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I reunite identified family photos that I find in antique shops and second hand stores with genealogists and family historians. If you see one of your ancestors here and would like to obtain the original, feel free to contact me. Donations of pre-1920 photographs are also most welcome. I hope you enjoy your visit!
~The Archivist


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Correspondence of Mary E. Harrison, Portsmouth, NH, & Maccan, NS, 1890s


I found a stack of letters at an antique shop not too long ago, all addressed to Miss Mary E. Harrison, #5 Brewster Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, dating between 1894 & 1897.  I stood reading the letters in the shop for a good long while, not sure if I should buy them.  I wanted them, but they were priced quite high for letters, but in the end I decided to splurge.  Surely, someone would appreciate them.  In addition to the four letters, there was also a receipt from 1871 for a real estate transaction.

Letter #1.  Written by Clarabell Webster of Lawrence, Mass., dated Aug 22, 1894.  Clarabell and husband, Dean Webster, appear in the US Federal Censuses for 1900 through 1930.  Clara was born about 1873 in Massachusetts.   The letter is of the type written to a friend.  There are a few snippets of hometown news about mutual friends and as well as a thank you for a bon-bon dish that Mary gave Clarabell as a gift. 

Letter #2.  Written by Mabel, from Maccan, Nova Scotia, January 1895.  The letter has the postmark, "Harrison Road, NS, Jan 14 95."  The Harrisons were a fairly large family in Maccan, NS.  Mabel, I discovered, is a sister of Mary's.  The letter is very chatty and chock-full of town gossip.

Letter #3.  Written by Mary's sister, Mabel, Maccan, NS, February 12, 1897.  Also postmarked, "Harrison Road."  Another chatty letter with mentions of many family members including "Uncles Alex & Mat," "Aunts Cassie & Maggie," and news about the upcoming Baptist box social and visitors to the area.

Letter #4.  Written by Mary's Father, and signed "Your affectionate Parents."  Dated, Maccan, Feb 14, 1897, probably posted in the same envelope as Mabel's letter. Mention of the snow that year, getting ready for "sugaring" and also seed-buying for the upcoming growing season.

Receipt from 1871:  Maccan, March 10th 1871.  Received from Samuel Harrison the sum of $50.00 Fifty Dollars part payment on Marsh.  Alexander Harrison.

Mary Elizabeth Harrison was the daughter of Samuel (b. 1839) and Catherine (b.1840) Harrison, born the 10th of August 1862.  She can be found in the 1891 Canada Census for River H├ębert, Cumberland, Nova Scotia with her parents and siblings:  Bernice, b. abt. 1866; Stubbard, b. abt 1870; Edgar Amos, b. abt 1872; Mabel Catherine, b. abt. 1875 (who wrote Mary two of the letters) and Fred, b. abt. 1879.

While Mary appears in the 1871, 1881 & 1891 Canada Censuses, she also resided in the US for some time.  I believe she lived in Lawrence, Massachusetts for a while in the 1880s.  Then, after the 1891 census moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Perhaps she had family members in New England.

(For more information on Mary E. Harrison, head to my post Cabinet Card Portrait of Mary E. Harrison)

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