1845: Abby Kollock to Elizabeth Shepard Bull

This letter was written by Abby Kollock (1784-1868), the daughter of Cornelius Kollock (1755-1852) and Margaret Hawes (1755-1845). Cornelius was a Quartermaster in the army during the American Revolution, serving throughout the war. On one occasion he was sent with dispatches from General Schuyler, at Saratoga, to General Washington at Cambridge. He was the town clerk of Wrentham, Mass., was a justice of the peace for 64 years, and was a Representative of the State Legislature in 1804. He was a surveyor for many years, and when he was 95 years of age he made a speech at the town meeting.

Abby wrote the letter to her cousin, Elizabeth Shepard Bull (1816-1876), the daughter of silversmith Epaphras Bull (1782-1852) and his wife, Esther Wales (1788-1822). Frequent mention is made of Elizabeth’s brother, Ephraim Wales Bull (1806-18xx) who was a “gold-beater” by trade but who dabbled in grape-gowing and is credited with developing the Concord grape.

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Miss Elizabeth S. Bull, Care of Mr. Ephraim W. Bull, Concord, New Hampshire, and forwarded to the care of Mr. Daniel Chapman, West Scituate, Massachusetts

Wrentham [Massachusetts]
December 1845

My very, very dear Elizabeth,

It is a long time since I have had a line from you. I wrote you last April, I think it was, and I have not had a word in return. I presume you have not been able to write or you would have done so, as I trust you still remember and love us. I ought to have written you before and intended to soon after my dear Mother’s death before you left New York, but I could not. I was not well and had my cares to attend to. After you left, for some time I did not know where you were till cousin Elizabeth sent word you were in Scituate or at your brothers. I heard by Mr. Shaw who was here at Thanksgiving that you were in Concord and for several weeks I have thought another week or a day shall not pass without my writing to you but really I have written so little it is a great affair to get pen, ink, and paper together and begin. I love my friends as well as ever but it is quite an effort to write.

And now Elizabeth, I do wish you to write me as soon as you can after you receive this. I wish to know how your health is, if you think your teeth were any way connected with your sickness, &c., and if you’re not able to write, do request your brother Ephraim to write. I do wish he would. I must hear from you by some one. Do not disappoint me, I beg of you.

You heard of Mother’s death, I presume, before you left New York. I cannot tell you how much I miss her. I wish you could have been here and seen her again. I believe she suffered much in her confinement at times. Her mind was gone. You would not have seen Aunt Pollock, to be sure, as she used to be. The last week of her life she could not speak and most of hte time she did not know us or to appearance any thing but lay quiet. It was a stroke of the palsy at last, I believe. I think she knew us on Saturday for a few minutes. She died on Monday. On Saturday, Abby Braxton came in and went to her and gave her hand. Mother raised hers to her. I immediately went to her. She gave me her hand. A short time after I went to her again but she did not know me again. You do not know how I missed Mrs. Miller, Sophia Pond. Miss _____ was with me and is yet but I expect she will return to Walpole next week, You and Miss Pond are more acquainted with me and I wished you both were here at the time. If I ever see you again, I will tell you all about mother but I cannot write.

Our family are now very well. I have had a bad cold but am better. Margaret is here, goes to school, is a great girl, and if I am as well as I now am, I shall not have anyone else at present. I can get along with the work. I expect to be lonely indeed. But I am not alone. I shall have no one to find fault with and no one to find fault with me. I wish you was well and able to come and stay with me in the summer. I shall need more assistance then than now, but I presume I shall be provided for. I always have been and I try not to borrow trouble.

My father is now quite comfortable for an old gentleman almost ninety-one. He takes care at the barn, cuts his wood, &c. &c., but I see he fails. He felt mother’s death very much. He does not like to be left alone. I have slept in the room with him ever since mother died. He is very deaf — that is one reason he does not like to be alone nights. They are all pretty well at the other houses and Benjamin has not been quite so well this winter as usual but is out at meeting every Sabbath and dined with us on Thanksgiving day. Uncle George and Aunt Nancy are so-so [and] live by themselves. Cousin Benj. has five children; three go to school, and Charlotte is a very good scholar.

Our neighbors are quite well or as well as usual. Nancy Sherman you know has been unwell sometime is no more so but comfortable. Mr. Brastow lives where William Sorter used to. You know they are good neighbors. You have heard that Anson & Gardner Blake have each built a house near the old Coleman house that is gone. You would hardly know where you were to go to Uncle Benj, to see two new houses there where the old Coleman house was. Gardner moved from Mrs. Pennell’s last week into his. I have not heard whether Anson will move soon or not, His family are at Medway at present. He has a little daughter and Gardner a little son. It looks very pleasant below us — the Mr. Blakes’ two houses and Mr. Kowley’s ¹ house make it appear very pleasant. But after all that is pleasant, there is much real trouble there. I presume you have heard of Mr. Kowley’s being robbed and all the unpleasant circumstance attending it. I presume it must make his own family and all her friends truly unhappy. Mr. Kowley still is in the insane hospital. There is some mystery about it, or at least it appears so, but perhaps he will explain if he is ever sane again. He owed my father seven hundred dollars. My father feels hurt. I really feel sorry for him. He says his work is done and he thought that money safe. There are some things that need an explanation and I hope they will be the satisfaction of all.

Harriet Brastow has just been in here and says do give my best love to Elizabeth. She did intend going to Concord this winter but I believe she has concluded to wait till it is warmer. Mrs. Fiske now boards with Mrs. Stone, her cousin who lives where Doctor Buzbee used to. She was here last week, enquired for you and said give my love to Elizabeth when you write. Maria and Elizabeth are in schools at Fall River. Aunt Hawes desires much love to you and Margaret says do give my love to cousin Elizabeth.

This letter is written so bad. I would write it again but I want to send it today to the office and have not time to write it again. You will excuse it. Do write I beg of you and tell all how you are if you can. If not, I do desire your brother would write soon soon soon. Remember me to your brother and sister, and accept much love from your affectionate friend, — Abby Kollock

Elizabeth, have you the breat pin that Aunt Hawes sent me? I had forgotten where it was but thought you had it. If you have, take good care of it.


¹ Abby has written this name such that it appears as “Kowley” but I believe it was “Cowell” and that she probably was referring to William Cowell. Census records show the Cowell family nearby and family papers now housed at the Massachusetts Historical Society preserve a deed from William Cowell to Kollock for land in Wrentham dated 1840.


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