Martin, L. Adelia
Collection of Incoming Letters to Miss L. Adelia Martin, of Greenfield, Saratoga County, New York, from family and friends, 1845-1857

41 letters, 122 manuscript pp., (9 retained mailing envelopes), dated 17 December 1845 to 18 February 1857; with 17 pieces of related ephemera (calling cards, used envelopes, receipts, will, poem, etc.); Of the 41 letters, 10 are undated; and at least 33 letters are addressed to Miss L. Adelia Martin, others are simply addressed “cousin,” “friend,” “sister,” etc, and were likely sent to Adelia. Other letters are addressed to family, or friends, including Daniel Ballou (1), or Daniel Allen (2), and others. The letters appear to be written by young women, friends of Ms. Martin who she either went to school with, or were from her town, or who moved away and teaching elsewhere. Ms. Martin appears to have gone to school and was working for a time as a teacher herself. There is much in the letters about teaching, schooling, family, friends, etc. The letters are written from various towns in New York State: Albany, Ballston Spa, Cambridge, Galway, Greenfield, Jackson, Louisville, Macedon Centre, New Prospect, North Greenfield, Warrensburg, and others.

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     Lydia Adelia Martin (1830-1862)

    Lydia Adelia Martin was born in 1830, the daughter of Capt. Amasa Martin (1791-1879) and his wife Desire Ballou. Capt. Martin was born 30 April 1791, at Barrington, Rhode Island, and died 16 May 1879, in Greenfield, New York, where he was buried in his wife’s family burial ground, the Ballou Cemetery, in Saratoga County, New York. In 1797, with his father’s family, Capt. Martin settled in Greenfield, Saratoga County, New York; where he became a farmer, and was also for several years captain of a militia company. He married Desire Ballou (1802-1876) on 30 December 1824. She was the daughter of Dutee Ballou (1779-1850) and Lydia White (1775-1846).

    Capt. Amasa Martin was the son of Anthony Martin, who was born 21 April 1760, also in Barrington, Rhode Island. Anthony Martin entered the Barrington Militia and served in the American Revolutionary War. In 1779, Anthony Martin married Susanna Allen and in 1797, removed to Greenfield, Saratoga County, New York, where he died on 13 February 1842. Besides Amasa Martin, Anthony Martin and his wife Susanna Allen had at least 8 other children. They were: 1. Lydia Martin, born 1781, married 1801; still living in 1878, she married Stephen Medbury (1777- ) and had six sons and six daughters; 2. Kent Martin (1783-1869), farmer, died at Corinth, New York; he married Catharine Bump in 1807 and had five children; 3. Bosworth Martin (1785-1864), farmer, died at Corinth, New York; he married Catherine Fenton in 1805 and had five children; 4. Susanna Martin (1787-1842) married George Greenwood in1816, had at least one son; 5. Sylvania Martin (1789-) married Ray Brackett in 1810, and they had two sons and three daughters; 6. Anthony Martin (1791-1791), twin of Amasa Martin, he died as an infant; 7. Cynthia Martin, born 1793; she married Thomas Easterbrooks in 1814 and had five sons and four daughters; and 8. Sally Martin (1795-1849) married Jerry D. Rowland in1827; they had at least one son.

    Captain Amasa Martin (1791-1879) was a twin and the sixth child of Anthony Martin and his wife. He and his wife Desire Ballou had at least three children: 1. Nancy B. Martin (1826-1862); 2. Lydia Adelia Martin; and, 3. Infant son, died 12 September 1843.

     Amasa’s daughter, Lydia Adelia Martin, appears to have gone by her middle name of “Adelia,” as many of the letters in this collection are addressed to her in that way. She was born on 17 April 1830, at Greenfield, Saratoga County, New York. She married John D. Lincoln on 30 December 1857, which is the year the correspondence ends.

     John D. Lincoln was the son of Henry and Hannah Lincoln and grandson to Sarah and Nedabiah Lincoln, Sr., a Revolutionary War veteran. While the Martins were an older family in the Greenfield area, the Lincoln family was prominent in the Greenfield – Corinth area, just adjacent to the Town of Wilton, where Lincoln had several uncles and cousins who owned large prosperous farms.

    Lydia Adelia Martin and her husband John D. Lincoln had a son Dr. Harry Martin Lincoln (1859-), born in Greenfield, New York. Adelia died on 5 October 1862, after just five years of marriage and three years after the birth of her son. She likely died in childbirth, as a second son, Frank, died at the same time. She was buried in the family burial ground, the Ballou Cemetery, where many of the Martins and Ballou family members were buried. Adelia’s husband John later remarried, to Carrie Cooper. John D. Lincoln died on 6 June 1874.

