“Most cordially welcomed”

[Author’s note: This series began here and continues here.]

PP231.236 Regina Shober Gray. Not dated.
Regina Shober Gray by [Edward L.] Allen, ca. 1860. Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society, Item PP231.236
In June 1871, Regina Shober Gray[1] was in Pennsylvania, and her omnibus diary entry for 9 June covers the first ten days of her visit. Her account of the journey is interesting in that, year by year, it became easier to travel from Boston to Philadelphia; in 1871, it was still an overnight trip.

Mt. Carbon, Friday, 9 June 1871: We left Boston, Morris,[2] Stephen Bullard[3] and I, by Hartford & Erie line & Norwich steamer, City of New York, in which I shall in future avoid the communicating staterooms [as] they are all over the boiler & furnaces; ours was 53 & 55, shut in by wheel houses & noisy with incessant shovelling of coal, which effectually banished sleep.

Took the 8½ train to Philad. after a breakfast at Taylor’s; reached Aunt Catharine’s[4] at about 10’c & were most cordially welcomed. A heavy rain with thunder cooled us off p.m. We spent a quiet evg. with the dear old lady, and all retired early. We left Boston Tuesday p.m. May 30th.

Thursday morn’g, I took the boys to Independence Hall & the old Philad. Library; both places full of interesting historical relics & associations. At the Library are the two old clocks, the Wm. Penn one, and Oliver Cromwell – the latter keeps good time still – as Tom Kimber says in his poem about it “Thy pulse is beating still.” They went to the Museum at 10th and Arch Sts.; a combination of living menagerie, stuffed birds and animals…

After dinner the boys went alone to Girard College; the[y] find their way about very easily. We made a visit to Kate [Drinker]’s[5] studio, a pleasant, 4th story room, opposite to Independence Square. She is lithographing a crayon head of her own now – and has just rec’d an order from a publisher to do a life sized one from a carte de visite of some actress, an order wh. quite pleases her. I think she will be more successful in that line than in original oil paintings; but she has now an oil on her easel which promises more than anything I have yet seen of hers; the face is more refined and has more sentiment – generally her faces are coarse & heavy. This is full length of a nun, seated in a porch or balcony, with an open missal on the coping of the balustrade, against a column of which she leans with an expression of patient suffering mingled with longing aspiration.

Leaving Kate, I went to Mrs. Shober’s[6] – made a long call; she is very sad about Mrs. Dodd’s[7] failing health – and seems quite poorly herself. I have promised to stay with her on our return from Pottsville.

Thursday, June 1st Sallie Lewis[8] arrived at Aunt C.’s to meet us.

Friday we took a carriage from Dunn’s, wh. Sallie insisted should be by Mary [Shober]’s[9] & her invitation, and drove all round Fairmont Park. It can hardly be surpassed in beauty anywhere; contains 4000 acres I hear, and includes the beautiful old disused country seats for 2 miles on both sides the Schuylkill…

Friday, June 2d – Kate … & the boys went to Craig’s benefit at the Arch St. Theatre, matronized by Mrs. Jenny Smith, who kindly went in my place. They did not get home till after 12 o’c. – poor preparation for our journey next day. We reached here Saturday noon, after a hot ride up, thro’ this lovely Schuylkill valley & mountain country; a thunder & rain-storm cooled us off, p.m. Mary Shober does not look so poorly as I feared to see her – but is very lame. The boys have found a good swimming place above the dam on Tumbling Run…

A year later, Mrs. Gray was back in Boston:

Wednesday, 5 June 1872: A busy day, putting away winter garments – sorting bureau drawers – and making up the 8 or 10 packages of poor’s clothing to be sent away. Another such day tomorrow will get us pretty well redd up as the Scotch say. We have had the longest, steadiest, most bountiful rain that has blessed us for many months – beginning about 5 last evg., and at 8 tonight still steadily pouring down; accompanied by a tremendous north-easterly gale, so chilly that we have had to light fires in [Dr. Gray’s] office & my chamber.

Sallie Lewis has secured the house she wanted in Pottsville – and will move in as soon as the repairs are done. I am very glad for them; they were getting so tired of hotel life.

Sunday, 9 June 1872: Regie [Gray][10] stays in Cambridge to day to dig for the “Annuals.”[11] His earnestness in study pleases us all so much. He is not a bookish fellow, but has no idea of discrediting himself or his name at Harvard. Last evg. Ellen Gray[12] & [her cousin] Mary Wallace took tea here – Lucy [Bowditch][13] too; and in the evg. Harry P. and Dr. Hayden[14] dropped in; so we had some good piano duets and singing.

A week from tomorrow Ellen G. invites me & one of the boys to go with them to the opening concert of the Peace Jubilee.[15] I am very glad to go – having missed the last Jubilee, and regretted doing so ever since; but I should scarcely have felt like affording $5 a ticket for self & escort – and am much obliged to Ellen. I bade Rege get our tickets, near one of the doors, that we might have a ghost of a chance for escape, if the huge crowd should weigh down the huge structure & bring it about our ears.

The biggest rail road depot seems dwarfed beside this enormous shingle tent, which accommodates, on dit, an orchestra of 2000 performers – a chorus of 20,000 voices – and an audience of 50,000!

