Howe Letters - Death of Father


Boxford, Mass.. October 1, 1870

My dear Brother,
Allen and Maria came up Monday and brought Father and I a very handsome present. I have wanted to write to you everyday since but have had company or something has prevented. Your present has made Father and I very grateful and happy. I suppose it has been so long
since you could get anything you wanted that you can hardly realize how much good ?? and?? will do us. We accept it with pleasure feeling it is cheerfully given feeling that your wife would not object either. May the Lord still bless and prosper you, for in prospering you he blesses us all. I want Father to have an easy chair or lounge. We have had considerable planning to do this week when we get things arranged. I shall write and tell you. I am not going to lay up the money against a time of need for I have come to want now. If Father continues comfortable, I am glad you did not come now, for we have it to look forward to and Maria and Allen can tell us all about you now. Maria sees nothing through "a glass darkly" but everything is beautiful to her. I can seem to see you all, even to baby [Daisy, just newborn] wrapped in her blanket but Oda is the most wonderful of all. I hope Annie's?? Not legible? is better now. Oh Ike, how good the Lord is to spare you all and yet do we realize his goodness? When I think how dark this world would seem with the loving brother gone. His thoughtful kindness taken from us -- I think I am very grateful to our Heavenly Father for all his mercies.
It has been a little raining for a few days. I see it affects father but he is about. He takes a nap in the afternoon, sometimes in the forenoon too. George Peabody brought him over a pair of boots this week. Said they wouldn't be anything. I hear of George giving five dollars to a poor man here and five dollars to a poor woman there until I think he may do more good in small things than the great George did. I cannot help hoping that you may have business that will bring you a little nearer New England.
With a great deal of love to you all. I am yours ever, Soph.
Father says he does not feel like writing. You must imagine what he would say.

Note: George Peabody was son of Uncle Charles and Aunt Hannah. Hannah was Abijah's half-sister by Hepzibah Peabody.
Allen Knight and his daughter Maria were cousins by Aunt Sarah, Abijah's older sister, who married Allen's father. In other words, Sarah was Maria's grandmother. Also Maria would soon marry Malverd Tucker who was by now a distant cousin.

Boxford, November 20, 1870

My Dear Brother.
Are you busy? I want to have a little chat with you. Thomas and I went to Salem a few days ago and bought a good lounge for which we paid $12. Father thought the old chair he sits in was good enough and I think the lounge is better as the weather is colder. It will be more comfortable for him to live down here in the sitting room. Father is very feeble, coughs and raises a great deal -- I sometimes think the end is very near -- still he may live through the winter. You know he was very sick last fall. Father thought I had better get me a carpet for my sitting room. It would save me so much washing (I believe he never liked to have floors washed) so when the money came I thought I would get a carpet for my chamber and take that for my sitting room. I have done so. I hope you will not think I have spent our money foolishly. Father reads all he dares to, is about the house but does not go out of the house any. Now Ike, we all know that father cannot be very far from the end of his journey and should he be taken suddenly so I should know no time to consult you in regard to his burial, I want you to write me some directions, expenses of coffin, etc. We know that these questions may be answered for you and I before they are for him, but it will not hasten the day to talk with you about it and as we are situated it does not seem improper to speak to you about it. Whenever you write, write on a slip of paper because he would want to see the mainsheet.
We are all well -- shall not invite any to Thanksgiving unless Allen and Maria. There are too many families now and I do not feel willing to invite them. Have done my duty in that line. The fall has been very pleasant. George Peabody represents Danvers in the legislature. He is very kind to father and finally all the rest of us. I can hardly account for it. What is the old adage? "Prosperity makes friends, adversity tries them." Ike, when I think of the goodness of God in restoring you to so good a health it seems to me we all ought to praise his holy name. You have been very, very kind to all of us.
Sunday evening. Allen and Maria have just gone. I wish you could sit behind the curtain and hear Allan talk about Oda. She is the most wonderful child he ever saw. She seems to make everybody love her. He says she is a perfect picture too -- I hear that Annie is able to lay aside her crutch. I am very glad. She must be very careful. Well, I did invite Aunt Phila to come here, but I did not then expect Father to come home with me and I thought it would be a relief to him and?? and be not trouble to me but after Father came, of course, I did not expect her -- and I found it troubled him very much. I am sorry he feels so, he says he wishes he didn't feel so but I am very thankful he is here. There are more to call and see him here. I can do things to make him comfortable by our open fire and the money you sent has made us both very grateful. I am down to the bottom of the page. Give my best love to your dear family.
Yours, Soph
[If Phila is Philinda Eastman domestic servant, she would be 74 by now.]

