1838: Samuel G. Reed to Ebenezer Hammond Chamberlain

What a young Maria L. Chamberlain might have looked like.

This letter was written by Samuel G. Reed and his wife, Maria L. (Chamberlain) Reed (1815-1839), who were married in May 1838, in Petersham, Massachusetts. After Maria died in November 1839, Samuel took Caroline P. Webster for his second wife in June 1842.

The Reeds wrote the letter to Maria’s brother, Ebenezer Hammond Chamberlain (1808-18xx) and his wife, Susan (Nix) Chamberlain (1804-1860). Ebenezer and Susan were married in March 1832 after the death of Susan’s first husband, David Scott Mims (1796-1831). Ebenezer was employed in agricultural pursuits in Edgefield District, South Carolina, where he kept 15 slaves (1843).

Although I can’t locate on-line genealogical records to confirm it, circumstantial information contained in this letters suggests that Ebenezer and his sister Maria, were probably two of several children born to Peter Chamberlain (b. 1767) and Charlotte Hammond (b. 1770) of Petersham, Massachusetts, who were married in 1791.

Samuel G. Reed was a wealthy Boston merchant who did so well that by 1847, he was able to buy a half interest in a development started by another Boston merchant, Francis D. Kidder, in northwestern Cambridge. The development included a race course, or “trotting park” — called Cambridge Park, a hotel — called the Park House, and surrounding residential lots. Reed remained an investor in this development until the 1880s. Reed was also the owner of several merchant ships sailing out of Boston Harbor, and was an officer in the Grocer’s Bank of Boston.

Stampless Cover


Addressed to Mr. Ebenezer H. Chamberlain, Edgefield District, Rehoboth P.O., South Carolina

Boston [Massachusetts]
November 6, 1838

Dear brother and sisters,

Page 1

We have been waiting very anxiously for a long while to hear from you but as we have not heard, I think it is time for me to enquire what’s the cause. Surely you must think we should feel very uneasy till we knew whether you arrived safe or not. I hope as soon as you receive this you will write.

Your friends are all very well here. My health is very good. I have not heard from Petersham for a long time. Father has been down 5 or 6 weeks ago. He was very feeble [and] said it was very lonesome. Sarah had gone away and Elen Hutstel was with them then. Miss How had gone there to board. Charles Stratton is going to stay with them this winter. Mr. & Mrs. Clark have been to Washington this fall. She is at Hubbardston now. I have nothing very interesting to communicate.

I have me a satin cloak — tyrian Purple —  [and] am going to have a white bonnet trimmed with flowers for winter.

Page 2

We have much rainy weather. It’s pouring down in torrents just blown up from your quarter of the globe. We’ve had two little winters — such perhaps as you will see. The streets and buildings were covered with snow for a number of hours. Just write how it is with you. Ann, I want you should write how you like how everything seems to you, whether you have seen Aunt Hammond or Cousin James, if you have seen Eichidbuyer and all that I want to know. How does Dolly and Major Brooks? I want to [hear] from them along with the rest.

Brother, I don’t know what they do with your Southren folks. One gentleman from Charleston got to quarreling in the Tremont House a few days since, went out [and] bought pistols, went back and shot at the person with intent to kill. By chance, it missed [and] therefore did not kill. They put him under bonds for his appearance at the next court.

Sister’s family are well. I spend Saturday evenings there. Business is very good. When we get rich, then we are coming out to see you. Samuel is going to be commission merchant – it is augustic when they won’t let him sell somewhere. Called on Mrs. Raymond yesterday.  She is very well. Said she had heard from P. and that the Typhus fever raged. Avery Babcock died last week with it. C. and George and baby are very well. Nothing more that will interest at present. I think it will be very interesting to pick this out and put it together so that you can read it. If it is answered soon, I will write you another. All join me in sending love to all from your sister, Maria L. Reed

Boston, [Massachusetts]
November 8, 1838

Dear Brother & Sister,

Page 3

Maria allows me to fill this letter up with something and I hardly know what to write. I believe she has told all the news. We are all well and business is first rate and that is one great pleasure to me. Mr. Robinson’s business is much better this fall then it has been for the last two years and he appears to be very happy.

When your father was in Boston, he sad he should like to find you a small lot of cheese and some other things if he could have a convenient opportunity. I told him he had better wait and see if you wanted any goods sent out and you thought you might when you was here — and shall expect to hear from you in a short time and if you should want any goods he should be glad to let you have. If you do not, we will send the cheese the first opportunity. We have been expecting to hear from you everyday or we should have wrote before. Your brother, — Samuel G. Reed


One response to “1838: Samuel G. Reed to Ebenezer Hammond Chamberlain

  • Travis

    Thanks so much for transcribing and posting this letter. While I am not related to the couple, Samuel G. Reed’s second wife was my ancestor’s sister. He was later associated in business with his new brother-in-law, and my ancestor, Hiram Grimes.

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