Thank you to the friendly
helpful people at the
Pittsfield Historical Society
all my many questions.
If anyone has photos of the following people, I would greatly appreciate being able to see them: Albert and Nancy (Palmer) Day, Arthur and Mabel (Day) Emerson and children, Robert McKay, Henry George, Ed George, William Page, L. Terwilliger, George Mitchell, Allan Sparrow, Edith Swett, Lillian Swett, and anyone else from the book.
My grandfather, Albert Day of Bradford MA, was a printer. He and Nancy Palmer of Pittsfield NH, lived some distance apart from each other for periods of time both before and during their marriage. In the late 1800s and early 1900s they communicated by writing, and bundles of their letters and other papers were saved. We were not left with a complete correspondence but a collection of letters that give views into the daily lives of some ordinary New Englanders in the late 1800s.
My sister, brother, and I did not get to know Albert and Nancy, and have only a few hazy early memories of them. We learned a little about them from our father, and much more from their letter writing. While papers and objects tell who they were, there are periods of time not represented by any letters or notes, and this leaves some holes in their story which comes to an end when the information from letters runs out.
Three of us in succession have tried to “do something” with all this material. In the 1980s my father, Palmer Day, made albums of some of the pictures and added his notes and memories. He did extensive research and made elaborate genealogy charts. Years later my sister, Nancy, discovered and typed many of the letters and diary pages, which preserved them and made them easier to read. Twenty or more years have passed since then, and now with the benefit of their work, possession of the remaining materials, and with advancements in technology, I am able to put the letters we have in context.
When I first encountered the whole overwhelming amount of handwritten and printed material we had inherited, I had a consultation with my son, Jeff, who has a penchant for saving historical things and had saved and stored much of it. We decided to send some items to historical societies in the towns and states where Albert and Nancy had lived. Then after reading more of the letters, I came to realize there was a story here, and if we continued scattering the pieces in all directions, that story would be blown apart forever. After setting aside just a few letters to be used in a future project, I began doing research and piecing together what I had left. My daughter, Dana, installed book layout software for me, taught me how to use it, and provided technical support, sometimes almost daily throughout the project.
I have lived in six states including Vermont where my husband Les and I recently moved to live with our daughter.