Posts Tagged ‘Harry Dana’

Saving the Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Grandson

On 28 May 1880, the entry in Mary Alice Haines  journal reads:

I came to Mrs. Dana as a nursery maid to dear little Dicky, a lovely little blue-eyed baby of nine months.

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Mrs. Dana, was the former Edith Longfellow, daughter of poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The “golden-haired” Edith immortalized in her father’s poem “The Children’s Hour” was Wadsworth’s middle daughter.

Edith married Richard Henry Dana III, son of author, Richard Henry Dana, a friend of Longfellow.  Their first child, Richard Henry Dana IV “Dicky”, was born in his grandfather’s home, the Craigie House, Cambridge, Massachusetts on 1 September 1879.

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Dicky’s nursery maid, Mary Alice Haines (who the Dana’s called “Allie” or “Alice”), was my 3rd great-aunt, born 8 May 1855, in Richibucto, Kent, New Brunswick, Canada, to John Hains and Alice/Alise Edith Childs. Siblings included Joseph, Alexander, George, James, William John (my 2nd g-grandfather) and Lizzie.  After their mother’s death in 1860, their father remarried Jane Clare adding four half sisters, Alice, Annie Elizabeth, Caroline Sophia and Christina.

Marys chart

Mary was enumerated with the Dana family on 4 June 1880 at 39 Mount Vernon Street [likely an error, they lived at number 33 not 39] in Boston, Massachusetts.  She was listed as a servant.

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Ten days later, on 14 June 1880, Mary writes:

Mrs. and Mr. Dana start for Nahant [Massachusetts] to spend the summer, taking with them their dear little Dicky and myself.

The following day she adds:

I don’t like Nahant. I think it is a perfectly horrid stupid place.

Then on 1 Sepember 1880

We expect to return to Boston soon. I shall be glad, although I have had a very nice time after all.  I went to ride often with Mrs. Dana and took little Dicky; and very often we row in the evenings.

They arrived in Boston 20 September 1880.  On Christmas she writes:

Mrs. and Mr. Dana went to Cambridge with Dicky to lunch with his Grandpapa, Mr. Longfellow, and I had the afternoon to myself.

She writes often of her days with Dicky. Mary’s brother Joseph passed away 24 January 1881 in a hospital in London.  A few weeks later she writes:

Ever since the death of my dear brother I have had lovely flowers sent to me. Little Dicky frequently brings me a pretty rose in his own, sweet, dimpled hand.

Two days after her brother’s death, Mary writes:

Dicky had  little brother born last night. He calls him a little dolly and wants to shake hands with him [Henry “Harry” Wadsworth Longfellow Dana]

Pictured below, Mary with Dicky and Harry:

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On her birthday, Mary received an apron from Mrs. Dana and flowers from Dicky. On 28 May 1881 she writes:

One year ago today I came to take care of little Richard H. Dana III, a dear little blue eyed boy of nine months with long golden hair.  I was not at all taken with his appearance for I thought him very dull and not at all interesting.  But today he is a real boy in every degree and running around and saying many words. He is very fond of flowers. I am now with him in Cambridge making a visit to his grandfather, Professor Longfellow, and he enjoys being here. He is a dear little fellow. I am getting so fond of him. I hardly know how I can ever leave him and he is so fond of me. He calls me A-ie; and since he has been here he has learned to hail the horse car; and if it doesn’t stop he will run into the street and scream, car! car!

Beginning on 18 June 1881 she again summered in Nahant with the family. When they returned to Boston on 21 Sept 1881 she reports that Mrs. Dana and Dicky were sick with “slow fever”.  On 15 October 1881 she comes to Cambridge (from Boston)  to Mr. Longfellow as Mrs. Dana is very sick with typhoid fever. On 8 November she writes that she is still in Cambridge, with no hope of returning to Boston for weeks, as Mr. Dana is now very sick. The children are fine.

28 November: We are still in Cambridge. Oh dear I do wish I could go home. I am so tired of Cambridge.

Mrs Dana writes to Mary: Dear Allie, Miss Alice said the children went to bed at half past five. I don’t understand, for Harry always had his supper at six. Have you changed all his hours–and why? I want him to have his supper as late as possible so as not to make such a long night, and I don’t understand why both children don’t go to bed as they always used to. Do write and tell me about it. I miss you all very much and wish you could come home again. I had no idea you would have to stay more than a week or two, but now I suppose we can’t have you back until Mr. Dana gets better.

