I am still adding to the list of Martha/Scotland-related resources, but I thought I’d get started on the Charlotte resource page as well. Expect this one to get off to a slow start and grow gradually…
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s maternal grandmother, Charlotte Tucker Quiner Holbrook, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1809. We have birth and death records for all of Charlotte’s siblings, including the several small brothers and sisters who died in infancy. All we know as fact about Martha comes from a letter written by Laura’s youngest sister, Grace Ingalls Dow, who wrote that her great-grandmother, Martha Morse, was the daughter of a Scottish laird and married a man, Lewis Tucker, who was considered to be beneath her station. All the rest of Martha’s story as I have told it is fiction (though the details of her family’s lifestyle are historically accurate).
Charlotte left more of a paper trail, including a newspaper advertisement for seamstress services, listing a location at the intersection of Union and Warren Streets in Roxbury. Readers of Puddingstone Dam may recall that this is the location of the house the Tucker family moves to after the dam construction renders their Tide Mill Lane house a less favorable site to live.
The history of Roxbury, Massachusetts, is a fascinating example of the advantages and casualties of American urban progress. Originally, the geographical area that became the city of Boston was a bulbous peninsula connected to the mainland by only a narrow strip of land known as “The Neck.” Roxbury, founded in 1630, was the village at the other end of the neck, and so the only land route into Boston was through Roxbury, as seen in this map of:
ROXBURY AND BOSTON IN 1775
(Compare with a map of the Boston area today.)
Gradually, the wetlands surrounding Boston to the west and south—an area known as the Back Bay—were filled in and built over. I tell a part of this story in Puddingstone Dam. Nowadays, the landscape of Boston is so drastically different from its original shape that it is hard to imagine it was ever a lonely spur of land jutting into the Atlantic. Roxbury, along with many other neighboring villages, was eventually swallowed up by Boston and is now simply a neighborhood in the great urban center.
I have loads of links relating to Roxbury, and I’ll get those entered as quickly as I can. (Although, as you know, the great event we are anxiously awaiting means that isn’t likely to be too quickly.) Here are a few to get us started:
Still to come—resources about:
• Embroidery samplers
• School in Charlotte’s day
• Toys and games
• War of 1812
• Early 1800s cookery
Such as: The Old Sturbridge Village Cookbook: Authentic Early American Recipes for the Modern Kitchen—if your library has this book, you’re in for a treat. The “string-roasted chicken” recipe appears in Little House by Boston Bay
• Lydia Marie Child, author of The American Frugal Housewife and other books
• Living history museums and villages relating to Charlotte’s time period
• What made the news in Charlotte’s day (I have many period newspaper articles to scan in)
• Clothing and fashion
• Poetry and literature
• Holidays and celebrations
• And more!
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