Adams Papers

Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams, 29 April 1798

Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams

Quincy april 29th 1798

I am doom’d my dear Sister to be the messenger of death to you. I believe for five weeks past my Letters have convey’d you an account of the death of Some Freind or acquaintence & almost all of them Suddenly taken away the death of Sucky warner whos remains I yesterday Saw depositted by the Side of our dear Parents & much belov’d aunt.1 there to remain till the last trumpet Shall bid them Spring to life was not so. for Several weeks She has had great Sufferings which she bore with the utmost patience she may be truely Said to “Sing her self away to everlasting bliss.[”]2 while dying She Sung till She was quite Spent that Hymn of Docr. watts.

There is a House not made with hands.

Eternal & on high &c—3

& when She could Sing no longer She desir’d her aunt to repeat the rest. mrs Tufts is much affected but not So much as cousen Lucy. Sucky was so fond of her that She could Scarcly bear her out of her sight. & most faithfully nurs’d she was by her Cousen Lucy has been familliar with death for the year past the Scenes She was witness to in her uncles Family at Newburry were very distressing4 the poor Girl looks as if She had been sick herself. I was Shock’d to see how low Doctor Tufts himself was. he has had a turn of pain at his breast for five or Six days which with the death of Sucky & the care it devolv’d upon him has reduc’d him So low that he could hardly Speak. he has no appetite & has Sweat profusely. the pain has left him— I thought he did very wrong to go out but he would—

I am griev’d for mr & mrs Smith. they have lost their little Mary. mrs Greenleaf calld upon mrs Smith yesterday morning as Soon as She return’d. She had spent the week with us She write me that mrs Smith appear’d really bow’d down with Such repeated Strokes of affliction mrs Greenleaf told he before that She Saw no one more distress’d by the death of Doctor Clark than mrs Smith she thought She would have been made Sick by it. She had but just return’d from the Funiral of her Father when mary was So Suddenly Snatch’d away. I have not been in Boston Since the day She was first taken ill in the winter but heard she was almost well. I thought I saw death in her face the day She was taken sick. I believe She has been in a consumtion. She was pined to Skin & bone I am told. I believe they had no Idea of her danger. Isaac is but just got to School again5 The loss of the kindl & friendly Soothings of Doctor clark makes the present trouble more grievous—

what a world this is! full of publick & private troubles—but never I believe was there So Sudden & So universal a change in the publick mind as has been made in So Short a time as in the three weeks past— The Southern People Say the President has jocky’d the Jacobins the Northern, That he has out Manieuverd them & the Honest Tars that he has get to the winder’d of them. all agree that he has acted with conssumate wisdom.

mr Norton has been writing Fast Sermons upon the Story of Senacarib & Hezekiah & he will have very fine discourses I think— do read the 2d of kings 18 & 19 chapters, 2d of chronicles, 32 chapter, & the 36th & 37 chap. of Isaiah, & see what a similarity there is between the History of Senacarib & the republick of France at the present day. mr Nortens Text is in the 2d of Kings 19th chap. 14th verse—“And Hezekiah received the Letter of the Hand of the Messengers & read it: & Hezekiah went up into the House of the Lord & spread it before the Lord—”6

The Ministers will in general be Zealous & we shall have excellent performences from mr Whitman I expect Something very good. I do not know any one who preaches more good sermons than he does he has given us two very excellent ones to day

mrs Baxter came out all day for the first time She is feeble but much better than I ever expected to see her.— mr Soule is gone home. I never Saw any one mend So fast as he did after taking the calomel. I veryly believe he would have dy’d Soon if he had not sent for Doctor Tufts

I am Sorry to hear mr Greenleaf has not obtaind his liberty as you Suppos’d he had. I inform’d his Family that he had. but they had heard he had not. Daniel & Thomas are coming with their Families to live in Quiny they have Let their houses in Boston7

my Love to cousin Louisa had better get the President to free her Letters to her Sister & let them go immediately to Atkinson She will get them Sooner by a week.

If I could ever get a Pen mended as it Should be I would not send you Such bad writing— mrs Black has been with me this evening. She is very well we are going to make mrs Bois a visit tomorrow I have not been there for Several years—8 mr Black will be with you before this letter reaches you if he is well. I hope he will find the child alive & well.9 what would have been its fate if you had not been its protectors! mrs Black Says She Shall not feel easey till She gets it out of Philadelphia. they were very much greiv’d when they read your Letter to mrs B. not only for mr Blacks cruilty to the Baby but that he Should give you so much unnecessary trouble10

Doctor Tufts told me had receiv’d a Letter from you the last week11 in which was answer’d most of the questions he had propos’d to you. but that you had not Said whither you would like to have the Stairs to the office chamber out of doors So as to go in without entering the house or whether it would be best to take an entry & Stairs from the present office— it will make the room a few feet Smaller—

I think your Sons must be agreably Situated & I auger good from the mission to that court I hope you will have their private Letters Soon Mrs Smith & Cousens Charles Family are I hope well do when you write tell all of them that thier aunt continues to love them & wishes them every good

good night my dear Sister tis after twelve. but I knew I Should not have time to write tomorrow & I could not bear to let a Week pass without asking you how you did & assuring you of the tender affection / of your Sister

Mary Cranch

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “April 2 Mrs Cranch.”

