‘Meetings and greetings’

Regina Shober Gray by [Edward L.] Allen, ca. 1860. Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society, Item PP231.236
After less than a week in Philadelphia, Regina Shober Gray[1] was back in Boston and deep in domestic duties. In the following entries the diarist manages to refer to two of her husband’s relatives, both of them named (or married to a man named) Horace Gray. In the first paragraph of her 4 June entry, Mrs. Gray names her four sons:

61 Bowdoin Street, Boston, Sunday, 4 June 1865: We left Philad[elphia] on Friday morning and came through by Stonington boat. Horace Gray[2] kindly secured our double stateroom and met us in N. York. We had good weather; but the journey is very fatiguing to me – and I feel quite used up to day. Morris too does not get over the fatigue. I think the warm weather in Philad. did not agree with him. Regie is in high spirits, and the meetings and greetings, with the few of his friends now in town, are very hilarious! Dear little warm hearted fellow, every one is glad to welcome him back. Frank & Sam came up from Manchester yest’y p.m.

Isa Gray[3] bore the journey to her uncle’s[4] place at Beverly better than they dared hope, for she will stay there a month – and we hope will gain strength there. Ella [Gray]’s[5] cough has returned, and very troublesome; poor little thing – I fear she is doomed. Aunt Sarah Bradlee[6] is still out of her mind since the last fit, and raves violently and volubly most of the time; it is very sad – poor old lady – but her death would be a mercy to her & her friends…

The weather is intensely hot to-day.

Sunday, 11 June 1865: A delicious summer day after last night’s rain & thunder…  I have had a very busy week – and quite a poorly one too. Getting along with the work of a large family without a regular seamstress does not help my health, that’s certain. I think I have had more head-ache & backache these six months past than in 3 years preceding. I knew it would be so however when I undertook it – it can’t be helped and must be borne as well as may be – that’s all. Steady sewing never did agree with me – and if we could [in] any way afford the expense, I should certainly consider it would pay better to save my health and spend the money – but if one has not the money! – ay, there’s the rub!

Morris put on a new suit this morning – and has just taken it off, the pants cut in 5 places with a jack-knife, from careless whittling.

Hiring by the week or day is very expensive & unsatisfactory – still I have to do it a great deal. Children’s work too is never done, the new clothes are no sooner put into wear than by some accident they are ruined, and must be made over. Morris put on a new suit this morning – and has just taken it off, the pants cut in 5 places with a jack-knife, from careless whittling. Mary wore a costly new French cambric to school – & came home with it rent half across a breadth, just above the hem! and so it goes. Sometimes I get well nigh discouraged – but that does not help matters either!

I am beginning to feel anxious about our seashore arrangements – all the old places at Manchester are taken up – beside the children are thoroughly tired of Manchester. Mrs. Horace Gray[7] spent 6 weeks at Cotuit last summer, and her acct. does not encourage me to try there, as we thought of doing. Mrs. Eph. Peabody[8] urges our going to the “Bay View House,” J.S. Luce, Marion, Mass. A most accommodating landlord – good boating & at reasonable charges; fishing & bathing, but no drives of any attraction, and the bathing is warm & quiet – no surf; 60 or 70 in the house & that would not suit my sisters at all.

There is Pigeon Cove and Rye Beach yet to be looked up – and Saco Pool which would be nice for the boys, as the gunning is good there. I would rather go to Manchester than any where – and heartily wish we could get in at Chase’s again – all to ourselves – that is just the sort of thing for Mary Shober.[9]

To day’s paper announces the death of Mrs. Sigourney[10] the poetess, aged 76. Her poetry has always seemed the merest twaddle & wash of words to me – but she has been quite a celebrity…

Isa Gray is decidedly improving at Beverly, [she] has walked for 15 minutes – a great gain; we may hope once more to have her restored to us. Ella’s cough has come back, almost as bad as ever – it was only a lull in Philad., poor little thing, it looks bad for her.

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] Dr. Gray’s brother, Horace Gray of New York (1821–1901); it was his custom to escort Mrs. Gray when she passed through New York.

[3] The diarist’s niece Isa Elizabeth Gray (1841–1923).

[4] Charles Greely Loring (1794–1867). His sister Sarah Frances Loring (1809–1892) married Dr. Gray’s brother William in 1834.

[5] Isa Gray’s sister Ellen (1854–1883).

[6] The aunt of the diarist’s stepmother.

[7] Sarah Russell Gardner (1807–1893), who married Dr. Gray’s uncle Horace in 1837.

[8] Mary Jane Derby (1807–1892), who married the Rev. Ephraim Peabody in 1833.

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

[10] Lydia Howard Huntley (1791–1865), who married Charles Sigourney in 1819, died on 10 June.

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.

6 thoughts on “‘Meetings and greetings’

    1. The trip from Boston to Philadelphia was complicated in the 1860s. Mrs. Gray left Boston early in the morning, at this point by train, I think, picking up the ferry in Stonington, Connecticut, and taking it to Manhattan. She would then cross the city — escorted by her brother-in-law, in a cab — and take the New Jersey ferry, switching to a train that would take her to Philadelphia. My sense is that the trip took two days at this point; by the 1880s it took no more than a day, and by a different route.

  1. “Hedwiga Regina Shober (1818–1885) was married to Dr. Francis Henry Gray 1844–80.”

    Dr. Gray’s dates must be the dates of their marriage, rather than his birth and death dates?

  2. What is the “gunning” that is said to be “good” at Saco Pool? Surely not shooting fish trapped temporarily in tidal pools. That is not any better than shooting them in barrels!

    Please educate us and “say it isn’t so.”

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