Letter from Lowell, 1854 (ebay.com item)

Jim Blute of the Facebook group “You Know You’re From Lowell If…” posted a link to ebay.com for this 1854 letter on Jan. 5, 2014: “In the 19th Century, Lowell, Mass., was known for its textile industry and for ‘mill girls,’ New England women who worked in the mills. It’s rare to see letters by men who worked in the mills. 4 pp, 12 ½” x 8.  Charles Lucius Anderson, February 17, 1854, Stock Room, two letters in one — to his mother, Mrs. Francis D. Anderson, West Windham, N. Hamp, and his father. Great early Lowell, MA, letter, providing very detailed descriptions of life in Lowell, which was Massachusetts’ second largest city at the time with a large number of wealthy people. He also comments on the State Democratic Convention, which met in Lowell, and the Know Nothing Party, which had a spectacular rise to power in Massachusetts in 1854 when all successful candidates were elected from the Know Nothing (American) Party. The first letter is to his mother.”

“The business of the day is over and with it the noise and din of machinery are hushed and I intend to spend a few moments in reply to your kind letter. Every day seems to bring new examples of the shortness of human life, not only in the death of those who move around us in our daily routine of duties but occasionally in the removal of those who are bound to us in the ties of kindred and blood. Should not these things be the means of making us move thoughtful in regard to our latter end and urge us in on in our Christian course and may our latter end be like his of whom you spoke in your letter. As the weather goes, cooler. I think my health improves in some respects and in others I think is no better. Food does not distress me so much as it has done through the warm months but I feel very nauseous after eating and my head troubles me about as much as ever…Last winter I could not get stock fast enough and everything went with a perfect push. This winter it will be directly the opposite. I shall probably not have enough to make the old stock room an agreeable place to spend ten or eleven hours a day.

“Our Locomotive Department is doing nothing or next to nothing…S.F. Gates, the Superintendent, has fixed himself in quite an expensive establishment for a house. To commence with, he bought an old house for a foundation and fixed it up. Then he bought a piece of land much lower than his house and will have to upgrade it several feet deep to raise it as high as his house. Now should Lowell Machine Shop not wish for his services in the course of time, he will find a pretty expensive house on his hands without much income… Messrs.’ Bullens and Cooledge are doing quite a stroke of business and I have no doubt will make as much, if not more money now than when they were in the shop. In fact, I know they will if business had been as slack under Bullens administration as it now is under Gates’. But I suppose these things do not interest you much. The season for fashion and gaiety is now must commencing. Many will make their appearance in the halls of fashion and festivity for the first time this winter. Many a damsel’s heart will flutter and beat with high expectations to win some gallant beast by her smiles and pretty face, while her head will be as empty as a tin pan. It is amusing on a pleasant evening to walk through the principle streets and notice the passing multitude. You will see rich and affluent mingle promiscuously together. The well dressed and poorly dressed, with all the dandy fops in town will be out in exhibition, perhaps not half of them will know where they are going or in pursuit of what business. All are out to be seen and to see. It used to be to me an impenetrable mystery what it was that supported so many Tailors, Dry Goods Dealers & Jewelers, but since I have lived in Lowell, I have found the sunset. It is said by those who have traveled over the world that Lowell must be noted for the…character of its inhabitants. And I should think it might be so. It seems to be the great aim of some to do nothing but dress…

“Dear Father: I suppose you are busily engaged in ‘getting in the harvest’ as the Irishman used to say who once worked for you. A few weeks since everyone here thought that famine and starvation would be the lot of mankind this winter on account of the dry weather. I cannot, however, say that I was troubled much on that point, for you know that I am so constituted that I can live without eating much. But since the rain has come those who were the most ready to starve have come to the conclusion that things are going to be cheaper than ever. Potatoes can be bought for about 50 cents per bushel and I heard a little fellow crying ‘apples 5 for a cent’ when I was coming in from dinner…The Democratic State Convention met in the city yesterday and I understood that they had a very exciting time, but your newspaper will tell you all the particulars more minutely than I can give them. The Know Nothings will tell you a tale next November in the state of Massachusetts which will make your hair stand erect, if I am not mistaken. Time will, however, develop the whole proceedings and we must be content to wait the result…”