MRS. CHAPIN 1845 ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT DIARY AND JOURNAL OF THE BUSY AND SUPPORTIVE WIFE OF A CIRCUIT RIDING PREACHER IN SOUTH EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS
New Bedford Massachusetts MA 1845 Good+ English Language
On offer is the original 1845 manuscript diary of the very busy wife of a religious figure [Chapin was a circuit-rider in south-eastern Massachusetts] Mrs. Chapin details a daily life from March 6th 1845 through March 1st 1846, that typically consists of a round of "calls" made or received. On some days, she sees six or seven visitors, mostly in small groups, each of whom she carefully and fully names. She also seems regularly to host, sometimes for weeks, an inordinate number of Chapin family members: Samuel, Mary and George, William C., G.W., Sarah, Laura. Elizabeth, Aunt Betsy, Amory (who dies in the course of the diary), Seth, Maria+++ and she also pays them frequent visits. She regularly attends "female prayer meetings," "Maternal meetings," and meetings of societies such as the "C.F. Society," where she serves on the Board and which sometimes meets in Providence, and the "F.M. Society," as well as the Seaman s Friend Society. One of these, the C.F. Society, clearly seems to deal with social issues, and in January of 1846, the group meets to decide whether "we give Mrs. Cockran her children." (The churchwomen voted to "relinquish our claim" on the youngsters, after hearing testimonials about their good character.) The same group also decides "to send John Ryan to sea sailing May 1 from New Bedford in a whaling ship" (entry of April 1). Another unnamed group of women that she belongs to decides "to form an association to promote education at the West," and our author is appointed "Collector for High Street" [Church]. Her other duties include regular visits to the sick, and as soon as there is an accident, such as Sarah C. being thrown from her carriage and badly hurt, or a deathbed scene, she and Mr. Chapin rush to the spot. (On October 4, for instance, they were "awaked this morn at 1 o clock by Sanford s coming to tell us that brother Amory lay at the point of death." (Mr. Chapin goes, but is too late.) They also attend over the course of the year, a number of funerals, including those of children. The writer also has a housewifely side. She mentions hiring a succession of women to help in the house, her own visits to a dressmaker for a "bombazine" dress, the fact that she and her circle "have quilted 3 bed quilts, made 2 comforters and quilted 4 skirts this autumn" (Nov. 11 entry), and that she and Mary Ann "made a carpet for my room." She also mentions S. Chapin's "machine" several times, which seems to be a washing machine, "price $10". On October 3rd she notes that it is her 53rd birthday and that she "spent the day mostly by myself I have renewedly dedicated myself to God and pray that I may spend the few remaining days allotted me here in his service and to his glory." She also does a super job with births, deaths, marriages etc. plus she mentions Boston, Fall River, Pawtuxet, Warwick, Uxbridge, Tiverton, Carbonville, and Providence. The 43pp book is handwritten in a tight, legible hand on lined paper, dates captioned in the left margins. Bound in original, flexible calf. 6.25" x 4". Overall G+.