VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY
LETTER WRITTEN BY
MARY STILES PAUL1
North American Phalanx, N.J.2
Sunday morn May 7th 1854
I feel that you must be anxious to hear from me, and so will write a
few lines that you
may know that I am here safe and well.
I left, or we left Lowell the day I wrote you from there. We had a very
to New York, arrived there about eight-o'clock Thursday morning. Carrie
& I were too
tired to go about the city much so we did not see many of the "Lions."
We left N.Y. for
this place at three o'clock Thursday afternoon, instead of staying
over night in N.Y. as we
intended when we left Lowell and it was well that we did for there
has not been a day
since when it would have been pleasant or even comfortable
on the water. . .I thought
Redbank sure enough for the earth when wet is as red
as any brick I ever saw. It is mostly
sand. It forms a very pretty contrast with the bright green grass above.
By the way it is
spring here, peach trees are out of blossom, cherry & apple trees
are in full glory. As far
as I can see from the window, at which I am writing, nothing but immense
peach, cherry & apple trees present themselves to view. I never
saw orchards before, but I
have got a long way from my story. I'll go back. Well we arrived here
a good deal wet &
were kindly received, had been expected for a long time they told us.
The first thing
attended to was getting off our wet things and getting some supper....
We have been very
busy all the week putting things to rights. Have not done much work
beside our own. I
have worked about two hours each day for the Phalanx, three quarters
in sweeping, one
and a quarter in the dining hall, clearing & laying the tables.
Tomorrow I am going to
1Mary Stiles Paul b: 26 Jan 1830, Hanover,
NH d: 12 Dec 1899,
Cambridge, MA; parents:
Bela Paul b: Taunton, MA and Mary
Briggs b: Keene, NH;
married in Lowell 1857: Isaac Guild b:
19 Jun 1831, NH; Isaac
Guild 1860: marble works, Lynn, MA;
children: Irving Tracy
Guild and Sidney Paul Guild.
Twenty-five of her
letters, covering the years 1845-1862 have
survived. She began
working as a domestic in Bridgewater, Vermont.
1845-1848 worked in
Lowell textile mills. 1848 joined her father in
Claremont, New Hampshire.
1850 returned to Vermont for a short spell.
Then she joined Lowell
companions at an agricultural utopian community
in Redbank, New Jersey
for a year. Following her brief tenure at the
collective, she once
again returned to New Hampshire.
2The Phalanx was founded in 1843
on the theories of Charles Fourier.
that members should work for the community at a variety
of tasks for a portion
of the day and then have time to devote to intellectual,
artistic or recreational
pursuits. Women were to be freed from the continual
drudgery of housework.
Paul's residence at the Phalanx was brief, for the
community was forced
to disband later in 1854 when a fire destroyed its
begin sewing which will add three hours each day to my work. On ironing
days I shall
iron one, two or three hours just as I like. I must prepare to go to
my dinner now. We
have one hour, from 12 to 1, for dinner, breakfast from 5 to 7, tea
from 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 .
After dinner from one till quarter past two I do my work in the dining
hall. Three o'clock,
I have come back to finish my letter. I cannot tell you anything definite
matters and things because I don't know about them myself. I shall
write you again as
soon as I can & then I will tell you more about ways here. The
place is very pleasant and
the people are remarkably kind. Upon the whole I think that I may like
very well after I
get used to the strange ways. That which seems oddest is the manner
in which the meals
are conducted. . .I wish that you could be here. I think you might
find enough at your
work to keep busy as many hours in a day as you would want to work.
There are a few
here who work at one kind of business all the time but it is from choice.
My work in the
sewing room is to make a certain part of a stock (gentleman's stock).
They make a great
many of them here.... I shall be anxious until I hear from you.
Mary S. Paul