Unleash a historian in an archive and you never know what she’ll find. I recently stumbled upon this copy of He mau Himeni e ori ia Iehova, a 60-page, pocket-sized hymnal published in the Hawaiian language on Oahu, Hawaii in 1826. A hand-written inscription indicates it was a gift to Illinois College from a Mrs. Blatchely, “who has been a missionary to the Sandwich Islands.” Thus far I’ve focused on women who resided in Jacksonville, but this little gift is a reminder that this small, Midwestern city was also a crossroads for women on the move making national and international connections.
Indulge me this week while we depart from the 19th century and enter the 20th, to one of my pet projects: rural civil defense. Today, Boscawen is a lovely community of about 4,000 people, a twenty-minute drive north of Concord, New Hampshire. Eighteenth century homes line the main street, anchored on the north side of town by the Congregational Church. But in at the dawn of the Cold War, many believed the town was of strategic significance.
During the 1830s, single women who emigrated from New England to Illinois required permission from male relatives or religious leaders. In the case of Sarah Crocker, the sources say little of the family dynamics that led her westward. Emily Price, on the other hand, left a significant clue.
What prompted two New Hampshire teachers to emigrate to Jacksonville, Illinois in the 1830s? After visiting Boscawen, I sought answers in genealogies and local histories at the New Hampshire Historical Society. Though many of the details are still a bit hazy, Sarah Crocker’s story has a bit more depth and takes some surprising turns.
This is the first in a series of blog posts on my recent visit to Boscawen, New Hampshire, where I learned about the first two preceptresses of the Jacksonville Female Academy, Sarah Choate Crocker (1833-1835) and Emily Preston Price (1835-1837). Today’s post offers an introductory photo essay to establish a sense of place and show off the efforts of volunteers with the Boscawen and Webster Historical Societies. I owe them a debt of gratitude for their enthusiasm and kindness.