Friday, May 11, 2012

1881 letter to Author of Boston Town from author Louisa J. Hall, nee Park

1881 letter from Louisa Jane (Park) Hall, author of the poem "Miriam" and other works, to the author of the recently released book "Boston Town".   

The letter contains information on the Boston ropewalks.  If you're reading this between May 22 and August 18, 2012, you might want to visit an exhibit on the ropewalks at the West End Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.

Transcript below.

I believe the book that moved her to write was "Boston Town", written by Horace Elisha Scudder in 1881.  

There was an earlier book, "Old Boston Town", written by James W. Hall in 1880, but I believe Louisa would have used the entire title "Old Boston Town" if she had that book in mind.

Louisa Jane Park was born 2 February 1802 at Newburyport, Massachusetts, daughter of Dr. John and Louisa (Adams) Park.  

Her paternal grandparents were Andrew and Mary (Cochran) Park of New Hampshire.  Her maternal grandparents were Moses and Abigail (Stone) Adams.

In October 1840, Louisa Jane Park became the second wife of widower Rev. Edward Brooks Hall.  He was born 2 September 1800 at Medford, Massachusetts, son of Nathaniel and Joanna Cotton (Brooks) Hall.  

His paternal grandparents were Nathaniel and Mary (Bradshaw) Hall.  His maternal grandparents were Rev. Edward and Abigail (Brown) Brooks.

Rev. Hall's first wife, Harriet Ware, with whom he had six sons, died in 1838.

Rev. Edward Brooks Hall and Louisa Jane (Park) Hall had a daughter Harriet Ware Hall, named, apparently, in the tradition of naming the first daughter of a second marriage for the deceased previous wife.  She was born 15 September 1841 and died 18 March 1889, several years before her widowed mother, who must have suffered the loss greatly.

Because they were public figures, much has been written about Louisa Jane (Park) Hall and Rev. Edward Brooks Hall.  [The entry for Louisa Jane (Park) Hall implies that Rev. Edward Henry Hall was her son, but he was actually her stepson.  It also states that Louisa's father John was born in Windham, Connecticut, but he was actually born in Windham, New Hampshire.

It was interesting that both Louisa and Edward had some health problems to overcome.  Louisa, before her marriage, suffered a period of low vision.  Edward had such ill health that he was forced to seek some time in Cuba to recuperate.

Rev. Edward Brooks Hall died in 1866 at Providence, Rhode Island.  His widow Louisa Jane (Park) Hall died at Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1892.

If you have any corrections or insights regarding any of the information presented above, please leave a comment or contact me directly.

Transcript: [If you can fill in the blank in the address or make other corrections, please do!]

__ Pinckney St
Nov. 5th

Dear Sir,
I do not suppose a single interview gives one any right to address you, so I throw myself on the privileges of old age.  "Boston Town" is a book which young and old may be grateful for, and I cannot help thanking you for it.  It must do that very desirable thing, cherish patriotism in the rising generation, for the way in which you have managed the subject is charming; the grandfather, the faintly but beautifully sketched mother, and boys are all live creatures; and the young folks will read every word; and, I hope, set out on Boston pilgrimage forthwith.

You say the ropewalks on Charles St. were still standing in the last century.  Truly they were, dear Sir, and in this also; for I was not born in the last century, seeing that I shall not be eighty till the seventh of next February; but when I was about fifteen (I think) I stood on Boston Common to see those ropewalks burning.  The Italian consul, Mr. Manzoni, turned to my father and said, "Now, Dr. Park, you can imagine how a stream of red hot lava looks; that is exactly the color."  I was sorry to lose what had amused my childhood; the watching men, pacing the long building with a bundle of something at the waist, while ropes grew mysteriously.

But my head is delightfully full of recollections of Boston town ever since I was five years old, when I was led from our house on Fort Hill across Boston Common for the first time, and was shown the State House.  I thought Solomon's Temple could not have been finer - and the Hancock house, and only five houses between that and Charles St.!  But I could not take in all I was told because I was so afraid of the cows.

Pardon me for taking up two minutes of your time.  I have lived long enough to know the value of that much wasted commodity.  But allow me to add that my daughter and I would be very glad to see you again under our roof.

Yours with true respect,
Louisa J. Hall

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