Moreover, my ancestors' souls are sustained by the atmosphere of the house, since I answer for them the questions that their lives once left behind. I carve out rough answers as best I can. I have even drawn them on the walls. It is as if a silent, greater family, stretching down the centuries, were peopling the house.

Carl Jung (1875 - 1961)

Saturday, 29 June 2013

A New Land

This is the first portion of Harriet Lodge's letter to her mother-in-law, Anne Lodge. It contrasts sharply with her husband John's initial writing, being a moving account of the death of their son, whose name I have been unable to verify. This little boy was between 2 and 3 years of age. Harriet writes that she consented to have the surgeon (J.M.Stokes MD) perform an autopsy. He could have had any number of conditions that affect the lungs; certainly tuberculosis was rife at this time. Today we consider childhood a time of health, but Harriet and John, a couple who were relatively well educated and from solidly middle-class families in 'trade' have two children who are sickly and Harriet seems cautious as to Elizabeth's  future. Harriet was eight months pregnant with another daughter when this letter was written, so Elizabeth, about 6 years old, starts life in a new land after a grueling journey during which her baby brother dies, and with a new baby sister, Sarah Ellen.  Her mother hopes (even expects) that if she lives, she will be 'useful'.


  1. What a sad and poignant letter to have! As sad as it is, a wonderful insight into the journey to the New Land.

  2. Thanks Rhonda - I am fortunate to have the letter - it makes John and Harriet leap from the page as real people! The scene of the burial at sea is quite tragic, but was reasonably common, as other ship logs and diaries mention deaths of children and babies, some of whom may have been ill and vulnerable before the journey. If only I could find his name! As yet, I have not been able to find a baptism for him. Thanks for your comment!