Letters to their children

First page of a letter from Abigail and Martha to George Sullivan Baker. Longyear Museum collection.

The Baker family collection is a unique component of the historical holdings at Longyear Museum. These artifacts provide glimpses into the character of the family in which the young Mary Baker grew up. Through seeing books they read, objects they used for everyday tasks and home decor, and important papers they saved — including personal letters to each other — we learn of the qualities and relationships in the family that Mrs. Eddy knew and deeply loved.

The exhibit in the Patzlaff Gallery at Longyear Museum features some of those communications in both original handwritten and more recently-produced audio formats. We have selected three of those audio recordings to feature here.

Letter from Abigail and Martha to their brother

This letter is written by Mary’s older sister Abigail to her brother George Sullivan Baker in April 1836. The Bakers had recently moved to a new home in Sanborton Bridge and Abigail details to her brother, who was known as Sullivan, how she is adjusting to the new community. There are many positives, she writes, mostly in regards to the social gatherings with fine young gentlemen and ladies. She does, however, express some embarrassment regarding the Baker’s less-than-refined wagon as a mode of transportation; her interests and concerns foreshadow her later rise in the social hierarchy when she marries the town’s most eligible bachelor, Alexander Tilton.

Letter from Mark to his son

The second is a letter written a month later in May 1836 by Mary’s father, Mark Baker, to Sullivan. It is in response to Sullivan’s ideas about family farm business, and his attempt to intervene on behalf of his sisters and talk his father into acquiring a more fashionable mode of transportation for them — a chaise! Mark shares family news, and even though Sullivan is a young adult now living away from home in Connecticut, Mr. Baker still feels strongly the responsibility for his son’s moral and religious development, and offers guidance.

(Left) Tintype of Mark Baker (P0186-6 LMDB-14221), circa 1860. (Right) Photograph of oil portrait of George Sullivan Baker (P0180-1 Baker), circa 1845.

Letter from Abigail to her daughter

The third letter is one written by Mary’s mother, Abigail Ambrose Baker, to the recently married Mary in May 1844. Mrs. Baker is concerned about her youngest daughter, who has moved away from New England to the Carolinas, out of the closeness and safety of the family circle to a part of the country considered unhealthy and foreign. It is quite a newsy letter — Mary has become an auntie again! More than that, though, it is a yearning mother’s dialogue with a daughter she has nurtured and nursed through chronic frail health, and with whom she shares a strong Christian faith.

For more about the Baker family history and collection, please see the Spring/Summer 2011 Report to Members and visit the Patzlaff Gallery at Longyear Museum.

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