Saturday, January 30, 2010

Josiah and Joanna Rhodes







Today we will meet Uncle Josiah's wife. Evidently Sarah Cummings has written her a few letters which she has not responded to. It has become quite apparent to me that if you received a letter, you were expected to respond in kind. Joanna is quite apologetic regarding her lack of courtesy.

Joanna Holden's letter is dated 03 March 1873 and was written from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She starts by saying,I often think of the many pleasant hours we spent at your smiling little home on the hillside, the romantic view from which looms up in my mind while I am writing...
The image at the top of todays post is a stereo view from the Library of Congress digital collection showing Easton, PA in 1896. I wonder if this image was taken from the same hill as Sarah's house is on? Easton was a hub of activity in the late 1800s. It is located at the Eastern end of the Lehigh Valley and had a lot to do with the coal and steel industries.

Joanna proceeds to tell Sarah about her only daughter in Manistee, Michigan. She mentions her daughter lives 'in a colder place than this' about a 100 miles north of Grand Rapids. She also mentions the terrible fire that burned Manistee in 1871. Her daughter's husband, Mr. Fowler, lost everything. The image on the right is from the Fort Wayne, IN newspaper dated 13 Oct 1871 and describes the terrible fire.

After mentioning the difficulty of travelling to Manistee as the rail road stops 40 miles south of the city requiring the last leg of the journey to be by boat, she gives us a vital clue to identifying Sarah's parents. She says,
I feel rather sorry for your mother tho' she's not so much to be pittied as some others. I hope Brewster will think best to reform & be a comfort to his mother in the decline of life. It's sad to think of a young man living, or rather staying in the world with no object or aim in life above what he appears to have. Mrs. Little appears like a nice woman and we had a good visit with her, indeed, we had many good visits to which I look back with much satisfaction...
Did Joanna just give us a vital clue to Sarah's parents? I think so. The context of Joanna's letter gives the impression Sarah has a brother Brewster and her mother is the kind, Mrs. Little. The image below is from the 1860 Federal Census for Rumney, New Hampshire. It shows the household of A. W. Holden.



We'll explore this further in my next post...

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