Four letters addressed to Mrs. Lovina Ann (Hodgkins) Stinchfield Norton (1833-1900) at New Sharon, Maine, widow of Hiram Adison Stinchfield (1832-1853) and Benjamin Norton (1833-1862).
Images and transcriptions at the end of this post.
- Letter #1 : postmarked Foxcroft, Maine, dated May 26, 1873. From "Aunt Dearborn", presumably Dorothy J. (Hodgkins) Dearborn (1816-1891), wife of Franklin Dearborn (1812-1889) and sister of Lovina's father Abel Hodgkins (1807-1874), who was residing with the Dearborns at the time the letter was written. The letter would have been a grim read for Lovina, as it contains news of the poor health and spirits of Lovina's father and her aunt and uncle.
- Letter #2 : postmarked North Boothbay, Maine; dated July 15, no year written, but, from the content, sometime between 1866 and 1875, since it mentions daughter Nellie Maria Toothaker, who was born in 1866, and Rev. Toothaker, who died in 1875. From Lucy Mehitable (Richards) Toothaker (1835-1914) , wife of Rev. Horace Toothaker (1833-1875), past minister at New Sharon, Maine. Lucy, and her husband, who was ailing, and daughter Nellie were visiting at North Boothbay, Maine, where they had formerly lived. Lucy mentions Lovina's loss and loneliness, presumably referring to the 1862 death of her second husband Benjamin Norton, who died during Civil War service at Washington, D.C., in 1862, or perhaps to the death of Lovina's mother Hannah (Tilton) Hodgkins (1813-1866) on February 21, 1866.
- Letter #3: Starks, Maine; undated - from "Sister Mary", who was presumably Mary (Norton) Snell (1833-1921), wife of William Greenleaf Snell (1824-1907) and sister of Lovina's second husband Benjamin Norton (1833-1862). Apparently Lovina had asked Mary to board Lovina's daughter Carrie May Norton, but Mary and her husband William feel they must decline, presumably because of the state of Carrie's health. The letter also mentions Jennie, presumably Mary's daughter Jennie Snell (1863-1945), and Orintha, presumably William's sister Orintha M. Snell (1835-1889).
- Letter #4: West Mills, Industry, Maine, March 18, no year, but presumably 1866 as it mentions the recent death of Lovina's mother Hannah Tilton, who died in February 1866. From Caroline (Smith) Norton (1807-1886), mother of Lovina's second husband Benjamin Norton (1833-1862); Caroline directed a portion of her letter to granddaughter Carrie May Norton. The letter mentions family members moving west, and records show that some of Caroline's family members moved to Waverly, Iowa, where Caroline herself died in 1886.
|A||Allen ||Hodgkins||S||Smith||Toothaker |
|B||Berry||K||Kenniston||Snell ||W||West |
|D||Dearborn ||N||Norton |
- Mary; mentioned in the letter of Lovina's mother-in-law, Caroline (Smith) Norton. I don't know if Mary was Caroline's daughter Mary (Norton) Snell (1833-1921), wife of William Greenleaf Snell or another Mary
- Bertie Allen and Orintha; mentioned in letter of Mary (Norton) Snell
- Mrs. Allen; mentioned in letter of Mary (Norton) Snell (1833-1921), sister of Lovina's second husband Benjamin Norton
- Mr. Berry, presumably of Industry, Maine; mentioned in letter of Caroline (Smith) Norton, mother of Lovina's second husband Benjamin Norton.
