Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rosetta Munroe Spencer

This is a post for the Second Great American Local Poem Genealogy Challenge sponsored by Bill West at his blog “West in New England”.
The cover of a 1900 Outlook children's magazine
as seen on e-Bay

What's In a Birthday?
(originally published in the "Outlook Illustrated Magazine" 2 January 1897, page 272)
By Rosetta Munroe Spencer

Monday is the day we wash.
If all the clothes get dry,
We iron them on Tuesday
Then fold and put them by.
On Wednesday mamma makes her calls,
But Thursday afternoons
She stays at home and lets our Jane
Go visit the Muldoons.

We always sweep on Friday,
And give the rugs a shake,
And dust and mop the morning long;
But Saturdays we bake,
And that's the reason why I think
That Saturday's the best;
But mamma chooses Sunday.
For that's the day of rest.

Now, I was wondering last night,
When I was tucked in bed,
If people born on Monday
Out to earn their daily bread
By washing clothes; but then I soon
Remembered brother Will
Was born on Monday, and he says
He's going to run a mill.

Ned says he heard the baker's boy,
Around the corner say,
The reason he's a baker-
He was born on Saturday.
Perhaps because on Wednesday
My papa's birthday falls
Is the reason he's a doctor,
And makes so many calls.

On Thursday was my mamma born
At home she has to stay
To see that everything goes well.
But brother Ned's birthday
On Friday comes- the day we sweep;
And just to sweep the snow,
From off the steps makes Ned so cross,
He hates to sweep, I know.

But mamma says if Ned will sweep
The cobwebs from his brain,
And study more and frolic less,
His rightful place he'll gain
When he's a man; but brother Will
Must wash his hands so neat
That Monday's never be ashamed
If she and Will should meet.

Sweet baby Bess may sleep and rest,
For she's a Sunday child
Now I was born on Tuesday-
My own dear mother smiled,
And said she hoped hereafter,
When she tried my hair to curl,
That I'd iron out my forehead
And be a pleasant girl.

Rosetta Mary (Munroe) Spencer was the daughter of Luther Simonds Munroe and Emily Louise Wiley. She was born on 22 March 1868 in Lynnfield, Massachusetts. Her father was the nephew and namesake of my 3x great grandfather Luther Simonds Munroe ((1805 – 1851) of Danvers, Massachusetts. Rosetta married the Reverend George Hazelton Spencer in 1892, and they had six children. According to census records, they lived in Newton, Everett and Boston, Massachusetts.

Her husband, Rev. Spencer, graduated from the Montpelier Seminary in Vermont in 1890 and Boston University School of Theology in 1890. He was a pastor at Methuen, Massachusetts; Somersworth, New Hampshire; Newton, Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts; Everett Massachusetts; and Cambridge, Massachusetts according to the 1916 “Who’s Who in American Methodism”. I was able to find a history of the Greenwood Memorial Church in Boston online, and it listed Rev. George Hazelton Spencer as the pastor from 1917-1919.

I found many poems by Rosetta Spencer in online copies of the children’s magazine “Outlook Illustrated Magazine”. I also found her name and poetry in the “Bostonia” journal by Boston University during the same time period. Her mother was the subject of a blog post earlier this year, because a wool quilted coverlet by Emily Wiley Munroe was on display at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, and also featured in the book, Massachusetts Quilts: Our Common Wealth.

For more information:

Massachusetts Quilts: Our Common Wealth, by Lynne Zacek Bassett, editor, University Press of New England, 2009

The New England Quilt Museum

My blog posts about Emily Wiley Munroe’s Quilt

And also

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. This is fascinating, Heather! The poem is delightful and the history wonderful. I'm envious of your connection! Enjoyed it.

  2. I started smiling after I read the first few lines. This is so much fun to read, Thanks for sharing this heirloom with us, Heather,

    And thanks for taking part in this Challenge!

  3. How nice to find this by chance. Rosetta was my great grandmother. I had no idea about the poetry. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Oh, this is precious. I love it. Tells a bit of the social history too.
    I immediately went to verify my day of birth - Saturday. Darn I was really wishing for Thursday!:)

  5. Lovely poem, Heather - I really enjoyed it! Writing poetry was something many people used to do, but so little survives - what nice treasures you have! And, I'm born on a Monday - 'one day late for Mother's Day' I was always told by by mother!