Ellen Rice journal  1848-1849
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Biography

Ellen spent most of her time as a member of her eldest sister Mary's household in Boston. Mary had married William on December 15, 1845, and they had several children, including a couple who were probably from William's previous marriage. Although Mary had a house girl, she desperately needed help, particularly with the sewing and caring for the children. When Mary was confined or very ill, as she was twice in 1849, their sister Susan would have to come lend a hand as well. This always made the time pass more easily for Ellen, for she loved her sister Susan dearly, and missed her presence most acutely when she was at Mary's. When she could, Ellen visited her parent's home in Wayland, where Susan lived, but William and Mary could rarely spare her. When she did return to Wayland, she typically had at least one niece in tow.

In March 1849, Mary gave birth to a daughter, and Ellen rather opaquely noted, "we should have preferred a boy still I know it will be for the best some way, that it is not" (1:25). The child was not named until September. In May the Boston house the family had been living in was auctioned off for $2,500.00. They moved out to East Lexington, where Ellen enjoyed listening to their German neighbors singing on Saturday nights. Ellen was thrilled to be back in the country, for she equated proximity to nature with proximity to God.

As an exceedingly religious and spiritual young woman, Ellen's special pleasures were being outside and teaching Sabbath school, which she did until Mary's second illness began, in October. Ellen was then held hostage to the sickbed, with the baby constantly in her arms, and all the chores to attend to. She was unable to get out in the fresh air she loved so well, and believed she needed to preserve her own health. Susan came to help, but she caught the fever from Mary, and returned to their parent's home in Wayland, where she eventually recovered. Mary also improved, slowly, but not before the fragile health of her nursemaid was thoroughly broken. According to a brief note at the end of her journal, Ellen died on January 16, 1850. (The Lexington, Mass., Vital Records lists Ellen as having died on January 16, 1850 at age 19.)

Though Ellen Rice's name is not mentioned in the journal itself, a number of details about her life and her family are known, and it is possible through outside sources to identify her and her family.