1855: Joseph Adams to Richard J. Adams

This letter was written by Joseph Adams (1800-1884), the son of Benjamin Adams (1752-1830) and Mary Stone (1754-1813). Joseph married Miranda French in 1826 and made his living primarily as a farmer in Cavendish, Windsor county, Vermont. Joseph’s residence [“J. Adams”] can be identified on the following map just below the Black river, next to the bridge, and opposite the R. & B Railroad depot.


Joseph and Miranda Adams had two children that grew to adulthood. The oldest was Mary Elizabeth Adams (1828-1883) who married Hubbard L. Hart, a commission merchant in Palatka, Florida. Hubbard was born in Guilford, Vermont. At the age of 21, he moved to Savannah, Georgia, and then later Darien, Georgia. He finally moved to Palatka, Florida in 1855. In July of that year, he got a contract as a mail carrier for a route from Ocala to Tampa, even though there was danger of Seminole Indian attacks. [For more information regarding the Hart family, see — 1855: Mary Elizabeth (Adams) Hart to Joseph Adams]

Joseph wrote this letter to his other child, 22 year-old Richard Joseph Adams (1833-1912) who was then living in Boston, Massachusetts. The 1855 Boston City Directory indicates that Joseph boarded with Franklin H. Sprague at 8 Marion. He also worked for Sprague who was a “provision dealer” with an address at 138 Sprague Street — where this letter was directed. Not much is known about Sprague except that his name appears frequently in the Boston papers as a rabid Fillmoreite and staunch supporter of the American Party. Like his older sister, Richard eventually also settled in Palatka, Florida, where he engaged successively in the mercantile business, orange growing, and steamboating. In the earlier years of Palatka’s existence he operated a stage coach line between Palatka, Ocala, Orange Springs and Tampa.

[Note: This letter was found with some old papers in a box in Seattle by Thea Galante’s father who had no idea how it came to be there and thinks there is no family connection. After having found another letter I transcribed by a member of the Adams family, Thea gifted the letter to me with my pledge to preserve its contents on one of my Spared & Shared blogsites.]

Scan 3

Addressed to Richard J. Adams, 138 Pleasant Street, Boston, Mass.
Postmarked Cavendish, VT.

Cavendish [Vermont]
[Thursday] April 19th 1855


Sir, I improve a little time in writing to you this evening. We are all well and it is a general time of health in our village at this time. We are having fine weather this week. The snow is going off rapidly. The [Black] river is up pretty high. The water has come into the barn cellar this afternoon and it is to the top of the dirt in the house cellar, and a good quantity of snow in the woods to melt yet.

Elizabeth has a letter from Hubbard today dated the 13th. He is well. Mr. Long started last Saturday for Vermont. The day Hubbard wrote, he said he had got to go and move some hay home that Dick bought. He has sold the sorrel. Moves for $700.00 and Nancy runs in the stage. Joseph White got home today.

As for news in this place, Sherman Craigue ¹ was married last Saturday eve [14 April 1855] and Mr. Morill moved to Ludlow yesterday. S. F. Dutton ² has a light shock of the palsey. About three weeks ago, it effected his right arm and hand. Rather better but cannot write his name yet. Doct. Phelps ³ was out to see him yesterday. Thinks he will get over it but it will be some time first.

BreckEnclosed I send you a draft for $32.00 for which I wish you to buy me 1200 lb. of Peruvian Guano and send to me. Lawrence Adams enquired when he was in Boston for it and the price. Joseph Breck & Son, Nos. 51 & 52 North Market Street, Boston, gave him their price and put it on to one corner of a bill of goods which he bought which I will send you in their handwriting which is $53.00 per ton on any quantity over half a ton and under 3 cts. per pound. Wm. Smith, Esqr., thinks if you will go to F. & F. [Freeman & Franklin] Rice & Co., 116 or 118 State Street, and say to them that he sent you there to get some that they will get at Mr. [George] Davenport’s the same price as last year — that is $50,00 per ton [see advertisement below from 1855 Boston City Directory]. But you may get it where you can get it the cheapest and the best. I want the Peruvian Guano and you may but what the draft will pay for I should like to have you attend to it as soon as you can conveniently because I may want it to use soon.


Elder Freeman took down the old piazza at the Astor House yesterday and is a going to build a new one. I have got our house pretty much all painted. The wood chopped and sawed, and the list taken. The horses are doing pretty well. The cows have both calved and done well.

Friday morn, 20th. It rains very finely. The river has fell about one foot. All well. The baby grows nicely. Respects of all. Write soon. Yours &c.

— Joseph Adams

¹ Samuel Sherman Craigue (1831-1891) was the son of Deacon Saxton Alfred Craigue (1805-1887) and Laura Shannon (1811-1865). From this letter we know that Sherman was married to Lodelia Howard (1833-1867) on Saturday evening, 14 April 1855.

² Salmon Fletcher Dutton (1803-1857) was a life-long resident in Cavendish. He kept a  hotel in town. From this letter, we learn that he suffered from shaking palsy.

³ This was probably Dr. Edward E. Phelps (b. 1805) who lived in nearby Windsor, Vermont.




Griff View All →

My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries.

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