1845: Samuel Newell Bell to Mary Wallace Bell

This letter was written by 15 year-old Dartmouth student, Samuel Newell Bell (1829-1889) to his sister, Mary Wallace Bell (1834-1858). They were the children of Samuel Dana Bell (1798-1868), Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and the grandchildren of Samuel Bell (1770-1850), the 14th Governor of New Hampshire. Their mother was Mary Healey (1806-1863).

Born in Chester, New Hampshire, Bell attended school in Francestown, New Hampshire, and Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. He was graduated from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1847. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1849, and commenced practice in Meredith, New Hampshire.

Bell was elected as a Democrat to the Forty-second Congress (March 4, 1871-March 3, 1873). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1872 to the Forty-third Congress. He was elected to the Forty-fourth Congress (March 4, 1875-March 3, 1877), but was not a candidate for reelection in 1876.

In his post-congressional career, Bell resumed the practice of law in Meredith. He was also interested in large real estate holdings. He served as president of several railroads and vice president of the New Hampshire Fire Insurance Co. He was appointed chief justice of the superior court of New Hampshire, but declined to accept. He retired from public life and died while on a visit in North Woodstock, February 8, 1889. He was interred in Valley Cemetery, Manchester, New Hampshire. [Source: Wikipedia]

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Miss Mary W. Bell, Care of “Sam” D. Bell, Esqr, Manchester, New Hampshire

Hanover [New Hampshire]
January 15th 1845

My dear sister,

I had a pleasant ride to Concord, notwithstanding a snow storm which began to make its appearance about the time that I started. The snow was rather sticky and stuck to the rails so much that the cars were obliged to stop and have the snow scraped off before they could start again.

When I got to Concord, there was not a very pleasant prospect for a ride to Hanover for the snow came down as fast as it could conveniently. I started from Concord at about half past twelve and had as pleasant a ride as could be expected considering the circumstances. It was not very cold and we arrived at Enfield at about half past five.

We stopped there and took supper, after which we started again and arrived at Lebanon at seven, where we remained about three quarters of an hour.

At about a quarter of eight, we started again and arrived at Hanover at about half past eight. I went immediately to Prof. Chases’ and to my room. Mr. Chase and his family are in good health and spirits, &c. There are about thirty students here and as I can think of nothing else to write, I will close. Therefore, “bon soir.”

Your very affectionate brother, — S. N. Bell


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