Wednesday, May 18, 2016

1840 Letter from Lovina Libby at Great Falls, New Hampshire, to her Future Husband Benjamin Franklin Baker at Waterboro, Maine

1840 letter from Miss Lovina Libby, or Lovina Libbey, then at Great Falls, Somersworth, New Hampshire, to her future husband Benjamin Franklin Baker at Waterboro, Maine.

The letter is comprised one one piece of paper, folded into four panes, one of which is the address side, shown above.  Images and a transcription appear at the end of this post.

I don't know if there is a relationship or not, but this letter was found with items relating to:
Names that appear in the letter:
  • Asenath Ricker [or Bicker] - perhaps the Asenath Ricker who was born at Lyman, Maine, on April 5, 1821, daughter of Phinehas and Betsey (Thompson) Ricker; she would marry Larkin Roberts in 1846.
  • Lucy Seaver
  • Lucy Ann B. [or R., perhaps standing for Ricker ?]
Lovina and Benjamin would marry at Brookline, Massachusetts, on January 23, 1844.  At the time, Lovina was living at Boston, Massachusetts, and Benjamin at Brookline.

Lovina Libby was born at Lyman, Maine, on March 28, 1820, daughter of Nathaniel Libby and Anna (Ricker) Libby.

According to cemetery records, Benjamin Franklin Baker was born at Kennebunk, Maine, on August 28, 1820, the son of John and Lydia (Towne) Baker.  He represented Brookline in the Massachusetts State Legislature and was elected town clerk of Brookline in 1852 and served in that position for many years.

From what I could find, Benjamin and Lovina had at last seven children
  1. Lovinia Frances Baker, born September 28, 1846 at Brookline, Massachusetts; married Freeland R. Dunn; she died 1868
  2. Anna Isabella Baker, born October 10, 1848 at Brookline, Massachusetts
  3. Harriet Moore Baker, born October 13, 1850, at Brookline, Massachusetts
  4. Louisa Frances Baker, born September 25, 1852 at Brookline, Massachusetts 
  5. John Herbert Baker, born June 18, 1854 at Brookline, Massachusetts; died in 1861
  6. Wallace Baker, born November 15, 1856 at Brookline, Massachusetts; died in infancy
  7. Edward Wild Baker, born September 20, 1859 at Brookline, Massachusetts
A photograph of Benjamin Franklin Baker appears in Brookline: A Portrait of a Favored Town, published in 1897, written by Charles Knowles Bolton.

See information here about a letter that Benjamin wrote to Lovina in June of 1842, shortly after he had moved to Brookline, Massachusetts.

Lovina died of diabetes and Bright's Disease on October 8, 1888 at Brookline, Massachusetts.  Benjamin died September 10, 1898 and is buried in the Walnut Street Cemetery at Brookline, Massachusetts.  Lovina is possibly buried there as well, but her name doesn't appear on the Baker monument.

If you have corrections and/or additions to the information above, please leave a comment or contact me directly.

Transcription - not a literal transcription in all cases, and there may be words I've misinterpreted.  If you have corrections, please leave a comment or contact me directly.

Feb the 5, 1840
Dear sir
I employ a few moments as they pass in answering your letter which I received Jan the 14.  I was very glad when I received it but should been happyer to seen you.  My mind is so moving I know not what to write but must hasten for the evening is short.  We have been separate some time in body but I hope and trust not so in our thoughts.  The time seems quite long since I last enjoyed your sweet society and left my home but alas the months glide away and if nothing happens the time will soon come that I shall return.  I have been very well contented the most part of the time.
You wanted me to write some news but I don't know will be news.  They are having a powerful reformation in this village, the greatest one that ever was known here.  I have seen one hundred and sixty go forward for prayers at once.  Thence is about a hundred and forty obtained a hope that the Lord forgiven their sins.  How many among other society, I don't know.
Miss Asenath Ricker has united with the church.  Lucy Seaver will hardly speak to Lucy Ann B [or R].  She is very set in her princpals indeed.
but  I am thankful that I have one to speak and tell some of my feelings.  I have seen many lonesome and unpleasant hours since I left home. 
I often think of the hours that we have spent together and in particular the last evening, happier seasons than I ever experienced with anyone else or ever can - 
often when buried in slumber I imagine myself in your arms but alas when I awake it is nothing but a dream but I anticipate the time when I shall be, if death don't separate us but it seems tho that I can't bear the thought but what I shall see you again on the shores of time but if not may I be so unspeakably happy as to meet you in heaven.
O, Benj, I have a hard and dreadful wicked heart to encounter with but I wish you a smooth path through life and all the pleasure this world will afford and at last a seat in heaven but fate be as it may I wish you well.  Well do I remember the last good bye and be a good girl, Lovina, that fell from your lips in my hearing and I mean to obey and do the best I can.  It is the desire of my heart if I know what it is that my own conduct may ever be such that I may never bring a stain upon  my character and above all a wound upon the one which I have espoused.
It is very late and I must soon close.  As for my love to you, Benj, it cannot be expressed with pen and paper in no degree but I will think of thee still.  I'll think of thee when day light sets.  I'll think of thee at midnight hours.  I'll think of thee at morn and all the day long.  I should like a kiss from your sweet lips tonight.
Excuse all mistakes and bad writing.  Call and see mother for my sake.  When this you see remember me.  Let the world say what it may speak of me as you [ find ?].  Write soon as you can make it convenient.  I don't request you to pay the post for I am in the way of making little money.
Write, Benj.  Good night.
This is from Benjamin F.  [Did she mean "for" Benjamin F.?  There are marks that might mean hugs and/or kisses]
Yours truly, Lovina Libby [looks more like Lilbey]


  1. I love this one. A terrific love-note with lots of historical clues.

    Lovina, like so many ladies of this period, might have worked in Great Falls (Somersworth) for employment at Great Falls Manufacturing Company. This company predominately employed women around this timeframe and Great Falls itself was therefore predominantly female around 1840. The Wendell brothers, who founded this enterprise, were hard-core methdodists. Somehow, they seem to have converted the vast majority of the folks to lived there to this denomination -- a topic that has fascinated me for a long time. It's almost as though one had to practice this faith as a condition for employment!

    It's also possible that Lovina had a prior connection to this region -- her given name being a red flag. Roots of this given name appear to originate around Great Falls, from Lovina Hobbs who married Sheldon Annis. Her given name has some connection to a similar-sounding surname that I can't recall at the moment.

    1. Very interesting! Thanks for the background information.