Abigail Allen family papers  1829-1838 (bulk 1837)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Abigail Allen family papers contain 8 letters written to Allen by various family members, who discussed the economic impact of the Panic of 1837, 19th-century education, and social news from New Haven, Connecticut. Abigail knew several teachers, who shared information about their schools, including recent lectures; they also remarked about the education of Abigail's younger sister. Her father, James Brewster, mentioned his business affairs several times, including the "dreadful conflagration which we have experienced," which destroyed much of his shop's stock (March 1, 1836). In another letter, he described the economic mood of New Haven just prior to the Panic of 1837, and told Abigail, "It is awful times here, there have been a great many failures" (May 5, 1837). Abigail's mother echoed the sentiments, but concentrated her letters more on family news and on domestic updates about mutual friends, including a discussion about a difficult local birth (May 11, 1837). The letters depict social and economic life in New Haven in the late 1830s.

The final letter in the collection, by Joseph B., relates a lengthy tale about being attached by "a party of Robbers & assassins." The writer walked though a wood near his uncle Lester's farm is near a forest, when he was attacked. "…a party of Robbers & assassins surrounded me… Instead of presenting their pistols to my throat & demanding my purse as I often heard they did—they attacked me with daggers—plainly shewing their object my blood & not my purse." He tried to resist but the group of three robbers had reinforcements, which caused him to flee. He fell in the swamp and sustained injuries from the robbers’ knives before nearby farm hands heard his cries for help. In a postscript, Joseph B. reveals his jest when he states that the suspect of the crime "is discovered to be one of that murderous gang, so celebrated in both novels & [?] as the New Rochelle musquitoe " (September 4, 1838).

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