The Towns & Post Offices of Rhode Island
Cumberland Hill - August 6, 1845 - 5 Cents Due
to Caroline F. Jackson - Middleborough, MA
From Elisa A. Macumber - Cumberland Hill, RI

(Scroll down for Background Information and Letter Text)

The Stampless Folded Letter above was sent on August 6, 1845 from Miss Elisa A. Macumber in Cumberland Hill, Rhode Island to Miss Caroline F. Jackson in Middleborough, Massachusetts. The 5 cents due rate indicated in script at top right was set by the Postal Act of March 3, 1845, (effective July 1, 1845) for letters weighing less than 1/2 ounce and traveling under 300 miles. The rates were the same for unpaid and prepaid letters until June 30, 1851, at which time unpaid mail was subject to a double rate. The Cumberland Hill Cancel at the lower left is considered very scarce and is rated as "Scarcity 7" in "Rhode Island Postal History - The Post Offices."

The Post Office at Cumberland Hill (Cumberland Township, Providence County) was established on February 4, 1820 under Postmaster Rueben Potter, Jr. The post office was disestablished on September 14, 1905. Mail for this village is currently handled by the Manville Post Office. Early Cumberland Hill postmarks such as the one above sometimes read, "Cumberland."

Evidently, Miss Macumber is originally from Middleborough. The letter is as typical of young ladies today as it was then. Elisa doesn't say very much, but what she does say, is expressed with a touch of dramatic flair. The letter does not say exactly why Elisa has moved away from home, except to mention that it was due to sickness of some sort and she doesn't seem to have quite made up her mind whether she will move on - further away to another town or make a trip back to her home. Reading between the lines, and noting that she does not mention her own father or mother at all in the letter and given the time period (Mid 1800s); also her mention of a certain friend that doesn't seem to care about her any more, it is entirely possible that Miss Macumber had gotten herself in a family way and was sent off to have her child away from gossiping tongues. (Just one possible scenario; there are many other possibilities.)

I found the Jackson Family listed on the 1850 Middleborough, MA Census.

Father:   Joseph Jackson - Farmer
Mother: Hannah
Children: Caroline age 25 (She would have been 20 when this letter was written.)
                 Joseph    age 22
                 Susan     age 19

Caroline Francis Jackson was born in Middleborough, Massachusetts on March 10, 1825. She died on October 21, 1891 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Caroline was a fifth generation descendent of John Jackson born in England in 1683.

I did find an Elisa Macumber listed on the 1850 Plymouth, Massachusetts census but no other information other than that she was born in Massachusetts in the same year as Miss Jackson.

The Complete Text of the Letter Follows Below:
  Cumberland Aug 1st 1845
                Dear Caroline
                                          Agreeable to promise I now set myself to write a few lines
to you. They will be few and far between for I have no news to write you, only that I
am about half sick with a cold. I have a very sore throat and have had since Friday.
I am not homesick at all yet. It is a very neat little village, but the folks are like as 
in all other villages; they have upper crust and under fillings. It takes everything to 
make a world and a great deal to make a small village. I went to Waterford last 
Thursday with Mrs. Phillips and Mary her daughter. I had a grand time. We left
Mrs. Phillips and when we came back we stopped at Woonsocket Falls, tell Uncle
Issac I called into Mr. Josiah Perkins store, but he had gone to Providence and the
man that was standing for him could not tell me where his family lived and for that
reason, I did not call on them. Tell Aunt Susan, I forgot to mention in her letter that
Aunt Penelope was up here the day before & said Aunt Nancy's babe was getting
better fast. I guess a certain person did not feel so bad about my coming away as 
you thought for I have neither seen nor heard anything from that quarter or did
it cause him to be deranged? If so, I wish you would inform me for I should not
like to be the cause of any hard feelings as it was a cause of sickness, I felt it was 
my duty. I shall expect you to excuse the shortness of this letter for I did not promise
you a long one, but I shall expect a long one from you for you will have something
to write about, but I have not for I am a stranger in a strange land. Tell Ruth
there was a shower here last Friday, but not such an one as I used to have at home.
It was very sudden. I heard no bells before it got here. My love to Susan & tell her
I should like to see her pretty face. Tell Joseph, I should like to see him, but I never
expect to again as you would bid me goodbye forever, but I have concluded to 
return and see my young friends once more before I join the old folks. I think I
have written more than enough, so goodbye. Please answer this as soon as you get
it for I do not know if I shall stop in this place a great while. I can't tell now, but
I will in my next letter. I hope you will burn this up and not keep it as you have
the one I wrote you a long time ago. My love to all from your friend
                                                                              Elisa A. Macumber
                                                Direct my letter in care of
                                                             George C Beebe

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Rhode Island Postal History: The Post Offices - Merolla, Jackson & Crowther

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