W-MCP5-6.326 TO ESTIMATE RUTH ESTHER BALDWIN [MCQUESTEN] from M.C.Tenney
Jan 31 1844
To: Estimate Ruth Esther Baldwin [McQuesten], Nashville, New Hampshire, [U.S.A.]
From: Northampton, New Hampshire, [U.S.A]
My dear Miss Baldwin,
You were very kind indeed to write, by the box I received from home, and if I had followed the dictates of my own feelings I should have sat down & answered it immediately, but you know we cannot always do as we would.
I must say I felt disappointed when you wrote you could not come here and yet, I appreciated your motives fully and I presume I should have acted as you did. I do so dislike to break an engagement but I did wish you here and do now.
I had hoped you would come & had made up my mind that I could not remain any longer in the capacity of principal and after I received your letter I could not feel contented and happy & therefore requested the Committee to provide another and allow me to return to my old situation as Assistant. I then said to them I wished they could obtain you but you were engaged till Spring.1 I said all I could & Dr. Allen asked some questions concerning you. It was a week or two before I heard from them and then that they concluded to let every-thing remain as it was for the present. So here I am with the Examination in full [rush?], it being the first week of February2 and not a soul to lean upon--it makes me half crazy to think of it.
I have an assistant & I hear they are going to provide another but I wish they would not. Miss Clare is very good but she has never had the charge of a school, this being the first of her teaching. At the close of the examination they have a vacation of one week and another of two weeks in April, another of three weeks in July. These are all that are allowed, though teachers generally take Thanksgiving week. We had the two days of Cattle Show & Fair & New Year's Day as holy days. The number of scholars is 97 or 98 though there are only between 70 & 80 for the average number. This winter a great many are tardy but their parents excuse them and what can I do? If I could have leave to send them home I believe I would try that, but the Com. says you can do nothing but require their parents to send excuses. This was not so till since the short winter days commenced. Mrs. Sheldon promised prizes and I thought it best not to disappoint them. Those who have not communicated through the day, had no imperfect lesson & not been tardy without an excuse are entitled to a mark and to six or eight of those who have the greatest
number, prizes are to be given at the Examination.
We keep a record of their daily recitations, marking them good if they have a perfect lesson, common if they miss one, & bad if they miss more. At the end of the week this is copied into a large book, like a ledger, to be read at the examination. I do not note exactly when but perhaps at the time each class recites. Miss Brown sent them home every week but Mrs. Sheldon thought the present plan a better one. It strikes me I should prefer the other better, but the school was organized & I chose to let all go on as it was.
The plan pursued with regard to schools in Northampton is to have all attend the district schools till they are 10, they may then go to the High Schools. From the boys & Girls High School they go generally at 15, but it depends somewhat upon their acquirements to the Boys & Girls Select School taught by a gentleman, Andrews, Mrs. Hartshore, Mrs. Sheldon have several under 15 & I presume several of mine are over 16. The studies pursued are grammar, Arith., Geog., Bk. of Commerce, Watts on the Mind, Spelling, Reading, Writing &c. I have two classes from Mr. Sheldon's room, one in Worcester is Elements of History, the other is Philosophy & several others are in some of our classes. The Latin scholars from our room, all recite to him.
Mrs. Sheldon selected 18 or 20 of the oldest to write composition daily in a blank book to be written first on the left hand page & after it was corrected copied on the right hand page. They continued this till they finished their books, which was not till just before Thanksgiving. I then let them rest till after vacation. We now have compositions read & handed in Saturday morning, which takes the place of Wednesday aft.
From what I have said you will readily conclude that our pupils are from all classes of families--from the richest down to the poorest--we have two colored girls.
I believe I have answered your enquiries respecting the school though I perhaps ought to apologize for occupying so much space.
I have been into society some and am pleased with those I have become acquainted with, though I feel myself so much of a stranger that I would not attend the Tea party which was held last eve at the Town Hall for charitable purposes. It rained last eve and they have another tonight, though the one last was fully attended. The different religious societies have had Fairs & there are to be more this Winter.
Who has taken Mrs. Crosby's place in School? If a change is made in the schools in Nashville as you spoke of will they employ a gentleman through the summer?
Miss [Boies?] I have seen once, she called upon me at the school. She left town shortly after for Westminster Vt. where she will spend the Winter. She had recently been visited by a party of the teachers & scholars from South Hadley and they had brought the intelligence to her that you were soon to be married to a Missionary.3 She was quite anxious to know the truth of the report but I could not of course inform her only I presumed you would not go immediately.
Please remember me affectionately to the scholars particularly those from whom I received letters. I was very glad indeed of them & should be very happy to write an answer but they must excuse me I am so much engaged now & I hope to write them all either in the Spring or Summer. Love from Miss Andrews, Mrs. Hartshore &c.
[P.S. written at top of first page:]
Do you board at Mr. P[?]. I am now reading the Memoirs of Mrs. Sarah E. Smith, wife of Rev. E[?] Smith, Missionary to Syria, I think. One of the most, if not the most interesting female biography I ever read. Letters from you I shall ever prize highly. I do hope to hear from you soon. If I could only see you I should have a great deal to ask about examinations, for that seems to trouble me most now. Perhaps next year you will be here. I think they need you.
1 Miss Estimate Baldwin had declined the position of Principal at this school at this time, but had asked Tenney to describe the curriculum. However, she did finally accept the position and was teaching at Northampton on March 5, 1844, see (W-MCP5-6.374). She was married to Dr. Calvin McQuesten on September 11, 1844.
2 The date on the letterhead and on the postmark is January, and looks like 3 but is very faint and it may be 30. Perhaps the writer is indicating the rush of preparing for the examinations.
3 Estimate Baldwin did not marry a missionary, but became the second wife of Dr. Calvin McQuesten, M.D. and industrialist, on September 11, 1844. They had two children, Isaac Baldwin (1847-1888) and David (1849-1854). David died in a fire. Dr. Calvin McQuesten's first wife, Margarette Barker Lerned died on July 13, 1841 leaving him with one child, Calvin Brooks McQuesten (1837-1912), and two sons who died as infants.