   After the death of his parents, Harry Martin Lincoln, was helped by family and he attended medical school, graduated, and was set up in practice, taking over the business of a Dr. Murray at Wiltonville, New York. By 1890 Dr. Lincoln began resorting back to his drug usage, which probably started in college. He sought cure by checking into a sanitarium, but he soon returned to his old habits. In September 1901, after being threatened by the proprietor (Seth Nichols) of a resort, Lincoln and the proprietor got into a fight, during which Lincoln shot Nichols, killing him.        At his trial it was recorded that he was using 8-12 grams of morphine a day and was covered with needle scars at the rate of 25 per square inch. The jury’s verdict of “guilty of manslaughter in the First Degree with a recommendation of mercy,” met everyone’s expectation and the judge sentenced Lincoln to five years at Dannemora, a state hospital on the grounds of the state prison in Dannemora, New York, where he would be able to receive the medical help that he needed. While he was “cured” for a while, after his release, he went back to using drugs, and died in 1937.

     Sample Quotes:

“Sunday Morning, June 18thm, ‘48

Respected Cousins,

After a long time, I seat myself to fulfill the promise I made you. Perhaps you are aware of my reason for not writing to you sooner. My eyes were sore for about two months consequently I avoided writing as much as possible, but they are better now…

Cousins, I hardly know what will interest you most, but I think a little about the country and the fellows critters that inhabit it will not be amiss, as that is one of the most important things that they should be right in order to obtain what we are all seeking after (that is happiness). The people of this country consider themselves fifteen years in advance of the people east, that is in regard to literary qualifications. I don’t know but they are but I think not. They do more here by way of educating their children, that’s sure. The people are generally wealthier and can afford it better than they can east. Cousins, after all, their literary qualifications I don’t like them as well as I do east, perhaps I should after becoming as well acquainted with them. There is more aristocracy than I like to see nevertheless I fare well enough. I don’t think the people labour any harder here than they do east, any how I have not worked as hard as I had so here. Yes Coz’s, if you want to live easy you must get married and come out here or come out here and get married. I don’t know as it makes much difference which as people generally do when with Romans as Romans do. The women don’t have to spin & weave, make cheese, knit edging, &c. &c. They have rich daddy’s, they can buy these things for them. They can do up the house work (and they are not particular about that as I have seen east). Then they can make a new dress or alter over an old one that they have worn once or twice and spend the rest of the time in reading, so you see their physical labour is not as great as their mental for the trouble of altering over or making new must perplex the mental organization.

I said you must get married. I don’t know as that is highly necessary it is only a fashion people have got in and the most of folks like to be fashionable. The motto here is that the girls must do this year as they wish to be done by next year.

I like this country far better than I do greenfield. The soil is much more productive; a greater variety of fruit and more of it. Cousins, I look forward to fall with great expectations as the prospect of a great harvest is approaching in the fruit line. The country as general thing is not as uneven as it is east. It is more uneven in Wayne than Cayuga, Seneca, Ontario, Monroe, and perhaps some. There’s consequently more waste land in it.

The soil is a gravel easy to till and the beauty of it is it is so productive after you get it tilled. Wayne County produces as many Quakers as most any place more Quakers than anything else. The Hicksites hold their yearly meeting in Farmington, Ontario Co., about four miles from here. It commenced a week ago yesterday, continued until yesterday. We went last Sunday and again Wednesday. It was the largest meeting I ever attended. We heard about as smart a sermon from Lucretia Mott as I ever heard…

I want you should write to me and tell me the news if you have any as it would interest folks. Write as soon you receive this…Please accept these lines with the best respects of D.B. Allen”

“Greenfield April 4th 1852

Dear Girl,

As you requested to hear from home again before your return, I will try to gratify you , we have nothing of much importance to write at present, therefore Nancy says I may write this time, which I with pleasure attempt to do, as I have no other opportunity of conversing with you, but were you here I could tell you more than I can write, on this paper.

I will tell you that Renselaer had the misfortune to have his crib, carriage house, barn and shed consumed by fire last Thursday about 2 o’clock P.M. It originated in the crib he (himself) had been in there about an hour and a half before on business, discovered nothing of the kind, went into the house and very soon after it was all in flames. The carriage house took fire next, then the barn and shed and in the course of an hour they were all burnt to the ground, it’s said there were 60 men there in a very few minutes after it was discovered and used every effort in their power to save the building, but proved unsuccessful, however they liberated the horses and cattle to take care of themselves, got out most of the wagons, etc., then commenced by tearing away the timbers as fast as they fell (on the bins and hogsheads of grain) and throwing on snow and water on them, so that they saved 130 bushels of oats, top of them partly burnt, the bottom of the bins not injured except badly smoked, likewise some wheat, and buckwheat, corn and barley burnt, likewise many other things, 97 tons of hay.

