1835: Rhoda B. (Macomber) Head to Sarah Briggs

What Rhoda B. Head and her young son might have looked like.

This letter was written by Rhoda B. (Macomber) Head (1816-1838), the daughter of Bryant Macomber and Priscilla Briggs. Rhoda married Benanuel S. Head (1811-1838) on 14 July 1833. Benanuel was the son of Job Head (b. 1765) and Elizabeth Shaw (b. 1769). Rhoda and Benanuel had one child named John Bryant Head. Unfortunately, both Rhoda and her child died shortly after her Benanuel’s death at sea in 1838.

In her letter, Rhoda mentions that “John sailed the 21st of June” which, I think, is a reference to her brother, John Arnold Macomber (1812-1875) who became a mariner in the whaling industry at age 17. Her served with the Union Navy during the Civil War and got into the petroleum business in Pennsylvania after the war.

Rhoda also mentions someone named “Angeline” in her letter. This may have been the same Angeline Grinnell Briggs (1817-1898), the daughter of Abel Briggs, who married William Blackmore Taber (1802-1876) in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on 13 September 1836.

Rhoda addressed the letter to her Aunt Sarah Briggs, in the care of Phineas Swift (1786-1858), of Wareham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. Phineas was the son of Lemuel Swift (1752-1822) and Betty Briggs (1756-1824).

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Miss Sarah Briggs, in the care of Mr. Phineas Swift, West of Wareham [Massachusetts]

New Bedford [Massachusetts]
July 7, 1835

Dear Aunt,

I take this opportunity to inform you of our health. we are all well at present and hope that these few lines will find you the same. I hope you will excuse me for not writing before as I will inform you Mr. Head went to sea on Wednesday after you left and I had a great deal of work to [do] and John sailed the 21st of June and we had to move as our quarter was up in the house we lived in. We have moved in the south part of the town at the corner of Third and Bush Street. we live upstairs. The rooms is very pleasant and every thing convenient. Angeline is well and very contented. She goes to school every day and to the Sunday School. On the Fourth of July, she seemed to enjoy herself very much. She went to the Sunday School Juvenile Celebration in the afternoon. Mother was up to your sisters yesterday and they are well. You must not give yourself any uneasiness about Angeline for if any thing happens to her, I shall write and let you know about it. We shall live here until brother returns home if nothing happens. We have not heard from brother John since he sailed, but I have had three letters from Mr. Head. He sends his love to you. He is well and not got any oil.

Sarah and her family is well. I hope you will excuse me for not writing any more ast this time as I am very much drowsy with sewing and a great many ships going out and I have letters to write by most of them to Mr. Head.

My love to you and Arnold and all enquiring friends. Angeline also must write the first opportunity and I hope you will come when you can.

Excuse the writing. — Rhoda B. Head


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