1845: Mary Jane (Cram) Parsons to Edwin Parsons

Joseph Parsons

Joseph Parsons

This letter was written by Mary Jane (Cram) Parsons (1814-1898), the daughter of Jonathan and Polly (Dockham) Cram of Meredith, New Hampshire. She married [in 1840] Joseph Parsons (1816-1887), the son of William and Mary Parsons of Alfred, Maine. Joseph and Mary Jane had several children, the first two (mentioned in this letter) being Mary Georgia Parsons (b. 1840) and William Addison Parsons (b. 1842). By 1850, Joseph and Mary Jane had settled at Riverhurst, the Parsons family home in Kennebunk, Maine. He was a farmer and later served in the Maine Legislature.

Mary Jane wrote the letter to her brother-in-law, Edwin Parsons (1823-1895) in Savannah, Georgia. The following biography for Edwin and his younger brother George comes from the Parson Family Papers: Raymond H. Fogler Library at the University of Maine:

George Parsons was born on November 1, 1826 in Alfred, Maine, the son of William and Mary Parsons. He attended school in Alfred and assisted his father on the farm until he was seventeen years old. In the 1840’s with his older brother Edwin, George Parsons entered the office of Carhart & Scott, cotton merchants in Savannah, Georgia. In 1846 the firm name changed to Edwin Parsons & Co. and in 1856 the brothers opened an office in New York. Edwin Parsons took charge of this office and the Savannah company became George Parsons & Co. The brothers were also the principal owners of the Bank of Middle Georgia in Macon. With the coming of the Civil War, the brothers invested funds largely in cotton, which was shipped to Liverpool. The Savannah office was closed in 1861 and did not reopen; the New York office remained open during the war. The funds of the bank were forwarded to London at the beginning of the war, which enabled it to redeem its bills and obligations and pay its shareholders a profit when the war was over.

After the Civil War, George and Edwin Parsons made their headquarters in New York City and turned their business interests toward railroads and mining. Edwin Parsons died in 1895. In the 1880’s, George Parsons entered the street railway business in the Savannah area, purchasing the City & Suburban Railway Company. In 1892 the Savannah, Thunderbolt & Isle of Hope Railway Company was established with George Parsons as president. He also had interests in several coal companies around Birmingham, Alabama, as well as in the Sloss Sheffield Steel & Iron Company.

In 1902 George Parsons became interested in the development of Sheffield, Alabama, and in 1903 formed the Sheffield Company which built an interurban railway, a power plant and a waterworks for Sheffield and Tuscumbia, twin cities along the Tennessee River. He also served as a member of the board of directors of the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad, the South Carolina & Georgia Railroad, and the Sheffield Cast Iron Pipe & Foundry Company.

In 1865 George Parsons married Sarah Elizabeth Eddy in Fall River, Massachusetts. Born in 1838, she was the daughter of Lucius Junius Eddy and Louisa Maria Pratt Eddy. George and Sarah Parsons had seven children: Henry, May Eddy [Dwight], Joseph, Charlotte [Milmine], William Usher, Mary Abigail [Parsons Coolidge], and Louise [Ewing]. The Parsons family spent time at their home, Riverhurst, in Kennebunk, as well as in New York City, and on Wassaw Island along the coast of Georgia near Savannah.

George Parsons died on December 4, 1907, leaving an estate estimated at $5,000,000. Sarah Parsons died on October 28, 1918.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mr. Edwin Parsons, Savannah, Georgia

Charlestown [Massachusetts]
November 9th 1845

Dear Edwin,

I am not indebted to you but I take the liberty of writing you another of my odious epistles supposing as a matter of course that it will not be very acceptable but be that as it may I proceed. Was very much gratified to learn through G’s and your letter that you are still in good health & suppose prospects. Am very glad that George is with you [and] feel that it will be somewhat advantageous on the part of him and rather pleasant for you. I think he improved greatly while at Pn but presume there is still room for more which I trust will be accomplished under your jurisdiction. Hope his health will still continue to improve.

