Thursday, July 28, 2011

Serendipity Week #3 A letter between two teenagers 1848

This past week, several interesting emails and comments have led me to make several interesting genealogical breakthroughs in my research.   Today I am focusing on the third story- # 1.) about a painting, 2.) a Civil War Veteran, and 3.) a letter between a teenage girl and boy in the 1840s.

Hawaii State Archives, Queen Lili'uokalani Collections,
M-93, Box 11, Folder 103
Letter from "Charlotte" to John Owen Dominis, undated

As you might know, I photographed hundreds of letters at the Hawaii State Archives last summer, and I’m using them to build up an extended family tree of the Jones sisters of Boston, Massachusetts.  One of those sisters was my 4x Great Grandmother, Catherine Plummer (Jones) Younger (1799 – 1828), and another was Mary Lambert (Jones) Dominis (1803 – 1889), who lived in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Mary Dominis lost her husband, Captain John Dominis, at sea in 1846 while he was on a voyage to China to buy her some furnishings for a new house in Honolulu.  This large mansion became a boarding house to help make ends meet for the new widow.  In the year 1848 two of the boarders were the teenaged sisters Estelle Charlotte and Frances Evaline Mott, who were returning from boarding school in New York to meet their parents (Mr. Mott was a diplomat to Mexico on the West Coast).    At this time, Mary’s son, John Owen Dominis (1832 – 1891) was sixteen years old.

If you read the links below, where Leah Allen transcribed Essie Mott’s memoirs in a series of blog posts, you can see that the Mott girls had fun at the Dominis home.  They spent a lot of time socializing with John Dominis and several of the young princes of the Kingdom of Hawaii.  They rode horses, attended parties and dances, and explored the social life among the New England families who were living in Hawaii at this time period.  There was quite a bit of socializing and flirting between fourteen year old Essie and young John Dominis, too.   Upon the return of the Mott family to San Francisco, Mr. Mott sent a letter of disapproval to John, asking him to stop writing to his daughter.

I found Mr. Mott’s letter amongst the other letters I photographed at the Hawaii Archives.  Recently, still working my way through these letters, I found a simple note to John O. Dominis signed by “Charlotte” written in schoolgirl pencil on lined yellow paper.  The note is in reply to a request to go out riding.  I suspected that this was Essie (Estelle Charlotte Mott), who went by the name Charlotte. 

I wrote several emails to Leah Allen, who is a descendant of the Motts, and has several writing samples of Essie/Charlotte’s.  Unfortunately, the memoir she transcribed was typed and not hand written.  Although the letter is undated, and only signed “Charlotte” we both think that is was from Essie to John O. Dominis.  Of course, one was written when Essie was a girl, and the other later in life, so there is a slight difference in penmanship.  Thank goodness that Leah and I met through blogging, and we've made connections like this for sharing documents.  What do you think about the handwriting samples?
Dear John,
I shall be most happy
to accept your kind
invitation to ride this afternoon,
And if you will send "Tramper"
around I shall be ready to
accompany you any time after
half past four o'clock,
Yours in haste,

Click on this link to read the letter from Mr. Isaac Thomas Mott to young John Dominis, asking him to cease corresponding with his daughter:

 Leah Allen’s blog post with the first part of Essie Mott’s memoir about her time in Honolulu. 

Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

1 comment:

  1. How fascinating! I love old letters that tell a story. You'd asked me about my Wilkinsons and I commented in my blog, but in case you don't see that:

    Hi, Heather. I've always wondered if our Wilkinsons fit together. Laura was born in Ohio to Thomas Wilkinson and Charity Cisco. Thomas was born to Asahel Wilkinson and Charity Rogan. They were from Harrison County, VA.