17 December: This is my last Saturday in Cambridge. I was so glad Mrs. Dana came out to Cambridge and said we could go home Monday. I am so delighted. Mr. Longfellow had a party for the children today. Dicky and my sweet little Harry were there.

On Christmas, Longfellow and Dicky presented Mary with the Longfellow Birthday Book written by Charlotte Bates, with quotes from the works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to go with each day of the year. The quotes appear on the left-hand page, and opposite them, two dates appear. There is room under each date to write the names of people who have that birthday. Longfellow added his signature under his own birth date.

On 24 March 1882 she writes:

This is a sad day in our home. Mrs. Dana’s father, Professor Longfellow died. We were to sail today but owing to Mr. Longfellow’s death we are to remain till 6 April.

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On April 4th Mary traveled to New York with the Dana family.  It was stormy and rainy. They boarded a ship, which departed for Europe, the following morning.  Mary woke to sailors singing, it reminded her of her five brothers (all of whom were seamen).  The sea was calm for a few days, then “frightful…running mountains high” causing seasickness. Finally, on April 15th they arrived in Liverpool.

Mary writes extensively of her journey, the tug boat that pulled them ashore, a forest of vessels, so many colors, funny looking cabs and ancient buildings.  First stop was the Northern Western Hotel.  She was shocked to learn, in Europe, she and the children were to eat dinner with the other servants in a separate small dining room.

A few days later the group traveled by rail to London, where she noted pretty green fields, so much greener than those at home, trees in bloom and “funny” thatched houses.  They drove four miles via carriage through the lovely Hyde Park to the hotel.  She loved London’s cleanliness, the grand looking granite buildings and pretty Thames River.  She rode from Kensington to Westminster using the underground railroad (which she described as a horrid black hole”), to visit the hospital where her brother Joseph died, to meet his nurses. She describes the view out his window which includes Westminster Bridge, Parliment House and Big Ben  A few days later she visited his grave.

On April 24th they arrived via steam car at Hotel St. Romain in Paris, Mary writes:

I went to ride today with Mrs. and Mr. Dana and the children. We had a lovely ride. How beautiful. I think I never saw anything so lovely. We saw the ruins of the castle of the French Emperor, and also the castle where Napoleon lived, all all the beautiful monuments….little did I think when I used to read about these historical buildings when I went to school, that I would ever see them.

Next stop, via steam car, was Skes La Barre, France [?], then over the Alps into De Touin, Italy, on to Florence then out to the Villa Angelina [possibly in Sorrento ?] where she describes oranges, lemon and olive trees and writes of Dicky tossing bread into a pond with hundreds of kinds of fish who swam to feed. Two girls at the villa taught her some Italian.

Mary is amused to see people washing clothes in the river instead of with a tub and washboard.  They slapped the clothes on stones to beat the dirt out, instead of rubbing them with the hands.

After several days, they returned to Florence where they visited a high cliff overlooking the city and she attended a Scotch-Presbeterian church service (her journal describes the beautiful church, tells of them chanting hymns vs. singing and mentions the sermon was a striking one), then on to Milan for shopping and to see a cathedral and the evening gaslight illumination, then to Lake Como where they sailed in a steamboat and the following day took out a rowboat, “which charmed the children”.  On her second anniversary with Dicky, he presented her a jewel case with a pretty set of ear drops and pin.

On 28 July she notes “there are eight of us” Mr. and Mrs. Dana, Dicky, Harry and myself, Miss Dana, Miss Isabella Dana. They travel to a number of villages – Switzerland is cold.

On July 30th she says she has been Harry’s nurse for one year.  She is homesick much of the time.  Although she enjoys the trip, she longs for letters from home and to be able to see home.

They traveled to Bologna, then Mr. and Mrs. Dana leave for Switzerland leaving Mary and the children behind. Here Mary writes “baby walked all around the yard for the first time”.  A few days later she and the children traveled to Switzerland first by steamboat then via a carriage drawn by four horses.

on 11 August she writes:

Thusis, Hotel Viennala: We left here today but met with a sad accident and had to return to the hotel until Monday.

Mrs Dana writes home of the accident, where our Mary Alice saves baby Harry:

…We meant only to stay here a day or two but an unfortunate accident has upset our plans and shaken our nerves. We engaged a very nice three horse carriage and started in fine style yesterday morning about nine o’clock , Richard and I upfront in the banquette with Dicky between us and Alice [Mary] and Harry inside. About 1 1/2 miles from Thusis the leader shied at a log on the side of the road and bolted right off the other side of the road, which was built seven or eight feet above a grassy meadow, with trees.  There were no posts or railing and the leader going over first dragged the pole horses and carriage after him.

