Reported His Brother’s Death

by Laurel | February 22nd, 2013

28 February 1904


An Interesting Old Letter In Possession of a Holyoke Woman

It would be a good question for Holyoke parents to ask their young hopeful in school if he remembered anything about the battle of Lake George in the French and Indian war. Incident to the question, the following letter might be shown him, which would, perhaps, incite further investigation on the subject, although hardly a model for composition: —

“Lake George, July 12, 1758

Honored Father and Mother — After my Duty to you and Love to Brothers and Sisters these few lines Come to let you know that I am well and in a good state of health as I hope you are at present Blesed be God for it. But I have a sorrowful News to acquaint you with and I hope it will be for a warning to us all. Brother Jabes was killed in a fite the Sixth of July instant and two days after we had another fite and last as near as we can ges between fore and five thousand Men the Battle lasted about seven hours without any sessation of Arms pray remember My Duty to Granmother and love to all my friends that ask after me and give my Servis to Master and Mrs. Croker our friends and Nabors are all well and so no more at present but I Remain your Most obedient and Dutiful Son till Death.

Nathanel Howland

Josiah Sturges is well and Remembers his love to his Mother and Sisters and all friends.”

This letter was address in the following delightfully general way: “Mr. Jabez Howland, living in Barnstable, in Newengland this with care.” This letter is in the property of Mrs. J. W. Smith of 173 Elm Street, who is the eighth generation of direct descent from James Howland, who came over on the Mayflower in 1620. The Nathaniel who wrote the letter was Mrs. Smith’s great-great-grandfather. Below the address to the letter was drawn a heavy black dash — the sign of those times that the letter inclosed news of death in the family. It can be imagined that this letter was opened with beating hearts in the old town of Barnstable and that great sorrow attended the news contained. the letter is now beginning to yellow and crumble with age, but the writing is plain and distinct, for all of its 143 years. It was in the same war with the French and Indians that young Montague met his death in 1754, his skull being found when the South Hadley Center cemetery was removed, with the hole made when the Indian bullet crashed through still plainly to be seen. Such little relics as these emphasize most strongly the tremendous changes that have taken place in the last 150 years.

Mrs Smith has also the barrel of the gun that was carried by Jabez Howland, the lad who was killed. A new stock has been fitted to it, but the barrel is still intact. The genealogy of the Howland family is not without general interest. John Howland, who was eight generations removed from Mrs. Smith, as noted above, came over on the Mayflower. He married Elizabeth Carver, who was the daughter of John Carver, the first governor of the new colony of Plymouth. Jabes Howland, the father of young Jabes Howland, who was killed, was in the fourth generation. His son was born in 1730, so was 28 years old at the time of his death. Nathaniel, who wrote the letter, was born in 1736. Nathaniel, in the seventh generation, was one of the first of the men of Lee to volunteer in the war for the Union, but was disqualified and honorably discharged. Mrs. Smiths father was Harrison Howland, and her maiden name was Emma E. Howland. She married Mr. Smith at Dalton in July 1870, Mr. Smith being well known as a skillful paper mill superintendent.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.

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