Ten 19th Century Quaker Shearman Family Letters Reveal Faith, Attending Meetings

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The Shearman and Howlands were prominent New England Quaker merchant and whaling families, intertwined by business and marriage.  Offering ten letters, various sizes, approximately 40 pp, with nine covers to and from the Shearman family. The letters contain news of attending meetings, traveling, displaying of shells, which is done in the Quaker faith, and a reference to the “colored people will lose their good friend soon.”

 

August 25, 1864, New York, friend Emma writes to Alice Shearman of New Bedford, MA, writes on family members while sitting in the parlor and looking out on the ducks, geese, goats and chickens. “...I think of spending next Sabbath at Cornwall on the Hudson with my cousin Mary Leonard, who resides there, is one of the most beautiful places on the river so we anticipate a pleasant time...Your living friend, Emma.” 

 

ND Thursday Evening, Leo writes to Alice, “...I have much to tell you of New York life...It is so nice to be with Dave...although I see so precious little of him...The wedding has been the grand event of the season and since that important event has past, we have moved on the even tenor of our way...I was able to attend it without any sad feelings...The bride looked very pretty and was dressed very richly...May their lives be happy...We’ve been lately interested in forming a Mission School and a sewing society...Your loving Leo.”

 

Philadelphia, 27th (NM), 1866, sister to Alice, “...Mother and I debated whether we had not better devote the afternoon to climbing to the steeple of Independence Hall and to a visit to the Library. The day was so delightful but we thought someone might come if we left the house alone. We had just decided the matter when the [Liberty] bell rang and cousin David Green’s wife, baby and niece came in.  I wish Heppy could have been here to see the baby. It was so cunning as well behaved as dear little Mamie, a real light-haired blue-eyed little Shearman girl. It is about eight months old, named for Aunt Eliza...Mother felt better towards evening but she was miserable all Seventh Day...Isaac and Mother attended meeting First Day Morning and brought Mr. Macomber home to dinner...He seemed an honest, high-principled young fellow, well acquainted with the Bedford customs and ways which was pleasant...This evening we lingered around the table. Joseph having a late supper. Rachel Baker & Samuel her brother came up to call. She looked very nicely in her white bonnet...We lighted the room and shewed them the shells [in the Quaker faith, attendants speak only when they’re holding a shell].  The three gentlemen talked politics, robberies and the like, while we exchanged the usual compliments.” 

 

New York, Sept. 15, 1867, brother John writes to Alice, beautiful stationary of Hastings & Co., Manufacturers of Oil & Candles. “...Thine of the 5th came in due time this morning...which thee need not have humbled thyself to return at all. I hope Mother will not have catarrh as badly as she used to have it. Send her up to make just such a visit...Our accommodations are superb...”

 

Philadelphia, 8 m[onth] (August) 18th, 1868, son M.E. Shearman writes to his Mother H. H. Shearman in New Bedford, MA. “...I have not heard from thee since I left New Bedford and think some letter must have been delayed at Shober & Co’s or elsewhere. Please direct to 116 N. 4th St. then I get them very promptly and all letters left for me to open that are directed to me. I think thee had better engage Mrs. Macomber and get her started at cutting and fitting thy dress. I shall be able to send thee something on the 4th...and she will not have it done before that time...I would like so much to hear what thee has been doing, where thee has been and who thee has seen since I left...Don’t thee think we had better get a girl as soon after Alice’s return. It would be hardly greater expense than present...”

 

61 Broadway, New York, October 17th, 1868, H.F, Shearman writes to his Mother H.H. Shearman in Philadelphia. “...I called upon his Lordship, the Bishop...yesterday at the Clarendon Hotel. He is on his way to New Brunswick from England. He is an old friend of the Mackay and ? families. He is a very queer fellow and attracted great attention here yesterday. He wears knee britches, black silk hose, sliver buckles in his shoes, a black Bishop’s robe with a black belt to confine it in and a school hat, the likes of which has not ever been seen in this cosmopolitan city for many a long day...except when in the pulpit...He is quite a musical character...and is a good churchman...Thy affectionate Son, H.F. Shearman”

 

Germantown [Philadelphia], July 24th, 1871, Alice writes to her Mother and Mary. “...The letter...was received Saturday afternoon and gave us much pleasure...John & Emma could appreciate the description of the ride as they have been on the same boat...I went over to Mrs. Burnett’s...They had just finished breakfast but Mrs. B insisted I have another cup of coffee...I stayed there most of the morning...I bought the chloroform preparation, 35 cents. Mr. Meedles said it was the best thing he knew of for a toothache....”  News about visiting Atlantic City.

 

Wilmington, 10 mo [month] 8th, 1871, son Isaac writes to his mother Hepsea Shearman.  [In pencil] Remarks about attending the general meeting of Poughkeepsie.

 

Burlington, 11-2-75, Mother to Son John D. Shearman of New York City. “I believe thee thinks because we know thee safe...it is enough but the question of every day...any letters from Alice so thee sees it is a wonderment...Anna & her children are at Joseph Matlock’s for two weeks visit. We expect them here next 5th day morning to stay...Tomorrow Elizabeth Freeman is coming for a day and night and two out West Ministers are expected tomorrow night...Conference comes a week from next 6th day. Uncle Henry & Aunt Anne are engaged to stay at Grace’s during the conference...We like the new girl Mary Rowe (not ‘full of strife) for she is pleasant and obliging, beyond her knowledge in cooking, but teachable...a young Irish girl found by Katy...Yesterday morning at about 8 o’clock, I was off for Philadelphia to attend Quarterly Mtg...I rather think the colored people will lose their good friend soon...” [Perhaps a reference to President Ulysses S. Grant’s term in office ending in a couple of years.]

 

Stroudsburg [PA], 11-15-76, Mother to Daughter. Family news.

 

The letters are in excellent condition, each having its respective cover with 19th century postmarks.

 

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