This letter was written by Augustus Thompson (1839->1896), the 22 year-old son of Ebenezer and Rachael Thompson of Sanford, York County, Maine. Augustus is enumerated as a shoemaker like his older brother Moses Thompson (1834-18xx) and his younger brother John Thompson (1841-18xx) in the 1860 census. In fact, Augustus and his two brothers were also enumerated in 1860 in Danvers, Essex County, Massachusetts, working as shoemakers, boarding with the C. S. Brown family. It seems that Augustus never volunteered (or was drafted) for military service during the Civil War. However, four of his brothers — John, Joseph, Moses, and Warren — all served. Warren Thompson (b. 1836) enlisted in Co. A, 8th Maine Infantry in September 1862 and was discharged in June 1865. The other three brothers all served in Massachusetts units from the town of Danvers.
In 1865, Augustus is enumerated in Danvers; in 1870, in Marblehead; in 1880, in Lynn — always employed as a shoemaker, always single, and always a boarder. The last record I can find for him is in the 1896 Lynn, Massachusetts, City Directory — still employed as a shoemaker.
Augustus wrote the letter to Hannah Elizabeth Fogg (1838-1884), the 23 year-old daughter of Moses Bean Fogg (1810-1871) and Sophia Weed Bean (1814-1880) of North Sandwich, Carroll County, New Hampshire. Hannah was married in October 1867 to George Darius Garland (1839-1901). Their relationship, if anything more than friends, has not been learned.
Addressed to Miss Hannah E. Fogg, North Sandwich, New Hampshire
[June] the 23, 1861
My dear friend,
I now spend a few moments in writing to you to answer your letter which I received last eek. I was very glad to hear from you.
Direct your letter to Springvale, Maine instead of directing it to Sanford, Maine. I am alive and kicking and as hardy as a buck and all the rest of the folks. I am farming about this time. I have being hoeing corn for about a week and I am as stiff as a truck horse. This don’t seem much like shoemaking, I tell you.
I liked the Conference Meeting first rate. I am a Hard Shell Baptist now. You must excuse mistakes beings there will be any amount of them here. I feel just as though I should like to pull your scolding locks this morning.
I don’t have no times as I used to. They think it is hard times down here now. It is all war with them here now. There was a Republican said that Lincoln ought to be hung up in the middle of hell by the tongue. The Republicans are all down on him down here. ¹ I think he is a pretty good man. I think if Douglas had been elected, I don’t think there would [have] been quite so much a war now. They have a band to play for the soldiers down here and have a pretty good times now. They are going to have a training there the Fourth Day of July. I think that they will have a pretty good time.
I think that was a good letter and a good long one that you sent me. Mine will be short and tough. Write and let me know how John is and the rest of the folks. I suppose you want to know whether I have left off chewing tobacco or not. I left off about a half a hour ago. I don’t chew much now. I think I shall leave it soon. It is hard times and I can’t afford it.
The 26 of June they [are] all going to the beach down here. I think I shall stay at home. It is about 20 miles where we go to the beach Prospect. They will have a pretty good time.
If I was up to Mass., I’d rather go to Nahant. Do you remember the time we all went to Nahant?
They hung a man down here a short time ago for speaking in favor of the South. They came pretty near killing him.
This is not a gentleman writing — it’s a farmer writing. Before you commence reading it, set one corner afire.
My pen is poor and my ink black, and if you can’t read it, send it back.
Write when you can get time. This is from your loving friend, — Augustus Thompson
¹ In The History of the Town of Sanford, 1661-1900, by Emery Edwin, published in 1901, the chapter devoted to the Civil War indicates that though many of the citizens were Republicans and some of them strong abolitionists, most of them were rather lukewarm on the idea of prosecuting war against the South. When a town meeting was called in May 1861 to consider the idea of raising funds to help support the families of those soldiers who went off to war, “the record of the meeting…was brief: ‘First, chose moderator. Second, dissolved the meeting.'”