Richard told me to jump out as I was on the up side, but it seemed so preposterous that we could go over and spoil our nice trip and perhaps all be killed in the bargain that I seemed paralyzed and stuck to my seat.  R. could not get out past me and so over we went crash, the carriage turning completely over us but by a happy chance, whether by the struggling of the horses or not I don’t know, it turned half over again on to its side and so set us free.

I had a confused sensation of dust and darkness, breaking wood and brown horses legs flying across my face and then with great effort I made a sidelong plunge to get away from the debris. I saw Dicky lying in a small ditch with Richard on top of him, but both alive.  I was perfectly sure Harry was killed, and dashed back to the carriage turned on its side where in the midst of broken glass, cushions, baskets and boxes I found poor Alice crouching on her knees with Harry in her arms. His face was all bloody and she thought he was very much hurt for the carriage door had stuck him full in the face, but it turned out to be only a bad knock on his forehead and scratches on his face and nothing serious. Alice showed great presence of mind for Harry was sitting on the seat by her and when she found the carriage going over, she seized him in her arms protecting him from the sides and top of the carriage which pressed down upon her, bruising her arm and tearing her dress and apron.

Presently we were all seated on the grass, dusty and bloody, the children wailing dismally, but all absolutely unimpaired! Was it not a miracle? It was such a relief to find we were not all killed or broken to pieces, we could hardly believe it, and I cannot really understand now how we escaped.  Richard was very faint, but fortunately we had brandy in the lunch basket which revived us both and he was well enough to go back to the hotel.  The driver with many “A, Dio!s” had disappeared and the horses were standing quiet as lambs, eating branches of the tree. Meanwhile we were the object of much interest and curiosity for the passers by, who saw with much dismay the broken carriage in the field below and two disheveled women holding two wailing children. All the beggars and children in the neighborhood flocked to the scene of disaster, the diligent stopped to inquire and many carriages. When they heard no one was hurt they went on again, the nervous females probably very unhappy for the rest of their journey.

One very kind Englishman came down to see if he could do anything for us. He seemed very much shocked, and finally presented me with a bottle of coloque [?] which I took to please him although we did not need it. My first thought was to get Dr. Wigglesworth and by dint of running part of the way Richard succeeded in getting back to the hotel just as he and his wife were on the point of taking the diligence over the Splugen [?]. They not only gave up going then but with the greatest kindness and generosity they insisted upon staying over until this morning to make sure that we were alright.  I thought it was very good of them but I wished they would not do it for it was not necessary and it seemed too bad to spoil their plans as well as our own. And worse than all Mrs. Wigglesworth is very nervous about driving and of course this accident will not do much to reassure her. We saw them off in the diligence this morning and I felt very badly to see her so nervous. Dr. W came back in a carriage with R. to the scene of disaster and examined Dicky’s knee under an apple tree. It was very badly bruised and hurt him a good deal. Nothing was broken, however, and Dr. W. has examined it twice since and thinks it will be nothing serious. Poor little Dicky was very much frightened and I am afraid his nerves have received a severe shock. Dr. W. carried him carefully up to the carriage and all the town turned out to see us as we drove slowly through the main street.

Dr W. got us new rooms (ours had been given to others) escorted us to them and made us lie down. We kept Dicky in bed all yesterday but today he is dressed and sitting on a shawl in the garden. Harry did not say a word for full twenty minutes after the accident then when we were sitting on the grass he opened his mouth suddenly and said in the most piteous little voice “Dumpy down!” which made us all laugh….

After a few days of recovery, they end the trip by touring Germany, visiting several spots including Heidelberg Castle and Strasburger Cathedral, they stopped again in Paris to shop and London where Mary again visited her brother’s nurses and grave.  On 17 September they departed Europe, arriving in New York by the 25th on the Servia.

boatship manifest

The journal comes to an end:

29 Sept: One more day and I leave my dear boys. I am give them up to a new nurse Sunday evening.

2 Oct: What a lonely day I spent. My first day away from my dear boys.

22 Oct: John R. Stevens arrived here today from Michigan. We have not met for seven years.

Edith Dana writes from Cambridge, 15 October:

Dear Alice,

It seems a very long time since you went away although it is only two weeks today. It was very hard at first. The first night I slept with Dicky and could not sleep at all. I was so worried and troubled and did not know how we could ever get on without you.  The new nurse did not come until three o’clock Monday afternoon. And I was so tired out by that time, she had to take the children that night and has had them ever since.

