Rice, Sarah H. 1845 02 23 [VHS]
 
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VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY
MONTPELIER, VERMONT
HAZELTON RICE PAPERS

LETTER WRITTEN BY
SARAH “SALLY” H. RICE1 
EXCERPT2 

                                             Sunday Masonville3 Feb 23d 1845 

Dear Father 
 
I now take my pen in hand to let you know where I am and how I came here and how my 
health is. I have been waiting perhaps longer than I ought to without letting you know 
where I am yet I had a reason for so doing. Well knowing that you were dolefully 
prejudiced against a cotton factory, and being no less prejudiced myself I thought it best 
to wait and see how I prospered & also see whether I was going stay or not. I well knew 
that if I could not make more in the mill than I can doing house work I should not stay. 
Now I will tell you how I happened to come. The Saturday after New Years I came to 
Masonville in Thompson Connecticut with James Alger4 on a visit to see his sister who 
weave in the mill. We came Saturday and returned to Millbury on Monday. While here I 
was asked to come back and learn to weave. I did not fall in with the idea at all because I 
well knew that I should not like as well as housework and Knowing that you would now 
approve of my working in the mill. But when I considered that I had got myself to take 
care of, I knew I ought to do that way that I can make the most and save the most. I 
concluded to come and try promising Mrs. Waters that if I did not like I would return the 
1st of April.

I have wove 4 weeks and have wove 6,89 yds. We have one dollar and 10 cents for a 
hundred yards. I wove with Olive Alger one week to learn and I took 2 looms 2 weeks 
and now I have 3 looms. I get along as well as eny one could expect. I think very likely 
that before the year is out I shall be able to tend 4 looms and then I can make more. 0 and 
P Alger make three dollars a week besides their board. We pay 1,25 for our board. We 3 
 

  1Sarah “Sally” H. Rice b: 23 Jan 1821, Somerset, VT 
    d: 15 Jul 1904, Rochdale, MA; parents: Hazelton Rice 
    and Rhoda Stone; married 1847: James M. Alger b: 1818, 
    Worcester, MA; James worked: Railroad engineer.
    At the age of seventeen, Sally Rice left the small farm in Dover, 
    Vermont, on which she had been raised, to strike out on her 
    own. Over the next several years, her letters to her family tell 
    us, she supported herself and tried to save a little money working 
    as a domestic “help,” doing housework and, at least for a short 
    time, in a textile mill.
  2Excerpted by Old Sturbridge Village.
  3Masonville,Connecticut.
  4Husband to be – James M. Alger.
 
  
 
girls board with a Widow Whitemore. She is a first rate homespun woman. I like it quite 
as well as I expected but not as well as I do house work. To be sure it is a noisy place and 
we are confined more than I like to be but I do not wear out my clothes and shoes as I do 
when I do house work. If I can make 2 dollars per week besides my board and save my 
clothes and shoes I think it will be better than to do house work for nine shillings5 I mean 
for a year or two. I should not like to spend my days in a mill not by a good deal unless 
they are short because I like a Farm too well for that. My health is good now. I wrote a 
letter to Levi and Nancy the week before I came her with a strict command not to tell any 
mortal that I was coming because if I did not stay I wanted nothing said about it. And I 
say now that if it does not agree with my health I shall give it up at once. I have been 
blessed with good health always ever since I began to work out. I have not been cofined 
to my bed but one day since I was sick with mumps at the time Grandmother Rice died. I 
was very sick one day when I was at Mrs. Waters. 

Dear Father, in my last letter I told you I had morally reformed. Yes I trust I have and 
bless God that he unsealed my eyes to see where I was standing, and where I have been 
since I became a backslider. The name haunts me. It all seems like a dream. Pray for me, 
Father, that if I ever enjoyed Religion I may enjoy it again and do as much good as I have 
hurt in the cause and the great God assisting me I will try to pray for myself. I feel I am 
perfectly willing to give up all into the hands of God and will try to lead a better life than 
I have done.

I want you to write as soon as you get this. Address your letter to Masonville, Thompson, 
Conn. Give my love to Mother & to all our folks. Tell Brother to write. I have not written 
to Hiram yet. I want to know where Ephraim is and what he is doing and what you are all 
about and howyou all do Father

Good bye 

Sarah Rice
 
 
  9Nine shillings [English] is equal to $1.12 ½ (American.
 
 

 
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