Tuesday, February 28, 2012

1875 letter to Miss Dora Thompson at Dixfield, Maine

Note: A reader has supplied information on both the letter writer and the recipient, and I've incorporated much of it in the body of this post, but please refer to the comment section for more information.

20 March 1875 letter addressed to Miss Dora Thompson at Dixfield, Maine.  The letter, mailed at Foxboro, Massachusetts, was written by "your ever true Sister Ria", who was likely Maria Woodward Robinson, not Dora's actual sibling, but a relative.

There are some clues in the letter that might resonate with a reader who has researched Maine and Massachusetts family history: Miss Dora Thompson; Erastus [the "splendid"]; Aunt Sarah; Eugene; Ell or Eli; Martha or Mother. 

As we now know, thanks to reader Chris, Miss Dora Thompson was the daughter of John, Jr., and Mahala J. A. (Burnham) Thompson of Hartford, Maine.  Dora's grandmother was a half sister of the Maria's father.  The "Ell" mentioned in the letter was her future husband Ellion E. Fuller.

Maria Woodward Robinson, daughter of Lucius and Anna Philbrook (Bonney) Robinson, did indeed marry the splendid Erastus mentioned in her letter.  He was Erastus W. Pettee, and they married 15 November 1876 at Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Images and transcription:


Foxboro, Mass., Mar 29, 1875
My Darling Dora,
Please pardon me for not writing you before but really I don't get time to write to any one. I work every day and I go somewhere most every evening and Sundays I go to meeting and Sunday evening you know that you most always have company and of course one can't write then so you will pardon me this time and I will try and do better.  Don't think that I don't want to hear from you for I do.  Your letters are always welcome.  I am sitting by the parlor window writing to you.  I expect Erastus to come pretty soon and then I must stop writing.  I wish you could see him.  He is just splendid.  I think perhaps you will see him next Summer if I come down east.  I have been down to Aunt Sarah's tonight.  They are all pretty well.  You wanted to know what Eugene's wife's name was.  I don't know.  She was well off.  I would like to see him.  My work is not very good now, business is very dull here now.  Now please have your picture taken and send me.  I will send you one of mine and want you [to] send me one of Ell [Eli] pictures.  I want one.  You tell me him for me that I want one.  Well, Erastus is coming and I must close now and finish after he goes home.  Wish you could be here now.  We would have a good time.  Erastus is sitting here and he says give her his regards to you.  If we do come down East next Summer we will have a good time and we will lay on the floor as much as we please.  Well, it is getting dark and I must close.  Please write soon.  Give my love to Martha and Ell and take a good share yourself.

I shall look for a letter soon.

Good night,
from your ever true Sister Ria [Rice]

A map of Dixfield, Maine:

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Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Maria Woodward Robinson married Erastus W. Pettee, 15 Nov. 1876 in Foxboro. Maria was the daughter of Lucius and Anna Philbrook (Bonney) Robinson of Hartford, Maine, born around 1853.

    Dora M. Thompson, born Oct. 1856, was the daughter of John, Jr., and Mahala J. A. (Burnham) Thompson of Hartford. Dora's grandmother, Margaret Robinson, was the half-sister of Maria's father.

    The Thompson and Robinson families both lived in the vicinity of Hartford Center when the girls were young.

    I'm not sure about "Aunt Sarah." There was a Sarah Soule Robinson from Hartford, born in 1825, who married John Thomas. She was the daughter of Orrin and Martha (Barrows) Robinson, so she was the first cousin of Maria, though considerably older. She came from the same part of Hartford as the two girls, and later lived around the Roxbury section of Boston. Sarah had a sister, Martha (Robinson) Pomeroy, who lived at Hartford Center in 1870.

    The 1905 Canton town register shows Dora M. (Thompson) Fuller living in that town with husband E. E. Fuller. That matches the second name written on the envelope. Censuses give her husband's full name as Ellion, which would make him the "Ell" mentioned in the letter.

  2. Thank you, Chris, for such extensive information. I'll put a note in the body of the post that folks should not miss scrolling down to the comments section. I'd love to see a photo of the splendid Erastus W. Pettee. Thanks for coming through, AGAIN! (You gave me Lula's father's name, some time ago.)