Dicky seemed to feel your going more than Harry. He cried a great deal the first night “oh Mary gone!”, “Mary come back! come back!””Mary stay” and he was very suspicious of Margarete at first and would not let her do anything for him. She seems to be a very good girl and is kind and gentle with the children.

I am only afraid she will be too gentle with Dicky and will not be firm enough with him. She is very fond of Harry already and thinks he is the best baby she ever saw. Everything goes on the same as when you were her, only Dicky’s hair that looks a little differently. Margarete curls it, but it looks more meek than when you did it. Dicky has a velocipede now and can ride it in the street.

They have seen “Cuddy Waddy” several times and she is going to be with Grandma in Boston. At least until Christmas time she and her ___ are now going to stay at 33 Mt Vernon St. and perhaps you will see her there.  I hope I shall meet you there someday.  Have you got all your things? Your parasol was in the corner of the big closet.

Miss Annie is very glad you like her presents and says you need not trouble about writing.  I was very sorry to here that John Stevens hurt his eye.  I hope it is nothing serious. Be sure to tell him before you are married about your fainting fits.  He has a right to know and it is your duty to tell him. If you do not he may blame you afterwards.  Have you decided when to be married. I hope Johnie and Jenny are well [my gg-grandparents].

I did not dare to tell the children I was writing to you but they would send a great many kisses if they knew. They are fast asleep now and look so sweetly.  When Dicky plays steam cars he always says “Mary go too”.

Harry has learned a good many new words. He can say “Jumbo” and “corner” and many others.  Mr. Dana and I went to Newport last week for three days and saw Mr. Appleton and the girls who were all interested in hearing about you.  The girls liked the bows we bought for them at the “Bon Marelie”

I hope you will write to me.

Yours very truly

Edith L. Dana

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Mary was married in Boston, 26 October 1882, to John Roderick Stevens, an old flame from Canada (he had first married Lucy A Higgens on 10 Jul 1880, she died ten days later).

Alice Longfellow sent a painting as a gift.

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wedding gift

The newlyweds returned to Michigan where they raised a family of six (four who lived to adulthood).

For some time, Mary kept in touch with the family writing to Edith Dana and her sisters Alice and Allegra.  The letters indicate they valued Mary’s confidence, advice and sympathetic ear as well as her more mundane services as nursemaid to the boys and any other family member needing help. Edith updates her with stories of the boys antics and progress and always sends their kisses.

Drawing to Mary [Allie] from Dicky:

A year after their European voyage, Edith writes saying:

Dear Allie, It is just a year ago today that we left this house to to to New York and sail for Europe. How thankful I am we are not starting off now! I wounder how how now we ever had the courage to undertake it with that two small children.  Harry not even able to stand alone. I think we ought to be very grateful all at home again safe and sound. And you really married and out at “Dan Teacy’s house” [?] in Michigan!  How much has happened in one short year!…

It goes one to tell stories of the boys and how excited they were to receive her letters. She congratulates Mary on the baby expected in August and offers to send some of Harry’s baby clothes.  She mentions Mrs. Dana’s fall on Mt. Vernon St. which resulted in a broken hip which is making her quite uncomfortable and depressed.  She expresses how much they miss her and sends kisses from the boys.

year later letter

In 1884, Mary is still sending gifts to the boys.  She writes “Harry Haines” on Harry’s card, perhaps a private joke between them which Mrs Dana mentions in a thank you note sent from 33 Mt Vernon Street.

In another letter, Edith writes to Allie with well wishes for Jennie [Ferguson ?] and says that God can save her, just as he saved them in the carriage upset:

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In 1885, Edith Dana writes saying it was very kind of Mary to name her baby Edith after her and hopes that she can meet her someday.

Dana Edith

Dana children 1893:

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**Special thanks to Mary’s descendants for sharing her journal, photos, artifacts and letters.

UPDATE August 2016:

Today I visited the Massachusetts Historical Society on Beacon Street in Boston.  In their manuscripts collection are the Dana family papers which include the journal of Richard and Edith (Longfellow) Dana III (a few pages below).  Richard notes that Edith did not write in this time period. His writing adds color to Mary’s experiences.  He speaks of Dicky as an infant and Harry’s birth; summers at Nahant; intimate details of having typhoid fever; his father-in-law’s death and the trip to Europe which includes his version of the carriage accident.

To be transcribed at a later date….  Next stop Cambridge to read through the Longfellow family letters!!

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