1865 Eclectic, Detailed Diary and Record Book of a Massachusetts-Based Captain, Businessman and Poet12202
On offer is an outstanding diary and record journal kept by a Massachusetts based shipping agent in the second half of the 19th century.
The author of this diary is Captain Cornelius Lovell (1806-1891). Lovell was born in Osterville, MA. His obituary indicates that he was an advocate for the temperance movement and that, as a child, he jumped off a wharf to save a young girl from drowning and that girl grew up to be actress Charlotte Saunders Cushman. He married Sarah Parker in 1832 and they had a son, Clarence. Cornelius worked as a commercial ship broker and bookkeeper. He began this journal when he was 59 years of age.
From his entries, it is clear that Lovell is an educated man as his entries are long, well-written and cover a range of topics related to his life in Massachusetts, his work, his friends and his daily activities, medical treatments for common ailments. While there is no evidence that Lovell was involved in the medical profession, he makes detailed notes about so many diverse illnesses, one wonders if medicine was a hobby. He is also a poet and writes many poems in this book, attributing most to someone who requested the poem for a special event. He uses some pages as financial ledgers, others to practice his calligraphy. His purpose for this diary/journal is stated in the opening lines:
”I have decided to keep a book that shall consist of a diary, useful information I can pick up, and all that I have collected in times agone” [p 1].
Entries consist of recollections of events and situations past, poetry, medical remedies, accounting entries and some daily logs. The following will give a flavour of this interesting journal:
“There is many pleasant thoughts connected with E Boston, but they must necessarily be broken with sadness or they would not be human. Lucy Gleeson my chum’s sister and with whom I was well-acquainted committed suicide – it was very sad…” [p 15].
“Have I been true to self My Country & my God? Or left my god-like faculties In slothful sin to plod…” [p 34].
“Aunt Nancy having given me [gifts] and knowing how she likes writings I have dedicated to the memory of her past gifts this piece on generosity…[an original poem by Lovell follows]” [p. 49].
“Military Fever/This [ ] disease consisting of small transparent [ ] about the size of millet seed, of the skin, attended with fever, great anxiety & restlessness & symptoms indicating affections of the chest is treated best by as followed by coffee when there is much nervous excitability” [p 69].
“Boston Marine [Railway] Depot destroyed by fire. Steamer Atlanta arrived at New York quarantine with Colera on board great panic and scare in NY in consequence. Sound travels 1125 feet in a second. Light travels from the sun to the earth in 7 ½ sec…” [Nov 4, 1865, p. 150].
“...Long meeting at Sumner Hall in reference to the Peoples Ferry. Passed Resolutions to not let the Old Ferry Co have them if could present for fear they would take advantage of the monopoly but to give it to a new Company that would look at the welfare of East Boston…” [p 154].
For a historian, this is an excellent source of local information about life in the Boston area immediately following the Civil War. His account records offer an insight into the prices of various items as well as values in stocks and bonds of the time. Genealogists would find interesting some included notes that were made by subsequent family members as they sought to trace their family lineage. Tipped into the journal, in fact, is an application for the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution for a Constance Lovell Beans Graves.
The hardcover book measures 11.0 inches by 8.75 inches and contains 262 pages. It is approximately 66% complete. The covers are intact. The front cover has some staining and there are wear marks especially on the corners and edges. The ‘mull’ (a strip of cloth that is attached to the back of the sewn signatures] ) has been worn away but the signatures and pages are all firmly attached. The front and back cover are coming quite loose and the front may detach in transit. The handwriting is quite legible. Overall Fair+.
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