1846 ORIGINAL HANDWRITTEN MANUSCRIPT LETTER DESCRIBING A RIGOROUS TRIP UP ONE OF AMERICA’S MOST FAMOUS ECOLOGICAL LANDMARKS, MT. WASHINGTON, AS WELL AS DETAILING AN EVENT IN THE DARKER SIDE OF NATURE

By: [to MISS S. R. CRAGIN]

Price: $2,255.99

Quantity: 1 available


On offer is an 1846 letter, containing 4 pages of writing, detailing the incredible account of a journey the unnamed author took up to Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. It is addressed to a ‘Miss S. R. Cragin’ of ‘Westminster East Vt.’ In addition to this account, the author of the letter talks about the “Willey House” or cottage which was (and still is) standing at the time. The tragedy that befell the house and the family inside it in 1826 was an flood and landslide that killed the family of 9 and destroyed everything around it but the cottage itself. The letter begins, “Bethlehem Aug. 7, 1846. My Dear Friend, I received your kind letter yesterday and was very glad to find you kept your promise on hand tho you delayed so long to fulfill it…...I have spent my time very pleasantly this summer so far since I regained my usual state of health, which is about six or seven weeks ago and I have performed one great feat for so much of an invalid as I am. Would you believe it? I have been to the top of Mt. Washington, the highest point of land in the US this side of Mississippi River you know.” She continues, “my brothers, John and Charles, with their wives came here the last of June on their way to the mountains, and after their visit here we concluded to go with them to the ‘Notch’ about 17 miles and spend a day as to viewing the wondrous works of the Great Architect of nature.” The ‘Notch’ she speaks of is most probably Crawford Notch. “.I could not give you any adequate description of the awful grandeur of the place if I would, nor of the emotions of the bosom while passing there, other than that they were those of bordering upon the terrific. The mountains appear to have been sent asunder from the top to the foundation and separated just far enough to make a road through and for a small stream to run which soon became the Saco River. In looking up those giddy heights, almost directly over head and into the fearful chasms below, one feels like holding their breath in astonishment and exclaiming how came they so? No answer comes back but from the mountains themselves eloquent in their stillness, ‘the hand that made us is divine.’” The author then describes coming upon the Willey House, “that place of melancholy interest to those who have read the story of that ill fated family. You recollect a family of nine were destroyed twenty years ago this summer but an avalanche from the mountain...One can near fully realize the terrific scene by standing on the spot and have someone conversant with the affairs of late, the particulars, then by re-enacting the account.” The author and her party then return to the tavern to rest. They ascend the next day. “We presented a most curious spectacle that long cavalcade; making our way directly up that steep mountain. I thought of Bonaparte's army crossing the Alps...But we all got safely up to the pinnacle and seated ourselves by a cool spring by the side of the great rock and retired, then looked about, saw what we could, among other things a great snowbank as big as the garden then made the best of our way down.” She concludes the journey by saying, “I never felt more my insignificance than when standing alone upon that mountain; and yet I could not but feel that one in mortal soul was of more main account with Him who made them both, than all these stupendous works of his hands.” After the journey ends, the letter commences with the usual pleasantries, remembrances, and news between friends: “Remember me to your mother and sisters. How does little Frances and her sister, Mrs. Halton likewise. Have they opened their tavern yet?…...We had a sudden death in our neighborhood this morning. A man who was well Saturday night as usual was a corpse this morning at 6 o’clock. His death was caused by eating cherries.” Much of the last bit of the letter is written along the edges of the pages and can be a bit more difficult to decipher, as the script is smaller and denser. However, the handwriting is clean and the script can be worked out with just a bit more effort than takes to read the main portion of the letter. The letter is in fairly rough shape and has tears on many of the creases. It is still intact, and the entire thing can still be read if care and caution are taken. Each page measures about 7 1/2” x 10”. (Historical notes: The Willey House was built in 1793 or 1798 (some say 1820) as a public house in Crawford Notch, about 23 miles northwest of the village of North Conway, NH, in the White Mountains. In 1825 it became the homestead of Samuel Willey, Jr. and his family. They operated it as an inn to accommodate travelers passing through the mountains on the notch road. In August 1826, a violent storm occurred and the Saco River began to rise in front of the house. The family apparently left the house to escape the flood, only to be buried in a huge landslide. Mr. and Mrs. Willey, their five children, and two hired men all perished but their house was left untouched. It was protected by a rock ledge on the hillside above it that split the major slide into two streams that flowed around the house. After the tragedy at the Willey House, the White Mountains became a popular subject for hundreds of artists in the nineteenth century. The landscape scenes painted by artists became known as White Mountain Art. The house was later occupied and in 1844 the house and its stable were repaired and a seventy by forty foot hotel was built adjacent to it. The old house was a favorite tavern in the region and visitors were charged a small fee to be escorted through rooms of the house. The remnant of the rock which protected the house during the tragedy was still behind the house and the track of the slide could be ascended through a scattered forest of birch trees)

Title: 1846 ORIGINAL HANDWRITTEN MANUSCRIPT LETTER DESCRIBING A RIGOROUS TRIP UP ONE OF AMERICA’S MOST FAMOUS ECOLOGICAL LANDMARKS, MT. WASHINGTON, AS WELL AS DETAILING AN EVENT IN THE DARKER SIDE OF NATURE

Author Name: [to MISS S. R. CRAGIN]

Categories: 19th Century Manuscript, Books and Manuscripts General Overview, 19th Century Diary,

Publisher: MT WASHINGTON NEW HAMPSHIRE NH, CRAWFORD NOTCH, 1846

Book Condition: Good

Type: Manuscript

Size: Folio - over 12" - 15" tall

Seller ID: 0009064

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