We were dressmaking again this week and a Miss Bible comes tomorrow to finish off – all work of the kind is so elaborate now-a-days that it seems impossible ever to get it finished – and I cannot sew as steadily as I used; to be sure, Mary [Gray][16] is becoming very competent with scissors & needle – and largely makes good my deficiencies; I am glad, for her own sake, that it is so.

Cora Weld & Frank G. Peabody[17] are to be married Tuesday. Sam Clapp & Anna Verplanck[18] next Thursday. Frank [Gray][19] goes on to be Sam’s best man. Frank is a little hurt and we for him, that Miss V. acknowledges his bridal present to her only by a message through Mary [Gray]. Now Frank wrote a very cordial note to go with his silver waiter (a small but very elegant one, by the way) and he feels that in common politeness the young lady should have acknowledged it by a line or two to himself – and we think she is either ignorant or blameably negligent of the social proprieties! Mary sent a pretty toilet cushion of blue silk; emb[roidered] muslin & lace. The family received invitations – but only F.C.G goes…

The Republican Convention in Philad. has re-nominated Grant[20] by acclamation, and balloted for Wilson[21] as Vice president. Mr. Charles Sumner’s[22] bitter personal attack on the President has served to rouse the generous enthusiasm of the party in favor of the great leader so severely maligned. Sumner’s dastardly speech has been met with indignant repudiation by even his own friends, and is rejoiced in only by the democrat & copperhead.

Continued here.


[1] Hedwiga Regina Shober (1818–1885) was married to Dr. Francis Henry Gray 1844–80. Entries from the Hedwiga Regina Shober Gray diary, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections.

[2] The diarist’s youngest son Morris Gray (1856–1931).

[3] Morris Gray’s friend Stephen Bullard (1855–1909).

[4] Catharine Ann Snyder (1794–1884), widow of Mrs. Gray’s uncle Blathwaite Shober.

[5] Catharine Ann Drinker (1841–1922), Mrs. Shober’s granddaughter, who married Thomas Allibone Janvier in 1878. Her niece was the author Catharine Drinker Bowen (1897–1973).

[6] Lucy Hall Bradlee (1806–1902), who was married to Mrs. Gray’s father Samuel Lieberkuhn Shober 1830–47.

[7] Lucy Bradlee Shober’s sister Hannah Matilda Bradlee (1803–1871), who married Dr. Robert John Dodd in 1848.

[8] The diarist’s sister Sarah Morris Shober (1825–1917), who married the Rev. William Phillips Lewis in 1868.

[9] Mrs. Gray’s elder sister Mary Morris Shober (1816–1873).

[10] The diarist’s third son Reginald Gray (1853–1904).

[11] She presumably means to study for the end-of-year exams.

[12] Mrs. Gray’s sister-in-law Ellen Gray (1830–1921).

[13] Mary Gray’s friend Lucy Bowditch (1850–1918), who married Richard Stone in 1875.

[14] Dr. David Hyslop Hayden (1839–1918), like Harry Pickering one of Mary Gray’s suitors. Dr. Hayden’s sister Julia was married to the architect Henry Hobson Richardson 1867–86.

[15] To mark the end of the Franco-Prussian War, it was held in a temporary structure in Boston’s Back Bay in June–July 1872.

[16] Mrs. Gray’s daughter Mary Clay Gray (1848–1923).

[17] Cora Weld (1848–1914) married Professor Francis Greenwood Peabody on 11 June.

[18] Mrs. Gray’s cousin Samuel Hicks Clapp (1846–1891) married Anna Verplanck on 13 June.

[19] The diarist’s eldest son Francis Calley Gray (1846–1904).

[20] General Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1875), U.S. President 1869–77.

[21] Grant’s second vice president, Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson (1812–1875); he died in office, and was not replaced.

[22] Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner (1811–1874).

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward was the founding editor at Vita Brevis; he served as NEHGS Editor-in-Chief 2013-2022. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

5 thoughts on ““Most cordially welcomed”

  1. This is so interesting to me because it explains so well why and how there can be a total break in family ties — between those who went off to the city and those who stayed on the farm.!! I descend from the farm side in my family and I often wondered why they didn’t stay in touch with their New York City cousins. It would certainly have been funny to see their reactions to one another!

  2. I am enjoying these entries too, we wouldn’t see them except for these, not that there is a connection to my family but contrasts quite a lot with some that were kept by members of family that have come to our attention or that I have in my possession from family memorabilia.

  3. These diary entries are such an interesting peek into life in the 19th century- so glad that they are being published with notes to identify individuals. Mentions of marriages might help the historians in those families, and seeing the politics of the day back then helps put our current political events into perspective. The huge Peace Jubilee is impressive- I had never heard of such large gatherings back then- and it wasn’t even for football!

  4. Was the Gray family of Boston mentioned by Mr. Steward related to the Ormon family? Gray was the middle name of my Grandfather: George Gray Ormon: b. 16 June 1874 or 5, d. 24 Feb 1954. His mother was Martha Isabella Gray, married to John Jeffre Ormond. They were all from Lake Porter, Nova Scotia, near Halifax. George Gray arrived to US: 1891;
 Residence 1920 Boston Ward 20, Suffolk, Massachusetts
. Later moved to Quincy where he became a notable merchant and member of the community, and where I was born, raised, and still reside.

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