This letter was written by Isaiah Howes (1787-1849) of Dennis, Barnstable County, Massachusetts. Isaiah was married to Thankful Sears (1794-1878). They directed the letter to their twenty year-old son, Rowland Howes (1827-1899), who was employed by Thomas Whitridge — the owner of a fleet of ships engaged in the trade with Brazil. Rowland would later marry Harriet Newell Chapman (1832-1898) in 1854 and become a sea captain.
Isaiah mentions his daughter, Myra Howes (1818-1851), who died less than three years later. Myra was married to her cousin, Levi Howes (1812-1874). Another daughter, Sarah Clark Howes (1823-1883), was married to Nathan Sears (1831-1904) who is also mentioned frequently in the letter.
Addressed to Mr. Rowland Howes, Baltimore, Schooner Roxbury, Care of Mr. Thomas Whitridge & Company
May 27, 1848
I did not receive your letter before this day as Nathan left his valise in Boston and it had to come by the Packet. We are all in usual health except Myra who is somewhat troubled with a cough of which if she does not recover soon, Levi and she anticipate taking a journey into the country for the benefit of her health.
I have got about through planting the gardens which is all that I do plant this year.
There was rather a serious affair happened in Brewster day before yesterday as Capt. Freeman Ryder ¹ hung himself in his barn and was buried yesterday.
I was very sorry to hear that you was not fully satisfied with your situation as my earnest care is for your welfare. I do not know of any profitable business that you could find at present and if you can content yourself and think you can hold out a while longer, I think you may be promoted as Nathan says if he had been a young him self, he would have take you his second if he had none,
There is nothing here that I know of that you would employ yourself about to any profit except you chose to go a mackerelling ² which I do not very much fancy, but that I leave all to your choice after all.
Calvin has been one trip and as he could not catch them very well, has stopt at home. Should you conclude to go in the vessel, I think it would be well for you to come home and stop while she performs one trip when the weather becomes warm — perhaps in July or whenever you think best. I have seen Nathan this day, the 28th, and he thinks that he shall not go the next train. I calculate to go to Boston in the Porter and to sail this evening. I should like to come to Providence and see you if you were there but do not think it will be the case. The season is quite forward for grass and vegetation in general look finely.
From your parents & friends
Your mother has been trying to think of something to write but Isaiah Howes could not think of anything and so she sends you an abundance of love and so to conclude.
¹ Capt. Freedom Ryder (1802-1848) was the son of Ebenezer Ryder (1772-1803) and Sally Remick (1777-1828). The 31 May 1848 issue of the Albany Evening Journal posted the following notice:
Suicide — Mr. Freeman Ryder, the postmaster of West Brewster, committed suicide on Thursday morning by hanging himself. Mr. B. has been partially deranged for some time past.
² The Cod and Mackerel business Isaiah may have been referring to was that of the Chase family who sailed out of Dennis, Barnstable, Massachusetts. In 1848, there were 11 crew members in this enterprise who shared profits among themselves and three investors. See Lot Chase Account Books.