- Dorothy J. (Hodgkins) Dearborn (1816-1891); letter writer then living at Foxcroft, Maine, sister of Lovina's father, Abel Hodgkins and wife of Franklin Dearborn
- Uncle Frank Dearborn; Franklin Dearborn (1812-1889), husband of letter writer Dorothy J. (Hodgkins) Dearborn, then living at Foxcroft, Maine
- Mr. Hilton and Martha; mentioned in letter of Caroline (Smith) Norton, mother of Lovina's second husband Benjamin Norton. Presumably Mr. Hilton and sister Martha (Hilton) Norton, who married Caroline's son Charles Andrew Norton (1838-)
- Abel Hodgkins (1807-1874), Lovina's father, who was living with his sister Dorothy J. (Hodgkins) Dearborn at Foxcroft, Maine and figured prominently in Dorothy's letter to Lovina
- Nettie Kenniston and her daughter and son; mentioned in the letter of Lucy Mehitable (Richards) Toothaker
- Lovina Ann (Hodgkins) Stinchfield Norton (1833-1900) of New Sharon, Maine; addressee of the four letters
- Carrie May Norton (1856-1917) of New Sharon, Maine; daughter of Lovina Ann (Hodgkins) Stinchfield Norton and her second husband Benjamin Norton; two of the letters implied that Carrie was sickly
- Caroline (Smith) Norton (1807-1886), letter writer; had recently moved to Industry, Maine, or to another place at Industry; mother of Lovina's second husband Benjamin Norton
- Sarah, mentioned in letter of Caroline (Smith) Norton, mother of Lovina's second husband Benjamin Norton; possibly Caroline's daughter Sarah S. Norton (1827-1899) who married William Cornforth
- Martha (Hilton) Norton,mentioned in letter of Caroline (Smith) Norton, mother of Lovina's second husband Benjamin Norton. Martha married Caroline's son Charles Andrew Norton (1838-) and the letter indicates they had moved, perhaps to Waverly, Iowa, where they ultimately put down roots
- Mr. Reed, presumably of North Boothbay, Maine; mentioned in letter of Lucy Mehitable (Richards) Toothaker as the person with whom they were lodging at North Boothbay, Maine
- Mr. Smith, presumably of Starks, Maine; mentioned in letter of Mary (Norton) Snell of Starks, Maine. Mr. Smith was very ill and not expected to live.
- Mary (Norton) Snell (1833-1921), letter writer; sister, perhaps twin, of Lovina's second husband Benjamin Norton (1833-1862)
- William Greenleaf Snell (1824-1907), husband of letter writer Mary (Norton) Snell, who was a sister to Lovina's second husband Benjamin Norton
- Orintha, presumably Orintha M. Snell (1835-1889); mentioned in letter of Mary (Norton) Snell of Starks, Maine; possibly the Orintha who was a sister of William Greenleaf Snell, Mary's husband
- Jennie, presumably Jennie F. Snell (1863-1945); mentioned in letter of Mary (Norton) Snell of Starks, Maine; daughter of William Greenleaf Snell and Mary (Norton) Snell, who was the sister of Lovina's second husband Benjamin Norton.
- Deacon Thwing, presumably a resident of New Sharon, Maine; mentioned in letter of Lucy Mehitable (Richards) Toothaker. Presumably Joseph Perkins Thwing
- Lucy Mehitable (Richards) Toothaker (1835-1914), letter writer; wife of Rev. Horace Toothaker; letter writer visiting North Boothbay, Maine
- Rev. Horace Toothaker (1833-1875), a past Congregational minister at New Sharon, Maine; husband of letter writer Lucy Mehitable (Richards) Toothaker
- Nellie; presumably Nellie Maria Toothaker, born in 1866, daughter of Rev. Horace Toothaker and letter writer Lucy Mehitable (Richards) Toothaker
- Hannah Jane (Hodgkins) West (1840-1881), first wife of Dr. Pliny Hume West, who would later marry Lovina's daughter Carrie May Norton. Sister of Abel Hodgkins, Lovina's father
- Pliny Hume West, M.D. (1839-after 1922); husband of: 1) Hannah Jane (Hodgkins) West; 2) Carrie May (Norton) West; 3) Elizabeth (Bennett) West and presumably 4) Mrs. Julia O. Young
- Lenora May West, daughter of Dr. Pliny Hume West and Carrie May (Norton) West; Lovina's granddaughter. Lenora would marry Edwin F. Lincoln of Brockton, Massachusetts.
