This letter was written by Sarah Jane Parsons (1825-Aft1900) of Gilmanton, Belknap County, New Hampshire. Sarah was the spinster daughter of Capt. Josiah Parsons (1781-1842) and Judith Badger (1788-1876). Prior to the Civil War, Sarah worked as a school teacher. A sister, Mary Elizabeth Parsons, married (1840) Rev. Ephraim Nelson Hidden (1810-1880) who is mentioned in this letter as having recently relocated to Great Falls, New Hampshire.
Sarah’s father, Josiah — a War of 1812 Veteran — was a tanner, currier and shoemaker by trade. He was post master, town clerk, and treasurer at Gilmanton. He and his wife Judith were Quakers and persons of “more than ordinary good sense and judgement. She was an active woman and of great assistance to her husband in politics, as well as in the domestic circle. Her many visits of sympathy and help to the such are yet remembered…” [Source: Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire, Volume 2, ed. by Ezra S. Stearns, William Frederick Whitcher, Edward Everett Parker]
Sarah wrote this letter to her aunt Margaret Badger (1811-18xx) Her son, Constantine C. Badger (1837-19xx), an 1857 graduate of the Dartmouth Medical College, is mentioned in this letter. Constantine served with Co. I, 6th NH Reg from January 1862 to August 62.
Gilmanton, New Hampshire
January 30, 1865
My dear Aunt,
Your letter has been a long time unanswered but I have at last found time to answer some of your questions & tell you how we are and how prospering.
We were glad to hear from you that you were well & comfortably situated and we hope you have not had such terribly cold weather as we have in New England this winter. It has been one of the coldest & strongest seasons. Our summer was very hot & our winter has been proportionately cold, but we feel a little encouraged tis half gone and the days are longer & we have more sunshine than we did a month ago.
Mother and myself are well and we are living as snugly as possible by the airtight stove these cold days. We often think & speak of you & wonder if you are comfortable, well & happy for that is more than many can say these hard times. But if we do the best we can, we may be comfortably provided for the little time we have to live. Some that you know when here have passed away. Mrs. Bean died in July, Major Eastman died in October, and this winter Johnathan Clarke has died. We have not a great many old people left. Mrs. Peaslee is pretty well this winter, I believe, but does not go out any. Mrs. Hutchinson lives alone in her little old house by the corner — just hte same as when you were here. Mrs. Pennock too seems about the same.
Aunt [Hanna Pearson Cogswell] Badger is better than the last year you were in Gilmanton. She comes down to meeting nearly every Sabbath. [Her son, Col.] William [Badger] you perhaps knew was discharged from the army last June & cashiered. ¹ They have recently played the same game with General [Benjamin F.] Butler and William is restored to his former position & has received his back pay. So that Butler has been bit at last himself. He is now making a row with Congress trying to get some redress as you perhaps have seen by the papers.
We were glad to hear your boys were alive and well and prospering. I must tell you a compliment of Mrs. Zaccheus Peaslee’s ² — she said to me the other day that there were never two smarter boys in Gilmanton than yours. I wsa surprised to hear her say it though I know she always spoke well of Constantine. Dr. Wright has had a lung fever lately but is now better. Mrs. [Harriet] Shepherd is well though I do not see her very often. Her children were at meeting yesterday. She feels Joseph’s death ³ very much but I should feel better to know that he was dead than to have him confined in the southern prisons to die peace meal as so many of our young men are. I hope this horrible war will be ended soon. I am heartsick when I think of it & the lives it has cost. What a piece of History the last three years will furnish for succeeding generations.
My brothers and sisters are all well as far as I know. We have heard from Emily & Elisabeth within a week. Mr. Hidden has gone to Great Falls to preach and is only about 20 miles from Mr. Tenney.
How is Rachel’s health & her little ones? Mother sends love. Please write whenever you can and I will try to answer a little sooner next time. Good night with much love. Yours affectionately, — Sarah
¹ Col. William Badger (1823-1896), served his country as Captain and Colonel of the 4th NH Volunteers from May 9, 1861-65 and the 6th U.S. Inf. until his death. He enlisted on 7/25/1861 as a Captain. On 9/20/1861 he was commissioned into “D” Co. NH 4th Infantry. He was Cashiered on 6/4/1864. On 6/20/1865 he was commissioned into VV 9th Infantry. He was Mustered Out on 4/20/1866 (Subsequent service in US Army until retired 01/15/1889)
Promotions: Major 3/13/1865 by Brevet; Capt 3/2/1867 by Brevet; Member of GAR Post # 26 (Thomas G Stevenson) in Roxbury, MA; Died 5/11/1897 in Jamaica Plain, MA.
² Zaccheus Peaslee (1812-1892) of Gilmanton, New Hampshire, was married to Betsey A. Parrish (18xx-1882).
³ I believe this is the same Pvt. Joseph Shepherd who served in Co. D., 3rd New Hampshire Regiment, and was killed in action near Hatcher, Virginia on 16 June 1864 at Ware Bottom Church.