"Some very satisfactory items"

Allen, ca. 1860. Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society, Item PP231.236
By this period of the Gray diary, the month of June was generally a month in which Mrs. Gray visited her surviving siblings in Philadelphia and Pottsville, Pennsylvania. In 1873, the diarist’s invalid sister died while Mrs. Gray and her son Frank were hurrying to her bedside; in 1874, Mrs. Gray paired a sojourn with her sister Sallie in Pottsville and a visit to Dr. Gray’s niece Fanny in New York. A year later, the Grays were hosts to a Baltimore cousin, whom Mrs. Gray found “real Baltimore-y”! [1]

Boston, Sunday, 25 May 1873: A sorrowful telegram last evg, summoning me to St. Catharine’s [in Ontario]. Mary Shober[2] had a severe relapse last Wednesday; typhoid symptoms have set in and I fear she is sinking. I know Sallie [Lewis][3] would not bid me come unless she felt it very necessary, for we both dread the agitation my quick return will cause our precious sister, though I think she has long felt convinced herself she should never get well. No train goes for Albany & West before 8 tomorrow a.m. and no telegram can be sent to or from St Catharine’s on Sunday. Morris [Gray][4] has driven out to Miss Hill to bring Mary [Gray][5] in. Frank [Gray][6] and I start of course tomorrow. Oh that precious darling sister, how can we give her up?...

Tuesday, 27 May 1873: At 12 ¼ o’c a.m. our dear sister Mary Morris Shober passed on into the eternal peace.

Frank and I reached Springfield [Massachusetts] at about 2 a. m. – to find all distress and suffering over for her for-ever-more.

Pottsville, Pennsylvania, 12 June 1873: Mary & Frank left us last Monday for home. A week ago yesterday we left Mrs. Shober,[7] after nearly a week’s stay with her. No words can express our appreciation of her great kindness, in immediately offering us a home, whereunto we might bring our precious dead; it saved us so much uncertainty & embarrassment & was altogether so much more fitting than any other arrangement we could make. She took us all: Wm. Lewis[8] was there to meet his wife, poor sick man; Mary, Regie,[9] & Frank & ourselves.[10] Her ample hospitality, her kind consideration, her tender, sincere sympathy, were very comforting – I feel we can never be grateful enough for it all. We had gone through so much, it was inexpressibly soothing to get to a home – whence our darling sister was borne at last to her peaceful rest at [the Church of ] St. James the Less [in Philadelphia]…

Boston, Sunday, 7 June 1874: I left Pottsville last Monday morn’g. Sallie accompanied me as far as Reading, wh I took the New York train; reached Jersey City at 3½ p.m. and Fanny Stewart’s[11] house at 5 p.m. Horace Gray[12] met me & put me into an omnibus, which left me at 37th St. within a block of Fanny’s. The dear child gave me a most loving welcome, and I enjoyed my visit to the new home so recently started very much; and am glad to be able now to localize them. I quite admire William Stewart; he is self possessed without assumption or conceit – very refined gentlemanly & intelligent; and they do seem very happy in each other.

Tuesday Fanny saw me placed in the parlor car – handed me a paper bag of strawberries, wh. I found very refreshing and I reached home at 5:40 – Dr. [Gray] and Sam [Gray][13] were awaiting me at Albany depot – and Mr. Pierson Beebe was very polite and attentive, on the way...

Last week Fanny Tappan was married to Frank Appleton.[14] This week Lena Baird of Philad. will be, to Howard Gardiner[15]

I collected some very satisfactory items in Philad. for Records of my family.

Boston, Saturday, 12 June 1875: We had a blessed rainfall on Tuesday & Wednesday – the heaviest fall on record for this part of the country, in the same number of hours – a really tremendous down pour for hours, it kept one awake as if it were the tramp of an army; nearly six inches of water fall – an incalculable blessing!

A letter to-day from S.M.L.[16] Steamer Vicksburg[17] was cut into by an ice-floe and sank in a few minutes with 50 to 60 on board – 2 boatloads escaped one of wh., 5 men in all, were picked up – the other not yet heard of. News to-day of a terrible earthquake in New Grenada, S.A. in which 16,000, persons have lost their lives – a fearful calamity… We have made acquaintance this week with Tom Carey,[18] eldest son of my cousin Susan (Kimber) Carey[19] of Baltimore; he staid but 2 days in Boston – spent an evening with us – and sailed ... next day – a pleasant, easy, gentlemanly man; real Baltimore-y!

Continued here.


[1] Hedwiga Regina Shober (1818–1885) was married to Dr. Francis Henry Gray 1844–80. Entries from the Hedwiga Regina Shober Gray diary, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections.

[2] The diarist’s elder sister, Mary Morris Shober (1816–1873).

[3] Mrs. Gray’s youngest sister, Sarah Morris Shober (1825–1917), who was married to the Rev. William Phillips Lewis 1868–93.

[4] The diarist’s youngest son, Morris Gray (1856–­1931).

[5] Mrs. Gray’s daughter, Mary Clay Gray (1848–1923).

[6] The diarist’s eldest son, Francis Calley Gray (1846–1904).

[7] Mrs. Gray’s stepmother Lucy Hall Bradlee (1806–1902), who was married to Samuel Lieberkuhn Shober 1830–47.

[8] The diarist’s brother-in-law, William Phillips Lewis (1828–1893).

[9] Mrs. Gray’s third son, Reginald Gray (1853–1904).

[10] Presumably including Dr. Francis Henry Gray (1813–1880).

[11] The diarist’s niece, Frances Loring Gray (1843–1919), who had married William Adams Walker Stewart in January 1874.

[12] Mrs. Gray’s brother-in-law, Horace Gray (1821–1901).

[13] The diarist’s second son, Samuel Shober Gray (1849–1926).

[14] The Grays’ neighbor Frances Rollins Tappan (1849–1906) married Francis Henry Appleton on 2 June.

[15] Helena Lawrence Baird of Philadelphia (1851–1925), who was marrying (William) Howard Gardiner of Boston. Mrs. Gray had already noted Lena Baird’s fast behavior; see  http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1888/09/09/page/25/article/philadelphias-latest-scandal for a later episode.

[16] I.e., Sarah Morris (Shober) Lewis.

[17] The Vicksburg sank off Newfoundland 1 June. See http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?153323 for more information.

[18] Thomas Kimber Carey (1851–1906).

[19] Mrs. Gray’s first cousin Susanna Budd Kimber (1822­–1913) was married to James Carey 1850–94.

Scott C. Steward

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward has been NEHGS’ Editor-in-Chief since 2013. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.View all posts by Scott C. Steward