Correspondents.
The manuscript of this letter is at the University of New England, Maine Women Writers Collection, Jewett Collection correspondence [n.d.] corr048-o-soj.3. Transcription and notes by Terry & Linda Heller, Coe College.
SOJ to Grace Gordon
[ 13 August 1868 ]*
8th August 1868.
My Dear Grace
As you see by the date, my intentions have been good towards you; I commenced the very night I came home to answer* your letter but I really had forgotten that my commencement was so very slight! Now to the best of my knowledge it is the thirteenth day of the month and it continues to be -- S. Berwick and I can still say 'My Dear Grace' and so I commence again. The first thing I must write you about is my journey 'down East'. I enjoyed my self beyond every thing. The very first day was even happier
[ Page 2 ]
than I expected. When I got to Aunt Helen Gilman's,* who should be there but Nelly!* Mary *and Father had known it all the time and Zilpha Cutter* was there too. So when it was time to go to the steamer I was very much overcome. We left Portland at five o'clock and it was quite chilly after seven also very rough but as long as there was any thing to see in the way of island and cliffs, there was moonlight enough to see it. About seven, having attended a picnic the day before and indulged in divers and sundry very good things in Portland I was slightly sea-sick and about eight[,] ignominiously retired to my state room. The next morning when I woke up, I
[ Page 3 ]
was just going to tell a fib -- I mean when I dressed myself and went out in search of my parent, (You must n't think I had been sea-sick all night) I found my self in the thickest fog I ever saw -- and I donít think I ever realized so fully the meaning of the word bleak, as I did when I saw the sea. The schooners round us looked like ghosts and once is a while we would ^go^ quite close to some great rocks coming right out of the sea or there would be great cliffs on the other side. When we got inside Grand Manan [may have written Menan] and up to Quoddy head,* you could hear the fog bells ringing on the shore, but nothing to be seen but this gray fog all round you. I have forgotten what time that day we got into Eastport. All
[ Page 4 ]you could see there was the front row of people on the wharf -- We took the river steamer there and went up the St Croix at dead low water and the most fearful thunder and lightning in St. Andrew bay that I ever knew in my life. St Andrew bay is twenty miles wide but two inches each side was the extent of the view that day. Vattie* met us at the wharf and of course our visit in Calais was all that heart could desire excepting that as usual I wanted to stay and broke my heart because I couldn't. St. Stephen N. B.* is just across the river and most of Vattie's friends live there. The minute you get across the bridge you can see the change, instead of turning to the right when you meet a carriage you must turn to the left, and
[ Page 5 ]
allthe stores have names such as "The Golden Fleece"* which is one of the dry goods stores. The church is builtlike the pictures of English churches and the rector is very 'high'* and there are services morning^afternoon^ and evening every day. Both towns are very high up from the river and there are some of the most beautiful views I ever saw. We went to a party in Calais and were invited, the night we were to leave, to an English house in St. Stephen. Wasnt it a pity we couldn't go? One day we went yachting down the St. Croix, and had a beautiful time. We left Calais Tuesday, and I never enjoyed any thing more in all my life than I did the sail down the St. Croix river to Eastport and through Passamaquoddy bay. We didnít see any thing as we went up so it was all the better, and such a glorious day as it was! Until we got to St. Andrew there were high hills on both sides and the river less than a mile wide and as far as you could see was steep blue hills and the shore all rocks
[ Page 6 ]After we left St. Andrew it was more beautiful still for the water was twenty miles across and there were fishing boats and yachts all round and quantities of islands great and small. When I get my fortune I shall have a house at St. Andrew, and a yacht and some Indian canoes and an Indian to paddle. There are just such houses as I should like, on the shore all along -- It is never very warm there -- just right all summer. Only when you get further south toward Eastport it is very boggy. One thing or rather one person made it very pleasant Mr Ferguson. Lucy Gates lover* was at Calais while we were and and
thoughhe went down to St. John with us. His mother and sisters live there. And he is in business in New York and Chicago. The morning after we got to St. John, he came to the hotel and we went all about. It seemed as if I must be in Europe. The people look and talk so differently and the streets have such different names. King and Queen and Prince
