• Liscom Family Archive: New England Revolutionary War Ancestors Discuss Tobacco Farming In New Hampshire, The McKinley Tariff, Cuban Independence, Boston Fires

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    The Liscoms were an early New England family, with members arriving in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, as early as 1796.  Lemuel Liscom 1st was born on April 3, 1767. He and his father defended Dorchester and Boston, MA, during the Revolutionary War.  A number of family members were engaged in farming, the tobacco and lumber business and local politics.


    LEMUEL F. LISCOM, the subject of this offering, completed studies at Kimball Union Academy in 1860 and on August 11, 1862, was mustered into A Company of the New Hampshire 14th Infantry. He mustered out on July 8, 1865. He was on duty at the National Capital and along the Potomac during his first year of service, but was then transferred to the Department of the Gulf and, along with his regiment, traveled up the Mississippi. He was at the Siege of Petersburg, the Second Battle of Malvern Hill and in eight engagements in the Shenandoah Valley.  At Augustus, GA, he assisted Jefferson Davis on board a U.S. gunboat. After the war, he went back to Hinsdale to care for his parents. He bought a farm and grew hay and tobacco. In 1891-92 and in 1893-94, he served as a representative in the state legislature and in 1897 took a seat in the state Senate. He was also appointed Justice of the Peace. After the war, he was engaged the lumber and tobacco business.


    A number of institutions hold Liscom family papers, including Lehigh University and the New Hampshire Historical Society.  


    Offering a large archive of more than 50 letters to and from Lemuel Liscom, most with individual covers, approximately 140 pp. The archive includes Liscom’s Justice of the Peace appointment and a CDV of him. Highlights of the content includes operation on the tobacco farm and the sale of tobacco, the impact on the tobacco trade caused by the McKinley tariff and Cuban independence, the conflict between Japan and Russia and fear that it could escalate in a major military operation. Liscom’s daughter is no fan of President Andrew Johnson. “Farwell, Andy, you may never be President again...So may he walk on his head out of the White House.”

    August 1, 1853, letter and cover: George Sprague in Athol, to Lemuel: “You ask if I will make for you a shingle machine like the machine I sold you about 2 yrs since & at what price...I will make you a machine...for seventy-five dollars...The cost of box & packaging...for such a voyage will be six dollars...” January 9, 1861, letter and cover: Lemuel in Hinsdale writes to his brother Charles in Clinton, IA. [Charles was in the coal business.] “...I really feel at home with sled & four good oxen...The people here are very much divided in religious opinions...How inconsistent are many professing...Christians I considered last summer to go where I could enjoy myself...and have exceedingly pleasant times in Sabbath School...much interested in the sermons...Farming is getting to be a big business.” [Hole in the center affecting several words]. Lemuel’s Justice of the Peace Certificate with the cover. June 3, 1863, letter, note and cover from Frank L. Sprague to Lemuel, sending the table he ordered. May 28th, 1866 F.L. Sprague inquires about the cost of pine boards. On fine stationary with a beautiful advertising cover.  December 18, 1867 and January 22, 1868, both letters with covers, J.W. Bennett in Chicago to Eli R. Chase/Lemuel Liscom to J.W. Bennett, wanting to know about taxes on Charles Liscom’s land, and Lemuel claiming they had been paid.  June 7, 1869, two documents, letter and cover from a clerk at the IRS, writes Lemuel about his license as a manufacturer; the two documents being his return for special tax for his new saw mill in Hinsdale, Cheshire County.  April 18, 1872, letter and advertising cover for J.E. Wright, Packer of Leaf Tobacco, North Hatfield, MA. Wright inviting him to see his stripped tobacco as Lemuel had requested.


    FAMILY LETTERS

    1860s carte de visite, taken by C.I. Howe in Brattleboro, of Lemuel Franklin Liscom (with ink transfer damage. February 8, 1865, letter and cover, Lucius G. Liscom at school in Boston to his father Lemuel in Hinsdale. States that he used the $25 he sent to pay his board; much sleighing in Boston this winter, a fire in the corner of Milk and Washington streets with 3 steam engines. The fire started in the cellar of the drug store and turned in by box alarm 41. “The Old South Church stands on one corner if you remember right. It was a druggist store. The fire was in the cellar...The engines went smashing through the streets. Horses on the dead canter. Everybody has got to get out of the way then they could flood a house in two minutes. I should think to give you an idea of the fire alarm. I will say that there are boxes all over the city in different streets and each box is numbered. If there is a fire anywhere, a man runs to the nearest box, unlocks it and turns a crank 25 times. This goes by telegraph to the city hall, then from there they strike every bell in the city...” November 19, 1865, diminutive letter and cover, “Kitty” in Boston to L. Frank Liscom in Hinsdale. Warns him against joining the lumber business. March 31, 1867, L. Etta in West Brattelboro to L. Frank Liscom in Hinsdale. Homesick for his brother. March 31, 1868, letter and cover, L. Etta in Dracut, MA, to brother L. Frank Liscom in Hinsdale. Took his ugly horse into the snowy woods to cut lumber. Lists prices of things; bounty money does not come and he needs it for spring planting. No fan of then President Andrew Johnson, Etta writes “Farwell, Andy, you may never be President again...So may he walk on his head out of the White House.”


