1831: John Adams Davis to Persis Temple Nelson

This letter was written by John Adams Davis (1798-1838), son of Simon Davis (1765-1810) and his first wife, Persis Newton (1767-1800). They were married in February 1789. Simon’s parents were Dea. David and Abigail (Brown) Davis of Paxton. Persis Newton’s parents were Silas Newton (1744-1816) and Deliverance Delia Howe (1748-1783). Simon’s second wife was Persis Temple (1775-18xx) who later (in 1825) married her third husband, Captain David Nelson. It was to Persis, his step-mother, that John directed this letter.

Gravestone of Julia Temple Long

Gravestone of Julia Temple Long

Mentioned in the letter is Julia Temple Davis (1807-1869), John’s half-sister, who married Zadoc Long (1800-1873) on 31 August 1824 at New Gloucester, Cumberland County, Maine.

Carrying the letter to his step-mother was John’s cousin, Lucretia Bullard (Newton) Lawrence (1811-1903), the daughter of Silas Newton (1770-1836) and Eunice Beaman of West Boylston. Lucretia’s marriage in April 1831 — called a “droll” affair — is mentioned in this letter. She was married to John B. Lawrence (1804-1883), the son of Samuel Lawrence and Phebe Rhoda Russell (1770-1852). Lucretia’s brother, Jabez Beaman Newton (1808-1888), is also mentioned.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mrs. Persis Nelson, New Gloucester (Maine) Favored by Mr. Lawrence

West Boylston [Massachusetts]
April 11th 1831

To my friends in N. Gloucester
Turner, Burkfield & Portland,

An opportunity offers to send to Maine by Mr. & Mrs. Lawrence, who expect to set out tomorrow morning for Farmington, Kennebec County — about 30 miles beyond Turner. Cousin Lucretia, his wife. is a daughter of Uncle Silas Newton of West Boylston. His children are all married now I believe, except Jabez, and all settled near him save the pair above mentioned. They were tied [married] last week by Rev. Mr. [Abial] Fisher, and a droll wedding it was. Sister Matilda says: — Silas Jr. was at work in the garden, and other members of the family were variously employed, and out of the room where the ceremony was performed, two or three only were witnesses. The match was not displeasing.

Two letters from you have been received since I wrote; bother were dated in November last. It was my intention to have answered them much sooner, but finally thought I would omit the work until I had visited among our friends in W. Boylston, Paxton, & Princeton. Accordingly, being out of a situation in Boston, I left the city on the morning of the 23d of December last in company with Uncle Elias David, at whose residence I have made my home the principal part of the time for nearly four months. Uncle B. Davis’s has been my other place of abode, and I have visited frequently at Bro. White’s.

Have employed myself a part of the time in assisting Uncle B. & E. though on the whole I have run in debt some for maintenance. However, I shall be able to clear out for Boston tomorrow without leaving any work behind for a lawyer to do.

I have received two letters from Bro. Long, which were for Addison & me together. The first, dated January 10th, and the other April 4th. Bro. Addison said he commenced a letter in answer soon after the first was received, therefore I omitted writing longer than I otherwise should have done. It was gratifying to hear of the health of friends at the eastward. Conclude that Levi’s wife has recovered as no mention is made to the contrary. We shall look for Zadoc & Julia at the time appointed.

I visited at Princeton a few days ago. Found all well excepting Mr. Hagar who has been very much out of health for some time past. Called at Mr. Rawson’s. Persis appeared glad to see me. Don’t see as marrying has altered her for the worse. She looks as pretty as ever. Friends well at Paxton, excepting Aunt Patty Davis who has been afflicted with the typhus fever. She is now so as to be about house.

Aunt Mary Davis has been very weak and low much of the time since last fall. She is now much better. Cousin Thomas Davis’s health seems to be improving. Much better than he was last summer and fall. Don’t know as I have any particular news to write respecting our other friends. The blessings of health are generally enjoyed.

Affectionately yours, — John A. Davis

Sister Persis B — Please to write to me by Julia. Tell me all the news. Remembrance to Mrs. Merrill, Joseph, Mrs. Davis, and all who inquire. Mary Temple (the talk is) is going away with Spofford the 1st of May.

Sister Matilda sends love to all. She is well yet. For the future, you must direct to Joseph White, Esq., Recently appointed.

Tuesday morning, April 12th. Mr. Lawrence will call shortly. I have not time to write separate letters. Will you all please to accept of this as it is. I did expect to visit Maine this winter, but finally concluded to wait till a milder season. I should have sent a machine to Doct. Megguire, but have been so situated that it has not been in my power.


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