Radical Equality: 1842-1846

Letter, Dolly W. Stetson to James A. Stetson, Mar. 18, 1845

Dolly recounts a debate over dancing in the new dining hall.

Transcript:

[March 18, 1845]

Tuesday Evening 18th March – 45

Dear Husband
I suppose you would be as much disappointed to open the box and not find a letter, as I should be to have it return without one for me – so alltho I have nothing more to say than how much we love you and how much we wish you could be home with us, all of which you know without its being repeated; still I will write. Ah! I have some news to tell you.

Our new kitchen and dining room are completed the latter of which was formily dedicated last Tuesday Evening we had a Pic Nic to which all of the Association were invited and most of them came After supper we had a speech from Sojourney1 on the beauties of the room – and truly it did look beautifully decorated with evergreens and brilliantly illuminated with hanging lamps borrowed for the occasion from the silk room. the room extends across the entire east end of the factory and is large enough to seat the whole community comfortably at table – next a speach from G.W.B. upon ingratitude and complaining when we were surrounded by so many comforts and luxuries next followed Mr Mack upon order in all things and temperance in eating – next Mr Hill upon rational enjoyments and occupations that became rational beings Mr Kerr closed by hoping that the hall would be dedicated to free speech and that it might never be disgraced by chairmen and secretaraies to keep folks in order – Mrs Hammond had her piano removed to the hall with the intention to have dancing but as it was understood that Mr Hill intended to bear his testimony against it there seemed a general reluctance to commence but at last Mrs Mack Mrs Whipple Sophia Ford and a few other independent ones danced a figure and were just forming another set among which was your wife when Mr Hill entered and anounced the astounding fact that it was 9 oclock and asked who would act like reasonable beings and go home and go to bed? – Mr Hammond perswaded his wife to lock the piano – and thus ended the matter not so either because there was a great deal of grumbling that they were not permited to dance —

I wonder if it is like rational beings to be up poreing over account books till 1 or 2 oclock at night? or to be so driven for money as to have girls set up till that time skeining silk and have to suffer months and perhaps loose her sight like Marion Smith2 Oh! ye Scribes and Pharisees hypocrites who strain at a gnat and swallow a Camel3 — Mr Hammond Whipple and Bensons families all board here – Nancy has got well and has Stephen to help in the kitchen – Mrs Rosbrook and Susan Byrne have the care of the dining room at presant – George has talked some of sending to Providence for Anna to take that place4 – You dont know how much I miss Mother I am shut up in my rooms from morning till night and night to morning – except that Sarah takes care of James while I do my work in the morning before school — I have not been outside the walls of the Factory half a dozen times since you went away and have only been up to Catharines twice since I went there with you and have not been into any other house in the association this winter –
but I dont care much about that if my health does not suffer —

James walks finely has two new teeth and is getting to be quite a pretty baby but his fretfullness is much the same — Lucy wants me to say to you that she thinks you ought to send [her?] a book – George5 send his love and thanks you for getting him a good Robinson Crusoe – he left all play untill he had carefully read the whole of it which took him about two days – he is improving in his reading and begins to have a taste for it —

Sarah has commenced a watch guard for Atkins but she has but little time to work on it between her lessons her straw braiding and her school – as for Almira and Mary they are so occupied in their work and studies that I should seldom see them if I did not meet them at table and if they did not come home to sleep — I have not head a word from Mother since she left neither from Taylor to whom I wrote requesting to know the situation of the place in the villiage whether there was any prospect of selling it and whether there had been any rent collected to pay the interest on the morgage

I wish you would call on David Reed and settle the long bill with him in some manner and stop the paper I am sick of the long Parker controversy and do not think the paper improved under the new Editor Mr Upam6
I forgot to say that tenements have been made of the old dining room and kitchen for Mr Martins7

and Ashleys families and they are comeing in soon – Mrs Ashley has a daughter a few days old all well8
I hope to have a good long letter from you soon
your collars and bosoms do not look very nice but I believe Mrs Small tries to do them the best she can and it not possible for me to attend to ironing now Yours DW Stetson

Mother is gone

I hope when you write again you will tell us if you intend to come home and when

Forgive me for not writing but I have not time – Love to all Almira

Addressed: James A Stetson / Boston // Box

Notes

  1. Sojourner Truth.
  2. Mary Ann Smith (b.1825) had come to the NAEI from Bloomfield, Conn., in January 1843 and worked mainly at silk production. She had ties to various abolitionist families and groups in Connecticut.
  3. This passage condenses Matthew, 23: 23-24.
  4. Susan Byrne (1816- ) had been at the NAEI since 1843, and was previously active in the Female (Working) Antislavery Society of Willimantic, Conn., of which she was Treasurer in 1842.
    “George” was George W. Benson and “Anna” Anna Jackson.
  5. George R. Stetson.
  6. David Reed was long-time editor of the Christian Register, the leading Boston Unitarian newspaper, which he had founded in 1821.
    Theodore Parker (1810-1860) was a Unitarian minister with close links to Transcendentalist and antislavery circles. Noted for his theological liberalism, he was by the mid-1840s disowned by many conservative Unitarians.
  7. Joseph C. Martin (1808-1865), from the small farming town of Chaplin, Conn., had joined the NAEI with his family in April 1844 and would stay for the rest of its existence. He was elected President in 1845, in succession to George W. Benson.
  8. George and Eliza (Forward) Ashley. Their daughter, Lydia L. Ashley, was born on March 12, 1845. George Ashley was probably Joseph Martin’s brother-in-law.
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