    August 14, 1870, letter and cover, L. Frank Liscom in Natchez, Mississippi, to his Mother, Mrs. Lemuel Liscom in Hinsdale with poetic descriptions of Niagara Falls; Chicago as the booster center of the West; dust and heat in Mississippi. March 16, 1879, letter and cover. Lucius G. in Port Huron, MI, to his father in Hinsdale. He is still working at the Chicago & Lake Huron Railroad; children are fine; section men get on 90 cents a day; he despairs of earning enough to get ahead; the Greenbacks will carry the election “with a large majority.” February 23, 1896, letter and cover. Mrs. Liscom in Hinsdale to her daughter Flora in Boston (with pencil notation, “This is the last letter that Mama wrote”). Details of pen wipes, blotters and bookmarks that she painted with pansies (sketches); she teaches art and gets only $2.40 a week on average so can’t help with finances. April 9, 1898, letter and cover, daughter Flora in New York City to Hon. L.F. Liscom” in Hinsdale. Has he taken off his flannels for good? (mouse chew at the center affecting a few words). March 20, 1899, letter and cover, daughter in New York City to Hon. L.F. Liscom in Hinsdale. Hopes the tobacco crop was good and hopes there is enough money to buy cloth for a new suit. November 29, 1899, letter and cover, daughter Flora in NYC to father. She has seen the great big Dewey Arch right across the square, just like some of the World’s Fair buildings. December 9, 1899, letter and cover, Mary in Boston to her father Lemuel. A friend is going to teach her to embroider holly leaves; Annie Homer is collecting autographs of officers in the late war – has Dewey, Long, etc.; will he go in on a clock with cousin Annie’s wedding present (includes a sketch). January 11, 1900, letter and cover, Mary in Boston to her father. She left half a walnut cake for him in the ice cream freezer can. Observations on the fire that took down the Hinsdale town hall; school details.  “Mrs. Sporner writes that there isn’t a vestige of the old town hall left. Isn’t it terrible. It seems funny that the fire. It seems funny that the fire...[didn’t] take something else...I’m so anxious to get your account of the fire...How was it set or wasn’t it set?”  February 13, 1900, letter and cover, Mary in Boston, to her father Lemuel in Hinsdale. Looking forward to the big German Klatch at school.


    LETTERS FROM LEMUEL LISCOM TO HIS DAUGHTER FLORA (MRS. CV. STEARN) 1901-1904. Twenty letters with covers, addressed to Arlington and Sommerville. Salutation is to his children, or Flora and Charlie.

    November 5, 1901, letter and cover. “I saw Pan American in all its glory. Which excelled in excellence any out of the three World Fairs I have attended...the Art Exhibit was far short of Chicago but considering the time the old masters had to do their work.  All America may feel a just pride in what it has accomplished. The government exhibit was the finest I ever saw. The Navy & War Departments were very fine & the working of the coast defense artillery was a rare treat for but few ever saw big guns in working order...I was much interested in the Acetyaline Gas Exhibit and when I can afford it I shall put in a plant for our house...I saw Alaska, Eskimo Village, Missionary Ridge Battle, Venice, Indian Congress, Johnstown Flood...took in Niagara via Canada, Brock Monument, Lewiston & up the gorge, Goat Island, woman over the falls, saw her on exhibit.”  October 18, 1903, letter and cover.  “...We are usually well tobacco curing...and bank across the books to mark our tobacco bids for next year...Hope to finish work on bridge this week and open it for travel.  The Brattleboro farm was a great success in all departments...” August 26, 1903, cover and letter. “...I have sold 47 cases of my tobacco leaving 10 cases of seriously damaged amounts...” September 9, 1903, Liscom discusses helping to build a bridge at Brattleboro and putting in tobacco.  By September 15th, the main arches of the bridge are put in place and on December 20th, he provides a full report of the bridge.

    January 3, 1904, cover and letter. “...I think without any doubt that Cuba reciprocity is a direct blow to Conn tobacco production, and the Republican Party have undone much of the protection so much boasted about in McKinley’s tariff...I am not at this time feeling very good natured on the matter but that won’t make any difference with the political machine. I had rather see Cuba annexed than in the present situation because we could then control the labor situation. How is it that under a government & people that will foster cheap labor in our trouble. To raise cheap tobacco is out of the question. We are not in it, it must be a high grade of wrappers, or produce at cost or less... Unless some of the great powers intervenes, Japan & Russia will come to blows with the modern fighting machines & it looks as though the U.S. & Columbia would have trouble soon if not already. Large orders of beef are being placed by the Eastern countries...I believe our position is sound on the Canal matter & Columbia will pay the [price] of bad faith with the United States. The whole world demands the completion of the canal & especially the United States. It is time Senator Hoar retired for the good of the past...” March 9, 1904, cover and letter. Lemuel describes pain he has in his face and draws a sketch of his face to show where the nervous pain is still present.


    Letters are in pencil and ink. Most are in excellent condition. A few have mouse chews affecting a few words and a couple have staining. Nearly every letter has a cover.


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