Maine & Maritime Canada Genealogy

Researching Downeast Maine and Maritime Canada Families Together

1860 Letter from US Treasury Official Richard Ela to Mrs. Morse at Concord, Massachusetts, re: lodging

Reprint from blog Heirlooms Reunited, September 30, 2010:


6 January 1860 letter from Richard Ela at Cambridge Massachusetts [note graphic entitled The West View of Harvard College], to Mrs. Morse in Concord, Massachusetts.

I believe this is the Richard Ela who was born 21 February 1796 in Lebanon, New Hampshire, the son of Joseph and Sarah (Eastman) Ela. He had a son Richard born in 1850 and thus too young to have written this letter.

The senior Richard Ela was a lawyer at Durham, New Hampshire from about 1819 when he was admitted to the New Hampshire Bar until about 1830, when he moved to a position in a public office at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In 1832, he accepted a clerkship at the US Department of Treasury in Washington, D.C., where he remained for the rest of his life. He held the offices of auditor, comptroller and acting assistant treasurer.

For this letter to make sense, he must have been planning to spend parts of the early winter of 1860 in the Concord area. Perhaps he or someone in his family was ill, or perhaps he was working on a case.

On 1 August 1844, Richard Ela married Lucia King, who was born at Saco, Maine 31 October 1816, the daughter of Jonathan and Margaret (Hill) King. Richard and Lucia had four children:
  • Margaret King Ela, born 29 July 1845; died 9 August 1876
  • Walter Ela, born 23 September 1848 at Washington, D.C.
  • Richard Ela, born 30 November 1850 at Washington, D.C.
  • Alfred Ela, born 14 October 1857 at Washington, D.C.
The paternal grandparents of the senior Richard Ela were Jacob and Elizabeth (Ayer) Ela. I haven't yet determined the parents of Sarah Emerson, or if indeed Emerson was her maiden name. I've also had no luck as yet in determining the grandparents of Richard Ela's wife Lucia (King) Ela. I found a reference where Jonathan King was from Saco, Maine, and his wife Margaret Hill from Biddeford, Maine. I believe Lucia was born in Saco, Maine.

Transcription: [I think the recipient is Mrs. Morse - if you read it differently, please let me know; also note that what appears to be a "25" has the meaning of "to".]

Cambridge Mass.
Jan 6th 1860

Mrs. Morse:
I shall return to Concord on the 13th or 14th Inst. and if nothing happens to change my present intentions would like to board with you - while I remain in town which will be more or less of the time for two months.
With many good wishes to yourself and yours, I am
Very respectfully yours,
Richard Ela

If you have corrections, additions or insights regarding the information presented above, please scroll down to the comments box at the bottom of this page or contact me directly. I'd especially like to hear if you think this letter was likely written by a Richard Ela other than the one I've assumed.

Thanks for stopping by!


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Comment by Pam Beveridge on October 2, 2010 at 3:35pm
Of course! Thanks so much for clearing that up. And your dad's story sounds very interesting - another Perry native of note!
Comment by Helen (Johnston) Beal on October 2, 2010 at 3:16pm
My thought is that the heading of the letter says "Cambridge Mass", not "Cambridge Mall". If you look at the word "shall" in his letter you can see how he forms both the "s" and the "l" for comparison. This is intriguing as I grew up in Concord, MA where my dad, Reginald Fulton Johnston, was a physician and he was born in Perry, ME.

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