Lowell Mill Girl Letters

Bixby, Lydia, May 22, 1850

LOWELL NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK 
BIXBY FAMILY COLLECTION 
  
LETTER WRITTEN BY LYDIA BIXBY1 
TO HER MOTHER MARY GILSON BIXBY 

 

                                                         May 222 
  
Dear Mother3 I now Sit down to write to you it is a long time Since I have heard from home it is almost six month I have been thinking evry day I would write but I get to tired I put it of till to morrow I am in pretty good health I am at work in the factory in the card room No 1 Mr Marshall is my overseer I get 10 Shillings a week besides my board I pay a dollar and a quarter for my board have my washing done I board at No 6 Basin Street right close to the counting room Mr Ferson is the Man I board with I like in the Mill pretty well I am spare hand I like my overseer verry much he is real good to his girls when they get behind hand 
with their work he will take right hold and help them he is a strong Milerite they hold their meetings in this 
place their belief is now that the world is coming to an end next year My overseer wantet I should get him 
Some more Groton4 Girls to work for him I told him they was all Ladys up there and would not work in the factory there is a great cry for yankee girls here they cant get them for love nor money hardly I like my boarding place pretty well but there is no danger of my eating enough to hurt

  1 Lydia Bixby b: 1 Apr 1827, Groton, MA; parents: Asa Bixby and Mary  
    Gilson; daughter no father listed: Eliza Jane Bixby b: 6 Oct 1849, Groton,  
    MA; married 1858: Cole Abel “Abel” Tarbell b: 1773, Groton, MA. 
  2 Nashua, New Hampshire - 1852? 
  3 Mother – Mary Gilson Bixby b: 6 Mar 1797, Groton, MA d: 7 Feb 1884,  
    Groton, MA. 
  4 Groton, Massachusetts. Groton is a town near the New Hampshire border. 

 

me I could change and get a better one but after I get aquainted I don’t like to change I go in at 5 in the morning come out at Six when we are smart when we don’t work quite so well we dont get out till half past Six and once in a great while we have to stay in to bell time 7 clock I have not lost but 2 days and a half then i was Sick I had a cold I could not Speak a loud word my would not let me come home then he was so Short of help he told me to drink Some herb tea take a Sweat and go to bed and be Shure not have my window up there has been two fires here Since i have been here I have seen Harriet Adams 2 or 3 times to 
Speak to her Sarah Messer workes in the Same Number I do in the weaving room I meet her every day but I dont know her now  they are all the Groton folks I have Seen Since I have been here O I had almost forgot I met James Marshall in the Street he Spoke to me I did not know who it was till he told me he has alterd  So mother have you herd from [unclear] lately I have never answered that letter 
that he wrote to me and I fell ashamed As now I guess he will think I was the thoughtfull Sister Where is Thomas5 I should like to see him verry much I have not seen him but once Since he come back it as though he was a stranger to me Joshua6 come over to peperill7 a little while before i left I took him down to the ragroom with me I went in I thought he was coming right in behind me but he gave me the mittin I went out and looked all around for him but he was gone tell him his call was short and sweet tell Dana to write to me and all the rest for I did not forget home because I delayed writing so long I am something like Thomas about that think about it when I cant do it and Mother I want you to write to me to and tell me how all of my brothers and sisters are I don’t know when I can come home I shoud come as soon as I can come down and see me and tell the rest to you go from the depo down main street and down factory street the counting room is at the end of factory street it is the Nashua Corporation you could go to the end

  5 Brother: Thomas Bixby b: 22 Mar 1831, Groton, MA. 
  6 Brother: Joshua Bixby b: 13 Apr 1839, Groton, MA. 
  7 Paper Mill, Pepperell,  Massachusetts. 
  

counting room and call me out tell them my name and that I worked in no 1 card room they would call me out or you could go to my boarding place No 6 Basin Street just the other Side of the road from the counting room it is very easy found if you did not know you could inquire amost any one could tell you wright to me as soon as you get this for I long to hear from you

                      from your affectionate daughter 
                                            Lydia Bixby

give my love to all my inquiring friends acquaintance and School mates if they Should happen to be any O how I Should like to see all my old School mates in the School room once more I would tell them they was spending there happiest days now O tell me what Dr Smith is doing now I should like to see him very much I cant write anymore for I have got to the end of this sheet of paper.