- Ancestry.com and Newspapers.com
- Genealogy of the Ancestry and Descendants of Captain Francis Davis, Founder of Davisville, New Hampshire, and of Some of the Posterity of His Brother, Gideon Davis: With Records of Many Other Descendants of Francis Davis, the Emigrant from Wales to America, complied by Francis York Davis and published in 1910, excerpt below:
Lovina survived two husbands: 1) Hiram Adison Stinchfield (1832-1853) and 2) Benjamin Norton (1833-1862).
Hiram Adison Stinchfield was born August 10, 1832 at Chesterville, Maine, son of Benjamin and Sarah (Whittier) Stinchfield. Lovina and Hiram married on September 18, 1853 at New Sharon, Maine. Sadly, Hiram died a few months after his marriage, on December 22, 1853. I don't think any children resulted from this marriage.
Benjamin Norton (1833-1862) was born about 1833 at Starks, Maine, son of David Merry Norton and Caroline (Smith) Norton [Caroline wrote one of the letters]. Lovina and Benjamin married on May 22, 1855 at New Sharon, Maine. Benjamin enlisted in Company G of the Sixteenth Maine at New Sharon, Maine, on July 22, 1862 and, sadly, died a few months later, on October 21, 1862. He's buried in the US Soldiers and Airmen's Home National Cemetery at Washington, D.C. Lovina and Benjamin had a daughter, Carrie May Norton (1856-1917) born July 30, 1856 at New Sharon, Maine.
Carrie May Norton, who is implied as sickly in the letters, would marry Dr. Pliny Hume West (1839-after 1922) at Whitman, Massachusetts, on April 5, 1883. Dr. West had previously been married to Carrie's maternal aunt, Hannah Jennie (Hodgkins) West, who died in 1881, leaving at least two children. Dr. West and Carrie had a daughter Lenora May West, born at Whitman, Massachusetts, on July 1, 1884. Lenora would marry Edwin F. Lincoln of Brockton, son of Frederick W. Lincoln and Sarah Jane (Cummings) Lincoln.
Carrie indicated to the 1900 Census enumerator that she was divorced and had been married for only one year, so presumably she and Dr. Pliny Hume West divorced about 1884 or 1885. I don't believe she ever remarried.
Dr. Pliny Hume West married Elizabeth Bennett in 1906. In 1922 he was preparing to marry his fourth wife, Mrs. Julia O. Young; apparently an article in the Brockton, Massachusetts paper got picked up by papers all over the country, with various lurid headlines, such as "Aged Pair, Much Married, Like Gay Life".
At some point before 1900, Lovina moved to Massachusetts, presumably to be with her daughter Carrie. Lovina died at Campello, Massachusetts, or Brockton, Massachusetts, on March 22, 1900 and is buried with Carrie, who died in 1917, in the Melrose Cemetery at Brockton.
If you have corrections and/or additions to the information above, please leave a comment or contact me directly.
Letter # 1 - sent from Foxcroft, Maine, dated May 26, 1873 and written by "Aunt Dearborn", presumably Dorothy J. (Hodgkins) Dearborn, wife of Franklin Dearborn and sister of Lovina's father Abel Hodgkins, who was residing with the Dearborns at the time of this letter.