[ Page 7 ]William, and Regent, and Charlotte, and Duke. We went up to the Catholic Cathedral* which is very large with a great many chapels opening from it and huge stained windows that must have cost small fortunes, and there were people saying their prayers all round and a statue of the Virgin with flowers and lots of trinkets before it. And there was the Convent and the "Sisters School" and the Bishop's palace,* all very near. That afternoon at four o'clock Mr Ferguson came for us and we went up to Queen Square in front of his house to hear the band, which is said to be one of the finest in the British army. It belongs to the Regiment of Riflemen* which is stationed there. The riflemen [are ?] round the streets all the time and the officers ride by with the most brilliant uniforms, and you cannot look out without seeing priests with long gowns. Well, the music was perfect and it was very nice to watch the people. Of course the very nicest people were there in their
[ Page 8 ]very nicest clothes and all round the square were people in carriages and dog carts with the coach man and foot man in the grandest style you ever saw! After we heard, "God Save the Queen"* we went to the Ferguson's to tea. The house is one built nobody knows how many years ago by an old Englishman and is full of the queerest places, just like a house in a novel. The Fergusons are Scotch and perfectly charming. All of them have been in Europe or home as they all call it. The rest of the time we were there we were going about and seeing every thing and enjoying ourselves generally. The only unpleasant thing about it was the fleas! They bit my foot and poisoned it so I have been lame ever since I got back and Mary is bitten too. We couldn't imagine what they were but at last we saw one and it jumped about a mile which enlightened us considerably!! Did you ever see one jump? I never had before and I havenít recovered from it yet. The morning we were coming away -- Father came up and said the steamer
[ Page 9 ]
got in very late and instead of leaving at eight o'clock would wait until ten or eleven. And we could sleep as long as we liked, but about seven he came rushing up to tell us to hurry with all our mights for the boat would leave at the usual time! We had our things to put in the trunk and ourselves to dress and our breakfast to eat and to get to the wharf all of which we accomplished. You would have laughed to see the people hurry down there -- the waiters heard the boat was delayed and didn't find out to the contrary till the last moment so no one was waked up in time! It was very pleasant coming down the bay of Fundy. You never saw any thing like the tide there. It rises and falls sixty or seventy feet and the wharves look so high at low tide. Mr Snell* the artist was on board going down and coming back and he and Father got very well acquainted. So he sketched for me and told me a great many things. If I go to Boston he is going to take me to all the studios.
I was notHe introduced us to a Miss Murray of St. John,* who was very nice indeed. And it was a beautiful day and we could see the coast
[ Page 10 ]very plainly. Every day was beautiful whether it rained or not. We got to Portland at four in the morning and home in the early train. It seemed as if I hadnít been gone at all. I had all the better time because I haven't been every where under the sun and traveled every summer --
What a nice time you must be having at Bethlehem.* It looks as if it might be delightful. Grandma showed me the picture yesterday. I put my head in the window this morning and she was writing Mrs Gordon* with all violence so I availed myself of some gingerbread and departed. Your letter from Newport was very interesting and I was so glad to get it. So write me again soon. I want to see you dreadfully. I hope you will come by and bye wont you? Anna Fox* is going to the mountains next week and I hope she will stop here. We shall see her as she goes through anyway. I have been reading a very nice book since I came back "History of the Huguenots"* ---- I think it is quite time for me to finish this letter so good bye dear Grace -- Much love to all from
Your loving Sarah
13 August 1868: In the letter, Jewett says that she is completing the letter on 13 August.
answer: This word in the MS may be crossed through or underlined. It seems to make more sense if it is underlined.
Aunt Helen Gilman's: See Correspondents.
Nelly: Knowing which Nelly to which Jewett refers is difficult. It seems likely that she refers to her cousin, Helen, daughter of Aunt Helen Gilman. See Correspondents.
