Thursday, February 15, 2007


I haven’t mentioned it before but I work as a bookseller which has
led me to some books that I’ve found interesting and helpful in my
genealogy pursuits. I’ll mention some of those in the future but
even though it’s a day late I thought I’d talk about the one that fits
in with St Valentine’s Day.

I was waiting on a customer who was looking for a book for her 70
year old aunt. The woman picked up a book from the new release
large size paperback table and asked me if I knew anything about
it. The title was "If Ever Two Were One: A Diary of Love Eternal "
by Brian Sullivan, the story of the romance between Francis
Ellingwood Abbot and Katharine Loring told from Abbot’s journal
and letters.

This piqued my curiosity. I have ancestors named Ellingwood and
Abbot and a quick glance at the back cover told me this Abbot
was from Beverly where my ancestors lived. So I googled him and
while he's not a direct ancestor he is in fact a cousin. Our common
ancestor was Ralph Ellingwood of early Salem, Ma. but where my
line descends from Ralph Jr., Frank E. Abbot's descends from
another son.

The same is true of our Abbot ancestries descending from siblings
although there are several other incidents of relationship through
marriages of brothers or sisters into both lines.

Seems Frank was a Harvard man, a Unitarian minister, and knew
Emerson and others. He was one of the early American supporters
of Darwinism which led to his break from Unitarianism and a very
controversial reputation for most of the latter part of his life. In
his days as a Harvard divinity student he roomed at the home of
Henry David Thoreau’s mother and he spoke with Ralph Waldo
Emerson on several occasions.

Mr Sullivan’s book details Abbot's romance and marriage of over
forty years with Katharine Loring and the subsequent ten years
after her death, ending with his suicide on her grave in 1903.

It’s fascinating to see the Victorian romantic ideal mindset in the
flowery style of writing popular in those times. But I must confess
that Frank seems to me a bit overly intense in his devotion to his
Katharine.I suspect that when they married their respective
families felt some relief that the two young people were “settled”.

Harvard Magazine of July-August 2002 has a few examples of
entries from Francis Ellingwood Abbot’s journal here.

4 comments: said...

Bill I am a distant cousin of Katharine Fearing Loring. My aunt (Mary Walker)married her uncle, (Thomas Loring, brother of David 1)...(very briefly said)

Do you know QSA? I believe he has mentioned you to me on several occations as being connected with the BHS?

Bill West said...

Hey there, Katie!Always glad to meet another distant relation!

Gee, I don't know anyone going by
the initials QSA and I'm not connected to anything BHS. It that a historical society?

Anonymous said...

Yes it is, I understand it is the Beverly Historical Society.

Here, as Paul Harvey would say is the "rest of the story.." iun a brief synopsis...

I am currently working on a history of Kate Loring's father, David Loring IV(and family)and his doings in Concord. He was a big mover and shaker in Concord before his financial reverses. A true rags to riches to rags story, and a very compelling one at that.

David never got a fair shake from the citizens of Concord when he left, but the towns folk were quick enough to grab his house, which he sold to Rebecca Damon (The mill owner...Sam Hoar underwrote the mortgage, and eventually owned the place, donating it to Concord Academy in the 1920's)for a song (6800 on assesed value of 20K) in Sept 1856. The family (except Lydia who was married to Fay Barrett) then took up rooms at the Clarke house (the Reuben Brown or Antiquarian House...Mrs. Dana's in Brian's book)and spent the winter there, and it was then that Francis Ellingwood Abbot met Kate. I have toured all these houses and documented them in photos and notes. Mrs. Clarke suddenly rented the rooms out from underneath Mrs. Loring in the spring of 1857 and Mrs. Loring was obliged to hastily move into the little cottage mentioned in Brian's book.(At 50 dollars a month if memory serves) David was away in Texas on business at the time, and Mrs. Loring handled the entire household move herself at that time.

The Lorings had 8 children. George, Lydia, William, Samuel, Jenny, Sarah, Kate and Susan. Susan was the last to pass away in 1912, and her last wish was for someone to continue the Loring genealogy, for she did not know who her great grandfather or great grandmother were. They did...Katherine Peabody Loring, another distant cousin from the Beverly branch of Lorings, actually helped compile the Loring Genealogy in the early 1900's. My Great uncle John Walker was still corresponding with some of the Loring cousins at the turn of the century 1900-1920 linking our two lines geneaological lines together, which curiously are not in the book then published. I guess they missed the deadline, or the Loring name was lost to female descendents who married others. I am now the keeper of David Loring's branch of the Loring tree. Our families are linked twice, once on the Loring side and once on the Sherman side, Mrs. Loring was Susannah Sherman, and my great X3 uncle(Rice)on my grand mother's side married her sister Almira Sherman (her 2nd marriage). She is the "Aunt Almira" who shows up in Loring letters from time to time.

Cousins Katie and Susan were best friends and playmates of Edith and Ellen Emerson. Emerson himself was very close to David Loring and visited him Winona,MN in later years. Emerson declared he had the best time eating his supper with his back to the pot bellied stove in the rustic home David kept in Winona. Emerson said it remeinded him of his boyhood. When Emerson returned to Concord, he offered to take Susan Loring with him to live in his home and keep house...Susan had a very tough time trying to decide, but told Emerson no. Susan stayed in Winona with her sister Jenny (who cut Kate's hair for FEA) and her father until he died in Dec 1870. Susan and Jenny then were swindled out of David's estate and entered a period of many years of servitude and abject poverty. Kate and Lydia would send them a little money once in a while to keep body and soul together. Lavinia Bates, a wealthy Concord woman willed a part of her home to Susan should she find fortune was fickle to her, but Susan refused. She was a sturdy bird who scrapped her way through life as best she could without imposing.

Susan and Jenny never married,and as such, David wanted them to buy a house and keep together in their old age... although Susan nearly married, curiously enough in September of 59, just after Kate and FEA married. I do not know if it was a knee jerk reaction or whether the fellow in question backed out. Susan was a challenging personality to deal with, ever since a child.

Now Mrs. Dana lived well into her 90's and died very old, but lucid. On Frank's last visit to her, she declared "Of all the Lorings, Katie was the best..."

Little does anybody know that Jenny was more demonstrative and tender hearted than Kate.

Katie's oldest son was a lawyer and lived in New York his entire adult life with his wife Amy and had no children.

Katie's second son Stan was a dear tender hearted man who wore his heart on his sleeve like his father. He became a Physician, and married Frances Elizabeth Lewis Smith,(another entire story in itself)and later married Marion Wetherill. No children either marriage. Stan lived to be 96. Stan looked very much like Katie and must have had a wonderful bedside manner.

Little Fanny grew up to marry Ralph Wells, briefly mentioned in Brian's book. She and Ralph had planned to marry but things changed with the suicide of Dr. Francis E. Abbot. Ralph and Fanny had three children, Winnie, Katharine (named after grandma) and Dane. Winnie died at 9 years old (diabetes,mumps), Katharine lived to be 88, and died in 1994. Dane's line continues to this day.

Sorry for waffling on...:>)

Bill West said...

Don't be sorry, Katie!

This is a fascinating story and
adds a new perspective to Brian's
book for me. I look forward to
reading your book about David.

I wish I had some information about that branch of Ellingwoods
and Abbotts to hekp you but as I
mentioned in my post my ancestors
were already distant cousins in
FEA and Kate's time.

I'm afraid your friend QSA has
mistaken me for another person as
I'm not connected with the BHS.
But I'm glad the mention lead to
us making this connection!