March 3, 1852

Courtesy: Lowell National Historical Park 
Transcribed: University of Massachusetts Lowell, Center for Lowell History

Lowell March 3 1852

  
             Dear Brother1 
  
How do you do I received your valuable letter which has been the subject of my reflections ever since I received it I often visit you in thought would that it could be a reality if I could comfort you in your afflictions, I am glad Mother2 can be with you. She can take the best care of you I hope she will not get sick, Give my love to Parmelia3 and tell her that Christ chose the poor the sick the lame to be his friends and if she be his adopted child I trust she will follow his example if not I fear she is none of his.

I am glad Lydia4 has made up her mind to go and earn her own living but I am sorry very sorry she has 
been so regardless of my advice to her about going to that mill I have worked there before her and know 
more of that town and the people that are in it though I wish I did and one objection which is greater than 
all the rest is that she has gone to work for Mr. H for he is one of the greatest villains I ever got acquainted 
with without exceptions I Summered & Wintered there before I even dreamed of his character which proved 
to be to seduce every innocent girl that was in his power let me tell you of one instance of his artfulness.

I went to Nashua5 with him to get my bonnet reformed and trimmed as we were on our way there he appeared very sociable when we had got within a few miles of N we passing along the road and came to a woods which extended on both sides of the road he looked behind and then before us then listened to be shure no one saw us he put his arm around my waist and asked me 

  1Benjamin Varnum Bixby b: 12 Oct 1821, Groton, MA d: 1903, Groton, MA 
  2Mother: Mary Gilson Bixby b: Mar 1797, Groton, MA 
  3Neice: Parmelia Bixby b: 1850, Groton, MA 
  4Sister: Lydia Bixby b: Oct 1835, Groton, MA 
  5Nashua, NH 
  
  

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if he might kiss me I told him no and if he did not keep his hands off me I would pull the horse by one rein and tip him over and break his neck he continued his grasp I reached for the rein but he chose to guide his own horse and conducted with civility until we got to N we went to the milliner and while

I was shopping he went to the tavern to put his horse up in a few minutes to the shop and as I had not got through he said he would go into another shop and when he returned he had a ring on his little finger we passed along to git to another shop to purchase a parasull while I was loking at them he was examining prints shawls muslins and various articles he picked out a piece of muslen he said he thought would make a pretty dress and asked me how I liked it told him I thought the purple would look the best made up he had a dress pattern cut off and paid for it and we returned to the Tavern where he called for his room they conducted us up two flits of stairs into a handsomely furnished room he asked me lay of my things he seated himself in the rocking chair and I on the sofa he becond to me to come and sit on his knee I refused he said he wished to see my ring but I would not be enticed by him so he got up and thought he was going to me but insted up thor’t he locked the door then seated himself by my side and took that ring off his finger and put it on mine and said it was mine I told him I did not want it and I offered it to him he would not take it I laid it on his arm he took it and put it on my finger again then put his arm around me clinching both of my wrists put his face over my nose so I could not breathe through it and the same time sucking my breath from my mouth until I became so exasted I was obliged to lean my head on his shoulder then he commenced to lay me down on the sofa at that moment a rap at the door stoped his career he opened the door and said this lady had fainted and called for a glass of cold water which soon revived me he said as he got cheated out of his object this time he would call and see me some time when I was alone at home this was reason

I would not stay alone if Mother6 does laugh and all me her baby for being (willing) left alone yet do not expose me out of the family I told you this as

6Mother: Mary Gilson Bixby b: Mar 1797, Groton, MA 
  

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a proof of Mr H character and this is but one instance they are two numerous to mention yet he is a man of good qualities I fear they are very few that he has not tried to rob of there chastity I wish Lydia7 would shun this man as she would a lion for he is an artful rogue. tell David if he is a boss there at the lot to be shure and keep his boots in repair for should he follow the example of the painter which was to after they had completed there days labor and were returning home the snow had melted so it overflowed the brook which they must cross his aprintis boy said he should wet his feet no said his boss your wont hop on my back I can carry A young man only you across perhaps some of your boys will want to ride home at 
night. I must close for it is getting late and Eliza J8 is waiting to go to bed she had a fit a week ago Sunday

            Please write again as soon as you are able

 Eliza A Bixby9

             I shall keep a look out for Brigget10 this 
             summer

  7Sister: Lydia Bixby b: 25 Oct 1835, Groton, MA d: 1904, Somerville, MA 
  8Daughter: Eliza Jane Bixby b: Oct 1849, Groton, MA 
  9Eliza Ann Bixby b: 1 Apr 1827, Groton, MA 
  10Sister-in-Law: Bridget Lahy Bixby b: 1826, Ire 
  
  

 

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