Friday, July 4, 2014

A letter from Medford

For Independence Day weekend, I wanted to highlight the story of an ancestor who fought for America's freedom.

My 5th great-grandfather Samuel SEVERANCE, born about 1741, was a native of Kingston, New Hampshire, and enlisted in the Revolutionary army in the summer of 1775. He was in the Battle of Bunker Hill, and he brought back home a small stone as a memento of that event.


The Battle of Bunker Hill, 1775


His wife Hannah sent him green beans, pork to cook them with, and some corn meal. His packages also contained berries lovingly picked for him by his six-year-old daughter, also named Hannah. The other soldiers were moved to tears, wishing that they had wives and children to send them such nice little gifts.

There is preserved a very touching if badly-spelled letter Samuel wrote to his family:

Madford [Medford, Massachusetts] July th 17. 1775,

These Lines comes to you, my loveing wife and dear children, hoping in the marcy of god that you are all well, and I hope in gods time I shall be restored home again; but if not, I beg of god that we may so live in this world that we may spend wone day in each others preasents in a world of glory, for I put noe trust in the arm of flesh, but my trust in in god alone for life and mearcy, and I hope in the mearcy of god that he will cary you throu all your troble and difictiles that you have to pas throu in this life. my love to father and mother, to brother John and wife. I hope that you are all well, and the rest of my friends, to my wife; what money I send home to you, you may take care of it. if you have aney pros[pect] of corn, I would have that old cow have a peas on her horns, so I have noe more at the preasent, so I remain your Loving housband til death peart.
Saml. Severance

Personally, I think the awful spelling makes this letter all the sweeter.

His son, my 4th great-grandfather Samuel Jr., would be born one month after he wrote this, so I can imagine how rough it was on both him and his wife; I'm imagining poor Hannah, heavily pregnant in the middle of summer, and her husband is off fighting a war and might not come home. Talk about mood swings and crying jags!

But as it turned out, she wouldn't have long to wait; he came down with "camp sickness" (i.e., dysentery) and was discharged. He was so pale and haggard when he returned to his family that little Hannah didn't recognize her father and hid herself behind a door in fear of this "stranger."

The above information and letter was furnished to the New England Historic Genealogical Society by E. George Adams, a descendant of Samuel's above-mentioned daughter Hannah Severance Adams, which appeared in Volume 12, page 22 of their Register. I'm very grateful to him for that.


Ancestry line:

Samuel SEVERANCE (b. 1741) m. Hannah WINSLOW
Samuel SEVERANCE II (1775-1836) m. Judith TOWLE
Mary "Polly" SEVERANCE (1805-1889) m. William WINSLOW
James W. WINSLOW (1838-1906) m. Elizabeth A. MACE
Bessie Maud WINSLOW (1886-1970) m. Frank Bailey PALMER
Dorothy Elizabeth PALMER (1918-1984) m. Henry Richard HOWES
S. HOWES (1937-1999) m. my father
Me (b. 1974)