Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Immortality (December 13, 2016) -- Lucy Bliss [Carpenter] Sweet

"Immortality Lies in Being Remembered by Family and Friends." -- John D. Tew

I have been on a rather extended "sabbatical' from blogging for several weeks while I focused on assisting my elderly parents up in Pennsylvania, and while I devoted concentrated time to trying to catch up with publishing my blog in book form for long-term preservation purposes. Since October 29th, I have only posted here three times including the last post, which was for my father's 94th birthday on November 28th. I am still trying to catch up on my blog book project, but a recent gift and the calendar made it imperative that I take time to post this today . . . as you will see. 

Very recently, a 4th cousin of mine via my mother's Carpenter line kindly sent me a copy of "A Memorial to Mrs. Lucy Bliss Sweet" that was compiled by Mrs. George St. John Sheffield in late 1910 or, more likely, early 1911. Mrs. Sweet was born a Carpenter and she was the 6th of the 14 children of Joseph and Nancy Carpenter. 

Lucy Bliss [Carpenter] Sweet was born in Rehoboth, Massachusetts on August 1, 1824 and she died in Attleboro, Massachusetts on December 13, 1910 -- 106 years ago today! Since Lucy was an older sister of my great great grandfather, Samuel Carpenter, she is my 3rd great aunt.  

I have written previously about my 3X great grandparents, Joseph and Nancy [Bullock] Carpenter.  [For example, see my February 21, 2013 post here and my February 18, 2013 post here.] Joseph Carpenter was born in Rehoboth, Massachusetts on September 8, 1789. He was the eldest child of the seven children of James Carpenter (1767 - 1812) and his wife Lucy Bliss (1769 - 1817). James and Lucy Carpenter are my 4X great grandparents. Lucy Bliss [Carpenter] Sweet, my 3rd great aunt, was named after her father's mother -- her paternal grandmother -- Lucy [Bliss] Carpenter.

Lucy [Bliss] Carpenter, wife of James Carpenter, was born on June 23, 1769 in Rehoboth and she died in Rehoboth on September 21, 1817. Her parents (my 5X great grandparents), were Jonathan Bliss (1739 - 1800) and his wife, Lydia Wheeler (1737 - 1803). 

On March 6, 1851, Lucy Bliss Carpenter was married to Everett Leprilete Sweet (1828 - 1868) in Norwich, Connecticut. Lucy's older brother, Rev. George Moulton Carpenter a Methodist minister who was living in Norwich, performed the ceremony in his home. Everett Sweet was the son of Leprilete and Lydia [Dunham] Sweet of Attleborough. Everett and his wife Lucy had five children: Leprilete Sweet (1853 - 1941); Lydia Dunham Sweet (1854 - 1869); Lucy Carpenter Sweet (1855 - 1922); Everett Henry Sweet (1858 - 1893); and Newton James Sweet (1860 - 1941). According to the Memorial to Mrs. Lucy Bliss [Carpenter] Sweet, her husband Everett "spent much of his time at the South [after the Civil War], superintending the getting out of dogwood and persimmon timber, which he shipped North, to be made into shuttles." 

Sadly, Lucy Bliss [Carpenter] Sweet lost her husband Everett just 26 days shy of his 40th birthday in August 1868. Upon her husband's death, Lucy was left as the single parent to five children, the oldest of whom was 15 and the youngest only 8.  Again, as the Memorial states, she, "was left with the entire responsibility of her large family . . . with but slender means, the greater part of which (through some bank failure) was soon lost. Her main asset was a home, but beyond that she had only herself to depend upon for their care and maintenance."

Fortunately for Lucy, her father (and the Carpenters before him) were interested in having educated children.  It was said in the Memorial that Lucy's father Joseph "justly estimated the value of education for his children, and gave to them all that was in his power." On the particulars of that education, the Memorial states . . . 

               "The little red schoolhouse" was the only 'hall of learning" for country children,
               and to it they gathered from far and near, and of all ages, from five to twenty
               years. There were no "grades" in those days, but all the scholars sat together
               on hard benches, in the one not over-heated room; -- nor were there any covered
               barges to transport those living at a distance; there were only the sturdy limbs of
               the youngsters themselves, with which to trudge the long miles, or in winter, rude
               sleds, on which some of the boys, if they were gallant, would draw their favorite
               girls. * * * Here Mrs. Sweet went to school . . . The "little red schoolhouse"
               curriculum comprised chiefly "reading, writing and ciphering," and oral spelling,
               and the girls often worked on their samplers in school. * * * In addition to this
               public instruction a teacher was employed for the Carpenter children in their
               home, -- Miss Fidelia Thompson -- a daughter of the then minister of the 
               Congregational Church, in Rehoboth, and to her, Mrs. Sweet has said, she
               owed her thorough "instruction in English and her love for literature."

So it was that when Lucy lost her husband and much of the family savings, and was left basically with just a home for herself and her five children, she relied on her early education and training with Fidelia Thompson and "her pen became the means of support" for her and her children. She developed some talent as a writer in verse and prose. She became a regular contributor to the Central Falls Visitor and later wrote extensively for the Attleboro Advocate that was bought by her two sons Everett and Newton when they reached adulthood.

Of her writing, the Memorial reported . . . 

               Her prose writings were clear, fair, and sincere, and characterized by her practical
               commonsense, which, as she said of a friend's was "uncommon good," and her
               poems were instinct with the genuine piety of her nature, and, written in easy,
               unaffected diction, possessed a womanly charm "all their own." From early life to
               the very latest years, she was repeatedly called upon to write for special occasions,
               both public and private, and "our own town poet," as she came familiarly to be called,
               could always be depended upon to respond in a manner appropriate and acceptable.
               No matter for what the call might be, __ a hymn for children, a family gathering, a
               dedication, a religious anniversary, a public celebration, the thought would be the
               right one, and the words chosen to express it, would be suitable and in good taste.

So today I raise a glass in memory of Lucy Bliss [Carpenter] Sweet, my 3rd great aunt, a strong and talented woman who left this world 106 years ago today!

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Thank you to my 4th cousin, Neysa [Carpenter] Garrett, who found the Memorial to Mrs. Lucy Bliss Sweet in the Attleboro Public Library, and kindly sent me a copy. It is very much appreciated and is now an important part of my Carpenter genealogy "library."

The photograph of Lucy Bliss [Carpenter] Sweet is taken from the Memorial to Mrs. Lucy Bliss Sweet and is the only verified photograph of Lucy that I have.
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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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