1860: Albert Freeman Dow to Wesley W. Dow

A Wide Awakes parade in Lower Manhattan. There were similar parades in Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, and Boston during October 1860.

This letter was written by Albert Freeman Dow (1844-1922) to his older brother, Wesley W. Dow (1841-1863). They were the two oldest children of William Montgomery Dow (1815-1886)—a machinist—and Mary Jane Goodale (1819-Af1880) of Lawrence, Essex county, Massachusetts.  The family moved from New Hampshire to Massachusetts between 1854 and 1858 and took up residence on Concord Street at the corner with the turnpike. The family were members of the Freewill Baptist Society.

Albert enlisted at the age of 19 as First Sergeant of Co. B, 4th Massachusetts. He accepted a commission as 2d Lieutenant on 8 December 1862 and mustered out with the regiment on 28 August 1863 at Lakeville, Massachusetts.

The Philips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum houses two diaries kept by Wesley W. Dow. The second diary includes his time in the service. [Note: the brief biographical sketch compiled by the library that accompanies this diary is full or errors and should be ignored.] A search of military records reveals that Wesley served in Co. B, 3rd Massachusetts Cavalry, and that he died of chronic diarrhea at the Regimental Hospital in New Orleans on 11 August 1863.


Addressed to Mr. Wesley W. Dow, New Hampton, New Hampshire

Lawrence, Massachusetts
October 14, 1860

Dear Brother,

We received your letter from New Hampshire Friday and were glad to hear that you had got the money that we sent you.

How is your health now? Do you like now? I guess you had not got our last letter when you wrote in which we sent you $2 more. Our family is all well.

Boston Newspaper article about The Wide Awakes Torchlight Procession

The Wide Awakes are having great times here now over the Pennsylvania Election. They are going to Boston Tuesday evening to the torchlight procession which will be a grand thing. They have got another new Wide Awake company called the Lincoln Guard. Their uniform is a red cape and black cap. They look well, I tell you. I shall not go to Boston but Father will and all the rest in the store. I shall stay at home and tend store. I tell you that “Honest Abe” is going to be the next President of these United States.

Father has got the cloth for your pants and mother will make them right off.

The Prince of Wales ¹ is the great fever now. He will be in Boston the 18th and will pass through this place on his way to Portland so I shall see him.

Our church has a festival Wednesday evening and among the entertainments offered is “Fortune telling by the celebrated Madame Walenshare.” Great, “ain’t it.” That paper that I set you is a good thing. We sell about 300 copies of it per week. It makes the folks a little careful how they carry the heads as there is a correspondence from Lawrence every week. But wouldn’t the correspondent catch fits if he should get found out, “I tell you.” You remember [Mason] Dakin–that little mean dog that works in William and Allen’s, ² don’t you? Well he and Cutter got into a row in the store yesterday and Culler put him out. Dokie called Fred a God damned shit and Cutter didn’t like the style and so he put him out. He sneers vengeance on the whole of us.

This is all the news. Goodbye from your brother, — Al[bert]

Lawrence, October 14, 1860

The “two middle towers [raised] 50 feet higher” than the exterior facade of the Pacific Mills built in 1860. Note the bell in the nearest tower.
Albert has written all of the news. You have heard before this that Uncle Abraham’s folks being here and gone home. Got the Pacific Mills ³ about done outside. They are going to run the two middle towers about 50 feet higher than they are now are and the bell is to be hung in one of them.

About your remaining at school another term, you can do as you are a mind to. You can learn more another term than you have this and if you conclude to go, you had better stay there vacation and work for your board but unless you calculate to teach, I do not see the necessity of your going to school. If you go, think you had better study surveying [and] grammar, but you may do just as you are a mind to about going. Perhaps an education will be better for you than money.

Please write how much more money you want to square you through this term & it shall be forthcoming. — William M. Dow

¹ “After New York, Prince Edward of Wales made a “flying” visit to Albany before journeying to Boston, where similar celebrations occurred, and he met Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. On October 20, the royal party traveled by train to Portland, Maine, where they once again boarded HMS Hero two days later to sail for England.” [See Prince of Wales’ Royal Visit, 1860]

² John Wilson & Jacob A. Allen were partners of a steam planing mill.

³ William M. Dow was a machinist at the Pacific Mills which was incorporated in 1853. The mill mass produced women’s dress goods in wool and cotton and included a print house and dye works.

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