Foxcroft, May 26, 1873
I beg pardon for this long silence, but I have been very busy of late and have felt so tired on the Sabbath, have felt those children were all I could write to. Your father is much better than when you saw him and is still gaining slowly. I am in hopes he goes out thedse pleasant days considerable and twice has been up to the printing Office after the paper. He coughs some but not as much as he did when you were here. He complains of feeling weak, is all he complains of now. I am in hopes he will be able to visit you this summer for I think it would do him good to have a change to raise him a little. I am so near worn out that I feel I am of little account anyway. I would like to go to Kennebec this summer but times are so hard and money so scarce with me I feel I cannot afford to go. I have not got a chance to sell my farm yet and fear I shan't find a chance this season, but want to very much. Your father never says anything about going or staying, therefore don't know what his mind is. His appetite is good, is looking much better and I feel if he would exert himself a little he would gain in strength much faster than he does, but he don't seem to want to bestir himself at all. and I don't feel to drive him up as I would were he younger. Your Uncle Frank has been lame with Rheumatism in one foot and had a ? [looks like fellon] on his hand since I last wrote you, has a bad looking finger now but is better. He goes out of late some with his cart. I finished house cleaning yesterday and don't feel I have not had a hard chance, will you. For I can tell you I have in good faith, I am so lame today I can scarcely move. I feel at time my load must be lightened or I must break under it. But I must hasten as I must write to some of those children yet today. If your father knew of my writing he would send love but as he is napping it will not not disturb him. Accept much love from us all for yourself and all the rest and write us soon. We feel anxious to know if you go to Waterville to live. Let us know, please, your plans for the future. God Bless you all is the prayer of your Aunt Dearborn.
North Boothbay, July 15th
Dear Mrs. Norton
You may not be expecting a letter from me, yet I trust one will not be unwelcome. I sat down to write last week but was interrupted by a caller.
Howe do you do this warm weather? It is so warm here that I expect you are having it very warm. It seems warmer here this summer than it did when we lived here.
We have not heard a word from New Sharon since we left home. Mr. Toothaker sent some fish to Dea. Thwing week before last and we have been looking for a letter ever since. In regard to Mr. T's health, I think he is better than when he left home. The change seems to be a good thing for him. I feel anxious about him as his trouble has commenced in July for two summers past and try to keep him as still as I can. We have more visiting to do than I think is well for him, but our friends think we must visit them, but we make short visits.
We are stopping at a very quiet place, close to the water, so that he can take a bath as often as likes without much exercise. Mr. Reed, with whom we are stopping, goes out with him occasionally on the water and sometimes he takes his boat and goes alone. If he can get through the months of July & August, as well as he is now, I shall be very much encouraged. [Written sideways on the left margin: Nellie asks sometimes, "Where is Ca Ca?" I hope Carrie is well and able to attend school.] May the Lord be merciful and restore and preserve him that he may labor yet longer in his vineyard.
I don't see how but Nellie is as good a girl as she was at home. I sometimes think she is not so much trouble for everywhere I go she gets more or less praise for being a very good child. One said she was the best child to carry visiting that she ever saw. I don't know as I was giving her due credit until I saw Nettie Kenniston's little girl and a little boy about Nellie's age. She does much better, I expected at least. She was no trouble at all on the road. We enjoyed the ride very much and Mr. T. did not get so weary as I expected. The second day was cloudy a little just enough to keep the sun from shining out. [Written sideways along the left margin: I would be very happy to hear from you soon. Love to Carrie.] which made it very comfortable. Mrs. N, I have tried to place myself in your situation as a mourner and realize your loneliness, and during Mr. T's sickness I think I could realize more fully than ever before what it is to lose a companion, to walk life's pilgrimage alone.
But the widow's God is your God, your protector, your deliver[er]. One that can and will be more to you than husband, or any earthly friend. Cast thy burdens upon His almighty arm and He will renew thy strength, and cheer thee in thy loneliness.
"Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee." "He that trusteth in the Lord's mercy shall compass him about." Human sympathy is sweet but it is an imperfect thing.
I find my sheet already filled, so I must stop.
[Written sideways along the left margin: Believe me your sincere friend. Lucy M. Toothaker.]
Letter # 3 - Starks, Maine; undated - from "Sister Mary", who was presumably Mary (Norton) Snell, wife of William Snell and sister of Lovina's second husband Benjamin Norton. Mary and William have decided that boarding Lovina's daughter Carrie May Norton would not be for the best, presumably due to Carrie's ill health and the distance between the Snell and Norton households.