Saturday, November 2, 2013

Love & Loss in the Letters of a Young Woman in Rural New England, 1794-1817: Historical New Hampshire, Fall/Winter 2013

"The Landing of Columbus in America Wrought by Margaret
Mitchell at Mrs. Rowson's Academy"
Courtesy, New Hampshire Historical Society
In a quiet corner of New England, in a large but unassuming Georgian home, during the early years of the new nation, lived a young woman whose life was typically New England—and, yet, surprisingly unfamiliar to most New Englanders. Her name was Myra Montgomery (1794-1817), and her abbreviated life of twenty-two years was played out along the Connecticut River, where she learned to ride and sleigh along cornfields, and in Boston, where she learned literature and the finer arts of genteel society at Mrs. Rowson’s Female Academy. 
Few of us who know and love the history of this region realize that the lives and loves of those who came before us spanned the hundreds of miles of unpaved post roads that connected one corner of our region to another.  This is Myra’s story. I have had the good fortune to work with this previously unpublished cache of letters. They reveal her joys and sorrows; her erudite use of the pen and playful language, her hopes and disappointments. We come to know her as an intelligent young woman of the early republic, who is looking forward to travel beyond her childhood home and marriage to Horace Henry Goodman, her fiancé. All were cut short by her death of consumption at age twenty-two.
One of the Montgomery girls, probably Myra.
Courtesy, Haverhill Historical Society
We can still enter her world. In addition to the letters themselves, the Montgomery House (c. 1793) still stands. Here, we can find Myra’s bedroom on second floor, adorned with stenciled walls, where she penned her letters to Horace. The classic Georgian vernacular structure has only had five owners, and the current residents are gracious and are always happy to open their lovely home.
General Montgomery's Store (foreground) and the Montgomery Homestead beyond
If you would like to learn more about the life of this young woman and her early 19th century world, you may purchase individual copies of Historical New Hampshire, Fall/Winter 2013, Donna-Belle Garvin, Editor.

To order a copy:
Online: New Hampshire Historical Society's website,
Telephone: 603-856-0625

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