Your uncle Renselaer stood and pumped water from the cistern near the carriage house, until his hands were burnt from his writs to the joints below his knuckles in one solid blister, likewise one side of his face the same, anxiety and excitement caused him to work their totally unaware of his situation until told of it by others. His burns have been very painful since, your Pa and Nancy was there yesterday to see them. He was able to sit up some, had vomited most all night. Before your Aunt Sarah said she thought it was caused by the pain striking to his stomach…

And now I have another story to tell you, which shocks my nerves some I assure you. Your Pa has just come in and tells us that Renselaer had another barn burnt last night, the one across the road under the hill. They discovered it about 12 o’clock at night, not in time to save but a little. The pare of grey horses were in the barn, one of them they got out, the other burnt up, likewise sleighs, cutter, wagon, fanning mill, and 10 tons of hay, some lumber and many other articles. And what to think or say I know not, we are in ignorance and suspense about it, but we all have reason to judge it to be the work of an incendiary. I hope and trust they may be brought to justice sooner, or later…

I think you had better write home again, N.B.M.”

“June 18th /53

Loved ‘Dee’

I received your good kind but too short letter & have again unintentionally committed the same crime of which you plead guilty – namely waiting so long my answer.

Don’t judge that I think of you less often from these delays, for I do think of you indeed. I have real good visits some days when I am all alone, or rather recalling visits that I have had in that good old room at Mr. Robertson’s – disease or the loss of my small stock of sense will alone erase the remembrance of those school days.

Speaking of school puts me in mind of our great Exhibition at the close of last term. Oh Dee, why didn’t you come over. I don’t think it equaled the one a year ago when you & I read compositions. Robertson had the faculty of keeping an audience more quiet than Gardener – at any rate.

Of all the noises or combination of noises that ever I met with the first of that eve’ beat it. The cracking of benches, whistling cries of ‘Down front,’ ‘Stop crowding,’ &c. &c., was perfectly deafening. I was favored with a standing seat in one of the north windows – which I occupied (changing feet once in two hours) from ½ past 5 o’clock till one the next morning. The house seemed as full as possible before 5 in the afternoon & before 8 the timbers began to groan & crash & the noise increasing Mr. R dismissed the assembly. Great number left, but the house was full yet, finally Wm. Smart opened his lips --- and there was a great calm, which continued till ‘meeting was out.’

The exercises were nothing extra. But Mr. R. says he is going to have another at the close of this term. I do wish you come over it will be about the last of July, can’t you have a vacation of a week & spend it in Cambridge? Do please do there is places enough for you to visit to keep you two weeks & we would all be so glad to see you & I’ll write to Sarah B to come too. You can write to her also & make all necessary arrangements. Now you can just as well come as not…

Now while I think of it, Cass Cook didn’t come to school last winter – it was so far, she could not walk in cold weather – a hem, ain’t it a pity the distance is so much greater than it was the last winter term. Robinson was there. Said Robinson corresponds with Mag hill by the way she is going to come home this fall & is not going back to Hadley till a year from oct. she likes it very much there. While she was home the last vacation. Wm. Smart brought her down to visit the Acdy. They have two papers in the Gents department this term. The old ‘Spy’ & ‘Broad-as-tis-long,’ the latter ‘is published semi-occasionally – or just when they have a mind to.’ Brother L attends he says they have the greenest lot of girls there that he ever came across. From those I have seen, I should think the Gents would match pretty well…

Now do write again sooner & I will try & ans’d sooner, as ever, Cal Sherman”


“New Prospect Feb 1, ‘56

My dear Adele,

Yours of Jan 20th came to hand the day before yesterday and I hasten to reply. I have a double reason for this extreme punctuality, first if I do not write very soon, I am sure of not hearing from you again in along time even if you should reform your old habit of delaying as it takes letters so long to travel the wide space that intervenes between us.

Secondly, this is a leisure day and no danger of my being called down to see company or for any other purpose for my face is so badly swollen you would be frightened to look at me. Perhaps I wrote you I was badly poisoned last summer this is the second time it has made its appearance. This morning one of my eyes was entirely closed and is not much better now, so you must excuse my not following the line as I see but very imperfectly. Do not conclude I am suffering much or that my disease is at all dangerous as neither is the case. I only stay at home to day because the air is injurious to my big face and I would not look any worse for a pretty, as the southerners say. My health has been very good indeed since I last wrote you.

You ask why I do not give lessons in housekeeping. I answer I never was well versed in that art myself, but what little I do know I assure you I am not ashamed to confess indeed, I am really more vain of my acquirements in that art than any other. If anyone chooses to think less of me for knowing how to work, or for having labored with my hands, they are welcome to their thoughts, for I never have, nor ever shall take any pains to conceal that fact. But did you ever see a housekeeper distrust her knowledge in the art? If you have you have seen more than I have. Any suggestions in that line from a school teacher would be thought of very little consequence.

Your plans seem so indefinite I am inclined to think you have a half-formed scheme of making some kind of a contract with some ‘nice young man.’ Now if you do do that naughty trick, and say nothing to me until its all over, I will be thoroughly vexed with you. I would not have you live single solely for my benefit, but it’s hard to see one’s friends estranged, or what is nearly the same married. They never love their single associates as well afterwards. Still Dele marry if you have an offer, which exactly suits you for that is the best way of living generally, as I should expect to be married. I have no idea of changing my situation…

So goodbye, write soon and oblige your faithful friend, S.S. Buckmeister”