1Sukey Warner died on 27 April and was buried at the North Weymouth Cemetery, where Rev. William and Elizabeth Quincy Smith and Lucy Quincy Tufts were also interred (Vital Records of Weymouth Massachusetts to the Year 1850, 2 vols., Boston, 1910, 2:6, 340, 357, 362).

2Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, in Three Books, Book II, Hymn 14, lines 15–16.

32 Corinthians, 5:1.

4Lucy Hall (b. 1783) was the daughter of Cotton Tufts’ niece, Lucy Tufts Hall, for whom see vol. 7:423. She appears to have been living with her great-uncle Samuel Tufts when his children died, for which see Elizabeth Smith Shaw Peabody to AA, 29 July 1797, and note 10, above (David B. Hall, The Halls of New England: Genealogical and Biographical, Albany, N.Y., 1883, p. 162).

5William Smith first wrote to AA of his children’s ill health on 25 Feb. 1798, reporting that Isaac had been “unwell for several weeks past” but was now better and that Mary was confined with a “slow fever.” On 11 March Smith noted that Isaac was still out of school and Mary, although seemingly improving, did not have strength enough to walk across the room. By 22 April Mary had taken a turn for the worse and Smith reported that his daughter was now “exceeding ill” and had not had “her senses since 3 oClock” (all Adams Papers). Mary Carter Smith was seven years old when she died on 25 April (Boston Price-Current, 26 April).

6News of JA’s 23 March fast day proclamation reached Boston by 4 April. Writing on 21 and 23 April and 8 May, Rev. Jacob Norton took 2 Kings, 19:14, as the topic of his sermon, a passage which forms part of the story of Hezekiah and Sennacherib, the kings of Judah and Assyria, respectively, and which is told in the passages noted by Cranch. Sennacherib, after capturing many fortified cities in Judah and receiving a tribute of gold and silver from Hezekiah, laid siege to Jerusalem. Hezekiah responded by reinforcing the city’s defenses, but when he received a message with the Assyrian demands he carried it to the temple and asked God for the salvation of his people. His prayer was answered; the Assyrian armies were destroyed and Sennacherib killed. In a letter to AA of 12 May (Adams Papers), Cotton Tufts described Norton’s sermon as a “very good political Discourse … he delineated the Conduct of France towards America from our first Connection with them to the present Time in a fair & just Point of Light” (Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 27 March; Boston Columbian Centinel, 4 April; MHi:Jacob Norton Diaries, 1787–1818).

7Daniel Greenleaf, for whom see CFA, Diary description begins Diary of Charles Francis Adams, ed. Aïda DiPace Donald, David Donald, Marc Friedlaender, L. H. Butterfield, and others, Cambridge, 1964–. description ends , 2:153 and 3:57, was an elder brother of James. In 1785 he married his cousin Elizabeth Greenleaf (1765–1839), the daughter of Dr. John and Ann Wroe Greenleaf and the sister of Thomas Greenleaf (1767–1854), Harvard 1784, who later became a justice of the peace in Quincy. Prior to relocating to Quincy, both men were recorded as “druggists” in Boston, Thomas at 62 Cornhill and Daniel with a house in Brattle Square. Thomas married Mary Deming Price in 1787, and the couple had four children (Greenleaf, Greenleaf Family description begins James Edward Greenleaf, comp., Genealogy of the Greenleaf Family, Boston, 1896. description ends , p. 207, 209–210, 217; Harvard Quinquennial Cat. description begins Harvard University, Quinquennial Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates, 1636–1930, Cambridge, 1930. description ends , p. 200; Boston Directory, 1796, p. 50; Sprague, Braintree Families description begins Waldo Chamberlain Sprague, comp., Genealogies of the Families of Braintree, Mass., 1640–1850, Boston, 1983; repr. CD-ROM, Boston, 2001. description ends ).

8That is, Sarah Hanson Clark Boies of Milton (vol. 8:286).

9Moses Black arrived in Philadelphia on 3 May 1798. On the 10th he sent Elenora Malony, her child, Nancy Hall, and Nabby Hunt by vessel. He departed for Quincy on 13 May and arrived on the 17th (AA to Cranch, 7, 10 May; to Lucy Cranch Greenleaf, 13 May, all AA, New Letters description begins New Letters of Abigail Adams, 1788–1801, ed. Stewart Mitchell, Boston, 1947. description ends , p. 168–172, 173–174; Cranch to AA, 18 May, Adams Papers).

11Not found.

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