Rhode Island Stampless Covers & Letters
June 15, 1849 Stampless Cover Sent from East Greenwich
to Timothy Peckham in Wickford 

(Scroll Down for Background History and Text of Letter)

     Pre-Paid 5 Cent Rate for Under 300 Miles (140 Miles as the Crow Flies)

This Stampless Folded Letter (SFL) was sent from a young lady; Mercy Thurston, who was living in East Greenwich and getting ready to work in one of the local mills. Evidently she did not know her own age and is asking Timothy R. Peckham of Exeter, RI to supply her with that information. The cover bears a red East Greenwich CDS of June 15 and a script 5. The letter was sent to Wickford, RI - The post office in Exeter was opened in  February, 1849 and the young lady having left previously, may not have been aware of it's existence. Mercy also asks about the health of her sister, who was most likely still living on the Peckham farm. Five cents was due from the recipient of the letter. The cover was charged at the rate set by the Postal Act of March 3, 1845, effective July 1, 1845 which set the single letter rate at 5 cents for either pre-paid or collect domestic mail traveling under 300 miles.

Timothy Russell Peckham was born in Newport, RI on March 13, 1776 to Benoni and Mary Lawton Peckham. He married Sarah Bissell Hazard (died 1829) in North Kingstown on April 5, 1818. They had two children; Timothy R. Peckham and Thomas Hazard Peckham. Timothy Russell Peckham died on January 1, 1861. His occupation is listed on both the 1850 and 1860 Exeter Census's as a "Farmer."

There are no records of a Mercy Thurston in either North Kingstown or East Greenwich. There are a good many Mercy Thurston's listed for other areas. I suspect that she was probably of African American descent and descended from a slave family. Many of the former slaves or children of slaves stayed on to work the farms and plantations of Rhode Island after they were freed. This would explain why Mercy did not know her age. It was a common practice for slaves in both the North and the South to take the family name of their owners

The most likely factory where Mercy would have been going to work was the Bay (Textile) Mill on King Street in East Greenwich rebuilt in 1840 after a fire destroyed the original. In 1849 the mill was owned by Thomas Hill, who bought it from J. C. Peckham.

The Complete Text of the Note Follows Below:

Mr. Timothy R. Peckham
                                             I want you to be so kind as to
                                write me how old I am, my exact age.
                                I am at East Greenwich now and send 
                                your letter here when you write. I am
                                going in the factory soon to work.
                                             I want you to send me word how
                                my sister is and write back to me as soon
                                as you get this. 

                                             Please to write my exact age.

                                                           Mercy Thurston
                                                                        East Greenwich
                                                                              June 15

RI Historical Society
Stampless I
Stampless II

Stampless III
Stampless IV
Stampless V
Stampless VI
Brown & Ives Letters
The Hazard Family Letters
Joseph Tillinghast
Free Franked Letters
DeWolf Family Letters

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