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One Letter from 1867= Dozens of New Names for the Family Tree

Boston July 24. 1867

Dear Aunt,

I received your letter dated May 22/67 and
It was gladly received day before yesterday.
We are having pretty warm weather here now
although it Is not quite as warm today as it usually
is. Sara has been married just one year ago last
Thursday, her husband’s name is William Pierce.
Grandma was very much opposed to the match.
Sara left home & went up to my Father’s brother to
Live Henry Moore’s & I left home last Wednesday
I am now living here with him, I was sorry to do so
but Grandma used to find fault with me so much
that I could not stand it & Aunt Caroline
lives there, too, it was too many together. I concluded
it would be best in the end although I was very sorry indeed.

to leave Grandma and should have stayed and done all
I could for her, but things didn’t go on right.
Greenwood is getting along, pretty well. It is a year next
month since he fell & he goes now with a cane, he has got a
beautiful boy, it is quite large now. Sara has no little ones
as yet. Has John got any little ones yet? I am still writing
at the office and I get tired when night comes. One of
Uncle Henry’s girls work at the same place, so it makes it
quite nice for me, we live but a short distance from Aunt Agnes’s.
I intend to go up there soon and see her it is now quite a
long time since she was at our house. Grandma never did
feel very pleasant lately toward her.
Frank, Christopher’s Son the one what went to
Sea got home this Spring, he is quite a man now he did
not know of Grandpa’s death until he landed on the
wharf here he was much surprised to hear that it was

I believe you used to be acquainted with Rachel
Kendall or Nicols her name was before she was
married. I think she said you stood up with her
or she with you when you were married, her Mother
is dead she died 4th of July morning at 7 o’clock
Mrs. Rachel Kendall sent her love to you.
We had a very dull fourth this year we had our 4th
on the 24th of June that was a great day, the great
Masonic Temple was dedicated the President was
here and the City was so full they had to pitch tents
on the Common for folks to sleep in, every place was so
full, I had the pleasure of seeing Pres. Johnson.
When you answer this please direct to 1679
Washington St. that is where I live, at present.
Don’t be long before you answer this, do as soon as you
can conveniently.
I must now close hoping this will find you well,
answer soon. I shall send you a picture of myself
just as soon as I have some good ones taken which will
be in about a month.

Good Bye With Love.
From your Affectionate Niece,

This letter was found amongst Mary Dominis’s papers in the Hawaii Archives.  It was simply signed, “your Affectionate Niece, Helen”.  I had no Helen in the family tree, and I was stumped.  So I started at the top and worked my way down.

1.       The letter is dated 1867.  She mentions a Sara marrying a William Pierce one year earlier.   I searched the Massachusetts Vital Records for 1866 marriages with a William Pierce.  There were a surprising number of William Pierces, including several who married Sarahs.  One was a Sarah Moore, daughter of Augustus and Sarah.  I noted this one since a few sentences later Helen mentions “Sara left home and went up to my Father’s brother to live Henry Moore’s…”

2.       There is a mention of an Aunt Caroline.  The only Caroline in this branch of the family was Caroline Lincoln (1818-1909) who married Enoch Howes Snelling (1816-1877) in 1845.  Enoch was Mary Dominis’s nephew; the son of her sister Sarah Dargue Jones (abt 1794 – 1875) and Enoch Howes Snelling, Sr. (abt 1790 – 1866),

3.       There is mention of a person named “Greenwood” with a new baby.  Enoch, Sr. had a son named Nathaniel G. (1823 – 1902) who had a baby George born about 1867.

4.       Another person mentioned was Frank.  Well, Enoch, Sr., had another son named Christopher H. (1820- 1863), who had a son named Christopher Frances (1846-1911).  Could Frank be the nickname of Christopher, Jr.- slightly different to distinguish himself from his father?

5.       Frank was surprised to hear of Grandpa’s death.  Enoch, Sr. died in 1866.  He would have been Christopher Frances’s and also Helen’s grandfather.

Armed with these clues, I began to search further.  The 1860 Federal Census in Boston lists the household of Enoch H. Snelling, age 69, and the following family members (unfortunately the 1860 census doesn’t list descriptive names like sister, niece, cousin): Sarah D , age 65; Nathaniel G, age 47; Christopher, age 14;  Sarah A. Moore, age 17; Helen A. Moore, age 11; Angeline Brigham, age 40; Malvina Brigham, age 40; and Ellen Houghton, age 20 labeled as a servant from Cork, Ireland.

There was a marriage in the Massachusetts Vital Records for Helen A. Moore, age 20,  in 1869 (just two years later) to Stephen E. Ellis, age 21.  She lists her parents as Augustine and Sarah.   Since her sister listed her parents as Augustine and Sarah I decided to search for a death for a “Sarah Moore” to see what was listed as her maiden name.   I found a death record in Boston for Sarah Anne Moore, 4 December 1849 (very close to the time Helen was born), daughter of Enoch and Sarah D. Snelling, Mrs. Augustus D. Moore, of typhus fever. Two of Sarah Moore’s little brothers, ages 9 and 13 also died of typhus in September 1849.


Sarah Dargue (Jones) Snelling and Mary Lambert (Jones) Dominis were sisters.  Helen was Mary’s grand niece, daughter of Sarah’s daughter, Sarah D. Snelling who married Augustus Moore.  This is a letter from a motherless teenager to her great aunt thousands of miles away, complaining of her family situation.  I can only imagine how helpless both aunt and niece felt about being unable to communicate often or ever visit each other.  I know that there are photographs from the Dominis family in the Hawaii Archives, and on my next visit I’ll see if Helen ever sent a portrait to her great aunt. 

I’ll be spending lots of time researching the Moore family in vital records, censuses, city directories and other resources.  Already, there are dozens of new names to attach to the family tree.  And more Snellings, too!

Unresolved questions:

Who is Greenwood?  Who are Angeline and Malvina Brigham, both aged 40 in the 1860 census?


Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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