‘Friends in adversity’

Regina Shober Gray by [Edward L.] Allen, ca. 1860. Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society, Item PP231.236
Marital entanglements gave Regina Shober Gray[1] grist for the mill: Georgie Blake’s summer romance at Marion had played out to the extent that Miss Blake’s fiancé swore “he could not marry her, would die rather, kill himself, abscond…” By contrast, Clara Morgan’s engagement to her cousin and brother-in-law seems rather tame.

As my mother would have said, the Gray and Shober families “enjoyed poor health,” although there was nothing funny about it – Dr. Gray’s nieces were frequently ill, while Lizzie Shober was in a fatal decline.

Finally, an ancient Shober family connection became, for a brief moment in the mid-1860s, a source of generous recognition: Mrs. Gray’s mention of the Princess Iturbide’s father’s deposition and execution prefigures the fate of the new Emperor of Mexico.

61 Bowdoin Street, Boston, Sunday, 5 November 1865: …Laura Howe[2] is staying here while her family are getting moved into Boylston Place. Clara Morgan of N. Bedford is engaged to her brother-in-law, Mr. Rotch;[3] he is 18 years older than she, and has 7 children – the eldest 22 years old…

The Miss Georgie Blake[4] (Mrs. Whitmore’s[5] daughter) whose lover’s quarrel with young Thwing made so much gossip & scandal at the “Round Hill” Marion House this summer succeeded in making up matters then; they were to have been married Oct. 16th but as the day drew near, Mr. Thwing declared he could not marry her, would die rather, kill himself, abscond – anything sooner!! so it is all at an end – and he has gone off somewhere. A cruel business for both parties. She is a very fast girl, eccentric & bright, but not respected or reliable – he seemed at times quite infatuated with her – but at other times to hate her…

Sunday, 12 November 1865: Rebecca W[ainwright] and Fanny G[ray] just gone.[6] R. says her father is very placid and contented now he is in town & Dr. Tyler thinks them safe in keeping him at home at present. She has had a week of great suffering of heart, poor girl, having almost decided that he must be taken to the asylum at once.

Fanny says Isa and Anna G[ray][7] are going to try the Swiss “movement cure” under Dr. Taylor of N. York. They have heard of some wonderful cures &c. They all have an inveterate proclivity for all kinds of quackery; but I sincerely hope something may do them good – this or other! It is a family loss to have them so sick – especially Isa who is a great favorite and such a fine girl.

She has been the sunshine of their home; the one always interested for all, always active for all, always managing for all; always consulted in all matters of taste, dress &c…

My poor sister Lizzie [Shober][8] is still very low – she sat up 15 min. and was utterly exhausted after it. She loathes food and is so nauseated by what she forces down that she cannot retain it at all. She is in a very discouraging state – and we are oppressed by fears for her. She has been the sunshine of their home; the one always interested for all, always active for all, always managing for all; always consulted in all matters of taste, dress &c., always warm hearted, disinterested & active for the rest – and now it is so sad to see this eager, restless activity prostrated by alarming illness. And to me, it is so distressing not to be with her at all – if I were only near enough to be with her even once in a while, without neglecting my home duties!

Our papers mentioned the restoration of Miss Lelina Iturbide[9] to her rank as a Mexican princess, by order of the Emperor Maximillian,[10] of whose royal household she is now a member. After the execution of her father, the family resided in Philad[elphia] for years – and I well remember this lady, a dark-eyed, dark-skinned girl, of about my own age [sic] with hair as coarse, black, & glossy as a raven’s wing, coiled in great masses about her head.

I think it must be 30 or 40 years since her father was deposed & shot, in a popular insurrection in Mexico, for this girl was a mere child; and now she is a Princess Iturbide once more, and has sent my brother Sam’s wife[11] a magnificent gold bracelet, 2 inches wide, clasped by a splendid amethyst, set with pearls & diamonds. They struck up quite an intimacy with her, and she made them a long visit some years ago and have in many ways been kind & polite to her – and this comes to say she has not forgotten in her prosperity, those who were friends in her adversity.

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] Mary Gray’s friend Laura Elizabeth Howe (1850–1943), daughter of Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe and Julia Ward Howe.

[3] Clara Morgan (1836–1919) married William James Rotch in January 1866.

[4] Georgeanna Mary Blake (b. 1848), who married Vicomte Charles Hyppolite René de Coëtlogon in 1877.

[5] Mary Elizabeth Tarbell (1809–1898), the widow of George Blake, married Charles Octavius Whitmore in 1851.

[6] The diarist’s friend Rebecca Parker Wainwright (1820–1902) and niece Frances Loring Gray (1843–1919).

[7] Fanny Gray’s sisters Isa Elizabeth Gray (1841–1923) and Anna Greely Gray (1845–1932).

[8] Elizabeth Kearney Shober (1821–1865).

[9] Doña Sabina de Iturbide y Huarte (1810–1871), daughter of Agustín I, Emperor of Mexico 1822–23.

[10] Maximiliano I (1832–1867), Emperor of Mexico 1864–67.

[11] Ann Bond Cochran (1834–1919) married Samuel Lieberkuhn Shober in 1858.

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.

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