Boxford, December 7, 1870

My Dear Brother.
Your letter came all right. I am so glad I wrote to you last Monday. I was afraid I had not written you soon enough. Father was very sick. I got some medicine of our Doct. for his cough. It has helped it wonderfully for the last few days. He has talked a good deal. I wish you could have been here. We cannot hope it, rather expect it to last long. Monday Aunt Betsy Wilkins * came over to see him. She said she wanted to see Father and she never expected to come again. She has had two attacks of palsy and her friends are expecting every day that she will have the third and last attack. I suppose you do not know her. She is Father's cousin and Mother knew her. Tuesday ?? Charles [Peabody] and the two Aunt Hannah's [Peabody & Hannah Berry Howe of Benjamin] came. Allen [Knight] was up last evening. There are a good many to call. The ministers call to see him. Among all the Societies in Northfield, not one called to see him while I was there. His friends are nearly all gone. Father sleeps in one of the bedrooms opening out of the sitting. Thomas would hear him in the night if anything was the matter. He lies on the lounge when he lies down during the day. It is so nice for him. Does not seem half so lonesome right here in the sitting room with us. We have a comfortable carpet on the floor. Father has a warm corner by the open fire which he enjoys. I try to make him just as comfortable as I can and thanks to you I think he is. Thomas has never said a word that Father was a burden in any way. Of course he thinks we are well paid but I think he would do what he could if you had not supplied us so generously. Father has money enough for the present. George [Howe Peabody] gets his whiskey for him in Boston. Father's letter to you is the first he has written since he has been here. If I am as well as I am now, I shall take care of him myself and I have had some things to do which I was very thankful it was me instead of Annie. Tell her to be sure and come this way if she can. Ike, I wish you would write a few lines to George. We will try and have some clan? when you come. I am very glad Annie is able to lay aside her crutch. A crutch seems almost?? to me and I feel a tender sympathy for one who is obligated to use one from whatever cause. Ike, we all want to see you and have a good long talk. Father thinks you will not come until it freezes. It is very mild here, we have had a beautiful fall. I shall talk with you about Tom if you are not able to come before very long. I shall write you. Give my love to your wife and your little girls. Oh Daisy. The name sounds pretty to me because it is associated with a pretty girl. She was not named Daisy but it was given as a pet name and has always kept it. I am glad to hear that you are all well. So are we and it is no small thing to be thankful for. I presume I shall think of something else I wanted to write after I send this -- but I can write again.
With best love to all. Your sister, Soph
* There were a Julia Ann Howe and Caroline Elizabeth Gould sisters that married Wilkins brothers, but they would be cousins since their mother Lydia would have been a younger half sister to Abijah. Caroline Elizabeth could have been a Betsy, age 45-46. She would be Abijah's niece, married Cyrus Wilkins 1847.

On first page of this letter is written:

My cough is better today. I think that it has been any time for more than a year I left Northfield July 1 and think that I shall not go back to live there anymore. Ann has always been good and kind to me but I cannot bear the sight. Ahila*, don't keep your house any longer to make an home for me. I have stopped at Uncle Charles two or three weeks. George and Augustus [Benjamin Augustus Peabody] called at Thomas the next day after we got home and George here about every week since. He goes as representative to the legislator. He has given a new?? Not legible , cost $125, a very nice pair of slippers, a new pair of calfskin boots. I want to see and a long talk with you and hope it shall soon. If the medicine Dr. Allen left me continues to ease me I will write again. Ere long give my love to your dear wife and all your children. Our relatives in this section are all well. [George Howe Peabody and Augusta Mudge were not married until 1875, both 39.]
Abijah How
*Phila? In Northfield. He's not going back. She's the relative he doesn't like. Did Ike keep the Elm St. house for Abijah?