Mary: Mary Rice Jewett. See Correspondents.
Zilpha Cutter: Because this seems not to be a common name, it is probable that Jewett refers to Mrs. Zilpha A. Whitney Cutter (1819-1909) of Westbrook, ME. which is a western suburb of Portland, ME.
Quoddy Head: Quoddy Head light house is east of Grand Manan Island.
Vattie: Jewett records writing a letter to Vattie Gates in her diary of 15 January 1869. This seems likely to have been Vashiti / Vashti Gates (1848-1925), daughter of Ephraim Church Gates and Vashiti / Vashti Randall Pickins of Calais, ME. She married Bradley Llewellyn Eaton (1850-1937) in 1872. The "Find a Grave" pages for this couple offer a good deal of information about their families.
St. Stephen N. B.: In New Brunswick, Canada, Saint Stephen is across the across the St. Croix River from Calais, ME.
"The Golden Fleece": This dry goods store in Saint Stephen was owned and operated by Hugh Cullinen and his brother, Patrick, from 1850 until Hugh's death in 1895.
The church: Presumably, Jewett refers to St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Calais (1853).
Mr Ferguson. Lucy Gates lover: his mother and sisters live there. And he is in business in New York and Chicago.
Lucy Gates (1845-1921) was Vattie Gates's sister. By about 1873, she was married Henry H. Barnard (1946-1908). As a result, her Mr. Ferguson has not been identified.
A candidate is John Ferguson (b. 1849), eldest son a New Brunswick politician who would become Member of Parliament, John Ferguson (1813-1888); however, he would be the same age as Jewett, 19, seeming somewhat young to be courting Lucy, who was 23.
St. John ... the Catholic Cathedral: The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Saint John, New Brunswick, was completed in 1853.
"Sisters School" and the Bishop's palace: Presumably, Jewett refers the Sisters of Charity of St. John, who administered both schools and an orphanage in St. John after 1854. They served many Irish immigrant children who lost their parents in several local epidemics. The Bishop's Palace (1861), next to the Cathedral, served not only as the Bishop's residence, but also as a school and service center. See also Canada's Historic Places.
Queen Square...the band ... British army ...Regiment of Riflemen: Queen Square is a public park space in Saint John, New Brunswick, not the site of a regular farmer's market. Canadian Band history sources indicate that prior to 1885, there was no formal military band in Saint John. Jewett's description suggests that the the British Band and Bugles of The Rifles may have been visiting and performing in Saint John during August of 1868, but this has not been confirmed. Assistance is welcome.
After we heard, "God Save the Queen": This British royal anthem typically was performed to close a concert or show in 19th-century Canada as well as in Great Britain and other Commonwealth nations.
Mr Snell the artist ... Miss Murray of St. John: These persons have not been identified. Assistance is welcome.
Grandma ... writing Mrs Gordon: Jewett's last living grandmother in 1868 was the fourth wife of her grandfather, Captain Theodore F. Jewett (1787-1860), Eliza Sleeper Jewett (1793-1870). Grace Gordon Treadwell Walden's mothe, Katherine was Katherine Gordon. See Correspondents.
Anna Fox: The identity of Anna Fox is not yet known. A contemporary person of this name in New England was Mary Anna Fox, who is mentioned briefly as the adopted daughter of Mrs. Eliza Baylies Wheaton's sister, Mrs. Judson, in The Life of Eliza Baylies Wheaton (1907). Mrs. Wheaton was a founder of Wheaton Female Seminary in Norton, MA, now Wheaton College.
"History of the Huguenots": Jewett could have been reading one of several available books on the Huguenots. Of particular interest to her at the time of her trip to Canada may have been M. Charles Weiss, History of the French Protestant Refugees, from the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes to our Days (1854), translated by Henry William Herbert.
The manuscript of this letter is held by the Houghton Library of Harvard University: bMS Am 1743.1 (118). Transcribed and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.
Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.
Main Contents & Search