Joseph’s health is rather poor & has been all summer, but I think he is rather better just at this time. He is rather worried about himself but Dr. Hurd says that he has not got any seated disease about him, but he thinks so much about it that it makes it rather worse than it is. The only disease on him is slight inflammation on the windpipe which would go off of itself but anyhow I hope he will get over it soon. His appetite is good & food sets well on his stomach. He has got the idea that he must go South in order to recover his health which I am very sorry for but would be content for him to do so if he could live with his family which thing I am very anxious for. This being married & living apart is no pleasant thing at all & I am very tired of it for I can truly say the lowest domicile would be very acceptable to me where I could enjoy my dear husband & children which I think is very important for I do think that our means, with economy, would permit us to live together and enjoy each other’s society with our dear children in peace ands quietude.

Things have not been so pleasant as I wish they might have been for the last year or so. I could never have thought that I should ever have been such a burthen in the presence of Mother Parsons. But it did seem to me that my very presence made her perfectly miserable and unhappy and for what I know not — only she constantly threw in my face my extravagance which has ever wounded my feelings. I speak of this to you as I have no one else to as my friends and sisters are not aware there was every any unpleasantrey at all, but I of a truth do not harbor the least thought of prejudice in my bosom. It would have been much more pleasant for me the past season to have been engaged in domestic affairs than it has been the way it has altho I have devoted my time in sewing and trying to do all in my power to try to get along and get a little. I have spent no time visiting or pleasuring this 8 months & no inclination to do so. Perhaps you will feel rather provoked at my tale but trust you will forgive it, but hope you will impart some of your good advice to Joseph recommending him what is best for him to do. He is a good, kind husband and one I shall ever feel to trust to and do want to make him happy and am willing to sacrifice anything rather than be separated from him for there is no farther motive, Brother or Sister that seems like my husband & there is no one for me to look to there but him. I have been with E. all summer, enjoyed myself well as I could.

Mary Georgia has been to school all the time and is a first rate scholar. She has grown very much & is a very interesting child. Reads in reading & is very fond of singing & often speaks of Uncle Edwin & remembers many things you said to her when we came on. And as for Willy, he is  little before the common class children for intellectual capabilities and as for firmness none surpass him. And to say still more, he takes very much after his Uncle Edwin. They are both hale & hearty and children which would pride the heart of many parents. As for myself, I do not feel proud but think it is a great blessing to have such intelligent ones and I shall try all in my power to improve their minds and try train them in the right way near as I can.

My own health is very good and has been. Charles H. is doing a good business and gets along pretty well. He has had an addition of a daughter to his family about 3 weeks old — rose pretty smart. They desire much love to you. E. & her family of a son and daughter are quite well and wish to be remembered to you. Mr. Holland’s health is rather ____ but his family of wife & four children are quite well. All the rest are well. Mr. Richardson & wife live in the house with Stephen. Their family consists of no children. Joseph is still at Mr. Blake’s but do not know how long he will stay but I think if he stays there I shall try and get a situation in a family where I can take Willy & board Georgia for I want to try to earn my board. Joseph said he should write in a few weeks but wished me to ask you if you had saw anything about that money. He wished to be remembered and was very glad when he received your letter.

As for anything from the East, I know nothing & have heard no intelligence from there since I left only through Charles that they were well. Things in these parts bear the same aspect as usual — only rather brisker and more r___y. I visited M. F.’s family two or three days when they were at C. They appeared very pleasant indeed.

As I have nothing of no more interest to write, I shall close the scroll I have written hoping you will advise Joseph to settle down with his family. You know his circumstances as well as I do so write me some of your good advice when you feel to. So please excuse this with much respects to Brother George.

Your sister, Mary Jane

P. S. Please excuse the seam in the paper for I am too sluggish to copy it.


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