This book tells the story of Roxana Brown Walbridge Watts (1802-1862), a farm wife in Peacham, Vermont, and the twelve children she raised - nine of her own, two stepchildren, and a grandchild; six girls and six boys. Mined from a rich lode of primary material - letters, diaries, photographs - these personal histories describe a strikingly broad range of experiences. In their letters Roxana and her children discuss their daily concerns - farm work and crops, medical emergencies and treatments, the details of marriages, births, and deaths. They write about matters of national significance as well: the westward migration, the contrast between women's and men's experiences, the temperance and abolition movements, the mechanization of farm life, and the increase of secularization. Together their stories offer an intimate portrait of an American family caught up in the sweep of a century of change.
An archivist for thirty years, Lynn A. Bonfield has worked at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe, the California Historical Society, and San Francisco State University. Mary C. Morrison, great-granddaughter of Roxana, is a writer and teacher.